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

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Excellent Bit of Trivia: Who is the Lead Singer Here?

Here's one of the all time great tunes, a US #4 chart maker, Keep on Dancing from the Gentrys, with a surprising flush out. No no no, not that the Bay City Rollers had a UK #9 with the same song, six years later. Check out the lead singer on the Gentry's.

Take it as a trivia quiz, the lead singer from the Gentry's went to high school with Jerry "The King" Lawler (antagonist of Andy Kauffman), and was good friends with Hillbilly Jim (who not coincidentally hosts a radio show on Sirius that plays "Keep on Dancing"), which lead him to became a celebrated pro wrestling manager in the 1980's and 90's. The singer/manager also shares his name with one of Wapella's finest gentleman.

Who is inciting the good folks of Shindig to Keep on Dancing? What was his wrestling nickname?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 Mourns the Passing of John Archer

John T. Archer, 47, Urbana, formerly of Clinton, passed away at 11:06 a.m. Monday (Jan. 24, 2011) at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, with his family by his side.

His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Christ Lutheran Church, Clinton, with the Rev. Joel Dietrich officiating. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton. Memorials may be made to his daughter, the Lauren L. Archer Education Fund.

John was born June 14, 1963, in Bloomington, the son of John Archer Jr. and Wanda Bray. He married Dana Duff on June 15, 1983, in Clinton.

Survivors include his mother, Wanda (Roger) Mix, Clinton; father, John Archer Jr., Granite City; daughter, Lauren L. Archer, Battle Creek, Mich.; sisters, Jody (Richard) Karr, Clinton; Dawn (Don) Bushong, Francesville, Ind.; and Jill (Bill) Proud, Chippewa Falls, Wis.; brother, Tim Schnabel, Clinton; six nieces; one nephew; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by his paternal and maternal grandparents and one nephew.
John was affiliated with Christ Lutheran Church in Clinton. He will be remembered for his gardening, landscaping and his love of his mom’s home-cooked meals. John was a caretaker for the State of Illinois.

John was a student at Wapella Grade School and the friend and relative of many in the Wapella community. Our condolences to the Archer and Bray families.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's Dolly Parton Day in Illinois

Dolly Parton, one of the legends of country music and a talented lady all around, is being honored by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois

While Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and wife Maggie were at the White House with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle having dinner Wednesday with China's president Hu Jintao, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was on stage at Bank of America Theatre in Chicago with Dolly Parton declaring it "Dolly Parton Day in the City of Chicago."

Parton was honored with a beautiful plaque and plenty of applause by the surprised audience (and press) at the theater, gathered for the opening night of "9 to 5: The Musical," which features an original score of her songs. After a Broadway run, the show has been revamped by director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun and has been on a national tour since September. It's playing through Jan. 30 in Chicago.
All good and well, and part of a bit of promo with a wink at Dolly who celebrates her 65th birthday this Wednesday. But and the Board of Wapella Historians is also honoring Dolly Parton for her little known, but very fine work in providing library books throughout the world, via the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a gift to all of the children. The Imagination Library is currently at work in 1,100 communities in three countries - the U.S.A., Canada and the United Kingdom. More than 560,000 children each month receive books through the generosity of local sponsors and the Dollywood Foundation. In 2010, the 25,000,000th book was delivered! Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a unique opportunity to do something simple and powerful for preschoolers.

How about that? Through the generosity of Dolly Parton and many organizations affiliated with Dollywood, more than 25 Million books have been provided to pre-schoolers all over the US. What a tremendous and charitable good, from a great lady! Way to go Dolly Parton.

image Dolly Parton with a waxy looking Kenny Rogers

Thursday, January 20, 2011 Mourns the Passing of Marie Clifton-Harris

Marie J. Clifton-Harris, 71, of Warrensburg passed away at 5:42 p.m. Friday (Jan. 14, 2011) at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

Her funeral will be at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Home, Decatur.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. A brief graveside service will be at Sugar Grove Cemetery near Wapella, immediately following the funeral.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to DMH Heart and Lung Institute or Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network.

