Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 209: Read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

To one degree or another, most of us study the British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his famous poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in high school or college. As best that I can remember, my first exposure to Coleridge and this poem was in twelfth-grade English, maybe a little sooner. During that time, I’d read at least some portion of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which is lengthy, but I couldn’t honestly say that I’d read the complete poem from start to finish. For that reason, I put this poem on my “bucket list” a few years ago.

A number of years ago, I purchased an unabridged copy of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems,” which was published by Dover Thrift Editions in 1992. This book has sat on my shelf (unread) for years, but last Thursday I took it down and read it from cover to cover. Between its covers, you’ll find the poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” on Pages 5-23.

For those of you unfamiliar with “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” it was written in 1797-1798 and was originally published in 1798 in “Lyrical Ballads,” a book of poems that Coleridge co-authored with his famous buddy, William Wordsworth. This long poem is the story of an old, cursed sailor who’s telling his sad tale a young man on his way to a wedding. The sailor has returned from a long sea voyage to Antarctica in which he brought down death and destruction on his ship by shooting an albatross, a bird believed to be good luck.

This poem is cool for a lot of reasons. In addition to being a strange tale of seafaring adventure, it reads almost like a ghost story, complete with a “ghost ship,” weird spirits seen gambling for the souls of the crew, strange sea creatures, zombies, whirlpools and crazed rescuers. It reads almost like a warning to anyone who feels like tampering with mother nature, especially albatrosses.

In addition to “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the 1992 Dover Thrift Edition of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems” contained a number of Coleridge’s other poems. Those other poems include “To the Author of ‘The Robbers,’” “Sonnet: To a Friend Who Asked, How I Felt When the Nurse First Presented My Infant to Me,” “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison,” “The Dungeon,” “On a Ruined House in a Romantic Country,” “Christabel,” “Frost at Midnight,” “France: An Ode,” “Lewti; or, The Circassian Love-Chaunt,” “Fears in Solitude,” “The Nightingale,” “Kubla Khan,” “The Ovidian Elegiac Metre,” “Something Childish, but Very Natural,” “Love,” “Dejection: An Ode,” “The Pains of Sleep,” “To William Wordsworth,” “The Knight’s Tomb,” “On Donne’s Poetry,” “Youth and Age” and “Cologne.” Of those, I’d say my two favorites are “Kubla Khan” and “Christabel.”

In the end, how many of you have read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” from start to finish? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Evergreen Courant's News Flashback for March 31, 2015

MARCH 29, 2001

“Work is underway to repair buildings that were damaged by a recent storm. Local construction crews have more than their fair share of work and are trying to get everyone ‘dry’ before the next big rains. Covin Roofing and Construction is shown in the above photo replacing the roof on the Village Plaza building and in the photo at right Skipper’s General Contractors are shown hanging steel to replace the wall that had to be torn down at The Evergreen Courant.”

“Stanley Guy Busby, 75, of Repton died Tues., March 27, 2001 in a Monroeville hospital. Mr. Busby ran a dairy for many years. He was a driver for Poole Truck Line and retired CDL instructor from Reid State Technical College. He was a member of the Annunciation Catholic Church of Monroeville. He was a veteran and served in the Marines during World War II and the Korean War.”

“The Conecuh County Children’s Foundation, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, Lyeffion Junior High School and the Evergreen-Conecuh Chamber of Commerce invites everyone out to the airport at Middleton Field for the annual children’s carnival. Carnival rides will provide fun and excitement for the whole family. Also on Saturday, the Collard Green Festival, Extension Petting Zoo, Firemen’s Contest and Chili Cookoff will be featured as well as vendors, country music and many other interesting activities. Citizens are encouraged to attend and support the Conecuh County Children’s Foundation. Pictured at the recent ribbon cutting on Mon., March 28, are Eric Basinger, Nell Stuart, Kim George, Geneva Lyons, Joey Varner, Homer Lyons and Emily Brogden.”

MARCH 27, 1986

“Ole Earl Windham reports .10 of an inch of rain on March 16, 2.41 inches on March 19 and .46 on March 20.”

“Johnny Grace of Lyeffion High School exhibited the Grand Champion of the 41st Annual Conecuh County 4-H and FFA Steer Show held Monday at the Evergreen Livestock Arena. The 1,250-pound steer brought 95 cents per pound with Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, represented by Manager Tom Perry, paying the premium price.”

“John Shepherd Salter, 89, of 318 Perryman St., Evergreen, died Sat., March 22, in the Veterans Administration Hospital, Montgomery, after a long illness. He was a member of a pioneer county family and a veteran of World War I and a retired employee of the City of Evergreen.”

“415 marijuana plants were confiscated near Travis Bridge on March 14 by Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Lambert. Plants were found by alert citizens who immediately called the Conecuh County Sheriff’s Office.”

“State Representative J.E. (Jimmy) Warren of Castleberry has qualified to seek re-election to the Alabama House of Representatives. The veteran legislator, first elected in 1970, is asking for a fifth term of office. He represented District 64, composed of Conecuh and Monroe counties.”

MARCH 25, 1971

“Ewing Baxter McRady, 80, of Evergreen died Sat., March 20, in Montgomery hospital after a long illness. He was a retired hardwareman who was well known throughout this area.
“A native of Tennessee, Mr. McRady was associated with Luttrell Hardware in Brewton for a short time before becoming associated with Wild Bros. Hardware Co. here some 55 years ago. He worked with Wild Bros. for 40 years until retiring 15 years ago and was generally recognized as one of the most knowledgeable men in his field in this area.”

“A Civitan Club may be organized in Evergreen. A breakfast meeting is set for 6:30 o’clock Tuesday morning at Jimmie’s Restaurant to put organizational procedures in motion.
“Civitan International is a service club for men and has been in existence for 51 years. They are ‘Builders of Good Citizenship.’
“Any man interested is invited to attend the breakfast Tuesday morning as a guest of the Andalusia Civitan Club which is sponsoring the new club here.”

“Dean Masonic Lodge No. 112 will sponsor a special program on Drug Abuse at the Brooklyn Baptist Church March 27 at 7 p.m.
“Rev. H.C. Botts from Milton, Fla. will be guest speaker. Films from Whiting Field on Drug Abuse will be shown.
“The public is invited to attend this special program.”

MARCH 29, 1956

“Tuesday morning, the U.S. Navy began using Middleton Field, Evergreen’s airport, as a training field again.”

“James Richard Merritt, 23, Cincinnati, Ohio, who was a prisoner in the Conecuh County Jail made a unique escape here last Thursday night. It was the first escape made from the Conecuh County Jail in about six years and one of the few in its history.
“According to Sheriff James Brock, Merritt gained his escape by tearing apart a small radio and obtaining a magnet from inside. He attached the magnet to a long strip of molding torn from the window and reached a file which was laying a short distance from the window. The file had been used to clean some stove parts on the outside of the building. Merritt filed out one bar on the window and made his way out through the small opening, approximately six inches in width. Merritt is of a very small build being about five-foot, six-inches tall and weighing only about 120 pounds.
“Three other prisoners who were in the cell with Merritt refused to attempt to escape along with him. The escape was made sometime between 12 midnight and early Friday morning. Merritt was being held in jail on charges of robbing the London Store, Castleberry, Rte. 2 on Jan. 2 of this year. The robbery netted approximately $200 for him and three companions. Two others are still in the Conecuh County Jail for the crime and one other has not yet been apprehended.”

