Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall colors and a venerable school building

I was at the Community Center yesterday morning for the Chamber/Main Street-sponsored Kids Carnival (photos posted in various places on Facebook), so took a few shots, too, of the venerable building upon which the high school complex is centered --- commenced in 1922 and finished in 1923.

The new high school cost $250,000 then, and has proved to be a sound investment. Today's high school students use the same doors my parents did back in the early 1930s. I think my dad was a 1932 graduate and my mother, 1933 --- but would have to check that for sure.

The high school sits on ground where the legendary Smith H. and Annie Mallory and their daughter, Jessie, first lived when they arrived in Chariton during 1867. The Mallorys owned roughly the south half of the block between what now is North Grand and North Main with a relatively modest home to the east and barn, outbuildings, gardens and orchards to the west.

In 1877, as the Mallorys were planning their grand new home in North Chariton --- Ilion --- they sold the southwest corner of the block to the school district and a two-story brick school at first called "North" but christened "Bancroft" in 1892 was built there. Bancroft was a noted historian of the day --- not local.

In 1900, the old Bancroft was torn down and the new Bancroft built with high school on the top floor; elementary grades below. It was renamed Alma Clay in honor of a revered teacher during 1924.

Three residential properties were displaced and the houses moved elsewhere before construction of the new high school began on the east side of the block in 1922. Only Sam Beardsley's funeral home at the north end of the block survived. Alma Clay continued to serve as an elementary school and as junior high.

As the years passed, all other homes on the block were purchased and cleared, allowing space for the major 1951 addition to the north end of the 1923 building.

Alma Clay eventually developed structural issues and was taken down and during 1984 was replaced by the Community Center, attached to the school and containing Johnson Auditorium, the gymnasium-scaled multi-purpose room, meeting rooms and kitchen. The Community Center opened during January of 1985.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Starting the day --- twice

So I went to bed really early Friday night --- like 8:30 p.m. --- after a busy day and still recovering from cough-induced sleep deprivation.

Then I woke up, glanced at the bedside clock, thought it said 4 a.m. (or close), got out of bed, came downstairs, made coffee and sat down at the computer to go to work. Midway through the first cup, the computer clock caught my eye --- 12:30 a.m. 

What's up with that?

Turned out the lights, went back to bed and slept 4 hours more. When I woke up this time, looked at the clock without glasses, then put on the glasses and looked again. Yup. 4:07 a.m. --- really --- this time.


I was going to complain about my cold, but other than a constant cough it was not remarkable, although miserable. Democrats healed me. The cough dissipated at last during a meeting of the party faithful late on Wednesday.

Colds and pregnancies can lead to cravings. Mine was for Kellogg Pop-Tarts --- three boxes of Brown Sugar Cinnamon consumed during the cold's critical period. Wonderful stuff.


It now seems, after a Friday meeting, that all the pieces for the Hotel Charitone commemorative book will be in place and in the hands of the printer (in Pella) next week. This is a joint project of Ray Meyer, myself and Ruth Comer with Jeri Reeve providing concluding photo/design assistance and the Lucas County Preservation Alliance/Hotel Charitone LLC as sponsors.

The text has been complete for several weeks; the final step has been selecting images to accompany the text and transferring those to the designer. So it looks like we'll publish later this fall.

Most of the copies will be sold as a fund-raiser for the Charitone project --- more details about that later.


This is one of those busy days in Chariton that provide a good deal of entertainment, but kind of drive the Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street staff and volunteers to near distraction as they prepare for them.

The annual Kid's Carnival begins at 9 a.m. at the Chariton Community Center (attached to the west side of Chariton High School). There will be carnival games, goodie bags, other treats, the Smiley Train, face painting and arts and crafts.

The Halloween costume contest begins at 10 a.m. and lunch ($3) will be served from 11 a.m. until noon. From noon until 2 p.m., participating businesses will be ready for trick-or-treat visits from the youngsters.


This also is kick-off day for the week-long Art Attack event in Chariton's Main Street District (the square and a block beyond). There will be a program on the square at 11 a.m. and works by participating artists will be on display all week in various businesses and professional offices.

Visitors will be able to vote until 2 p.m. next Saturday for their favorites among the works on display (for People's Choice awards). Judges also will be visiting the displays during the week.

Cash prizes will be awarded during a program at 3 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 25, during the Lucas County Arts Council's annual Fall Festival show and sale at the C.B.&Q. Freight House.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Primitive, superstitious America --- and Ebola

Americans are a primitive and superstitious people, so I suppose the near-hysteria (in some circles at least) set off by the Oct. 8 death in Dallas of an Ebola victim shouldn't surprise. The victim was a Liberian, Thomas E. Duncan, who arrived in Texas on Sept. 20, became ill a few days later but was misdiagnosed at and then sent home by a Dallas hospital, returned critically ill a few days later, was admitted --- and died.

In the days since, two nurses who cared for Duncan have fallen ill --- apparently because the hospital failed to provide them with adequate protective gear for a day or two after Duncan finally was diagnosed.

