Thursday, March 1, 2012

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

March 2012

"The Irish do not want anyone to wish them well; they want everyone to wish their enemies ill." - Harold Nicolson

With the luck of the Irish, this issue may be online by midnight. It boasts fifteen poems: one by LC Van Savage, two by Bruce Clifford, six by John I. Blair, and six by returning poet and photographer Bud Lemire.

Bud Lemire

Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" turns his space over to fellow Dubliner, Paddy Plunkett with a tale of blarney, "A Monumental Occasion"; "Consider This" by LC Van Savage lets her muse about some scenes setting us to deep thinking; while "Thinking Out Loud" by Gerard Meister praises the Jewish immigrants of yore;"Introspective" by Thomas F. O'Neill discusses how his students in China are viewing the Republican campaigns with confusion about American history due to some public statements being made; and "Eric Shackle's Column" clues us in on the current oldest blogger, Harriet. "Cooking With Leo" by Leo C. Helmer brings his own wild Irish tale and a really nice recipe for St.Patrick's Day. Blair's column "Always Looking -" focuses on two families who married young and lived to ripe old ages, a sweet look into genealogy.

Two articles appear this month, one from our Eric Shackle who shares the origin of the newspapers called "Boomerang." Gregory Hargrave reminisces about "The Charms of Obsolete Technology" and how it can sometimes serve new purposes.

Mark Crocker with his second book of Rabbo adds the third chapter, "Winter's Cold Bite" with some serious issues arising.

See you in April.

Click on Mary E. Adair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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Thinking Out Loud

By Gerard Meister

The American Jew

How One Group of Immigrants Changed a Nation

Prologue: There was an especially unique aspect to the flood of millions of immigrants from Eastern Europe – almost all Jewish – coming to our shores through Castle Garden and Ellis Island around the turn of the century, and that was the Jewish commitment to the cause of social justice, particularly as it played out with respect to civil rights.

While it is true that much has been written about the struggles of African Americans with their civil rights and the role (if any) Jews played in that struggle, I believe that some fresh insights are worthy of a second look, so let us begin by shedding some light on a most important matter which has, in my opinion, been given short shrift by historians and social commentators and that is: the right of a defendant to be tried by a jury of his peers and the role one lone Jewish immigrant played in that matter.

First articulated in the magna carta and then memorialized in the Sixth amendment to our Bill of Rights (and later to the due process of law in our Fourteenth Amendment) this right – the right to a trial with a jury of your peers – has become a central plank in the foundations of liberty among the English speaking peoples of the world and this singular right was put to the test in America during the infamous Scottsboro Boys case in the early-to-mid thirties in Alabama courts.

Segment 1: Reviewing the Scottsboro Boys Case: immigrant Sam Liebowitz waged and won the battle for justice which lasted over five years and how that victory wrought a change in the landscape of American jurisprudence.

Cast of characters in the melee: NAACP and Clarence Darrow; Earl Browder and the Communist Party; Alabama Judge Horton; alleged rape victim Ruby Bates and Reverend Harry Emerson Fosdick ; Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes checks the jury rolls in Alabama.

In 1931, the defendants, nine southern African American youths, were “hoboeing” along with four white boys and two white girls (dressed in overalls!) on the Southern Railroad’s Chattanooga to Memphis freight on March 25, 1931. A stone throwing fight erupted when a white boy accidentally stepped on the hand of Haywood Patterson, a black youth hanging onto the side of a tank car. The heavily outnumbered whites were forced off the train and a couple of the boys went to the stationmaster in Stevenson and complained about being assaulted by a gang of blacks. The stationmaster then wired ahead to Paint Rock, Alabama where a posse of armed men stopped the train and rounded up every black youth they could find and questioned the two white girls, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates who told the posse they had been raped by the black boys. The nine captured blacks – forever to be known as the Scottsboro Boys – were tied together with a plow line and trucked over to a jail in Scottsboro.

Speedily indicted, the boys were convicted of rape and battery in a series of trials in rural Alabama. Considered by many to be really nothing more than a legal lynching, the trials came to the attention of both the NAACP and the American Communist Party. Initially, the NAACP balked at taking a stand in the matter for fear that some of the blacks might be guilty, which would harm that organization’s stance in southern communities. But as the furor over the trials mounted in the press, and in particular the New York press, the NAACP reconsidered and retained Clarence Darrow to defend the Scottsboro Boys as they came to be known

At the same time the American Communist Party eager to recruit new members brought in its legal arm the International Labor Defense (ILD) with defense attorney, Joseph Brodsky to handle the matter. But Brodsky had a better idea and advised Browder to seek out New York defense attorney Sam Liebowitz who had an astonishing record: defending seventy-eight capital murder cases, he got seventy-seven acquittals (!) and one hung jury.

Surprisingly, the Scottsboro boys opted to go with the ILD rather than the NAACP and Clarence Darrow. Enter Samuel Liebowitz, a Jewish lawyer from New York, who was born in Romania in 1893 and brought to America by his immigrant parents in 1897. Serving pro bono from 1931 through 1937, his victory in the case was attained through the Supreme Court decision of 1935 in Norris v Alabama when Liebowitz produced jury rolls which included blacks, but that the rolls – Liebowitz maintained – were clearly forged. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes then asked if he could prove that and Liebowitz produced a magnifying glass for Hughes, who inspected the document and silently passed the magnifying glass and the document to the next Justice and so on down the line. The Court then held that the defendants were denied the due process of law and all the guilty verdicts were set aside. This was the first time that this nefarious, racist practice was dragged screaming into the sunlight and from that point on America was the better for it – surely not perfect – but better for sure.

Epilogue: Bits and pieces of the case seem to drag on forever, but by January 23, 1989 the last of the Scottsboro boys were dead. And although Hannah Arendt termed the climate surrounding the trials a “banality of evil” there were many people both black and white from the north and the south that stood tall for the cause of justice: certainly Alabama Judge James Horton, who on June 22, 1933 set aside the death penalty verdict on Haywood Patterson and ordered a new trial. Facing political suicide Judge Horton declared, “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.” Judge Horton was never again elected.

Special kudos go to Ruby Bates who finally recanted her rape allegations loudly and clearly and took the shame of it for all the world to know, with a special assist to Reverend Harry Emerson Fosdick for helping guide her to that mountain top.

And finally to that uniquely talented, tenacious bulldog of an attorney Sam Liebowitz, who gets a place of honor in the Pantheon of immigrants who helped shape our nation.

Segment 2: How Marion Anderson got to sing at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, April 9,1939: research included some newspaper articles, but in the main talking about impresario Sol Hurok to Max Meister, 1889-1874, the author’s father who was Hurok’s kinsman and friend. Further, both Meister and Hurok were (socialist) lecturers at The Brooklyn Labor Lyceum in the 1920’s. Additional material was garnered from the author’s sister, Lillian Pace (nee Meister) 1910-1987, who was Hurok’s private secretary in the early to mid thirties.

Marian Anderson’s convoluted path to the Lincoln Memorial began when she signed on with Impresario Sol Hurok. What with Arturo Toscanini, famed conductor of the “NBC Symphony of the Air,” declaring that Ms Anderson’s voice as, “one that comes along once in a hundred years” this was quite an achievement for Hurok. Hurok who had an uncanny sense of timing and an appreciation of the value of publicity then signed Ms Anderson on to do a concert at Constitution Hall, a venue owned by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). The DAR promptly cancelled the engagement because Ms Anderson was a Negro and Hurok was in his element: on the side of righteousness and ready to go on the attack!

Enter Eleanor Roosevelt, who promptly resigned from the DAR and had cut her social awareness teeth as a volunteer social worker at the turn of the century teaching Jewish children dance and exercise at settlement houses on the Lower East Side; and where she met my father, helping him in his work with the children of the Paterson Silk Mill strikers (1913). And twenty-odd years later as First Lady, she invited Ms Anderson to sing in the White House.

