Friday, April 7, 2017

Visiting Adlai Stevenson's Grave

My home in Decatur is located about 40 miles from three major central-Illinois cities, the capital Springfield to the west, the home of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana to the east, and Bloomington-Normal to the north. Bloomington's favorite son is for Senator and presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson who grew up in the town and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Stevenson twice was the Democratic Party nominee for president against Dwight Eisenhower and during President Kennedy's administration he served as the U.S. representative to the United Nations. He was there during the Cuban Missile Crisis and famously confronted the Soviet Union representative about missiles in Cuba at the United Nations and i
n front of Stevenson's grave a United Nations flag flies.


Stevenson is really Adlai Stevenson II and he is named after his Grandfather, Adlai Stevenson, who was also as major politician and was actually the Vice President during Grover Cleveland's second term as President. They are buried next to each other in the cemetery.

Adlai Stevenson I's grave. 


Probably the most famous moments of Stevenson's presidential campaigns was when he was photographed with a hole in the bottom of his shoe. Eisenhower capitalized on the moment as representing much more than a presidential candidate too busy to get his shoe repaired or buy a new pair. It is funny to think about the things that the American voter used to care about when choosing their president compared to our current way to doing things.













This is Adlai Stevenson II's rather simple and modest grave. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1965 while still the United Nations representative at a conference in Switzerland.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Mystery Science Theater 3000 Membership Card

My all-time favorite TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, is coming back in April for the Kickstarter backed Season 11. Back in November 2014, Joel Hodgson, the creator and first host of the show, began their fan-funded campaign to bring back the series and I think it is fair to say that the excitement of the idea blew away everyone's expectations. In the end, the Season 11 campaign had over 48,000 backers and raised over $5.7 million dollars. It proved so popular that Netflix bought the project and new episodes begin airing April 14th. 

Here is the trailer to the new season which features all new characters from the original series...except for the bots.


Of course, I donated to the Kickstarter and as part of the perks we could request a MST3K membership card. Mine came in the mail earlier in the year and I'm proud member #42859. 


If you look at the front and scream "I'm not just a number, I'm a human being!" then you can add your name to the reverse side. I don't have the heart to write on it yet but maybe someday. 


There is also a certificate I can print out and they were also sent a Gizmonic Institute sticker add to it. Gizmonic was the backdrop of the original experiments of the series and around the "G" you will notice the Latin phrase "istud scibunt populi veri." With a little research and twisting the meaning slightly it roughly states "the right people will get it" which I think is a perfect sentiment for the series as a whole. 


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Visiting Spottswood Poles Grave In Arlington National Cemetery

This past summer, my wife and I lived in Washington D.C. and during our months there I spent the good part of two days walking around in the midday sun in Arlington National Cemetery. If you ever make it to the nation's capital, I highly recommend it as you can easily visit the big names (JFK, RFK, William Howard Taft) or expand your visit to visit the graves of a whole host of lesser known celebrities and historical figures. 


While planning out my walking route around the cemetery, a name jumped out at me that was familiar, Spottswood Poles. A great Negro League player, he also served in World War I, making him eligible to be buried at Arlington. With a little effort (there are about 400,000 graves in the cemetery), I was able to locate his grave.


Spottswood, shortened to simply Spot, was one of the best speed demons on the bases in the early days of the Negro Leagues. He debuted with the Philadelphia Giants in 1909 (pictured below) and bounced around with several teams through 1923. He is credited with having a .400+ batting average over his career and had great success in inter-league play against white teams. 


Poles' World War I service was in the 369th Infantry Regiment which earned the nickname of the "Harlem Hellfighters" as it was based out of New York. The regiment was the first African American regiment in the Army and was active all the way through the end of World War II. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lincoln In Decatur

If you've ever been to the central region of Illinois, you know that there is no one bigger than Abraham Lincoln. He's certainly the biggest tourism pull in the area and just about every city tries to make some sort of connection to our 16th President.

Decatur has one of the stronger cases of actually being connected to Lincoln as he moved to the small town in 1830 with his family and it was the first home for him in Illinois. He was 21 at the time and it says so on the statue to Abraham on the campus of Millikin University, Decatur's main college. I can't help but think that someday my statue will say "At Thirty-Seven I Came To Illinois."


Here is the monument which has him at 21 with an axe and some fallen timber.


Here's the plaque on the monument which gives some more detail on Lincoln's Decatur story. There is another Lincoln statue in the downtown Decatur that highlights where Lincoln gave his first political speech on the streets of the town and I will highlight that in another post.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Green Aisles

Moving to Illinois has been an interesting transition as my new town of Decatur reminds me a lot of Lawrence, Kansas but the cornfields around the town remind me of home in rural Wisconsin. Here's a view from the road leading to the kennel where we board our dog from time to time.

Driving around these roads reminds me of one of my all-time favorite songs "Green Aisles" by Real Estate. If you aren't familiar with the band, they make a type of music described as "dream pop" with a real calm and mellow sound. I typically listen to music or a podcast while going to sleep and the album that "Green Aisles" is on, Days, is an album that has helped me reach dreamland many times.


All those wasted miles
All those aimless drives
Through green aisles
Our careless lifestyle
It was not so unwise, no 

That is the chorus that the "green aisles" lyrics can be found and it speaks to me as our non-traditional lifestyle these past few years has led us to Ukraine and back and across the United States has proven to be a wonderful and life-changing experience. I wouldn't go so far as to say our lifestyle was "careless" as the lyric goes but it has been unconventional and full of unexpected twists. I will admit though that a return to "green aisles" is a nice change of pace.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What Have I Done?

I realized that as a Green Bay Packers fan I was treading on some dangerous ground moving to Decatur, Illinois. But I had no idea what exactly I was walking into until seeing the sign welcoming me to my new home. 


Before the Chicago Bears were called the "Chicago Bears" they were founded as the Decatur Staleys in 1919. An odd name for a team, to be sure, they were named after the parent company that started the team, A.E. Staley, which was a corn processor. The company still exists today as a part of the larger collection of companies known as Sysco.

The Decatur Staleys were run by George Halas and played one season in Decatur as a part of what was called the American Professional Football Association [APFA]. They would move to Chicago and become the Chicago Staleys in 1921 and became the Bears when the APFA became the National Football League in 1922.

So that's more Bears knowledge than I thought I would ever know or am comfortable with...other than that Jay Cutler is 2-11 lifetime against the Packers.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

What A Long Trip It's Been


What started out as a "for the summer" relocation to Washington DC, turned out to be a summer filled with adventures all across the East Coast and our new home in Decatur, Illinois.

Many posts will follow about our adventures but a brief rundown of the highlights we saw along the way including:

The Appalachian Mountains in rural Pennsylvania
State Capitols of Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New Hampshire
The Baseball Hall of Fame
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Downtown Manhattan
Laura's hometown in New Jersey
My brother-in-law's wedding near Burlington, Vermont
The Atlantic Ocean coast in Portland, Maine
Lake Ontario and Toronto, Canada

And we finally arrived in Decatur, Illinois, which was the location of Abraham Lincoln's first home in Illinois after moving here with his family from southern Indiana when he was 21. It is said he gave his first political speech here which attracted the attention of Illinois political leaders.