Vote Yes Financials

I was forwarded the financials for the Keller ISD “Vote Yes” bond today and since Bud Kennedy, FWST and Keller Citizen will all report on the Vote No financials, I thought I’d put up a post on the Vote Yes folks.

You can tell by looking at their financials that they gathered most of their money from Architects and General Contractors that are in line to get hundreds of millions in contracts if the bond passes. They will tout that the Vote No money came from out of district, but look at the numbers and you will see other than a handful of folks, all of their money comes from people that are going to line their pockets.

Ask yourself why the cost of building a school is estimated to be $260/sq ft? Ask yourself why KISD doesn’t put out their jobs to bid, but rather “negotiates” their professional services (architects and engineers) and uses the same General Contractors with a scheme called “Contract Manager at Risk” that doesn’t require them to competitively bid the work?

Ask yourself why the leader of the Pro Bond folks is Liberal Democrat Shane Hardin, a man so vile that even the Tarrant County Democratic Party distances himself from him?

And finally ask yourself if they have such great grassroots support, why are they paying somebody $1,750 to put up their road signs? I’ve worked on too many campaigns to count, and the only time we ever had professional sign folks were in State Senate races and above, ones where the area was too large to coordinate sign placements. I guess if you are used to spending other people’s money, it’s easy to spend a paltry $1,750 on sign placement.

 

ProBondFinancial10.27

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You Might Start With An Apology

The Mayor of Keller released this statement today about the upcoming election:

As mayor, I need your help!


Keller voters will be selecting a new city council member in the Nov. 4 election. Three gentlemen — Armin Mizani, Frank Roszell and Christopher Whatley — are running to finish the Place 2 term of resigned Councilman Gary Reaves, and the victor will presumably run for re-election next May to serve a full three-year term. So whom will I be supporting? It’s a common enough question of late, but one I won’t be answering publicly.
Our election this past spring took a toll on this community. Lines were drawn, sides were chosen, and arguments broke out among neighbors and friends. That’s not what I want for Keller. This community is at its best when its citizens are working toward common goals and their elected representatives are focused on the best interests of the entire city.


Going into meetings with each of the candidates, my considerations were these: I want someone open-minded, who will listen to all of our citizens and thoughtfully weigh the pros and cons of each issue; I want someone creative, focused on putting their time and effort into finding solutions rather than building obstacles; I want someone invested in the long-term success of Keller, whose interest in public service extends beyond a single issue or outcome; and I want someone willing to put in the time, understanding that the goals we have as a community take planning, debate and dedication to accomplish.


What are your considerations? Have you met all three candidates? Researched their platforms? Listened open-mindedly to those citizens who disagree with you to gain additional perspective?
Voting is a privilege, but it is also a responsibility. I challenge you to take that responsibility seriously in the weeks ahead. Don’t let a neighbor, an email, an endorsement or even your spouse (sorry, honey!) make up your mind for you; and don’t let life’s daily commitments keep you from the polls. You owe that to yourself, your family and this community.


So I hope you understand why, as mayor, I won’t be endorsing a candidate this fall. I look forward to joining you at the polls to make this decision together, and to welcoming and working alongside whomever our citizens select.
Mayor of Keller Mark Mathews

Let’s take a minute to break down his statement. First, Mr. Mayor, you were complicit in tearing this community apart. Not just during the election cycle, where you were part of a very dirty campaign, one that sunk to new lows in Keller. You were complicit in Keller drawing battleground based upon whether they lived north of Johnson Road or south.

Hey, campaigns are campaigns, and you could be forgiven for a hard fought win, but you continued your scorched earth policy once in office. You summarily dismissed all the boards and commission members and replaced them with your political cronies. Over 200 years of experience of volunteers serving this community were flushed down the drain. Citizens that had worked for multiple administrations, people that were far from politically active and who just wanted to serve the community. And you did this with such a lack of transparency to make the whole town distrust your leadership. You were even forced by City staff to contact members that had served the community for 25 years!

You and the current members are so petty, that you haven’t even issued the plaques to the former Council members and the former Mayor. They lay sitting in a city office. But you want the citizens to move on past the last election but you can’t move past it yourself.

You also looked the other way when good employees were forced out of their jobs, and when the City Manager decided his neck was the next one to be chopped he headed for the door as well. Now you are in a pickle, the town that is in jeopardy of not finding a good candidate for City Manager. If I were you, I’d be calling Dan O’Leary and getting him in there to offer you some advice on how to turn around the City. Because if the next City Manager isn’t a strong one, the whole City has a better than even chance of becoming a high income Watauga. Stuck in cycle after cycle of infighting and developers running for the doors. Nobody in their right mind would invest millions of dollars in a project in Keller right now, and you know it.

Now where do you find yourself? With no allies on Council other than Barnes, and Dodge and Bryan looking to add to their craziness roster. You are desperate and it shows.

Well Mr. Mayor, if you want to bring the community back together, start by issuing an apology to the citizens for your deeds these last eight months.

