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

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ruling the Roost with King George II

Fooey, I have had enough politics for a while. Now how to light it up a bit on a bitterly cold day in Hog City? about some Ol' Possum doing The Love Bug? Drat, nothing available, have to find a backup here it is, George Strait covering George Jones' The Love Bug. Ah the punks disabled the insert tool, but you can

Click over to King George II doing The Love Bug

I wonder what George Jones thinks of Dean Jones in the Herbie movies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Election Season: Be sure to Vote Early and Often

The primaries are coming right along, giving the staff at pause to reflect on a few campaign techniques that were successful in the past.

1) A ride to the polls always helps. Did Danny come over and pick up likely voters and use his powers of persuasion to seal the deal?

2) The handsome guy usually wins. So, with Clem Toohill for example, it is a great idea to show a photo of the candidate to give people a preview of what they will be looking at for the next 4 years.

3) A parade in Wapella can generate a lot of buzz for a candidate. Check with Alex Seith, Larry (?) Lenz, Jerry Costentino for results of campaigning in Hog City.

Here's a salute to Clem, and all those who have run for (a not very glamorous) office. The participation of taxpaying citizens at all levels is one of the assurances of our democracry.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fishing legend comes to Bloomington

An alert Alabaman Wildcat was kind enough to pass along this story from the Pantagraph:

“There’s nothing haphazard in nature, but humans,” said Winkelman, 58, who will share his insights at this weekend’s Illinois Fish & Feather Expo in Bloomington on Saturday. The event runs Friday through Sunday at the Interstate Center and will feature seminar speakers, boat and tackle dealers, resort representatives and guides.

I'll take a bit of an issue with Winkelman's natural sciences observations (come on Babe, do you really think dogs, for example, are not a bit haphazard? I have yet to see a dog fill out a job application, do retirement planning, build a house that would last more than a day or two), but I cannot argue with his entertainment and sporting values. The man is a legend for good reason, he earned his stripes over 30 years on TV outdoor shows and selling associated products.

Who is going to Bloomington to see the Babe?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Help me out here scrutinizing an old history of Wapella Township

The first church house was built by the Christian denomination in 1856. It is a plain frame building, and situated in the little hamlet of Zabriska, in section 22. The church is yet standing and in a fair state of preservation, and the passer-by would conclude that it was built by the Catholics, as the cemetery grounds are situated in the same lot close by the church.

The first justice of the peace elected was John Montgomery Senior. He died only two years ago, a citizen of the town, and was nearly a centenarian at his death.

The second justice was John B. Swearingen, who now resides in Minnesota.

The first post-office was established in 1845, and was kept Abraham Swearingen at his private residence in section 15. In 1849, it was moved to the hamlet of Zabriska, and subsequently to Wapella.

I distinctly recall St. Patrick's Parish celebrating 150 years in the church business sometime before 2006. I also recall historical note in a New Deal spun history that said Catholics in small towns typically don't respond to historical surveys, which strikes me a patronizing, but accurate.

The references to the Swearingen's is gratuitous, as Al Swearingen is my favorite TV Character since Col. Klink (well, maybe Donnie Most as Ralph Malph).

Monday, January 21, 2008

RIP Allan Melvin Email inbox literally been flooded with remeberances of TV Character actor extra-ordinaire Allan Melvin.

Whether you recall Melvin from Sgt. Bilko with Phil Silvers, or some guest spots on Andy Griffith, or his long time recurring role as Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch, you have to admire Allan Melvin for his versatility and dedication to his craft.

My personal favorite role for Melvin was as Barney Hefner on Archie Bunker's place. Hefner was variously Archie's business partner, best friend, worst enemy, and even a robber trying to break into Archie's bar.

Five decades in the business working with everyone from Jim Nabors in Gomer Pyle, to Popeye (with Melvin as Blutto), Allan Melvin could do it all.

May He Rest in Peace.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Windy in 1902

Wapella, IL Tornado, Jun 1902

In Dewitt County

The storm in Wapella was severe. Trees were broken in every part of the city. The roof to the old Illinois Central freight office was blown off, as were the cupolas to the school house and opera house. Plate glass of the Wapella bank was blown in. CHARLES HUNT’s new barn was blown down and one side of the JAMES M. GREEN grain office was blown in. FORBES LEGGITT’s cattle barn, two miles north of Wapella, was unroofed, also unroofed kitchen and dining room of W.H. THORPE’s residence. Also CHARLES SCOTT’s home west of town.

