August 30, 2014

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Local Columnists
Interurban fever burns hot, then fizzles

By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
Among the most ambitious interurban schemes never to get off the ground was the Springfield & Western Railway.
Organized on Nov. 13, 1905, to build an electric interurban from Springfield through Beardstown to Quincy, the company reorganized the following March with even grander plans. It now would go from Springfield to Pana to Decatur to Vandalia as well as the Springfield-Beardstown-Quincy line.
Electric utility and interurban magnate William B. McKinley built what was arguably the nation’s greatest interurban railroad – the Illinois Traction System (later renamed the Illinois Terminal Railroad). At its zenith, the IT ran from St. Louis to Springfield to Peoria. Another line ran from Springfield to Decatur and up to Champaign and then into Danville. A third main line went from Decatur through Bloomington and on to Peoria.


By Don Chipman
For the Star-Gazette
Hero or Deserter?
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of the Taliban for five years, has created a storm that continues to reach a crescendo even as we write this article across this broad land.
It all began innocently enough when it was announced that an American soldier held captive by the Taliban for five years was being released and set free.
Then the other shoe dropped. Sgt. Bergdahl was released after the administration allowed the five most dangerous captives at Gitmo to be included in the exchange.

Fact or Fiction?
First–What ever happened to “We never will negotiate with terrorists.” Period. Sound familiar? Fact or Fiction?
Second–It later became a sensational story about his release when it was disclosed that Sgt. Bergdahl walked away “under the wire” on his own volition, leaving behind his weapon and flak jacket. Fact or Fiction?
Third–Simply “walking away” from your post is more than being AWOL. In a combat zone this will be (and should be) treated as desertion. The Department of Defense should act accordingly after a full investigation. Fact or Fiction?
Fourth–Susan Rice did it again–when she stated this was an extraordinary day with the release of an American soldier who served his country with “Honor and Dignity.” Well it turned out to be an extraordinary day indeed. Fact or Fiction?

75th Alumni reunion celebrated in peace and quiet of Houston Library

By Roy Roberts
Trivia Too
It was the 139th Annual Alumni Banquet, and it was very special for the class of 1939. I was one of 103 who graduated that year and as I told those attending the alumni, we were told by an older class, to go forth and multiply. That we did.
Right now we have the record of the most descendents. None of the 103 married a classmate so that gave us a head start as we soon had 304 children. Those 304 children gave us 902 grandchildren. From those grandchildren, we are proud of the 2,432 great-grandchildren and they are still coming. Christine and I have 10 now with four more expected before fall.

Observations of classmates at reunion

By Kay Brown
Kate’s Garden Gate
After watching Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS, I got to thinking about the classmates who come back for Alumni and the Friday night parties. Dr. Dyer was talking about our ego and that in order to get rid of it, we need to become compassionate.

Wandering Wanda and ‘Grandma’s Commandos’

By Freida Marie Crump
Coonridge Digest
Greetings from the Ridge.
Wanda McBride is somewhat of a nut. No, she’s delightfully loony. While other extroverts march to a different drummer, Wanda’s spent her life listening to an entirely different band. In short, she’s a bodacious delight, always doing the unexpected, bringing joy into the room each time she enters.
That’s why her vacation plans are never a surprise. Last summer she packed up her two small granddaughters and took off. Wanda uses no roadmap when she travels nor do her vacations have any particular destination. When I asked her where she was headed she simply pointed a heavily-ringed finger and said, “That-a way.”

Wow! Electric interurbans in Cass County

By Leigh Morris
Our place in history
Our story begins in Richmond, Va., on Feb. 2, 1888 – the day Frank Sprague’s electrified city streetcar system went into operation.
An immediate success, Sprague’s creation spawned a public transportation revolution from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In just seven years, a total of 900 electric street railways were operating on nearly 11,000 miles of track.

‘One flag, one land, one nation evermore’

By Leigh Morris
Our place in history
Perhaps Beardstown’s most significant Memorial Day observance took place in 1891.
A monument “in memory of our deceased soldiers and sailors of the War of the Rebellion” had been erected in Oak Grove Cemetery the previous September. This fine monolith was crowned by the statue of a Civil War soldier and stood surrounded by the graves of those who died in that grim war.

Beginning a season of barbeques, picnics, lazy days and celebrations

By Susan Young
Virginia Happenings
Memorial Day signifies the start of summer even though the official date of summer is June 21. It kicks off the season of BBQs, picnics, lazy days at the pool for so many, but the true meaning of the holiday is more than a three-day weekend for those who work so hard each week.
Just three years after the Civil War ended in 1868, Decoration Day was established to honor those soldiers who had died and the first celebration was held at Arlington National Cemetery. The date of May 30 was selected since flowers should be in bloom across the country.

A weekend to remember...

By Kay Brown
Behind the Garden Gate
What a great Memorial Day weekend turned out to be. The weather was great and the people were greater. We had a really good party Friday at the Café, along with the class of ‘59. We weren’t too late getting home, but were tired, so slept in.
Saturday we went to breakfast at the Methodist church where we saw more friends, and then back home to rest for the Saturday night banquet at the high school to see more friends. Other classmates went downtown to party some more.

No exact date of Princess Theater closing

By Roy Roberts
Trivia Too
Tell me more. When did the Princess Theater close? That was the question I received in a letter from Tom Lloyd, BHS class of 1963, who lives in a suburb of Washington D. C. He was referring to a recent column I had written about the history of the theater in Beardstown, and wondering if and when there will be another.
First, I will tell you about when I first met Tommy. It was the spring of 1954; he was about ten years old, and it was sign up day for Little League. My job was to register each of the boys.