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

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Hog City!

The Staff of, The Wapella Barber and Hairdressers Guild, The Dole Pineapple Corporation, The Dollywood Foundation, Coach Ron Zook, The Zeigler Chamber of Commerce, and The Ol' Possum Himself, Mr George Jones, all wish you a Happy New Year.

Perhaps a dance a the Wapella Auction House, with a toast of '57 Chevy's at the Irish Circle, then some greasy eggs at the Dixie would make this the perfect evening. Any Wildcat memories of New Years Eve Past?

Friday, December 28, 2007 mourns the passing of Pat Rolofson

Priscilla P. "Pat" W. Rolofson, 80, Clinton, died at 10 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 26, 2007) at Hawthorne Inn in Clinton.  Mrs. Rolofson, a fixture in Wapella at WHS for a generation was a well liked bus driver, serving Wilson Township, among other routes.

Pat Rolofson was married to one of DeWitt County's finest, Louis Rolofson, for 56 years, from 1943 to his passing in 1999. Mrs. Rolofson is remembered as a charitable and kind person. Our condolences go out to her Son, Louis Jr., daughter-in-law Joy Rolofson, and her grandchildren and great grandchildren. flies the Wapella flag at 1/2 mast for Mrs. Pat Rolofson.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Great Beauticians Honored

What better way to top off 2007 than with a tribute to the Hairdressers, Beauticians, and Coiffurists that have kept the main manes of Wapella so neat and fashionable throughout the years.

Here is the first Champagne glass of the New Year's Celebration in honor of the hair trade, the Great Lock Wranglers of Wapella.

The first toast...goes out to none other than Vee Bray Welch, of Vee's Beauty Nook. Vee is the one of the greats, a pleasant businesswoman, and a tremendous hair manager. Here's to you Vee!

Who else would you like toasted (preferable to being scorched in the Perm machine)? What hairdressers did the best work on men's hair? Who are some of the past greats? Who is currently working the trade in the highest Hog City style?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nobody Does Christmas Better than Kenny and Dolly

This album from 1984, when Kenny & Dolly worked together to bring a very Merry Christmas to their many fans. Kenny and Dolly look very merry indeed in this album cover.

Here's a little story I found about Kenny

I remember the day I first met Kenny Rogers like it was yesterday. I arrived to take Kenny from a large meeting of corporate executives to his press interviews on behalf of Dole Pineapple. I slipped in the door, intending to stay in the back until Kenny was ready to go. Kenny saw me come in, stopped the meeting with the Dole CEO and approached to shake my hand, "I'm Kenny Rogers." This was just one example of the way Kenny Rogers treated everyone with respect and made them feel that they mattered. He sent a powerful message that he valued others, from CEOs to press assistants.

Here's a clip from Kenny & Dolly singing "I'll be Home with Bells On". Merry Christmas to All you good people from Wapella from Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and the entire staff of Dole Pineapple and

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Useless Inventions

For some reason I can't get enough of Useless Inventions.

Is it a Blessing or a Curse to have such things a complete catalog of Porter Wagoner videos?

Or in this case, is it really a good thing to have one click access to the greatest song ever recorded by an Ex-Monkey?

Here's Mike Nesmith with Some of Shelly's Blues. Click and decide, is the internet the ultimate invention?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ernest Hemmingway vs. Kenny Rogers

Hemmingway wrote a pretty good story named "Islands in The Stream" later a pretty good movie with George C. Scott as the Papa character. Yet as good as it was, Hemmingway didn't have Dolly Parton as a Duet Partner. In response to overwhelming Wildcat demand, here's Dolly and the great Kenny Rogers doing "Islands in the Stream".

Hello Dolly, Hello Kenny

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Help Identify this Man

Larry David was on a pro-am ski tournament Saturday, in between football games, I switched over to see some amusing skiing featuring celebrities with varying degrees of talent. Larry was awful, skiing much like myself, and let wail a diatribe at the cameras after finishing that was totally inappropriate for a charity event, but in character for his curmudgeonly persona.

