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

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Two Good Shots of Wapella Church History

At the suggestion of George Spray, Wapella's Ace of Photographers, has obtained two historic postcards of Wapella Churches.

Here's St. Patrick's (Sans Steeple..may make a good Roman Church..St. Pat's Sans Campanile!) and the Wapella Chirstian Church from approximately the same era.

I am not sure what happened to the Wapella Christian Church pictured, but it looks like a well made building. Nor am I sure what years these are from. There is parking for your horse at the Catholic Church, which suggests this is pre-automobile.

These are from the CU Williams Company in Bloomington, under the title Genuine Photo, which indeed they are.

Merry Christmas and it would be great to hear any details about these structures that have been so important to the Village of Wapella and the Wildcat community.

Saturday, December 11, 2010 Mourns the Passing of Francis Carstens

Francis E. “Frank” Carstens, 75, Raymond, died at 1:22 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 9, 2010) at St. John’s Medical Center, Springfield.

Rosary services will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, with the Rev. Father Peter Pilon officiating. Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Wapella, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

He was born Aug. 20, 1935, at Heyworth, to Henry and Nora Toohill Carstens. He married Ruby M. Dodson Reum on Sept. 30, 1990, at Hutchinson, Kan.

Surviving are wife, Ruby M. Carstens, Raymond; one daughter, Barbara (Eddie) Giefer, Cheney, Kan.; three grandchildren, Renae Giefer, Denver, Colo.; Rachel (Randy) Dick, Wichita, Kan.; and Rhonda (Ryan) Curtiss, Benton, Kan.; two great-grandchildren, Braydon and Briley Curtiss, Benton, Kan.; one brother, John (Phyllis) Carstens, Bloomington; and one sister, Genevieve (Martin) Metz.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

He was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Wapella, and was a U.S. Army mechanic veteran.

He was employed at G.E. for 36 years. He also farmed.

He was a loving and caring husband, dad and grandpa; also a fine cousin and friend to many in Wapella. An extended member of the Wapella community, Francis continued to participate in Wapella village and parish events long after moving away from Wapella. He will be missed by all his family and friends.

All flags half mast please for US Army Veteran Francis Carstens.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DeWitt County Stretches Political Reach

Congratulations to Sen. Mark Kirk on choosing one of DeWitt County's finest to Chair the Agriculture Advisory Board. Washington welcomes, Terry Ferguson of Clinton, a past president and current board member of the DeWitt County Farm Bureau, and a friend and neighbor to many in Wapella. A DeWitt County Board member and Harp Township highway commissioner, Ferguson is well known for bringing attention to the needs of farmers in central Illinois.

Also from the DeWitt County Board, Wapella's own David Taylor was elected to a leadership position. In a historic vote, David Taylor was elected 8 to 1 as Vice Chair of the DeWitt County Board. Taylor notes he's glad to have the confidence of the other board members, and says he's looking forward to moving DeWitt County forward. Taylor, you may remember is only vaguely connected to Taylorville Illinois, his family being from Wapella and Waynesville.

Congrats to the Board on their decision of much wisdom and foresight. DeWitt Clinton would be proud to see such a responsible crew.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Still A Happy Day to remember Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis Jr. would be 85 years old today, if he were still with us. Happy Birthday SDJ, one of the great artists of the 20th century.

Here's Sammy doing his signature piece, Candyman.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Raw Feed: Stories in Development for

In response to the observation that is becoming increasingly irrelevant and untimely, we have reached new depths in lameness with the following stories, all with a tenuous connection to Wapella and to factualness in general.

* Zabriske Pointe by Michael Antonioni maybe the only film about a previous name of the Village of Wapella directed by an Oscar Winner. The movie looks like a period piece from 1970 and features a soundtrack from Pink Floyd, incidentally also the only soundtrack that Floyd did in homage to a previous name of the Village of Wapella.

* The Mattoon Mafia is one short after Brad Childress got the boot from the Vikings. Childress, EIU '78 was one of three Eastern Illinois University alums who are head coaches in the NFL, along with the Saints Sean Payton and Redskins Mike Shanahan.

* One of the few Sherlock Holmes stories set in Clinton, Illinois featured a mad medical group (pre-Myers and Veirs) terrorizing the Clinton Square titled the Surgeons of Spurgeons.

* Wapella is a whale of a place to get a Christmas tree. Here are two of the leading agri-merchants in Wapella marking their X in X-Mas, and one that is not doing so well.

Don's Tree Farm, Wapella, 935-6367, Don Filkin owner, U.S. 51 2 miles north of Wapella to Carl Springs Road, turn west and drive ¾ mile; open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 21; tours available weekdays; trees 3 to 8 feet; Scotch, Austrian and white pine and Fraser fir; $19.99 to $34.99; shaken and netted, no charge; $19.99 for stand system, drilling free; customer cuts, assistance available; wreaths, grave decorations, swags, crafts, gift shop. Free cider and animal crackers.
Christmas Trees at Hedrick Farms, Wapella, 935-3400; U.S. 51 north to Waynesville blacktop turn left, 4½ miles to Farmers Road, turn right, 1½ miles at T-road turn right; noon to dark Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to dark Saturday, noon to dark Sunday through Dec. 24; white and Scotch pine, balsam $30-$45, Douglas fir, up to 10 feet, $25; call ahead on wreaths.

