Saturday, July 1, 2017

Editor's Corner

July 2017

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” –Harold Wilson

That quote would be a good lead in to part of Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" this month as he discusses the Clarkes Funeral Home in Dublin. He also tells what is the latest with other poets at Listowel's literary conclave, and mentions quietly that his own play will be performed soon.

 Thomas F. Neill of Pennsylvania who is teaching in Suchou, China, shares in his column "Introspective" how he brings information out to intrigue his young students keeping them interested in education. Dayvid Clarkson who resides in British Columbia, Canada, whimsically gathers his thoughts in his "Reflections of the Day."

 The Cohenours, Melinda who researches for "Armchair Genealogy" so enthusiastically, and Rod who loves cooking and bringing delightful recipes ("Cooking With Rod") to the readers' attention, live in the busy area of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, while LC Van Savage prepares her column "Consider This" and other compositions such as the article "Letters to France Olive" in the northern state of Maine. The other article, "A Strange Journey - on Anxiety" is reprinted from the author Bethany Whitaker's blog "Altogether Beautiful" now composed in the deep South part of the USA.

Our poets speak to us from all over the world, specifically this month, Bud Lemire from Rhode Island, John I Blair from the heart of Texas, and Bruce Clifford from the far southern Florida. Clifford's poem for July is "Falling Apart;" Blair's half dozen are "Basil Bee," Goldenrod Late September," "Last Day of November," "Stress," "Look at This Girl" and "Sitting on The Rail;" Lemire's are "Coma," "More To Everybody's Story," "The Woman of The Rainbow," and the epic story poem, "Filemma."

We have other authors who usually are published in this International eZine, like Judith Kroll ("On Trek") of the Northwestern part of the USA, and poets from the UK, Australia, Germany, Greenland, etc. Over 500 writers have published with Pencil Stubs Online in the last twenty years, some going on to become book authors in the hard back book venue. We appreciate each of them and their compositions, and hope to continue bringing their work the attention it deserves.

Mike Craner, without whom this ezine would have never made the web, deserves credit for his expertise and patience. He has added many of his poems and stories, though none recently with his demanding occupation, but to access his bio and a clickable list of his work here is the link to "Mikes Place" and more of his writings.

See you in August !!!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Reflections on the Day

      There is part of me that wants to write, a part that wants to theorize, a part that wants to sculpt, a part that wants to teach … To force myself into a single role, to decide to be just one thing in life, would kill off large parts of me. Rather, I recognize that I live now and only now, and I will do what I want to do this moment and not what I decided was best for me yesterday.”

      “I am not interested so much in what I do with my hands or words as what I do with my feelings. I want to live from the inside out, not from the outside in.

New post

      Watching Grand Father Sun and Father Sky painting the canvas again tonight. Brilliant colours of orange, pinks, and azure blue dance across the clouds. A momentary opening and a flash of sunlight strikes me in the eyes. I was briefly disturbed by this as if it was some sort of inconvenience. A disturbance if you will.

      Then, on reflection, I realized it was not an inconvenience or a disturbance. It was as it was and did not become unpleasant till I labeled it and created it as something negative. The waves hold no malice as they beat on the shore it just is. So many times I have categorized something that did not need to be named. I will let this go. I cannot be angry at the rain; it simply does not know how to fall up. ..

      Waiting for the sun to go down, waiting for the moon and a billion stars. I close my eyes and drift away into the miracle of the night. I slip deeper until the wings of an Elder lift me up and carry me to my lessons. The magic of night works powerfully on my soul. I feel the confidence rise that will propel me on my waking journey. I am eternally grateful to the Divine for sharing this wondrous gift.

      Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

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Armchair Genealogy.

A Much Maligned Man: Sidney Washington Creek

Born: 13 January 1832 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri
Died: 12 September 1892 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri

Chapter 3 in the Life of the Much Maligned Man

      The last chapter covering the life and times of Sidney Washington Creek hinted at the most tumultuous period in his life – the events leading up to, including, and following the Civil War. In order to fully understand the man and his actions we must attempt to immerse ourselves into the atmosphere attendant upon his life.

      The impetus for much of the violence that would ultimately erupt was presaged by the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 that called for the issue of slavery to be decided by the settlers of the recently opened land. The settlers had to determine whether Kansas would enter the Union as a slave state or a free state. This option incited open confrontations between the non-slaveholders who envisioned their property rights and future earnings would be seriously degraded by the more powerful, wealthier slaveholders whose properties would be worked by cheap slave labor. It was not viewed by many as a question of morality but of optional competition for land, farm goods, and market!