The list of celebrities included Buzz Aldrin, Carlos Bernard, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Susie Essman, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Chris Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Maxwell Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, Sheila Kennedy and Patrick Warburton...though I noticed the man pictured below, the Funkhouser character from the Larry David show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Funkhouser is played by Bob Einstein, who has been performing since being a comedy performer on the "Cher" variety show.

Yet, most people know Bob Einstein as his most famous character. Take a look at the picture, and tell me, what was Bob Einstein's most famous role...which was a very popular and inspiring show in Wapella, as many people dressed like Einstein's character.

Here is Super Dave Osborne with Fuji. Thanks to everyone who participated in the quiz.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"This would not have been possible without the Frymans"

The Pantagraph has a fine story on the generosity of the Ronnie Fryman family. What a great Christmas gift.

Here is the story.

Three Cheers for the Frymans and Habitat for Humanity for their selflessness and service to others. The Wapella Flag flies high today.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg, Rest in Peace

Peoria's own Folk Rock Legend, Dan Fogelberg has died of cancer at age 56. The Peoria Journal Star puts it best "Before he ever played the famed Carnegie Hall in New York, Dan Fogelberg played basements in central Illinois". Dan was not Ike Turner, but he could conjure up a memorable song, and was a pleasant tonic to the suicidal freaks playing at Champaign-Urbana coffeehouses in the 1980's that followed his 1970's career there.

Anyone out there see Dan Fogelberg in action? Red Lion in Bloomington perhaps? Fannie's Trolley?

Here is a good obit in the Peoria Journal Star

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Zeigler Man Identified

The man known only as BEP has correctly identified Ted Schanafelt as being the chain that links Zeigler, Illinois to Wapella.

Ted was a great sportsman and sporting columnist for the Daily Pantagraph, as well as being a very good coach and a decent athlete himself. Many Wildcats owe their sense of hardnosed fair-play to Ted Schan, and offer a grateful round of applause to him.

As I do not have a current photo of Ted, I substitute one of Robert Conrad and Ross Martin from Wild Wild West. Ted vaguely looks like Ross Martin/Artemis Gordon, but has more of the hardball attitude of Robert Conrad/James West.

Go Zeigler!

More Zeigler, this time in Fiction

In Ian Fleming's James Bond, CIA Agent Felix Leiter was a lanky Texan, always in the right place to assist Bond in his derring-doing. Leiter is based on Thomas Leiter, who you may have surmised by now, is not from Texas, rather from Zeigler, the brother of Baroness Leiter. Here's Jack Lord portraying Felix Leiter in Dr. No.

And a clue, the Wapella legend living in Zeigler is one of the greatest hunters and fishermen in the State of Illinois. Always had fishing gear ready to go at a moments notice, which is, by the way, one of the reasons the Leiters lived in Zeigler, for the fishing.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Going all Zeigler all the Time

At the risk of going all Zeigler all the time, the Franklin County city keeps getting more interesting. Mary Leiter, later Lady Curzon, the Baroness and Vicereine of India, who restored the Taj Mahal (and made the interior look something like Marshall Fields, which her family owned) lived in Zeigler. Lady Curzon's husband was the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, who was definitely not from Zeigler. Lady Curzon long held the highest political rank ever held by an American (and thus Zeigler resident) in the British Empire.

As noted below Professor Holonyak was born in Zeigler where his father was a coal miner perhaps working for Levi Leiter, Mary's father, who owned coal interests in Franklin County.

There you have three big name celebrities linked forever to Zeigler, yet there is a fourth, who is one of the defining members of the Wildcat Community. Though not born in Wapella, nor an athlete for the Wildcats, #4 is one of the greatest sportsmen in Hog City history. The contest is still open, can you identify the Wapella-Zeigler connection?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

RIP Father of Rock and Roll

Izear Luster Turner Jr, "Ike" Turner, the Father of Rock and Roll has died at age 76. Turner is best known in the Rock and Roll world for his primary "Rocket 88" in 1951, which is arguably the first Rock and Roll song ever put on record.