Cut Your Own Cut Rate Christmas Tree Farm, Wilson Township, Wapella If you were here, you would already know where the place was at. Low prices, crummy trees, and questionable property rights are a big draw in the Holiday season for Cut-Your-Own. Many of the trees are not fit for indoor use and are generally regarded as brush. Unstaffed

* Ron Santo (1940-2010) was a likable guy. He had a restaurant in Libertyville that wasn't all that good. I don't think he paid much attention to it, just licensed his name out. Finger used to have a Ron Santo jersey that he claimed was owned by Santo. Oddly enou
gh Santo used to have a Jeff Finger jersey that he claimed was owned by Jeff. Hall of Fame or not, Santo was a fierce competitor and solid player, loved by fans and feared by the opposition. Jeff Finger is just feared by fans and tolerated, not particularly loved, by the opposition.


Ron Santo brings to mind a classic story from Wapella Great, Richard Cundiff. Richard was travelling with the Cubs in Montreal one time many years ago staying at the same hotel as the players. Many of the players went to a watering hole at the hotel for a private reception after a game one evening. Santo did not want to go, so offered his pass to the reception to our man Cundiff.

Cundiff sat up at the bar, with a badge on identifying him as Ron Santo. He was holding court with many players and reporters about the Cubs and baseball in general. One of the reporters said (something like) *So tell me Ronny, what do you think of Tim Foli?* Before Richard could reply, a player interrupted with "That's not Ron Santo, don't you recognize Jack Buck?"Richard's long term lookalike play-by-play man for the St. Louis Cardinals.

UPDATE 2 It's Pearl Harbor Day. Dr. Herman Meltzer, from Clinton survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor. You can buy Dr. Meltzer's book of poetry, Poems Written in Various Slap-Happy Moods here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rock and Roll Wrestling Returns to Wapella

Just when you thought Wapella was yawning a bit, the Pro-Wrestling Great Rock and Roll Buck ZumHofe is bringing his Rock and Roll Wrestling Circus back to town at The Irish, December 10, 2010 Tickets $8.00 in advance $12.00 at the door..

Here's Buck answering few questions:

Q: Greatest Wrestling Achievement

A: I guess being the Texas Tag-Team Champion, but even more being the AWA Light-Heavy Weight Champioin not once, not twice, but three times and then actually retiring with the belt.

Q: Favorite Opponent

A: The Weasel, I suppose.

Q: Favorite Tag-Team Partner

A: Teto Santana

Q: Best Wrestling Moment

A: Wrestling with Andre The Giant against Bobbie Heenan and Kent Patera in the St. Paul Civic Center; 35,000 people chanting Rock n Roll...BEBE!

Q: Worst Wrestling Moment

A: One time in the end of my match, I was going to do my handstand, went to fast and actually tippped out head over heals over the top rope and hurt myself.

Q: Advice to someone just getting started

A: If you want to really do this, it has to be in your heart or you will never ever make it.

Q: Wrestling Goals

A: Every night that we here at Rock n Roll Wrestling put on a will be the best possible show, every show, every night.


Big question, Buck brings on a Midget Wrestling Competition as well. Would any of Wapella's finest get in the ring as sort of an Andre the Giant vs. Buck's team?

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen

Here is the genius, Leslie Nielsen in action in Police Squad. One of the true greats Nielsen will never be forgotten for his long and storied career.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in Verse

Psalm 100:4

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Happy Thanksgiving and Feast of St. Katherine (image at left courtesy Matt Alderman).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Slow but Inexorable Journey Home to Wapella

Good story from Ernest Thorp. I particularly like the phrase

The Slow but Inexorable Journey Home to Wapella

Had to look up inexorable, to see if could be printed in a family website, and it means

Impossible to stop or prevent

It was impossible to prevent Ernest Thorp from returning to Wapella. Well said by a good neighbor.

I use Larry Hovis' photo as Sgt. Carter as a stand-in for Ernest Thorp.

From the Springfield Journal Register

Ernest Thorp had two consuming passions when growing up on a farm outside Wapella — farming and flying. As a child of the Depression, he had plenty of opportunity to pursue both. Thorp was a college student at what is now Illinois State University in 1941 when he earned his civilian pilot’s license. Two years later, he was training to fly B-17 Flying Fortresses.

By early 1944, Ernest was newly engaged and in England, serving as a co-pilot on missions over Nazi-occupied Europe. He felt very much like a target whenever he flew missions in the lumbering B-17, always part of a tight formation of aircraft headed to Germany and back. They were exposed and vulnerable in those formations, prey to German fighters, and fat targets to alert flak gunners. “Average life of a B-17 – 231 days or 21 missions,” Thorp wrote in the diary he faithfully maintained throughout the war. Even so, it was safer to stay in the formation, protected by an intricate web of interlocking machine gun fire woven by scores of .50-caliber machine guns.

The target for Thorp’s 18th combat mission on Aug. 4, 1944, was an oil refinery in Bremen, Germany. Not until the morning mission briefing did he discover he would be the co-pilot for a green crew in a beat-up old aircraft; otherwise, it seemed like a routine mission. The formation was hugging the coastline when they ran into flak, with Thorp’s No. 1 engine taking a hit. He and the navigator were able to get things under control and argued for staying in the formation, but the pilot insisted on turning back for England. That maneuver took them away from the safety of the formation and back into the sights of vigilant flak gunners. Soon, the No. 4 engine was gone as well and the resulting fire gave the crew no choice but to bail out over the North Sea.

