It rained last night

Sorry sailors on open decks curse the rain which tender corn, worrying farmers and losing ballplayers wish for in vain.

It rained last night in the Land of Oz. Farmers, birds, and the sweltering crowds at a ball game all celebrate the event especially if their team is losing.

lightning-2

Back in the Saddle Again

Years pass.

All fades to shades of what once was and now is nothing but a distant memory. Now, I am thinking back to college and the friends I knew. The times were good because all was new.

 

I’ve been wondering if you wondered where I’ve been. Well, I’ve been here and there, mostly there, but now I am back, back in the saddle again.

Back in the saddle

I don’t suppose I have much new to add.

Just remember, no matter how much time passes between our meetings, no matter what takes place in the meantime, some things we can never assign to the trashcan, memories are like embers in the fireplace, and there is always a spark to rekindle the flame.

But I will leave you with Gene Autry’s lyrics from Back in the Saddle Again. Take from them what you will. Better yet, add something to the pot, like passing travelers did on the trail.

I`m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again

Ridin` the range once more
Totin` my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh
Rockin` to and fro
Back in the saddle again
Whoopi-ty-aye-yay
I go my way
Back in the saddle again

I`m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again

Ridin` the range once more
Totin` my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh

Rockin` to and fro

Back in the saddle again

Whoopi-ty-aye-yay

I go my way

Back in the saddle again

Iola Theater

[I’ll get back to World War I in a bit. War is hell and I need a break.]

You may not be an angel
Cause angels are so few
But until the day that one comes along
I’ll string along with you
I looking for an angel
To sing my love song to
And until the day that one comes along
I’ll sing my song to you
For every little fault that you have
Say I’ve got three or four…

“I’ll String Along with You” by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, 1934
iola-theater
Historic Iola Kelley Theater, Iola, Kansas

The man from Oz was leaving Kansas by way of highway 54, heading towards the Lake of the Ozarks for a much need rest, and, along the way was Iola and the Iola Theatre.

Oz got to thinking. Thoughts of his recent trip to Belgium and France and the battlefields of Flanders put aside for the moment.

Perfection doesn’t exist, Oz thinks. It is an ideal, not a reality. Michael Jordan was a good basketball player, but not perfect. Others have come along after him, and still more. Last year, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors had a good season, but not good enough. Still, the search for perfection goes on. But, life is a moving, breathing thing, constantly changing. So, achieving perfection is like achieving the speed of light. The closer one gets, the harder it gets to close the gap.

That said, until the day the perfect image of a 1930’s theater comes along, I’ll pick the Iola Theater. It’s got its faults, but so do I.

And what do we know about Iola?

theater-mask
Iola Theater, Grand Opening

It has a facebook page which you should check out. Their Facebook page touts this classic image of the Grand Opening.

The Kelley Theatre in Iola was appended to and located just south of the Hotel Kelley (demolished in 1972) off Iola’s main square. The theater got a facelift and on May 19, 1934, the grand opening featured “20 Million Sweathearts” starring Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. Sadly, the Art Deco marquee is gone, replace one that doesn’t do the theater justice.

Keep in mind, 1934 was the heart of the Great Depression. Twenty two percent unemployment was the norm. Bing Crosby had a #1 hit song with “Buddy Can you Spare me a Dime.”

“20 Million Sweethearts” featured Dick and Ginger in a sweet duet singing the upbeat and still popular song “I’ll String Along with You”. And if you like Dick and Ginger, check out the Mills Brothers singing along with Dick in “Out for No Good.”

“Movies are for feeling good,” says Oz.

20-million-sweethearts-poster
20 Million Sweetheats poster

Coming and going – the diary of Abbie Bright

eight-stagecoach-poster
stagecoach

They came to Kansas, at first by horse or on foot, then by wagon or by stage coach for the trains had not yet laid their tracks. They followed the deer and the bison. They followed the rivers to virgin lands and felled the trees and plowed the earth. And they waited. Waited for the rain to nourish the crops.The summer nights were hot and winter cold. They slept fitfully in sod homes or cabins made of wood, fearful of what the next day would bring, a prairie fire, a hail storm or tornado, a cloud of grasshoppers which could blanket the earth and consume all their hard work.

