If it’s Wednesday night, that means it’s Liver & Onions night at The Mississippi Mud Tavern in Altenburg. Buddy Gerard and I usually top off the evening with a trip down to Tower Rock to check on water levels and see if any boats are passing.
This night, the only boat traffic we heard on my scanner was far, far away and breaking up, so the prospects of seeing a towboat go by was slim. Radar was painting some strong storms around, but they were mostly east and south of our position. Still, these clouds made for a pretty picture. Click on it to make it larger.
Newspapers are big on year in review stories because they can be written well in advance as space fillers for the slow holiday weeks. Why should I be any different (except for the part about doing it well in advance)?
I have to admit I’ve slacked off this year. After almost three years of posting seven days a week except for when there was a technical glitch, I took some big chunks of time off when I was caring for my mother before she died this spring. Once I found that the world wouldn’t end if I skipped a day or three, I started doing it more often when I was busy.
The most popular post last year was a piece I originally posted in 2011 about the burning and sinking of the steamboat Stonewall near Neely’s Landing. Two or three hundred people burned or drowned in the disaster. Sixty or 70 bodies were buried in a mass grave that I have searched for unsuccessfully.
I followed up the original post with a few others:
Mother seldom said, “Goodbye.” She preferred “See you later,” and Brother David scratched that phrase on her casket before it was lowered in the ground.
Kermit “Moose” Meystedt
Our lives are marked by special dates and ceremonies. When we are kids, we attend birthday parties of our classmates. As we get older, we’re go to proms, ballgames and dances. Not long after that, it’s weddings, followed by baby showers. We have a bit of a gap before we start attending the funerals of the parents of friends. Finally, when we are at the stage where we have more yesterdays than tomorrows, it’s our turn to show up in the obituary pages.
Curator Jessica and I toured the Kent State May 4 Vistors Center on one of my Ohio rambles. We were fortunate enough to meet Dean Kahler, one of the students shot by the National Guard that day in 1970. He is one of the most remarkable men I’ve met, and I don’t say that about a lot of people. His story was in fourth place.
His description of that day is haunting. Click on the video if you don’t follow a single other link.
“I knew I had been shot because it felt like a bee sting. I knew immediately because my legs got real tight, then they relaxed just like in zoology class when you pith a frog,” he said. He never walked again, but he has turned into a highly competitive wheelchair athlete.
After the shooting stopped, he called out to see if there were any Boy Scouts around who could turn him over. “The only thought that came into my head was if I was turned over, would I bleed more internally than externally? I thought (shrugs shoulders) there’s a 50 / 50 chance that you’re going to die one way or the other. I knew I might die. I had a really good chance of dying, so I wanted to see the sky, the sun, leaves, peoples faces. I didn’t want to be eating grass when I died.”
Tower Rock Quarry Exposed
I started posting old story links to a Facebook page for folks who are interested in the Mississippi River. That’s probably why this 2011 story about Tower Rock and how the low water had exposed an old stone quarry south of the Rock was pushed to fifth place.
Mary Welch Steinhoff 1921- 2015
I wrote so many stories about Mother (some of them were even true) that complete strangers would come up to her in the grocery store and ask if she was “Ken’s Mother?” She pretended not to like that, but I know she enjoyed the attention. When I wrote her obituary on June 23, 2015, I came up with a list of more than three dozen links before I quit searching. I guess that’s why she became the mother everybody had (or wished they had had).
You can’t know how comforting it was to read the comments you left about a woman many of you knew only through my late-night ramblings. She had a great run. October will forever be Birthday Season.
The picture is a card sent to Mother at the Lutheran Home from someone who had never met her in person. I think it captures her spirit.
The Old Burnt Mill
Sometimes you run across a reference to a place and you just have to go searching for it. That’s how I ended up at the Old Burnt Mill in Perry county.
It’s an interesting building with a fascinating history of hubris, double-dealing, maybe a murder and a haunting.
This picture drives me crazy
This copyrighted photo of girls wearing “ugly” gym suits has been stolen by I can’t count how many websites. It’s been shared hundreds of thousands of times, even though I’ve been quick to file DCMA takedown notices every time I find it posted.
The crazy thing is that hundreds swear that the photo was taken at their high school and even contains their sisters. Trust me, I took the photo and have the original 4×5 negative in a file box. It was taken at Central High School. And, if Rosanne Hecht or Joni Tickel aren’t your sisters, then you’re wrong.
For the record, I love it when people share links to my posts, but I get really cranky if you copy and publish a photo without permission.
