From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Playground Diva Remembered

Life in DOD housing, Berlin, 1990


Here's little Keely, all ready for a clown birthday party at Rachel's house. I think this photo was taken during the summer of 1990.

We were living in military housing in Berlin, Germany. The Army had rented a German apartment building that we shared with 13 other military and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian families.

We were in Berlin for the Army-Air Force Exchange System (AAFES, the PX people.) Other civilians in our apartment building included another AAFES family and the family of a teacher who worked at the DOD school.

Most of the other families in the building were military. Most of them had little children, so it was fortunate that the backyard had some playground equipment and a sandbox.

Some of the wives worked, but several of the wives stayed home with their young children. There were children in the backyard during most of the daylight hours, and Keely loved to go out and socialize.

Rachel (the one who had the clown party) was the alpha female of the playground. She was 7 years old, going on 30, and big for her age. When she barked, everyone jumped. She decided who was shunned and who was accepted. She could cuss fluently, and she knew all the facts of life and then some. Her parents smiled and said, "Well, that's Rachel."

I worried about Rachel being a bad example for Keely. Because of our living situation, we saw Rachel just about every day all summer long. There was really no way to avoid her. She was on the playground from daybreak to dusk. I was really glad when school started again and she was gone for part of the day.

Rachel would be about 25 years old now. I'm sure that she is still running things, wherever she is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rose, Nebraska

A "wide spot in the road" is fading away



Rose, Nebraska, in 2000Rose, Nebraska, in 2000. Trading Post (left),
livestock feed shed, and machine shop (right)


My address, when I was growing up, was Rose, Nebraska. Rose is on Highway 183, more or less midway in the 60 miles between Bassett and Taylor, Nebraska.

When I was little (1950s), the blacktop road from Bassett ended just south of the Rose Trading Post, and the next 30 miles to Taylor were gravel road. A couple of miles after the road turned to gravel, it passed Grandpa and Grandma (Gilbert and Christina) Swinney's house, which was the Rose post office.

By the time I was 10 or so (early 1960s), Highway 183 was paved all the way from Bassett to Taylor. Not long after that, Grandma Swinney retired as postmistress, and the post office was moved from her house to the Rose Trading Post.

After acquiring the post office, the Trading Post earned the honor of having the "Rose" highway sign there also. It always read, "Rose, population 2."

Rose was in its heyday during the time that I was growing up. The store sold groceries and necessities, livestock feed, and gasoline. Another building housed the Swanson Brothers' machine repair shop. (They moved their operation to Bassett around 1960.)

The Rose Community Hall was located just north of the Trading Post, and it was used for dances, 4-H and extension club meetings, Thanksgiving potlucks and Christmas programs, and as a polling place during elections.

We lived about four and a half miles west of Rose, as the crow flies. We could have driven through pastures, but by real roads, it was about eight miles. I looked forward to my mother going to the Rose store because I might be able to talk her into buying me some bubble gum or perhaps even a bottle of pop.

When Mike and Mildred Riley were running the Rose Trading Post, Mildred had a beauty shop in a room between the store and the living quarters. My Grandma Nora liked to go there to have her hair done, and I remember going with her to have a perm put in my hair once, courtesy of Grandma.

About 1970, several rural schools in the area consolidated and built a community school at Rose. I believe my sister-in-law Kathy taught there the first year that the Rose School opened. She was young and single, and she boarded with my parents. She and my brother became interested in each other, and the rest is history. They've been married for around 35 years now.

The last few decades have been hard on Rose. Population in the county has decreased, and Rose has been one of the casualties. I don't know if Rose still gets a dot on the Nebraska map or not, but it won't completely vanish as long as the school is there.

Rose NebraskaThe community hall is still there, too, and it's probably still used for some of the same events that I remember attending there.

The Trading Post has closed. The machine shop has, I believe, stood empty since the Swanson Brothers moved out.

The post office was located in the community hall for a while, but now it has closed permanently. You can still address a letter to Rose, but the Bassett post office handles that zip code.

Cowboy poet Baxter Black gave Rose a bit of immortality in "Sandhills Savior", a poem about the windmills in the Nebraska Sandhills.