      From Wikipedia, “ Immigrants supporting both sides of the question arrived in Kansas to establish residency and gain the right to vote. However, Kansas Territory officials were appointed (1854) by the pro-slavery administration of President Franklin Pierce (in office 1853–1857), and thousands of non-resident pro-slavery Missourians entered Kansas with the goal of winning elections. They captured territorial elections, sometimes by fraud and intimidation. In response, Northern abolitionist elements flooded Kansas with "free-soilers." Anti-slavery Kansas residents wrote the first Kansas Constitution (1855) and elected the Free State legislature in Topeka; this stood in opposition to the pro-slavery government in Lecompton. The two Territorial governments increased as well as symbolized the strife of Bleeding Kansas.”

      Out of this turbulence among the next-door Kansans, arose the formation of a group called the Red Legs. Made infamous by Clint Eastwood’s movie, ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ the actuality of their heinous behavior has been obscured by most historians in the interest of subverting the cause of the South in the Civil War and illuminating the morality and heroism of the Union.

      Treated by many researchers, authors, and historians as ‘just another name for the Kansas Jayhawkers,’ it is critical to our comprehension of the actions undertaken by family members and neighbors of Sidney Creek to recognize this group as an actual unique entity – a gang, if you will, with leadership, a credo, and loyal members. Donald Gilmore has an excellent treatise on this era and, specifically, discusses the Red Legs as a band of desperados.

      “In 1862, brigade commander, General James Lane and his regimental commanders Cols. Charles Jennison and James Montgomery led a violent spree up the western border of Missouri. Lane invaded Osceola Missouri, burned it to the ground, robbed its bank, killed a number of its citizens, and looted the town and adjoining farms of everything valuable and transportable, including a large number of slaves. Following the destruction of Osceola, Lane’s regiments pushed north and destroyed Dayton, Columbus, Papinville, Morristown, Clinton, West Point, Harrisonville, and Butler, Missouri.” The Kansas Red Legs in Missouri

      It should be noted that Tony O’Bryan (University of Missouri, Kansas City) dated this outrage as having occurred in September of 1861. He went on to describe the group as follows:

      “The Red Legs were a somewhat secretive organization of about 50 to 100 ardent abolitionists who were hand selected for harsh duties along the border. Membership in the group was fluid and some of the men went on to serve in the 7th Kansas Cavalry or other regular army commands and state militias. They are associated with a lesser-known group that called themselves the “buckskin scouts,” and they served as an auxiliary arm to regular troops, such as the 6th Kansas Cavalry on punitive expeditions into Missouri. The legendary James “Wild Bill” Hickok, then still just a teenager, William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and fellow Pony Express rider William S. Tough are among the few individuals known to have served with the Red Legs. Buffalo Bill Cody admitted that as a member of the Red Legs, “We were the biggest thieves on record.” SOURCE:

      Donald Gilmore pulled no punches. His description paints a picture of vicious outlaws whose violence knew no bounds:

      “We need to know when the Red Legs operated, why they operated, where they operated, and what crimes they committed. But first, we need to know precisely who these desperadoes were. Because they WERE a specific group of armed, named, now-known killers, who swarmed over the western border counties of Missouri and the eastern counties of Kansas, stealing the money of Missourians, robbing their farms of equipment, livestock, furniture, crockery, gold, and jewelry. And they often killed the older men folk who tried to stop them, often hanging them by their necks upon a tree, torturing them to learn where their money and valuables were hidden or just killing them outright.”

George Caleb Bingham, the famous Missouri artist and a Union officer, in his famous painting, “Order No. 11,” shows a Red Leg in Union tunic, wearing Red Leggings, intimidating an old gentleman after murdering his evidently unarmed son. Two other men wearing plumed hats, a Red Leg practice, are evident in the same scene. A fourth Red Leg, wearing scarlet leggings, loads loot on a wagon behind the third-mentioned Red Leg. A fifth Red Leg, more casually dressed, with his white shirt open loosely at the neck, appears at the left of the painting, riding a blooded horse and carrying on his lap the plantation owner’s wife’s traditional basket of valuables, where she hid her keys and jewelry. This Red Leg thief is also wearing red leggings but no black plume in his hat. It’s George Hoyt, field leader of the Red Legs. Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing is shown on horseback at the middle left of Bingham’s painting, fully demonstrating his connection to the Red Legs.
Bingham’s painting portrays a violent, thieving, Red Leg Hey-day

      Sidney Washington Creek, if you read Chapter 1 of his story, was the third son, fourth child born to Jacob Haudenscheldt (Howdyshell) Creek and his wife Virginia Lee Younger Creek. The Younger family was headed by its patriarch Charles Lee Younger, one of the wealthiest men in Missouri at that time, holding large plantations in several locations throughout the state farmed by slaves. He also owned some of the best horseflesh in the state and was an aficionado of horseracing. He came to Missouri with his close friend, Daniel Boone, after the death of his first wife, Nancy Toney, but ultimately returned to Kentucky for a few years because the “Indians were too bad.” He would later return and establish a very successful ferrying operation, providing transport to the many pioneers flooding into the rich Missouri farmlands.

