Tower of Memories a Bird House

Tower of Memories - Memorial Park 06-27-2013When Friend Anne was in town, Buddy Bill invited us to lunch. His ulterior purpose was to determine if Anne was real or a figment of my imagination. Anne accepted the invitation because she wanted to find out the same thing about Bill.

After a nice lunch with Bill, his Wife Sharon and some other friends, Bill invited himself along for a tour of Cape. Along the way, Anne got thirsty and we ended up at Sonic, where they each ordered limeades. These were NOT the limeades we used to get at Pfister’s. Let’s just leave it at that.

Anne hears something inside the tower

I’ve always like the Tower of Memories at Memorial Garden, so we made a swing by there. (I covered the history of the tower and gardens in 2010.)

While we were walking around the landmark structure, Anne said, “There are noises coming from inside – and the door is screwed shut from the outside.” Anne isn’t the kind of person who spooks easily: she’s a Texan, after all, a fact she references frequently.

Bill and I crept closer and discovered that Anne was right. We COULD hear strange scratching and beating noises and something else coming from inside the sealed building.

I just have to outrun Bill

Tower of Memories - Memorial Park 06-27-2013

I took a close look at my two friends and calculated that I didn’t have to be faster than Anne; I just had to be faster than Bill if something came busting out like in a bad horror flick.

Anne, using her well-honed Texas tracking skills, figured out what was happening. She spotted some broken windows on the side of the tower that allowed birds to fly in and out. Based on the amount of bird – let’s say guano – on the window sill, it looks like they’ve been doing it for quite some time.

I waited to capture a photo of one of the winged invaders, but Bill’s choice of shirts kept the poor creatures cowering inside.

Bill Hopkins Gets Steamed Up

OverheatedI sent a copy of this photo to Bill Hopkins for interpretation. Bill has had a hard time holding a job: he’s been a lawyer, a judge, a goat roper and a far from adequate student body presidential campaign manager. Right now he’s an author, just like Wife Sharon.

Anyway, Friend Bill said, ” I don’t recognize the car but it looks like me under the hood.”

I’m pretty sure the other guys are John Hodges, Kenny Fischer and John Mueller. You can click on the picture to make it large enough to confirm my IDs.

That’s about the right ratio of folks: three people to watch another guy stare at a motor. I have to give Bill credit. Based on my long relationship with him, I would have thought he would have opened the trunk and not the hood to look for the reason the car wouldn’t run.

Bill Hopkins’ Courting Murder

Buddy Bill Hopkins has published his first Judge Rosswell Carew murder mystery, Courting Murder. I’ve had a chance to read the book (Bill made me pay retail for it), so I should catalog my first impressions of it.

I need to make some disclaimers first. Bill is paying me to run an ad for four months. If you click on the ad which may or may not be running in the upper right-hand corner of the page (depending on whether or not his check clears) or this link, you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can buy his book. If you buy his book, I make about 98 cents without it costing you anything. That might make you think I have a vested interest in saying something nice about the book and/or Bill.

Offsetting that, though, are my memories of the great job Bill did as campaign manager for my run for student body president. With him guiding my campaign, I garnered only 163 votes out of a student body of 1,200. Future Wife Lila told me years later that even SHE didn’t vote for me. That effectively derailed my plans to run for President of the United States in 1984. I think that, on balance, qualifies me to write an unbiased review.

Bill interacts with teacher

I’m not exactly sure what’s happening in this photo, but the body language would suggest that the teacher isn’t exactly happy with Bill and his unidentified cohort in crime.

After we left Central, I went into newspapering and Bill launched his legal career in 1971. He served as a private attorney, prosecuting attorney, an administrative law judge, and a trial court judge. We didn’t really keep in touch until the days of Facebook. I’d see his name in The Missourian from time to time in connection with his judge work. I don’t think I ever saw the words “brilliant” and “judge” used in the same sentence, but they also didn’t use “judge” and “indicted,” either, so, on balance, he didn’t do too badly.