... From Thedford to Hyannis, from Valentine to Rose
Across that sandy country where the prairie grass still grows
You'll see those man-made daisies, silhouettes against the sky
Their steel petals gleaming on their stalks eighteen feet high...


Rose, Nebraska

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Like the Christmas Season

A few reasons why I like Christmas


I accidentally deleted this from my blog and I had to retrieve it from the Prairie Bluestem feed. I apologize to my feed subscribers for duplicating this -- and for the many other mistakes and retakes that appear in the feed on a regular basis!


Having survived "Black Friday" at a retail store, I can say with authority that the mad Christmas rush has begun in America's heartland. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to the holiday with true enjoyment and genuine pleasure in the season.

I like:

Finding a perfect Christmas gift for someone I love.

Singing Christmas carols (and hearing them, too.)

Thinking about the meaning of the Christ Child's birth.

Christmas lights on the houses (even the ones that are beautiful mostly in the eyes of the owners.)

Downtown Christmas decorations, hung from the electric poles.

Sending and receiving Christmas cards.

Seeing wonder in the eyes of little children -- and love in the eyes of the parents and grandparents who accompany them.

Decorating my home for Christmas.

My kids getting up early on Christmas morning to open their gifts (even though they're young adults.)

Making Christmas cookies and other goodies that are traditional in my family.

Remembering happy Christmas celebrations of the past.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Happy Christmas memories



In 2006 I wrote about some Christmas memories in a series I titled, "Ghosts of Christmas Past." I hope you'll enjoy reading (or re-reading) these articles.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

First Experience with Country Ham

Learning to cook a country ham




Country hams from two different plants. They're wrapped in a
netting and hung. The hams at left are wrapped in paper inside
the netting and the hams under the red roof are just in netting.

The family didn't seem too enthusiastic about turkey this Thanksgiving, so I decided we'd try a country ham.

One reason I chose country ham is that they don't need refrigeration. They are stored at room temperature so no thawing is required. That's a plus when you're planning refrigerator space for a big meal.

I found country hams on sale, not much more expensive than turkeys, and I chose a 17-pounder that I thought might fit into my roasting pan. It was a little too large, so I should have got a 14-or 15-pounder. It worked out all right, though. We just shortened it a little with the meat saw.

I had no idea how country hams were supposed to be cooked, so I looked on the internet and found a great number of recipes. Many of them recommended soaking the ham overnight before cooking it. The purpose of soaking it is to remove some of the salt that was used to cure it.

I set a 5-gallon pickle bucket in the kitchen sink, put the ham in it, and filled it to the brim with water. I changed the water once, but in retrospect, I would recommend changing it several times.

The next morning, Dennis put the ham on to cook. He drained off the water, scrubbed the ham a little with a clean scratchy-pad, and sawed off its skinny end with the meat saw so it would fit.

Then he placed the ham skin-side down in a roaster. He tucked some onions and celery around it, threw in a couple of bay leaves, and added a couple of quarts of water.

I had allowed plenty of time to cook it, and it was done (internal temperature over 160°) a couple of hours before the meal was ready. We just kept it hot in the oven until time to serve it.

I know you're anxious to hear how it turned out. (Of course you are; don't try to deny it!) Well, the ham was good. It was very tender, very juicy, and also very salty. Very Salty. After all, it is salt-cured. That's why I think I should have soaked it longer, or changed the water more, or both.

I will reheat the leftovers in water so a little more of the salt is removed. We really don't need to eat concentrated salt like that. I'll freeze some of it to use as seasoning in soups and stews. No additional salt will be needed!

In case any connoisseurs of country ham read this, this was a Clifty Ham, cured and smoked in Paris, Tennessee, not too far from here.

Country ham is a traditional food here, especially for the holidays, so I'm glad we tried it. However, next Thanksgiving, I think we'll just have a turkey, or if the family wants something different, maybe a pork loin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen

Counting a few of my blessings





1. I'm thankful that my husband and I became parents.
2. I'm thankful that I have everything I really need and much more.
3. I'm thankful that I live in America.
4. I'm thankful that I grew up in a happy home.
5. I'm thankful that I have never been persecuted for being a Christian.
6. I'm thankful for the peace and quiet of our country home.
7. I'm thankful that I live in the internet age.
8. I'm thankful that I have interests and hobbies.
9. I'm thankful that we are debt-free.
10. I'm thankful that I am able to read.
11. I'm thankful that I enjoy the holidays.
12. I'm thankful for all the cats who have owned me.
13. I'm thankful for my eyes and for my eyeglasses.