So we had a “perfect storm” of activists waiting in the wings when Walter White of the NAACP bristled at the DAR not allowing a Negro – Marian Anderson – to perform at Constitution Hall. Hurok pounced (knowing the First Lady’s make up) calling for the concert to be held at the Lincoln Memorial and on Easter Sunday. In short order (we can assume and be one hundred and one per cent certain that Eleanor leaned on FDR and FDR leaned on the Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickes, who then gave permission for Ms Anderson to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and a unique, but serious quest for racial equality in America had begun.

A crowd of 75,000 showed up and this new march towards racial equality in America had taken its first baby steps. The publicity about the social protest demonstration was world wide; almost, but not quite equal to the one that came a long on October 16, 1963, when another great African American, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. held his million man march putting us yet closer to his dream of equality for all Americans.

Segment 3: Opponents of Anti Semitism in America finally get its champion, the Anti Defamation League (ADL) and the unheralded and unknown to this day, Aaron Sapiro .

In the years between the first and second World Wars it became almost de rigueur to be anti Semitic in America, what with avowed anti Semites Senator Rankin and Congressman Bilbo (both from Mississippi) stalking the halls of Congress and Father Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith permeating the air waves and print media. Incredibly, up until 1930, Roget’s Thesaurus printed the following description of Jews: cunning, rich, usurer, extortioner, heretic!

But the major player in blaming the Jews for the ills of the world was an iconic figure in American history, if not the world: Henry Ford, publisher of The Dearborn Independent a viciously anti Semitic newspaper published throughout the 1920’s and had a circulation of 700,000 (quite a remarkable figure for that era). The clarion call against this virulent plague of anti Semitism was first sounded by a fledgling organization the Anti Defamation League (formed in 1913 by Sigmund J. Livingston, a German born Jew) when the ADL released its initial pamphlet “The Poison Pen” in September, 1930, targeting The Dearborn Independent and the men behind its series of canards about “The International Jew.”

Moreover this call was heard and answered by scores of Americans from all walks of life including President Woodrow Wilson and past Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt and included W.E.B. DuBois, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan amongst others. A petition “The Perils of Racial Prejudice” was drawn up calling The International Jew, “un-American and un-Christian.”

Yet, Ford’s diatribes against the Jews continued unabated, the problem being that hate speech in America was not defined or circumscribed in any way. Ergo, he printed whatever, wherever and whenever he wanted!

However, the battle against Ford and his anti Semitic ranting was well and truly joined, almost innocuously, when in 1927, a young Jewish attorney, Aaron Sapiro, a son of immigrants, sued Henry Ford for defamation and brought a million dollar federal libel suit in Detroit against his newspaper after accusations that Sapiro’s advocacy on behalf of agricultural cooperatives was nothing more than a conspiracy against the individualistic spirit of American husbandry by the International Jew. Enter the prominent constitutional lawyer Louis Marshall who was also president of the American Jewish Committee and the trial began producing banner headlines.

Ford, desperate to avoid the witness stand engineered a mistrial and sent emissaries to meet with Marshall to mediate the matter. Marshall wrung an apology out of Ford (which Marshall wrote!) and Ford settled with Sapiro out of court but, not until Sapiro’s lawyer got on record that Ford had libeled all Jews. So the first step – although a halting one – to define hate speech in American jurisprudence was taken. In truth, Sapiro was the Jewish David to the anti Semites’ Goliath, Henry Ford.

The upshot was that though American law did not acknowledge hate speech per se, Marshall prevailed on Ford to sign a public statement that did and newspaper editors from Maine to California took note. And so did Ford, who finally ceased his anti Semitic tirades.

Moreover Ford’s children and grandchildren took note and participated in helping to heal the wounds caused by their patriarch. In fact, Ford sponsored “Schindler’s List” on television. And today I drive a Ford! So the American Dream lives on.

Click on Gerard Meister for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

The Plunkett family has given many fine writers to the Irish literary movement. Horace Plunkett, Edward Plunkett (who became Lord Dunsany) and, in more recent times, James Plunkett most famous for Strumpet City.

Paddy Plunkett is a Dublin bus-driver who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of his native city, a vivid imagination and the literary ability of the Plunketts that went before him. This month I’m giving you one of his pieces.


All over bar the shouting and that continued outside the doors. It’s hard to understand just how much is spent on drink in this country. Everyone has to make their living and this happened to be his, and he was lucky that he had such a thriving business in this day and age. Drink, alcohol kept a lot of people in work in this country for good or ill he mused, from those who make, distribute and sell it to those who have to look after the hurt and pain it causes people.

In the meantime he and his staff wanted to go home to bed and a well earned rest. But not before the takings for the day were counted and the shelves were restocked for the next day’s trading which was Saturday. They had ample stock from kegs of beers and stout to bottled beers and a vast amount of spirits. A new record in turnover had been accomplished today, so he was a happy man. Tomorrow was well and truly a day of rest for him and his staff for it was Good Friday.

He then remembered that because they would not be open on Good Friday he had better wind the pub clock, it needed to be wound only once a week and he wound it every Friday. It was old, with roman numerals, and it bore the legend “Ganter Brothers Made in Dublin”. He had a great attachment to the timepiece for it was part and parcel of the pub. Just as was the old gas lamp whose mantle was still intact and which was used occasionally if there was a power failure. At the end of the bar was a very large mirror. It too was old and near the top, two opposite semi circles informed you of “De Kuypers Heart Label Gin”. It was cracked a little at the bottom from a row that had occurred in the bar many years ago. It too was part of the furniture and fittings of “Dirty Dicks”. Satisfied that doors and windows were locked and everything was in order. Paddy the proprietor switched on the alarm bade goodnight to his staff and they went home to their beds for a well earned rest.

Some customers congregated outside gostering and singing, others taking about football and wondering would the Premiership be won over the Easter weekend. All of them knew Good Friday was only a night’s sleep away and that it would be the quietest day of the year with the pubs closed all day long. Slowly but surely they went their separate ways all inebriated. “Mind the trams “, someone shouted. Christy didn’t need to for he went home short distance to his flat by rail. The individual steel shafts that made up the perimeter railings of the flats he felt carefully until he came to the entrance to the complex he lived in. Once through the gates he found his flat without any bother.

Most of Christy’s boozing pals were off to England for Easter. They said they were going over for a match, but if the truth be known they couldn’t face Good Friday without the pubs being open. Christy hadn’t the money, so he had to stay at home.

Good Friday was a fine bright day and he busied himself doing bits and pieces around the place. He felt a bit seedy and he had a bit of a hangover but he felt a bit better as the day wore on. A long day seemed to turn into an even longer evening His missus was going over to Whitefriar Street to do the Stations of the Cross. He thought he might go with her and pass a bit of time. He thought again. No too long and drawn out.

He thought back to past Good Fridays. They always seemed to be cold wet and miserable with nothing to do. The only place to go was to play football up in the fifteen acres and in the evening go over to the Mansion House to see the European Cup Final on film. It was the same match shown year after year.

He remembered the seats in the round room torn, and with the horsehair sticking out of them. But it was the match. That was the magic bit Good Friday in the Mansion House was Hamden Park 1960. 135,000 people Real Madrid versus Eintracht Frankfurt. Oh he loved saying the name Eintracht. It sounded really different, really foreign. The screen was tiny sixteen millimetre film. But there was a full house. Every year there seemed to be more scratches on the print than the year before. And the click, click, click of the projector seemed noisier. What a match final score Real Madrid;7, Eintracht Frankfurt;3.

Magical goals from fabulous players 4 for Puskas 3 for Di Stefano of Real Madrid and players namedKress and Stein scored for Eintracht.

Despite his fond memories he was becoming slightly agitated. He missed the pub. It was too early to touch his few cans he had put away, never the less he checked them and made sure they were still intact. He put on his jacket and the lead on his beloved dog Brandy. It was obvious to anyone who saw Brandy that he was a mongrel. Christy would have none of it. As far as he was concerned he was a pure “ton a bred”.

