A Gates Radio Transmitter Cooling Fan

After all of the severely windy weather here in Quincy a hot spell has set in. Temps in the mid-nineties. I have a couple of fans down at my building in Hannibal, but I have sort of an avoidance thing going on; I don’t like to go down to Hannibal — too many bad memories.

This afternoon my friend Jeff stopped by and loaned me a fan; he got it from his storage unit. I’m amazed he kept it all these years, but I guess that’s what storage facilities are for.

Jeff’s father, deceased for many years, and my father once worked together at Gates Radio in downtown Quincy. The fan was a cooling fan for a radio transmitter. It’s archaic-looking — it must be fifty years old, but it still pushes out the air.

Thanks, Jeff!


Mother Nature Gets Riled Up

Another title possibility: Natural Pruning

At one o’clock this morning I was sleeping soundly. I heard a bashing at my door; I thought it was my downstairs neighbor Scotty, a young roofer, probably wanting to bum a cigarette and induce me to come down to his place and talk. I ignored the bashing; I didn’t want to talk with anyone just then — I just wanted to sleep. Then the bashing resumed. Oh, hell, I thought; I reluctantly got up and discovered that strong wind and rain were coming through my kitchen window. The wind was causing my unlocked hallway door to repeatedly bang. I shut the window, locked the door, and went back to sleep for a while. I got up at dawn; I mopped up the floor and went out for a walk along Maine St.

Such arboreal devastation! There must have been 60 MPH (or more) straight-line winds racing through Quincy last night. The sidewalks were blocked by torn-off tree branches as much as eight inches in diameter. Just on Maine Street, the tree debris, even if chipped up, would fill a railroad freight car. I’ve never seen the like. The electricity is off in the North Side of Quincy and has been for several hours. Must have been some lightning strikes! I was at the Hy-Vee grocery store early this morning and a woman walked by me and said, “Damn, this is the only place to get a cup of coffee this morning! The rest of town is just shut down!”


Flourishing Green Beans

My friend Jeff, who lives up the street from me, and I have been collaborating on a garden a mile or so from here in another friend’s yard. Rains have been plentiful this summer and almost every planting has been doing well.

Jeff and I met at the garden to see how things were growing. We’ve had some problems with over-abundant rabbits and Jeff has killed two so far with a hoe.

I was very impressed with the green bean patch this year; I don’t think I ever have seen such leguminous abundance:

I have some cow-peas, or crowder-peas, which are up and waiting for tropical weather. A native of Africa, they will soon be vining vigorously.


Hosta And Iris Time

This spring here by the Mississippi has been just ideal for plant growth. No late frosts and just the ideal amount of rainfall. I’ve just been amazed as I walk around town by the profusion of vegetation and flower blooms.

I like hostas; they’re originally from Asia and they have a genetic plasticity which has allowed breeders to create many new varieties during the past fifty years. I’m particularly fond of the large-leaved blue-green varieties. I was amazed recently to learn that the plant genus is related to asparagus, but then I get amazed easily. Here’s a shot of a particularly nice patch of such a hosta variety just down the street from my place:

Is this profusion of blooms perhaps a single peony? I’m more familiar with the convoluted double forms, which old ladies in Knox County, MO call “pinies”:

It’s raining lightly here in Quincy this morning; I saw a woman with an umbrella across the street walking some small variegated-fur dog. I walked across the street and asked her what the breed of the dog might be.

“Gosh, I have no idea! My mother was living in Memphis and somehow she’d gotten this puppy; then my mother died and I ended up with the dog. She’s a friendly dog, but she’s twelve years old and has hip problems.”

I petted the little dog, and said, ” Maybe some Australian Shepherd blood?”

“Could be — she’s always tryin’ to herd me by pushin’ against my leg!”


On Walking

I have been a walker for the past forty years; it took me a while to appreciate the benefits of the activity. While I’m walking I usually either compose paragraphs in my mind or mentally play variations of tunes I know. The down side of this is that I often get lost, not taking the right turn-off. Oh, well, I can live with that!

Walking not only benefits digestion, but I get to see up close and personal what people have planted in their yards. The iris and dogwood season is coming to a close, but now the early roses are starting to bloom. The tulip trees have bloomed and they are presently engaged in littering the side-walks with their discarded petals.

This evening there was rumbling thunder and intermittent drizzle — a nice time for a walk. A couple of photos:

A tree, which may have been a soft maple, had been cut down and cut up on Maine Street:

I do get a kick out seeing remnants of brick pavement which have been asphalted over, when the asphalting wears away in patches, revealing the original street surface:

One benefit of walking is that you can walk with impunity the wrong way down a one-way street!