A thankful Thorp was eventually fished out of the water by a sympathetic German fisherman, himself a POW in England during World War I. For the next year, Thorp concentrated on surviving while being shuttled through a succession of POW camps. The first stop was Stalag Luft III (later to become famous as the Great Escape camp). Unbeknownst to him, the Red Cross had initially reported him dead to his family back in Illinois. Only when Ernest got a chance to mail a letter home did they discover the truth.

“Dear Folks,” he wrote in that first letter. “By now you know I’m safe and well. I have been very lucky and grateful to God. … Don’t forget to cover all the past home news. Please send me double-edged razor blades, shorts, wool socks, toothpaste, and pajamas — and chocolate.”

When Soviet armies pressed into the German homeland, the prisoners were transferred from camp to camp, moving steadily deeper into the German interior. Chaos and uncertainty ruled the day and through it all, a gnawing hunger was Ernest’s constant companion. Only the occasional Red Cross package kept the specter of starvation at bay, and those became scarcer as the German empire crumbled around them.

Despite the constant turmoil, Ernest managed to maintain his diary, chronicling his daily struggle to survive, carefully recording both the significant and mundane. By the spring of 1945, rumors of the war’s end and their own liberation swirled through the camps. Thorp was at Stalag VII-A near Mooseburg when he spotted several “P-51s with red tails manned by Negroes,” strafing the railroad that ran near the camp. “We could see them circle into position, dive down and see the flash of fire from their machine guns.”

April 29 was Thorp’s personal “liberation day,” the day when American troops finally reached the camp.

“We shook hands with all the G.I.s we could get a hold of. … My feeling of elation gave me a funny feeling in the throat and stomach as well as tears in my eyes.”

It was the first of many emotional moments for Thorp as he made the slow but inexorable journey home to Wapella, ever closer to realizing his dream of a reunion with his fiancee and family.

Thorp remembers well his arrival in New York City harbor.

“The biggest impression I had,” he related 64 years later, “was when we passed by the Statue of Liberty. … There wasn’t one word – it was strictly silent as we passed by that Statue of Liberty. What we were fighting for was that statue – what it stood for. … That was really a moment that I didn’t think would happen, but it did. We were home.”

Too many of us today take our veterans and their sacrifices for granted. Hearing stories like Ernest’s reminds us of the real price of freedom.

Mark DePue is the director of oral history at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. You can listen to Ernest Thorp’s entire story, and those of many other veterans, at the program’s website,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Salute to Richard Dawson

If there is one word to describe Richard Dawson, it is versatile. With a career spanning over 40 years, on stage, TV and Film, Dawson captured a huge audience with his role as Corporal Peter Newkirk in Hogan's Heroes, a show much beloved in Wapella and other places.

Born Colin Lionel Emm in Gosport, England, Dawson started out in the merchant marine at the age of 14, then became a boxer and comedian appearing as Dickie Dawson. Dawson hit it big when he married starlet Diana Dors, recognized as the most beautiful actress in England, whereupon they moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers.

And what a career it has been, with the amazing role as the crafty Corporal Newkirk firmly establishing Richard Dawson as major star, then moving on to Laugh-In and two huge hits as game shows with Match Game and the masterpiece of Dawson's career, Family Feud, which he played to great effect in the "Running Man" Movie.

Approaching 78 years old, and living in Beverly Hills California, Richard Dawson has truly had a fabled and admirable career, one of the great performers of the 20th Century. And for a tip of the hat, Joe Jackson (from neighboring Portsmouth, England) questions "Is She Really Going Out With Him" a question never asked of the suave Dawson.

Cheers to you Richard Dawson!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In the Spirit of Chris Ooms,: Celery Stalks in Texas

He Seemed Like Such a Nice Guy, I Never Knew He Was a Stalker

"Four Killed by Celery: Texas Food Processing Plant Shut Down After Poisoning Deaths"--headline, Daily Mail (London), Oct. 22

Saturday, October 16, 2010

W.Com Sends Out Congrats to Jason and Kristen Reynolds! sends out big congrats to one of Wapella's finest clans, The Reynolds', and one of Clinton's as well, the Riegel's, as proud parents Jason and Kristin (Riegel) Reynolds and brother Jaxon welcomed Xander Martin Reynolds into the world at 8:41 on 10/7/10. Weighing in at 8lbs, and 19.5 inches long, he is a fine addition to a pair of already outstanding families.

Congrats all around!


What's Next for Jeff Finger?

After a whirlwind career with the Colorado Avalance and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jeff Finger has been put on waivers, leaving the Blue and White for the second time including his WHS '79 commencement.

This from a Canadian blogger

One of the cool things about maintaining this blog for the past 8 years is that I can go back in time and read what I thought about events as they unfolded. For example, on July 1, 2008, I wrote an entry entitled "Uncle Cliffy Gives Us The Finger". The deal didn't make any sense to me at the time, and here's what I wrote.

I understood signing Cujo to a nice and tidy one year deal for $700,000 but I don't get why Cliff Fletcher just signed defenceman Jeff Finger to a four-year deal worth $3.5 million a season.

I understand the Toronto Maple Leafs need bodies, but do we really have to give four year deals to 28 year olds with 94 career games under their belts? Admittedly, I can't remember ever seeing him play, so if The Finger is Sylvain Lefebvre reincarnate I shall stand corrected.