How about you? What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Accents and Dialects

Language with a personal flavor



In my opinion, I don't have much of an accent when I speak my native tongue-- but I suppose that most people don't hear their own accents very well.

I am thankful that my grade-school teachers (in a tiny, one-room country school in Nebraska) taught me standard English and proper grammar. They had a fit if anyone said "ain't," and I still don't say it four decades later. Saying things like "I seen" or "I done" was not permitted either. Those ladies did not hesitate to correct a student's grammar whenever necessary, and I am glad they taught me well.

After living in Missouri and Kentucky for 20 years or more of my adult life, I've added "y'all" ("you all") to my vocabulary. This makes my Nebraska friends say that I've picked up a southern accent. However, native-born Kentuckians say to me, "You're not from here, are you?"

Various dialects can be heard in Christian County. One characteristic of our local speech is that people talk slowly. My speech has slowed down too, and that's another reason that people say I've developed a Southern drawl.

Two words that I know I pronounce wrong are "wash" and "milk." I say "wush" (rhymes with "mush") and "melk" (rhymes with "elk".) I think that's a bit of flat Midwestern accent that I retain from my childhood.

My aunt, a native of Gordon, NE, who now lives near Chicago, told me that she can hear her Midwestern accent when she says "potatoes." She actually says "podadoes"  because of the place in her mouth that her tongue touches when she pronounces the "t."

  Plowing a potato field near Andersonville, TN, 1933

New Job

Working is not what it's cracked up to be.



A while back, I applied for a job at one of the larger stores in Hopkinsville, never dreaming that they would actually hire me. After all, I have tried and tried to get a job (a real job, not sub teaching) in the local school system, and they don't hire me, despite my Missouri teacher's certificate and two degrees.

Anyway, I did accept a part-time retail job, and I have been working for the last week or so. The store has been busy every time I've worked so far, and I suspect that it is only going to get worse as Christmas approaches. I'm getting lots of practice on the cash register, merchandise returns, etc. due to the abundance of shoppers.

I have run various cash registers through the years, but the registers at this store are the most computerized that I've used. I'm getting more comfortable with them as the days go by. Now, I'm not as worried about running the cash register as I am about closing it. I had my first experience with that on Sunday night, and I didn't like it.

The girl who is my main trainer is about the same age as my daughter. She's bright and quick -- almost too quick for me to see and remember all that she's doing. She probably goes home and tells her husband that they hired the village idiot to work in her department.

Working is cutting into my blogging time. I must learn to write faster and shorter. I also need to jot down ideas when they come to me, because I may be brain-dead when I finally sit down at my computer.

I'm sure I'll soon get used to working again. After I'm trained and the Christmas season is over, maybe I'll even have some sort of a regular schedule. And it's only a part-time job. But right now, it is a bit of a shock after three years of soul-restoring intentional unemployment.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rudyard Kipling 's Description of Omaha

America irritated by Kipling's 'American Notes'



I recently found the book American Notes, by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), on the books-for-sale shelves at the library. Because of it, I've done some minor research and now I know that Kipling took several excursions in North America. In fact, there's a town in Saskatchewan named Kipling in his honor.

In American Notes, Kipling gives an account of his travels from San Francisco to Vancouver, and thence to Yellowstone, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago and eastward. Apparently, he took the trip in 1889, and as he traveled, he wrote letters that were published in a newspaper in India. Later, he put the letters together as American Notes, a book that was published in 1891. A revised edition came out in 1899.

Kipling traveled by rail from Denver to Chicago. He probably took the Burlington line. Enroute, he passed through Omaha, Nebraska, and his comments included the following:

Omaha, Nebraska was but a halting-place on the road to Chicago, but it revealed to me horrors that I would not willingly have missed.

The city to casual investigations seemed to be populated entirely by Germans, Poles, Slavs, Hungarians, Croats, Magyars, and all the scum of Eastern European States, but it must have been laid out by Americans.