      Virginia’s older brother was Henry Washington Younger who served in the House of Missouri under Gov. Reeder, Pawnee Territorial capitol and in 1859 served as Mayor of Harrisonville. Henry and wife, Bursheba Fristoe Younger were among the wealthiest of Missourians at the start of the Civil War, having amassed a fortune of about $100,000 at that time. (Assuming a steady inflation rate of 1.77% from 1865 to 2017, that would be equal to $1,438,291.87.) Henry owned plantations, racehorses, and a mercantile. He was a pacifist and attempted to quell strife - a significant fact that feeds the current of this story. For, in his role as mayor, leader of the local townsfolk, Henry attempted to avert open hostilities in his area. He and his wife hosted a number of gala parties, always keen to include the officers of the ever-present Union Army. At one of these parties a young married officer, a Captain Wiley, made unwanted and lascivious passes at the young daughter of Henry Younger. Cole, the elder brother, upheld her honor by taking the Captain outside whereupon he dealt justice via fisticuffs. This event would, ultimately, breed its own vicious and unexpected aftermath. For, the young daughter became the target of retaliation. Shortly after this event, she was violently raped by one of the Union soldiers, believed to have been Wiley himself although this fact was never firmly established by anyone other than Cole Younger.

      Cole would later relate the manner in which he learned of this outrage in a rare transcription of a private conversation he held in his elder years with a friend, Harry Hoffman. Hoffman wrote up the whole story and through the auspices of our family historians, your author has been made a recipient of that tale. First, the unwanted molestation. Then, Cole’s lesson to Capt. Wiley. Then, the burning of family estates in Harrisonville and other areas of Missouri by the Red Legs. Then, Cole frustrated by the local Confederate leader, joined up with William Clarke Quantrill in his band of Raiders, along with his brother-in-law John Jarrette and a number of cousins including Sidney Washington Creek, Creth Creek, Abner Creek, and other kin. Shortly afterward, Henry Washington Younger was waylaid by a group believed to have been none other than Capt. Wiley and his band of no-goods. He was robbed, beaten, slain, and left in the dirt as retaliation. Cole heard of the outrage and visited home. There he found his young sister had taken to her room, refusing to speak or otherwise involve herself in the usual home activities. Cole’s tale:

      “When I arrived home I missed my sister, who was about eighteen years old. I asked where she was and was told that she was not feeling well, and was lying down. I went up to her room. She came forward to meet me. Her eyes were swollen and I could see she had been crying. I asked her what was troubling her. At first she avoided answering. I Insisted. She said, “Brother, I am afraid to tell you.” But when I continued to press her for an answer, she told me of the brutal treatment she had received at the hands of that beast. You can imagine how I felt when she laid her head on my shoulder and burst out crying. I said to her, ‘Sister, be as brave as you can. I promise you now that captain will never bother you in the future.’ I had decided that minute to make him pay, and after he paid he would never be able to return to persecute my sister, or any other virtuous girl again.”

      Needless to say, Cole and his group located the Captain and his company of fifteen Federal troops and exacted his revenge. All were open prey to his companions, save and except the man who accosted and raped his sister. He was saved for Cole who summarily executed him.

      This same conversation with Harry Hoffman infuses our understanding of the era by illustrating the role the Red Legs and their atrocities played in the lives of Cole Younger and his Creek cousins, Sid, Creth, Abner, and ultimately my own 2nd great grandfather Absalom. Cole Younger’s words again, as his notoriety caused their preservation and we believe he spoke not only for himself, but for our family – including Sid:

      “Jackson County, Missouri, where I was born was the very seat of the border strife between Kansas Free Staters, generally called Red Legs, and the southern sympathizers of Missouri.”