MARCH 27, 1941

“An advance trainer, piloted by J.D. Eiland Jr., Flying Cadet of Maxwell Field, was damaged to such an extent about 10:30 Wednesday night in a forced landing at the local airport it was found necessary to send a maintenance crew from Maxwell Field to dismantle the plane and truck it to Montgomery for repairs. The left wheel was broken off, propeller bent and the left wing slightly damaged. As soon as the employee on duty at the station saw what had happened, he summoned an ambulance but the pilot was found to be uninjured.
“According to the information given The Courant, Cadet Eiland had made only one cross-country night flight before his flight Wednesday, and had become lost some time before reaching Evergreen. Upon discovering he was over Evergreen, it is said he found that his gas was low and headed for the airport to land.
“It is not known how the accident occurred but it is surmised the pilot misjudged his altitude, being lower than he thought and sat the ship down hard enough to break off the left wheel. Due to the fact the ship finally came to rest several yards from where the wheel was found it is believed he then gunned the motor to right the ship and then made a perfect three-point landing – right wheel, left wing and tail skid – which, according to those who know how to fly, is quite an achievement for a cadet.”

“Robert James McCreary, prominent lumberman of Montgomery, died at his home on Lexington Road early Saturday morning after a brief illness. A native of Evergreen, Mr. McCreary had engaged in the wholesale lumber business for many years. He had made his home in Montgomery since 1927, operating the R.J. McCreary Lumber Co.”

Today in History for March 31, 2015

Abigail Adams
March 31, 1774 – During the American Revolution, the Kingdom of Great Britain ordered the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

March 31, 1776 - Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John that women were "determined to foment a rebellion" if the new Declaration of Independence failed to guarantee their rights.

March 31, 1790 - Thomas Bigelow died in prison. He had been imprisoned for failure to pay his debts even though he had earned 23,000 acres of land for his military service.

March 31, 1809 - Ukrainian-born Russian humorist, novelist, and dramatist Nikolai Gogol was born in the Cossack village of Sorochintsy. He is best known for his 1842 novel, “Dead Souls.”

March 31, 1810 – Old Bassett’s Creek Baptist Church, the second oldest Baptist church in the state, established near Walker Springs in Clarke County, Ala.

March 31, 1825 – During his historic tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived at the Fort Mitchell crossing of the Chattahoochee River, where he was welcomed by, among others, Gen. Sam Dale, hero of the “Canoe Fight” near Claiborne. Because Lafayette entered Alabama in what was technically Creek territory, Gen. Thomas S. Woodward, who was himself part Creek, led an Indian escort through the region. After staying overnight at the fort, they begin their route west to Montgomery via military escort through Creek territory.

March 31, 1826 – The steamboat “Herald” broke the Henderson’s record for fastest trip from Mobile to Montgomery, Ala.

March 31, 1831 – An arrest warrant was issued for the heavily indebted William B. Travis at Claiborne, Ala.

March 31, 1836 – The first monthly installment of Charles Dickens’ first novel, “The Pickwick Papers,” was published under the pseudonym Boz.

March 31, 1862 – During the Civil War, skirmishing between Rebels and Union forces took place at Island 10 on the Mississippi River.

March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, Federal forces occupied Asbyville, Ala. A skirmish was also fought at Montevallo and at Six Mile Creek, Ala. Major General Steele’s column also reached Stockton, Ala.

March 31, 1865 - Fighting occurred at White Oak Road and the Dinwiddie Court House.

March 31, 1865 – During the Civil War, the Battle of White Oak Road (also known as The Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Gravelly Run, Boydton Plank Road and White Oak Ridge) was fought at the end of the Petersburg, Va. line near Dinwiddie Court House. During the battle, Union General Philip Sheridan moved against the left flank of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. near Dinwiddie Court House. The limited action set the stage for the Battle of Five Forks, Va. on the following day. The 59th Alabama Infantry Regiment, of which Lewis Lavon Peacock was a member, lost a number of men in this battle.

March 31, 1889 – The Eiffel Tower was officially opened with a dedication ceremony. The world's tallest building until 1930, when it was surpassed by NYC's Chrysler Building, the Tower was almost demolished in 1909 when its land lease expired.

March 31, 1894 – Drs. J.F. Busey, W.L. Abernathy and G.L. Lambert, all of Monroe County, Ala. were granted diplomas by the Alabama Medical College.

March 31, 1906 – The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later the National Collegiate Athletic Association) was established to set rules for college sports in the United States.

March 31, 1914 – Alabama Congressional Representative Richmond P. Hobson, who received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Spanish-American War, spoke before a large crowd at the Conecuh County Courthouse in Evergreen, Ala.

March 31, 1915 – The Evergreen Courant reported that the basketball team in the Effie community was “progressing nicely at present.”

March 31, 1917 – The United States took possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

March 31, 1918 – Daylight saving time went into effect in the United States for the first time.

March 31, 1930 – The Motion Picture Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film, in the U.S. for the next 38 years.

March 31, 1931 – TWA Flight 599 crashed near Bazaar, Kansas killing eight, including University of Notre Dame head football coach Knute Rockne.

March 31, 1933 – The Civilian Conservation Corps was established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment in the United States.

March 31, 1933 - The "Soperton News" in Georgia became the first newspaper to publish using a pine pulp paper.

March 31, 1945 - "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams opened on Broadway.

March 31, 1950 – NFL running back Ed Marinaro was born in New York City. He went on to play at Cornell, the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks.

March 31, 1950 - A radio version of Alabama author T. S. Stribling's story "Green Splotches" was broadcast as part of the “Escape” series.

March 31, 1951 – The Remington Rand Corporation signed a contract to deliver the first UNIVAC computer to the U.S. Census Bureau.

March 31, 1954 – Evergreen High School wrapped up spring football practice with a “Green and Red” intrasquad game at 7:30 p.m. at Brooks Stadium in Evergreen.

March 31, 1967 – The annual Miss Evergreen Pageant was held in Evergreen, Ala. The pageant was sponsored by the Evergreen High School Band Boosters.

March 31, 1968 - Seattle chose the nickname “Pilots” for their new American League franchise.

March 31, 1972 - The Major League Baseball Players Association voted to go on strike on April 1.

March 31, 1988 - The staff of the Alabama Journal were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting for their investigation into infant mortality in Alabama.

March 31, 1995 – The longest strike in Major League Baseball history ended as players were sent back to work. Because of the strike, the 1994 World Series was cancelled. It was the first time baseball did not crown a champion in 89 years.

March 31, 1998 - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks debuted in the major league.

March 31, 1998 - Pokey Reese of the Cincinnati Reds tied a major league record when he had four errors on opening day.

March 31, 1999 - The sci-fi film “The Matrix,” with its influential mix of cyberpunk, anime, postmodernism, and metaphysics opened on this day.

March 31, 2003 - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the season opener between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

March 31, 2003 - U.S. military officials accused Geraldo Rivera of disclosing unauthorized military movements. Rivera had outlined military movements in the dirt while embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

March 31, 2003 - NBC fired Peter Arnett after he gave an unauthorized interview with state-run Iraqi TV. During the interview Arnett said that the American-led war effort had initially failed because of Iraqi resistance.

March 31, 2004 – In Fallujah, Iraq, four American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA were killed after being ambushed.

