Thursday, February 28, 2008

Occasionally It Snows in Christian County

Snow yesterday, gone today

Snowy day in Christian County, KY

Tuesday afternoon was cold and very windy. Sleet began to fall as darkness approached. Soon the temperature dropped enough that the precipitation began sticking to the roadways.

When Isaac arrived home from work at 10:00 p.m., he had seen a car in the ditch and had wondered at one corner if he might end up there, too. He had turned the steering wheel, but the car kept going straight -- straight across the road, straight toward the ditch. Then, the tires grabbed, and he was suddenly headed in the direction he had wanted to go.

School was cancelled yesterday (Wednesday) in Christian County, and also in three adjoining counties: Todd and Muhlenberg in Kentucky and Montgomery in Tennessee. Also, classes were cancelled at the Community College. Dennis, who went to work at 5 a.m., verified that the roads were treacherous at that hour.

I took the photo above as I drove to work about 9:30 yesterday morning. The slick coating on the roads had mostly melted, but snow continued to fall through early afternoon. By nightfall, there was little evidence that snow had ever fallen; nearly all of it had melted away.

After I arrived at work, I found out that approximately half of my co-workers weren't going to be there. Supposedly the roads were still too bad for them to make it. I think the real problem might have been that they didn't have babysitters for their children who were home from school for the day.

Old Bank Renovation in Hopkinsville, KY

First City Bank and Trust building at 9th and Main

Old bank building, Hopkinsville, KY

The First City Bank and Trust building sits on the southwest corner of 9th and Main streets in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The building has been vacant since 1975, but it's now being renovated.

Five apartments will occupy the second floor, and the first floor will be a professional office suite -- probably a law office. Nowadays, law and justice are two of the main enterprises in Hopkinsville's historic downtown.

Project infoThe City of Hopkinsville bought the building, about 5-1/2 years ago, for $65,000. Soon after the purchase, grants were obtained to replace the roof.

City leaders hoped for enough grants to renovate the building's interior, but adequate funds were not offered. In October, 2007, the Hopkinsville city council approved a $1.3 million loan from the Kentucky League of Cities to complete the renovation. A sign on the building states that a TEA-21 grant has also contributed.

Asbestos and lead paint removal, as well as structural repairs to the building, have made this an expensive and controversial project. When the building was purchased, local real estate appraiser, Mary Lee Norfleet, thought it was a foolish move:

"That $65,000 that shouldn't have been spent in the first place pales in comparison with what this will cost eventually," she claimed.

Source: "Old bank project has promise -- and pitfalls," by E. L. Gold, published in Kentucky New Era, July 20, 2002. (Subscription required.)

Staircase in old bank buildingMs. Norfleet claimed that she'd seen estimates of $1.3 million for the building's renovation. As it happens, the recent loan was for that exact amount. When the loan for the renovation was announced, the mayor's office stated that rental income will cover the repayment of the loan.

I had imagined that this building might be from the 1920s, but the Kentucky New Era says it was constructed in the late 1800s. ( See "Architects hired for old bank renovation," by Jennifer Brown, Kentucky New Era, July 18, 2003. Subscription required.) The building's exterior seems streamlined and modernistic in comparison to other Hopkinsville buildings of similar vintage.

UPDATE 6/20/08
: The Kentucky New Era (cited and linked in the previous paragraph) was mistaken about the date of the First City Bank's construction.
After the stock market crash of 1929, three local banks merged to form First City Bank. Their new place of business, this building I've written about here, was completed in 1930.

"Severe in form, the brick and stone structure is ornamented in the streamlined, futuristic style of the 1930s that is loosely called Art Deco." (Source:"
Hopkinsville and Christian County Historical Sites, written for the Kentucky Heritage Commission by Kenneth T. Gibbs and Carolyn Torma, copyright 1982 by Gateway Trust.)
I'm glad that the city council decided to complete the renovation with a loan, since grants weren't forthcoming. I hope that the public will get a chance to admire the results before renters take possession.

Night drop, old bank

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

1880s Settlers in Northern Nebraska

Old book about a Pennsylvania colony in Brown County, NE

Tonight I've been browsing through the digitized edition of To and Through Nebraska by Frances I. Sims Fulton. It tells a bit of the story of some Pennsylvanians who homesteaded as a colony in Brown County, Nebraska, in the early 1880s.

It seems that in the early 1880s, around Bradford, Pennsylvania, there was an oilfield boom and bust. Many people who had speculated with their life savings lost everything.