      “The Red Legs were followers of Jim Lane of Lawrence and John Brown of Osawatomie, both in Kansas. From early in the Eighteen-Fifties the national political question of slavery had been boiling to the point of explosion, which happened in 1861. I was born January 15, 1844. When I was around ten years of age, my playmates and I didn’t play as many other boys throughout the land did play. We formed squads of soldiers; one side would be Red Legs; the other, as we called it, ‘South Side’. We nearly always planned it so that the South Side won. We finally had to quit the game for the reason none of the boys would take the part of Red Legs.”

      “At night, when the family sat around the fireplace, the conversation always drifted to the acts of violence and destruction perpetrated by the Red Legs, and the demagoguery of Jim Lane and John Brown. Neighbors would congregate throughout that section to discuss the outrages perpetrated by these men and their followers.”

      “Early In 1862, I signed up with Quantrill, thinking, as the others did at that time, that we would eventually be taken into the Confederate Army, which never happened.”

      To lend balance we once again turn to the words of Donald Gilmore in his treatise ‘the Dark Underbelly”:

      “The young Missouri guerrillas led by Quantrill were the only defenders of Western Missourians against the Red Legs, the Union Army, and the Union Militias. The older men were back East fighting the Yankees.”

      It was in this atmosphere that Sidney Washington Creek left his little farm and young family and joined The Cause. The final chapter in his life will be related in next month’s column.

Next month, the dramatic end to the story of Sidney Washington Creek. Stay tuned.
Researched and Compiled by Melinda Carroll Cohenour – Spring 2017.

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Cooking With Rod

A New Take on Fourth of July Fare

      It’s almost the Fourth of July! Fireworks! Watermelon! Barbecue on the grill, hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, ears of corn…but this year my lovely wife has a different idea (since Barbecue is sort of standard Summer fare around here).

      So, this year we’re cooking up some Creole – some really mouth-watering, tasty, stomach-filling, give-me-more Creole. We have a love of all things spicy. This recipe brings on the spice in several ways: chili powder, Cajun spice, red pepper flakes, and bottled hot chili sauce. Add a small amount and taste before adding more. Remember, cooking and standing will intensify the heat! The layered flavors of spice result in a gloriously rich and tasty flavor.

      This meal satisfies the eye and fills the tummy at the same time. It goes very well with all the time-honored 4th of July classics: a wonderful crispy salad with avocadoes and tomatoes, ears of corn on the cob fresh off the grill, a side of red beans with ham hock and onion can’t go wrong, corn bread in any of its best loved guises, big cold pitchers of iced tea and lemonade, and a host of desserts (which MUST, of course, include cold, fresh watermelon.)

      Bon appetit! 

Creole Mélange over Rice
(Shrimp-Chicken-Polska Jambalaya)
Recipe by Melinda Cohenour - 2010


  • 2-3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, diced
  • 3-4 stalks Celery, de-string and chop in thin half-moons
  • 1 white or yellow Onion, diced 
  • 4 or 5 cloves Garlic
  • 2 bags Shrimp, deveined and shelled (jumbo about 20-25 per lb, or medium 31-40 per lb)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless Chicken Strips
  • 2 lbs. Polska Kielbasa sausage loops
  • Large can Tomato Juice, unsalted
  • 2 Large can Stewed Tomatoes or 1 Large and 2 small or 4 small cans
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed Basil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning (Emeril’s is a favorite but any classic will do)
  • Dash of Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • Dash of bottled hot sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce, Cholula Hot Sauce, Tabasco Hot Sauce, pick your poison and season to taste – and add only a few drops at a time)
  • 4 cups White long-grain rice, cooked, hot and flaky (Prepare per package directions). This should make at least 8 cups rice.
  • 8 cups Water for rice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • Green onion tops diced for garnish

      Put water on to boil. Add rice, let cook 30 minutes with lid on pot (or follow package directions). Do not lift lid, but remove from heat and let sit while preparing Creole mixture. Fluff with fork before serving.
      Season chicken with spices listed reserving most of the spices for the jambalaya. Broil until cooked through and lightly browned on both sides.
      Saute celery, onions, garlic, and bell pepper in hot oil in large skillet until onion is clear. Add canned stewed tomatoes and continue simmering until bell pepper and celery is tender. Add tomato juice and bring to a boil. Add cooked chicken that has been cut into bite size pieces (each strip cut into 2-3 pieces). Lower heat to simmer.
      Broil Polska Kielbasa 7 minutes, flipping after 5 minutes to brown both sides. Slice into ¼- ½ inch pieces. Add to tomato-vegetable mixture. (Note: sometimes I slice the Polska Kielbasa and cook in a skillet to cause the sausage to burst and release its flavorful juices and braise in those juices. I add about ¼ cup water, cover to steam, then uncover, lower heat and let the water cook off. Permit the sausage pieces to brown on one side, then turn, add a bit more water to loosen the brown bits. Repeat. Then add sausage to large pot. With Jambalaya I do not rinse out and add the pan brownings to the pot because I want the dish to look red and fresh.)
      Add shrimp, after rinsing. Bring back to boil and let cook 5 minutes or just until the shrimp have become pink and curled. Lower heat to simmer. Add last dash of chili pepper, stir and serve over rice. Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. Add parsley – stir well. Garnish individual servings with green onion tops, chopped fine and a sprig of fresh parsley.