Marie was born on Oct. 15, 1939, in Iowa City, Iowa, the daughter of Russell and Elsie Dunaway.
She was a lifetime member of Sharon United Methodist Church. Marie loved spending time with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her fiance, Joe Norris, with whom she also enjoyed going to Corvette shows. She also enjoyed crocheting and reading.

Marie is survived by her five children, Rebecah Tromm of Lexington, Ky.; Veronica (Randy) Fields of Troy; Jim (Marcia) Clifton of Attica, Ind.; Penny (Thom) Pennell of Armington; and David (Ursula) Clifton of Stanwood, Wash.; fiance, Joe Norris of Warrensburg; stepson, Mike (Heather) Norris of Springfield; 15 grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; infant brother, James; and sister, Beverly Stovall.

Our condolences to the Clifton family. Mourns the Passing of Marilyn Salmond

Marilyn J. Walsh Salmond, 81, Normal, passed away at 5:11 p.m. Monday (Jan. 17, 2011) at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington.

Her funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Epiphany Catholic Church, Normal, with Monsignor Eric Powell officiating. Burial will be in St. Patrick Cemetery, Wapella. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Carmody-Flynn Williamsburg Funeral Home, Bloomington, with a prayer service at 7 p.m. Additional visitation will be for one half hour prior to the service Monday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude’s Cancer Research Center, Epiphany Catholic Church, Catholic Social Service or BroMenn Thrift Store.

Marilyn was born Dec. 4, 1929, in Bloomington, the daughter of Leo and Julia Kelley Walsh. She married Robert E. Salmond on June 11, 1955, in Wapella. He died Nov. 11, 1981.

Surviving are her five children, Kathleen Salmond, Normal; Janet Salmond (Thomas) Paley, St. Louis, Mo.; Christine Salmond, Bloomington; Michael Salmond, Denver, Colo.; and John Salmond, Hyattsville, Md.; two grandchildren, Julia and Stephen Paley; and a brother, John L. Walsh, Wapella.

Marilyn was a graduate of Wapella High School and of Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa. While a student there, she excelled in music as a member of the piano ensemble.

Marilyn was a devoted mother and grandmother. She enjoyed volunteering in her community and church. She served on the board of Catholic Social Service, was assistant director of CCD classes at Epiphany Catholic Church and also served on the board of directors for McLean County Home Extension and volunteered for several years at the BroMenn Thrift Store.
Marilyn was a kind and caring friend to all of her family and friends. She was extremely bright and witty and was always engaged in other people’s lives and families. She nurtured an environment that allowed for individuality, creativity, exploration and true adventure. She loved to travel and also enjoyed animals.

She is loved and will be truly missed by all. extends our deepest sympathies to the Salmond and Walsh families.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vote for the Tuscola Strangler

Union Pacific Railroad is running and interesting contest. You can vote here to determine the route of an old-timey Steam Engine that will travel around a good chunk of the United States on a historical promotional tour.

The Board of Wapella Historians has officially endorsed the UP Route from Boone Iowa to Tuscola (Villa Grove) Illinois, via Marshalltown, DeWitt and Clinton Iowa, Glen Elyn Illinois, and Woodland Illinois before terminating in Tuscola. We named it the Tuscola Strangler, which probably isn't the name that UP would have chosen, but it has a more risk taking sound to it.

The Union Pacific website is pretty slick, and you can vote every day. The Tuscola route is leading right now, but the Little Rock Express is only a few votes behind.

Wapella is a rail town with a huge history in the Rail Industry. What better way to take a glimpse at our past than to watch a bit of Big Steam cross the Prairie? Ok, it would be better if it went from Heyworth to Clinton and back again, but this is as close as UP is coming. Vote Illinois style, early and often.