No other people would have cut the traffic of a main street with two streams of railway lines, each some eight or nine tracks wide, and cheerfully drive tram cars across the metals.

Every now and again they have horrible railway crossing accidents at Omaha, but nobody seems to think of building an overhead-bridge. That would interfere with the vested interests of the undertakers...


Rudyard Kipling, about 1915
American Notes was widely criticized in America when it was published. Americans readers thought Kipling  was sneering and sarcastic, and after browsing through the book, I understand their reaction. Perhaps you can feel a bit of his bite in the excerpt above.

Many were disappointed in an author whom they respected. Others were just irritated. Mr. G. A. England of Harvard University, in a letter to the editor of the New York Times about Kipling, stated, "His is a bad case of megalomania, complicated with Intellectual myopia."

Somewhere else (I'm unable to relocate the webpage), I read that a dislike of the crassness and excesses of unfettered democracy was behind Kipling's sarcasm in American Notes.

The publisher of the 1899 edition was a bit anxious. He admitted in a foreword, "[The letters] seem supersarcastic, and would lead one to believe that Mr. Kipling is antagonistic to America in every respect." However, he suggested, the caustic flavor of the letters was interesting to students of Kipling, and thus the letters were worthy of publishing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mennonite Immigration from Russia to America

Russian Mennonites on the North American prairies



If you are interested in the Mennonites, I've found an old article that you may enjoy reading. It appears in an 1878 encyclopedia that has been digitized by Google. You can read the first paragraph at the bottom of this post, and then go to the link to read the remainder of the article (about two pages in all.)

The article explains some of the circumstances that led Mennonites to immigrate in large numbers from Russia in the 1870s and settle on the North American prairies.

Brief history of the Russian Mennonites



Thousands of Moravian and Prussian Mennonites went to Russia during the 1600s and 1700s to escape cruel persecution in their homelands. However, in the 1870s, they were threatened with conscription into Russian armies, which was against their religious beliefs.

Because of their reputation as an industrious, law-abiding, productive people, the government of Canada sent a special messenger in 1874 to invite Russian Mennonites to settle in Manitoba. Canada even lent them money to help them resettle.

Settlements were also established in Kansas, Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota. In some cases, whole villages of Mennonites left Russia and resettled on the prairies of North America.

The author (name not given), writing in 1878 during the surge of Russian Mennonite immigration, comments that they are hardworking and thrifty farmers, but reluctant to associate with outsiders and fond of their own language. The women are good housekeepers and the men are good farmers. He is impressed with their ability to establish attractive, well-equipped, productive farms despite limited funds and adverse weather conditions.

The historic marker in the photo below tells a little about the hard red wheat ("Red Turkey Wheat") that the Russian Mennonites brought with them to Kansas. This wheat made Kansas the "bread basket of the nation." I took this photo along Highway 50 in Harvey County, east of Walton, Kansas.

Russian Mennonites brought red wheat to KansasRed Turkey Wheat: Mennonite gift to agriculture.
Text on this historic marker is also available here.


Mennonite immigration to America began in the 1600s.



It is curious that the encyclopedia author writes as if the Mennonites from Russia were the first Mennonites to come to the New World. That's not correct at all.

In 1683, William Penn extended an invitation to the Mennonites to settle in Pennsylvania, and that was the beginning of a large settlement of Mennonites in Pennsylvania. Penn was a Quaker, and he viewed the Mennonites as gentle people of similar faith.

By 1735, there were already close to 500 Mennonite families in Pennsylvania. (Source) I suspect that number included families that we would call Amish today. The Amish were Mennonites who followed Jacob Ammen's teaching about church discipline.

1878 encyclopedia article about Russian Mennonites



Here's the first paragraph of the old encyclopedia article about the Russian Mennonites. The link below it, will take you to the full article.



If the small print is difficult to read, there's a text version. Just follow the link above, and when you get to the Google page, look in the upper right hand corner for the "View Plain Text" link.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Set of Oxymorons

Double dose of contradictions



Set of oxymorons

I love the small print at the bottom of the banner: "First time customers only." The second time you're a customer, the oxymorons do not apply.