Otherwise, you are barking up the wrong tree by trying to come hat in hand to save your own ass without first admitting your part in this.

And let me add this, Mr. Mayor, voting isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. There is a huge distinction.

 

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Memories from my Aunt Janet

When I was young, my grandfather still farmed the “Donley Place” and I drove the Massey Harris and Massey Ferguson tractors that my grandfather had purchased when my mom and my aunt were younger. He used those tractors to the day he died.

My mom is still very “thrifty” to this day, and her biggest fear has always been to be poor again.

Donley Place 1955
Donley Place 1955

The Summer That Changed our Life, written by Jan Janet Bollheimer and edited by Barb MIller
The Summer Visit That Changed Our Family’s Life

A golden field of oat stubble was the site of our memorable summer picnic dinner. It was the summer of 1951. Mom had prepared fried chicken in her aluminum Dutch oven pan and wrapped the pan in newspapers to keep it hot for our hour journey to what might become our new home. We made our journey in Dad’s old, black 1930’s Ford coupe which Dad had bought used—three girls, ages 10-7, squished together in the back seat and young Kenny sitting in the front, bench seat between Mom and Dad. The hour-long journey took us from our river home near Pontiac, Illinois, through the villages of Saunemin and Cullom, and north on what was known as the “one way slab” to a farm near the village of Herscher, Illinois. Where we were going on this sunny day and what we found at the end of that road and the tremendous affect it had on our lives is the essence of this story which so much resembles Laura Ingalls Wilders’ book, Little House on the Prairie.
Dad was to rent and farm the land where we had our picnic. The land was 160 acres of fertile land albeit peppered with lots of small rocks left as the glacier moved through the area a millennium before. The like-new two story house with four bedrooms and outhouse became our happy home for the next six years.
We were so glad that Dad and Mom had liked the farm on that Sunday in July, 1951. Later that same summer, we moved our meager belongings from our flood-ravaged, river home on the Vermillion River to the flatlands near Kankakee. A small, spring-fed creek on the new property was the only water that might get out of its bank, but it would not take out our entire cash crop, gardens, and destroy our home and outbuildings as had the swift moving Vermillion River on July 10th, 1950.
Barb remembers that she asked one of our cousins who drove the cattle truck with our belongings on it, “Where are we going?” The driver replied, “Why, to Herscher, your new home.” Barb thought he said, “Hershey” and she was thrilled to hear that we were moving to the land where the Hershey bars were made!
I can remember two teenage cousins singing Harry Bellefonte’s “Shrimp Boats are a Coming”, as they unloaded our valued family heirloom library table into the large living room. The rest of the furniture they helped unload were only the basics— beds, a couch, and table and chairs which Dad purchased at farm auctions throughout the years.
Life-long friends, Glen and Lucille Ahrends from Greymont, IL, brought a delicious meat loaf dinner for our movers and stayed in the afternoon to help. Lucille worked with Mom as they set up and made the beds. Glen and Dad made another trip to the river house to load the cows, chickens, and Troubles, our dog. The animals were set into their new barn, chicken house, and shed.
Functionality was the theme of our Depression-Era like family. What little money there was Mom and Dad spent on seed and gasoline for the tractor and feed for the animals, not nice furniture or clothing or store-brought food. Actually, during those first years on the Herscher farm, the only food purchases at the local grocery store in Herscher (where the clerk took the food down from the shelves as you asked for it) were flour, sugar, and coffee. Everything else was made at home or came from our farm, orchards, and garden. But we had love and cared for each other and were encouraged to think out of the box when making decisions.
We kids started school in late August, getting on the school bus for our long ride to the new Herscher Grade School. I was in fifth grade, Barb in third grade, Jeanne in second grade, and Kenny in first grade. Dad got on the school bus that first morning to tell the driver that Kenny had trouble walking up and down the steps and to ask the driver to protect him, “Please”. Kenny was born with cerebral palsy and had very limited use of his right arm and hand and his right heel cord was shorter than normal, so he walked with a limp.
At school, we registered ourselves telling our teachers that our last school was Oswego. The Herscher Schools offered a classroom for each grade all in the one building and a cafeteria with hot food and a very nice, indoor bathroom! We had come from a very rural school where, although we did have bus service, two grades were housed in each old, one-room school house that had been pulled to the site from throughout the township for a consolidated school called Oswego. Each teacher was responsible for two grades in each building. For lunch each day, we only had cold sandwiches. For us, that meant two pieces of bread spread with Mom’s homemade grape jelly. So you can imagine what having a hot school lunch meant to us.
The teachers at Herscher encouraged us to complete projects related to our readings (our favorite was a multiple page marketing booklet to invite families to our Colorado dude ranch) and to collect, label, and make books of wild flowers, insects, leaves, and rocks. We learned and recited poems like Eugene Fields’ “Three Men in a Tub” and “If” by Rupert Kipling. We picked up a handful of dirt at recess and learned it was part of the Mississippi River Basin. We made friends and giggled for what seemed like the first time.