Seeking a new start in life, the author's brother and other westward-leaning men organized "The Nebraska Mutual Aid Colony." When they had enlisted enough investor-homesteaders, they purchased 640 acres in northern Brown County, Nebraska, as a townsite. Each member was guaranteed two lots in the town plus a share in the sale of future lots. Members who wanted land were supposed to buy or homestead within ten miles of the town.

The author, a young single lady, traveled from Pennsylvania to Brown County, Nebraska, with the first group of colonists. They came by train to Stuart, Nebraska, and then went overland to the settlement area. Her intent was to give an eyewitness report about the situation to her family at home. Her father had invested, but he was worried about the settlement's distance from the railroad.

When the colonists arrived at their selected settlement area, things didn't go quite as they had planned. Some land around the townsite had already been homesteaded by strangers, and some of the colonists weren't able to get land nearby as they had planned.

The author's father wrote to her, saying that he couldn't bear to relocate at his age, so Miss Francis Fulton gave up the idea of being a homesteader. But before she went back to Pennsylvania, she spent several months in Brown County with the colonists, recording her experiences for the benefit of others who might want to emigrate to the area.

When she left Brown County, she traveled to Long Pine, Valentine, and Fort Niobrara to see the scenery. (These are still scenic areas today) She had heard stories about the wild cowboys at Valentine, so she traveled with a middle-aged married lady. They had no problems, and she observed that some of the cowboys were truly just boys. She also visited the Platte, Big Blue, and Republican River valleys in Nebraska before returning to Pennsylvania.

The book is an interesting account of a young Victorian lady's great adventure on the Nebraska prairie, one of the last American frontiers. If you like Nebraska history, I think you'll enjoy browsing through the book. And the price is right -- free.

Holt Creek and the Keya Paha River are mentioned, so I think the settlement was near the Nebraska / South Dakota state line in present-day Keya Paha County, NE. To be specific, I think it was northeast of Springview in the Burton area. A letter from one of the colonists is quoted in the book; the heading is "Brewer P.O., Brown Co. Neb." A history of Keya Paha County lists Brewer as a post office in 1884; however, Brewer is not shown on an 1895 map of Keya Paha County.

Keya Paha County isn't actually in the Nebraska Sandhills, but for simplicity's sake, I'll give this post a "Nebraska Sandhills" tag. The Sandhills are certainly not far away.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Old Children's Game: Anty Over

A nearly-lost playground game

In one-room country schools, all the students played games together at recess. The rules and rituals of the games were taught to the young by the playground elders, who had been taught in that same way when they started school.

The passing-down of traditional games from older to younger children ended when the little country schools were closed. A few games have survived, but so many have been forgotten.

For example, "Anty Over" was a game that my schoolmates and I enjoyed playing when we attended a one-room school in Nebraska, fifty years ago. I doubt if my own children have ever heard of this ritualized ball game.

[H]e rose and strolled back again past the little schoolhouse, and it was recess. Long before he reached it he heard the voices of the children shouting, "Anty, anty over, anty, anty over." They were divided into two bands, one on either side of the small building, over which they tossed the ball and shouted as they tossed it, "Anty, anty over"; and the band on the other side, warned by the cry, caught the ball on the rebound if they could, and tore around the corner of the building, trying to hit with it any luckless wight on the other side, and so claim him for their own, and thus changing sides, the merry romp went on.

Source: The Eye of Dread by Payne Erskin. Published 1913, by Little, Brown & Company, Boston.

We played the game very much like it is described above, with one minor addition. If the attempt to throw the ball over the schoolhouse was unsuccessful, we yelled, "Pig's tail!" Then, when the next throw was attempted, we yelled "Anty anty over!" again. Or sometimes, "Anty eye over!" which was our way of saying it fancy.

After the ball went over the schoolhouse, a few moments of high suspense followed. We didn't know if the other team had caught the ball or not. If they hadn't caught it, they would call "Anty over!" pretty soon and throw the ball back. But if they had caught the ball, they were going to run around the schoolhouse and try to tag us.

When the other team came around, they usually split up and came from both sides of the schoolhouse at the same time. Because we didn't know who had the ball, we didn't know which way to dodge! The only escape was to run wildly around the schoolhouse to the side the other team had just vacated.

Our teachers always warned us to be careful of the schoolhouse windows, and I don't remember that we ever broke any of them, though we certainly rattled the window screens a few times with our badly thrown balls.

In Dialect Notes, published by the American Dialect Society in 1895, alternate names listed for Anty Over included Anty-anty-over, Antny-over, Anthony-over, Baily-over, Colly-over and Colly-up.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hot Salt Packs Remembered

Old-time earache remedy

Earaches are part of my earliest memories.