They walked towards Stephens Green, crossed at the Unitarian Church and made their way along the tree lined west side of the park where the Luas operates from. As they approached the midway point, where the statue to Lord Ardilaun is, Brandy let out a yelping cry. The dog was petrified. He picked him up. and there was no other animal or person about. He set him down on the ground again and as he got up he looked in at the monument. Lord Ardilaun, Arthur Edward Guinness was no longer there. Christy closed his eyes tightly, and opened them again and looked.The monument was complete in every detail.

The plinth,the chair he sat on, even the grass surrounding it was freshly mown. He was definitely not there. Christy felt an eerie feeling within himself. They quickly made their way down York Street, which is opposite the monument. He’d surely meet someone he knew here. Not a sinner. Like the dog Christy felt insecure. The city had a ghost like feel to it.

“Drink, I need a drink,” he said to himself. He made his way home as quickly as he could but not before he passed Dirty Dicks. There was an old handcart outside over the cellar gates. He hadn’t seen one of those in years, yet it was familiar. He thought he saw a glimmer of light through the blinds. He went to the bar door, looked around. His heart pounding he put a slight pressure on the door. To his surprise it opened and he entered. The gas mantle behind the bar was glowing brightly. The pub was packed yet different. There were drinks everywhere and a great atmosphere pervaded the place. The clientele were not locals yet Christy seemed to know almost all of them.

He saw a man at the bar that seemed down on his luck. From the back he vaguely recognised him. He had bird droppings on his hair and shoulders. His long dirty coat and boots had a greenish bronze hue about them. He made his way over to him, he touched his coat it had a cold metallic feel to it. A button fell from the back belt of his coat. Christy picked it up and put it in his pocket. The man lifted a pint of Guinness from the counter and drank it down. The metallic look and bird droppings disappeared.

What emerged was a friendly moustached face with bright sparkling eyes and a cheerful smile. Transformed he was dressed impeccably. He introduced himself. Christy could hardly contain himself, for this was the man who was missing from his chair in Stephens Green. Lord Ardilaun, Arthur Edward Guinness. Christy offered him a stool, he refused it, saying he didn’t mean to be rude but he had a pain in his arse sitting on the same seat in the Green for over a hundred years.

So if he didn’t mind he’d prefer to stand and have a drink and a chat with him. He told Christy that he loved Dublin and that it was great to be back in body even if it was only for short period of time. He also explained to him that what he was encountering was the Dublin Monumental Statue Movement Meeting.

And that these meetings were held only once in a blue moon.

A monumental reunion it might have been for Lord Ardilaun but those he introduced to Christy seemed to be there in body, mind and spirit. They were a Who’s Who of Dublin monuments. They were all there; Poets, Literary Geniuses, Politicians, Trade Unionists, Rebels, Chancers, Musicians.The Famine Hungry.

The Tart with the big heaving bosom who had left her handcart outside was there too, attracting a lot of attention from the former great and good.Surgeon Parker who normally resides outside the “Dead Zoo” on Merrion Square was chatting to a Frankenstein monster like Wolfe Tone. Father Matthew was going around imploring them all to give up the demon drink, but was not having much luck.James Joyce was singing “The Lass of Aughrim”. Phil Lynott said “Christy remember the craic we used to have in the 5 Club in Harcourt Street.”He sure did. The Two ladies who sit with their Arnotts’s bags beside the Halfpenny Bridge were still chatting, but here in the pub, and having a drink. They all said that they missed Lord Nelson on his pillar.

His head which was on the end of the bar smiled wryly. Keeping them all under control was the Chief Usher, whose residence is outside the Screen Cinema in Hawkins Street. He was complete with his trusty torch and was dressed in all his fine regalia.

Drinking and merriment was the order of the day. Christy could take no more of this surreal world he had entered. He bid Lord Ardilaun and all his monumental friends’ goodnight. He went home with Brandy who now was in great form wagging his tail, and went straight to bed.

Were they coming to take him away was his first thought as his wife woke him from a very deep sleep. The reflection of blue flashing lights covered the ceiling of the bedroom. He shivered a little and heard the din of what sounded like fire engine pumps.

He dressed in a flash and ran down to the street. Dirty Dicks was no more. A huge fire had engulfed the building and reduced it to rubble. Ace reporter Charlie Swan the nations favourite hack, back from a sojourn in the United States was in vintage form. He described the fire as been Ghoulish, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented. That it was. The Gardai and fire crews, who fought the inferno, ruled out arson as a cause, as fire brigade personnel had to break down the doors and windows to get to fight the blaze.

Their investigations revealed that not a drop of drink was left in the pub. All the kegs, bottled beers and spirits were mysteriously now empty. Despite the massive temperatures and the millions of gallons of water used to extinguish the fire, they found intact and in perfect working order the pub clock, the De Kuypers Mirror and the old gas lamp.

Christy went onto the small veranda of his flat. He fed the birds a few crumbs and crusts of bread. He sneezed, took his handkerchief from his pocket as he did so he pulled something with it which fell to the ground. He bent down and picked it up.

What had been an old dirty button was now a bright gold one with A. E. Guinness Inscribed on it.

Click on Mattie Lennon for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

A Tall Irish Paddy Day Tale
An Old Irish Recipe From My Ancient Irish Relatives

Well now, it ain’t often I divulge my family history, but then what the heck, I’m getting’ old so I guess I better tell the world all about me before the world forgets I was even around to have a history. My dear Irish Grandmother’s family dates back to Paddy and the O’Currys. On the other hand it was also my Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother who had raided Caesar’s underground catacombs and ran off with all of his cooking spices stored there, and gave them to my ancient relatives. Of course you know that Paddy’s pa and ma were Romans who got sent to Ireland to take care of the Roman outposts. But poor little Paddy got kidnapped by a bunch of Pirates and it was the O’Currys who rescued him. So Paddy and the O’Currys then ran all the snakes out of Ireland and planted Shamrocks and that is how Ireland became green. Paddy and the O’Currys baptized the Druids in Ireland into Catholics which it mostly still is today. It was Paddy who convinced my early relatives to drop the ‘O’ because anytime someone hollered ‘O’Curry’, most everybody showed up, but when they just hollered ‘Hey Curry’ someone would holler back ‘Which one’?. Paddy was the preacher and the Curry bunch were the cooks which is how come over the years, all the convents an’ monasteries always had good drinks and food. Here is one of those ancient recipes that the Curry bunch came up with, at least it dates back to my great, great, great, however great Aunt Carrie Curry.

All these ingredients were brought up to modern day stuff what comes from a store.

Here is what you will need:
About a 6lb lean leg of lamb
6 oz can undiluted frozen Apple Juice
½ Cup Cider Vinegar
¼ Cup Honey
1 Tblsp Soy Sauce
¼ tsp fresh minced Rosemary
Vegetable Cooking Spray
2 Carrots, scraped, cut julienne (about 2 Cups)
2 Turnips, peeled, cut julienne (about 2 Cups)
Fresh Spinach leaves (optional)
Fresh Rosemary sprigs (optional)

And here is how you do it:

Trim any excess fat from lamb. Place in a large shallow dish. Combine apple juice concentrate and next 4 ingredients; pour over lamb. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hrs or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove lamb from marinade, reserving marinade. Place marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Brush lamb with reserved marinade. Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of lamb, making sure it does not touch bone. Bake Lamb, uncovered, at 350° for 2 hrs, basting lamb frequently with reserved marinade. Shield with aluminum foil, and bake an additional 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 140° (rare) to 160° (medium). Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes before serving. Arrange carrot strips in a vegetable steamer over boiling water; cover and steam 1 minute, add turnips; cover and steam 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain well. Place lamb on a spinach-lined serving platter. Arrange carrots and turnips around lamb, and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs. This should take care of at least a dozen hungry Irish relatives, whoever, and beats hell out of the typical Corned Beef and Cabbage. And a schooner of Guiness will help wash it all down.