The Native Americans who had lived on the prairies for untold millennia saw their coming and knew too soon that their days and the days of the buffalo would soon end. Those that came made promises they didn’t keep and the Indians were tricked, cajoled, and forced to give up their lands and leave.

abbie-bright-portrait
Abbie Bright

From the east they came and some stayed and some did not. They came, bright eyed, full of confidence, looking forward to a better future. Nature did not always make it easy. Prairie fires, grasshoppers, and drought took its toll, and even the simple unexpected accident of a careless rider might cost a life, but the most unrelenting challenge was illness that came in the night and stole a life.

matilda-poster.jpg
Still they came and labored and conquered. Those that lived buried their dead and looked to a better day.

_____________________

The Kansas Historical Society has preserved the Diary of Abbie Bright. In 1870, she came to Kansas from Danville, Pennsylvania to visit her brother Phillip who had taken up a claim near Clearwater in Sdegwick County, Kansas.

The diary makes for good reading.

Here is a short excerpt from July of 1871.

July 2 — Last evening I saw a deer leap over the sand hills. A shower is coming, we need rain badly. The boys brought more wild plums. They are nice, not like the wild plums East. They are more like our tame red plums.

[July] 3rd — I had expected to spend the 4th at home. Saw Jake to day, and he says there is to be a picnic down at the old Indian Encampment, and all the neighborhood is invited. Mr. Smith is coming for me ct. Baked in a.m. Good bread. How Philip enjoys it. Called at Roses [Ross’] this p.m. Mr. R [oss] gave me a snake rattle with 10 buttons, It must have been a big snake. Mosquitos so bad I must stop.

[July] 4th –The glorious fourth, not a cloud in the sky. Mr. Smith came for me with a two horse wagon, and we took other women along on the way. There were two dozen there counting the children. Five or six bachelors, I the only single woman — the rest married folks and children.

Of course they teas me. They think I am an old maid. 22 and not married. Girls marry so young out here.

As I have no stove — they had sent me word not to do any baking. Mrs. Rose [Ross], Mrs. Lane and Mrs. Springer [Summers] had all baked a plenty. Then we had canned fruit, lemonadade — coffee and roast meats. A swing for the children, gay conversation for the elders

I am tired this evening. Philip did not go to the picnic.

The Diary of Abbie Bright

Abbie took out a claim on 160 acres but did not stay but returned to her her other brother’s home in Iowa, where she settled down and married. Phillip moved on from Clearwater to Texas and then to Arizona. He was murdered for his money.

The digitized diary of Abbie Bright
 

Stop worrying you’ll never get out of this world alive

I was a child of ten visiting my grandparents’ home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A sign in the house read, “Stop worrying, you’ll never get out of this world alive.” The irony was that this was a time in my life when the Apollo astronauts were circling the earth and sending back never before seen images of our tiny planet earth.

John Glenn, the first American to leave the planet Earth and circle it is now retired and 94 years of age, thinking no doubt of once more “slipping the surly bonds of Earth.”

bazaar-sign
Bazaar cemetery, Bazaar, Kansas

 

A trip on Highway 177 at Bazaar, one passes the old school house and cemetery on the west side of the road. At sunset the image is heavenly.

How does the green grass know to grow?

 

blade-grass-24

 

A blade of grass in spring
Waves merrily in the breeze
As if to say, eat me

A bright blade of green grass
eagerly grow
Until it is mowed

dirt-road-poster

I see the green grass in spring
I hear the songbird sing
But best is the warmth of the sun after a long winter

The south wind blows
The green grass grows
The good earth knows it’s spring

 

Thoughts on a Thistle

<
swallowtail_24

What images and thoughts come to mind when seeing a butterfly alight on a prickly thistle?