The Daily Review, Decatur, IL 12 Jun 1902

Saturday, January 19, 2008

RIP Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer, the man that made Chess popular, All-American, and ultimately as bizarre as ever has died at the young age of 64. Some Fischer facts

Some Fischer facts

  • Born: March 9, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Died: January 17, 2008 in Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Learned the rules of chess at age 6!: 1949
  • First recorded tournament game: July 1955
  • International Grandmaster title: 1958
  • U.S. Champion eight times in eight attempts!: 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966
  • Winner of: every tournament and match in which he participated from December, 1962 through World Championship match 1972 with the exceptions of Capablanca Memorial, 1965, (2nd place - ½ point behind Smyslov), and Piatigorsky Cup, 1966, (2nd place - ½ point behind Spassky).
  • Bobby Fischer's tournament and match results: 415 wins, 248 draws and 85 losses out of 748 games played from 1955 through 1992 for a performance average of .721 or 72.1%
  • Fischer's highest achieved rating: 2785 ELO.
  • Inspired Rick Imig's Chess Tourney's at WHS
The last point is particularly enlightening, imagine a reclusive Chess prodigy igniting a Chess frenzy in a rural town in central Illinois. Pretty much everyone in my grade school and junior high class played chess at every game time in the winter. Seems unlikely, but it did happen in Wapella, as a result of Chicago-born Fischer beating the Soviet Champ Boris Spasky in the Cold War Championship in Iceland in 1972.

RIP Bobby.

Friday, January 18, 2008 Mourns the Passing of Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, a long time teacher at Wapella Grade School has died in Missouri at age 84. Mrs. Thomas was the wife of Melvin Thomas, and mother of Paul and Rhoda Thomas. Mrs Thomas was a genuinely pleasant teacher, and will be remembered by the many students and friends she had in the Wapella School System and Wapella Community. The Wapella Flag flies at 1/2 mast today for Wapella Wildcat, Mrs. Helen Thomas. Our condolences to the Thomas family.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Three Cheers for a Great Maroon

I have been completely wiped out in basketball by many, many players (as well as nabbing an rare victory) including Morton/Illini Guard Kevin Bontemps (in a game my team should have one) and NBA #1 pick, Glenn Robinson (in a game my team decisively lost, though I did shoot around with Glenn before the game, perhaps the only time in basketball history that a #1 draft choice shot around with a 6th man from WHS).

However the most consistent drubbings I (and many other Wildcats) have experienced were at the fast hands of Clinton Maroon, Martina Underwood. Martina played as much
basketball in Wapella as any native, and had one of the best shots ever seen in Wapella history, as well as adept ball handling skills.

Martina Underwood-Toohill (after her nuptials to WHS's own Raymond "Cherokee" Toohill) deservedly has been named to the Clinton High School Wall of Fame. She was a three sport athlete and the Clinton High School Player of the Year in 1990 and '91. Also among her many athletic achievments were top ten in the state of Illinois in basketball points in 1991; set three school records; and went on to earn All-American honors at Parkland College in 1992 and 1993.

Wapella can now claim Martina as resident, and with her Underwood surname, and Toohill husband she is more than an honorary Wildcat. Congrats to Martina on her honors!

Continuation of the Hat Tippings

As most who read and/or peruse this board can attest, Wapella High
School was no doubt one of the finer institutions of higher learning in
the Midwest, if not the country. Legendary educators walked the hallowed
halls, and passed along knowledge with fervor and aplomb. In the early
90's for example, Hall of Fame teachers like Ric Imig, David Bowman,
Mitchi Tucker, Jerry Peroutka mixed with future Hall inductees like Alan
Thompsen and William Hutchinson, all under the watchful eye of William Robert

But today we tip our hats to Wapella's less decorated, lesser known
gurus - the substitute teachers, the student teachers, and those that
only spent a short time at WHS. For example, as far as student teachers
are concerned, our very own DIT, who stepped in to fill Jerry Peroutka's
shoes (no doubt bought at Gerry and Al's) tops the fan favorite poll,
along with such luminaries as Tony Tennerelli (sp?) who stepped in for
Dave Bowman's biology, and then the almighty Mr. Murphy (first name
anyone?) who stepped in for Mathematics.

The list of substitutes who put in time at WHS is near endless. Another
fan fave being our own Kansas Cat, who filled in large gaps for Mitchi

Teachers who provided short tenures at Wapella were also numerous,
personal faves being Zelda Thorp, Mary Harweger (sp?) and Teresa
Nietske(sp?) and these are but a few from my era. What about you? Any
shout-outs to Wapella's lesser-known harbingers of knowledge?