Some Sunday afternoons, we visited Aunt Grace in Cullom and loved to watch the “Sealtest Circus” on her television set. We asked Dad if might get a television. We were just starting over financially and money was at a premium. But that fall, there was a lot of ear corn left in the fields after the harvest. It could be picked up, put on a wagon, and sold at the local elevator. A deal was struck amongst us kids with Dad. I would drive the old Massey Harris tractor and pull a grain wagon. (Dad had brought the old Massey from the river farm.) The three younger kids would pick up the field corn left in the field and throw it into the wagon. All of us kids bundled up on three cold Saturdays in November and picked up the ears of corn left in the field. As part of our bargain, when we had filled the wagon, Dad would decide whether we had collected corn to purchase a television. It turned out there was enough money and Dad kept his promise as he always would. In early December, Dad and Mom brought home a new cabinet black and white television set that took up a lot of room in our living room. Entering the front room after getting off the bus, we saw it! “Pinky Lee” was on and then “Howdy Dowdy”, brought in by the “rabbit ears” setting atop the cabinet. A few weeks later Dad put together a huge outdoor antenna and set it in the ground beside our house to get better reception. From this experience we learned trust and the necessity of a work ethic to meet our family goals and to get something we wanted. In retrospect, I doubt very much whether that wagon full of corn entirely paid for the TV, but it taught us valuable lessons.
There was no discrimination against females in farming in the 1950’s. If you could reach the pedals, you could drive a tractor, either as a boy or girl. As a farm kid you were expected to help out on the farm with the animals and the garden, whether you liked it or not.
Barb reminded me of the afternoon on the Donley Place which is how the farm outside Herscher was known to us as, when she was only ten years old. Her job was to drive the old Massie Harris tractor. The tractor had a dangerous design. The two front wheels were close together and located under the front of the engine. Two back tires were large and set high under a small fender on the sides of the seat when Barb drove the tractor over a curved ditch on the farm. Barb had driven a tractor at the river since she was six, but this day, the ditch won. I saw the tractor begin to lean over and was scared to death! Petite, but muscular, Barb kept her hands on the wheel and did not leave her seat. The tractor was not damaged and was up-righted. Soon afterward Dad purchased an Allis Chambers tractor with evenly spaced four wheels, safer for all.
Dad found us a spot at the local 4-H club, the Milks Grove Farmerettes. We met neighbor girls and worked side-by-side with our 4-H leaders to learn how to make simple meals and how to sew an elastic band skirt and fringed scarf. We learned to give speeches and demonstrations and take on responsibilities as officers in the club.He loved his ten Guernsey dairy cows which we needed for milk. We consumed the milk and used it to make butter and then sold what we didn’t use to a dairy hauler. But, he dreamed of having a herd of registered, beef cattle and he devised a plan in his head to achieve that goal.
At that point in time, there were separate 4-H clubs for boys and girls, but girls could join one or both. I don’t remember any boys being in the girls’ club. Dad purchased $200 young, registered Hereford heifers for us. Dad was thrifty and knew how to “drive a good deal.” These first 2 Herefords fit his budget and fit his ultimate goal of owning a registered beef herd.
We joined the Milks Grove Farmers club and took on took additional leadership responsibility and exhibited our heifers at the Iroquois County 4-H Fair in July. But we also had to get our brownies made, vegetables canned, clothing projects completed, and posters made for our Brownie camera photo display before we could load our calves in Dad’s old cattle truck for the fair in Milford, an hours drive away. We were able to dress in pants at the fair, for this was a working experience. We hung out with the guys at the fair and ate free pickles and drank water at the church food stand. There was no money for us to eat at the food stands in the early days, nor to take a cooling spin on the carnival rides.
Before showing our cattle, we had to bathe them. We used Wisk for that. Wisk was a liquid detergent that was launched in 1956. We didn’t use it for the family laundry because it was too expensive. But Dad bought it and we used it on our beautiful red and white Hereford calves because he thought it made the white on the cows’ manes and spots extra white. After scrubbing the heifers up well, we rinsed them down with a hose, curry-combed their hair into pretty waves, and teased up the ends of their tails before taking them into the show ring before the critical, sharp eyed judges.
We showed our gentle, tuned down horned cows, Mickey and Cally, for the judges who evaluated them on their build and for our showmanship with the animals. We worked with our calves weeks prior to the fair leading them in donated Purina Halters and squaring their legs with a specially designed stick while holding their heads just high enough to show off their best qualities. Dad taught us to follow the judge’s eyes and to make sure that we looked at him and so did our cattle. We talked quietly to the cows to calm them and to get them to lead in a circle with seamless motion, without any jerking actions. We used the stick not only to square off the calf’s legs just right, but to rub their bellies while the judge was looking. Dad taught us how to humbly receive blue and a few purple rosette ribbons for our animals and for showmanship. We generally got A’s on our home economics projects too.