It was only number eight on the hit parade, but it would be a lot higher if the folks who ripped it off had posted links.
CHS 2015 class reunion
It’s not fair that Terry Hopkins can still fit in his letter jacket without sucking in his stomach so much that his eyes bug out. There was a big difference between the last get-together and the 2015 Central High School reunion. We’ve all gotten a lot grayer and a lot less spry. (Except for Terry, of course, who was probably the reason that the post scored the number nine spot.)
A celebration of Wimpy’s
The Centenary United Methodist Church held a one-day only Wimpy’s Day, featuring the original Wimpy’s family cooking to the original recipes.
Thursday was a pretty productive day. Back in 2013, I wrote about finding Keith Robinson’s Boy Scout canteen. Mother kept bugging me, “When is that boy going to come by and pick it up?”
Keith, my go-to guy for all things railroading emailed he was going to be escaping Kansas City for a few days to come to Cape. FINALLY, a chance to get rid of this crazy canteen.
We made arrangements to meet at the Jackson at the Cape County History Center. It turned out that he and his dad knew some of the people mentioned in the museum’s exhibits.
Journey to the Land of Liver & Onions
Museum director Carla Jordan shares my love of liver and onions, so she said she’d buy dinner at the Mississippi Mud in Altenburg if I’d drive. I rhapsodized about how good the Mud’s L&O were on September 11. Well, they were even better Thursday night. The meat was so tender you could cut it with a fork; the onions were grilled just right, and my two sides of cheesy mashed potatoes and corn couldn’t be beat.
Carla and I shared our table with Gerard Fiehler and Lynn Degenhardt; two more museum folks filled in the table next to us. Lips were smacked and plates were cleaned. I can see myself making a pilgrimage to Altenburg every Thursday night until I get my fill of Innards and Onions.
I can’t go to East Perry county without dipping down to Tower Rock. Carla and Gerard piled into the van and we got to The Rock at the crack of dusk. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Click on the photo to make it larger.
Here’s why I don’t wade
The river’s going to have to fall about another three feet before you’ll be able to walk out to Tower Rock.
I was up there two days earlier hoping the leaves had turned, but they still needed a few more days of cold weather. This catfish was sitting on the rock where Mother used to scoop up some of the best persimmons to ever hang on a tree.
My thought was, “If the fisherman didn’t keep this guy because he was ‘too small,’ I don’t want to stick my feet into any water that would hold his big brother.”
I’ve been struggling with what to post about Mother’s Birthday Season when she’s not here to celebrate it. I’ve made a dozen false starts, but none of them worked. Then, two things hit me today.
I got an email from Curator Jessica that read, “We had our first killing frost last night and my poor basil didn’t make it. This afternoon, while I was lamenting my basil, I turned around and saw one of my rosebushes had a bud that seemed to have weathered the frost. I sang the Grateful Dead to it and thought of you.”
I woke up to a flat tire (a nail nailed me). When I got back from having it patched, I opened the car door and was confronted with the rosebush on the light pole in front of the house. I took that as a sign I should visit Mother and Wife Lila’s Mother.
She was referring to Dark Muddy River
Miz Jessica heard Dark Muddy River because I told her I was considering it for a video about people and places along the Mississippi River that are no longer there.
When the last rose of summer pricks my finger And the hot sun chills me to the bone When I can’t hear the song for the singer And I can’t tell my pillow from a stone
I will walk alone by the black muddy river And sing me a song of my own I will walk alone by the black muddy river And sing me a song of my own
When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain And the stars start to splatter in the sky When the moon splits the southwest horizon With the scream of an eagle on the fly
I will walk alone by the black muddy river And listen to the ripples as they moan I will walk alone by the black muddy river And sing me a song of my own
Black muddy river Roll on forever I don’t care how deep or wide If you got another side Roll muddy river Roll muddy river Black muddy river roll
When it seems like the night will last forever And there’s nothing left to do but count the years When the strings of my heart start to sever And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears
I will walk alone by the black muddy river And dream me a dream of my own I will walk alone by the black muddy river And sing me a song of my own And sing me a song of my own
I’ve listened to that song while riding my bike around Lake Okeechobee on nights that are pitch-dark except for bolts of heat lightning cutting across the sky, and I’ve played it while watching the whirlpool swirl around Tower Rock in the Mississippi. It hits me differently every time, particularly in this context. I’m still going to have to come up with a Birthday Season story, but this will have to do as a space filler.