And a quiz...What WHS student teacher later went on to marry a Clinton Graduate with a renowned Wapella name, her family being one of Wapella's oldest, having multiple generations of WHS and country school grads?

Update: Quiz Answer
The WHS Student teacher? Mr. Bruce McCominsky who taught English at WHS and later went on to marry Clinton Maroon and Purdue Boilermaker, Cindy Ryan, daughter of WHS '52 Jerry Ryan. Bruce and Cindy are both now English Professors in Alabama.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Here Come the Redbirds

The Illinois State Redbirds are for real (13-3 overall, 5-0 MVC), winning 8 in a row for the first time since 1991-2. Is it Doug Collins Court? Redbird Arena? The Ghosts of Horton Fieldhouse and Reynard Malaine? One can't be sure of the magic formula, but it sure looks like Redbirds are chalking up w's with teamwork and sharp play, reminiscent of the Gene Smithson era.

Go Redbirds! What great Redbirds have you seen at Horton? Redbird Arena? Piddling around Normal?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hail to the Goose!

Roger Clemens may not give a rat about it, but White Sox and Cub great Richard "Goose" Gossage has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Gossage was always a favorite in Hog City for his ultimate body shape, wild hair, and pack of chaw barely tucked away.
Only four relievers are in the Hall of Fame, and one of them is not Lee Arthur Smith, which is a travesty. Can you name all four?

Flag Flies for Kurt Olson

Yes, we are going all Olson all the time least for today.

Here is a Pantagraph story about former Wildcat star Kurt Olson, who also coached at University High School.

The Wapella flag is flying high for Kurt Olson.

Here is how to write an Obit

Read this when (belatedly) trying to correct spelling for Abner Phares:

PHARES, Allen W.
January 5, 1894
Allen W. Phares
Within three months the angel of death has visited the Phares home in Galesburg three times. On the 6th of October, Mrs. Louisa ROGERS, a daughter of Allen W. PHARES, died in Galesburg and left four children surviving her. On the 27th of November the father died, and on last Friday, December 29, Mart. PHARES closed his earthly career. This is a remarkable fatality in one family, the father and two children dying within three months.
The family of Allen W. PHARES will be remembered by the older inhabitants of this county, for Mr. Phares came to this city in 1849 and for many years was the leading business man, owning the largest dry goods and general store and also dealing in lumber and grain. Allen W. Phares was born in Greene County, Ohio, in the year 1812, and when he died last November he was eighty-one years old. His children spent their younger days here and one of his sons (Abner R.) has spent his life as a citizen of Clinton. In 1851 [or 1854], Mr. Phares got acquainted with Henry MAGILL, father of the present mayor of this city, and took quite a fancy to him. Mr. Magill had a contract for building a section of the Illinois Central road, and Mr. Phares induced him to locate in Clinton and sold him his mercantile business. This brought the Magill Bros. to Clinton, and after a successful business career running over twenty years, the four brothers died, leaving handsome fortunes to their children.
After selling out his store, Mr. Phares gave his undivided attention to the lumber and grain business, which he sold in 1857 to John and William BISHOP, and then he moved his family to Galesburg, Ill., where he engaged in the stock business till a short time before his death. Only three of that branch of the Phares family are now living, the aged mother having gone to her rest ten years ago. Abner R. PHARES lives in Clinton; Mrs. J. R. CONKLIN in Lincoln, Nebraska; Mrs. Huldah Rowen in Galesburg.
But few of the early settlers who lived in Clinton when Allen W. Phares was one of the leading men now survive. One might count them on both hands and still have fingers to spare. The road that leads to the tomb is one of the best traveled in every community.

People spent a bit more time writing obituaries in 1894, and it was time well spent.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

1856: A Wapella Inventor Born

Found this book on Amazon

From the appendix...a listing of great railroad innovators in passenger cars

Charles A. Seley (1856-1939) drafted the basic specifications for the railway post office car. Their aim was to set minimum strength standards that would safeguard railway mail clerks, but the specifications were eventually adopted by the railroad industry for all passenger cars. Seley was born in Wapella, Illinois, and entered railway service as a draftsman in 1876. By 1899 he was a mechanical engineer with Norfolk and Western. He was elected president of the Western Railroad Club in 1907. In later years he went into the supply trade.