There are two things I remember vividly about them. One thing is the unpleasant sensation of ear-drops trickling through the inside of my ear and down into the depths of my head.

My other memory about earaches is the hot salt packs my mother fixed for me. I could lay my head on their good warmth and feel the pain of my ear melt away.

The hot packs were simply homemade cotton bags, about the size of a potholder, filled with salt. My mother warmed them carefully in the oven, and they held heat for quite a while. The warm salt had a distinctive odor that only warm salt has. I would still know it if I smelled it.

I think the heat was naturally moist. Salt loves to soak up moisture, you know.

Apparently we didn't have an electric heat pad. It was the mid-1950s -- maybe heat pads hadn't even been invented yet, or maybe they were too expensive for country folks like us.

Hot salt packs were an old-time earache remedy that my mother probably remembered from her own ear problems as a child. An 1868 book of advice for mothers suggests this very treatment for earache: "Apply to the ear a small flannel bag, filled with hot salt—as hot as can be comfortably borne..."

My Brother's Friend

Loss of a good man

My sister called last night and said that my brother's dear friend, Johnny, has passed away. Johnny and his wife have been neighbors to my sister and family for years. My brother used to live in that neighborhood too, and that's how he and Johnny happened to become close friends.

Johnny was older than my brother by a good bit, nearly as old as my dad. I imagine he thought of Dwight as a son in many ways. The few times I happened to see Johnny and Dwight together, I was impressed with the camaraderie and respect they shared.

Johnny's wife once told Dwight that he was the only one who would listen to Johnny's trucker stories. Dwight says he knows Johnny's tales of his trucking adventures were all true, because the facts in them never varied from one telling to the next. I should add that Dwight has done enough trucking to appreciate a good trucker story.

Deep, true friendships don't come along often in life. I'm sad for my brother's loss.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Carribean Connection

Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Virgin Islands in 1920

Since Cuba has been in the news for several days, I checked my 1920 world geography book to see what insight it might provide. This interesting passage gives some background to U.S. influence in the Carribean. I studied Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in American history class years ago, of course, but it makes much more sense now than it did then.

"The latest addition to our territory is the little group of Danish West Indies or Virgin Islands, lying just east of Porto Rico. They were bought for $25,000,000 and came into our possession in March, 1917. Our government had made previous attempts to buy the islands but was never able to make satisfactory terms. These little islands with a total area of only 142 square miles cost more than the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska together.

"Their population is small and their only industry is sugar growing. Their value to our government does not consist in their territory or their wealth. They were bought because one of them, St. Thomas, has a good harbor. This will form a good base for our fleet that guards the entrance to the Caribbean Sea. If a nation hostile to us had possession of this base, it would endanger the Panama canal.

"As a result of our war with Spain, in 1898, the United States came into the control of Cuba and Porto Rico, two of the largest islands of the West Indies. Porto Rico was ceded to the United States, and Cuba was given its independence under the general guidance of the United States...

"As in all the West Indies, the principal crop is sugar cane, and the industry is carried on much as it is in Louisiana. A second important crop is tobacco for which Cuba is especially noted. Tobacco is also raised extensively in Porto Rico. At Havana and other places, it is manufactured into cigars, which bring high prices, -- the Havana cigar being considered the best that is made.

"Our soil and climate have enabled us to raise almost all the farm products that we have needed, except such as may be produced within these islands. They can send us tea, coffee, sugar, spices, and tropical fruits. They can also send us fruits and vegetables in midwinter. Thus it is of great value to us that we have such close relations with these islands...

"During its occupation of Cuba, the United States has had one good macadam road built from the eastern to the western end of the island. Steamboat lines now run from American ports to Havana and the other West Indian ports. Thus the United States has done much to improve the conveniences for the transportation of goods; and by that means a much better market is secured for the products of these islands."

Source: World Geographies: Second Book (p. 167-170) by Ralph S. Tarr, B.S. F.G.S.A, and Frank M. McMurry, Ph. D. Copyrighted 1920. Published by the Macmillan Company, New York, 1922.

Related links:
CIA Factbook -- Cuba, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Deer at Sunset

Deer at sunsetDeer in a neighbor's field

If you click on this photo and enlarge it, you'll see four deer along the horizon. I stopped to take this photo, thinking I'd post it with a comment about the bank of clouds that might be the ice storm we're expecting tomorrow. When I saw the deer, I wasn't very surprised. I often see deer crossing the highway in this vicinity, and it doesn't have to be sunset. They cross at all hours of the day and night. It's best to drive slowly and keep your eyes open when you come through here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Nice Story About the Internet

Stuff that happens when you have a blog

Around the first of the year, I had a letter from a reader (I'll call him "Fred" for this little story.) Fred wrote that he was born in 1929 at Duff, Nebraska, the same little community where I lived as a child. His family moved to a different part of the county in the mid-1930s. As a young man, he joined the Air Force and left the area. He and his wife now live in Arizona.