Prickly is the purple thistle
To birds and beasts and man
But not the butterfly

Or,

Oh Mary in her purple gown
Has a visitor today,
A thistle blooms in May

Or,

Each flower blooms and waits
For a butterfly – to come, to sit, and sip,
Then to fly away

Or, finally

The gentle summer wind blows
Not half as sweet as the nectar of a flower
To a butterfly

Encore,

Purple thistle, gently kissed
By a Swallowtail butterfly
Summer’s pleasant, winter’s not

swallowtail_nose_bright

Who in the hell are you, Jan Franz Van Husum

The_Nightwatch_by_Rembrandt-crop-2
Jan Franz Van Husum as I picture him

 

Genealogy and Ancestry.com being all the rage today, I got to wondering how my wife’s first known ancestor, Jan Franz Van Husum, got his name. This got me to wondering how anybody gets a name and then why names are necessary to begin with.

“Who in the hell are you?”

It is a question everyone is asked at some point in their life. Usually it arises when one person is lording it over another as in, “You need to leave this party!” or “You don’t know what the f*%$ you are talking about.” In both cases the offended party is wondering who in the hell is the person telling them off.

“Why should I listen to you?” one is thinking as if politeness doesn’t matter.

A name is nothing more than a descriptive word for an object, a convenience so we can remember who it is we are talking to which becomes especially important when we have to describe one person to another. When names don’t exist we are left with vague and inexact description we hear in every police report of an unknown subject – average height, normal complexion, brown eyes, no distinguishing features. Not exactly helpful.

Nope, it is easier to say “John, or Peter, or Paul” and better to add a last name to the first so that we don’t confuse the thousands of Johns, Peters, and Pauls. But how did John, Peter, and Paul get their names in the first place. We are all familiar with Jesus’ naming of Simon as Peter. Peter meant rock, and Jesus, by giving Simon the name “Peter” meant to symbolize that Peter was the foundation upon which Christ was going to build his church. Although in English, we have lost the understanding of the word Peter as rock, one can go to French where the name Peter is Piere, and “piere” in French is also the word for rock.

Jesus Christ, is it that simple?

And by the way, “Christ” is the Greek word for savior, so we simply have, in shorthand, Jesus, the savior mankind.

One could go through all the old names and come up with an origin. New parents love to still do this with baby names, and so, wanting to name a girl Hannah, discover that its original meaning was “she knows” or something like that.
In naming a child, the American Indian usually looked for a sign. Spotted Wolf has gathered quite a few Indian first names and if you want to give your child an Indian name you can go see their meaning at his web page.
http://www.snowwowl.com/swolfNAnamesandmeanings2.html

Louis L’amour, writer of American western fiction, tells a similar story of cowhands in the early west who often went through life without a last name and often with a nickname picked up on the trail, and so many a Slim, Kid, Doc, Lefty, and Deadeye was born.

“Who in the hell are you?” took on new meaning if you were addressing Billy the “Kid” and not just a kid named Billy.

A relatively new phenomenon is that in the American black community of naming children with a mixture of names. There is a website for that too and there one can find in the “j’s” alone, coming in at 228 to 232:

228 Jekeil
229 Jeoffrey
230 Jeremias
231 Jerquis
232 Jervonte
more names

I suppose that the naming comes from a desire to stand out from the pack, to shed oneself of the white man’s naming system and start fresh. And to this end we shed the Elmers and Oscars and Horatios, the Mabels, Hatties, and Violets and adopt new monikers.

 

There is also a desire to step up in class like the Prussians and Dutch did by adding a simple ”von” or “van” to a name. Or take Rumpelstiltskin, Aloyisious, or Rapunzel as examples of medieval Europeans wanting to sound a little more important.

 

All this name calling reminds one of the Jim Croce 1973 hit I’ve got a name, whose lyrics go, “Like the pine trees lining the winding road / I got a name, I got a name / Like the singing bird and the croaking toad / I got a name, I got a name.” And in another song Croce goes on to explain how Big Bad Leroy Brown got his name.