It’s been drizzling this evening; I set out on a walk, although I knew I’d get damp. I was walking south on 14th St. and saw a car with the doors open, and I heard some loud music coming from the car stereo or radio. It sounded familiar; I asked a young black woman, who was exiting the car, “What is that song?”

She said, “Oh, that’s Adele — isn’t that a cool song?”

I’m thoroughly immersed in the musical past, and I don’t pay a lot of attention to current music, but I remembered a musical NPR concert and interview I’d heard a few weeks ago. Adele is a young woman from the UK who has picked up on the Ella Fitzgerald approach to singing jazzy, bluesy songs; the funny thing is that she talks with a broad British accent, while she sings with a very American Black sort of accent; she has evidently absorbed the Billie Holiday — Ella Fitzgerald — Bessie Smith approach to singing a song. An example:

Rolling In The Deep

Isn’t she good?


A Spring Evening Walk

The weather’s just so nice these days; in the Midwest, you need to take advantage of such days, as severe weather, whether too hot, too cold, or too wet is the norm. Normally around here we have perhaps two weeks every year of pleasant weather, the reason so many people born here end up in California, Washington, or Oregon.

I was out walking this evening — such evenings bring to mind the quote from Henry Thoreau’s journal: “I imbibe delight from every pore.”

Here are a couple of photos from my walk. The first one is of a plant which has taken advantage of pavement cracks:


Then there was a cool back-lit scene of some sort of wheat-like grass surrounding a brick sidewalk. I like the brick sidewalks in this town, which most often feature a herringbone pattern:

I hope you have had a nice evening as well!


My Lewis Carroll Day

I missed a music gig today. The day started out a bit weird and then got stranger. I was supposed to play fiddle with my band Ralugerri at a park right behind the Clarence Cannon dam, which impounds Mark Twain Lake.

We were supposed to start our gig at 1:00 PM; I left Quincy at noon, thinking I’d get there on time. I must confess that I’m often late and get lost easily. (Could there be a connection? I’m just kidding…)

I consulted Google Maps before I left; it looked easy, head out on I-36 and turn south on Rt. J.

I was cruising westwards on I-36 and there was someone right behind me who wouldn’t pass me, the car just tailed me closely. I just hate that and I pulled off to the shoulder and consulted a map, a mere pretense to let the annoying car pass me. Then a Missouri State Patrol car pulled in behind me, lights flashing and siren blaring. Oh, no, I wasn’t happy about this development.

The officer approached me; I rolled my window down and talked with the man.

“Having problems?”, the thirty-something patrolman, who had a brownish crew-cut, asked me.

“I’m lookin’ for Rt. J; is it before Monroe City or after it?”

“Oh, buddy, you’re gonna have a rough time, I can just tell! Rt. J is closed down cuz they’re building a new bridge over the Salt River. There’s a shortcut you can take on gravel roads, but you’d get lost. It’s just a maze of gravel roads back in there.”

A prophetic statement!

“So is there a detour? Is it well-marked?”

“Well, yeah, there’s a detour, but it takes you forty miles out of your way. You’re gonna be late!” I had told him about the music gig.

I got to the park; I had stopped in Perry, MO to make sure I was on the right track. A woman at a convenience store told me, “I’ve been hearing people bitchin’ about that detour all day!”

Once at the park I found that the band had played without me and had already left. I talked with a guy and told him that I needed to get back to Quincy –“What’s the shortest route, since Route J is closed?”

The guy told me, “The funny thing about this is, is that the bridge is done; they could have opened it yesterday.”

I said, “What the hell? You’d think these state agency people would coordinate! There’s an Army Corp Of Engineer’s-sponsored festival goin’ on and they shut down the only access road?!”

“Well, state employees are only human, after all.”

The guy said, “There’s a truck driver in the kitchen who knows these roads around here better than I do; he’s the one wearing a black vest.”

I walked into the kitchen and saw the man in the vest. I introduced myself; the elderly guy in the black vest said, “The quickest way is by the back gravel roads, but you’d probably get lost –it’s just a maze of gravel roads.” The man gave me directions using only paved roads.

The directions were complex and confusing, so I stopped at a gas station before I got more lost, just for confirmation. There were a couple of old guys sitting at a round table, watching me query the pretty female clerk.

The woman said, “Look, here’s a map I drew. You don’t mind driving on gravel roads, do ya?”