Bill’s wife becomes author

Bill’s wife, Sharon Woods Hopkins, beat him to to the bookshelves with her two mysteries. I covered the book launches of Killerwatt and Killerfind.

All of the Hopkins’ books are set in Southeast Missouri. Their common themes are coincidence, confusion, crimes and incompetent law enforcement officials. Oh, yeah, and lousy cell phone signals. It seems like every time the heroes get in trouble they are out of range or their batteries are dead.

Killerwatt review. You can buy it from Amazon here (and I get a cut).

Killerfind review. You can buy it from Amazon here (and I get a cut).

Courting Murder

Bill’s book, Courting Murder, was a perfect addition to the Steinhoff One-Stall Reading Library. Its short chapters are just the right length for picking up and setting down during brief reading sessions. I enjoyed the twists and turns in Judge Carew’s attempt to decide how two people ended up dead on a riverbank and how to protect his girlfriend who is in danger from the killer/s.

Bill’s plot had more twists than a Bollinger county gravel road. In fact, I kept looking at the diminishing number of pages and wondering, “Just WHEN is this thing going to wrap up the loose ends?” It was sort of like watching a one-hour mystery on TV and looking at the clock to see that they had better get the killer in the next six minutes or it’s going to be continued to the next episode.

I won’t say that the ending was totally unexpected, but it kept my interest right up to the last page. Bill is a heck of a lot better mystery writer than he was a student body presidential campaign manger. Again, it’s available through Amazon.




Bridges and Goodbyes

I really enjoyed my visit to Cape, but it was time to get back to Florida. Judge Bill Hopkins said he had gotten a call from Wife Lila asking how long I had to be gone before she could have me declared legally dead.

Since I was headed that way, Mother said she’d follow me in her car (for the record, she may be 90, but she’s still a good driver) over to her trailer on Kentucky Lake so I could help her turn on the water and check for any problems.

Not surprisingly, it took me longer than anticipated to get everything loaded in my van. Because of the late start, we didn’t waste any time sightseeing along the way. I did bang off a couple of frames as we headed over the Ohio River bridge leaving Cairo for Wickliffe. You can tell that it’s about as wide as the old Cape Mississippi River Bridge (plus it’s got that crazy 90-degree bend on the Kentucky end).

35 years

The pipes at the trailer froze winter before last, so she had to have them replaced. When I went to turn on the water, nothing happened. After much head scratching and mosquito swatting, I discovered that they had moved the main shutoff valve. I decided to stay there overnight instead of pressing on to Nashville as I had planned.

By coincidence, we were there on August 7, 35 years to the day when Dad had a heart attack at the lake and died. When folks posted stories this week about it being the week that Elvis died, I tell ’em that my dad died that week too; the difference is that I don’t miss Elvis.

We were going to eat breakfast, but the place we planned on stopping at was closed, so we said our goodbyes at a gas station. I’m getting a little better at the teenage girl self-portrait thing. My arm must be getting longer.

More narrow bridges

I’m glad I’m not pulling a travel trailer or driving an 18-wheeler. These bridges linking sections of the Land Between the Lakes are narrow and showing their age. At one time, I could have told you what body of water these cross, but I have long ago jettisoned that knowledge.

I covered the aftermath of the Silver Bridge collapse on Dec. 15, 1967. The eyebar-chain suspension bridge linking Point Pleasant, W Va., and Gallipolis, Oh., failed while it was filled with rush-hour holiday shoppers. Forty-six people died in the icy waters of the Ohio River.

When I cross a bridge with a lot of rust on it, I wonder whether it’s cosmetic or whether it’s another Silver Bridge waiting to happen.

Photo gallery of Kentucky bridges

I think the shadows of the bridge structure are interesting. I have to admit I wasn’t doing any careful composing. I was just holding the camera with one hand and trying to keep from scraping the bridge railing with the other. I didn’t see the shadows until I saw them on the computer screen. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.