During that time we met a wonderful lady who had just moved to our neighborhood. Daphane had a crippled left arm caused by a recent case of polio. She maneuvered her left hand easily with her right hand. Daphane took us under her wing and taught us how to sew beautiful dresses with difficult patterns and techniques for our 4-H projects. We loved patient and creative Daphane as she created the tradition of Christmas fudge-making night’s tradition, taught us to use our home grown eggs for the best chiffon cakes, and how to use our home grown hamburger and catsup for the sloppy joe recipe that we use to this day. On a side note which shows how close all our lives are connected, Daphane’s husband, Felix, used to date our Mom in southern IL White County before she met our Dad. Felix also worked at General Foods when Barb worked there for a short time in the early 60’s and he worked with Barb’s future mother-in-law, Grandma Cuz, for many years. They became friends as well. It is a small world.
Mom and Dad were both entrepreneurs in their day. Dad, of course, farmed his 160 acres but also rented another 120 acre plot across the road from the Donley Place where he planted oats, corn, and soybeans. Dad was known in the area as a good farmer, knowing when to plant, cultivate, and reap. Five farmers in the immediate area of the section owned large pieces of farm equipment together, not new equipment but used equipment. The largest was the huge threshing machine they brought to our back forty of oats. When Mom and we four kids brought lunch to the threshers, we saw the dusty chaff from the oats thrown out the rear of that huge, roaring machine. The men took a short break and ate the roast beef dinner with homemade pie that we set out on the straw wagon.
Our neighbors, Jimmy Bowers; Kenny Walsh; Clyde Carmain; Mike Kroll; and Bill Stone worked together to bale hay, harvest corn and shell the corn. (Corn was not shelled in the field then as it is now. It was harvested on the cob and put in cribs that way. Later, the corn was shelled by a special “shelling” machine and then hauled to the elevator to sell.)
The men always ate well at each house where they worked. A lunch was brought to the field at ten in the morning, a full meal was eaten at the dining table of the host family, and another lunch was taken to the field about three. Guess who worked with Mom to prepare all of this food? Barb and I. Mom made three or four kinds of pies each day and began the roast early. We kids made salads and sandwiches, set the dining table, and made the Kool Aid (in later years and before that ice water) and coffee. The only exception was that for Jimmy Bowers we made tea because he had to have it for his ulcers. What a production!
Did I mention that I was driving the car in the fields and on the back roads when I was 13? Lunches had to be taken to the men in the fields. Mom did not drive.
Mom was an entrepreneur too. She bought baby chicks and raised them to become hens which lay eggs in her hen house. She was picky in the way the eggs were gathered so as not to anger the hens. I did not like picking up eggs, so Barb and I cased the eggs for the “egg man” that came to the farm every week to purchase them. Mom wrote down every transaction for the ten or so years she collected funds for us kids. Her egg book is still part of our family legacy. The roosters on the other hand, when they reached the right size, were killed, feathers picked after being plunked into a cauldron of hot water, and cut up to be frozen or for meals like the one that we brought with us to the farm in the summer of 1951. Of course, we were expected to help with that operation. Barb has a hard time eating chicken to this day because it brings to her mind that awful smell of hot feathers.
You see that Mom used that money for our hot lunches, our class rings, our yearbooks, our school clothes, and any special dresses we needed for church or school dances and graduation. Barb and I wore one of those special dresses on a 4-H trip to dine at Chicago’s Marshall Fields’ Walnut Room and to tour the Cracker Jack Factory.
When I joined the Methodist Church, Mom took me to Pontiac to J.C. Penney’s for a new dress. I wore that dress for my eighth grade graduation when three of my classmates and shy me were asked to compose and read the “Eighth Grade Will and Prophecy”. We wrote the Will and Prophecy on our own during the Saturdays in May. (Barb was also chosen by Mrs. Dickman, our eighth grade teacher and principal to write and read the “Eighth Grade Will and Prophecy” at her graduation.) The summer after my 8th grade graduation, I went with our Methodist Church and the rest of the new confirmation class to the Chicago Pacific Garden Mission to see a live radio broadcast. The broadcast depicted how Skid Row residents were being rehabbed by the mission. I think the church was trying to show us that drinking could lead to a life of ruination.
Mom rarely used her money to buy anything for herself. There was no money in the family budget for these special trips and dresses, rings, etc. from the cash crops Dad raised. It was Mom who provided them for us kids by the chickens that she raised. And we appreciated and loved her for all that she did to make our dreams come true.
This farm, five miles from any town, was a wonderful spot for our family. We rode our bikes, waxed down a fallen metal roof with waxed paper and slid hours on it, played kick the can in the evening with cousins, watched Dad “dowse” for water with a young sapling, cut delicious asparagus from an old, overrun cemetery up the road a bit, climbed fruit trees in our own orchard, played in the small creek on hot days, milked cows with and without a machine, and started our 4-H adventure. We learned to be a kid as well as a young adult on this working farm of the 50’s in Central Illinois.