And A Happy Paddy’s Day To All

Click on Leocthasme for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Always Looking – Two-Families Love Story

By John I. Blair

With A Valentine

In genealogy, one is always looking for compelling stories; and early this year I was presented one virtually on a platter.

My great-great Grandma Blair was born Sarah Elizabeth Linville, the daughter of Zachariah Linville and Nancy Cash. (Yes, apparently I’m a distant cousin of Johnny Cash, but that’s another story.)

Sarah grew up with four brothers and five sisters there in northwestern Missouri, where her father was a farmer and a popular self-taught minister to several congregations in the frontier area where they lived, having migrated there from North Carolina via Kentucky and Tennessee. Among her siblings were Henderson, Byram, Rebecca, and Verlinda.

Nearby lived another family, the Days, headed by Valentine Day and Elizabeth Adams. The numerous Day children included sisters Mary, Elizabeth, Ursula, and brother Pleasant Day. (I love his name.) Considering the place, the times, and what transpired, the Days were almost certainly members of one of Zachariah’s congregations.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was noodling around with family history and re-visiting the Linville branch, I noticed that a single person had posted flower tributes on several related Linville memorial pages in Find A Grave. Being curious I sent an e-mail to ask what their relationship might be.

Turned out the poster of the floral tributes was actually the wife of a modern Day family member, living in Idaho, who had spent several years researching her husband’s family. She has proven a goldmine of information and source documents, and I have finally realized (having had the information in front of me for some time but just not registering) the Days and Linvilles of that generation had a very special relationship. Two of Sarah Linville’s brothers – Henderson and Byram – had married Day sisters Ursula and Elizabeth – and one of Sarah’s sisters – Verlinda – had married a Day brother, Pleasant. A total of three siblings in each family married three from the other family.

What a group wedding that would have been if they’d all wed at the same time (which they didn’t – not quite). What a humorous coincidence (or was it?) that the father of one family was named Valentine! What courting, no doubt shy and discreet, must have gone on in that rural frontier community, perhaps with trysts in horse-drawn wagons on shady country roads. What happy family gatherings must have later taken place between the two intricately intertwined clans.

There was even a fourth link – another of the Linville girls, Rebecca (she was the eldest of the Linvilles), had married a neighbor named Humphrey Posey Allison early on. When Rebecca died in 1852, Humphrey remarried to a local widow – Mary Day Carnes, another sister of Ursula, Elizabeth, and Pleasant Day. Perhaps he figured marrying a Day was the next closest thing to marrying a Linville!

Each of the Linville-Day couples had long and productive, but different, lives.

Henderson Linville, Tennessean by birth, had moved to northwest Missouri by 1840 where at 24 he met and married Ursula Sublette Day on June 17, 1840, in Buchanan County (St. Joseph). They later moved again, first to Gentry County, Missouri, then to Rawles Township, Mills County, southwest Iowa (near the little town of Tabor) by 1870. Henderson and Ursula lived the balance of their lives in Mills County, farming on the rich loess hills soil that makes that area such wonderful farmland. They are buried side by side in Pleasant Hill cemetery, a peaceful rural place that holds many of my family members.

There once was a small church next to the cemetery, but it is long gone, although another rural church just a couple miles down the road is still in existence and recognized as the oldest church of any denomination in Mills County. Several Blairs and Linvilles are listed among its founders. Henderson and Ursula had five children: Nancy Elizabeth, Abraham Dawson, Barbara Q., Zachariah Franklin, and Minerva; plus many grandchildren and further descendants. A Civil War veteran, Henderson first served in Company F, Regiment 15 Iowa Infantry but was discharged for illness. Later he re-enlisted and served as a sergeant in Company H, Second Regiment, Nebraska Cavalry Volunteers, GAR. He enlisted October 23, 1862, and was mustered out December 8, 1863. Henderson is described in his Civil War record as being 5' 8 1/2" tall, light in complexion, with blue eyes and dark hair. When he died in 1900, he was 84. Ursula, about whom we know less, was 90 at her death in 1913. They had been together for 60 years.

Wildflowers in Mills County, Iowa, the verdant countryside where Henderson
and Ursula Linville settled.

Byram Linville was the son and fourth child of Zachariah and Nancy Linville. Some think he was born in Kentucky. Byram, age 20, married Elizabeth Day in 1841, a year after Henderson and Ursula married. They had children including Jasper, Pleasant Day (named for his uncle), Valentine (named for his grandfather), Parmelia, Ida Mable, and Clement R. At some point the couple moved from Missouri to Sonoma County, California, and raised their family there. Their numerous descendants still mostly live in California. The two are buried at Cloverdale, on the Redwood Highway, in a picturesque cemetery atop a hill overlooking some of the famous Sonoma County vineyards. Byram lived to be 80 by the time of his death in 1901; Elizabeth, who was born in 1825 (and had married at age 16), lived until 1920 – 95 years old! They also had been together 60 years.

Vineyards near Cloverdale, Sonoma County, California, where Byram and Elizabeth Linville settled.

Verlinda Linville married Pleasant M. Day 11 November 1840 – just a few months following the marriage of Henderson and Ursula and only a few months before Byram and Elizabeth. William Allison, minister of the gospel, performed the ceremony. (Pleasant’s sister Mary was to become Humphrey Posey Allison’s second wife following the death of his first wife, Verlinda’s sister Rebecca.) Clearly in 1840-41 the spirit of love was in the air in the Pleasant Hill, Iowa, neighborhood. Sadly, unlike the long-lived Linville boys, Pleasant Day’s days were relatively brief. He died some time before 1855, probably in his early to mid 30s, leaving Verlinda a widow with a small child. Following the death of her first husband, Verlinda in 1856 remarried to V. Dunnegan. She lived to be 90 years old and spent the last several decades of her life in the household of her son Quintus Vernile Pleasant Day in Middletown, Lake County, California, her second husband presumably also having died young.

Vineyards in Lake County, California, near where Verlinda Linville Day Dunnegan spent the last several decades of her life, with her son.

So of the three youthful Linville-Day couples who all got married within less than a year at the start of the 1840s, one settled down in Iowa, while the other two joined the mass migration to California taking place in the mid 19th century. I’m sure they kept in touch out there, so far from their roots in Missouri and Iowa. Cloverdale and Middletown are only about 25 miles apart across a low mountain range, with a connecting road through Calistoga. And I trust they managed, somehow, to correspond with their families back in Iowa and Missouri. And now, nearly 100 years since the last of them died, a couple of their descendants/kinfolk have managed to put the six of them back together again, along with their romantic story of the year of love, 1840-41, when six brothers and sisters from two families got married, no doubt under the approving eyes of Father Valentine.

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Consider This

By LC Van Savage

Being Made To Think On A Very Hot Day

Now that it’s official, my being genuinely elderly that is, memories keep bubbling up at the most inappropriate times---make that always--- and I can’t seem to tamp them down as easily as I used to. And because we had some awfully hot days this summer, some old memories were forced to do a bit of extra bubbling, and one of them will be this column’s story, a true one. And you’ll please forgive me if I come off sounding a little saintly.

The temperature that day was over 100 and there wasn’t a drop of dryness anywhere. It was so humid, if any part of one’s bare flesh accidentally made connection with a wall or large appliance, it would stick there, the way the tongue will stick to a frozen metal pole in December in Maine. (Sure I have.)

My dear husband Mongo and I were driving somewhere that day—I forget to where—feeling pretty smug and comfortable (in other words, dry and cool) in the interior of our past-prime car, (but not so past as to not have AC.) Isn’t it amazing how glorious a horribly hot, sticky summer day can be when viewed from the interior of an automobile filled with lots and lots of BTUs? Paradise, right?