You can vote ever day. Vote Tuscola Here

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy 66th to the Tartanned One, Rod Stewart

Who would have thunk it, but Roderick David "Rod" Stewart, CBE (who would have thought that Rod would be a British Knight?) turned 66 years old yesterday. Rod has had a huge and brilliant career spanning an amazing 6 decades, with a full range of musical styles ranging from Rhythm and Blues, Mod, plain old Blues, Folk, Chuck Berry Rock and Roll, Disco, American Standards, Acoustic and County, and had success in all genres.

A Scottsman to the core, but still a great success in the States and a Wapella all time favorite, here's Rod Stewart doing some R&B with "Just Like I Treat You" from around 1964.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Congratulations John Byner!

Loyal readers here are very much aware that we religiously steer (or as religious as a steer can be) clear of politics of politics on But today, we have to offer a congratulations to a Hollywood and Vegas Great who made his way over to the House of Representatives...not, not Sonny Bono, who sadly passed years ago...this is for our new Speaker of the House, John Byner.

Byner, the noted Dean Martin impressionist, takes a career stretching back to the (1967) Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows to bring 43 years of entertainment experience to Washington DC.

A little from John Byner's bio

On a 1967 episode of Get Smart, Byner played a KAOS agent who made a phone call to the Chief of CONTROL (played by Edward Platt), performed a perfect impression of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and told the Chief he was fired and replaced with agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). Smart, the Chief and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) foiled this plot to undermine CONTROL, and Byner's character was arrested.

In 1970, he hosted about 25 episodes of a syndicated half-hour musical variety series called Something Else. He then hosted his own show in 1972 called the "John Byner Comedy Hour", where the character Super Dave was first introduced. Also that year, he had a cameo appearance in Barbra Streisand's blockbuster comedy film What's Up Doc?. In the late 1970s, he had a featured role as Detective Donahue on the tv series Soap. In the 1980s he hosted the Canadian TV comedy series, Bizarre. That show re-introduced many people to hapless daredevil Super Dave Osborne, played by Bob Einstein. He was also a regular celebrity guest on Hollywood Squares during the Peter Marshall years and later hosted the 1988-89 syndicated game show Relatively Speaking Over the years he has done straight acting work and also light characters in otherwise serious dramas, such as the mostly-harmless con artist "Cotton Dunn" in the 1990s cop series Silk Stalkings and appeared in the PBS 1994 Halloween special "Lamb Chop in the Haunted Studio".

Sworn in yesterday, Byner is the 61st and current Speaker of the House. Congrats John Byner!

Here's Byner doing a Benny Hill Style sketch with some topical humor, yet Byner was doing this in 1980, 31 years ago. A man ahead of his time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 Mourns the Passing of Jayne Brunskill

Jayne L. Brunskill, 95, a resident of Piper City Rehab & Living Center in Piper City, formerly of Pontiac, passed away at 2:40a.m. Tuesday (Jan. 4, 2011) at the home.

A Mass of Christian burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Pontiac, with Monsignor Thomas Mack officiating. Interment will be at Esmen-Camp Cemetery, rural Pontiac, with her son, the Rev. Richard Brunskill officiating. Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday prior to Mass at the church, where in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her name for Masses, or to the Jayne L. Brunskill Memorial Fund. Martin Funeral Home, Chatsworth, is in charge of arrangements.

Jayne Laverne Tallman Brunskill was born Sept. 1, 1915, in Pontiac, a daughter of Albert and Florence Solma Tallman. She married Byron Brunskill in February 1936. He preceded her in death March 3, 1977.

She is survived by one daughter, Barbara Brunskill, Piper City; two sons, Craig (Maria) Brunskill, Normal, and the Rev. Richard Brunskill, Piper City; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister, Vernette; one brother, Richard; nieces and nephews; and many good friends. Fr. Dick Brunskill, was pastor at St. Patrick's Parish in Wapella, Illinois in the late 1980's.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, one brother and one sister.

After raising her three children, Jayne pursued a career as a phlebotomist for nearly 20 years, before becoming a licensed practical nurse in 1978.

She worked at St. James Hospital, Asta Care, Piper City Nursing Home and two places in Fairbury, Fairview Haven Nursing Home and the offices of Drs. Langstaff and Mosciski. She retired from the nursing profession in 1995.