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    Consider This

    Wrinkles? Who Cares?

           I recently read that about 2500 years ago in Greece, wearing unwrinkled clothing was a status symbol. It meant one was refined, clean and probably rich. This article also said that the devices used to remove wrinkles weren’t heated, they were simply pressed against the clothing. Even pleats. Can you even imagine doing that? Talk about labor intensive.

          Irons back then were called “goffering irons” and no I do not know how to say that in Greek. They consisted of an iron bar resembling a cook’s rolling pin. Someone had obviously tired of endlessly pushing down on wrinkled garments, and decided to heat the bar and try doing it that way. Voila! Ironing was invented. Countless women and even some men have regretted this discovery ever since. As for me, I find wrinkles kind of adorable. Cozy. The lived-in look. I intentionally keep a lot in my clothing, and the Force knows I carry lots on my face, unintentionally of course.

           Anyway, a couple of centuries later the Romans invented something even better for pleats—what’s with all the pleats with those guys? Didn’t they just wear togas? Who puts pleats in togas? Well, maybe the very wealthy wore other things that need pleating. Why oh why in the name of fashion do we constantly make so much work for ourselves?

          So, the Romans heated a small metal flattish mallet, and called that a mangle and I also don’t know how to say that in either Latin or Greek, and with that, they hammered wrinkles out of clothing and hammered pleats into them. That too was labor intensive, so they began to wonder what other methods they could employ to get the smooth fabric look they craved without the hard labor? Easy answer. They made their slaves do it.

          Then along came the Vikings, and Vikings being Vikings didn’t want anyone on the planet to look better than they, so they began to sport wrinkle-free clothing and pleated garments too. Their iron of choice resembled an upside-down mushroom they heated and rocked back and forth on damp clothing. Smooth clothing and pleats were a huge status symbol to the snobby Vikings. As they strutted about in their wrinkle free ensembles between pillages, they knew their elevated status was obvious to everyone.

          Moving on up to the fifteenth century, wealthy Europeans had an iron they called a “hot box.” Also made of metal, it was heated with a hot brick or hot coals and they used that to iron their clothing. Their poorer neighbors had it a little easier, and happens that those folks of lesser means were also much smarter; they used what they called the “flat iron”---a name that’s still used today. They heated it over a fire so they could iron out wrinkles, but alas, to their dismay, the fire covered the irons with soot which didn’t add much to the sartorial desires of the owners. Life is so often series of glitches, isn’t it? They eventually figured out how to heat the iron and avoid the soot which I’ll bet was a real eureka moment.

          When gas lighting became the thing, inventors experimented heating the irons with gas. Bad idea. They leaked a lot and what’s worse, they frequently exploded. After killing the ironer, they often then caused the house to catch fire. Gas heated irons had a fairly short history.

          People went back to heating irons on the stove. Those things could weigh 15 lbs. or more. Housewives must have had strong arms, all so that their clothing could be wrinkle free. The irons came in all sizes and designs, some with detachable handles so milady could heat one while another was in use.

          Electricity came along and phew, finally a light weight-iron that heated and cooled at will. It could even blast out steam on command! A miracle! Life was good. Wrinkles were in full retreat. But as far as I’m concerned, irons were—and still are--- instruments of domestic torture.

          Personally, I own several of those old stove-heated heavy flat irons. They make fabulous bookends. Tied to the handles they keep the wires of one’s electric blanket under the bed so someone creeping about in the dark doesn’t trip and fall flat, they easily hold recalcitrant doors open, keep piled magazines piled, and can be used as effective clobbering weapons when some entitled jerks decide to come into your personal space to relieve you of your possessions.

          Do I iron clothes? You’re kidding, right? No. I do however send up short prayers of thanks to the guy who invented clothes dryers. Those lovely machines get out the worst of the wrinkles, and anyway, the people with whom Mongo and I hang out are as wrinkled as we are, fabric-wise and skin-wise. So who really cares? Oh, and we definitely do own a steam iron ---it’s around here somewhere---I’m sure of it...

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