But there have been no other Ebola cases in the United States --- not among those in contact with Duncan on the flights from Monrovia to Dallas, nor among those who interacted with him after his arrival. And the 21-day incubation "waiting" period has passed for many.

The folks at the Centers for Disease Control and others who specialize in communicable diseases really do know what they're talking about. The Ebola virus (there are four strains deadly to humans) spreads principally through contact with the bodily fluids of people in active stages of infection or items those fluids have contaminated. The major danger is to health-care workers. The virus does not become airborne, as do those transmitting the flu, colds and other woes that afflict us.

So there's no danger of an epidemic in the United States, nor for that matter in much of the developed world where adequate healthcare is available.

But we've been hearing the most outlandish things in recent days. Republican politicians, sensing an issue, blame President Obama. TV and online preachers blame the gays --- god's judgment you know, for same-sex marriage. There are calls for travel bans to and from West Africa. Calls for an Ebola "czar." On and on.

But contrary to the lead sentence in an MSNBC story this morning, "Ebola spreads in the United States," Ebola is not spreading in the United States --- although misinformation and brain-dead hysteria certainly is.

The epidemic is in West Africa --- specifically Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; and, in Africa, there is real danger that it will spread farther across a continent where resources, healthcare and otherwise, are limited. So beyond reasonable homefront precautions, that's where the energy, angst and resources should be directed.

Not because isolating the Ebola outbreak in West Africa will make America safer, but because the Africans suffering and dying there are our sisters and brothers and children.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Strike up the (American Legion Junior) Band

My friend Ev Brightman brought this photo along to a meeting late yesterday and I borrowed it long enough to scan.

According to Ev, this is the 1958 American Legion Junior Band, directed by Helen Krutsinger. Ev doesn't remember the occasion.

That's the northwest corner of the square, although younger folks might have trouble recognizing it --- so much has been torn down and replaced by newer models.

The Montgomery Ward building still is there, but with upper windows blinded. In 1958, Wards fully occupied both floors of the building.

The good news is that if all goes according to plan those windows will be reopened next year as part of Charitons' facade improvement project.

In the middle distance is the third floor of the Bates House hotel, dating from the 1870s and once Chariton's finest. It was torn down to make room for the present Midwest Heritage Bank.

To the right of the Bates House (east of the alley) is the two-story annex to the Union Block, built by Chariton Masons at a time when their lodge rooms still were located in the "old red bank" building, a joint project of the Masonic and I.O.O.F. lodges. When I was a kid, we climbed a long stair between the Annex and main building to reach the offices of our family physician, Dr. R.E. Anderson.

The Union Block came down during the 1970s and was replaced by what now is Great Western Bank and its loss arguably remains the largest preventable architectural disaster on the square. First National Bank still occupied the first floor of the Union Block when this photo was taken and the Knights of Pythias, club rooms on the top floor. The Knights had moved in after their own south-side building was destroyed by fire in 1930 and the Masons moved to new quarters on South Grand later in that decade.

Finally, far to the right, you can see the neon-lighted sign advertising Halden and Thomas Clothing, at the time the major men's clothing store on the square.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Feeling better ...

... but now three days behind and falling farther. Better take a nap, then get to work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lewis, the Bible and the Pope

New episodes of "Lewis" featuring Inspector Robbie (Kevin Whately) and his sidekick James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), now airing on PBS, have been among the consolations of my bed of pain (still whining about the cold).

How could you not like a series in which one of the episodes, "The Lions of Nemea," revolves in part around the date in ancient times when the constellation Leo first was identified with, you guessed it, the Lion of Nemea.

Episodes one and two can be viewed online now at the PBS Web site; episode three will be broadcast on Sunday --- then we'll have to wait another year for more.


I've also spent some time reading about Steve Green's new Museum of the Bible, now commencing construction in Washington, D.C., with completion date estimated at 2017. Billionaire Green, of the Hobby Lobby family, has accumulated approximately 40,000 artifacts related to the Hebrew Bible and New Testament during the last five years for his $800 million project. Creepily enough, the largest privately-owned collection of Jewish Torah scrolls is part of the collection.

There's something mildly horrifying about the history of the Bible being placed in Southern Baptist hands, although Green promises to welcome everyone, apparently one won't have to be "born again" in order to work there and even gay folks, if detected, will be allowed to enter.


And then how about that Pope? Francis, continuing in contrast to the rhetoric of his Nazi Youth predecessor, Benedict, managed to push through a synod of bishops a preliminary report called "revolutionary" by some because it does not refer to gay people as "intrinsically disordered" or bad-mouth us in other ways. Nor does it excoriate divorced and/or remarried (without benefit of annulment) Catholics.

Mind you, nothing really changes --- it all just sounds better. But perhaps a stop to the name-calling might be the place to begin.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Three-bean salad should not squeak

I have two issues with three-bean salad. First, if green or yellow wax beans are used, the salad squeaks when consumed. Second, these concoctions sometimes taste as if their contents had been embalmed rather than dressed.