I truly believe that our family had more opportunities available at this new place than if we had stayed on the scary, river farm in Livingston County. That sunny day, sitting on a worn comforter in the oat stubble, eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes led to our Dad’s decision that the Donley Place was where we should make our home. The house and buildings of that farm are long gone, but Rich, Barb’s husband, went back one time and picked up some rocks from the area where the house has stood and she has them in her flower garden as a remembrance of the good times we shared there.The Summer That Changed our Life, written by Jan Janet Bollheimer and edited by Barb MIller
The Summer Visit That Changed Our Family’s Life
A golden field of oat stubble was the site of our memorable summer picnic dinner. It was the summer of 1951. Mom had prepared fried chicken in her aluminum Dutch oven pan and wrapped the pan in newspapers to keep it hot for our hour journey to what might become our new home. We made our journey in Dad’s old, black 1930’s Ford coupe which Dad had bought used—three girls, ages 10-7, squished together in the back seat and young Kenny sitting in the front, bench seat between Mom and Dad. The hour-long journey took us from our river home near Pontiac, Illinois, through the villages of Saunemin and Cullom, and north on what was known as the “one way slab” to a farm near the village of Herscher, Illinois. Where we were going on this sunny day and what we found at the end of that road and the tremendous affect it had on our lives is the essence of this story which so much resembles Laura Ingalls Wilders’ book, Little House on the Prairie.
Dad was to rent and farm the land where we had our picnic. The land was 160 acres of fertile land albeit peppered with lots of small rocks left as the glacier moved through the area a millennium before. The like-new two story house with four bedrooms and outhouse became our happy home for the next six years.
We were so glad that Dad and Mom had liked the farm on that Sunday in July, 1951. Later that same summer, we moved our meager belongings from our flood-ravaged, river home on the Vermillion River to the flatlands near Kankakee. A small, spring-fed creek on the new property was the only water that might get out of its bank, but it would not take out our entire cash crop, gardens, and destroy our home and outbuildings as had the swift moving Vermillion River on July 10th, 1950.
Barb remembers that she asked one of our cousins who drove the cattle truck with our belongings on it, “Where are we going?” The driver replied, “Why, to Herscher, your new home.” Barb thought he said, “Hershey” and she was thrilled to hear that we were moving to the land where the Hershey bars were made!
I can remember two teenage cousins singing Harry Bellefonte’s “Shrimp Boats are a Coming”, as they unloaded our valued family heirloom library table into the large living room. The rest of the furniture they helped unload were only the basics— beds, a couch, and table and chairs which Dad purchased at farm auctions throughout the years.
Life-long friends, Glen and Lucille Ahrends from Greymont, IL, brought a delicious meat loaf dinner for our movers and stayed in the afternoon to help. Lucille worked with Mom as they set up and made the beds. Glen and Dad made another trip to the river house to load the cows, chickens, and Troubles, our dog. The animals were set into their new barn, chicken house, and shed.
Functionality was the theme of our Depression-Era like family. What little money there was Mom and Dad spent on seed and gasoline for the tractor and feed for the animals, not nice furniture or clothing or store-brought food. Actually, during those first years on the Herscher farm, the only food purchases at the local grocery store in Herscher (where the clerk took the food down from the shelves as you asked for it) were flour, sugar, and coffee. Everything else was made at home or came from our farm, orchards, and garden. But we had love and cared for each other and were encouraged to think out of the box when making decisions.
We kids started school in late August, getting on the school bus for our long ride to the new Herscher Grade School. I was in fifth grade, Barb in third grade, Jeanne in second grade, and Kenny in first grade. Dad got on the school bus that first morning to tell the driver that Kenny had trouble walking up and down the steps and to ask the driver to protect him, “Please”. Kenny was born with cerebral palsy and had very limited use of his right arm and hand and his right heel cord was shorter than normal, so he walked with a limp.
At school, we registered ourselves telling our teachers that our last school was Oswego. The Herscher Schools offered a classroom for each grade all in the one building and a cafeteria with hot food and a very nice, indoor bathroom! We had come from a very rural school where, although we did have bus service, two grades were housed in each old, one-room school house that had been pulled to the site from throughout the township for a consolidated school called Oswego. Each teacher was responsible for two grades in each building. For lunch each day, we only had cold sandwiches. For us, that meant two pieces of bread spread with Mom’s homemade grape jelly. So you can imagine what having a hot school lunch meant to us.
The teachers at Herscher encouraged us to complete projects related to our readings (our favorite was a multiple page marketing booklet to invite families to our Colorado dude ranch) and to collect, label, and make books of wild flowers, insects, leaves, and rocks. We learned and recited poems like Eugene Fields’ “Three Men in a Tub” and “If” by Rupert Kipling. We picked up a handful of dirt at recess and learned it was part of the Mississippi River Basin. We made friends and giggled for what seemed like the first time.