Fred wrote that he had stumbled across Prairie Bluestem while searching for information about hay stackers. He asked if perhaps I remembered his uncle and aunt. I certainly do. They were neighbors who lived just a few miles from us in the Duff Valley.

Then, around the first of February, I stumbled upon a family tree on the internet that included the name of Fred's uncle -- the uncle whom I remembered from my childhood. I sent Fred a note, pointing him to the website, even though I figured he'd probably already seen it in his own research.

Several days later, Fred wrote back that he was very interested in that genealogy. He hadn't seen it before. He said he had called his sister and they'd had a long talk about the names in that family tree and how they were related.

I thought that was pretty cool, but that's not the end of the story. Today, I received another note from Fred about the family tree website. "What a surprise to dig into some of the genealogy," he wrote.

He attached a photograph from the family tree archives and a note he'd written to the site's owner: "Finally realized what a great photo this was for many of us in the family..."

Grandmother The photograph is an old family portrait. Fred was excited about it because it includes his grandmother (the sweet-looking lady at right,) some of his uncles, and other family members. One of the other ladies in the photo is the great-grandmother of the man who posted the family tree.

Fred estimates that his grandmother might be 45 or 50 years old in the photo. If I'm reading the family tree right, she was born in 1875, so that sets the photo sometime in the 1920s, before Fred was even born.

The news about the photograph of Fred's grandmother was one of the highlights of my e-mail tonight. Isn't the internet great?!

UPDATE: I read Fred's letter again, and I understood part of it a little better now. If I keep looking at his family tree. I guess I'll eventually get it all straight! He says he found a photo of his great-grandmother on that family tree website, also!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Flu (Or Maybe It's a Cold)

Bad case of the creeping crud

Sick girl I don't feel well. I have a little fever, chills, chest congestion, a cough, a drippy nose, aches and pains. Dennis wants to go shopping for a new (different) pickup truck this afternoon, but he may have to go alone.

Flu has hit my store, leaving various departments with no one to work. I suspect that's where I picked up the bug, from a sick co-worker or customer. I'm off work for the weekend, so I won't have to call in sick. I hope I'll feel better by Monday.

St. Peter and Paul School in Hopkinsville closed a few days recently to interrupt their flu cycle. The public schools haven't been closed yet, though they've had reduced attendance several days.

Isaac ran a fever of nearly 102° for a couple of days. I took him to the doctor, thinking he might have a strep infection. The doctor ruled that out but gave him antibiotics for bronchitis. A couple of weeks later, his coughing is not as severe, but still persistent.

I didn't get a flu shot, though I should have. It wasn't convenient for me to get one. My store needs to offer flu shots, but I suppose they think their employee turnover is so great that it wouldn't be a money-saving proposition.

Anyway, I've read that some of the flu viruses that are around currently don't match the viruses in this year's flu vaccine. Sometimes the flu viruses outsmart the vaccine makers.

By the way, why do you suppose so many clip-art images show sick men and children, with women taking care of them? I guess it's because we're naturally tough. (Usually, that is.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


A clear February evening

Rural sunset sceneRural Christian County, Kentucky

Thursday Thirteen: Some of My Valentines

A Valentine's Day note of appreciation to...

Valentine flowers1. My husband who has put up with me for 29 years, through thick and thin, and much more. It's been interesting. :)

2. Keely, my daughter, and Isaac, my son -- they're fine young adults and I'm proud of them.

3. Dwight and Charlotte, my brother and sister, who've known me since the beginning and love me anyhow.

4. Kathy, my sister-in-law and David, my brother-in-law, who take care of my brother and sister for me.

5. Taurus, my daughter's boyfriend of several years, a good-natured guy who tolerates the Netz family well and never complains about fixing my computer one more time.

6. My Cousin Alta, Aunt Becky, and Uncle Larry, who try to keep track of me.

7. My girlfriend Sammie whom I've known since I was 13 years old. When we get together, we laugh and laugh about all the craziness we've shared.

8. My church friend, Jackie, who is like me in so many ways -- a farm girl whose birthday is just one day before mine, she grew up in the EUB church just as I did.

9. Our pastor who has been a true friend, a Godly example, and a spiritual guide. He's helped us through some very traumatic experiences.