Strings of names matter only if one wants to sound important. Take Queen Elizabeth II, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, or her son Charles, born Charles Philip Arthur George, and also occasionally by Mountbatten-Windsor or his title Prince of Wales. And to keep other constituents happy, he is also known in Scotland as Duke of Rothesay and in South West England as Duke of Cornwall.

Maybe to the Brits this is all clear, but to me I would wonder who I am addressing.

So, who in the hell am I? Nothing and no one special, no Billy the Kid, no Doc Holiday, not even a Madonna, or a Lady Gaga, but I got a name my father and mother gave me and I do like to be listened to now and then. All the while, I am thinking that if one speaks the truth it shouldn’t matter where the voice comes from.

But it does. And who the hell you are makes a difference as to whether you get heard. Just ask Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Well, this discussion has taken me far afield from my inquiry into Jan Franz Van Husum.

He was born in 1608, to parents we do not know, from a family unknown, in a country uncertain. His first name was a good Christian name that had been one of a number of names his parents could choose from. As for his last name, he had little need of one. In our daily dealings we often go without calling a friend or loved one by a last name. No need.

The need for Jan arose in 1634, when he got married and was about to board a boat for America. When asked by the register at the church what village he was from he answered from, “Husum,” and when asked his father’s name, said “Franz”.
So we have Jan Franz Van Husum. Isn’t that one hell of a name?

[Over the centuries the last name has been spelled with a few variations, Van Heusen is one of the more popular ones which is still found up in New York and in Pennsylvania. A second spelling is Van Huss, which came into being in North Carolina and spread west tow Tennessee, Texas, and Kansas. Jan and his wife Volkje settled in upstate New York. They are credited with founding the city of Albany.One thing that hasn’t changed much is the face. There is a strong family resemblance that one sees in Rembrant’s painting, The Night Watch. Look for the round face, the red and cheerful cheeks, the angular nose, and the brown hair and eyes.]

The_Nightwatch_by_Rembrandt-crop
Who in the hell are you, Jan Franz Van Husum?

Cofachique, Cofachiqui, Coffechiqui

Odd and old place names on maps are soon forgotten once their usefulness is at an end.

indianRes_detail_sm
Coffechiqui, (Cofachique) Kansas, 1856

 

Having in front of me a map of Indian Reservations in Kansas, 1856, I noticed somewhere near the center the place name “Coffechiqui.”

 

indianReservations_detail
Cofachique, Map of Eastern Kansas 1856

The name is obviously Indian, but search as I might, I could not come up with an exact match. That is when I searched variation of the spelling and came up with Cofachique, Cofachiqui, Coffechiqui, and even Cofitachequi. They are all variations of the name whose origin is Georgia’s “Lady of Cofitachequi.” In 1540 she greeted Hernando DeSoto with pearls from the Savannah River. Her kindness was not returned. He kidnapped her.

What is in a name?

The Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter from Iola, Kansas gives credit to a distant namesake, an Osage Chief by the name Cofachique who helped early settlers.

The truth of this statement is obscure. Cofachique, the Indian chief, if he existed would have been in Kansas in 1856, a gap of more than three hundred years from DeSoto in Georgia. If the name passed down and tribal tales continued the memory, it is not likely that Chief Cofachique would accomodate white settlers since DeSoto kidnapped Georgia’s Cofitachequi.

Then again, stories often change in the retelling.

Cofachique was situated along the Neosho River near the present-day city of Iola. Iola wasn’t there at the time and the place, two log cabins and a couple of lean-tos built by James Barbee and family, was visited by the Reverend Cyrus R. Rice who stayed there for a summer in 1856 and called it “Cofachiqui”. This was a time before civic organizations took on the responsibility of welcoming one to “Cofachiqui” so who knows how Reverend Rice arrived at the spelling. But, the Reverend did give credit to an “Indian Princess” who we have to assume she was Georgia’s “Lady of Cofitachequi.”