Some Sunday afternoons, we visited Aunt Grace in Cullom and loved to watch the “Sealtest Circus” on her television set. We asked Dad if might get a television. We were just starting over financially and money was at a premium. But that fall, there was a lot of ear corn left in the fields after the harvest. It could be picked up, put on a wagon, and sold at the local elevator. A deal was struck amongst us kids with Dad. I would drive the old Massey Harris tractor and pull a grain wagon. (Dad had brought the old Massey from the river farm.) The three younger kids would pick up the field corn left in the field and throw it into the wagon. All of us kids bundled up on three cold Saturdays in November and picked up the ears of corn left in the field. As part of our bargain, when we had filled the wagon, Dad would decide whether we had collected corn to purchase a television. It turned out there was enough money and Dad kept his promise as he always would. In early December, Dad and Mom brought home a new cabinet black and white television set that took up a lot of room in our living room. Entering the front room after getting off the bus, we saw it! “Pinky Lee” was on and then “Howdy Dowdy”, brought in by the “rabbit ears” setting atop the cabinet. A few weeks later Dad put together a huge outdoor antenna and set it in the ground beside our house to get better reception. From this experience we learned trust and the necessity of a work ethic to meet our family goals and to get something we wanted. In retrospect, I doubt very much whether that wagon full of corn entirely paid for the TV, but it taught us valuable lessons.
There was no discrimination against females in farming in the 1950’s. If you could reach the pedals, you could drive a tractor, either as a boy or girl. As a farm kid you were expected to help out on the farm with the animals and the garden, whether you liked it or not.
Barb reminded me of the afternoon on the Donley Place which is how the farm outside Herscher was known to us as, when she was only ten years old. Her job was to drive the old Massie Harris tractor. The tractor had a dangerous design. The two front wheels were close together and located under the front of the engine. Two back tires were large and set high under a small fender on the sides of the seat when Barb drove the tractor over a curved ditch on the farm. Barb had driven a tractor at the river since she was six, but this day, the ditch won. I saw the tractor begin to lean over and was scared to death! Petite, but muscular, Barb kept her hands on the wheel and did not leave her seat. The tractor was not damaged and was up-righted. Soon afterward Dad purchased an Allis Chambers tractor with evenly spaced four wheels, safer for all.
Dad found us a spot at the local 4-H club, the Milks Grove Farmerettes. We met neighbor girls and worked side-by-side with our 4-H leaders to learn how to make simple meals and how to sew an elastic band skirt and fringed scarf. We learned to give speeches and demonstrations and take on responsibilities as officers in the club.He loved his ten Guernsey dairy cows which we needed for milk. We consumed the milk and used it to make butter and then sold what we didn’t use to a dairy hauler. But, he dreamed of having a herd of registered, beef cattle and he devised a plan in his head to achieve that goal.
At that point in time, there were separate 4-H clubs for boys and girls, but girls could join one or both. I don’t remember any boys being in the girls’ club. Dad purchased $200 young, registered Hereford heifers for us. Dad was thrifty and knew how to “drive a good deal.” These first 2 Herefords fit his budget and fit his ultimate goal of owning a registered beef herd.
We joined the Milks Grove Farmers club and took on took additional leadership responsibility and exhibited our heifers at the Iroquois County 4-H Fair in July. But we also had to get our brownies made, vegetables canned, clothing projects completed, and posters made for our Brownie camera photo display before we could load our calves in Dad’s old cattle truck for the fair in Milford, an hours drive away. We were able to dress in pants at the fair, for this was a working experience. We hung out with the guys at the fair and ate free pickles and drank water at the church food stand. There was no money for us to eat at the food stands in the early days, nor to take a cooling spin on the carnival rides.
Before showing our cattle, we had to bathe them. We used Wisk for that. Wisk was a liquid detergent that was launched in 1956. We didn’t use it for the family laundry because it was too expensive. But Dad bought it and we used it on our beautiful red and white Hereford calves because he thought it made the white on the cows’ manes and spots extra white. After scrubbing the heifers up well, we rinsed them down with a hose, curry-combed their hair into pretty waves, and teased up the ends of their tails before taking them into the show ring before the critical, sharp eyed judges.
We showed our gentle, tuned down horned cows, Mickey and Cally, for the judges who evaluated them on their build and for our showmanship with the animals. We worked with our calves weeks prior to the fair leading them in donated Purina Halters and squaring their legs with a specially designed stick while holding their heads just high enough to show off their best qualities. Dad taught us to follow the judge’s eyes and to make sure that we looked at him and so did our cattle. We talked quietly to the cows to calm them and to get them to lead in a circle with seamless motion, without any jerking actions. We used the stick not only to square off the calf’s legs just right, but to rub their bellies while the judge was looking. Dad taught us how to humbly receive blue and a few purple rosette ribbons for our animals and for showmanship. We generally got A’s on our home economics projects too.