In truth, these money lenders aren't funny. They say they're providing a service to people who don't have other resources. That may be true, but when people get started with check advances, it's hard for them to escape from the trap. The interest rates are exorbitant. The customer may repay the loan and interest after he gets his check -- but then he has to get another loan to make it to the next check.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kentucky Hopes for a Rainy Winter

Recent rains have greened the autumn landscape



Rainy sky

After a very dry summer, rain surprises us. Even though rainy weather is normal for November, my reaction this year is, "Look! It's raining! I'd better take a picture!"

The National Weather Service announced a couple of weeks ago that the drought has ended in the Pennyrile, our region of Kentucky. However, we remain 12 to 16 inches short of rain for the year. We need a rainy winter.

According to the NWS and the National Drought Monitor, only the southern border of Christian and Todd counties, across the Oak Grove and Trenton areas, are still under drought conditions. The drought in those areas has been downgraded to abnormally dry, the least severe categorization.

Source: "Officials declare end of drought" by Blair Dedrick, Kentucky New Era, Nov. 2, 2007


Recent rains have insured good seed germination for the winter wheat. The fresh green color of the newly sprouted wheat is good to see. The grass in some of the pastures is looking better also.

Hay for the winter remains a problem for livestock owners. The late freeze followed by drought reduced the hay harvest by half in many areas. In an effort to help, Kentucky's Department of Agriculture has a hay hotline (1-888-567-9589) where buyers and sellers can list their contact info. Weight and size restrictions have been eased for trucks hauling loads of hay.

Some farmers have baled their drought-damaged soybeans. Others have left the beans standing in the field, saying that the expense of baling is greater than the value of the fodder.

Farmers who are feeding crop residues (corn stalks, etc.) are cautioned to have them tested for nutritional value and nitrate content. High nitrates can kill livestock.

In our neighborhood, it was a good summer for the bulldozer operators. While water levels were low, many farmers took the opportunity to clean out their ponds and dig them a little deeper. New ponds have been constructed as well. Now we need a rainy winter to fill them.

Recent rainy afternoon

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

60th Wedding Anniversary Celebrated

A nice event at our church




Wilbert ("Hap") and Marion Heilman, were married in 1947. The image above (my snapshot of their photograph) shows them on their wedding day.

The Heilman's celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary today. Their four children had a small reception for them this afternoon at our church.

Mrs. Heilman told me she weighted 115 pounds the day she was married, and her mother made her wedding dress. They were married in a Lutheran church, in or around Evansville, Indiana.

They made their home in the Evansville area, and over the years, four children were born. As it happened, they had some neighbors whose name was Roeder. In the mid-1960s, the Roeders opened a John Deere implement in Hopkinsville, KY. They invited Hap to work in the repair shop, and Hap accepted the offer.

The Heilmans moved to Hopkinsville, and they've been here ever since. I think the implement had been open a few years already, before they moved here, 35 years ago or so. The three daughters all stayed around Evansville, but their son (the youngest of the family) moved to Hopkinsville with them. He still lives in Christian County.

Hap has retired now, and he and Marion live on a small farm near St. Elmo, in southeastern Christian County. They don't get out much anymore, due to their health. I know that this was quite a day for them.

All of their children were at the reception, and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren were present also. Hap and Marion raised a nice family. I enjoyed seeing them together today.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Passenger Pigeons in Christian County, KY

Extinct birds credited with creating a farm's rich soil



Passenger pigeon Passenger Pigeon

In Judge W. T. Fowler's little book, Christian County, Kentucky, written in 1915, he makes some interesting comments about Mr. R. F. Rives and his farm:

Mr. R. F. Rives is one of the largest wheat growers and tobacco growers in Kentucky. He has in ten years produced 250,000 bushels of wheat on his farm. He is Christian county's largest farmer taxpayer, and is second largest in the county, Forbes Mfg. Co. being the first.

His farm is in the heart of what is known as the "Pigeon Rooset [sic]" section. The wild pigeons in Audubon's day had for their roosting place a forest in Christian county which covered thousands of acres. This is the most productive land in the county. Its yields of wheat, corn, tobacco, clover and alfalfa are marvelous...

[This splendid farm] is a model for stately buildings and neat arrangement. Its master is one of Christian county's sages in agriculture and a man who has mastered the problems of system and management as few have.

