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

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Congratulations DeWitt County on You Choice of Choices

In a fit of good governance, DeWitt County has settled on a consensus candidate for County Board. Wapella's own Jay Wickenhouser (WHS '88) has been chosen to fill a vacant seat, opened by a recent resignation.

Wickenhouser, who looks somewhat like Brian Urlacher, pictured here, albeit with better hair, his Uncle Jack was a noted barber in Clinton for many years, and a Cub fan of great merit and patience, brings not only his Hollywood Style looks to County Government, but also a pleasant demeanor and firm resolve to provide leadership for the citizens of not only Wapella, but also all of DeWitt County.

Way to go Jay Wickenhouser, one of Wapella's finest!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Watson, Come Here Casey's is Open Again is celebrating today for many reasons, (including the Feast of St. Bernadette if we were in France), but since we're here, and Wapella is enjoying an early spring thaw, nothing satisfies like a trip to the newly expanded Casey's General Store.

The word is that the food inspection is passed, and Casey's will begin serving sandwiches in a sort of cafe fashion, as well as having an expanded drinks section.

Welcome back to Wapella old friend!

On a side note, the Watson Model computer has won a Jeopardy Championship vs. two top quiz show competitors. Computer scientists worked night and day to fine tune Watson for the competition. ...however, has anyone considered the possibilities of a Computer Generated version of Tim Watson walking the streets of Wilson Township? Could a computer generate his great smile, winning personality, terrific hair...the outcomes could be fascinating.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Celebrate Egyptian Freedom with the King

The legacy of Egypt in Illinois is a storied one, with two distinct "Egyptian" influences. One, the Southern Illinois area around Cairo, as put here by Stephen Douglas

"In 1858, debating in northern Illinois, Douglas had threatened Lincoln by asserting that he would 'trot him down to Egypt' and there challenge him to repeat his antislavery views before a hostile crowd. The audience understood Douglas: overwhelming proslavery sentiment and Democratic unanimity in Egypt had led to the nickname."
With Cairo, New Athens, Carthage, Sparta, and other classical towns in Illinois, the names (Saluki's anyone?) were there, but the Egyptian influence was pretty much an allegory of a big river, leading toward Memphis, named after the big city on the Nile, with a bit of influence from the various flavors of Masonic orders who called back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for their ancient traditions.

Like the rest of Illinois, Egypt took to hip-shaking for the 1892 Chicago World's Fair, with Little Egypt being the stage name for two popular belly dancers. They had so many imitators, the name became synonymous with belly dancers generally. Farida Mazar Spyropoulos, (c. 1871, date of death unknown), also performing under the stage name Fatima, appeared at the "Street in Cairo" exhibition on the Midway at the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.
In 1893, at the Egyptian Theater on the World's Columbian Exposition Midway in Chicago, Raqs dancers performed for the first time in the United States. Sol Bloom presented a show titled "The Algerian Dancers of Morocco" at the attraction called "A Street in Cairo" produced by Gaston Akoun, which included Spyropoulos, though she was neither Egyptian nor Algerian, but Syrian. Spyropoulos was billed as Fatima, but because of her size, she had been called "Little Egypt" as a backstage nickname.

Spyropoulos stole the show, and popularized this form of dancing, which came to be referred to as the "Hoochee-Coochee", or the "shimmy and shake". At that time the word "bellydance" had not yet entered the American vocabulary, as Spyropoulos was the first in the U.S. to demonstrate the "danse du ventre" (literally "dance of the belly") first seen by the French during Napoleon's incursions into Egypt at the end of the eighteenth century. Today the word "hootchy-kootchy" generally means an erotic suggestive dance and is often erroneously conflated with the group of dances originating in the Middle East that we now call bellydance.

Subsequently, several women dancers adopted the name of Little Egypt and toured the United States performing some variation of this dance, until the name became somewhat synonymous with exotic dancers, and often associated with the Dance of the Seven Veils.

Elvis Presley (via the Coasters and Lieber/Stoller sone "Little Egypt") took off with the Hoochie Coochie Dance, here performed by Wilda Taylor shaking what her momma gave her. Elvis was a huge shaker himself, energizing the popular music world in much the same way the Little Egypt energized the world's fair. Elvis and Taylor are shown here tearing it up in the filme "Roustabout".

Back to this week's events, I'll hazard a guess that the solution to a corrupt anti-democratic regime is the soup of democracy (without the Stephen Douglas style appeal to the mob), topped by a big enough helping of spice to enjoy an Elvis movie and some World's Fair style dancing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy 90th Birthday To Ernest Thorp!

The Wapella Flag flies high and proudly (highly and proudly..high and proud?) in celebration of the birthday of one of Wapella's finest, Ernest N. Thorp (WHS '35). Ernest, a lifelong Wapella man with a rural Clinton address, will be 90 years old.

Ernest has a resume a mile long, is an Illini, and a Flying Farmer, among his many highlights. Ernest Thorp, WWII B-17 Pilot, will be celebrating his birthday with friends from 1-4pm at Crang-Bennett American Legion Post #103 in Clinton, Illinois.

A full salute to a fine gentleman from the entire staff at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wapella Man Seen a Likely Successor to Jack LaLanne

One of the champions of American fitness has passed, Francois Henri "Jack" LaLanne died last week at age 96 after a triumphant career as the premier advocate of healthy living and exercise.

LaLanne truly had a storybook career, enjoying success in business, performance as well as being a great example of health and fitness.

So it is with great pride when we see one of our own Wildcats taking the baton from LaLane to continue the quest for American health through fitness. This from the Daily Pantagraph

Jason Karr had an eye on the forecast when he planned his daily trip to the Clinton YMCA. "I wanted to get here before it got bad," said Karr, as he finished his three-mile trek on a treadmill.
With his exercise completed, Karr headed home. "I plan to stay home the rest of the day," he said. "I don't want to get out if I don't have to."
Well put from a fine Wapella Wildcat and modern day champion of the fit life. Take it on Jason, all of Wapella looks forward to your carrying Jack LaLanne style fitness forward. But the question remains, will Karr continue with the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good Looking Vehicle

Here is a 1978 Grand Marquis, top of the line Mercury for that year. A great example of American design and manufacturing.

Who had this one in Wapella?

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