During that time we met a wonderful lady who had just moved to our neighborhood. Daphane had a crippled left arm caused by a recent case of polio. She maneuvered her left hand easily with her right hand. Daphane took us under her wing and taught us how to sew beautiful dresses with difficult patterns and techniques for our 4-H projects. We loved patient and creative Daphane as she created the tradition of Christmas fudge-making night’s tradition, taught us to use our home grown eggs for the best chiffon cakes, and how to use our home grown hamburger and catsup for the sloppy joe recipe that we use to this day. On a side note which shows how close all our lives are connected, Daphane’s husband, Felix, used to date our Mom in southern IL White County before she met our Dad. Felix also worked at General Foods when Barb worked there for a short time in the early 60’s and he worked with Barb’s future mother-in-law, Grandma Cuz, for many years. They became friends as well. It is a small world.
Mom and Dad were both entrepreneurs in their day. Dad, of course, farmed his 160 acres but also rented another 120 acre plot across the road from the Donley Place where he planted oats, corn, and soybeans. Dad was known in the area as a good farmer, knowing when to plant, cultivate, and reap. Five farmers in the immediate area of the section owned large pieces of farm equipment together, not new equipment but used equipment. The largest was the huge threshing machine they brought to our back forty of oats. When Mom and we four kids brought lunch to the threshers, we saw the dusty chaff from the oats thrown out the rear of that huge, roaring machine. The men took a short break and ate the roast beef dinner with homemade pie that we set out on the straw wagon.
Our neighbors, Jimmy Bowers; Kenny Walsh; Clyde Carmain; Mike Kroll; and Bill Stone worked together to bale hay, harvest corn and shell the corn. (Corn was not shelled in the field then as it is now. It was harvested on the cob and put in cribs that way. Later, the corn was shelled by a special “shelling” machine and then hauled to the elevator to sell.)
The men always ate well at each house where they worked. A lunch was brought to the field at ten in the morning, a full meal was eaten at the dining table of the host family, and another lunch was taken to the field about three. Guess who worked with Mom to prepare all of this food? Barb and I. Mom made three or four kinds of pies each day and began the roast early. We kids made salads and sandwiches, set the dining table, and made the Kool Aid (in later years and before that ice water) and coffee. The only exception was that for Jimmy Bowers we made tea because he had to have it for his ulcers. What a production!
Did I mention that I was driving the car in the fields and on the back roads when I was 13? Lunches had to be taken to the men in the fields. Mom did not drive.
Mom was an entrepreneur too. She bought baby chicks and raised them to become hens which lay eggs in her hen house. She was picky in the way the eggs were gathered so as not to anger the hens. I did not like picking up eggs, so Barb and I cased the eggs for the “egg man” that came to the farm every week to purchase them. Mom wrote down every transaction for the ten or so years she collected funds for us kids. Her egg book is still part of our family legacy. The roosters on the other hand, when they reached the right size, were killed, feathers picked after being plunked into a cauldron of hot water, and cut up to be frozen or for meals like the one that we brought with us to the farm in the summer of 1951. Of course, we were expected to help with that operation. Barb has a hard time eating chicken to this day because it brings to her mind that awful smell of hot feathers.
You see that Mom used that money for our hot lunches, our class rings, our yearbooks, our school clothes, and any special dresses we needed for church or school dances and graduation. Barb and I wore one of those special dresses on a 4-H trip to dine at Chicago’s Marshall Fields’ Walnut Room and to tour the Cracker Jack Factory.
When I joined the Methodist Church, Mom took me to Pontiac to J.C. Penney’s for a new dress. I wore that dress for my eighth grade graduation when three of my classmates and shy me were asked to compose and read the “Eighth Grade Will and Prophecy”. We wrote the Will and Prophecy on our own during the Saturdays in May. (Barb was also chosen by Mrs. Dickman, our eighth grade teacher and principal to write and read the “Eighth Grade Will and Prophecy” at her graduation.) The summer after my 8th grade graduation, I went with our Methodist Church and the rest of the new confirmation class to the Chicago Pacific Garden Mission to see a live radio broadcast. The broadcast depicted how Skid Row residents were being rehabbed by the mission. I think the church was trying to show us that drinking could lead to a life of ruination.
Mom rarely used her money to buy anything for herself. There was no money in the family budget for these special trips and dresses, rings, etc. from the cash crops Dad raised. It was Mom who provided them for us kids by the chickens that she raised. And we appreciated and loved her for all that she did to make our dreams come true.
This farm, five miles from any town, was a wonderful spot for our family. We rode our bikes, waxed down a fallen metal roof with waxed paper and slid hours on it, played kick the can in the evening with cousins, watched Dad “dowse” for water with a young sapling, cut delicious asparagus from an old, overrun cemetery up the road a bit, climbed fruit trees in our own orchard, played in the small creek on hot days, milked cows with and without a machine, and started our 4-H adventure. We learned to be a kid as well as a young adult on this working farm of the 50’s in Central Illinois.
I truly believe that our family had more opportunities available at this new place than if we had stayed on the scary, river farm in Livingston County. That sunny day, sitting on a worn comforter in the oat stubble, eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes led to our Dad’s decision that the Donley Place was where we should make our home. The house and buildings of that farm are long gone, but Rich, Barb’s husband, went back one time and picked up some rocks from the area where the house has stood and she has them in her flower garden as a remembrance of the good times we shared there.