The R. F. Rives farm was surely located somewhere in the fine farmlands of southern Christian County. Perhaps it was in the vicinity of today's John Rives Road, a few miles southeast of Hopkinsville, where the Rock Bridge Branch meanders through the fields.

At any rate, it's interesting that the soil had been enriched by passenger pigeon droppings.

Mr. R. F. RivesMr. R. F. Rives
Huge flocks of passenger pigeons gathered in Kentucky in the fall to feast on acorns and beech nuts. When he mentions "Audubon's day", he's referring to the observations of the incredibly large passenger pigeon flocks that Audubon recorded.

Nowadays, we'd be worried about histoplasmosis in a place with concentrated bird droppings. Health officials would test for the fungus, and if present, they would place the area under quarantine.

In fact, Hopkinsville spent several hundred thousand dollars just a couple of years ago to replace soil contaminated heavily by bird droppings in a park where big flocks of birds roosted.

A century ago, R. F. Rives just plowed the bird manure into the soil and made the most of his good luck. Ignorance was bliss -- and a whole lot simpler and cheaper.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

An Evening at the Kentuckiana Digital Library

Historical documents, images, and more



A few minutes ago, I had to pull myself away from the Kentuckiana Digital Library (KDL) so I can write in my blog and go to bed!

The KDL is just one section of The Kentucky Virtual Library, an immense resource for research in and about Kentucky. I don't pretend to know everything that can be found in and through the Kentucky Virtual Library. I do know that you can search, get the name of a book and its library, and have your local library arrange an interlibrary-loan.

The KDL has a lot of old photographs, books, and newspapers online. For example, I found a little book from 1915 that gives a proud overview of Christian County, Kentucky (where I live.) The entire text of William Henry Perrin's histories of Christian and Trigg Counties is also available there.

I learned a bit about the WPA work done around here in the Depression from some of the images of Christian County. Besides building roads and bridges, they operated a stone quarry that provided the materials. The images also include views of the coal mines in the northern part of the county in the early years of the century, a few farming photos from that era, and a number of photos of the long-gone Bethel College in Hopkinsville.

Since we live on the east side of Christian County with the Jefferson Davis Monument in the greater circles of our neighborhood, I was interested in the 1929 images of the newly completed monument. The one that shows a vintage automobile approaching Fairview is my favorite.

The Todd County photos (next county to the east) raised a question in my mind that will now have to be answered. What has become of the Gray and Blue State Park that appears in over a dozen photographs?

A hotel, lodge, traveler's rest hall, and more are shown in the photos of the Gray and Blue State Park. The park was transferred in 1936 to the National Park Service according to one of the captions. The only modern-day evidence I can find of the park's existence is the address of a church: "2273 Blue and Gray Park Road." I'm planning a drive down that road to see what I can see.

If you appreciate old-time photographs, newspapers, books, etc., there are wonders to behold at this website. I hope you'll pay a visit.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

An Election Worker's Day

Providing a fair and honest election to my precinct



I Voted stickerYesterday, I was an election worker in Kentucky's General Election. My day began when the alarm rang at 4:15 AM. I left the house at 5:15 AM and drove a couple of miles to the local church that is the polling place for our precinct. Other workers arrived at about the same time, and we got the voting machines ready to go, tables arranged, sample ballots posted, and "Vote Here" signs installed outside.

At 6:00 a.m., we had our first voters. The next 12 hours went by fairly quickly, with a steady stream of people passing through. Usually, we had only one or two voters at a time, but at times, we had up to a dozen people waiting to vote. In all, about 1/3 of the registered voters in our precinct cast a ballot.

Due to a shortage of election workers, we had a three-person crew. We are supposed to have four workers -- clerk, Republican judge, Democrat judge, and sheriff. Since we didn't have a sheriff, we had to share that job between us.


Voter registration irregularities



We did have a few registration irregularities. We had several people who had moved from the precinct but had not changed their registration to their new precinct. It's illegal for them to vote in a precinct where they don't live, so we had to fill out paperwork for them and send them to their proper polling place.

