Archive for February, 2008

You can bet your bippy it was a  sullen Tuesday with a dead car  and so much to do with  The Book. I stayed wtih the proto-captioning the rest of  afternoon and  over dinner, kept one eye and ear on Nova’s terrific program and the Mark Twain book by Ron Powers  I’m reading for the third time. Front Line was its usual best until 9 when I turned to a 12 page article slated for the next American Aviation Historical Society Journal. A gentleman in Calif. and I proof these things for the able editor, and  Thomas E. Lowe’s article about square tail Stearmans was so perfect I had a hard time staying awake.

The nice thing about bad writing when I’m proofing is that even if I’ve had a busy day and am a tad tired, I get so quietly incensed by lousy writing (writing doesn’t kill; people kill)  I have no trouble staying awake red lining it! Lowe is a terrific writer. My few comments were e’d to the editor in time for Charlie Rose which  I almost entirely swept through. Thank God I was refreshed in time for all of Nightline. I sensed the only place I could learn how the Clinton-Obama debate went would be there, and I was right. Good, though brief coverage.

I made a stab at proto captioning after that, but I was wasted by fatigue. Can’t blame booze this time. There’s been no alchol in the house for several weeks, though I wish there had. Booze is the last thing I need given the priorities around here, and I’m okay with that. As Mr. (Kenny) Rogers might have sung, “There’s be time enough for drinkin’ when the dealin’s done.”

My aviation pal came overe today and at the end of an excellent visit, jumped my dead car. Brahler at Laurel & Sixth turned me around in an hour and $38.73. A late lunch;  I’m back on track . . .  and I’m only eight hours into the workday. I’m stilll way behind the  time line for the book and even further behind the time line for my life,  but my battery is charged, and so am I.

live long . . . . .and proper.


Read Full Post »

A paying client’s email informing me that a PAYCHECK was waiting at the office was great news coming off my earlier blog posting today. Because I was anxious to get back to what I call proto-captioning photos for The Book (Springfield Aviation by Job Conger, from Arcadia Publishing, coming soon to a bookseller near you) and I needed a coffee refill, I delayed driving over until 11:40.

Then I delayed driving over even longer.

Entering the Soggy Bottom Express in the ongoing light snow flurry was de regeur for me. Easy . . . . until the car didn’t start. All I heard was a clickety-click sound where the VROOOOM should be.


I would not be denied, and I did what any red-blooded American writer would do: I walked over to the employer’s fine office and picked up my paycheck. I call it Johnny.

<>Despite the snow, not even my ears got cold. My consolation on the way over was that I was walking against the wind (in ore ways than one) and the trip back would be easier

I am strong.
I am invinkibble.
I carry a beard.The scenery was nice. Moderate wind and marginally freezing temerature made light walk of it. In places untouched by wind, the snow was an inch deep. Elsewhere the pavement was clear but wet; no sweat.

The check was waiting on the desk as I entered, and well-esteemed publisher was in transit elsewherely down the hall.

“Hi, Job. Incredible weather out there isn’t it?”

“Hi (name). Sure is. Thanks for the check.”

These are busy times, especially around lunch hour. We have real work to do. Chatting is a zero-sum game.

Everything went fine for me and my paycheck for the first three blocks homewardly bound. I literally re-traced, on a reciprocal heading, my own footsteps in the snow. Of some concern were the decidedly chicken-toed impressions made on my way to the office. Was this the same guy who used to pride himself on his stride? who not one friend or working associate could keep up with in happier, snowless ambles? It was an ugly brush with reality.

I consciously redirected my feet to 90 degrees, due east; straightened those Florsheims right out. THAT was the man I used to be. Any ice detective happening onto mine opposing impressions would conclude that even though the shoes were the same size. they were different guys.

After crossing South Grand and making my way almost past Laurel United Methodist Church, I heard the sound I would make if I were a mugger instead of a writer, and wanted the chump walking solo, one foot in front of where I had just come out of hiding to turn around and notice me.


I turned around, expecting to be knifed in the gut by a crazed Mexican or alderman who really liked my leather jacket, stylish Florsheims and wallet. My sudden fears were unfounded.

It was a fine fellow who had just come from the church, carrying a small box of something, and had tramped his shoes against bare sidewalk to get the snow off! I must have looked as white as a white whiteguy.