10. Our neighbor lady, Margie, who takes a motherly interest in me.

11. Our two Mennonite neighbor families who are kind, decent people.

12. My co-worker, Debbie, who's always cheerful and helpful.
13. All my blog readers -- including you! I appreciate your visit to my humble blog, and I hope your Valentine's Day has been happy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Broadbent Seedhouse Near Cadiz, KY

Built by Austrian POWs during World War II

Broadbent building in Trigg County, KY

This structure, known in my family as the "Broadbent Building" stands along Highway 68/80, just east of the I-24 junction, near Cadiz, KY. I wrote about it several weeks ago, saying that I'd heard from several people that it was built by German POWs during World War II.

A local Prairie Bluestem reader, John, asked his dad about the building's history. John's dad grew up in that area and he personally remembered POW laborers on their farm and the Broadbent farm during World War II. John's dad also volunteered to ask the Broadbent family about the building's history.

Thanks to John and his dad, I can report with confidence that the Broadbent seedhouse was built by Austrian POWs (not by Germans.) The building's architects were Americans, however. I've updated the original post with all the details. Here's a link:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Wintery Night

Icy roads, icy trees

"The air was whipped with ice and snow, unfit for man or beast..."

ICEWe dodged last night's ice, but not the "wintery mix" that came down this evening. When I got off work at 5:00 p.m. it was cold and rainy and my car was iced over. I scraped it off and went to Kroger to get some milk and trash bags.

When I came back to the car a short time later, the windshield had frozen over again. The streets weren't slick yet, but by the time I got home, the rain had changed to sleet and was sticking to the roadway.

Now the precipitation has ended. We have a crust of sleet over the ground and roads and a thin layer of ice on the trees. I am hoping that the ice is not heavy enough to break any branches. I also hope the electric lines don't break!

I was worried about Isaac, who didn't get off work until 9:00 p.m. He hasn't had much experience with winter driving, but he got home all right. He said that all the highways were encrusted and slick, but salt trucks were working on Highway 68/80. Near home, on our sideroad, his car fishtailed once, but he straightened it out and stayed on the road.

I don't think that there will be school tomorrow so Dennis and Isaac probably won't have to go anywhere in the morning. I'll go to work as scheduled. I'll try to allow some extra time for de-icing my car and opening the door.

Just a few miles farther north, the ice has been much more serious. I heard on the news this morning that Dawson Springs (about 20 miles northwest of Hopkinsville) was completely locked in, with broken trees blocking all four roads out of town. (The trees broke because of the heavy load of ice on them.)

In Hopkins County, just north of Christian County, a state of emergency has been declared because of the poor road conditions. No one is supposed to drive unless he is having an emergency or is traveling to or from work. Emergency shelters have been opened for anyone who needs to spend the night.

The word "snow" is in our weather forecast three times before President's Day (Feb. 22.) Old Man Winter isn't ready to give up yet. Nonetheless, my early daffodils have sprouted. They are several inches tall already.

Orange and Purple

A February sunset in Christian County, KY

February sunsetOur sunset a few days ago

I don't think there will be much of a sunset today. The weather is going to be wet and gray all day. Fortunately, we're a little south of the dividing line between freezing rain and ordinary rain. Some of the counties around us closed school today due to icy roads, but Christian County's roads were clear.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Infant Baptism and the Anabaptists

A point of divergence for Lutherans, Baptists, and Mennonites

Windows in the Parkway Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, KY.
(In Peartree Park, between Hopkinsville Electric and the Pennyrile Parkway.)

These windows in a local Missionary Baptist church contain some common Christian symbols. The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The doves represent the Holy Spirit, who descended in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized, according to the Gospels (Matthew 3, Luke 3, Mark 1.)

Missionary Baptist churches teach that Christian believers should be baptized as a symbol of their repentance, faith, and commitment. On several Missionary Baptist websites, I found the following statement of their belief about baptism (emphasis added):

We believe that there are two pictorial ordinances in the Lord's churches: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Scriptural baptism is the immersion of penitent believers in water, administered by the authority of a New Testament church in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Lord's Supper is a memorial ordinance, restricted to the members of the church observing the ordinance . (Source)

Baptism of believers has always been an important issue to Baptists. The origins of this Baptist belief can be traced back to the Anabaptists. In the early 1500s (shortly after the Reformation), the Anabaptists decided that Martin Luther had not gone far enough in reforming the church. They taught that infant baptism must also be abolished. Baptism was only for believers who knew that their sins had been forgiven. All believers who were baptized as infants needed re-baptism because infants can't understand what baptism means.

