Doc Jordan and Friends

Doc Jordan and Friends 08-29-2015_0357The lights were burning late at the Cape Girardeau County History Center in Jackson Saturday night. Doc Jordan and Friends were having an old-fashioned pickin’.

Harry Chapin done well

Doc Jordan and Friends 08-29-2015_0366Friends this evening with Doc – Steve Jordan – were Pastor Stan Hargess, Dr. Hugh Tewis, Terry Wright, Barney Hartline and Carla Jordan.

Doc and Wife Carla teamed up to sing Mr. Tanner in a way that would have made Harry Chapin proud.

A toe-tappin’ crowd

Doc Jordan and Friends 08-29-2015_0336Some combination of players show up monthly. The next pickin’ will be at the history center from 7 to 9 on Saturday, October 17. A handbill says to “bring your banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, bass, or just pull up a chair to sing along or listen.”

A couple who didn’t know about the event saw the lights, heard the music and were made to feel welcome.

Other pickin’ pix

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use the arrow keys to move through the gallery.

Jackson’s Silenced Sentinels

Hwy 61 stumps Jackson 05-23-2015_7097Almost every time I head out of Jackson from Wib’s BBQ headed toward Fruitland, I notice some big stumps on the south side of Hwy 61 near the Welcome to Jackson sign. And, every time I’ve muttered to myself, “One of these days I’m going to have to stop and shoot those things.”

The odds are pretty good you won’t see them on the way INTO Jackson like in this photo because they’re down the embankment.

Massive stumps

Hwy 61 stumps Jackson 05-23-2015_7115

I finally got around to stopping.

To give you an idea how big these trees were, I put a dollar bill in the photo for scale. A bill is six inches wide, so the top of the stump is three feet or more across. It has to be at least 10 feet around. (Click on the photo to make it larger.)

What have these trees seen?

Hwy 61 stumps Jackson 05-23-2015_7129Wikipedia reports that the first post office in Jackson was established in 1814 when the area was called Birdstown. Old McKendree Chapel, the log cabin that is the oldest Protestant church standing west of the Mississippi River, was built in 1819.

I didn’t even try to count the rings to see how old the trees are (that’s a math thing), but I wonder if they were standing that long ago? Anyone want to guess what kind of tree they were and how old they might be?

Ridge Road Microwave Tower

ATT microwave tower - Ridge Road - Jackson 08-09-2014Towers like this one on Ridge Road in Jackson used to dot the skyline. There was even one in downtown Cape next to the telephone company building on Broadway across from the Broadway Theater.

They were AT&T’s backbone for long distance communications. In the days before fiber optic cable, your phone calls would go from point to point by cable or by microwave.

Made to withstand nuclear blasts

ATT microwave tower - Ridge Road - Jackson 08-09-2014A fascinating website that touches on AT&T’s Long Lines said that the microwave installations were used for both civil and government communications. Most were built in the 1950s and 1960s during the height of the Cold War.

The buildings housing the electronics supporting the towers was hardened against a nuclear blast and in some cases were placed underground. The towers themselves were engineered to withstand all but a close (within five miles) blast.

Protected against fallout

ATT microwave tower - Ridge Road - Jackson 08-09-2014The microwave horns mounted on the towers were covered with a protective shield to keep out not only the elements, but radioactive fallout. The buildings were shielded with copper to protect the equipment inside against the electronic pulse generated by a nuclear explosion. Foot-thick concrete walls protected the vital electronics and people inside the base installations. Thick copper ground wires went deep into the bedrock.

There was a concrete tower facility about halfway down U.S. 1 going to Key West. I always figured that was my hurricane shelter of last resort if I could ever get to it. Jackson must not have rated so high on the nuclear threat list that it justified the extraordinary construction.

Bandwidth was the killer

ATT microwave tower - Ridge Road - Jackson 08-09-2014The thing that killed the Long Lines towers was the demand for bandwidth. A microwave link can carry only a small percentage of the capacity of a single strand of fiber optic cable. When the Internet exploded, the demand for bigger “pipes” exploded with it. After the microwave equipment was taken down, towers, like this one, were purchased by outfits like American Tower, which rents space for cellular and other antennas.

Cellular stations take up a lot less room than the old analog switch gear used by AT&T, so the big buildings aren’t needed.

Communications: foundation of democracy

Aerials - Microwave tower - Jackson 08-13-2014The author of the website said he saw an AT&T motto in one of the towers: “Communications is the foundation of democracy.” In those days, hard to believe today, the writer said the Long Lines crews went to work knowing that if nuclear war came, they would probably come out of their hardened facilities to find their families long gone.

The construction in the background is a new school being built. You can click on the photos to make them larger.

 

 

Runoff, Rainbows and Wet Roads

Cape LaCroix Creek 10-13-2014_3208The weather alert radio was busy this afternoon with severe storm warnings, tornado watches and warnings. We did a bunch of running around between showers and drizzles, but beat feet home before the bad stuff got here. The trees bent down for a bit and there were a few times when we couldn’t see across the street, but it moved on quickly.

The storm water system constructed in the mid-80s wasn’t nearly so full as it was when a frog-strangler hit in 2011, but you can see it’s still moving quite a bit of water. The lighter-colored water passing under South Kingshighway is Cape LaCroix Creek; the darker water being held back on the right is what drains down from neighborhoods to the north.

I wonder if the people in that brick office building know that when I was growing up on Bloomfield Road in the ’50s that it was a packing house of some kind. There was a little dam across the creek there and the building discharged something that, when the wind was right/wrong, stunk to high heaven.

Double, maybe triple rainbows

Double rainbow 10-13-2014_3257We drove around town for bit, paused at the riverfront, then headed west on Broadway. In the rearview mirror, I could see a rainbow, but wasn’t sufficiently impressed to stop. I pulled into a parking lot to check out the Mexican restaurant across from Houck Stadium. When I looked up this time, the rainbow was much brighter, so I went to the car for my camera. Much to my surprise, when I got out to the street, it had turned into a double rainbow. The second one isn’t quite as bright, but, trust me, it’s there. For a second, I thought I saw a third rainbow, but I could have been mistaken.

Coming into Jackson

Jackson 10-13-2014We were on our way to Jackson shortly after the rainbows when a thin stretch of the horizon under the dark storm clouds flamed bright orange. I rushed out to North County Park to try to get a high, clear vantage point, but the light was gone by the time I got into position.

The best I could come up with of the end of the storm was a night shot coming down the hill into Jackson.

Click on the photos to make them larger. There has been a software change that I have to tweak. You can still use the arrow keys to move through the photos and press the X or ESC key to exit them. I’ll see if I can get it to look more like what you were used to seeing.