In another case, a wife was listed as a legal voter in the book, but the husband was not listed, even though he had voted and resided in the precinct for years, just as his wife has. The county clerk allowed him to vote, but it required some phone calls and paperwork. The man was irritated and I understand why, but it certainly wasn't our fault.

In another case, a voter was incorrectly listed so we couldn't find his name. After a phone call to the County Clerk's office, we learned that he was listed with his middle name as his last name and his last name as his first name. He was able to vote under his incorrectly-listed name, and he filled out a new voter registration card to change his name so it will be correct next time (we hope.)

Problems with voting



An elderly gentleman requested the old voting machine. He couldn't hear very well. When he came out of the booth, we election workers didn't think that we had heard the bell on his machine ring (indicating that his vote was cast.) He asserted that he wouldn't have heard the bell if it did ring, but he had certainly pushed the "Vote" button. We commented that the lights next to the names on the screen were still flashing which indicated his vote was not complete. He insisted again that he had voted (!) so we didn't press the issue further. However, we don't think that his vote was recorded.

Workers aren't allowed to enter the booth with the voter, so it's hard to determine exactly what the problem is in some cases. O
ne of the last voters of the day used the new voting machine and somehow managed to press buttons in a sequence that looped him back through the ballot several times. We tried to talk him through it from outside the booth. When the ballot has been successfully cast and the votes recorded, a success message and the American flag are displayed on the screen. He finally got that screen, but he was not satisfied that his vote had been counted.

Each of these incidents had to be recorded on the Sheriff's report, and some of them happened while we were pretty busy with voters, so it would have been good to have that fourth worker. Our precinct was one of several that did not have a full crew. I don't know why they can't find enough election workers. Is it the long day?

Following correct election procedures



Some voters seemed a bit miffed that they had to show an ID, but that's the rule unless an election worker will sign that he/she personally knows the person's identity.

I felt that all the election workers at our precinct were following regulations and procedures as best we could. We were going by the book. No one was trying to stretch or bend the rules or influence the voters. We were doing our best to provide a fair and honest election to the residents of our precinct.

After the polls were closed at 6:00 p.m., it took us about half an hour to print out the tapes on the machines, close them and shut them down, and pack up all the election materials. Then the other judge and I had to take the tapes, the memory units from the machines, and the voter books and other papers to the County Clerk's office.

One thing I learned is that it might be a good idea to check your voter registration at the courthouse once in a while, even if you've been voting regularly and haven't made any changes of address.

It was a long and tiring day, but it was good to participate in the exercise of democracy. I enjoyed it.

Related:
KY Poll Worker Charged With Assault -- Wow!
Fun, Civic Duty Cited as Reasons to Work the Polls -- Local election worker has served for 25 years.
Sheriff Called In to Solve Oak Grove Poll Problem -- Election workers coped with an inhospitable polling place elsewhere in my county. Check out the mayor's statement in the last paragraph. What an idiot. I hope the voters realize that he's messing with their voting rights, not just with the election workers who happened to be assigned there.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Safe and Secure from All Alarms

Skittles and her can


Skittles is such an intense little cat. When she decides she likes some particular place to sleep, she sleeps there fervently and often. Some of the places she favors are a little odd. For example, she's always been fond of sleeping in the trash can.

Recently, she took a liking to the little rug in front of the kitchen range. That didn't work out too well because people stepped on her all the time. One night, as I tried to stop stepping on her and she screeched in protest, I almost fell into a pot of hot soup.

Something had to be done. I had a big, empty, popcorn tin so I put an old towel in the bottom of it and set it in front of the range. She jumped right in, curled up, and took a long nap. I guess it reminded her of the trash can.

Since then, Skittles has been spending a lot of time sleeping in her popcorn can. She loves it, and it amuses me to have her there now that I don't have to worry about stepping on her.

Today, after I broke a glass in the kitchen, I vacuumed to clean up any splinters I might have missed with the broom. Usually, Skittles would have to leave the room while the vacuum was running. She's always very careful not to get caught in close quarters with that noisy monster.

But today, she felt so secure in her popcorn can that she didn't have to leave, not even when I vacuumed her rug. After several minutes of noisy vacuuming, I passed her can again, and she was half-asleep.