The Mennonites (and related groups such as the Amish, Hutterites, Swiss Brethren, etc.) also originated from the Anabaptists. The histories and theologies of these groups have diverged over the 500 years since the Reformation. However, they all still agree with the English and American Baptists that infant baptism is a misuse of God's command to baptize.

This is very different from Lutheran teaching about baptism. We believe that baptism is a sacrament; that is, a person who is baptized receives God's grace and blessing through it. (Grace, in the Christian sense, means God's acceptance and forgiveness.) Because baptism is a means by which God creates faith, Lutherans think it's right and important to baptize babies. (So do Catholics, the Orthodox churches, Methodists, and various other denominations, for similar reasons.)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: Things You Can Raise

13 Things Often Raised

"Raise" is an interesting word with many meanings.'s Unabridged gives it 33 different meanings as a verb, and several more as a noun! It's a versatile word that appears in many figures of speech and familiar expressions, such as "raising a racket." The word came to the English language from Old Norse, the language of the Vikings.

Here are 13 things we often speak of raising. I'm sure that you can think of many more.

  • 1. Children
  • 2. A garden
  • 3. Our eyebrows
  • 4. The flag
  • 5. The roof
  • 6. Cain
  • 7. Money
  • 8. Our voices
  • 9. Objections
  • 10. Expectations
  • 11. The anchor
  • 12. The ante
  • 13. A glass

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tornado Damage Reports, Crofton, KY, Area, 2-5-08

Tornado and thunderstorm damage, Trigg and Christian Counties, KY\

WKDZ radio station in Cadiz has posted several dozen photographs of damage in Trigg and Christian Counties that occurred during the tornadoes and thunderstorms on February 5, 2008. The areas where damage was photographed include:

Dawson Springs
Dawson Springs Road
Palestine Road
Highway 800
Pools Mill Road, Crofton
Bainbridge Road
South Road, Cadiz
Highway 139 North
Tanyard Road, Cadiz
S. Tanyard Road, Cadiz

Another WKDZ storm damage report states that one injury was reported from the storm in Christian County.

In Muhlenberg County, just northeast of Christian County, three people were killed and 20,000 people still had no electricity as of the following afternoon, according to a WKDZ report on tornado and storm damage in Muhlenberg County.

The Kentucky New Era reports that more than 20 homes were damaged or destroyed in northern Christian County. The article includes a slide show of some of the property damage -- in some cases, terrible losses. UPDATE: By February 7, 2008, the second morning after the tornado, the estimated number of damaged or destroyed homes was changed to over 40 homes.

Some local comments on the night's weather were posted on the Hoptown Hall Forum.

I was in Crofton today, and I can report that everything appeared intact in the downtown area. I also didn't note any damage to the homes and businesses along Highway 41 south of the 41/800 intersection within Crofton. However, along Highway 41 between Crofton and Hopkinsville, we saw damage to a barn roof and some uprooted and broken trees.


On Feb. 7, 2008, the Kentucky New Era reported that a National Weather Service investigator had visited the storm-damaged area in northern Christian County. The storm was declared an F-2 tornado with winds in excess of 130 mph.

In addition, the National Weather Service released a statement regarding two F-1 tornadoes in Trigg County. One hit a few miles south of Canton in the Barkeley Shores community. It went about a tenth of a mile with a width of 25 to 50 feet maximum, and its winds were up to 87 mph. Most of the damage was uprooted and broken trees.

The second tornado touchdown occurred from 2.5 miles north of Maple Grove to 1.8 miles southeast of Cadiz. The tornado traveled on the ground for 5.1 miles and its maximum width was 150 yards wide. A barn was shifted on its foundation, several houses suffered roof damage, and trees were uprooted and broken.

Some photographs of the tornado damage in Muhlenberg County and other vicinities have been posted by the National Weather Service (Paducah, KY.) The tornado that hit near Greenville and Central City was an F-3 that ran for 10 miles with an average width of 325 yards. Three people lost their lives and there was extensive property damage.

A radar animation on the National Weather Service (Paducah, KY) website shows severe weather hitting Christian County simultaneously with the tornado that hit Jackson, Tennessee, and destroyed Union University.

Related post: "Tornado Damage at Crofton, KY, Tonight."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tornado Damage at Crofton KY, Tonight

Another night of severe weather in Christian County, KY

This report is for the people who are visiting the blog seeking information about the tornado in the Crofton, KY area, tonight.

Related post: Tornado Damage Reports, Crofton, KY, Area, 2-5-08

Around 7 p.m. tonight, a tornado cut through northern Christian County from Cerulean, across Dawson Springs Road and Old Palestine Road, and through Empire. The Pembroke area also suffered some wind damage.