This recipe avoids both of those pitfalls and has received reasonably good reviews (expressed by how much is left afterwards) during summer potlucks.

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2 celery stalks, chopped fine

1/2 red onion, chopped fine

Chopped parsley to taste

1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped rosemary

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, oil, salt and pepper and add to the bowl. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. 


More could be said, but I've developed a cold --- coughing lungs out, nose running. All my attention today will be devoted to feeling sorry for myself.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chariton Cares (Revisited)

These photos from yesterday's "Chariton Cares" event are getting a little more exposure than intended since the original plan was to post them (and a few others) to the Chamber/Main Street Facebook page Saturday morning, then use them on the blog this morning. So I rushed home at 11 yesterday, in a hurry to get elsewhere, forgot who I was posting to Facebook as --- and they ended up on my personal page; then were reposed to the Chamber/Main Street page; and here some of them are again.

We had a good morning, even though participation was down a little. Much of the credit for that goes to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa which thoughtlessly scheduled home football games on the same day as "Chariton Cares." So many of our regulars left at the crack of dawn for either Ames or Iowa City. What was encouraging was the number of young people involved, however.

Chariton Kiwanis started the brisk (it warmed up later) morning off with a free breakfast of buscuits and sausage gravy on the courthouse lawn.

Down at the Memorial Arboretum, located between the Hillcrest Addition and Southgate Apartments in south Chariton, Boy Scouts were planting trees --- nine of them in a joint venture with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Southgate, which maintains the arboretum.

The arboretum, which doesn't get the attention it deserves much of the time, dates from 1985, when physical work began on the grounds. It had been several years since new trees were added, however; and drought and extreme cold had taken their toll on a couple of the original trees. The photos top and here were taken as the first two were going in the ground, a process supervisied by (among others) Jessica Flatt, area forester, at left in the photo immediately above.

Over at the Dual Gables House, owned by the Lucas County Arts Council, a crew was at work on fall lawn maintenance. The grounds here, with extensive plantings, are maintained entirely by volunteers.

Uptown, Girl Scouts spread out on the square and in alleys to pick up trash, pull weeds and do a little sweeping. This photo was taken as the morning was winding down.

North of the Square, personnel from Mosaic and Chamber/Main Street were doing similar work under the direction (center) of Scott McLin, community relations manager for Mosaic, and Alyse Hunter, of the Chamber/Main Street Design Division.

All in all, it was a good morning, but we'll have to talk to our universities about careless scheduling next year. Thanks to sponsors --- Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street, Kiwanis, Mosaic and First United Methodist Church.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

National Coming Out Day

I've thought a couple of times this week, as marriage equality became reality in more than half these United States (most recently Nevada and Idaho), of words spoken by the late, great Harvey Milk:

“Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop.... Once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters...."

Today is the 26th annual National Coming Out Day, and "coming out," as Milk advised, has been the most decisive factor in the advance of marriage equality and many other aspects of full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

It seems unlikely that any of these advances would have occurred were it not for brave souls who have stepped out and declared their personal realities, making it clear to the heterosexual majority that the minority included their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, cousins, neighbors and friends.

The first National Coming Out Day was celebrated on Oct. 11, 1988, on the date a year earlier when 500,000 people had assembled for the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The logo was contributed by Keith Haring, a talented young artist who died in 1990 of AIDS.

In many ways it's easier to come out these days, at least in the United States and other western nations. But there still are perils. Christian families still kick their gay kids onto the streets, preachers and politicians still rail against "homosexuals" behind many pulpits and podiums,  employers in many states can fire gay workers at will, gay kids are bullied in the schools and beating up a gay guy still is looked upon as sport in some places. So anyone who is gay and still in the closet still has many things to consider before opening the door and stepping out.

Those of us who have been through the process understand that. But eventually it becomes necessary in order to live with integrity.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn in a bottle

Bottle (or Closed) Gentians, Gentiana andrewsii, are among the last of the tallgrass wildflowers to bloom before hard frosts and late autumn arrive --- and those we found Sunday on the prairie remnant east of Derby were past their prime. But at Pin Oak Marsh early this week, they were at their peak. 

The Bottles prefer moist black soil, so the marsh is an ideal setting. Some speculate that destruction of Midwest wetlands is resulting in a population decline, but Lucas County has enjoyed a marsh renaissance for several years now --- so that should not be an issue here.

The name "Bottle" results from the fact blossoms never fully open. As a result, bumblebees are primary pollinators. Those big bullies are powerful enough to force their way in.

At least two Bottle Gentian colonies are located conveniently near trails at Pin Oak --- in case you want to take a look yourself.

The first is on the west side of the paved trail a few paces beyond the first bench. You'll have to look carefully here, however, because our moist summer has resulted in extremely tall grasses and the gentians are only a foot or two tall. I missed them walking southeast, but spotted them easily on the return trip.

A bigger and stronger colony is located alongside the grass trail that leads south from the paved trail to the berm that defines the south shore of the big marsh pond. The gentians grow right along the trail, and some distance west of it, perhaps four-fifths of the way to the berm.