Turner's long and stormy marriage to Anna Mae "Tina" Turner is the stuff of bitter legend, resulting in Tina being hailed as a rock and roll survivor in her biography "What's Love Got to do With It?", which Ike claimed overstated his famous temper a bit. Turner is said to have been married 14 times but he has only been known to have married four times publicly

Still with hits like "Proud Mary" and the unheralded masterpiece "River Deep, Mountain High", Turner showed the vituosity of a R&B maestro with a fire that only Ike and Tina could deliver.

Ike Turner, Rest in Peace.

UPDATE: Here are Ike and Tina in action.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One of the Greatest Illini Scientists

To celebrate the Illini trip to the Rose Bowl, the Alumi Association published a special edition of the Illinois Alumni Magazine, sent to even those, like myself, who neglect to pay Alumni dues to the Orange and Blue financial juggernaut. With a bit of suprise, I noticed a former co-worker of mine at the Electrical Engineering Research Laboratory (lab long gone) profiled, still a working researcher, nearly 80 years old.

Nick Holonyak, biography here, is the inventor of the LED, the Light-Emitting Diode, and numerous primary developments in the laser and and semiconductor science and engineering. He has won every engineering award in the book, and still works a full day as a researcher, winning a patent only 2 years ago for a major development in lasers. Yet, the fine biographies of Dr. Holonyak skip one of the highlights of my spotty career at the EERL, which was certainly highlighted by working with Dr. Nick.

Dr. Holonyak was a hard nosed researcher, participating in every bit of science and technology from theorizing, to computer programming, to metal working in the University machine shops. Having been an Illinois Central Lineman (perhaps along with Johnny Roesch) Holonyak would gladly lend a hand to anyone needing assistance with some machine tooling or techy problem. (I can assure you, not very many people at the lab were much help on anything beyond breathing helium and talking in a squeaky voice).

Many times I worked in the University machine shop with a welder, who had a curious gold-bug, named Jim Robinson. Jim was supremely irritable, horded valuable metals, hated students, and spoke of his own great wealth he gained by removing precious metals from scrapped projects. He was also a pretty good welder, but by no means worth the effort of engaging in a welding project, due to his supremely unpleasant personality.

By default, I was left working on a piping project with Jim one afternoon, involving silver-soldering two dissimilar metal pipes together for use in low-temperature fluid flow. I was guiding the pipes while Jim was working the 850 Degree soldering torch. We were having no luck in joining the pipes, while Jim yelled obscenities at me to persuade me to line the pipes up in some unknowable position that would make them stick, when Dr. Holonyak came over to assist us.

As Jim was yelling like a major demon, I am pretty sure I made the mistake of calling him "Millionaire", the derisive name assigned to him by the students in the shop, tired of his goldbugging yarns, which prompted Jim to sort of an over-reaction, pointing his torch at my gloves in an attempt to burn my hands. I jumped away, Al let out a blood curdling laugh, and to my suprise the inventor of the LED, Dr. Holonyak, jumped on Robinson and began choking him and then pummeling him with his fists. Robinson was caught off-guard, giving Dr. Nick 30 seconds or so to throttle him till other guys in the shop broke it up.

It may be the only time in my life where I was directly involved in a fight with a National Medal of Technology winner, and I salute the Dr. for his quick work in dusting off Robinson, and for his assistance in finishing the soldering project we had set out to do earlier.

Dr. Nick Holonyak, one of the greatest Illini scientists, is from Zeigler, Illinois. For 2 points, name a Wapella great who currently hails from Zeigler.

note: I changed a couple things in the story to avoid prosecution. Robinson is actually worse than described.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 mourns the passing of Richard Reynolds

Richard Reynolds has died at age 74. Reynolds is survived by his wife, Audrey, two daughters Linda (WHS 76) and Cheryl (WHS 78), and three grandchildren, Jason Reynolds (CCHS 95, with 11 years at Wapella), Justin Whitaker, and Matt Whitlock.

Reynolds farmed in Rural Wapella for his entire career. His wife was the long time WHS Secretary to the Superintendent. Reynolds was a good neighbor and a great supporter of Wapella.