No serious injuries or loss of life have been reported so far, so we've been more fortunate than many communities this stormy night.

The Kentucky New Era sent out a reporter after the storm and posted a story about the tornado that hit northern Christian County. According to the KNE story, damage includes power lines and transformers lying on the ground, roofs ripped off houses, barns and mobile homes destroyed, and trees blown over.

Our local news radio station, WHOP AM, was broadcasting full-time storm coverage as the front passed through the area. The broadcast included the audio portion of one of the Nashville television stations as their weather people watched the regional radar, took in storm reports, etc.

We are now under another severe thunderstorm watch. On our current radar map. Hopkinsville and Christian County lie directly in the path of a squall line. When this passes, the temperature is supposed to drop rapidly, and then, perhaps we'll have a quiet rest-of-the-night.

Below, I've posted the National Weather Service damage reports that appeared on Weather Underground.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

02/05/2008 0954 PM
Pembroke, Christian County.
Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by trained spotter.
Late report. Widespread power outages near Pembroke area. Deck off of home near Interstate 24 exit 86 along Good Hope Cemetery Road.

02/05/2008 0735 PM
3 miles SW of Crofton, Christian County.
Tornado, reported by trained spotter.
On Old Palestine Road... numerous houses damaged or destroyed and people are trapped in homes. Emergency personnel en route.

2/05/2008 0730 PM
3 miles E of Bainbridge, Christian County.
Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by law enforcement.
Several structures and numerous trees and power lines down on Old Palestine Road

02/05/2008 0730 PM
3 miles SW of Crofton, Christian County.
Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by law enforcement.

Hot Cocoa Days

Memories of a mouth-scalding beverage

Hot Cocoa When I was a child in the Sandhills of northern Nebraska, most country folks still had a milkcow or two. Country kids grew up drinking fresh, unpasteurized milk, and lots of it. Most of our families had plenty of extra milk to make dairy-based treats occasionally -- such as hot cocoa.

In my memory, hot cocoa was served at every winter function where snacks were offered to the children. I can't think of 4-H meetings, for example, without remembering the community hall's kitchen steaming with hot cocoa and boiled hot dogs.

I'm quite sure that it was hot cocoa that we were drinking, not hot chocolate. I don't think any of our mothers bought bars of chocolate and melted them into hot milk or cream. No, I'm quite sure that frugal Sandhills ranch wives made cocoa for a crowd with cocoa powder.

I haven't drunk hot cocoa made from scratch for many years. I remember it well, though. I remember burning the inside of my mouth terribly, time and time again, with that beverage. Then, when the cocoa cooled a bit, it developed a scum that stuck to my lips when I tried to take a drink. And unless I stirred frequently, the bottom of the cup developed a brown, syrupy, cocoa sediment.

I am sentimental about many of the things I grew up with, but I honestly don't miss homemade hot cocoa. On the rare occasion (approximately once a decade) that I feel like drinking a hot chocolate beverage, instant cocoa is good enough for me.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Old-time Corn Varieties

Another Tall Corn Image c. 1920

A homesteading book lists eight different types of corn that have been developed over the years. How many can you name before you read them? I certainly couldn't have named them all!

The 8 basic corns, in roughly chronological order of development are Indian (hominy and flour) corn, popcorn, pod corn, flint corn, dent corn, sweet (and supersweet) corn, high-lysine corn, and waxy maize. Some of these corns, including Indian corn, popcorn, flint, and dent, are sometimes referred to as "field corn" because they are left in the field to dry on the cob and are stored on the cob. Sweet corn, on the other hand, is picked fresh from the stalk and hurried to the house to be frozen, canned, or dried.

Quoted from The Encyclopedia of Country Living: An Old Fashioned Recipe Book by Carla Emery (p.160). Published in 2003 by Sasquatch Books, Seattle.

Farmer and tall cornI think the corn in the picture at right (scanned from my 1920 geography book) would fall somewhere before sweet corn in Carla Emery's list. The little boy appears to be holding some ears of dark-colored corn, and the man is holding some lighter-colored ears. It's very likely that the farmer wasn't even planting a named variety of corn. He probably just saved some seed from his best corn each year.

The Dallas County (TX) Archives on Rootsweb contain an interesting story of tall corn in 1895.

When the TIMES HERALD of Friday reached Mr. Jeff Hill, of Egypt, on White Rock creek, he read about County Commissioner Smith bringing to town, a stalk of corn sixteen feet high, and to himself said: "Pshaw! I can beat that, myself," and so saying, he went to his field and took the first stalk he came to, which measured twenty-one and one-half feet in length...

