Friday, February 24, 2012

Daffodils in the Pasture

Boy with buttercups

Here in Christian County, Kentucky, it's not unusual to see places where old-time, single-bloom daffodils have naturalized. In this case, I speculate that a few bulbs were planted many years ago, near a house or cabin that doesn't exist anymore.

I call these flowers "daffodils", but people around here often call them "buttercups." Maybe this little Mennonite boy calls them "Osterglocken" as they do in Germany -- literally, "Easter bells."

Another place where daffodils have gone wild

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good People

I do use this oil.

Willing to help

Yesterday, I filled my car with gas and checked the oil. The dipstick showed that the oil was a little low, so I stopped at Walmart and bought a quart. Back in the parking lot, I raised the hood of my car. It didn't offend my sense of class to add oil then and there, and besides, I was afraid I'd forget if I waited.

During the few moments that I stood in front of my car with the hood up, I was asked three times if I needed help. The first people who approached me were a black couple about my age, who parked their pickup truck nearby. The next person was a white-haired man who came out of the store and got into his little sports car. And the third person was a tall young fellow with a tattoo on his neck.

I thanked them each, and I'm still warmed by their unexpected kindness.

While typing this, I remembered a similar incident. I often clip my purse to the cart with a carabiner when I am shopping. One evening, I was ready to wheel my groceries out to my car, but I was having trouble getting my purse unclipped. I had hooked the carabiner to a small slot in the cart that was awkward to reach.

One of the Kroger employees, a girl who was bringing in a big line of shopping carts from the parking lot, saw me fumbling as I stood by the door. "Are you all right, ma'am? Do you need help?" she asked.

About that time, I finally got the carabiner detached. I felt silly, but I genuinely appreciated her friendly offer to assist, and I thanked her for it.

I think we are blessed with a solid core of kind-hearted, decent people here in Christian County, Kentucky.

I like that explanation much better than the possibility that I look so incompetent that strangers pity me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Dangerous Railroad in 1890

Thousands killed and injured

Passenger Train of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway,
around 1895. Image from Wikimedia.
In 1890, my great-great grandfather Almus Hill, a railroad brakeman, was killed on the job. He slipped while pulling a pin between moving train cars, fell under the train, and was run over.

It was a hideous accident, but not an uncommon one. Coupling and uncoupling cars was part of the job for brakemen, and it was dangerous. 

Researcher Evgenia Shnayde reports that brakemen often lost fingers when the couplings jammed or the cars lurched.
Lost fingers did not end careers. They became the mark of a brakeman; you could recognize one by their missing fingers. Considering the fact that one out of every 120 trainmen—-a railroad category that mostly included brakemen-—died on the job each year, it is not surprising that the majority of trainmen considered the loss of a finger to be a "minor" injury.

Source: A 2010 report, "When the Loss of a Finger is Considered a 'Minor' Injury", by Evgenia Shnayde for the Stanford University Spatial History Project

The truth is that all railroad work was dangerous, including railroad construction. And of course, it was dangerous to jump onto a moving train (as tramps did). But it was also dangerous to ride a train properly or even to be on railroad property. I'm not exaggerating. Here are some astounding statistics about railroad accidents in the United States during the year before Almus Hill was killed:
During the year 1889, accidents on railroads involving human life were:
   Passengers killed: 315
   Passengers injured: 2,138
   Employees killed: 2,070
   Employees injured: 20,148
   Other persons killed: 2,997
   Other persons injured: 8,602
   Total persons killed: 5,282
   Total persons injured: 25,888

But the reports do not cover the total mileage of the country; only 92.792 per cent of it. If the accident rate was the same on the roads not reporting, the total number killed was 5,693, and the total injured 27,888. These are the returns made by the railroad companies themselves, and they cannot well be suspected of exaggeration.

Source: I didn't record (and can't relocate) the source of this clipping, but I saved it from an old newspaper while I was searching for a report of my grandfather's accident.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Early February

We've hardly had any winter weather this year. With temperatures in the 50s or higher every day, the daffodils have been blooming for a couple of weeks.

Now, we're getting a reminder that it's still February. Tonight, the temperature will fall to around 13°F, and the high on Saturday will be about 27°F -- a whole day below the freezing point. Then, on Monday night, we may get some ice and/or snow. I would prefer snow.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shall We Gather at the River

On earth and in heaven

Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod;
  With its crystal tide forever, flowing from the throne of God?

Yes, we'll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river, that flows from the throne of God.

On the margin of the river, washing up its silver spray;
  We shall walk and worship ever, all the happy golden day.

Ere we reach the shining river, lay we ev'ry burden down;
  Grace our spirits will deliver and provide a robe and crown.

At the smiling of the river, mirror of the Savior’s face,
  Saints, whom death will never sever, lift their songs of saving grace.

Soon we'll reach the shining river, soon our pilgrimage will cease;
  Soon our happy hearts will quiver with the melody of peace.

Library of Congress,
Prints and  Photographs Division
 Lomax Collection
LC-DIG-ppmsc-00289 DLC
Robert LOWRY, a Baptist preacher and college professor (March 12, 1826 – November 25, 1899, wrote the words and music of this old gospel song. The imagery is based on Revelations 22:1 (King James Version): "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God..."

Many Christians still love this song, more than a century after it was written, because its simple message of faith, comfort, and hope still resonates. I suspect that the song's lyrics have reminded many Christians of river baptisms where their friends and family gathered.

Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
 Detroit Publishing Company Collection
LC-USZ62-107755 DLC
"Shall We Gather at the River" was sung at the funerals of both my mother's parents, Harry SEES (1893-1957) and Winnie Violet EATON Sees (1899-1932).


Robert Lowry (Biography, includes the story behind "Shall We Gather at the River")

I hope you'll enjoy these. I certainly did!
Shall We Gather at the River (Nice, traditional version, YouTube)
Shall We Gather at the River (Tennessee Ernie Ford, You Tube)
Shall We Gather at the River (Banjo and recorder, YouTube)
Shall We Gather at the River (Randy Travis, YouTube)
Shall We Gather at the River (A 1955 baptism)

From a stereoscopic image made by Robert N. Dennis in 1898
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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.