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She Likes the Beatles

Shannon and I went to go see William Clark Green in McKinney the other night, must say I was impressed. He’s the next big thing in Red Dirt Country and puts on a hell of a show.

She burns through money like I burn through smokes
But she says that I need to quit
Cause if I die from cancer in 25 years
She’ll have to pay off the debt
No she don’t think I’m funny she don’t laugh at my jokes
I could care less about all her shoes
My parents both hate her but it evens out
Cause her parents both hate me too

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Waiting on a statement from Bibi Netanyahu

Egypt on Tuesday urged U.S. authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri – echoing language Washington used to caution Egypt as it cracked down on Islamist protesters last year.

It is unusual for Egypt to criticize such a major donor, and it was not immediately clear why the government would have taken such a step.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/egypt-urges-us-restraint-over-missouri-unrest-2014-8#ixzz3ArjDBnuE

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America’s In a Bad Mood

KISD should take note before pushing this huge new bond program, their chance of success is beyond their control to spin the message. The electorate is in a very bad mood.

Polls from major networks, researchers and newspapers agree: America’s in a bad mood.

In just one week, polls found politicians of all stripes are hitting approval numbers with record lows. The president finds himself roughly as popular as a trip to the dentist. The entire Democratic Party gets the thumbs down. Oh, and so does the Republican Party.

But it doesn’t stop there. Americans are also bummed out about the future in general, especially the economy. Things are so low that even an old favorite, sugar, polled poorly.

Pollsters say it all adds up to a country that feels “everything is terrible,” as one put it, a mood that campaigns should consider as they head into the midterm homestretch, when turnout should be all about enthusiasm — not pessimism.

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Bloody Tuesday

From Maureen Hagan on July 1, to all council members:

Although the council has decided to renew my appointment to the Parks and Recreation Board, I am resigning in protest. The termination of volunteer members without cause and before their terms have expired is most troubling. Council’s swift actions are based on personal preferences and disregard the years of volunteer service given by many of Keller’s citizens.

The realignment with Spring elections could have been done through a gradual and systematic rotation of boards by extending or reducing their service by 6 months. Instead, you arbitrarily obliterated existing boards and appointed those with whom you share political ideologies.

The city council is solely responsible for the direction of any municipality. Boards and commissions act in an advisory capacity and have no vote in city matters. Linking appointment tenures and elections gives a perception of cronyism. Diversity as well as city wide representation on boards should be our goal.

As newcomers to the ranks of elected officials, I think you have shown poor judgment and a lack of transparency in this sudden purge of Keller’s boards and commissions.

Maureen Hagan

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Good Ground

I was born and raised on a dirt farm in Iroquois County Illinois. My dad wasn’t a farmer, but his family and my mom’s family were. They grew corn and soy beans, rows and rows across the flat country of North Central Illinois fill my memories of being a kid. My best friend lived three miles away from our place, and it was nothing for me to ride my bike to his house to hang out even as young as 5 years old. My maternal grandfather lived 5 miles away, and it seemed my brothers and I were at his house all the time. He farmed about 500 acres and we started helping him work on the farm at a very early age. Memories of sitting on my uncle’s lap while we plowed fields is still one of my most vivid memories of my early life.

I remember my mom warning us not to play in the cornfields as we could get lost and not find our way home. I always thought it was silly as the rows were perfect paths back home, and if you went the wrong way, you would just have to turn around and go the ½ mile from the fence line back the other way.

When I was about 8, we moved off the farm and started our journey moving all over the world. When I was back in Illinois for my Grandmother’s funeral, the same thing that always does popped into my mind. What if my mother hadn’t taken the job working for the US Army? What if we had stayed in Iroquois County? What would I be doing today?

It is a very hard question to answer, and what changes the outcome even more is soon after we left the farm my grandfather died. It changed everything in our world, and if we were still living there I don’t know what direction our life would have taken. I wouldn’t change our experiences moving around and seeing the world for anything, and some days I still have that feeling of a nomad pop up.

For years I’ve spent weekends out driving around the country looking at places to buy, some small and some large. There is still that pull to go back to a farm and live the simpler lifestyle but as I age, the realization that I will never again live on a farm becomes more real with every passing day. I’ve become citified. Hell, I pay somebody to mow my grass at my house, let alone take care of a larger place.

Anyways, what brought this on, is I heard a song from about 10 years ago this morning that brought back a lot of memories. When this CD from Montgomery Gentry came out, Nicholas was travelling the nation playing baseball. I still remember driving the down the highways in our Suburban listening to this CD with the truck full of teenagers headed to a tournament somewhere. The first time I heard the song it brought in a flood of emotions about where I grew up. Now when I listen to it, it brings back a flood of memories of those days watching the boys play ball, but it also confirms that I have put my roots down once and for all.

 

 


 

 

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