It was. Mongo and I were having a great time. Terrific music played on the radio; we were planning a picnic, laughing and horsing around and were obviously really looking forward to wherever it was we were going.

We were driving on an old two-lane country road, enjoying the scenery and passing many old homes built close to the edge. I turned my head to look out the side window and saw a young boy, probably eleven or twelve, dark haired and husky, and I could see he was busy cooling himself off. He was wearing a snorkel and diving mask, and was standing waist deep in water, fully prepared to duck down into the cool, shining wetness to escape the day’s hideous heat and the noise and exhaust fumes from the cars and trucks rumbling by his family’s ramshackle, sagging home.

Mongo and I zipped by that kid. I don’t even think he saw the boy as he drove, but I turned to look out of the back window as we sped on and saw that kid checking the straps of his diving gear, looking very serious, and I could certainly understand how anxious he must have been to get all the way down into that cool, dark water.

The sight of that boy sobered me, and I turned back to the front, suddenly not feeling much like laughing with Mongo any more, in the cool, dry interior of our car that day.

Now I felt guilty and saddened. I began to feel an annoying and pressured sense of not being fully appreciative of my very good life, and that fact added more to my gloom.

Mongo turned to me. “What’s with you?” he said, seeing my serious face. “Nuthin,’” I answered, and of course the way most men always believe their wives when they say “nuthin,’” he believed me.

What was wrong was that boy I saw? He made me think, that’s what was wrong, when what I wanted to do that day was to not think much, to have fun, be cool and dry in that furnace weather and to definitely not feel guilt. And, not only that, I wanted to feel smug and cool and dry. All I wanted was to be in our big old car with enough money to buy it some gas, and have enough left over to also buy some food for our picnic. What I wanted to do was to continue laughing, to keep driving without care, to keep speeding happily toward our now forgotten destination. I did not like that I was being made to squirm, to not look out the window, to not laugh and play inside our car. I did not like that suddenly my conscience was being pinched. Hard.

What I also did not want that day was to be more balanced, less self-centered and more concerned with the world’s problems, large or small. What I did not want was to be forced to face the reality that some people have to make enjoyment and pleasure for themselves with what they have lying about, instead of their being able to jump into an air conditioned car and drive off somewhere to find that elusive enjoyment and pleasure. What I didn’t want that day, was to think about other people not having nice things, not having the things in life that can bring fun and joy. In other words, people not having it so great.

But that kid in his diving gear forced me to reluctantly think about all that stuff on that beautiful and scalding day. Yes, he was standing in that cool water, splashing himself with it, preparing to submerge. So what was the problem? The problem was his swimming hole, his pond, his private pool, all his own, beckoning, ready to make him feel happy and cool and refreshed. The problem you see, at least for me, but clearly not for him, was that the water he was standing waist deep in was contained in a rusting metal blue painted barrel.

Click on LC Van Savage for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


By Thomas F. O'Neill

Some of my students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou China have been following the Republican primary in the U.S.

When President Obama was running in the Primary four years ago the Chinese were rooting for him because they felt he was the underdog. Today, the Chinese are not that impressed with him. Many here are also wondering if a Republican will succeed him in 2013.

One of my students following our election process closely asked me why you have to be a Christian to be President in America. I told her that you don’t have to be a follower of Christianity to get elected. I also explained to her there is a separation of Church and State in our country. One’s religious affiliation or one’s non-belief in religion should not be a litmus test to determine one’s fitness to be President.

Rick Santorum who believes he will be the Republican nominee and go on to beat President Obama in November. He is thumping his religious extremism to the mantra that the separation of Church and State in the U.S. is merely a myth.

He claims our country is a Christian Nation not because the majority of people in the U.S are Christians, but that our country itself was founded by Christians, for Christians. However, a little research into American history will show that this statement is far from the truth. Christian fundamentalists who spread this absurd notion are known as the Christian Revisionists and they are attempting to rewrite history.

The men responsible for building the foundation of the United States were men of The Enlightenment, not men of Christianity. They were Deists they did not believe the bible to be divinely inspired but rather a book of myths and fables. The Deists of their day believed in god but they did not believe in religion. They were Freethinkers who relied on their reason, not faith.

If the U.S. was founded on the Christian religion, the Constitution would clearly say so--but it does not. Nowhere does the Constitution say: "The United States is a Christian Nation", or anything even close to that. In fact, the words "Jesus Christ, Christianity, Bible, Creator, Divine, and God" are never mentioned in the Constitution.

The Constitution does mention religion in exclusionary terms. When the Founders wrote the nation's Constitution, they specified that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." (Article 6, section 3) This provision was radical in its day-- giving equal citizenship to believers and non-believers alike. They wanted to ensure that no religion could make the claim of being the official, national religion, such as England had.

The Declaration of Independence also gives us important insight into the opinions of the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the power of the government is derived from the governed. Up until that time, it was claimed that kings ruled nations by the authority of God. The Declaration of Independence was a radical departure from the idea that the power to rule over other people comes from god. It was a letter from the Colonies to the English King, stating their intentions to separate themselves. The Declaration mentions "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence"-- but that's the language of Deism, not Christianity.

The 1796 Treaty with Tripoli states that the United States was "not in any sense founded on the Christian religion". This was not an idle statement meant to satisfy Muslims-- they believed it and meant it. This treaty was written under the presidency of George Washington and signed under the presidency of John Adams.

Most of the Founders were in fact Deists none were atheists which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, (Nature's God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity. When taking the time to read our Founding Fathers writings it comes clear that most of them were opposed to the bible, and the teachings of Christianity in particular.

The Founders were students of the European Enlightenment. Half a century after the establishment of the United States, clergymen complained that no president up to that date had been a Christian. In a sermon that was reported in newspapers, Episcopal minister Bird Wilson of Albany, New York, protested in October 1831: "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism." The attitude of the age was one of enlightened reason, tolerance, and free thought.

Rick Santorum stated if elected he would return our country to its biblical and Christian roots where our Founding Fathers intended it to be. I for one would not want to return to the period of our American history that led to the great American conflict called the civil war. It was during that period that southern evangelical Christians were using bible quotes to justify the institution of slavery. Fortunately, there are now laws against that sort of injustice and not to many people in America today would want to return to the hands of the godly slave holders with their god fearing bible quotes.

I think Mr. Santorum should read up more about the forming of this great country of ours and the history of his own catholic religion. It was during the birth of our great nation that the Roman Catholic Pope declared democracy an immoral form of Government because America doesn’t recognize Christ or the church as its governing authority. That is what sets our great Nation apart from religious extremism including Christian theocracies’.

During the 1960 Presidential election John F Kennedy’s Roman Catholic upbringing became a campaign liability for him. However, he resolved the issue by claiming the Separation of Church and State is absolute in our Country. Rick Santorum now says John F Kennedy is wrong and the Separation clause is merely a myth.

There is nothing to prevent people of faith from getting elected into Government office the same goes for nonbelievers. I told my students in class that the separation of Church and State is the corner stone of our nation’s greatness. It allows all citizens to share their beliefs and faiths openly and freely. The separation clause prevents religious extremists from imposing their will and beliefs on the American people cloaked under Government policies and that certainly is a good thing.

The ultimate power in this election though like in all elections lies in the hands of the American voter and that is where it should be. That is why I believe President Obama is going to get reelected in the general election in November. Today’s (02/29/12) CBS national news poll shows that most republicans are dissatisfied with their choice of republican candidates. The majority polled also said they would vote for President Obama over his republican challenger whoever that person will turn out to be.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill

    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

    Click on Thomas F. O'Neill for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

Harriette Leidich, Aged 99, World's Oldest Columnist

As former pin-up girl Margaret Caldwell, 105, of Mesquite, Nevada, no longer writes for the Desert Valley Times, her title of The World's Oldest Columnist goes to Harriette B. Leidich of North Bennington, Vermont.

