Friday, February 16, 2007

Hail to the Chief

Chief Illiniwek: Last Dance

On Feb 21, the U of Illinois men's basketball team plays its final home game of the season. At half-time, Chief Illiniwek will dance for the last time. He arrived in 1926 and now goes into retirement, thanks to an NCAA ruling that bars the use of mascots or insignia seen as "abusive" of racial or ethnic minorities.

The real issue is money, because if the Chief stays, the U of I will not be eligible to host post-season NCAA championship events. Think of the ESPN revenues slipping away!

Many folks are sad or angry about this change. Since the controversy is over symbols and traditions, it will not soon fade away. A little history may provide some perspective.

The ancient Illini or Illiniwek were a confederacy of six Native tribes along the upper Mississippi River valley. In the early 1700s many moved west, pushed by the arrival of Iroquois and Europeans. Federal Indian Removal in the 1830s moved the rest out. Today the few remaining descendants of Illini live in Oklahoma, as the Peoria Tribe.

Over the years, dancers who portrayed Chief Illiniwek were often white, but also trained in the traditions of Native dance and costume. The regalia is Lakota Sioux, presented in 1983 by Frank Fools Crow, a nephew of Black Elk.

Advocates see the Chief as a celebrant of the Native traditions of Illinois, while critics see him as a misuse of sacred symbols and rituals. The Peoria tribe at first supported the advocates but then recanted and joined the critics. They won their case, and thus the Chief will go.

In his last dance, he will perform the "3 in 1" that for 80 years has been the halftime show at football and basketball games. You may read more, and see a film of the dancing, in this story in a New York Times blog.

Final irony: the book that launched the modern revival of Native American pride is Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970), written by Dee Brown, who at the time was a professor and librarian at the University of Illinois.

Update: Bill Ice sent me the picture above, taken on Feb 21 at the Chief's last dance.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Park in Snow

One attractive aspect of Springfield: its many public parks. My favorite is Washington Park, for I lived nearby and visited often. Dulany Sriner, SHS '64, took these pictures during the Big Snow. Above is the lagoon, looking east away from Carillon Hill (formerly Sunset Hill).

Above, waterfowl on the lagoon, looking north. Dulany's web site displays a wide range of pictures from Springfield and central Illinois. For a modest fee, he makes prints suitable for framing.

Here's a nice closeup of assorted ducks, enjoying the park lagoon. Washington is Springfield's only park on the National Historic Register. Created in the early 1890s, the designer was Ossian C. Simonds (1855-1931), a leading Midwest landscape architect.

Pictures courtesy of Dulany Sriner. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Big Snow

A blizzard slammed into Springfield on Feb 13-14, and the accumulations of over 12 inches make this storm the biggest since 1914, or 93 years ago.

I've had reports from '58s who say they have power and food, so other than clearing driveways and walks, this storm is mainly one to admire.

The Springfield Journal-Register site has excellent coverage, plus a video and picture gallery. I have not been able to locate any pictures yet, so if any of you have them, please send me copies.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Good People

On February 15, Jim Hollis publishes his 12th book. Jim has had two careers, the first as a humanities professor, teaching literature at several universities, before he retrained in 1977-82 as a Jungian analyst. He now has a private practice in Houston, directs the Jung Educational Center there, and is vice-president of the Philemon Foundation, which will publish the complete works of Carl Jung.

His own books have sold over 100,000 copies and have been translated into seven languages. Two weekends a month he spends on the road, and his web site will tell you when he next appears near your city.

The latest book explores Jung's idea of The Shadow, the private self that contradicts public image. Jim examines it within persons and in larger cultural frames, from religion to politics. Accepting the presence of this dark force, he argues, is a means of acquiring more self-awareness and conscious conduct of daily life.

For all his success, Jim remains the genial introvert we knew in high school. He dreads the radio and tv appearances that will soon rule his days, but he enjoys writing, mostly for its mystery: "It seems to come from below, somewhere, and I am just its scribe." He's already writing book 13, which rolls out of his head each morning: "I guess the Committee of the Interior is sending me a fax."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Reunion Date

The Class Reunion Committee in Springfield has selected September 5-7, 2008 for our glorious, fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime 50th Reunion. If you have never been to a Reunion, this one is not to miss.

For example, see how much fun these folks had at the 25th Reunion, in 1983. They're all kids from Dubois Grade School: (front) Rich Sexton, (back) Judi Dunkel Headrick, Donna Haycraft Maloney, Bev Maulding Berry, Carolyn Baldwin Quinlan, and Judy Vicars Van Hagen.

And here's a group that planned the 10th Reunion, held in 1968. Left to right: Marcia Ruzes Maisenbacher, Jim Fletcher, Ron Wilson, C. E. Welch, and Judi Dunkel Headrick.

Thanks to Judi Headrick for the pictures and names. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wedding Bells

It's January 27 at the First United Methodist Church in Piedmont, Oklahoma, and Libbie Peterson Miller has married Charlie Britton.

This love story has a fifty-year history. In her senior year at SHS, Libbie dated two "older men" from the class of '56, Ed Miller and Charlie Britton--who were, in fact, close friends.

Ed won her hand and they married soon after her graduation, on July 19, 1958. They settled in Oklahoma, raised 3 children and 6 grandchildren, and lived happily together until March 3, 2000, when Ed passed away from a recurrence of melanoma.

Libbie kept busy with family, administrative work at Oklahoma City University, and substitute teaching in two school districts. When the Class of 1956 sent her a notice of their 50th Reunion, she and Charlie found each other's addresses and began to correspond.

Charlie Britton served in the Military Police at West Point and in Germany. He settled in Boston, married, and supervised a metallurgical research lab for Texas Instruments. Later he divorced and moved to Flagstaff, where he ran the Developmental Machine Facility at Northern State University.

Before and after his 50th Reunion, Charlie visited Libbie in Oklahoma and met her family. They became engaged in September and set the January wedding date.

Now Libbie's name will be Mrs. Charles B. Britton, while in our directory she is Libbie Peterson Britton. She and Charlie will live at her home address, and they are making plans to travel.

As I see it, the moral of this story is three-fold:
  1. Old feelings never die.
  2. Stay in touch with early friends.
  3. Don't ignore Reunion mail.

Congratulations from all of us to the happy couple!