This morning, Mr. Hill called the attention of his neighbor, Mr. P. A. Howell, to the stalk, and Mr. Howell brought it to town, and it may be seen at the court house.

Mr. Howell states that this corn is of the "Mexican June" variety. It averages two ears to the stalk, and the ears run from eight to eleven inches in length. The ears are large in diameter and have plump, full grains...

Source: Dallas County Archives, Miscellaneous Articles Part 4 (Scroll down to 1895.)

I was surprised to learn that "Mexican June" corn seed is still around. One vendor, Gourmet Seed International, gives the following description of the variety:

(80 to 95 days) Mexican June is a very old and formerly widely used white field corn by settlers in the old west as well as the U.S Calvery [sic] and Mormons. Edible in the very early stages as a fine sweet corn, but not extremely sweet. In the dent stage it is an excellent variety for grinding, feed or masa for green corn tamales. Does quite well in moderately cold climates. In spite of continued demand for this heirloom, it is in danger of disappearing from the US market.

Source: Gourmet Seed International's Corn and Popcorn

The various heirloom seed companies describe many varieties of old time corn, such as "Bloody Butcher," "Country Gentleman," and "Peruvian Purple." I've included a few links below that you'll enjoy if you're interested in this sort of thing. A Mother Earth News article about "Uncommon Corn" suggests ordering heirloom seeds from a company in your region, so the plants will be better adapted to your climate.

Related post:
Tall Corn and Steel-Wheel Tractors

Related links:

Giant Olotillo Maize seeds for sale on eBay
Heirloom corn varieties at Victory Seeds
Rare corn varieties at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Old-time corn varieties at Heirloom Seeds
Corn seed list at Tradewinds Fruit

Friday, February 01, 2008

Winter Memories

Winter weather on the ranch

When the temperatures drop and we get some snow, my thoughts always go back to bad snow storms on the ranch of my childhood.

We had a spell of cold, hard winters in Nebraska during the 1950s and 1960s. I mention those years because I remember them, but there were some bad winters during the 1940s, too, including the infamous Blizzard of 1949.

I remember that night temperatures often dropped to 20° below zero (or even colder) during cold spells. During the day, it might warm up to zero. I remember one instance of night temperatures close to 40° below. Extremely cold temperatures made things that should have worked turn sluggish and break easily. The diesel fuel in the tractors always wanted to turn to jelly.

Feeding the Cattle

The cattle had to be fed every day, despite cold temperatures, wind, or snow. In a blizzard, my dad, the hired man, my brother, and my mom, too, often worked the whole day just to get the cattle fed.

Before winter began, the haystacks were moved to a stack-yard in the corner of each meadow that was closest to the ranch buildings. The nearest haystacks were saved for the very worst days.

To get a haystack for feeding, the "underslung", a wide trailer with a tilting bed, was pulled to the stackyard and parked beside a haystack. Then, the haystack (usually five tons or so in weight) was winched onto the underslung. All of this was made far more difficult by snow and extreme cold.

Then the loaded underslung was pulled with the tractor to the area where the cattle would be fed. We pastured the cattle close to the ranch buildings during the winter to make it easier to feed them. We had nice shelterbelts, and the cattle gathered close to them during bad weather. They always knew when a storm was coming.

Being unable to feed the cattle would have been such a horrible thing I can't imagine it. However, about ten years ago, the South Dakota blizzards were so terrible that ranchers couldn't feed their cattle despite tremendous, heartbreaking efforts. Some people lost most of their herds.

Blizzards and Lots of Snow

We judged the severity of a blizzard by how far we could see. If we could see the road that led from our mailbox to our house, we had half-a-mile visibility and it wasn't terrible yet. When we lost sight of that road and could only see the fence of the milkcow pasture -- or maybe not even that far -- the storm was very dangerous. Once we even heard loud claps of thunder during a raging blizzard.

My mother tried to keep a six-week stock of groceries during the winter. When she was able to go to town, she replenished her supplies thoroughly because she didn't know when she'd be able to shop again. Even when the county snow plows cleared the roads, they might quickly drift shut again if the weather turned bad.

When the roads were impassable, our mail delivery was suspended. The rural mail carrier brought the mailbags to our rural store/post office where the mail was sorted. I suppose he delivered mail to the boxes along the highway, but he left the mail for the boxes on gravel roads at the post office. If you needed mail service before the county snow plow came through, you had to plow your own way to the post office.

It's hard to imagine all that now from Kentucky, where we have only a few inches of snow every winter.

(UPDATED to add links and headings and polish up the text a little. I think I'm done with it now.)
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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.