News and Observations from Wapella, Illinois: Home of the Wildcats.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009 Mourns the Passing of Bill Morris

Bill Morris has passed away last night at home in Wapella. More details to follow. Bill was a true gentleman and fine friend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Clary Grove, Illinois, Rural Menard County

Came across this in an essay about Abe Lincoln's New Salem Days

The Clary Grove boys.

They were a loud, reckless, frontier crowd who enjoyed fighting and drinking.

That wild bunch lived a few miles outside town and were, despite their roguish gallantry, "a terror to the entire region," as Lincoln's future law partner William Herndon reports. In his warm description,

They were friendly and good-natured; they could trench a pond, dig a bog, build a house; they could pray and fight, make a village or create a state. They would do almost anything for sport or fun, love or necessity. Though rude and rough...there never was under the sun a more generous parcel of rowdies.

From that description, it may be possible that the Clary Grove boys were run out of New Salem eventually, to take up residence 80 miles Northeast in Hog City.

Here some music for the drive from Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen with "Hot Rod Lincoln"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Famous People from Central Illinois

Reading a biography of an oilman this weekend, I came upon a little known nugget that one of the most prominent oil barons of the early 20th century was born in Central Illinois. In fact, our quiz today could lead you to the identity and potential oil riches.

This oil baron was born near present day RT 51, some 84 miles due south of Wapella (albeit he was born in the country, outside of the village). What is the village and who is the Oil Baron with his roots in Central (headed towards Southern) Illinois?

Hint: I think there are Wapella residents who also hail from this hometown.

Friday, March 20, 2009

C'Mon Everybody, Let's March to Madness

Here's a full serving of Humble Pie for our early exit tournament teams...

ISU bounced from the NIT, Illini snuffed in the NCAA, Boilermakers still hanging in there as long as they can keep playing Northern Iowa...what better to do on a Friday aftenoon than roundup Steve Marriott for some Humble Pie doing the Eddie Cochran classic "C'Mon Everybody". Two points for naming one of the lead guitarists for Humble Pie who went on to a huge solo career. It does not look like him playing in this video by the way.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Dubliners and The Pogues

As an extra treat on St. Patrick's Day, I was sent this video of a relatively healthy looking Shane MacGowan fronting the legendary Pogues, and singing the classic Irish ditty "The Irish Rover" with hall-of-fame-ers The Dubliners. Shane looks like he's drank in The Circle a time or two.....enjoy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day To All of Wapella!

Nothing says St. Patrick's Day in Wapella like some tavern poetry and a commercial message. For around 160 years now, the Irish in Wapella and their neighbors have been hoisting a toast to the Patron Saint.

A Toast to St. Patrick:

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wapella Gardeners Rule!

While the world has had two (maybe three) famous gardeners - Chance (pictured above) and Groundskeeper Willie (not pictured) both come to mind, Wapella lists numerous legendary Gardeners among it's residents, and now, to add to this distinguished list, comes this announcement:

"Springtime is just around the corner and it's time to start thinking about the Wapella Park's gardens. The Wapella Garden Club would like to tell you about several new projects in the works and a few you might have missed.

A new addition to the park is the CHARLES SCHETTLER MEMORIAL which was donated by alumni. Mr Schettler, a longtime agriculture teacher at WHS, was a major supporter of the FFA. This year the garden club plans to do plantings around the memorial. Also in the works for later this spring is a ceremony remembering Mr. Schettler and his dedication to WHS and the agricultural community. More details on this as plans develop.

Also new to the park is the addition of the butterfly garden. This garden became a project of the park due to the push to save the Monarchs who are losing their natural habitats.

The JACKIE STOECKER MEMORIAL statue was placed in the herb garden last year. It was donated by teachers and friends.