I look at it in the opposite direction. $3.5 Million is a lot of money to anyone and Wapella is proud of Finger's accomplishments. Jeff gave 110% during his time in Toronto, but maybe it was just time to move on. Come to think of it, I don't recall Jeff playing all that much hockey in Wapella, perhaps in our basement a time or ten, with some street sticks from S.S. Kresge, but he was and is a tough competitor deserving of every dime he made. And who need some Canadian punk telling a Wildcat what he should be doing anyway? And Sylvain Lefebvre...please God Help Us!

Congrats Jeff Finger and all the Finger family on a solid career. Another lucky NHL team will pick you up and let your Wildcat pride lead them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dunk Tank Returns to Living History Museum in Clinton

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, fasten your seat belt, warm up your pitching arm and prepare to re-live The #1 Event in Wapella History: The Wapella Dunk Tank has returned.

An alert Martin Morris, WHS '84, spotted the tanks at school festival in Clinton, Illinois, a city outside of Wapella, reportedly to the South.

"It was a sort of spiritual experience", mused Morris, "seeing the tank, enjoying the banter of a smart-alecky school principal raising money for one thing or another, and a line of enraged customers taking a shot at dunking the fine gentleman who volunteered for this sort of ritual humiliation".

That's principal, John Smith, in the tank at Webster School's PBIS celebration last week, giving his all for the kids it on the dunk tank by clicking on the photo...donated to the kids of Wapella, by Wapella legend KB Duncan.

It is heart-warming to see this machine put to good use again. If you are ever in Clinton, why not stop by Webster School and take a toss at dunking the Principal?

Monday, September 27, 2010

RIP George Blanda, Football's Grand Old Man

Consider this, in 1975, when this Football Card was circulated, George Blanda was already 48 years old, about 20 years past the average retirement age for most NFL players.

But Blanda was not your average NFL star. A Kentucky Wildcat, Chicago Bear, Houston Oiler, and most famously an Oakland Raider, under Al Davis, Blanda played more than 26 season as Quaterback, Linebacker and Kicker.

Rest in Peace George Blanda.

Full Obit Here

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- George Blanda, who played longer than anyone in pro football history and racked up the most points in a career that spanned four decades, mostly with the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders, died Monday. He was 83.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of the great George Blanda," the Raiders said Monday in confirming his death. "George was a brave Raider and a close personal friend of Raiders owner Al Davis." The Pro Football Hall of Fame said on its website that Blanda died Monday after a brief illness.

Blanda retired a month shy of his 49th birthday before the 1976 season. He spent 10 seasons with the Bears, part of one with the Baltimore Colts, seven with the Houston Oilers and his final nine with the Raiders.

He held the pro scoring record when he retired, with 2,002 points. He kicked 335 field goals and 943 extra points, running for nine touchdowns and throwing for 236 more.

He also threw for 26,920 yards in his career and held the pro football record with 277 interceptions until Brett Favre passed him in 2007. His points record stood until it was topped by several players in recent years.

"It certainly doesn't bother me," Blanda said about losing the scoring record. "The one record I was happy to get rid of was the one for the most interceptions, when Brett Favre got that one."

It was a five-game stretch for Oakland in 1970 that is the lasting imprint of his career. As a 43-year-old, Blanda led the Raiders to four wins and one tie with late touchdown passes or field goals.

Later that season, he became the oldest quarterback to play in a championship game, throwing two touchdown passes and kicking a field goal in Oakland's 27-17 loss to Baltimore in the AFC title game. His performance that season earned him The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Blanda joined the Oilers of the new American Football League in 1960 and played 16 seasons before hanging it up for good following the 1975 campaign. He led the Oilers to the first two AFL titles, beating the Chargers for the championship following the 1960 and '61 seasons.

He nearly won a third straight title when he led the Oilers back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to the Dallas Texans in the 1962 title game before losing in double overtime.

"George Blanda will always be remembered as a legend of our game," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, "including his amazing career longevity of 26 seasons in four different decades. George's multi-talented flair for the dramatic highlighted the excitement of pro football during an important period of growth for our sport."

Blanda began his memorable run in 1970 by throwing three touchdown passes in place of an injured Daryle Lamonica in a 31-14 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 25. The following week he kicked a 48-yard field goal in the final seconds to give the Raiders a 17-17 tie against Kansas City.

Blanda was just getting started. He threw a tying touchdown pass with 1:34 remaining and then kicked the game-winning 52-yard field goal in the final seconds the following week in a 23-20 win over Cleveland.

He followed that with a 20-yard TD pass to Fred Biletnikoff in place of Lamonica in a 24-19 victory over Denver the next week, then kicked a 16-yard field goal in the closing seconds to beat San Diego 20-17 on Nov. 22.

"The game that I remember the most was playing against Cleveland in 1970," he once said. "We were down 20-13 and I came in and we got a touchdown and then we got a field goal in the last three seconds."

Blanda entered the NFL out of Kentucky as a 12th-round pick (119th overall) of the Chicago Bears in 1949. He spent most of the next decade with the Bears, leaving to play one game for the Colts in 1950. After winning the Bears starting job in 1953, Blanda promptly lost it the following season because of injury. His playing time at quarterback quickly diminished and he retired in 1959 at age 31 when Chicago planned to make him a full-time kicker. It was a short-lived break because he then joined the AFL's Oilers the next season.

Blanda was one of the new league's many prolific passers, throwing for 19,149 yards and 165 touchdowns in seven seasons for the Oilers. He was the AFL Player of the Year in 1961, holds AFL single-game passing record of 464 yards on Oct. 29, 1961, against Buffalo, and was chosen the league's all-time kicker.