March 31, 2004 - NFL owners adopted a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebrations. The penalty was added to the fines previously in place for choreographed and multiplayer celebrations. Also, if the infraction was flagrant the player would be ejected. The previous day the owners had instituted a modified instant replay system for five years.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Tues., March 31, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.65 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 1.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 10.55 inches

Notes: Today is the 90th day of 2015 and the 12th day of Spring. There are 275 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Monday, March 30, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 208: Drink port

Port is a sweet, red wine that’s often served as a dessert wine. Despite its popularity around the world, it’s a type of wine that’s hard to find in rural Alabama, which is the main reason I’ve never tasted any. I added it to my “bucket list” several years ago and finally got the chance to sample some last Thursday.

To be perfectly honest, while I had heard of port, I hadn't thought much about trying it until I began reading Mark Hodder’s “Burton & Swinburne” adventure book stories. The main character in those stories, a fictionalized version of the famous explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, is often described as drinking port and smoking cheroot. Hodder makes port sound so cool that it "slung a craving" on me. After all, who doesn’t want to be like Sir Richard Francis Burton when they grow up?

Last Thursday, I had to take my son to a dental appointment in Mobile, Ala., and he wanted something to eat after his trip to the dentist’s chair. On the way home, as we traveled down Old Shell Road, I pulled into the parking lot of what I at first thought was a convenience store. It was actually the Food Pak International Food’s store at 5150 Old Shell Road.

I could see some regular snack food items through the window and since we were already there, we got out and went inside. On the way to the back of the store, where the drink coolers were located, we had to pass by the wine section. As my son helped himself to a Gatorade, I happened to glance down at the bottom shelf of the wine aisle and spotted four or five different varieties of port.

A few minutes later, I left with an $8 bottle of Taylor Port, which is produced and bottled by the Taylor Wine Company of Canandaigua, N.Y. The bottle’s front label read as follows – “A rich, fruity taste and smooth finish make ruby red Taylor Port the perfect choice to pair with your favorite dessert. Alcohol 18% by volume.” The back label said – “A rich, moderately sweet, ruby red port. Delicious with dessert or for evening sipping. Serve over ice or at room temperature with a twist or with soda. The Taylor Wine Company, makers of superior ports and sherries, with a tradition dating back to 1880, skillfully blends the best grapes from New York to create a unique taste and depth of character. Taste the difference.”

When I got home, I tried it both ways – room temperature and on ice. Personally, I liked it better at room temperature. How did it taste? To me, it tasted like a mellow wine with a smoky aftertaste. My wife said it tasted like cough medicine. Oh well, to each his own. I’m not a big wine fan anyway. I prefer a plain, old Budweiser (the official beer of Major League Baseball), but if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate to enjoy a little more port. After all, Sir Richard Francis Burton liked it.

In the end, how many of you have sampled port before? What did you think about it? What types of port do you like? Which would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 207: Watch “The Birth of a Nation” (1915)

Feb. 8, 2015 marked 100 years since the release of one of the most controversial movies of all time, “The Birth of a Nation.” I’ve read about this movie a number of times over the years, but I’d never seen it, which is why I put it on my “bucket list” a few years ago. I really just wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and I finally finished watching it from start to finish on Wednesday.

Released in theatres on Feb. 8, 1915, “The Birth of a Nation” is about two families during the Civil War and Reconstruction. The Stonemans are from the North, and the Camerons are from South Carolina. Directed by D.W. Griffith, the movie’s based on a 1905 novel called “The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan” by Thomas F. Dixon Jr. (Beginning to see why this film is somewhat controversial?)

This movie is considered significant, not because of its content, but because of the innovative techniques Griffith used in this epic film. The result is a power example of storytelling. Also, for you trivia buffs, “The Birth of a Nation” was the first motion picture ever screened at the White House.

One aspect of this movie that I was especially interested in has to do with the fact that the main character, Col. Ben Cameron, aka “The Little Colonel,” was played by Alabama native Henry B. Walthall. Walthall, who was recently featured in an article in the latest issue of Alabama Heritage magazine, was born in Shelby County, Ala. on March 16, 1878. His acting career spanned three decades and while he appeared in scores of movies, he’s best known for his role in “The Birth of a Nation.”

If you’ve never watched this movie, be warned – for a couple of reasons. This movie has often been criticized for its portrayal of blacks, so bear in mind that it’s a movie and the people are acting out a script. Also, keep in mind that this movie is now over 100 years old and comes from a time when people’s attitudes weren’t nearly as politically correct as they are today.

Also, be warned, this movie is long, over three hours long. Many modern viewers will probably have a hard time sitting through a silent film that long. I know I did. There were at least several times when I asked myself “When will this thing be over with?”

Did I enjoy this movie? The answer is yes and no. I enjoyed watching it because it’s considered an important landmark in film history. However, I doubt that I’ll ever watch it again. It’s just hard to sit through a three-hour silent film.

In the end, how many of you have watched “The Birth of a Nation”? How many of you have read Dixon’s original novel? What did you think about them? What other classic movies would recommend checking out? Let us know in the comments section below.

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 206: Visit ‘Confederate Rest’ & National Cemetery in Mobile

'Confederate Rest' at Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Ala.
One of the most historic, Civil-War related sites in all of Alabama is the “Confederate Rest” & National Cemetery in Mobile, Ala. I’ve read about this location many times, but I’d never been there in person, which is why I put it on my “bucket list” several years ago. On Monday, I finally got the chance to visit this unique historic site and officially scratched it off my list of places I’ve always wanted to visit in person.

Magnolia Cemetery, which was established in 1836, is located on Ann and Virginia Streets, which is walking distance from downtown Mobile. The “Confederate Rest” section of the cemetery, which was originally called “Soldiers Rest,” was established on Nov. 25, 1861 as a burial site for Confederate soldiers. The National Cemetery portion of Magnolia Cemetery was established on May 11, 1866, not long after the Civil War ended.

If you visit the “Confederate Rest” portion of the cemetery today, you’ll encounter a historical maker that reads as follows – “CONFEDERATE REST: The Confederate Dead: In 1862, while Alabama was a state among the Confederate States of America suffering invasion by Union forces, the City of Mobile designated this Square 13 of Magnolia Cemetery as ‘Soldiers Rest’ for Confederate Patriots who were casualties of the resulting war. There are 1,110 victims of war wounds or related disease known to be buried in Confederate Rest. Among them is an unknown sailor of the CSS Alabama whose remains were interred in 2007. Casualties of Regiments from throughout the South are buried here and the origins of a large number of the deceased are unknown. After the forced dissolution of the Confederacy, women throughout the South took the lead in decorating the graves of the war dead and building of memorials. Mobile’s ladies were no exception and the Confederate Memorial Association was founded in 1865. The monument itself was originally topped by a figure representing a Confederate soldier. It was unveiled on April 27, 1874 by Admiral Raphael Semmes who commented ‘The statue is designed to perpetuate the memory of a band of gallant men, who perished in the greatest of modern wars, in obedience to the most powerful impulse that can move the human heart – the love of Liberty.’ In 1931, the statue was shattered by lightning. The bust was saved and is mounted on its own pedestal in the center of the southern side of the Rest. Deo Vindice. Raphael Semmes Camp 11, Sons of Confederate Veterans, 2010.”

My son and I visited this historic cemetery last Monday morning, and it took us a few minutes to find the Confederate Rest section. In addition to the features of the section described on the historical marker above, we also took the time to check out some of the sections other important features. Those included the grave of Lt. J.L. Moses, who fired the last gun in defense of Mobile; the grave of General Braxton Bragg; the monument to the Mobile Rifle Co.; and the monument in honor of those who lost their lives aboard the Confederate submarine, the Hunley.