The Wapella Garden is once again on the DOVE Garden Walk. The garden walk will be held on Saturday June 27th, from 10am - 3pm, with a tea luncheon from 11-2. Everyone is urged and welcome to attend. The money raised from the event will go to help victims of domestic violence. Bev Leggett and Vicki Holland will have their gardens featured on the garden walk this year. Bev has been reestablishing her landscape after a recent home renovation and Vicki's garden has a new Koi Pond that was installed by Green View. Green View planned and designed all the gardens in the park, including the project for next year, the Rose Garden around the gazebo.

With all the work to be done in the park, the Wapella Garden Club is always looking for members and volunteers. If interested, please contact Chairman Vicki Holland at 217-935-3537, Co-Chairman Bev Leggett at, or Secretary Elizabeth Weikle at


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wonders of Modern Technology

Many people try to find Wapella natives, mostly out of some sort of grudge or unpaid debt, but others just have a sincere need to connect with most of the most entertaining people around. Trouble is with all the moving from place to place, it is quite possible to lose Jason Karr for example, a big problem to be sure.

Well the folks from the internet have now brought us the ultimate connection tool, and it is growing like wild in the home of the Wildcats, yes, Facebook has a Wapella connection on it now. Orignially started as a college yearbook sort of thing, Facebook starts with alumni connections and expands from there.

Just last week I was priveleged to add Wapella original Kris Hedrick as a friend. Kris a recognized character and fine gentleman, but it is just not all that likely that Kris and I would get to pass around information like we do, if not for the Facebook.

Here is a grainy photo of Kris, and a full color Steve Marriott, who kind of looks like Kris Hedrick. Now, if I can find out a good celebrity lookalike for Tim Baker and Nick Buraglio...

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Barron" Don Nelson

Lefty Don Nelson WHS '81 got some kind of award from Barron's Newspaper this week for financial matters. In these days of testy markets, a gritty performer like Nelson keeps his head in the game for the long run.

Way to go Barron's for finding some Wapella talent to tout! Here's a recent shot of Nelson tipping a glass.

Monday, March 2, 2009

RIP Paul Harvey, Many Thousand Good Day's

Paul Harvey passed away yesterday at age 90, after a huge career in broadcasting for over 60 years. The sole source of my news outside of the Clinton Journal and Bloomington Pantagraph, Paul had a resounding voice and a unique take on events that made him an irresistible listen.

Looking around my house, pretty much everything I have purchased in the last 20 years was either recommended by Paul Harvey, or it was not worth keeping. Neutrogena, Bose Acoustic Wave Radio, Banker's Life, Archer Daniels, all of these were woven in to Paul Harvey's broadcasts.
I even have Paul Harvey's book, The Rest of the Story here, which has some fantastic (but true!) tales that never ceased to light up an afternoon.

Paul Harvey Aurandt was born September 4, 1918, to Harry Harrison and Anna Dagmar (Christensen) Aurandt in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father, a police officer, was killed when Harvey was three.

Harvey’s career was launched in 1933 when a speech teacher at Tulsa’s Central High School recognized his potential. She escorted the 14-year-old to local station KVOO-AM and told the station manager “This boy needs to be in radio,” the Tulsa World recounted in a 1997 article.

Harvey worked as an announcer, then as program director at KVOO-AM, according to the biography on his Web site.

He spent three years as a station manager in Salina, Kansas, followed by a stint as a newscaster in Oklahoma City. He then landed at WXOK-AM in St. Louis, working as a reporter and director of special events. In 1939, he met his future wife at the station.

‘Angel’s’ Advice

After marriage, Harvey worked as a reporter in Hawaii and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor. Discharged in 1944, he moved to Chicago at his wife’s urging.

“Since the first day of our marriage, we’ve worked side by side,” Harvey told the Chicago Tribune in 2002. Indeed, in 1997 his wife was the first producer inducted in the Hall of Fame of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.

The man was truly awe inspiring, who along with his wife Angel, produced the greatest radio shows in U.S. history. RIP Paul Harvey

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