She was a woman of great faith, helping to start the Perpetual Adoration Society at St. Mary’s Church, and working tirelessly at Grace Episcopal Church for many years before she became Catholic — along with Bryon and Richard — in 1974. Jesus was the center of her life and faith.

Our condolences the the Brunskill family.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011 Mourns the Passing of Carmen Mearida

Constance Carmen Mearida, 90, Wapella, died at 5:48 a.m. Monday (Jan. 3, 2011) at Manor Court, Clinton.

There will be private family services, with J. Kent Hickerson officiating. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Waynesville. There will be no visitation. Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials may be made to Manor Court, Clinton.

She was born July 11, 1920, in Waynesville Township, DeWitt County, to Carl B. and Anna M. Ruble Halsey. She married Charles Everett “Peanut” Mearida on Aug. 5, 1938, at St. Charles, Mo. He passed away March 14, 1996.

Surviving are two daughters, Sharolyn Fryman and Julia “Judy” Finger, both of Wapella; one brother, Thomas Halsey, Normal; one sister, Melva Neaville, Mount Pulaski; five grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and one sister.

She was a member of Wapella Christian Church. Carmen Mearida was regarded as a fine neighbor, pleasant person, and a great member of the Wapella Community.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Even More Historic Churches of Wapella: Presbyterians and the Opera House

Here are two good shots of the Opera House, which was formerly the Presbyterian Church.

A bit on the Presbyterian Church from the Centennial booklet

The Presbyterian Church of Wapella was organized May
26, 1868. Some of the first charter members were John and
Jane Potter, Homer, Mary and Martha Buck, Thomas, George
and Lucinda, Hugh and Emehne Watson, EH and Zavilda Cant-
rall, Joshua Hull, Nancy Hickle, Susanna Certwill, S. A. and
Mary Longbrake, James Ellis, Ray Nelson, Mary Abbott, and
Marcuda Hull. The building and lot cost about $4,000, and
$7,000 was the amount paid for the pastor's salary and for
other church purposes. The following ministers served as pas-
tors: Samuel Stevenson, A. L. Knox, W. L. Rabbe, and W. W.

A Sabbath School was organized in the fall of 1871 and
continued for about five years, but the members becoming few
in number and living in the country, it was disbanded and united
with other schools. The church was abandoned about 1876
and bought by Mr. Spafford and used for an opera house; then
in turn was owned by A. A. Alexander, Frank Cunningham,
and W. A. Graham. It was located on the lot across the street
from the Kenneth Duncan residence, but was moved to its pres-
ent location in 1908 by W. A. Graham, who now uses it for a
garage. The Rev. Samuel Stephenson was the pastor that held
the last church services in the Presbyterian Church.

One is in it's original location and the other is on main street after it was Graham's Garage. Note that the building resembles a church, has church windows and the base of a steeple or bell tower. The latter shot was taken shortly after the new firehouse was built.

Hat Tip, as always to Wapella's ace of photographers, George Spray.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year from Don's World of Beef!

It's only natural that would become one of the leading repositories for arcania and memorabilia concerning Don's World of Beef, as we have been noted as the 7th most active curator of DWOB information on the internet today by informed sources. Actually we the only people even mildly concerned with Don's World of Beef, but who is counting?

So when a thoughtful reader sent us a shot of a Don's World of Beef Mug, well of course it is the 1st post of the New Year.

A logo featuring a Steer, impaled by a two pennant flag declaring "Don's" and"World of Beef" is what brought the customers into the popular restaurant, but first-class service and hosting by some of Wapella's finest is what kept them coming back for more.

And the slogan "Where it's Love at First Bite" didn't hurt anything either, along with the floating dentures. Come to think of it the floating dentures might have driven more customers away than it brought in.

Thanks to Missouri reader Chris in Missouri for sharing the shot of the mug, or the mugshot if you will. Keep 'em coming and we will continue to be the leader in Don's World of Beef History.

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