“No, I’m used to driving on gravel — but I just wanta get home.”

I set off and couldn’t find Oakwood Lane, the first turn-off. I got to where barriers had been set up, where Rt. J had been closed; it was gray and drizzly and visibility was poor. I did find Oakwood Lane after I had turned around and cruised slowly back.

The map the clerk had given me told me to turn off Oakwood onto Apple Lane and follow it until I hit Hereford Lane, where I was supposed to turn right. I followed Apple Lane until it ended at a river access lot, a place where boaters and fisher-folk could access the Salt River. My map evidently was flawed.

I imagined a scene back at the convenience store, after I’d driven away:

“Damn, Mary, did you give that poor lost guy one of those fake maps of yours, the ones which have imaginary roads and such?”

‘Yeah, I did! What of it?”

“Mary, you have a mean streak a mile wide!”

Mary smiled wickedly and said, “Yeah, you’re right!”

Well, I was well and truly lost by then. I picked a gravel road and took off down it, hoping that I would eventually return to civilization. I needed to talk to a local, someone who could direct me and give me good directions. I saw a house with vehicles parked out front and pulled into the driveway.

I walked up the sidewalk to the front door. Oh, it was weird; I felt like I had walked into the opening scene of a bad slasher flick. The two side-light windows next to the door were shattered. There was a bad smell coming from inside –I’ve smelled this complex amalgam of odors before — generally it results from insufficient cleaning, with discarded morsels of food rotting beneath couches and chairs. Then I noticed a steel file-cabinet drawer sitting askew in the front yard; it looked like it was caked with old vomit. I half-expected a lunatic to come running from the house brandishing a blood-caked ax.

I left — I was just thoroughly creeped out.

So I drove off in a random direction, glad to get away from that place. I saw a brown car approaching me and I beckoned. The car backed up; so did I until our windows were aligned.

There was an old guy driving the car; he had a bushy white mustache.

‘Looks like you’re lost!”, he said.

“Yeah, seriously! How do I get to I-36? I’m wantin’ to get back to Quincy.”

“Oh, you’re more-or-less headin’ the right way. Keep followin’ this road until ya get to Hereford [he pronounced it “hurfurd] and take a right. You’ll get to Rt. J just north of where they have it blocked off, cuz of that bridge replacement.”

“Thanks, man!” I was so glad that he hadn’t given me that classic answer from the old “Arkansas Traveler” vaudeville skit:

A man was lost while motoring through Arkansas. He saw an old codger with a long white beard sitting on his front porch in a rocking chair, contentedly smoking a corn-cob pipe.

“Hi! How do I get to Little Rock from here?”

“Really, you can’t get there from here!”

I finally made it home; I felt like I’d been through the looking glass and back! Sometimes it occurs to me that my life is a bit too colorful…


Junkyard Sharpshooter

It was nearly midnight and I was sitting out on my front step enjoying the balmy weather. We’re just starting to get some summery nights.

A neighbor who lives up the street from me wandered by and we got to talking. Wayne is younger than I am but he’s old enough to have some good stories.

I told him about my spare tire being stolen from the bed of my Ford pick-up truck. I also told him that I had to pay fifty bucks for a replacement.

“Oh, man, you shoulda come to me! I know this guy near La Grange who has a junkyard — he’s my dad’s best friend. He woulda sold you a spare for twenty bucks!”

“Well, I didn’t know about him, and I haveta have a spare, after all.”

“This guy is a bit peculiar, though. A few years ago he was walking with a fishing pole and the hook got embedded in his eye. He lost his vision in that eye, and if you talk with him, you can’t look at that eye or he gets mad. You need to look at his chest or really anywhere but that eye.”

“This guy is somewhere between sixty and seventy. He’s suspicious of people he doesn’t know and he’s liable to shoot them with a .30-30 rifle. He’s shot about eight people so far; he calls 911 and the La Grange police will send an officer out to take the latest victim to the hospital. The guy’s a good shot and only inflicts grazing wounds.”

“Gosh, I do like a good deal on auto parts, but I don’t want to get shot at!”

“I’ll go out there with you sometime and introduce you. If he knows you’re a friend of mine you’ll be cool!”


Water Tower

I was out walking early this morning; the weather has changed and we’re getting some warm nights; tropical plants like tomatoes, peppers, tobacco, and eggplants like this sort of weather. I must have some tropical blood because I like it too!

I was transfixed by a view of a water-tower a few blocks from where I live:

I just loved the way the morning sun illuminated this structure!