Harriette, who is looking foward to celebrating her 100th birthday on April 19, has written a breezy column for Vermont's Bennington Banner for the last 16 years,

James Therrien, editor of the Bennington Banner, says, “Harriette has always been an amazing columist regardless of her age, one who rarely needs editing and who learned how to write and how to produce a newspaper back in the old days of lead type, early manual typewriters and many aspects only she could fully describe.

"She writes now on an infrequent basis, and just when we have begun to wonder if she is finally going to retire from journalism completely, a batch of two or three columns will come in, well written and interesting.”

Daughter of a Nebraska newspaperman, she began her column writing career at the age of 14. She worked because of “not being able to go to college” and has been in the business almost her entire life.

She married George A Lerrigo, amd then she and her husband bought a weekly newspaper in Overbrook, Kansas. During World War II she was a linotype operator in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

In Massachusetts, one of 10 states where she has lived, she had a mimeographing business and was editor of an award-winning newsletter for the League of Women Voters.

She writes her column on “an old trusty typewriter” from home, where she lives alone. “I had a computer installed,” she says, “but I just couldn’t grasp it.”

Owning the papers led to learning more of the business, Leidich said. "I learned the whole printing trade. I could put ads together, I could fill up the forms and run the Linotype and did the bookkeeping," she said. "We had one devil, one printer's devil [an apprentice], and he really was a big part of the organization. That was primitive. That was really, really primitive back then.

"When you own a newspaper you have to be the whole thing. You have to be the man on the street. You have to be whatever. You have to go to all the little town affairs," she added. "After five years my husband decided that it wasn't his thing. So, he went into health care."

Leidich would remain involved in publishing, though. She worked for another paper running the Linotype.

And over the years she would publish several different newsletters for various organizations. "I always had some little newsletter going somewhere," she said. "I've always been dibbling and dabbling in publishing."

It wasn't until 1995, when Leidich moved to North Bennington, that she began her Banner column. "I had another name for it, but [former Editor Robin Smith] chose "Senior Moments," and it stuck. I began sending in columns. They used all of them. They weren't very discerning then," Leidich said.

Leidich's column is typically a collection of several thoughts. And it is almost always focused on matters of interest to those in a small town. "I'll tell you, there's more stuff that goes on in a little town that people don't know about that's very important," she said.

"Maybe that's because I learned to be gentle as I got older. I probably was a very feisty person in that little country newspaper," she said.

It was Leidich's doctor who first began to wonder if she might be one of the oldest working columnists. It was her son, Charles Lerrigo, who then picked up the ball and took to the Internet to investigate. It wasn't long before the National Association of Newspaper Columnists was interested.

"It's exciting and yet it's kind of scary to have all this happen when I'm so old," Leidich said. "It just kind of mushroomed. The whole thing kind of mushroomed and I'm just blown away by it."

At 99, Leidich said she still uses a typewriter to put her thoughts on paper. "I don't have a computer."I had one put in when I moved here. I absolutely could not make it go through this head," she said.

Her son, George Lerrigo, says, “Living in a small town she learned the ‘neighbor’s story’ is a news story and is constantly on the prowl for newsy items of a local nature.”

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists recently honored Harriette with a gift membership. President Ben Pollock said: “Harriette Leidich is an inspiration to aspiring columnists as well as to seasoned professionals who might be tempted to give up when the going gets tough. We are pleased to welcome her as our newest member.”

Pollock noted that Ms. Leidich “began her current column when she was about 84 years old.” He added: “Newspapering was in her family and she began as a young teen.

"Her bio notes she worked outside the newsroom — in the next room over running a hot-lead Linotype but also working communications for non-profits like the League of Women Voters.

"The kind of career that 21st-century columnists and other journalists worry won’t be a true ‘career’ — a bit of this and that — is not new at all, and she proves it can be wonderful.”

Ms. Leidich is the author of “Awful Green Stuff and the Nakedness of Trees”, a collection of her writings, and “It’s a Slower Waltz: Memorable Days from a Long Life”, a personal memoir published in 2001. She also co-authored with her sons “Our Family Miracle”, an account of a stem cell transplant for Charlie, with George as the donor.

Any advice for younger columnists? “Get a good education and spend time doing what you like to do.”

She writes in a small room at the end of her home's main hallway. Pictures of Leidich and her family cover most of the space on the walls.

A framed invitation to President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration is proudly displayed. She is awaiting a letter from the president on her 100th birthday. "He does that, you know," she said.

The columns are written spur-of-the moment, according to Leidich. Many are often written and then quickly scrapped. She said she tries to maintain a high standard for herself. In fact, several days ago she was up at 4 a.m., her typewriter clicking away.

"I just was schilling them out. I had four columns and I looked them over after I'd gone back to bed and slept on them. They were all ready for the trash," Leidich said. "I didn't think they were all that good. I kind of have to be inspired or have something come up that I want to pursue."

After so many years of writing, Leidich said she still has more to say. "I've been around a long time. I've seen a lot of changes. I've been lot of places. I've known a lot of people," she said, all of which helps her come up with new ideas.

She plans to keep writing. She is hoping to write a fourth book, too. She published her first book in her mid-80s. "Awful Green Stuff and the Nakedness of Trees" is a collection of her writing, including some Banner columns. from "It's a Slower Waltz: Memorable Days ong Life," is a memoir Leidich published in 2001.

"Our Family Miracle," was written with her two sons, Charles and George Lerrigo, about Charles' illness and George's bone marrow donation.

Leidich said she learned something new about publishing after writing the books. "You don't make any money. I didn't want to make money, I just wanted to make waves. I just wanted to publish a book," she said.

Leidich's said her fourth book will be about her second marriage. "That's still a wish. I have already given it a name. I had a second marriage and the marriage lasted 16 years. So, I want to write about the 16 years, which were a bonus," she said.

George Lerrigo said his mother has a gift that puts others at ease, allowing them to open up to her. She has used her skills as an interviewed to profile more than 100 members of their church, he said.

"She pretty well knows everybody in church because of that," he said. "She's great at getting you to tell your story."

Leidich said the profiles of her community members have been "very, very revealing." So far, nobody has complained about them.

"Sometimes people say things they don't really want to say, but I've never had anybody say, ‘Oh, please, don't print that.' But, today, I'm saying, ‘Oh, please, don't print that,'" Leidich said, with a laugh.

The NSNC extended an invitation to enter its annual column writing contest and attend the 2012 conference in Macon, Georgia, May 3-6.. Although she has traveled to all of the states except Alaska and Hawaii, she said she doubts she’ll be joining other conference attendees.

Here's a typical example of Harriette's writing, published on February 7, 2009:

"I was excited the other day as I returned from a trip to town when alongside my car at a stoplight was a Smart car. I had seen them on TV but never around our area. I admit it seemed very small, but it pulled out smartly into traffic and continued on its way.

"The driver of that car was beating the high cost of gas and seemed indifferent to my staring. Soon I noted other small cars and was almost ashamed of my blunderbuss of a car, which was using so much gas to get me around on my errands.

"Little cars were lined up for taxi fares into the city and we were soon packed into one with our luggage and two other people. I knew then what a sardine must feel like as we were driven into Rome.

"I could hardly believe and protested that we couldn't all get in that vehicle, but the driver packed us all in and deposited us at our hotel. We were a bit crumpled and out of breath but were ready to see Rome.

"Little cars were being manufactured in Europe in the '60s, so why has it taken us so long to get to a cheaper way of transportation? "

LINK: Previous story on Margaret Caldwell

Posted Thursday, 2 February 2012, by Eric Shackle at 19:03 From Sydney, Australia.

Click on Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online
Author's Blog.

Where in the world is The Boomerang newspaper?

By Eric Shackle

"The Boomerang" is a flourishing daily newspaper founded in 1891 and still going strong. But it has few, if any, Australians among its 5000 readers. That's because it's published in the US town of Laramie, Wyoming.