"We did all the strategy right on the field," he once said. "Today, the coaches call all the plays, so all the quarterbacks have to do is perform. They are more or less programmed."

Oilers owner Bud Adams said Blanda's flair was a reason the AFL attracted so much attention.

"He was the perfect fit for the start of the AFL, joining our league from the NFL and displaying the ability to lead a high flying offense," Adams said in a statement. "His play garnered our league a lot of attention and fans. We had a celebration last year in Houston for the 1960 and 1961 AFL championship seasons and the team hall of fame members and it was great to have George join us and remember fondly those early years."

In 1967, the Oilers thought Blanda was at the end of his career, but the Raiders picked him up as a backup quarterback and kicker and he lasted nine more seasons.

"A seemingly ageless wonder, George inspired legions of fans over a 26-year career, with his clutch performances as a quarterback and place kicker. He will be truly missed," said Steve Perry, executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Friday, September 24, 2010

Batman vs. Taylorvillain

An alert Wapella native and frequenter of, my sister Helen, is a great fan of all things Taylorville for many years, having spent much time in Taylorville with her roomate who was a native Taylorvillain.

Helen, who now lives west of Wapella, added this bit of arcania to our valuable collection here: Yvonne Craig, the actress who portrayed Batgirl on the Batman show was also a native of Taylorville. Like many people from Taylorville, Yvonne has her own website and fanclub and looks kind of like a cocktail waitress at an upscale restaurant in Collinsville, or is that a Vesapsian Warner Librarian in the photo? Ah the mystery that is Taylorville.

David Taylor, from Wapella, is not from Taylorville, despite having the last name as the City. Taylor states "what a stupid question John, you have known me my whole life. Are you from Powersville? There is hardly ever a connection between town names and last names, save Weldon Carter, and that is a first name" Well said Mr. Taylor, well said, and good catch on Weldon.

Here some more on Taylorville, one of the fine mid-sized cities in Illinois.

Taylorville, seat of Christian County, located at junction of Illinois 48, 29 and 104.
Taylorville was organized in 1839 for the express purpose of serving as county seat for the newly formed Christian County. The original site was purchased from the government by Daniel C. Goode at $1.25 an acre. It was surveyed and plotted by John Taylor, hence Taylorville.

Lincoln practiced law in Taylorville. [Lincoln practiced law in every county court house in central Illinois.] In 1970 the original courthouse was still in existance but had been moved to the Christian County Fair Grounds. It cost $2,350 in 1840. [Is it still there?]

Coal production has been big in Taylorville. In 1970 it was the site of one of the world's largest coal mines. In 1970 coal from that mine fueled generators which generated electricity for Chicago, sent there over 180 miles off transmission lines. There is a lake in conjunction with this, meant for cooling the generators but also providing water activities. There were major labor wars in 1934 and 1937. There is a statue of a slain miner near the gate of Oak Hill Cemetery.

And here's the Batgirl Theme from the Batman Series.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Congratulations to Rick and Denise Johnson

It's 30 Years for Rick and Denise Schanafelt Johnson, two Wapella originals who are celebrating today. Denise proudly describes this as

Today I have been married to the most wonderful husband, best friend and a great father for 30 years. How time flys when your having fun. The best part is my 3 kids and can't forget BO and Maggie (dogs)
Congratualtion Rick and Denise, two of Wapella's finest.

Here's a video of Rockpile with Nick Lowe, who looks a lot like Rick if Rick were a English Rock star, or if Nick were from Wapella, or both. Add a mustache to Nick, put Rick's 1978 hair back on him and there you have it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nothing Says Autumn Like...

Nothing says Autumn like high school football, followed by college football, followed by pro-football, in between some wild harvest rituals best demonstrated here by some Mexican-Americans dressed as Arabs playing Rock-and-Roll, singing nonsensical lyrics, and generally having a good time.

Here's Domingo "Big Sam" Samudio with the Pharaohs doing the Memphis/Tex Mex Sound circa 1965 with the Wooly Bully, the first American record to sell a million copies during the British Invasion, and one of the great songs of Autumn.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There is Tea in Clinton Today

Depending on who you ask La Te Da means 4-5-6 or A Female to Give in some derivative type of latin. But there is no translation necessary for today's beneift at the La Tea Da Tea Room in Clinton Illinois today. The Tea Room is given over to a benefit of Katie Braun-Wingard, a friend to many in Wapella and all of DeWitt County. Here's the invite:

Today · 11:00am - 2:30pm
Location La Tea Da Tea Room
1100 S Madison
Clinton, IL

Please join us at La Tea Da on September 12, 2010 to help an amazing family!

Katie suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and was hospitalized for Healthcare Acquired Pneumonia on July 29. After adopting a beautiful baby girl Allie Joy, Katie was surprised to find out she and Matt were expecting their own baby! Katie delivered a 6 week pre-mature, healthy baby girl (Naomi Rose Wingard) on July 15, 2010 prior to her hospitalization.

Wapella...Come on down to the County Seat for hot tea and a good cause!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 Mourns The Passing of Betty Jo Deatrick

Betty Deatrick, 72, Wapella, formerly of Heyworth, passed away Monday (Sept. 6, 2010) at Manor Court, Clinton.

Her funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Calvert-Belangee-Bruce Funeral Home, Heyworth. Burial will follow in East Lawn Memorial Gardens, Bloomington. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to the family.