In the end, how many of you have visited “Confederate Rest” & National Cemetery in Mobile? What did you think about it? What other similar historic sites would you recommend putting on my “bucket list”? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for March 30, 2015

March 30, 240 BC - Chinese astronomers first recorded the passage of Halley's Comet.

March 30, 1775 - Britain's King George III formally endorsed the New England Restraining Act, which required New England colonies to trade exclusively with Great Britain as of July 1.

March 30, 1817 – Richard Thomas Baggett, who was said to have been the first child born to white settlers in Conecuh County, Ala., was born on the Baggett family farm, NE 1/4 Section 4, Township 4 North, Range 10 East.

March 30, 1820 – Author Anna Sewell was born in Yarmouth, England. She wrote “Black Beauty” in 1877.

March 30, 1822 - Florida became a U.S. territory.

March 30, 1825 - Confederate General Samuel Maxey was born in Tompkisville, Kentucky. During the Civil War, Maxey served in the West and led Native Americans troops in Indian Territory.

March 30, 1853 – Painter Vincent Van Gogh was born in Zundert, Holland.

March 30, 1855 – About 5,000 "Border Ruffians" from western Missouri invaded the territory of Kansas and forced the election of a pro-slavery legislature. It was the first election in Kansas.

March 30, 1858 – Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia patented the first pencil to have an attached eraser.

March 30, 1861 – Jephtha V. Perryman passed away at the age of 63. He served as a legislator, judge and education superintendent in Conecuh County, Ala.

March 30, 1864 – During the Civil War, a Federal reconnaissance began from Woodville, Ala.

March 30, 1865 - General James H. Wilson detached Gen. John T. Croxton's brigade to destroy all Confederate property at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wilson's forces captured a Confederate courier, found to be carrying dispatches from Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest describing the strengths and dispositions of his scattered forces. Wilson sent a brigade to destroy the bridge across the Cahaba River at Centreville, which cut off most of Forrest's reinforcements from reaching the area. He began a running fight with Forrest's forces that did not end until after the fall of Selma.

March 30, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Montevallo, Ala.

March 30, 1867 – Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million, about two cents per acre, by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward.

March 30, 1870 - The 15th amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race, was passed by the U.S. Congress.

March 30, 1870 – Texas was readmitted to the Union following Reconstruction.

March 30, 1880 – Playwright Sean O’Casey was born in Dublin, Ireland.

March 30, 1905 - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was chosen to mediate in the Russo-Japanese peace talks.

March 30, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that the law firm of Wiggins, Hybart & Bayles has been dissolved, and the firm of Bayles, Hybart & Burns had taken its place. Jno. M. Burns, the new member, was from Selma, where he had practiced law for eight years, including two year’s as Selma’s City Attorney.

March 30, 1911 – An unidentified man, about 24 years old, was killed by a freight train near the depot in Evergreen at about 9 p.m. He is supposed to have been stealing a ride and fell from the train. The wheels passed over his body, severing it in the middle. On his arm was tattooed the name John Hartley South Wales.

March 30, 1911 – The Conecuh Record reported that the City Grocery had installed a large, up-to-date refrigerator, the first of its kind in Evergreen. It held up to 500 pounds of ice and was used for perishable goods like butter, cheese and berries.

March 30, 1915 – Shortly after noon, Mrs. Ed Peacock was “instantly killed” by a bolt of lightning at her home near Wilcox Station. She had been on the back porch and when returning to the kitchen, lightning struck the house, killing her. The bolt also shattered a column and pillar under the porch and killed a dog nearby in the yard.

March 30, 1939 – “Detective Comics” No. 27 was released, introducing Batman.

March 30, 1946 – About 400 people attended Conecuh County’s first fat calf show at the Conecuh Cooperative Stockyard in Evergreen, Ala. Dan Brown was Grand Champion, and Johnnie Nielson was the Reserve Grand Champion.

March 30, 1946 – “St. Louis Woman,” a musical version of Alabama author Arna Bontemps's book “God Sends Sunday,” opened on Broadway.

March 30, 1966 – Army Sgt. Elmer Jack Taylor of Atmore, Ala. was killed in action in Vietnam.

March 30, 1967 - The cover of the Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was staged and photographed.

March 30, 1984 – County music’s Hank Locklin was scheduled to perform at the Eighth Annual Sparta Academy Talent Show and Contest in Evergreen, Ala.

March 30, 1988 - The movie “Beetlejuice,” story by and screenplay cowritten by Alabama author Robert McDowell, was released.

March 30, 1989 – The Gee’s Bend Farms Community School in Gee’s Bend in Wilcox County, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

March 30, 1989 – The Rawls House in Enterprise, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

March 30, 1993 - In the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown hit his first home run.

March 30, 2004 - NFL owners approved a modified version of the instant replay system for five years. They added a third coaches' challenge if the first two were successful.

March 30, 2008 - U.S. President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the Washington National's new stadium, Nationals Park.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Mon., March 30, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.65 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 1.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 10.55 inches

Notes: Today is the 89th day of 2015 and the 11th day of Spring. There are 276 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Repton got its name from the surname of an important railroad official

Repton, Ala's present-day Masonic Lodge.
(In February and March 1982, The Evergreen Courant newspaper in Evergreen, Ala. published a three-part article called “The History of the Town of Repton” by Mrs. Marjorie M. Dees. What follows is the second installment in that series, which was published in the Feb. 25, 1982 edition of The Courant. No changes or corrections have been made to the original version.)

History of the Town of Repton (Part II) by Mrs. Marjorie M. Dees

(Editor’s Note: The Courant continues publication of this history of Repton with installment No. 2 this week. The final installment will be published next week.)

In 1912, Lee Gaston, cashier of the Farmers & Merchants Bank, built the original Billy Mims house which has recently been remodeled into a Colonial type house which stands at the West end of McMillan Street.

F.C. Barlow and Willie Pittman established the largest hardware store between Selma and Mobile in the early 1900s at the site of the present Blanton & Kelly Furniture Store.

The land was donated by Salt Morris, the railroad superintendent, in 1907 for the first Union Church and Cemetery, located today between Jackson and Church Streets and bordered on the North by Highway 84.

The first school in Repton was taught in the original Union Church building. Miss Maggie McMillan, Mr. T.F. Royster and Dr. E.L. Kelly were among the first teachers. Today, the town has one of the best modern accredited high schools in the county with approximately 500 students, located the East side of town, South of Highway 84.

The Union Church was dissolved, and the Baptists built their first building on the present site in 1886. The old building was demolished and the new brick sanctuary was built in 1951.

The Methodists moved to the present site just west of the old building. Their first building was later torn down and the present picturesque building was constructed.

Dr. E.L. Kelly was an influential citizen as a teacher, doctor, businessman and held a license to preach in the Methodist Church. He organized the first Conecuh County Health Department and was appointed the first County Health Doctor in 1928. His son, the late Guy Kelly, served as Conecuh County Superintendent of Education for eight years and moved to Camden where he served as Superintendent of Education of Wilcox County for some years prior to his retirement.

Elijah Beasley was the first postmaster in 1881. Its rating has risen and fallen with the tide of time. Today it is Third Class with C.O. Brown as postmaster, and Frances O. Lowery as clerk. H.H. Herbert and A.B. Okley were the first rural carriers in the early 1900s.

