July 31, 2014

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In fear of the Sangamon Bottom

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
It was the Illinois, Sangamon and smaller rivers that attracted settlers to this land, but those rivers also filled many with fear – and with good reason.
Cass County’s old Hickory Precinct (originally called Bowen and then Husted) is a case in point. Don’t bother looking for it on a map, unless you happen to have one from the late 1800s or the early 20th century. Hickory Precinct was abolished in early 1924.

Buy-a-Politican plan at the Bribery Mall

By Freida Marie Crump
The Coonridge Digest
Greetings from the Ridge.
The average Joe on the street doesn’t know much about the Supreme Court and I have feeling that’s just dandy with the justices who sit there. We know that they line up once a year for a picture where they closely resemble the judges at a dill pickle contest, and they look like none of them have ever worked for Meals on Wheels. So it’s a rare occasion when the nine ladies and gentlemen do something that rings any sort of gong back home.
Two weeks ago, however, they took the remarkable step of doing away with all types of elections. In their landmark decision on McCutcheon v. FEC, they decided that all future elections could be purchased instead of earned, saying that individuals could slush as much money as they wanted into the hungry pockets of any politicians wanting to take a bribe. Strike that. Chief Justice John Roberts specifically said that this was not a bribe and he must be right because they call him Supreme. You thought “free speech” meant your right to stand up and complain? According to the 5-4 vote, it means you can only be heard if you have enough money. In fact, three times in the last five years the same five justices have overruled any attempt at taking money out of politics. Again, they must be right because they’re Supreme. Note: the Supremes don’t have to run for office.
So with anyone now able to buy any election and influence any vote, what’s the place in our democracy for a poor housewife from Coonridge? As with other great crises in America, Wal-Mart is the model. Let’s do away with the voting booth and install a One-Stop-Buy-Your-Candidate-Mart. Forget the trouble of standing in line to vote. The Buy-a-Bubba will be open 24 hours a day.
We can lay out the new Bribery Mall just like a Wal-Mart, with the various candidates relegated to their own aisles. The first-time candidates will be listed as “Fresh Produce,” and from there you’ll move on down the aisle to the politicians who say the same tired thing election after election. We’ll call these the Canned Goods. From there you’ll have a choice of politicos who’ve been in office forever, the “hams.” Some of these hams have aged a good many years and on occasion they’re even pickled. All you do is spend your money on the honest men and women you’d like to bribe. A polite word for this is “influence.” The real word can’t be printed.
If you have any money left . . . and remember, you’ll be bidding against billionaires . . . you can thumb through the racks of the checkout lane featuring road commissioners, mayors, and sewage department heads.
Of course an even quicker alternative to the election process would be to simply call it an auction. I’ve always enjoyed a good auction, and there’s something in the drone of an auctioneer’s cry that’s thrilling. Put each candidate up on a stage and let the bidding begin. There are no doubt those among you who regard this as silly. I would only ask you to think about what’s happening at the moment.
Take Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Venetian resort in Las Vegas. He’s one of the ten richest people in the world. He almost single-handedly financed New Gingrich’s 2012 campaign and he’s looking for somewhere to put his millions in the next election. The Supreme Court says this is free speech so it must be okay. Two weeks ago a handful of presidential hopefuls high-tailed it to Las Vegas to speak in Adelson’s hotel. Maybe they just enjoyed the showgirls and the scenery, but one thing was for sure: they didn’t come to get votes. It was cash, baby. The Las Vegas crowd happened to all be Republicans, but the Democrats won’t be excluded in my proposed Buy-A-Congressman auction. In the last presidential election, none of the top ten donors were Republicans.
Perhaps the greatest savings will be to the lives of chickens. Not the cowards who hide behind super PAC’s and lobbyists, but actual feathered cluckers. Until the Supreme Court struck its noble blow for free speech you had to pay up to $100,000 a plate to eat chicken cordon bleu with the President. Since Justice Roberts and his noble cronies ruled that it was legal to openly buy an election the chickens will now be allowed to live. On behalf of all the chickens in the world, we thank you.
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.

John Tyler’s purpose came late in life

By Roy Roberts
Trivia Too
John Tyler was a guest at our home many times when he was a child. He has given over $80,000 to charity in the last ten years. John Tyler is a third cousin of our children, but to go back farther, his great-great-grandfather was John Looman who came to America from Holland when he was three years old. He grew up in Beardstown and fought three years with General Grant and General Sherman in the Civil War, being wounded at the start of the Battle of Atlanta. His grandfather was Carl Looman, who ran an appliance store across the street from the State Bank at State and Second Street. Both of those men would be proud of John Tyler, and pleased with the talent that he has accomplished under the most adverse conditions.