Betty was born Feb. 5, 1938, in Bloomington, to Henry and Alberta Ballow Geske. She married Paul Deatrick on June 9, 1956, in Bloomington. He survives.

Also surviving are two daughters, Jo (Jerry) Daugherty WHS '77, Normal, and Paula (Roger) Irvin, WHS '81, Kenney; one son, Ron (Alonna) Deatrick, WHS '84, Clinton; three sisters, Jean (Eddie) Merida, Wapella; Carolyn (Clarence) Buck, El Paso; and Linda Morris, Eureka; two brothers, Junior (Karen) Geske, Heyworth, and Bobby (Mary) Geske, Wapella; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, one daughter, one brother and one sister.
Betty was an active supporter of the Mclean and DeWitt County 4-H. She raised Suffolk sheep and Boer goats for show.

Betty was a loving wife, mother, sister, grandmother and devoted friend who will be deeply missed.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jerry Ryan Goes to The Jungle

In a (unique and unexplained) press statement, Jerry Ryan WHS '54 has announced a shift in his current nickname from Jumping Jerry Ryan to Jungle Jerry Ryan. Ryan, a gentleman farmer in rural Clinton, had used the "Jumping Jerry" moniker for much of the last decade, having successfully dropped the corny "Taters Ryan" from his identinty in the mid 1990's.

"We feel that Jungle Jerry is more youthful, more current, and a more accurate identifier of the Jerry Ryan persona", claimed Ryan's press release, "we ask that all our friends and fans remember that Jerry Ryan was indeed a good jumper and earned the name 'Jumping Jerry', but respect Mr. Ryan's wishes to move into a new decade with a new start as "Jungle Jerry" Ryan".

Repeated calls to Mr. Ryan were not returned, that is repeated calls to "Jungle Jerry" Ryan were not returned. Asked for comment, Jerome "Jerry" Toohill stated, "I've always liked Mr. Ryan and will respect his current choice in nicknames. Ryan is a big and powerful man and the Jungle Jerry name keeps the crafty veteran in the game. Who knows, I might take it up myself"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 Mourns The Passing of Helen Toohill

Helen Toohill has died this morning.

Visitation is on Friday at Calvert's Funeral Home in Clinton, Illinois. The Rosary at 4pm. The Funeral at St. Patrick's Parish, in Wapella, Illinois on Saturday at 10am.


Helen A. Toohill, 89, St. Charles, Mo., formerly of Heyworth, died at 5:55 a.m. Tuesday (Aug. 31, 2010) at Mount Carmel Senior Living Center, St. Charles, Mo.
A funeral Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Patrick’s Church, Wapella, with the Rev. Peter Pilon officiating. Burial will be in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Wapella. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, with the rosary recited at 4 p.m.

Memorials may be made to the Altar Society of St. Patrick’s Church, Wapella.

She was born Sept. 17, 1920, at Greenville, Mo., daughter of Ira and Myrtle Daffron Rhodes. She married Clement M. Toohill on July 4, 1942, at St. Francis Xavier College Church, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. He passed away July 20, 2002.

Surviving are her children, Ann (Robert) Dixon, WHS '62, Homecoming Queen. Plano, Texas; Jean Thorp, WHS '62, St. Charles, Mo.; Daniel (Rose Ann) Toohill, WHS '66, Heyworth; Clement (Marjorie) Toohill, WHS '70, Davenport, Iowa; Teresa (Richard) Carroll, WHS '72, Bloomington; (FFA Sweetheart) Connie (Herb) Buttrick, WHS '73, Green Bay, Wis.; Edward (Kim) Toohill, Normal, WHS '76; Thomas Toohill, WHS '77, Mount Pulaski; Matthew (Catherine) Toohill, WHS '79, Not the Homecoming King as his handsomeness and regal nature were uncontestable, Fairbury; and Kate (Tim) Watson, WHS '81 and Dennis (Marti) Toohill, WHS '82, Homecoming King, both of Bloomington; sister, Mary Bennett, Greenville, Mo.; son-in-law, Rob Fanning, Wilmette; daughter-in-law: Kathie Toohill, Granite City; 30 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. Also surviving are several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; daughter, Mary Helen Fanning, WHS '68; son, William Hugh Toohill, WHS '75; son-in-law, Carl Dean Thorp, WHS '62; and two sisters, Verna and Virginia.

She was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Wapella, and the Altar Society.

She graduated from Greenville High School in 1936 and Brown’s Business College. She received an honorary degree from the University of Illinois, Department of Home Economics Extension. During World War II she proudly went to various cities that her husband was deployed to during his tour with the U.S. Army Central Intelligence Corps. After the war, they then settled on the family farm in Wilson Township, DeWitt County.

She was a member of Joyful Hearts in Wapella; DeWitt County Farm Bureau; and DeWitt County Homemaker’s Extension. She also dutifully served as an election judge.

She treated all her children as individuals. Making them each feel like they were the most important person in her life. If they felt joy, she felt joy. If they grieved, she grieved. She was more than a grandmother, she was our inspiration. She was more than a mother, she was our friend. She was more than a wife, she was our anchor. She was a beautiful gift from God.

Helen Toohill was one of the matriarchs of Wapella. She possessed a monumental amount of patience and infinite amount of kindness. A generous and caring person, Helen brought a peaceful wisdom to every conversation and had a profound and pleasant effect on the Village of Wapella, St. Patrick's Parish, Wapella School District, Wilson Township, and Irish Row as well as her family and relatives.