(This is about the time when sitting around a tavern...a bit more experience Wildcat can chime in with "Seley? You know him, he was Ab Ferris' great uncle (or something of that nature). He used to live on Hilbo Longbrit's farm. He ate 6 baked potatoes on a dare one time. He was a good draftsman, but it took him 43 years to get his Engineering Certification. Haven't seen him in a while, where is he now?")

Another great railroader in the best tradition of Hog City. Three cheers for Charles Seley!

Monday, January 7, 2008 Mourns the Passing of Jessie Legget

Jessie Marie Leggett, 92, Bloomington, passed away at 3 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 1, 2008) in Normal. Mrs. Leggett is survived by her daughter Marjorie Borland Lamont, Grandson Danny (WHS '80)and Granddaughter Jody (WHS '86), among many others. Our condolences to the Leggett, Borland, and Lamont families, all great members of the Wapella community.

Two Wapella Greats Celebrated

The Village Flag flies twice as high today, in honor of two of Wapella's finest each born January 7, albeit a few years apart. None other than our own EEP, tireless reporter and observer of the Wapella beat, and former WHS GAA basketball star, Teresa Toohill Carroll both celebrate another year as the Pride of the Wildcats today.

Happy Birthday Wildcats...but a quiz....what curious family thread connects Teresa Toohill to EEP? You have to make a trip outside of Wapella to connect this one, but it may be worth the journey.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Put out more Hats, Time for Tips

The local media rarely finds time to put out a welcome mat, or say much of anything pleasant about its readers, so when WHOW noticed that the YMCA in Clinton is now handicap accessible, I definitely will repeat the story.

Please tip your hat to Wapella's finest, Ernest Thorp, for helping make the Y entrance better for more visitors. WHOW has a nice writeup on the generosity of one of the vertabrae of the Wapella backbone for over 80 years.

Thanks Ernest. The Wapella flag flies high today for Ernest Thorp.

One Alert Reader in Jayhawk Country

Sent in this note

The Outdoorsman with Buck McNeely


Buck and Max enjoy the company of those HEE HAW hilarious brothers Jon & Jim Hager, The Hager Twins. Buck introduces them to one of America’s most popular shotgun sports, Sporting Clays. Tips and tactics and some song and dance are also featured"

This is extraordinarily good news, as the Hager Twins have not been in syndication in quite some time. Good to see them showing up for some syndicated sport shooting.

Here's a shot of the Twins with former Senator Fred Thompson at what looks to be a golf outing...speaking of, the Hager's went to high school with another Presidential candidate, right here in Illinois. What Presidential candidate can claim the same education as the Hager Twins?
Readers copied on the Kansas Cat's email are disqualified from this quiz, but encouraged to chime in with appreciation of Jim and Jon Hager.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Forgotten Comedy Types

Continuing on Parkyarkarkus.....One of the comic techniques disposed of in our politically correct times is the heavily accented immigrant trying to fit into American Culture. In general, these were pretty gentle comedies, and even clever in come cases. Here's Fordham Grad, Pat Harrington (Dwayne Schneider the building superintendent), who has a few good jokes to tell as "Guido Panzini", who sounds quite a bit like Fr. Guido Sarduci. Take note, Baron Sasha Cohen as Borat lifted a joke from this brilliant Pat Harrington sketch in his recent movie.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Parkyarkarkus in front of the tube: Here come the Illini

I've written the Illini off so many times (and guaranteed impossible victories-Namath style), that I refuse to predict the outcome of the 4pm Rose Bowl today. The Illini certainly have been better than expected, and were brilliant in the near perfect game vs. a very good Ohio State team. USC is healthy and a professional caliber team, so the competition will be tough.

Chief or Chiefless, it is great to see the Illini in the king of the Bowl Games. Let's go out there and win one for the real leader the Illini tribe: Wapella's own Jim Bell. Go Illini!
Update: Getting close to halftime, Coach Zook, can you get some points on the board please and quit running the same plays over and over....thanks, shutout avoided, 21-3. Look out: Mendenhall 79 yard gallop, 21-10, exactly after Brent Col Klink/Brent Musberger demands that the Illini pass more...Mendenhall 55 yards! to hear "The Junior from Decatur" on national TV...ok preparing to hoist white flag. couple of calls either way and it would be a tie..white flag high, USC are still a bunch of classless punks.
Bonus trivia: Who was Parkyarkarkus in real life? Who are his TV and Film star sons?

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