‘Woodies’ provide entertainment on the pond

By Kay Brown
The Garden Gate
I wish you could have been here last week when the pond had 20 “woodies,” wood ducks floating around. I watched for a while and then went to the greenhouse to water.
When I got back I checked them out, and there were 10 males and four females still on the pond. Mallard ducks are pretty but I think woodies are prettier.

Will the movies ever come back to town?

By Roy Roberts
Trivia Too
Karl Schewe was so good to Beardstown, and he donated much for his home town. After his donation to the Park District Community Center I approached him with another idea, saying it was a shame that people had to go out of town to see a movie. He agreed and had me go to a friend of his who was an architect in Canton.
That architect made a plan for a $300,000 theater/auditorium, speculating on getting the job if the building would be a reality.
The building would have been owned by the Park District and would be located about where the new Clinic is located now. There would be a large auditorium, much needed by the high school at that time. It could be used for band concerts, school drama and other events.

Success proves fleeting for the Duryea brothers

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
As Charles and Frank Duryea would learn, being first is no guarantee of future success.
Following the Duryea Motor Wagon’s 1895 Thanksgiving Day victory in America’s first auto race, the brothers established the Duryea Motor Wagon Co. in Springfield, Mass. Here they built what many believe to be America’s most significant automobile – the 1896 Duryea Runabout.
Not only was the Duryea Motor Wagon Co. the first firm to commercially manufacture and sell automobiles, but the Duryea Runabout was America’s first series produced automobile. In other words, the 13 Runabouts were identical in every respect, a concept that eventually would make it possible to build cars for the masses. Other vehicles of that time were singular examples.

Virginia Library hosts World Book Night 2014

By Susan Young
Virginia Happenings
Easter is on its way and the Virginia Memorial Library is hosting an Egg Decorating Party. Hop on over to the library on Saturday, April 12 to decorate eggs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Be sure to wear old clothes.
This Saturday, April 12 is Trivia Night at the Virginia United Methodist Church to raise funds for the Virginia Daycare. Dinner is $5 consisting of sloppy joes or hot dogs, chips and drink, and will be served at 5 p.m. with trivia starting at 6 p.m. Cost is $10 per person and 10 members per team. Contact Paula Hill for more information at 452-3050.

Rural schools must either change or decline

My name is Mark Lounsberry and I have served as a board of education member for 24 years and just left the PORTA board one year ago. I have watched the process of the referendum unfold and I am not surprised by the defeat of this proposition. It is not my intention to make derogatory statements about individuals involved but I do want to express my thoughts on what just occurred and where do we all go from here.

Auto pioneers born in nearby Canton

By Leigh Morris
Our Place in History
America’s auto industry was launched on Sept. 21, 1893, when the Duryea brothers’ one-cylinder gasoline engine-powered motorcar ran noisily through the streets of Springfield, Mass.
However, this story begins right here in Central Illinois. Charles Duryea was born up in Canton on Dec. 31, 1861. By the time his brother Frank was born on Oct. 8, 1869, the family had moved to Washburn, 55 miles to the northeast.
Then came another move, one that according to Charles proved to be most fortuitous. The family settled in Stark County, four or so miles east of Wyoming.

Games kept children occupied all day

By Kay Brown
The Garden Gate
When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, I start thinking about childhood happenings. The other night I thought about going to my aunt and uncle’s. They lived in Pittsfield, and when I was 10 I would go visit for week.
I met a girl that lived in the same block as my relatives, and was my age. She had two brothers, one older, one younger, and in a few years a baby sister. We did go to the city swimming pool once or twice a week, other wise we played boy games.
I was a “tomboy” so that was fine with me. They taught me to play marbles, you know, draw the circle in the dirt-toss your marbles out into the circle then everybody had what you called a shooter. It was a bigger marble and some of them were really pretty. I had a black leather bag that had a drawstring in the top, and a collection of marbles. When you shot the “shooter” you were supposed to knock a persons marble out of the circle and then it was yours. You had to be fairly good or you would end up “losing all your marbles.” Do you suppose that's where that saying comes from?