The railroad, which runs down the middle of town, formerly ended at Foshee, Ala. In 1899, it was extended to Repton where a turntable was installed. The railroad was extended to Selma in later years. The name Repton was the surname of a railroad official. Mr. Kervin was the first depot agent and was succeeded by Aidson Peterman for whom the town of Peterman was named later. Since the discontinuation of the depot operation by the last agent, T.D. Smith, about 14 years ago, Joe Kelly operated a fertilizer distribution center for Agrico Chemical Co. in the depot building until it was sold and the building torn down in 1981.

Mr. and Mrs. John Hicks moved to Repton in 1932 and opened one of the first gas stations in the area and operate the same business today, located West of the High School.

Mr. Peterman (previously mentioned) donated the land located at the intersection of Martin and Jones Street for the construction of the first Masonic Lodge building in 1907. The Masonic Lodge is today located in the original town hall building on Main Street.

The doctors who served the community during its early years were Dr. Will Bradley, Dr. Will Watson, Dr. Wilbur Salter, Dr. E.L. Kelly, Dr. W.B. Moorer and Dr. Vorees.

Dr. W.R. Carter began his practice of medicine and surgery in 1924. In 1935 he opened his private hospital which was the only one at the time between Selma and Century, Fla. It remained open until 1951. Dr. Carter was one of the most widely known and successful physicians of this century. He served as president of the Alabama Medical Association in 1959-60. He was a member of the American College of Surgeons and the International College of Surgeons.

The community is rightfully proud of its seven native doctors sons, one of whom, Dr. Marcus Straughn, who practiced in Marion, Ala., is deceased. The six presently practicing are located as follows: Dr. M.C. Dunn, Florence, Ala.; Dr. Ray Evers Jr., John C. Carter, Birmingham; Dr. Douglas Roberson, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Anaheim, Calif.; Dr. Michael Straughn, Birmingham; and Dr. Michael Bell, Deland, Fla. Dr. William Otis Littles was not a native of Repton, but graduated from Repton High School and practiced in Chicago. Today he is retired and lives in Red Level.

Through the years the town was served by three dentists: Dr. Will Holt, Dr. Gunter and Mr. Edwin Cater.

To be concluded next week.

(If you’d like to read the first installment, which I posted last Sunday, visit http://leepeacock2010.blogspot.com/2015/03/lorena-royster-born-in-1885-was-first.html.)

Today in History for March 29, 2015

March 29, 1638 – Swedish colonists established the first European settlement in Delaware, naming it New Sweden.

March 29, 1776 - General George Washington appointed Major General Israel Putnam commander of the troops in New York. In his new capacity, Putnam was expected to execute plans for the defense of New York City and its waterways.

March 29, 1790 - John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, was born in Charles City County, Va.

March 29, 1806 – Construction was authorized of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, becoming the first United States federal highway.

March 29, 1848 - Niagara Falls stopped flowing for one day due to an ice jam.

March 29, 1865 - The final campaign of the Civil War began in Virginia when Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant moved against the Confederate trenches around Petersburg, Va. General Robert E. Lee’s outnumbered Rebels were soon forced to evacuate the city and begin a desperate race west.

March 29, 1865 – During the Civil War, Major General Frederick Steele’s column reached Weatherford, Ala.

March 29, 1867 – Hall of Fame baseball pitcher and manager Cy Young was born in Gilmore, Ohio. During his career, he played for the Cleveland Spiders, the St. Louis Perfectos, the Boston Americans/Red Sox, the Cleveland Naps and the Boston Rustlers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

March 29, 1882 - The Knights of Columbus organization was granted a charter by the State of Connecticut.

March 29, 1886 – Dr. John Pemberton brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta.

March 29, 1903 - A regular news service began between New York and London on Marconi's wireless.

March 29, 1911 – The M1911 .45 ACP pistol became the official U.S. Army side arm.

March 29, 1912 – Three members of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to Antarctica died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold on the Ross Ice Shelf. They included English lieutenant and explorer Robert Falcon Scott, 43; Scottish lieutenant and explorer Henry Robertson “Birdie” Bowers, 28; and English physician, natural historian, painter, ornithologist and explorer Edward Adrian “Uncle Bill” Wilson, 39.

March 29, 1913 – Poet R.S. Thomas was born in Cardiff, Wales.

March 29, 1916 – Politician and author Eugene McCarthy was born in Watkins, Minnesota. His books include “Ground Fog and Night” (1979) and “Other Things and the Aardvark” (1970).

March 29, 1943 – Comedian, author, actor, singer, comedy writer, composer and alumnus of the Monty Python troupe Eric Idle was born in South Shields, England.

March 29, 1955 – NFL running back Earl Campbell was born in Tyler, Texas. He would go on to play for the University of Texas, the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

March 29, 1961 – The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.

March 29, 1961 – Actress, author and comedian Amy Sedaris was born in Endicott, N.Y.

March 29, 1969 – The annual Miss Evergreen Pageant was held at the Evergreen City School auditorium. A total of 45 young ladies were slated to compete for the title, which Patricia Montgomery won the 1968.

March, 29, 1973 – The last United States combat soldiers left Vietnam.

March 29, 1973 - Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show appeared on the cover of "Rolling Stone." The members of the band included Ray “Eye Patch” Sawyer, a native of Chickasaw, Ala.

March 29, 1974 – Local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, discovered the Terracotta Army that was buried with Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, in the third century BCE.

March 29, 1977 – The First Presbyterian Church and the Lomax-Hannon Junior College, both in Greenville, Ala., were added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

March 29, 1979 - The Committee on Assassinations Report issued by U.S. House of Representatives stated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy.

March 29, 1984 – The Baltimore Colts loaded its possessions onto 15 Mayflower moving trucks in the early morning hours and transferred its operations to Indianapolis.

March 29, 1985 – Dr. Luther Terry, a native of Red Level, Ala., passed away from heart failure at the age of 73 in Philadelphia, Pa. He was appointed the ninth Surgeon General of the United States from 1961 to 1965, and is best known for his warnings against the dangers and the impact of tobacco use on health.

March 29, 1987 – Shortly after 2:40 p.m., Frank Dewberry and his wife, Dorothy, found the badly decomposed nude body of Vickie Lynn Pittman of East Brewton off County Road 43 at Brooklyn, Ala.

March 29, 1995 – Former Major League Baseball outfielder Terry Moore, a native of Lamar County, Ala., passed away at the age of 82 in Collinsville, Ill. He played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a four-time All Star and was part of two World Series championship teams.

March 29, 1998 - Author Eugene Walter died in Mobile, Ala.

March 29, 2001 – Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad Norwegian passed away at the age of 101 at Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Oslo. After mapping some Norse settlements, Ingstad and his wife Anne Stine, an archaeologist, in 1960 found remnants of a Viking settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows in the Province of Newfoundland in Canada. With that they were the first to prove conclusively that the Greenlandic Norsemen had found a way across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, roughly 500 years before Christopher Columbus and John Cabot.

March 29, 2010 – Jordan Van der Sloot allegedly contacted John Q. Kelly, legal representative of Beth Twitty, with an offer to reveal the location of Holloway's body and the circumstances surrounding her death for an advance of $25,000 against a total of $250,000. After Kelly notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they arranged to proceed with the transaction.

March 29, 2012 – Oak Lawn Farm in Greenville, Ala. was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., March 29, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.65 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 1.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 10.55 inches

Notes: Today is the 88th day of 2015 and the tenth day of Spring. There are 277 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

'Talents of country youths were not always recognized'

George 'Buster' Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Talents of country youths were not always recognized,” was originally published in the Nov. 18, 1993 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

In looking back over the years, I see many opportunities that passed by the country boys and girls because of poor communication, lack of interest by certain individuals and non-exposure to competition.