He nervously laughed. “Sorry to have scared you” he said. “I was just getting the snow off my shoes.”

“No problemo. No problem,” I replied intentionally covering both lingo bases though it was obvious, in front of a Methodist church, for God’s sake, that he was a legal citizen. I’ve gotta tell you though, I emitted about a 15-second sigh after he turned toward his waiting car in the parking lot!

The rest of the trek was easy. Total distance abut eight blocks; total time 20 minutes. I was ready for frikking LUNCH!

I had places to go today. To blazes with them all except for the bank only two blocks away. I need to deposit that check.

A friend is coming over tomorrow morning to talk aviation. We can jump my battery then. The only thing that bums me is that if the substitute teacher line calls, I won’t be able to respond. If the Soggy Bottom Express is in serious disrepair, I will simply have to walk for a few days, until the rent check comes in for sure. If, as I fear from a recent envelope from my insurance people, I also must pay house insurance, I WILL pay house insurance, even if I can’t renew car insurance, double-dang it. To stay on the good side of the bank, which loaned me some big bucks, I must have house insurance. All that dire mire wallow action will NOT keep me from working on The Book, and if that means walking down-frikking-town to the frikking library and back, let it be. This book will not be denied either. And besides,

I am strong.
I carry a beard.

Live long . . . . . live dry.

Read Full Post »

The Soggy Bottom Express

When dad died in late 1994, one of the first things I did was call a car salvage company to take away the Chevy I had purchased from an acquantance at church. The woman told me a few things needed repair, but her son did car maintenance, and he’d get to them as soon as my check cleared her bank. There was a lot to like about that Chevy; mostly the air conditioning. But I discovered — after the check cleared — I couldn’t drive it on the highway. I tried — this was back when I travelled the state for an actually employer, believe it or not — and that’s when I learned the real price of the handsome but costly Caprice. For the duration of my days with IARF, I rented when I roamed beyond Sherman and Lake Springfield.

So after the police came and saw dad, and the Bisch people came and took him away, I called the car salvage people, all on the same morning. I then became the proud owner of dad’s 1986 Ford Escort. For ten years, it served me well. I was able to drive to Decatur to write for Decatur Magazine, to Rantoul to help with the Octave Chanute Museum and even semi-commute to Carlinville and Tallula and elsewhere to attend to matters of the heart, so to speak. Then things started going bad with the car. For a bloke with a job, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. I will spare you the solemn saga except to say that in 2004, the outside door handle on the driver’s side broke. No big deal; I opened the passenger door from the outside, reached across, opened the driver’s door from the inside, and all was fine. In 2005, the passenger door’s outside handle broke.

Thank God she’s a hatchack.

Today I call her the Soggy Bottom Express. To enter her, I open the hatchback, insert a hefty branch havested from fallen timber in my back yard, and prop that heavy “door” open. The hydraulics which would keep it up normally haven’t worked since ’03. I then lift one leg about as high as I can lift it, lean into the trunk and with the remaining foot still on the ground behind, push my froggy body into the back of the car. . . . . open the driver door from the inside, gently ease back out of the car in a combination crawl/squat, return right foot to terra firmly and exit the back. Normally, in winter, I do this in my house clothes: the slacks with the model airplane paint on the legs, the shirt with a missing button near the top, the sweatshirt with the raggedy sleeve cuffs and the Animal Protective League logo on the front. I then return to the hoose, change into decent clothes, proceed with all deliberate speed to the Soggy Bottom Express, and go where I must go.

I didn’t start calling her the Soggy Bottom Express until a few months ago. I plan my local travel (there is no other kind) carefully. Usually, even in rain, my entry routine keeps things dry inside. If I’m parked in the school parking lotm substitutte teachihng on a rainy day, I either leave my car door open just a hair, so it doesn’t latch or I endure the ignominy of re-entering my car via the propped open hatch routine. The spectacle has generated some interesting glances, but folks know I’m a harmless married mother’s son, and they ignore or  enjoy the show. Until recently, I endured the public sntic.

When I hit 60 years old, my attitude was bent back by that impact, the way a STOP sign looks after an “intersection incursion” where a skidding car bumper kisses it. So now I say to blazes with that public sillyness.