Edgar Wilson Nye, better known as Bill Nye and later ranked as one of the major American humorists of his time, founded and edited The Laramie Boomerang.

Along with Buffalo Bill, Nye was a contemporary of Mark Twain, and for several years was the most famous comic writer in the US. He started going on speaking tours, but his comedy "turned to dust."

What inspired him to call his paper The Boomerang? He named it in memory of a mule he owned which often tried to follow him into bars, only to be shooed away and then return "like a boomerang."

To this day, The Boomerang has a cartoon sketch of Nye's mule as its emblem. Nye was even portrayed on a cigar band.

In 1881 Nye dedicated his book, The Tale of a meek-Eyed Mule and Some Other Literary Gems, to the mule:

To My Mule Boomerang,
Whose bright smile haunts me still, and whose low, mellow notes are ever sounding in my ears to whom I owe all that I am as a great man, and whose presence has inspired me ever and anon thoughout the years that are gone

Bill Nye founded the Boomerang in Laramie City in 1881. He edited the newspaper for a company and published it in the loft over a livery stable. ‘That’s why they called it a stock company,’ he said. “A sign at the foot of the stairs leading to the loft directed visitors to the newspaper by saying, ‘Twist the gray mule’s tail and take the elevator.’

“Nye named the paper the Boomerang; a name also held by his mule, because, Nye said, ‘I never know where he is going to strike.’

"Bill Nye and Clara Frances Smith were married March 7, 1887, in Laramie. Mrs. Nye remembered the entrance of another unexpected member of the family. “This funny little creature appeared on the streets of Laramie from no one knows where,” she wrote in later years. “It ambled up to Edgar and, rubbing its nose against his sleeve, brayed earnestly in his ear. From that time on, the arrival was known as Bill Nye’s mule, Boomerang.”

Initial efforts to drive the creature off were unsuccessful, thus resulting in the name. The animal was a companion whenever Bill went fishing or to work his claim west of town.

Nye wrote about their close relationship in one of his books. When local Republicans decided they needed a new political organ in Laramie, they backed the establishment of a newspaper and hired Nye to head the outfit.

Nye accepted, named the sheet after his beloved mule and moved the shop into the upstairs room of a livery stable at Third and Garfield. He was given $3,000 by his backers to set up the paper and spent $1,800 of it on a “lemon squeezer” hand press and materials, and the rest for operating costs.

The late Ernest H. Linford (a former Boomerang editor, editorial writer for the Salt Lake Tribune and University of Wyoming professor of journalism) compiled much of the history of the Boomerang for its Centennial anniversary publication in 1981. The following overview is taken from his writings:

“The Laramie Boomerang boasts several editor-owners who were prominent in journalism — notably Bill Nye, founder of the Boomerang.

“The old Laramie Republican, which shared the masthead and flag of (the Boomerang) for more than 30 years, had prominent ‘alumni’ too, but they were fewer in number because of the long continuity of publication under the same staff.

“Bill Nye’s essays and lectures, some of them written for the Boomerang, have appeared in scores of anthologies. But few of the editorials of William E. Chaplin, who established the Laramie Republican in 1890, nearly 10 years after the Boomerang was born, are found outside the bound volumes of the paper he founded. Yet Mr. Chaplin ran a far more prosperous paper with considerable influence in the community and state.

“The Boomerang began as a Republican organ — most newspapers drew their lifeblood from the major political parties in those days — and Mr. Chaplin, a native of Omaha, worked for Bill Nye for a time as back shop foreman. Chaplin and political associates established the Republican in 1890, partly because of dissatisfaction with the political consistency of the Boomerang. …

"Mr. Chaplin was a strong Republican political force in Wyoming during his lifetime in the state. He was secretary of state for a single term (1920-24) and prior to that was register of the U.S. land office at Cheyenne nearly 18 years (1888-1915) … Mr. Chaplin did not exactly keep his nose in the type font during his editorial and printing career, … (and) much credit for the Republican’s success must go to his two partners, Frank Spafford and James Mathison, both printers in the main.

“ … One of the many owners of editors of the Laramie Boomerang during the early part of its existence was James L. Kilgallen. … He attained prominence as a reported for the Hearst Headline Service after advancing through several positions with that organization. …

“The Kilgallens came to Laramie from Denver in 1913 and stayed only two years or so. (Their daughter, Dorothy Kilgallen, achieved prominence as a writer for the New York Journal-American and for her participation in the ‘What’s My Line?’ television show prior to her death in 1965.)

Another newspaper called The Boomerang was published in Brisbane, Australia, from 1890-1892. Founded and edited by William Lane, de facto editor of The Courier, it was"a live newspaper, racy, of the soil, in which pro-worker themes and lurid racism were brought to a fever-pitch."

Lane was a feature writer ("Tohunga") from 1900 for the New Zealand Herald (Auckland), as an ultra-conservative and pro-Empire columnist. He had strong racial antipathy toward East Asians, and during World War I he developed extreme anti-German sentiments.

He was the NZ Herald's editor from 1913 until his death on August 26, 1917. He lost one son, Charles, at a cricket match in Cosme in Paraguay, and another, Donald, on the first day of the Gallipoli landings (April 25,1915).

1. Laramie Boomerang website
2. Bill Nye's humor

Posted by Eric Shackle at 16:34 Sunday, 1 January 2012, From Sydney, Australia.

Click on Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online
Author's Blog.

The Charms of Obsolete Technology

By Yopo

I've got a thing about obsolete technology.

The photo below, for example, shows the control cluster of a non-functional three-band floor model radio that has occupied a corner of my bedroom for the past fifteen or twenty years. (It's only non-function in the sense that no sound has issued from its hefty ten-inch speaker since sometime shortly after the fall of Berlin; it does quite well as a bedside lampstand, as a convenient place to put a digital answering machine, and as a spot to park whatever I'm currently reading before I fall asleep.)

There's another floor radio in the hallway dating from the late 1950s; that one is a Wards Airliner with an illuminated horizontal turning drum, that originally belonged to my grandfather. (It still works just fine; in shortwave mode, on a good night, it will pull in Berlin, or Moscow, or Tokyo, or the distant voices of proselytizing Christian missionaries holed up somewhere in Indonesia.)

While I'd readily admit to being something of a pack rat, I'll also assert that the psychological connection runs deeper than that of a rodent to his own odd bits of collected junk. I suppose the accumulated flotsam and jetsam represents a tangible bridge to the past. It renders the past more real, more immediate, and, in some hard-to-define way, more accessible.

There's something that I've noticed in recent years: many--perhaps even most--of the manufactured objects filling up our modern lives seem to have little real potential for becoming such connections in the future. I don't think this is simply a matter of such objects not having yet survived for long enough to be perceived as novel. I think it may be because most of our modern-age gadgets and gizmos are largely soulless to begin with.

Contrast a modern radio with the 1936 Zenith. The Zenith was largely built by hand; its appearance was dictated by Art Deco artistic sensibilities and a contemporary vision of Flash Gordon technological possibilities. The functional object was created of natural-appearing materials--wood and cloth and hand rubbed varnish--as well as from assembled bits of gleaming glass and metal. The result was an object that functioned on multiple levels: that of technology, and that of art. By so doing, it captured a bit of the soul of the times, and became a carrier of cultural information.

Almost any modern radio you come across will be a slick assembly of plastic and metal and micro-circuitry. The design will be primarily a reflection of function, calculated to minimize production cost, with a thin veneer of some faddish style dictated entirely by marketing considerations imprinted as an afterthought. Like most modern objects, it will not be designed for duration; no one will ever think of having a twenty-dollar radio repaired; it is intended to function marginally well for a limited time, and then be tossed and replaced. Perhaps the transitory nature of consumer goods is the soul of the times, but it is becoming difficult for me to distinguish that state of affairs from the absence of any soul at all--at least on the meaningful human level that we're talking about.