As I put up the vacuum cleaner, words from an old hymn came to mind -- "Safe and secure from all alarms." That's a phrase from the chorus of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," a hymn we sang in the country churches I attended as a child. If you're not familiar with it, you can read and hear it at Cyberhymnal.

Related:
Another midi of this hymn
And a piano midi version
And one more version

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Rock County, NE, Centennial Book on eBay

I want it, but I'm not going to bid any more.



eBay is selling a copy of Rock County Nebraska Centennial, 1888-1898. I have run the bid up to $74.29 on the darned thing, but someone has bid more. I'd love to have it, but $73.29 is my top bid. (Don't ask me why that's the magic number, but it is.)

It will be interesting to see how much it brings. My readers from Rock County may be surprised how much their centennial books are worth, if they are fortunate enough to own one.

I would be tempted to bid higher, but I'm getting ready to spend a small fortune on the accompanist's editions of the new hymnbook and liturgy for church. Unfortunately, that's going to deplete my library budget.

(I should add, for those who may be puzzled: I grew up in Rock County, Nebraska. I would know/know-of many of the people who are mentioned in the book.)

Update:

The final price for the Rock County Centennial book on eBay was $74.29.

The same book is currently selling at AbeBooks for $175.00.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Fine Old Building on Hopkinsville's Main Street

A brief history of an 1890s commercial building in Hopkinsville, Kentucky


F. A. Yost Building in Hopkinsville, KY

In 1894, a handsome brick building was constructed on the northeast corner of 10th and Main in Hopkinsville. It was originally occupied by The Racket, a firm that advertised itself in period publications simply as "The Big Store."

Years of Yosts


By 1897, according to Meacham's City Directory of Hopkinsville, Kentucky of that year, The Racket had moved. It was in business selling "everything" at 214-216 South Main. F.A. Yost & Co. had opened a harness and saddlery store in the Racket's former location, 207 South Main.

At that time, Forbes & Bro. Hardware & Farm Machinery was the next building south, just across 10th Street. The J. H. Anderson clothing and shoe store was directly across Main Street to the west.

A 1906 photo postcard of this section of Main Street appears in Postcard History Series: Hopkinsville, by William T. Turner and Donna K. Stone (Arcadia Publishing, Charleston SC, 2006.) It shows streets full of buggies and wagons, and sidewalks crowded with shoppers. The ladies and girls are wearing long dresses, and every man, woman and child is wearing a head covering of some sort. The sign on the Yost building reads, "Buggies. F.A. Yost Co."

Soon thereafter, around 1910, the Cayce-Yost partnership was formed. As time went by and business flourished, the Cayce-Yost Hardware Store took over F.A. Yost's saddle and harness shop. The Cayce-Yost Department Store occupied the building just to the north of the hardware store, and the Cayce-Yost Farm Store was located a few doors down the street to the south. A furniture store was located in the upper floors of another nearby building.

In a linen postcard of the 1940s (below,) Cayce Yost Hardware is located in the third building from right. (Note the distinctive round window at the top of the building.) I bought this postcard on eBay. This same card appears in Postcard History Series: Hopkinsville where it is dated "c. 1946."


End of the Cayce-Yost era


The last of the Cayce-Yost stores closed out completely in the early 1990s. We had only recently moved to Hopkinsville. I remember their close-out sale, the only time I was ever in any of the stores.

Apparently the Cayce Yost Hardware Store moved to a different location or closed not long after the picture postcard above was printed. The Kentucky New Era (subscription required) reports that Jim Noland’s Western Auto Store used the building from 1951 to 1980, and Bartholomew's Restaurant was in the building from 1982-1997. Several other restaurants have followed in recent years.

F. A. Yost building, historic district of Hopkinsville, KY

The Yost building today


Currently, a restaurant called "Timmons" is located on the first two floors of the Yost building. In the photo at right, you can see some diners at tables in the lower windows. The ground floor could be called a basement, I suppose. It's a couple of steps down from street level. The first floor is a few steps up.

The second floor has a banquet room, and the proprietors of the Timmons establishment, David and Michelle Norris, live on the top floor of the building.

The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. Before the Timmons opened, a good deal of maintenance was done on the building, including replacement of all the windows on the 10th Street side of the building (all those you see in the photo at the top of this post.) Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Norris, for doing that.
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.