Our condolences to the Toohill family.

image a tapestry of the Holy Rosary.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy 40th Birthday Paul Roesch! sending 40th birthday greetings to a future hall-of-famer, and top face about town, Paul Roesch. Paul turned the big 4-0 on Thursday, and was said to have celebrated at Texas Roundhouse, followed by an evening of slow dancing with Raymond and Steve Toohill. A perfect gentlemen's birthday, no doubt.

In tribute, here's U2 (admittedly not the edgiest choice) live in Chicago doing '40'.

Happy birthday, PBR!

Friday, August 27, 2010

239 Beans

Why did the Irishman make his chili with 239 beans?
Because if he added one more it would be 2-40

(Say the punchline in Brogue for full comic effect)

Here's the Byrd's doing "Have You Seen Her Face", good tune written by the underutilized Chris Hillman, the Bassist for the Byrds.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Martin and Lewis of Wapella

Chris Ooms has a question: Do fish get cramps after eating?

    • John Powers Nah, they wait 30 minutes before they start swimming again
      Yesterday at 7:28am · ·
    • Chris Ooms Thanks John, I was taking my fish out of the bowl when feeding them. I didn't want them to be uncomfortable.

      Ribald laughter ensues throughout Facebook.............

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bloomington Man is Married to Wapella Woman. Meets Bill Buckner. Sort of Looks Like Billy Jack

I lift this pleasant article by Bill Flick about Jamie Defenbaugh, who kind of looks like Billy Jack. Jamie is married to Jackie Toohill, WHS '86. From the Pantagraph

As a 12-year-old back in Little League, at the launch of a life that would evolve into an endearing, enduring devotion to the Chicago Cubs, Jamie Deffenbaugh had a favorite player, an idol, one of those summertime heroes you follow in the papers, on TV and up in your room in the calm of a July night, listening to the grainy A.M. din of the game on the radio.

He was Bill Buckner.

Jamie wore the same number — 22.

He was left-handed and played first base, just as Buckner did.

An idol of his mom’s as well (“But I think she liked him for his looks”), he memorized Buckner’s statistics, tried to emulate his playing style (“tough, gritty, hard-nosed”) and got to know him so well, he learned even his idiosyncrasies — down to the black, high-top baseball shoes Buckner wore when few other players did.

“I idolized the guy,” says Jamie.

Which brings us to the other day, 30 years later.

Bill Buckner got into Jamie’s van. On purpose, even.

Then he actually sat there, in the passenger seat, for three hours, right where other mere mortals usually sit.

Asked if he’d mind doing a favor before last weekend’s “State Farm Legends” game at the Corn Crib, Deffenbaugh drove Buckner down from O’Hare International, fetching him there so the retired star could play here.

At one point, Buckner needed to use the restroom, says Jamie.

Idols apparently even need to do that.

Another time, Buckner said he was a bit hungry and they pulled off at a diner where Buckner wolfed down a feta and spinach omelet, hash browns and blueberry pancakes, and Jamie picked up the tab.

In life, there are those big moments — graduations, marriage, buying a home, parenting your children — and at age 42, Jamie has experienced them all, plus one.

He drove 135 miles with his childhood idol.

For days, Jamie had been a bit nervous before heading to Chicago. “He was beside himself,” chuckled Jackie, Jamie’s wife.

Then came the actual day.

Arriving early and, like a pilot, he circled O’Hare rather than parking and sitting, which would have made him more nervous. Then, he swiveled to a designated point and suddenly saw the mustached man he’d so revered as a child.

It didn’t go exactly as planned, though.

Instead of lifetime batting averages, they talked about parenting.

The father of a college player himself, the now 60-year-old Buckner talked about playing fungo with his own boy, following his exploits, being up late the night before to enjoy the fact his son had flown home (Buckner now lives in Boise, Idaho) to fly fish with Dad. And he wanted to know about Jamie’s sons, too.

Instead of discussing just success, Buckner talked about his post-baseball life, dabbling in commercial real estate, being a partner in a car dealership, being downwind to a fraud scheme by a former partner that had led to million-dollar lawsuits.

Instead of lavishing in baseball lore, Buckner talked about a night in Pennsylvania with Mickey Mantle, the timeless icon of the New York Yankees, when the two of them were part of a program and Mantle, who later died waiting for a liver transplant, had too much to drink.

It was that kind of afternoon for Jamie — meeting his object of worship, totally awed, and then subtly realizing they now were on the same level, on the same plain of life, pursuing the same interests — some moments of great joy and others not so great.

“It went frankly perfect,” says Jamie. “He was exactly the guy that I always wanted to know. He acted like the person I had hoped he would always be.”

Yup, in an age of baseball steroid use, inflated egos and humongous salaries, Bill Buckner was something even more than just a hero for Jamie Deffenbaugh.

He was a mere human being, sitting in the van like anyone else.

In an odd twist to the story, I was able to meet Pete Toohill last week, exactly 30 years after I declared Pete as one of my summertime heroes, for his bean walking techniques. Seeing Pete in person was nothing less than spectacular, and did not sit in a van like anyone else. I had actually met Pete many many times before, a fact conveniently overlooked by both of us in developing the odd twist.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hot Afternoon with Some Hot Boogie

Blazing on this sunny afternoon in Cook County, here is something from one of the hottest groups of the late 60's early 70's England.