It's interesting to speculate about what our future descendents might think about the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. (Call me an optimist, but I do presume there will be some. Our current lack of a future vision may very well be only a symptom of our passing cultural preference for the transitory, which has seduced us into including ourselves in the mix.) We relish the artifacts left behind by the Egyptians, the Romans, and scores of past cultures, largely because of what they communicate to us across the centuries about the people who lovingly made and used them. There was often great beauty even to utilitarian, everyday objects. What we'll leave behind are buildings designed to be torn down in twenty or thirty years tops, and landfills overflowing with incomprehensible bits of mass-produced plastic and metal gadgets. From that someone will deduce the soul of our time--or the lack thereof.
©8/23/2006 1:40:00 AM Gregory Hargrave

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By John I. Blair

Drifting into sleep
My mind selects the level of reality
To which it’s game to go.

If timidity’s my state
I might choose
No farther than my nose,

Bundled as it is in fuzz,
Enfolding throws,
Cozy nest.

Or if I’m braver
I’ll linger on the day’s events,
Searching for some sense.

Expansive nights,
I sail beyond familiar,
Projecting to imagined worlds,

While realizing risk
Is always part of venture
And frights may lurk within the deep.

©2012 John I. Blair

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By John I. Blair

Some nights when I bolt awake
I’m grateful I’ve stopped sleeping;
Sometimes I wish I’d stayed asleep.

Sleep betrays both boons and banes:
Dreamy trysts down dusky trails
Or creepy sights and messy frights.

I take it I’ve no choice in this;
Almost as soon as eyelids drop
I’m off along unguarded paths
Inside my brain, replete with pleasure,

Pain and jolting details,
Proof I guess my mind insists
It holds more to contemplate
Than my mundane days.

©2012 John I. Blair

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In The Dim Garage

By John I. Blair

In the dim garage the hibernating plants
Have sent up flower stalks
As if they know that spring is on the way.

There in the cold and dark
No food or water,
Birds or bees, no me,

Do they dream vegetative dreams
Of sunshine, moonbeams,
Honey-scented breeze?

Day after gloomy day,
Incarcerated on a bench,
Jammed in like deportees,

Any hope they find
Must lie deep within their genes,
Filed there age on age

Against the times when memory
Collapses in despair,
Overwhelmed by endless freeze.

©2012 John I. Blair

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Goldfinches in January

By John I. Blair

The goldfinches have arrived at last,
Fugitives from Minnesota snow,
Eagerly soaking up the Texas warm,
Feeding on all the free seed
I dole out every day.

No bigger than a wren, each one
Appears inconsequential;
But as a swirling yellow flock,
Flooding the air with feathered forms,
They dominate our birdy deck,

Landing here and there and everywhere,
A dizzy dissertation as they go
On strength of numbers,
The power of persistence,
The forcefulness of full-tilt feasting.

©2012 John I. Blair

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Pain Revisited

By John I. Blair

Too often pain’s
The price of beauty.

Sitting at the keyboard playing Mozart
I find my limit growing ever shorter
Before the nagging neurons in my spine
Forbid I should continue
My lifelong quest to seek his soul out
And converse.

How much worse
To find pain also is the price
Of friendship,
The price of love.

©2012 John I. Blair

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A Human . . . Being

By Bud Lemire

Whenever you wonder if you’re where you should be
If you’re doing the right things in your destiny
Or why is life so hard on you
And doesn’t get better with all you do

It’s all in God’s plan for you to know
The “Human” experience to help you grow
Each act you perform is a lesson to learn
On your Earthly journey before your return

What feels right to you is especially for you
If the feeling’s strong, then it must be true
Always know, there can be no wrong
If the light embraces you, it’s where you belong

There is nothing you can’t do, if it’s what you wish to
Accomplishments are many, the choices are up to you
Follow your intuition, feel everything to be right
Your finely tuned senses grow brighter within the light

Don’t worry if you feel your life is unsure and wrong
Let your soul guide you to where you belong
With all things you do, and all that you’re seeing
You’re doing what you should, a Human . . . Being

©Feb 12, 2011 Bud Lemire

Whatever you do, wherever you are, you are a Human . . . Being. A Human being a Human! It’s what you were born to do. It’s what you born to be. And you do that best!

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We Have Wings

By Bud Lemire

On our journey of life, we forget we have wings
We can fly above, all that life brings
Realization seldom passes through our head
Until our souls leave our bodies and we're dead

Feel the wings that were given to us
God given with love so we'd always trust
To go with the flow, wherever we'd go
To seek understanding so that we would know

When things seem so very tough
And you think you've had enough
Let the gentle wings of love...
...Guide you onward from above

The trials of life, difficult as they may be
Can be confronted with wings easily
Fly on up and over them all
You're in control, so you won't fall

There is nothing, whatever life brings
That you can't overcome with your wings
Learn to use them, wherever you go
Spread your wings, feel your soul
On our journey of life, remember we have wings
We can fly above, all that life brings

©March 26, 2011 Bud Lemire
Our wings are wonderful once we learn how to use them and how they were given to us to use. So many times when life gets hard, it is so easy to lose faith and be depressed. Life is not always easy, and can get downright hard. But knowing how to use our wings, can make life easier for us.

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A Piece Of Pie

By Bud Lemire

I was in the store the other day and saw a piece of pie
I craved it so badly and yet I passed it by
Oh it would have tasted so good with ice cream on top
Warmed up just a little, not sure why I didn't stop

It was strawberry-rhubarb, and it sounded great to me
But I love most pies, it's for my sweet tooth you see
Peach pie is a favorite that I love to eat
And a blueberry pie surely can't be beat

Every now and then lemon meringue comes to mind
But I surely can't leave a cherry pie behind
Pumpkin is the holiday favorite around here
I had a piece of it just earlier this year

When I lived in Washington blackberry was supreme
Warmed up just perfectly and topped off with ice cream
A key lime pie is very rich in taste
Yet it tasted very good and couldn't go to waste

Then there's the pie that is made of meat
I remember Mom making it, but it wasn't sweet
Next time I'm craving a piece of pie
I'll put it in my shopping cart and not pass it by

©Nov 27, 2011 Bud Lemire

You only live once! And I got to enjoy the best of everything. Do you ever get the cravings for something and have to have it. I'm talking foods....possibly sweets. Don't pass it by, put it in your cart. You'll be glad you did.

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Here on Earth

By Bud Lemire

We live our life until it's our time to go
When that time is, only God knows
Make every moment count just because...
What is now, might become what was

Precious is the time here on Earth
Every second must be valued for its worth
Treasure the good times, ignore the bad
Embrace the happy, don't dwell on the sad

Soak up the sun, appreciate the rain
Try to live your life with very little pain
Value the other creatures that you see
Never underestimate all you can be

Take pleasure whenever you can
Be spontaneous at times without any plan
Honesty and trust are the best qualities
Many times it's what's inside that nobody sees

Everyone is unique and special in their own way
Cherish their presence each and every day
Be true to yourself and everything you need
And listen to your spirit and where it'll lead

©June 4, 2011 Bud Lemire
While we're on Earth, we must learn so much on our journey here. While we learn, it'll help us grow to be better. We can learn from others, as they learn from us. But this journey here is just part of a bigger journey our soul has yet to be on. We take what we learn here along with us and add it to what we've learned all through time on our spiritual journey.
Soul Growth!

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It Had to Have Been A MAN

By LC Van Savage

      It had to have been a woman hater
    The guy who invented that.
    A real angry chap, a true mandater
    Of high style from shoes to hat.
      I think he invented girdles and then
    Was thrilled when he saw they hurt,
    And insisted each maiden and doyenne
    Look indecent in a much too short skirt.
      But females really must take all the blame
    For letting this guy dictate
    That they should wear clothes which make them feel shame
    And cause pain they can't tolerate.
      This woman hater is really quite good
    At creating painful clothes
    But the lowest blow he dealt womanhood
    Was inventing pantyhose.
©LC Van Savage

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