I grew up with many young country friends who could have excelled in various sports, such as golf, football, swimming, wild bull-riding and many more. The reasons were that these youths were never given the chance to compete in the presence of those who could have placed them in the eyes of the public.

For example, my friend Maurice could have starred in many a jungle movie had the right someone seen him swing from a grapevine with only one hand. Besides, he could eat possum grapes with the other hand while in mid-flight.

Ideal for Tarzan movie

He would have been ideal for that special Tarzan movie. He even could wrap the vine around his leg and swing with both arms free. Just think how easily he could have saved the fair lady from the jaws of angry crocodiles in a jungle movie.

But he never made the movies because no directors ever traveled through the back country of Marengo County. After thinking about this, I’m sure the movie industry is poorer because that right person never saw Maurice swing on that wild grapevine.

I know for sure that I would have been a great golf pro had I had the opportunity to practice on some nice golf course and be seen by the right people. But I never got the opportunity to show off my skills.

I could take a broken hoe handle and knock a small sweet potato for almost the distance of 200 yards. Unlike playing golf, the distance of my drive depended largely on the size of the sweet potato. I probably would have made Jack Nicholas look like a beginner had I been seen driving that sweet potato by the right golf professionals.

As I look back through those yesterdays, there was a young lady I went to school with who could have been an all-time great in the wrestling ring. Loree took great pride in slipping up behind us boys when we weren’t looking and grabbing us around the shoulders and squeezing the living daylights out of us. Sometimes, she would grasp you by the neck and squeeze until you turned purple. When she finally turned you loose, you were so busy trying to get your breath back until you didn’t realize she had calmly walked away laughing.

She was the champion on the girls soccer team. One day she kicked a soccer ball so hard it hit a member of the opposing team and broke her collar bone. She wanted to play football, but during those days, this wasn’t ladylike. To tell the truth, all the young men that went out for football were afraid that Loree might hurt someone seriously if she had been allowed to train for the team.

The football team elected her to be a cheerleader instead. This she did in an outstanding manner; she could yell and holler louder than anyone I’ve ever seen. Besides, no one on the opposing team dared say anything bad about the Sweet Water Bulldogs. Life was too precious to take that kind of chance.

Then, there was my friend Enoch; he would have made an outstanding running back had the regulations permitted us to use a watermelon instead of a football. He could run the 100-yard dash in no time flat while carrying a 40-pound watermelon. But we were never able to get him to see the importance of running up field with a worthless ball made of leather.

He saw no reason in running all that distance when, once he got to the other end of the field, he couldn’t hide in the bushes and eat the darn thing. Perhaps if the right person had witnessed Enoch running the 100-yard dash with a 40-pound watermelon, the playing rules might have been changed a bit. If this had happened, I’m sure he would have made All-American.

Not too smart

My friend Jack wasn’t all that smart. We knew that from way back. One day during the cold winter months when we were in the seventh grade, our teacher instructed Jack to go and get some water and put it in the heater. The large pot-bellied wood-burning heater had turned a cherry red from the hot fire inside. The teacher assumed that Jack knew that the water was to be put in a container on the top of the large heater to keep the air within the room from becoming too dry.

No one paid any attention as Jack came in with the pail of water and opened the heater door and dashed the water into the red hot heater. A loud explosion sounded, as soot and ashes swept across the classroom in a billowing cloud. Our teacher fainted; all 34 students tried to get out of the classroom at one time.

Never did know how it happened; but Jack was the first one out the door. Didn’t seem to bother him any that he was the reason the heater in the room had to be replaced. I don’t really know, but I think Jack could have done real well; he might have been an outstanding explosive specialist.

Much water has passed under the bridge since those days when a Coca-Cola was a nickel and school lunch consisted of two or three steak-and-egg biscuits in a brown paper sack. We thought that we were starving to death; little did we know that this was the high time of our lives.

We thought that we were being punished when we had to recite poems such as “Paul Revere’s Ride” and speeches like the Gettysburg Address. There was no fear of a gun being carried to school by someone.

Sometimes you might get away with carrying a new slingshot to show off to your friends. That is, if the weather was cold and you had a coat or sweater to wrap it in, so your teacher didn’t see it.

Truly, I feel sorry for the youth of today; there is so much that they have missed. But, as they say, time awaits for no man. Whatever the future holds, we can only hope.

But regardless of the future, in looking back, I will always contend that I would have made an outstanding golf professional; I wasted enough sweet potatoes to prove it.

(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)

Today in History for March 28, 2015

General Henry Hopkins Sibley
March 28, 1515 – St. Teresa of Avila was born in Gotarrendura, Spain. Her books include “The Way of Perfection” (1566) and “The Interior Castle” (1580).

March 28, 1692 – In connection with the Salem witchcraft trials, Elizabeth Proctor was accused of witchcraft.

March 28, 1774 - Upset by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of destruction of British property by American colonists, the British Parliament enacted the Coercive Acts, to the outrage of American Patriots.

March 28, 1776 – Juan Bautista de Anza, one of the great western pathfinders of the 18th century, arrived at the future site of San Francisco with 247 colonists.

March 28, 1782 - The United Netherlands recognized American independence.

March 28, 1817 - John Gassaway Rush was born in Orangeburg District, South Carolina. In 1860, he and his wife donated land for a church to the McIntosh community, and the Andrews Chapel was constructed on this property.

March 28, 1818 – The Butler Massacre occurred near Pine Barren Creek. Three were killed by Indians, including Capt. Butler (Butler County, Alabama was later named in his honor.)

March 28, 1862 – During the Civil War, at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in New Mexico (which began on March 26), Union forces stopped the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico territory. Confederates, under the command of General Henry Hopkins Sibley, lost 36 men killed, 70 wounded, and 25 captured. The Union army lost 38 killed, 64 wounded, and 20 captured.

March 28, 1864 - A group of Copperheads attacked Federal soldiers in Charleston, Ill. Five were killed and 20 were wounded.

March 28, 1864 – During the Civil War, a federal operation to Caperton’s Ferry, Ala. began.

March 28, 1865 - U.S. President Abraham Lincoln met with Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman and Admiral David Dixon Porter at City Point, Va.

March 28, 1865 – During the Civil War, a skirmish was fought at Elyton, Ala. with Brig. Gen. James H Wilson‘s Union cavalry force.

March 28, 1868 – Norman A. Staples, owner of the ill-fated steamboat James T. Staples, was born.

March 28, 1875 – Evergreen, Ala. was officially incorporated.

March 28, 1904 – Whipple Van Buren Phillips, H.P. Lovecraft’s grandfather, passed away from a stroke at the age of 70 around midnight at his home at 454 Angell St. in Providence, R.I. He was buried in Swan Point Cemetery.

March 28, 1909 - Alabama journalist and author Lael Tucker Wertenbaker was born in Bradford, Pa.

March 28, 1909 – Award-winning author Nelson Algren was born in Detroit, Mich. His books include “A Walk on the Wild Side” (1956).

March 28, 1914 – American explorer, poet and painter Everett Ruess was born in Oakland, Calif. He mysteriously disappeared in November 1934 near Escalante, Utah.