When I arrive anywhere, window of the low door — usually the passenger door, unless it’s a one way street and I park on the left curb — is cranked part way down so I can reach in and open frikking door from the outside. Even in precipitation, the angle helps keep falling snow or rain from coming in. But sometimes, more recently, I just leave the driver’s window open regardless of rain when I park anywhere away from home;  sometimes even at home. And if I arrive at a reception or a meeting with a soggy bottom, big fripping DEAL! Nobody seems to notice, and in half an hour or so I’m mostly dried out and back to normal.

What about water damage to the car’s interior????????????????????, you may ask. It’s all vunyl and synthetics anyhoo; pretty much like my state of mynd these days. The Soggy Bottom Express and I are sharing our final days together, her in her way; I in mine. Even if someone would hire me, I’ve pretty much determined to stay with her for the forseeable future. We’re a unit. We’re a pair. A biumverate of weathered resignation..

Jez me and the Soggy Bottom Express.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

Joyeux Julie Goldberg


Pictured above is classical guitarist Julie Goldberg who played in concert sponsored by Springfield Classical Guitar Society February 16. (photo by Job Conger)

This isn’t a review; it’s an observation, intended for readers who don’t know Agustin Barrios Mangore from Leo Brower and don’t particularly want to know. To be honest, I can tell Ellington on the piano from Brubeck, but I can’t tell Antigoni Goni from Christopher Parkening, even though I know their names and love their music. And there was a time when I didn’t know any of the above. People sometimes stumble into music that appeals, they become fans and maybe they even take lessons. The purpose of my observation is to encourage you to get to know Julie Goldberg and Springfield Classical Guitar Society (SCGS).

I’ve attended every SCGS concert since 2002. The first one I attended presented Julie. She was relatively new to the concert gauntlet after being named Guitarist of the Year by Classical Guitar Alive, a syndicated radio show. I was new to the concert scene though I must say if I had never met Springfieldian (native of Nawlins, Lweeziana, y’all) Russel Brazzel and heard him play at Capitol Cafe, I never would have made it to First Presbyterian Church for the “Goldberg variations.” Linus has his blankee; I had my camera, and I imagined I could do more with it than my distant relative and sucker of thumbs does with soggy flannel. I enjoyed the concert so much I’ve hung around ever since and launched a web site dedicated to classical guitar artists who play SCGS concerts. www.civag.com/classical6images.com

The Society has brought national names to this town, right under the noses of good people inclined toward the classical but perhaps put off by the prospect of hearing music of composers they don’t know. “Where’s the Mozart? Where’s the Ravel? Tell Tchaikovsky the news!” I have come to appreciate visiting artists who, like Julie, engage the audience.

There’s room in the classical rainbow for all colors. Even now, there are featured performers who are as exclusively focused on the the task of playing the notes as Bobbie Fischer played Boris Spaasky a gazillion years ago. They reflect the feelings Eliza Doolittle shared, regarding something wholly other when she sang, “This is no time for a chat.” This is why some physicians consider “bedside manner” a terciary concern. Folks going under for an angilplasty probably don’t review how aloof the doctor was when visiting them the day before. The just want him or her to get his shint together if you know what I mean. What’s wrong with that?

The concert public are not looking for a standup Robin Williams routine when they come to hear music; that’s for sure. But starting with Leonard Bernstein and others in the 60s, and today exemplified by Karen Lynn Deal with the Illinois Symphony and some talented classical guitarists, audiences have been engaged by more than beautiful music. That’s what Russel B. and Julie G. did, and that’s why I keep coming back. As for other guitarists who take the classic “chatty as stone” approach, they also make nice. I wish them all the best.

Consider the typical Springfield concert ticket buyer. Most have a general idea that “diamonds” (I amost said “gold” . . . . too easy.) will be harvested from the experience, and if not diamonds, at least a good evening, away from Cops and America’s Most Wanted. The talking artist gives the audience more to take home, more to remember, more to tell their friends about, even if they don’t buy their CDs and accidentally leave the printed program where they sat. All that glitters is not allegro Albinez. The performer glitters too.

The nifty thing about Julie Goldberg is that the repartee was as convivial in 2008 as it was years ago. The quality of artistry was noticably, memorably improved. There was more than practice and polish shared. We learned about what she was about to play, this and that. We learned something to take home with us, to echo in our heads and hearts even after Gus and the weather forecast. Nothing profound. I can’t remember a word she said, but I remember the joy, the smile, even when mastering a challenging riff in her memorized selections. She still has only one CD for sale, Dulce, reviewed at my web site and worth a listen. Julie told me a second CD is in process, but the process isn’t as easy as one might imagine. She runs hot and cold with it.