Steve Marriott lets loose a cannon load of rock and roll hooks tied together by his amazing voice on "Natural Born Bugie". Spelling and copyright infringement weren't Humble Pie's strong suits. So sit back and enjoy Frampton and Marriott firing away.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Clyde Leggett Jr.!

Wapella great Clyde Leggett Jr. celebrated his 91st Birthday on Sunday. Count-Em 5 generations of Leggetts were present yesterday. And all 3 Clyde's were there, too.

Knowing Clyde Legget and many of the other Leggets from my brother's northside paper route, I always thought CLJ sounded like a very young guy. Thirty-five years later, and still batting it out of the park, Clyde has always been a Wapella all-star.

Happy Birthday Clyde Leggett Jr!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

From the Lone Elm Memorial

Memorable shot from the South Side of Wapella Twp. The Lone Elm is long gone, but still in the memory of all of Wapella.

This is the meeting place for the Board of Wapella Historians, as we all know.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shameless Nepotism

I am not so sure it is nepotistic when it is your Third Cousin once removed running for office. I don't know how Layne Toohill and I could be any less related than that, so per the guidelines of the Wapella Board of Historians, this shameless plug is perfectly acceptable

Layne Toohill is running for Baby Idol on a 107.7FM Radio contest, as a cute baby. That is undeniable! Vote early and often, Chicago Style, but I think it is only via Facebook here

Here is the link, I think you have to be a Facebook user to vote...this election only. For example, in the general election for Governor, you don't have to be a Facebook user etc. Vote Layne!

Update: A heads up for those who like to vote on these such matters. You must click the Thumbs Up LIKE button for 107.7, then you can go on to click again for the individual photo for Layne (again with a Thumbs Up LIKE button). Well worth the effort!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

26 Years of Hollywood in Central Illinois

Shamelessly lifted from Top Maroon Joe Alexander. Hat Tip Joe, for this great memory!


I have had a number of FB friends like Dave Wischnowsky, Steve Raquel, Kirsten Rogers, even the Hon. Dan Brady showing pictures & or making comments about the present filming of Transformers III presently being shot in Chicago. However, lest we forget when Hollywood came to central IL, as today we celebrate the 26th anniversary of the release of Grandview, U.S.A.!

Filmed largely in Pontiac, Illinois & Fairbury, Illinois in Livingston County, we note that there is more here than just the home of Dan Rutherford, Route 66, & a correction center! Yes, Jaime Lee Curtis, the late Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, John & Joan Cusack, were all in this movie & seen around town.

I enjoy watching long time Pontiac alderman, Frank Panno, pictured with me, with his role in the movie. Frank & Panno Reality, helped with housing during the film! He still gets royalty checks from his acting debut. Pontiac/Livingston County folks, please share your thoughts, memories, or stories!

Thursday, July 29, 2010 Mourns The Passing of Nellie Jean Cusey

Nellie Jean Cusey, 82, Wapella, died at 5:54 p.m. Sunday (July 25, 2010) at Dr. John Warner Hospital, Clinton.

Her funeral will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, with the Rev. Richard Gray officiating. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery, Clinton. Friends may call from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton. Memorials may be made to the Wapella Fire Department.

She was born June 7, 1928, in Wapella, a daughter of John J. and Iva Mae Stone Leggett. She married Exley E. Cusey Feb. 21, 1952, in Bloomington. He passed away Jan. 21, 1997.

Survivors include three sons, Wesley Cusey, WHS '76, Wapella; Curtis Cusey, WHS '78, Bel Air, Md.; and Eldon, WHS '82 (Michelle) Cusey, Wapella; one grandson, Vincent Cusey, Wapella; one brother, Vernon Leggett, Texas; and two sisters, June Karr Wapella,; and Jane Thorp, Virginia.

She was preceded in death by her parents and one daughter, Amy.

She was a member of Wapella United Methodist Church, Wapella. She was a fine neighbor and well-liked member of the Wapella community.

Our condolences to the Cusey and Leggett familes.

Monday, July 26, 2010 Mourns the Passing of Doris Jean Bush

Doris Jean Bush, 70, Clinton, IL, passed away at 3:50 PM Friday, July 23, 2010 at Hopedale Medical Complex, Hopedale, IL. Funeral service will be at 10 AM Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, IL with Pastor Dan Bell officiating. Burial will follow at Lisenby Cemetery, Lane, IL.

Friends may call Tuesday evening from 5-7 PM at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, Memorials may be made to the Doris Bush Memorial Fund or to Hopedale Medical Complex.

Doris was born on May 2, 1940 in Clinton, IL, the daughter of Raymond and Josie Abshber Miller. She married Roger Rossio in 1959. She later married Acey F. Bush on May 30, 1959 in Clinton, IL. He passed away on Feb. 9, 2000.

Survivors include 2 Sons: Roger (Rita) Rossio of Clinton, IL; Doug (Cheryl) Rossio of Macomb, IL; 2 Daughters: Jo (Jeff) Finger of Wapella, IL and Angie Bush-Rodgers of Clinton, IL; 2 Brothers: Ronnie (Connie) Miller of Clinton, IL and Dick (Cindy) Miller of Tremont, IL. Also surviving are 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Doris had special extended family of nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and 1 brother: Kenneth Miller. Doris attended the Lane Christian Church and was a member of the Clinton Eagles Lodge. She enjoyed bowling, BINGO, crafts and traveling. She was inducted into the Bloomington Bowling Hall of Fame

Our condolences to members of the Bush, Rossio and Finger families.

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