Monday, July 27, 2015

Graduation Day

Continuing with our trip in Bradford, we were directed to stop and photograph the old Bradford high school. Built in the early 1890's this massive structure represented a substantial commitment from the towns people for their children's education. Unlike many high schools that now sit empty and forlorn the old Bradford school still serves a purpose today, albeit a somber one. It's now a funeral home.

It's odd to think of rooms that were filled with laughing, boisterous children now filled with quiet reflective adults. Or perhaps not, For it would be a bit of irony to end ones journey in the same building where we started it. To face that ultimate graduation and move on to a higher level of learning and understanding. Food for thought.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Rusty Relic

Recently we stopped off in Bradford for some photo's and spied this relic sitting in the weeds by the local elevator.  Upon closer inspection we discovered it was a Caterpillar 40 gasoline powered tractor.  Though it's plainly seen better days the farm boy in me insists it can be tuned up and driven away with a little bit of elbow grease. ( Though I would hate to hand crank that monster to start it ).

The Caterpillar 40 was produced for only two years, from 1934-1936. During those years only 584 were ever produced making this a fairly rare tractor.  During the mid 30's gasoline was being phased out in favor of diesel and the last gasoline powered tractor was produced in 1944.  Maybe there's still hope for this one? Anyone handy with a wrench?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Class has been Dismissed

Recently my sidekick Nick and I went out to explore the county yet again. We traveled far and wide and one of the places we stopped at was at a quiet little place called Lone Tree school. It's typical of the country schools you find scattered thruout the country. Serving the educational needs for rural children who had no way to get to the bigger schools in town.

As you can see from the marker, this school taught youngsters from 1876 to 1942.  Today only the wind blows around the windows and doors. No more laughing children, no more sounds of pencils scratching at tablets, no more smell of chalk on the slate blackboard. If you have a chance stop by and peer in the windows and recall an earlier age when teachers in starched blouses and long skirts gave us all an opportunity to broaden our minds.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Perhaps I may yet die with my boots on

And he did. James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok was one of the legends of the west. His colorful life lasted only Thirty nine years yet what an impression he made on the history books!  Army Scout, Lawman, Professional Gambler,and of course Gunfighter. Books have been written about the man. Movies have regaled audiences with tales of wild adventures. There's even been a tv show or two about the life and times of the man. He died like he lived, wild, and in a dramatic fashion in a Deadwood saloon.

But did you know he was born and raised here in Illinois? In fact he was born in what is now Troy Grove to William and Polly ( Butler ) Hickok. There's a small memorial in the city park that we saw the day Nick and I cruised thru town. It's a bronze bust, not terribly old as it still looks to be in good shape. But there's a boulder with a much older plaque that was placed there in 1939.

It's a quiet place, not much traffic, indeed, I doubt hardly anyone even visits the place except during holidays and special events. But it's just one more example of how a major historical figure can originate in a quiet, sleepy Illinois farm town.  So if you're ever up that way, take a moment to stop and pay your respects to Wild Bill.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Has Honoring our Heritage fallen out of favor?

There's been a lot of controversy lately over symbols of the Confederacy. Flags, statues, memorials are all either coming down or being contemplated for removal.  Just about every small town has a statue, a cannon, something that honors the men who went off to defend their native lands.

Here in the north we Also have symbols, monuments to fallen hero's that honor their memory and sacrifice. Recently on a stop in Atkinson we came across this memorial to the fallen of not only the Civil war but also the wars since.

It's the ubiquitous Civil war soldier, rifle at the ready, standing guard against a future incursion. There are hundreds of such statues scattered thruout the midwest, all honoring the sacrifice in one way or another of the men who marched off to war.

With all the current discussion in the news, let's not forget that these memorials don't celebrate Slavery, Racism, or Bigotry. They remind of us a time in our nations history when one group of brave men marched off to meet another group of brave men.  They are tangible reminders that we should never let get things that bad again.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Tribute to our Retired Heroes

On this Independence Day let us take a moment and pay homage to the tireless hero that every fighting man needed at his side. That every battle could not have been won so easily without. I speak not of the fighting men and women of our armed forces but rather of their faithful companions. Their fighting vehicles.

Since the dawn of history Mankind has relied on transportation of some sort to aid them in battle. The Revolutionary and Civil war had horses and wagons. The first world war had early automobiles and trucks. As each war came and went improvements were made, features added, some replaced. Vehicles went from rickety Model T's to sturdy Dodges and Fords. Jeeps went to Hummers and so on.

On a recent trip to Geneseo Nick and I stumbled across this lot of retired military vehicles. Oh what stories they could tell! There were half tons, full tons, utility vehicles, even a 1950's era military ambulance.  Not sure what they were there for, if they were for sale, if they were being restored, etc. But if you're a former soldier you can appreciate this tireless workhorse which carried many a veteran "towards the sound of the guns"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Let Freedom Ring!

On a recent trip to Washington ( Illinois ), we stopped off at the little memorial park in the square. There was quite a lot of history there. It turns out there were memorial plaques to Washington, Lincoln, & Reagan. Scattered thruout the town were sets of brass footsteps indicating stores that Lincoln himself had stopped at or visited during his days as a lawyer.

If you ever get a chance to stop over see how this little town is rebuilding after a devastating tornado ripped thru the town a few years ago.  It's well worth the trip.