All flags half mast please for Korean War Veteran, Richard L. Reynolds.

apologies in advance for guessing graduation years, and not even going to try Audrey's.

Heyworth Keeps Rocking

Paraphrasing Mick Jagger
Mama says yes, Papa says no,
Make up you mind 'cause I gotta go.
I'm gonna have fun at the Legion Hall
Drive myself right over the wall.
From "Rip this Joint" (in which Jagger and Richards famously rip off Little Richard's "Rip it Up")
Here is a (rare) pleasant article from the Pantagraph celebrating the American Legion in Heyworth and the Silver Foxes (HT to Charlie Rich). Doing some quick arithmetic, someone who was 18 years old in 1955 would be...70 years old today, about the perfect age to enjoy the full canon of Rock and Roll from its inception.

Many locals, including Wapella's Darly Lane are quoted as generally enjoying themselves playing music, dancing, and conviving in Heyworth. The Silver Foxes play Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and Carl Perkins. How much better does it get?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Gorgeous and Georgeous: Anyone Going to Milwaukee?

Getting back to the central theme of, here is the Old Possum with Tammy Wynette making the commute from Nashville to Milwaukee, most certainly through Wapella, in the classic "Milwaukee Here I Come".

Goonblock Enabled

In keeping with the now 4 year old rules of, the Goonblock provision has been invoked. Comments will now be evaluated by the Board of Wapella Historians before publication.

More robotic development, Illini Boosterism, Redbird Boosterism, Saluki Boosterism, and meandering histories will be encouraged. All insults and unpleasantries will be the exclusive domain of the administrators of

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Calculators Permitted: A Classic Quiz

Here is an old-timey arithmetic quiz.

How can four 9's make 100? You can subtract, multiply, divide, add to get the answer.

For example 9+9+9+9 = 36, and would be wrong. 9 x 9 + 9 + 9 is 99 and also wrong. Calculators are permitted, for those of you who did not know Mike Rabbe, Randy Vertichio, or Diane Benzek.

Here is another Niner, Forty Niner great Joe Montana, with his wife Jennifer.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Small Wonder for Economic Development in Clinton

An alert reader sends this bit of harrowing news from the County Seat, Clinton, Illinois.

Leaf burning extinguished in Clinton after vote to ban

snuffing out one of the higher minded pursuits in our southern neighbor. Their is not a dry eye in the comments section of the Pantagraph, some holding out for the glory days of burning garbage in the city. We also have Clinton looking for business development, going from a bartending university to a burial site for toxics as drivers for the local economy.

A high minded reader of suggested the Maroons take a tip from the video archicve and developing

"a robot to pick up leaves - call it a robotic vacuum - sounds a little fishy to me, but it just might put Clinton on the map. Perhaps the robot could be modelled after Vicki, that robotic toddler who captured all of our hearts in Small Wonder, the ground breaking show about robot technology"

Here is a clip from Small Wonder, to refresh your memory. Could we enlist Dick Williams and Billy Toohill to come up with a Robotic Maroon Vacuum to pick up leaves?

Back on topic please

The topic is Robots. Can a Robot be trained to vacuum up leaves in Maroonville? It seems likely, and it could be dressed like Vicki in Small Wonder.

Please leave the politicking to the print newspapers, and more high minded blogs. We may open a separate goon room section so those that missed out on 1980's sitcoms can gnash their teeth in private when the county seat is mentioned.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Good Year for The Illini

9-3 is a not only a good year, but a great year for the Illini, resulting in the first Rose Bowl bid for the Illini in 24 years. Someone took all the George Jones version of GYFTR down from YouTube, so here is the next best thing, Costello doing Good Year for The Roses, which 2007 certainly has been. Is anyone going to Pasedena?

Don't know if it's a miracle or a curse

Not to get all technical on you, but this link is good for keeping up on all new comments on

Link for all new Comments on

I will find a better place to put it sometime.

And more technology, (albeit a terrible video), nifty song, "Useless Inventions" by Dayton Ohio schoolteacher Robert Pollard and his band Guided by Voices.

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