March 28, 1921 - U.S. President Warren Harding named William Howard Taft as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

March 28, 1935 – In Lovecraftian fiction, Miskatonic University’s Peaslee Australian Expedition left Boston Harbor, destined for Australia, where it searched for ancient ruins in the Great Sandy Desert.

March 28, 1940 - Poet, novelist and short-story writer Russell Banks was born in Newton, Mass. His books include “Hamilton Stark” (1978), “Continental Drift” (1985) and “Lost Memory of Skin” (2011).

March 28, 1958 – Florence, Ala. native W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” passed away in New York City at the age of 84.

March 28-April 3, 1963 – “To Kill A Mockingbird” was shown at the Monroe Theatre in Monroeville, Ala.

March 28, 1963 - Sonny Werblin announced that the New York Titans of the American Football League was changing its name to the New York Jets.

March 28, 1969 - Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States and one of the most highly regarded American generals of World War II, died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 78.

March 28, 1969 – Evergreen High School played in a spring football jamboree in Luverne that included Evergreen, Luverne, Union Springs and Georgiana. Evergreen played Luverne in the first half (12-minute quarters), and Union Springs played Georgiana in the second half. Wendell Hart was Evergreen’s head football coach, and his assistants included Mike Bledsoe and Charles Branum.

March 28, 1969 – Lyeffion, Repton, Frisco City, Excel and J.U. Blacksher played in a spring football jamboree at J.U. Blacksher High School at Uriah. Lyeffion played Frisco in the first quarter; Excel played Repton in the second; Blacksher played Frisco in the third; Excel played Lyeffion in the fourth; and Repton played Blacksher in the fifth.

March 28-30, 1969 – The movie, “Cool Hand Luke,” played at the Pix Theatre in Evergreen, Ala.

March 28, 1977 – Novelist Lauren Weisberger was born in Scranton, Pa. Her books include “The Devil Wears Prada” (2003).

March 28, 1984 - Bob Irsay, owner of the once-mighty Baltimore Colts, moved the team to Indianapolis.

March 28, 1990 – President George H. W. Bush posthumously awarded Oakville, Ala. native Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal.

March 28, 1999 - In Cuba, the Orioles beat the Cuban National Team, 3-2. It was the first time since the 1950's that a U.S. team had played in Cuba.

March 28, 2003 – In a friendly fire incident, two A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from the United States Idaho Air National Guard's 190th Fighter Squadron attacked British tanks participating in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, killing British soldier Matty Hull.

March 28, 2014 – Former U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton Jr. passed away at the age of 89. Denton was born in Mobile on July 15, 1924, to a family that traced its heritage back to the French Catholic founders of Mobile. In 1964 he was assigned, as a U.S. Navy pilot, to the USS Independence (CVA-62), which was deployed off the coast of North Vietnam. In July 1965, Denton led a bombing mission over North Vietnam and was shot down and captured. He spent 48 of his 91 months of imprisonment in solitary confinement, one of the longest periods of any American POW. His book, “When Hell Was in Session,” which recounted his POW experiences, was made into an NBC television movie in 1979 starring Hal Holbrook.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sat., March 28, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.65 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 1.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 10.55 inches

Notes: Today is the 87th day of 2015 and the ninth day of Spring. There are 278 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Friday, March 27, 2015

'WALK TO MORDOR' UPDATE: 108 miles down and 1,691 miles to go

I continued my (virtual) “Walk to Mordor” during the past two weeks by logging four more miles since my last update. (I had major surgery on March 5, which has really slowed my roll on this project, but I’m getting back into the swing of things now.) I walked one mile on Tuesday and walked/jogged three more miles earlier today. So far, I’ve logged 108 total miles on this virtual trip to Mount Doom, and I’ve got 1,691 more miles to go before I reach Mordor. All in all, I’ve completed about six percent of the total trip.


In relation to Frodo’s journey, I’m still only on the sixth day of his trip. I left off on my last update at Mile 104, on Day 6 (Sept. 28), as Frodo’s group left Tom Bombadil’s house and climbed a zig-zag path to the brow of a hill on the west side of Barrow-downs. They reach the top of the hill around 9 a.m. Frodo’s group travels 14 miles before noon, and I’ve only covered 10 miles of that distance. I’ve got four more to go before reaching the next significant point on the journey.


For those of you reading this for the first time, I began this “Walk to Mordor” fitness challenge on Jan. 1. Using a book called “The Atlas of Middle-Earth” by Karen Wynn Fonstad, fans of “The Lord of the Rings” created this challenge by mapping out Frodo’s fictional trek to Mordor, calculating the total distance at 1,799 miles. They also used the original "Lord of the Rings" text to outline the journey, so you can follow their route by keeping up with your total mileage.


Those who worked out the nuts and bolts of this virtual journey have divided it into four parts. It’s 458 miles from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 462 miles from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien, 389 miles from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls and 470 miles from Rauros to Mount Doom. (Those locations should sound familiar to “Lord of the Rings” fans.) The hobbits averaged 18 miles a day, but if you walk (or jog, as I sometimes do) five miles a day, it’s possible to cover 1,799 miles in a year.


If you’re interested in learning more about the “Walk to Mordor Challenge,” I suggest you check out two Web sites, http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/07/23/walking/ and http://home.insightbb.com/~eowynchallenge/. Both of these sites provide a ton of details about the challenge, including how to get started.


In the end, check back next Friday for another update and to see how much closer I am to Mordor. I hope to knock out at least 13 more miles next week, and I’ll include all that in my update next week.

Today in History for March 27, 2015

Major General Frederick Steele
March 27, 1513 – Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León reached the northern end of the Bahamas on his first voyage to Florida.

March 27, 1775 - Future President Thomas Jefferson was elected to the second Continental Congress. Jefferson, a Virginia delegate, quickly established himself in the Continental Congress with the publication of his paper entitled “A Summary View of the Rights of British America.” Throughout the next year, Jefferson published several more papers, most notably “Drafts and Notes on the Virginia Constitution.”

March 27, 1776 - The British left Boston and sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

March 27, 1794 – The United States Congress and President George Washington established a permanent navy and authorized the building of six frigates.

March 27, 1814 – During the War of 1812, in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Central Alabama, Andrew Jackson led a force of Americans, Creeks, and Cherokees against Red Stick Creeks which were led by Chief Menawa. Attacking the Red Stick stronghold of Tohopeka on the banks of the Tallapoosa River, Jackson's men killed more than 900 people. The victory soon led to the end of the Creek War and the cession of 23 million acres of Creek territory to the United States.

March 27, 1815 - Alabama author William Russell Smith was born in Russellville, Ky.

March 27, 1820 - English admiral and explorer Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield was born in Cheltenham, England. He led one of the searches for the missing Arctic explorer John Franklin during the 1850s. In doing so, his expedition charted previously unexplored areas along the northern Canadian coastline, including Baffin Bay, Smith Sound and Lancaster Sound.

March 27, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette spent the night at the Gachet House in Lamar County, Georgia.

March 27, 1844 – American general, explorer and Medal of Honor recipient Adolphus Greely was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

March 27, 1862 – During the Civil War, a five-day Federal operation began on and around Santa Rosa Island, Fla.

March 27, 1865 – During the Civil War, Union Major General Frederick Steele’s column from Pensacola, Fla. reached Canoe Station near Atmore, Ala. and encamped.

March 27, 1865 – During the Civil War, Union Gen. E.R.S. Canby, with 32,000 men, laid siege to Spanish Fort. The siege would last for 13 days.

March 27, 1865 - President Abraham Lincoln met with Union generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman at City Point, Virginia to plot the last stages of the Civil War.

March 27, 1868 – Patty Smith Hill, who wrote the song “Happy Birthday to You,” was born in Anchorage, Ky.

March 27, 1879 – Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman and manager Miller Huggins was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He would go on to play for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals and also managed the Cardinals and the New York Yankees. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964.

March 27, 1884 – German zoologist and explorer Richard Böhm passed away at the age of 29 in Katapana, Katanga.

March 27, 1886 – Famous Apache warrior, Geronimo, surrendered to the U.S. Army, ending the main phase of the Apache Wars.

March 27, 1899 - The first international radio transmission between England and France was achieved by the Italian inventor G. Marconi.

March 27, 1904 - On Sunday evening, while he was visiting the home of a crony, Alderman Gray, Whipple Van Buren Phillips, H.P. Lovecraft’s grandfather, was seized by a “paralytic shock,” likely a stroke. He died the following day, near midnight at his home at 454 Angell Street in Providence, R.I.

March 27, 1910 – In Lovecraftian fiction, Edith Brendall disappeared from Bonn, Germany and her body was discovered in the Rhine River on April 4 of the same year.

March 27, 1912 – President William Howard Taft’s wife, Helen Herron Taft, and the wife of the ambassador from Japan planted the first of Washington, D.C.’s cherry trees.The cuttings were scions from the most famous trees in Tokyo, the ones that grow along the banks of the Arakawa River. Workers took over, and thousands of cherry trees, all gifts from the Japanese government, were planted around the Tidal Basin.

March 27, 1915 – Conecuh County Sheriff Williams and Deputy Davis arrested Finley Cowling near Brooklyn, Ala. for the alleged theft of a horse belonging to Dr. M.M. Strickland of Minter in Dallas County. The horse was recovered and Cowling was placed in jail.

March 27, 1915 – J.D. Skinner of Belleville, Ala. reported that while traveling from his home to Bermuda a few days before he saw “quantities of boll weevils flying about. If any great number come out of hibernation this early they will die out before they get something to feed on.”

March 27, 1916 - Author Catherine Rodgers was born in Camp Hill, Ala.

March 27, 1923 – Poet Louis Simpson was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

March 27, 1928 – Confederate veteran T.S. Hagood of Evergreen, Ala. passed away.

March 27, 1943 - Aauthor Perry Lentz was born in Anniston, Ala.

March 27, 1950 - Novelist and poet Julia Alvarez was born in New York City.

March 27, 1952 – Truman Capote's stage adaptation of his novel, “The Grass Harp,” directed by Robert Lewis, opened at Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre, where it ran for 36 performances.

March 27, 1963 – Director Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tenn.

March 27, 1964 - The “Good Friday Earthquake” killed 131 people in Alaska. Lasting almost five minutes, it was the most powerful recorded quake in U.S. history-- 8.4 on the Richter scale.

March 27, 1965 – A plane crash near the Drewry community in Monroe County claimed the lives of Reuben Ludger Lapeyrouse, 33, and Keaton C. Hardy, 43, both of Mobile. A third man, Clay Medley Godwin, 22, of Mobile survived the crash, but died a short time later. Lapeyrouse was the head of the Lapeyrouse Grain Corporation, and Godwin worked in the office at Lapeyrouse Grain Corp.

March 27, 1969 – The Evergreen Courant reported that six members of Boy Scout Troop 40 in Evergreen were inducted into the Order of the Arrow during the recent Alabama-Florida Spring Camporee.

March 27, 1969 – The Evergreen Courant reported that Spec-5 Lowell Jernigan had received the Army Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service. Jernigan, a 1964 graduate of Evergreen High School and later the University of Alabama, was an instructor at the Atomic Demolition Munitions Systems Branch, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Division, Dept. of Engineering and Military Science, U.S. Army Engineer School, at Ft. Belvoir, Va.

March 27, 1976 – The first segment of the Washington Metro opened, and some 50,000 people stood in line for hours to take a free ride on the Red Line, which ran from Rhode Island Avenue to the Farragut North underground station. The first segment ran for about four and a half miles, and the trip lasted less than 10 minutes.

March 27, 1977 - Two 747s collided on a foggy runway in the Canary Islands in the worst accident in aviation history -- 583 died.

March 27, 1981 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan hosted a luncheon honoring the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

March 27, 1989 - Sport Illustrated exposed Pete Rose's gambling activities. The magazine article alleged Rose bet on baseball from the Riverfront dugout using hand gestures with an associate.

March 27, 1994 - Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina were hit by a series of tornadoes that killed 42 people.

March 27, 1994 – A church in Piedmont, Ala. collapsed during a tornado, and 19 people inside were killed.

March 27, 2007 - NFL owners voted, 30-2, to make the video replay system a permanent officiating tool.

March 27, 2012 – Evergreen city officials presented local basketball star Chris Hines with a special proclamation and key to the city during a special ceremony at Evergreen City Hall.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Fri., March 27, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.10 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 1.15 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 4.65 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 1.20 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 10.55 inches

Notes: Today is the 86th day of 2015 and the eighth day of Spring. There are 279 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Conecuh County's William E. Molett flew over the North Pole 91 times

William E. Molett
Today (Thursday) marks the anniversary of the passing of one of the most interesting men to ever come out of Conecuh County – William E. Molett, who passed away at the age of 86 on March 26, 2005.

Molett has faded from the memories of most living Conecuh County residents today, but a few remain who remember him from his younger days in the Evergreen area. Molett (some say this family name was pronounced “mallet,” like a hammer) was born in Orrville in Dallas County on Jan. 26, 1919. His family later moved to Conecuh County while he was still a young man.

Molett entered local schools, where his early education obviously went a long way toward preparing him for a career full of accomplishments. On May 3, 1936, Molett graduated from the State Secondary Agricultural School in Evergreen. From there, he went on to join the U.S. military and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, the Air War College and the Air Force’s Staff and Command School.

Molett went on to become a master navigator, recording over 6,000 hours as an aircraft navigator, including 91 flights over the North Pole. He also taught polar navigation for three years and retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

After his retirement, Molett wrote and published a book in 1996 called “Robert Peary and Matthew Henson at the North Pole.”

The premise of the book centers on the dispute over which group of explorers reached the North Pole first during expeditions in 1908 and 1909. I was surprised to learn that there is more than a little controversy over who accomplished this feat first. One camp believes that Dr. Frederick A. Cook reached the North Pole first while another camp believes that U.S. Navy Admiral Robert E. Peary got there first. The dispute arises because of questions regarding how each man navigated his way to the pole and the calculations they used to prove they were at the pole.

While the subject may sound a touch dry, Molett does a good job of explaining why he believes that Peary and Matthew Henson’s expedition reached the pole first. Molett, bringing his years as an aviator and navigator to bear on the subject, explains how Peary’s painstaking calculations – using a variety of simple handheld tools – made his way to the North Pole and proved it.

The book was also especially interesting because it gave a good overview of the many failed and successful trips to the North Pole. Many of the men who tried (and died) on their way to the North Pole did so for personal fame and national pride, and tales of their adventures make for great reading.

In the end, Molett passed away in March 2005 and is buried in the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Memphis, Tenn. I think there is little doubt that Molett is one of the most interesting men to ever come out of Conecuh County, and he’s likely the only person from the county to have ever flown over the North Pole. If the Conecuh County Cultural Center ever gets off the ground, I think it would be fitting for Molett to be remember with a display of some kind within that local museum.