I hope when that second release goes out to the public, Julie Goldberg will return to Springfield for another concert. Even before would be good. And when you encounter that name in central Illinois, come on down, buy your ticket and be inspired with diamonds of melody and harmony. You might even want to take lessons!

Did I mention Russel Brazzel teaches classical guitar?

Bravo Joyeux Julie for a fine concert. I look forward to your return!

Live long . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »

I was aurprised Thusday aftternoon when I assisted with Springfield Area Arts Council’s (SAAC) Poetry Out Loud contest. The three-year old competition of high school students reciting poems selected from a lenghthy list of approved poems, encourages students to memorize, to do more than prove they can pronounce polysyllabic words on a piece of paper, to demonstrate the same kind of human kaliedoscope of expression when reciting a poem out loud that we use in real life. Since it was launched by the National Endowment fo the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and supported by the afore-mentioned SAAC, Illinois Arts Council, Hoogland Center for the Arts, Arena Food Service and a host of volunteers, I have been privileged to be a part of the local and and state action. I’ve been a judge, accuracy monitor and yesterday, I served as prompter. During the event, this long winter after my angry estrangement from much of the local “poetry community” I suffered a suprise: I discovered I was not as estranged from poetry as I believed. The joy of reciting, of studied, practiced elocution and expression, the wisdom and passion of better poets than I . . . . returned to me as I watched about 16 high school students infuse me with almost-forgotten splendors from words.

As prompter, I worked less than the accuracy judge, the three other judges focused on expression and the rest of the volunteers. Penny Wollan-Kriel, assistant director SAAC welcomed all and ably emceed the event. Newly arrived SAAC Executive Director Christina Steelman, fresh form Western Illinois University, took pictures.. Only two of the poets asked for my help, and only one of the two asked for my help more than once. The setup for help was pure genius. Students knew (as I also knew) that if they needed a boost, a word, the next few words, they were to look directly at me and pause. I was in the front row, several seats downwind from the expression judges, and I had the longest beard in the auditorium; easy to recognize. My role required me to stay wtih the students, dividing my attention between text on the page and their earnest, focused faces, ready to assist without embarassing, protracted silences. It was not unlike a pilot dividing attention btween the vital instruments in hic cockpit (head down) and the view out the windshield (head up) while landing an airplane in bad weather. The longest poem read — The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert W. Service — was four times longer than most poems read, so I anticipated speed bumps, and I was right. But the poem was very well recited, despite a few fast pauses for prompts, and I absolutely admired the young lady (there was only one young gentleman in the mix) for taking it on. Among her friends, or at the dinner table with the family — which is ideal rehearsal time as long as the mashed potatoes aren’t getting cold — she could have pulled it off without a hitch. But as I am confident YOU know, standing in front of a crowd of strangers, with visions of American Idol dancing in your head, takes a heck of a lot of composure! Every participating student had COMPOSURE radiating out of their smiles and attitudes like sunshine on the Fourth of July.

It was a kick to recognize some of the poets selected and recited. Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken and Whitman’s O Captain, My Captain were included. Also poems by Gwendolyn Books, Sir Walter Raleigh and Edna St. Vincent Millay were recited. Other poems by authors with whom I consider myself subnominally familiar were recited well as well. Reading the poems in advance several times as home, and then sharing them recited, expanded my horizon. I will return to some of those names new to ms: AI (a real name, apparently) and Wilfred Owen for sure. Talking with some of the students afterward, I asked the Whitman reciter if he was familiar with his immortal book Leaves of Grass. He responded that he had never heard of the book. HEY DEDICATED HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHERS! NOW is the time to supplement what your exemplary students learn from the Poetry Out Loud site on the Internet wtih some essential, engaging background! (<— just a thought)

Vachel Lindsay was among the poets presented in the program’s poet listing, but no students selected a Vachel poem. That’s okay. The event was not about Vachel; it was about something more than Vachel. Even so, I DID recite a Vachel poem quietly (almost whispered) during the break between routnds one and two with the accuracy judge. I recited Vachel’s What the Sexton Said, and I was more than amply acknowledged with her kind reaction. I also told several others about my connection to Vachel the Springfield citizen and world poet.

I departed the event renewed in my passion for the well-recited words of talented poets. I am, before I am a poet, a reciter of poetry. I am majorly pained I no longer can share poetry recited or even properly elocuted as it should be shared as much as I’d like, thanks to circumstances, the details of which would only furthur sully this blog posting. Whether I am engaged by others to recite poems is beyond my control but not beyond my concern. I will recite Vachel, or my poems, “at the drop of a hint.” And if lunch, diner or remuneration one can fold and deposit in a bank are involved, I will even rehearse. I am what I am. In the meantime, as I be what I be, I extend my sincere KUDOS to Springfield Area Arts Council and sponsors and volunteers for a heart-warming encounter with good people doing good things. They helped me with my navigation through what matters and does not in turbulent skies, and when I touch down safely onto terra firmly, it will, in part, be due to this fine encounter.

You should learn more about Poetry Out Loud by visiting www.poetryoutloud.org

One poem which really touched me was Edna St. Vincent Millay’s I think I should have loved you presently. I vowed, after encountering this poem and it’s fine reciting yesterday, to read more about her and to read, perhaps recite, her poems. When I opened today’s posting of Writer’s Almanac today, I learned today is her birthday! Happy B-Day M-lay!

.Live long . . . . . . and proper.

Read Full Post »



























Read Full Post »

I remember hearing about a flying field out southeast by Lake Springfield in the early days. What was the name of that field, and who managed it? flew from it? Do you have pictures and stories?

There was also a field straight south of town just off Route 66 before the bridge over Lake Springfield. I was probably four years old when I saw it. It was by the buildings erected during World War II; buildings later demolished to make way for MacFarland Zone Center and other businesses. What was the name of that field? Was it a Restricted Landing Area (RLA) or public strip? Who owned, managed, flew from and do you have pictures and memories to share?

Another field I remember from childhood was on the east/west street known today as Stephenson Drive. It was on the north side just west of where Illini Motors (Oldsmobile, Cadillac) relocated to in the early 60s and west of Lake Springfield’s big utility power plant. Pictures? Names? Memories?

I am more interested in public flying fields than RLAs. I know about Penny Stanton’s field south of Riverton. Visited it twice. Wonderful fellow and great people, every one. But I don’t have more than a few pictures. Who can share pictures and memories?

I attended junior high and high with Jim Richardson, a great friend who in high school, was taking calculus while I could barely handle long division. His parents owned Richardson Manufacturing on Old Jacksonville Road. Jim told me the company manufactured components for B-47s. True? 

1 Stanley Kluzick ferried Lockeeds during WW2 and had an aircraft junkyard east of Springfield. Do you have pictures and memories of him? I talked to him one time for about an hour on the phone. Interesting fellow!

2. Do you have a picture and memories of J. David Jones

3. Do you have a picture and memories of Langhorne Bond?

4. Do you have a picture and memories of CFI Deb Hutson?

5. Picture and stories about State Journal-Register columnist Harry Clark?

6. Picture and stories about Sangamo pilot Jack Cooney or any other Sangamo pilot?

7. Did Ralph Luchsinger own a Comanche based at Holmes Field, and RLA? and worked for Bunn-O-Matic in their SPI hangar for awhile.. Is he still around?

8. Is the Holmes field still around?

9. Is Tommy George’s ultralight field still around?

10. Is Ron Anderson’s maintenance operation still going and where? Is it an RLA?

11. Do you have a picature and stories of Johnnie Marsh?.

12. What other RLAs are in Sangamon County today?

13. Was there an airport on the north side of Stevenson Drive between Allis Chalmers and the power plant?

14. Where was Fleck’s flying field?

15. Are there still two chapters of Experimental Aircraft Association in Springfield?
Addresses, contact persons, email?

16. What do Springfield residents who like airplanes, but who are not pilots, need to know about Springfield aviation?

17. What do readers in Provo, Utah need to know about Springfield aviation?

16. What do Springfield residents who like airplanes, but who are not pilots, need to know about Springfield aviation?

17. What do readers in Provo, Utah need to know about Springfield aviation?

If you can answer these questions, post what you can in the comments or call me. I’m in the book or write me – jobconger@eosinc.com

May your skies be CAVU
and may you always return
to home.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »