Archive for the ‘Vachel Lindsay’ Category

Here are lyrics to a song I wrote, completed at 2:15 am, July 8, 2003 at home. It was published in my third book of poems and song lyrics Bear’ sKin .  I’ve sung  it whenever I believed people who had attended SHS in the mid-60s might be present, and even if none were, I believe in the song, the sentiment, and audiences usually seem to like it. I hope you do too.

Acappella Choir
by Job Conger

(opens with the chorus)

I never sang in acapella choir
Though I wanted to
In the very worst way.
So I bought myself a guitar
To sing my joys and tribulations
And as for now,
I’m doing okay.

I was a lucky boy to know
Mr. Daniel Sprecklemeyer
Acappella Choir leader
Brilliant with the harmonies.
He was more than just a teacher.
He was laughing inspiration
With a song in his heart
Full of sweet melodies.


There was magic in the music
Sweetly singing in the concerts
I was just a first tenor
But I was part of the team
Every challenge in rehearsal
Was a mountain that  we conquered,
And the view from the summit
Was the answer to a dream.


All the Robert Shaw arrangements,The world premiere of Lindsay’s “Congo”
Mormon Tabernacle’s “Battle Hymn”
Blake’s “Songs of Innocence”
Spring’s “Mardi Gras” productiion
Paper snow, “Sleigh Ride” at Christmas
Janet Boosinger’s great parties,
Joys unknown before and since.

(chorus )

I was a kid without voice training.
Others took their private lessons.
And my voice was immature
Like nouveau Beaujolais.
When I had my chance to solo
My voice crumbled like a Saltine,
But I loved that mighty chorus,
And I do to this day.

Invite me to dinner and I’ll trade you a concert of this and more in your living room or auditorium.

Live long . . . . . .  and proper.

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For most of my life, I’ve considered me a “living room guitarist.” In recent weeks I’ve concluded I had way too high an opinion of myself in that regard.

In 6th grade, my parents gave me for Christmas a $15 Kay guitar they had purchased at Sears. After learning how to tune it with help from a book from the library and the family’s Chickering upright piano, I lasted a year without learning how to play a chord on it. The hard-bound books were technical, for grown-ups. I was 10 years told. Even so, in spring of 1959, in a classroom at Black Hawk Elementary School, I “pantomimed” (they call it lip synch now) “Problems, Problems” sung by the Everly Brothers on a big hole 45 RPM record. The kids loved the “performance.”

In 8th grade at Benjamin Franklin Junior High, during a school sock hop, I had been chosen to be one of three disk jockeys who spun records from the gymnasium stage. In the middle of my allotted time, with help from my friend Tad Baumann, I disappeared from the stage and came back in a sport coat and guitar as Elvis Presley and pantomimed “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog,” to an astounded audience. For the rest of my time at my favorite school of all time, friends and strangers occasionally called me Elvis.

In 9th grade, in Mr. Nika’s choral music class, I played my own guitar and chords I had learned from a Mel Bay book for beginners. I sang three songs, but the one I remember is “Undecided,” a big step BACKWARD from Mr. Presley’s repertoire.

My family loved my music. They seemed to think I was some sort of a child prodigy — WAIT — Well… maybe THEY didn’t . . . but I sure did.

There are days I still do.

In high school and college, I was part of three folk groups; played at some interesting venues in the groups and as a solo singer-songwriter in Springfield, Jacksonville and Bloomington=Normal, Illinois.

Guitars have always been part of my life though I have gone months without practicing and playing. Though I’ve written songs inspired by religion, my love life (about as successful as my music career) and politics all my life, I never found a body of good people who listened to me regularly, apparently enjoying the music, until I joined the local Poets & Writers Literary Forum in the early 1990s. The connection has been relatively steady through the years, though I’ve “dropped out” occasionally.

As an adult, my connection with my instrument has become more tenuous than it was in my 30s. By the time I was that old, I had played many open mics in the area. The audiences were always kind. One fellow asked where I’d been playing in the area, flatteringly assuming I was more popular than I was. Glances from friends and strangers began to tell me I was IMPOSING myself on them. They were too nice to say “STOP! GO HOME!” and because I was a “performing artist” I continued playing despite growing disappointment with MYSELF (because I wasn’t practicing enough and my finesse with the finger picking was going to hell) and the audiences weren’t as communicative as they used to be.

Since spring 2013, friends whose attention and conversation I valued IMMENSELY have literally disappeared after I finished my set of three or four songs at open mics. At parties, twice, I’ve felt like a blind man with a tin cup, waiting to play a few songs. Someone tolerated. People looked through me as though I were a ghost.

Part of the circumstance is self-induced. I’m not as accepting of the incapacities of others. People resent me for that and the snowball to self-oblivion continues.

So a few days ago, I did not include my guitar on the guest list at a party a long-time friend, cherished friend, invited me to attend. I Invitations had been sent to a relative privileged few, and I was one of them. Since had departed two previous parties attended by many of the same people, two parties from which I departed unhappy with myself and a few almost-strangers, I left my guitars at home. It was my decision. No one asked me, directly or implicitly, not to bring my guitar. This was the best way I could avoid getting angry at good people who would likely exercise their God-sanctioned Constitutional right not to pay attention. I could not play badly if I didn’t play at all.

I left early and unhappy anyway. When the usual musicians began coming together to jam, I decided I would not be in the room where they would play. Better yet, I should leave anyway; avoid the inevitable discomfort of coming face to face with my own stupidity. I wasn’t rude to anyone. I departed via the back door so most of my friends would not see me leave.

When I arrived home, I was still terribly out of sorts. I decided I would not play my guitars for a year or forever, whichever comes first, on Facebook, and I did. Reaction to the post touched my heart. Many who haven’t even heard me play shared concern.

One friend LIKED the news I wasn’t playing guitar for a long time. Total bummer! I guess that was “payback” for an opinion I voiced several years ago. But we’ll never be even; never be square, and we’ll never be friends. And that will likely cost me more friends.

I commented on Fb that I would blog about it on Honey & Quinine. This is the post.

It’s the post of a kid who failed in his assumed career as a living room guitarist. At least I’ve gone on hiatus. I’m not going to play at home where only the mice are listening, I”m not going to practice. The guitar I kept at my aviation museum is in a corner of my bedroom at home now, along with the others.

I’m not anti-social over this. I will recite my poetry and Vachel Lindsay’s poems where I feel good doing it, and today I’m going to start smiling and attempting to engage friends who are still my friends in convivial conversation.

The music has died. Maybe it only fainted, but looks and feels demised. We’ll know . . . in a year or forever . . . whichever comes first.

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

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I’ve been a fan of Springfield, Illinois-born poet Vachel (rhymes with HAYchel) Lindsay for more than 30 years. Vachel was a man. You’d be amazed how many people hearing the name pronounced correctly for the first time are surprised to learn that. He lived from 1879 to 1931. For years Vachel’s “place” was at the house on South Fifth Street and in the hearts of those who had read his poetry or heard him speak it to packed theaters and auditoriums all over the USA, Canada, England and even his own home town. I recite his poetry and talk about his fascinating life to anyone who will listen, and in the course of that reciting (not the same as reading it to pieces of paper while those gathered near listen and quietly plan their grocery shopping) I have witnessed countless Midwesterners come to appreciate the man and his gift to the ages: a legacy of beauty that touches our hearts today. Two of the newest “comers” to know Vachel are my friends Peter Pero from Halstead Street in Chicago and his friend Greg from near Galena. On Saturday, June 1, the three of us motored to Oak Ridge Cemetery where Vachel “rests” with his mom, dad, sister Olive and three sisters who died of illness early into their lives. Here we found Vachel, and we reflected on some of his poems.


The best way to find Vachel is to visit Oak Ridge Cemetery’s administrative offices on Monument Avenue during weekday business hours. There you will be given a map of the grounds with the location of the Lindsay graves clearly marked.

Peter and Greg at Vachel's headstone

Peter and Greg at Vachel’s headstone

If the office is closed. drive to Lincoln Tomb which “towers” above the stones of lesser mortals and drive northwest on the well-maintained lanes. Look for the sign with the name and the arrow.

Job Conger poses beneath an important lane-side sign.

Job Conger poses beneath an important lane-side sign.

The gravesite is inspiring to this writer. To be close to the stones is to be touched by the spirit of the poet, PARTICULARLY if you have read or heard 10 of his poems — any 10 will do — or known of him longer than a week.

Almost two years ago Peter had arranged for me to recite and sing some of Vachel’s poems which I had set to music for guitar accompaniment at Chicago’s internationally known College of Complexes. On that occasion I also explained Vachel’s close ties to “The Windy City” of which there are many. One reason for his arranging for his friend Greg to come to Springfield was so I could acquaint a new friend with the poet and his works.

Peter Pero of Chicago

Peter Pero of Chicago

Earlier in the day I had recited Vachel’s “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” in the Senate chambers during our visit to the Old State Capitol in lyrical downtown Springfield. At the end of our tour of the Dana-Thomas House, the most completely restored home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright during his early years. I recited Vachel’s “On the Building of Springfield” for Greg, Peter and the others who had taken a wonderful guided tour. I will describe that tour soon here at Honey & Quinine. At Vachel’s place, I recited some more.

Job Conger reciting "The Mouse that Gnawed the Oak Tree Down" the first Vachel poem he ever recited in public.

Job Conger reciting “The Mouse that Gnawed the Oak Tree Down” the first Vachel poem he ever recited in public.

There was no hurry. There never is at a cemetery. There was time to consider the life of probably the most famous native son of our city and be glad that he has touched our lives with his example and his poetry.

Soon it was time to depart. Supper time was approaching and there was a Shop N’ Save Supermarket calling to our appetites. We obeyed. I was grateful for Greg’s and Peter’s interest in Vachel’s place. They may never return to Oak Ridge Cemetery, but I am confident they will return to his poetry.

left to right to Job's right, the headstones of Vachel Thomas Lindsay, M.D., Katharine Frazee Lindsay, and Nicholas Vachel  Lindsay.

left to r8ight to Job’s rigtht, the headstones of Vachel Thomas Lindsay, M.D., Katharine Frazee Lindsay, and Nicholas Vachel Lindsay.

I know I will too!

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Test post. My friends I drove to Oak Ridge Cemetery where we visited the Lindsay family gravesites. I recited “The Mouse that Gnawed the Oak Tree Down and we went to Shop N’ Save to buy food for dinner.

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Take Two
by Job Conger

For months President Bush fed us lies
Served by pious, righteous cronies sleek and wise.
Some of us didn’t care to dine on their siren soup du fear
.Now digestion time is over, and the truth is odiferously clear . . . .

He’ll sing and dance like few Yale frat brats can
When W’s feces of lies hit the fan.
Though he sold us a war, second guessing is a drag.
It’s amazing what some folks take home when you wrap it in a flag.

He has stained our proud Stars and Stripes true
With new colors of brown, black and blue.
Those who saw through his blow,
We ain’t real Americans no mo
As W’s feces of lies hit the fan.

Front yard PATRIOT signs are the rage
Like armband fashions of an earlier age.
The feared weapons are as real as “the emperor’s new clothes.”
The facts should be clear to all who breathe through their nose.

The Congress feasted on pork barrel pie.
The “sounds of silence” was their battle cry.
They stayed cool and well-fed
While soldiers brave died and bled
And W’s feces of lies hit the fan.

Now he tells us “Saddam had to go!”
“Nobody ever really liked that guy, you know.”
Though the U.N. tried hard, they could not find a trace,
So the “compassionate conservative” threw war in their face.

So, as we hold noses tightly and pray,
It’s time to send CHIEF INSPECTOR O.J.
For gasless, germless blue skies
Can’t match a PRO’s alibis
As W’s feces of lies hit the fan. 

—– written June 26, 2003

The song was my “mantra” during W’s ‘rain of you know what,” but even songs, like wars, don’t seem to move folks the way they used to. I will play/sing Page Two in public for the first time in years at Springfield Poets and Writers Group’s Open Mike Night, March 20 at Robbie’s Restaurant on Adams Street — Springfield’s South Side of the Square along with my songs “Watching the Tide Go Out” and the song I wrote about my early days of treatment for my separated kneecap repair at Memorial Medical Center. I’ll also recite a favorite Vachel Lindsay poem as always. There will be talent and awesomeness a plenty, so please attend if you can. The fun begins at 6 pm. I hope to see you there.

live long . . . . . and proper.

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I had been on the train to Chicago about two hours before I toot the first picture. PP1215-1  The burned out  building across the track from our stop at Pontiac, Illinois  was typical of the mood of the rainy, dark and drab morning since leaving the Springfield Amtrak station at 6:32. The land tells a tale of woe in winter. The one ray of sunshine that entered my picture was a young woman who boarded the coach class car a few minutes after me, who approached as asked if the aisle seat beside my window seat was taken. “It is if you would like to sit in it.” is what I should have said, and whatever I said worked because  she sat down. From that point on, as the Number 305 began to roll, I knew I was one of the luckiest passengers on the train.

I was in no rush to be chatty, and neither was she; a good thing.  Thanks to the rainy sky and hour of the new day, the whole car seemed hushed. A few passengers, obviously aboard since St. Louis or before had taken advantage of the seats with spare empties and stretched, to occupy both in blissful slumber through the night. There would be ample time for talk in the coming 3 1/2 hours. I glanced peripherally in her direction as she pulled out a Sports Illustrated, thumbed through it, stopping to read an article, it seemed, then looked over some papers from a computer printer. This took about an hour and a half.  I stared out the window at the darkness, mildly perturbed that the seat was positioned awkwardly behind the closest window. To take pictures when the sun rose to the occasion, I’d have to lean forward. It was really going to crimp my modus operandi, but as the light began to creep into the morning, I knew I wasn’t going to photograph anything significant anyway with the rain drops all over the window. There was no point in gazing into the dark so I began to read a small biography of Wolfgang Mozart I had brought for such a glum circumstance.

My trainmate sat still, eyes closed, no doubt, dozing. I know this because people don’t open their months slightly when they are meditating or feigning slumber. When I first noticed, her head faced pretty much forward, but over the miles it rolled to her left. I know this seems crazy to confess, but I felt I was watching something sacred as she slept. I glanced at her probably five times over that quiet hour, and never for more than a few seconds at a time. I didn’t want her to awaken to see me watching her. After her nap we began to lob remarks back and forth, and gradually began to converse. The entree to what would be civil, convivial patter for the rest of the journey was my asking her, “Are you a dancer? I noticed you reading the Sports Illustrated when we started, and I thought you might be with a ballet or something.”

No, she was not a dancer although she volunteers for an arts organization in Quincy, Illinois where she lives and works. She was coming to Chicago to go shopping and take a break from the home town. We chatted about Quincy and the times I had enjoyed there when on the road selling Encyclopedia Britannica. I was surprised she had not yet visited the Quincy museum, across the street from what used to be the Lincoln-Douglas Hotel where I used to stay, now a home for senior citizens.  I introduced myself; told her my name is Job and asked her first name.
She was Anna Lee. BEAUTIFUL name! Later, after we had talked awhile, I asked if I could take her picture. She said “yes.”


When I boarded the train, I had put my laptop computer carrying bag in the overhead luggage, but had placed my guitar, soundbox to the bottom and neck up, between my legs. Eventually, it entered the dialogue as I explained I was going to entertain at the Christmas party of some Chicago friends, Peter and Byung who had been visiting the Vachel Lindsay home State Historic site in 2010 when I was featured speaker at an event there.

As we rolled along I snapped a few pictures of the scenery outside, but my heart wasn’t in it. The weather was not my friend.  I recognized a lot of the scenery from my trip last year when I spoke, recited and sang at Chicago’s College of Complexes, thanks to the invitation and hospitality of my new friends Peter and Byung. I took probably three more pictures, and, two days later,  after reviewing them, decided none were fit to share.

As the train began to pull away from the Joliet station, I remembered to call Peter to let him know I was this far into the trip so he could start out for Union Station to meet me curbside by the CVS Pharmacy, I dialed his number.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . .   and discovered no answer and no voice mail! DANGIT! Peter had lost his cell phone and had told me earlier in an e-mail he’d be borrowing his wife’s on Saturday morning. I called her number five times. The only result was that I learned, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that his charming wife, Byung, had not set up voice mail! I had noticed Anna Lee using an Android or something like it earlier, so I asked if she could access e-mail with it. She could. And did. I gave her the information and we found Peter’s e to me in which he had given me Byung’s cell number. YES (surprise!) I HAD copied it correctly! I tried a few times more. NOTHING! Back to Anna Lee . . . Could she go back to that e-mail from Peter since all his e-mails include his home and office phone numbers. Maybe he had found his phone and didn’t tell me. . . . I called both numbers  . . . twice! No joy.  Anna Lee suggested she could e-mail him a note to call me on my cell. At least I would answer it. So we e-mailed him something cryptic with my cell number. . . . . . . . And in five minutes or so my phone rang.  WHHHHEEEEEEW!

Okay, all was set. No worries.  I gave Anna Lee my “Balladeer For Rent” folksinger card, and to my surprise and delight, she gave me her business card with an e-mail address.  As the train entered the dark part of the station, slowing to a stop, Anna Lee rose to get her luggage, and asked if she could pass me my laptop case. “Absolutely,” I said, and reached into one of the pockets, removed a copy of my book Confluence of Legends about my visit to Urbana, Ohio where I read a Vachel Lindsay poem and played/sang folk songs.  I explained I would wait for most of the passengers in our car to depart before following with my bulky guitar thanked her profusely for being such terrific company! She indicated the same satisfaction from our serendipitous encounter and went happily down the aisle.

My laptop case was full of my books: the afore-mentioned Confluence, plus Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois and Bear’ sKin, two of my  three poetry books and Springfield Aviation from Arcadia publishing. I had also brought copies of some Vachel Lindsay poems (I recite what I’ve memorised at the drop of a hint) and the Mozart biography. In one pocket were my hair brush, a bottle of after-shave from a grocery store. I had forgotten my toothbrush and toothpaste, though I had brushed before leaving Springfield. Finally, I had packed a pair of clean shorts, Fruit of the Looms, for the return trip the next day. I needn’t have bothered.

The trek into the station up the escalator and over to the CVS to wait for Peter was a breeze, in light rain. I would have been as happy to be walking in magnificent downtown Chi’ if it had been raining cats and dogs. I had packed light, I had my guitar, some great memories from the trip with Anna Lee. I was looking forward to seeing Peter and Byung again. I wasn’t merely Springfield folk slinger; I was frikking James frikking Taylor! I was a frikking STAR! I was absolutely where I wanted to be!

. . . Coming next on “Return to Chi’ (or) I Didn’t Even Change My Shorts” part 2: I meet Peter and tour an art house preparing for a silent auction and the FABULOUS MAJOR University of Chicago Art Gallery!

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


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Since January, I have stopped being a poet so that I could pour my heart and soul into a major project at AeroKnow Museum. Most readers will laugh and then sigh as I explain the obsession has been the consolidation of less-than-whole page (8.5 x 11 inch) scraps of information into single-page amalgams of information. I finished the project last Thursday.

Last January I started pulling scraps from every file in the museum’s Research Room: — 15 file cabinets — filling 12 (case-of-reams-of-office-copy-paper-size) boxes with them, and then setting them aside in the Intake Room to be further processed through two of the three requisite tasks leading to the return of the information removed back to the Research Room. In the meantime, too much of the rest of my life as ceased to exist.

The task was time-consuming to be sure, but it was made easier, thanks to my almost completely walking away from good people in this community whom I have known and appreciated for years. Most of this walking away has occurred since last August when I  started coming to grips with the angst of my frail mortality as I approached my 65th birthday. I’ve attended far fewer poetry and visual arts events than I attended before launching AeroKnow Museum at the airport.

I have completely walked away from Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site. For almost three years, I had been inviting the site director — who, through her occupation connection to history might have (logically) enjoyed seeing it — to visit AeroKnow MUSEUM. Until August I invited her every time I attended an event at the Lindsay landmark. Until November, I had renewed my membership in the Vachel Lindsay Association and attended the annual meetings. Not any more. I have not walked away from my appreciation of Vachel Lindsay and his poetry. I will continue sharing my Vachel Lindsay program and reciting his poems for anyone who will have me. My profound disappointment with the  “Lindsay elite” would be harder if my treasured Lindsay scholar and friend Dennis had not taken his own life about a year ago as Vachel’s birthday approached. The positive outcome of all this is that I better understand what I believe Vachel was experiencing before he took his own life in early December 1931. Springfield killed the poet pretty deliberately and well. The people of my own hometown Springfield (“this, the city of my discontent” — Vachel Lindsay from his poem “Springfield Magical”) killed my friend Dennis pretty well. I will not allow myself the incapacity to live, an incapacity I have felt looming in their company. They will not kill me.

The last poem I wrote this year was inspired by a painting displayed at a gallery in October. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to write the poem “We Wander” and delighted to share it with an attentive audience, excellent people who delighted in hearing it — and other fine poems from poets inspired by other fine paintings. I WANT to be writing more poetry. People who read it, like it. So why the HELL have I not thrown myself into the pursuit of becoming the next Rod McKuen or Henry Gibson? Because I reap more direct reward from aviation and the few friends I have come to know from that on a daily basis than I have reaped from the SEVERAL (but not many) friends I have come to know, since about 1989 with my poetry and songwriting/performing. The  poetry connecting — now that I must work Saturdays for an employer whose last paycheck was given t me almost two months ago — comes once a month TOPS. Sometimes not even that. The aviation affirmation comes every day of my life.

Meanwhile, back at the airport, since last spring this year, at least two or three days a week, I arrive at the museum office between 5 (when the host business opens for the day) and 5:30 two or three times a week, and darn near every day but Sunday before 7. On Sunday, I sleep late and arrive by 9 without fail.  My consciousness is what I call “water seeking its own level.”

I am wrapped up in the web of what I call “syncopated sunshine” — a rhythm of life that is inconsistent and hard to swing to.

On days I shower, I roll out of bed at 4, and arrive at the museum at 5, sometimes a few minutes before, and eight of 10 times, the early arriver is already there at the occasional 4:55 and the building’s front door is unlocked. Other times, I am out of the sack at 4:30, teeth brushed, (no time for coffee) dressed and out to the museum by 5 or close to it.

In theory, I should be able to do this consistently by hitting the hay by 9, if not 8:30. I need no more sleep than six and a half hours’ worth. In reality, I am ALLOWING  the travails of my workplace to figuratively “tie one hand behind my back.”  I leave work at 5 — and go directly to the museum until 6:30 to avoid the rush hour traffic going home. I ALWAYS find something to work on. No big surprise there.  But, if I’ve had a really rotten day at work,  I go by to see if there is a Wall Street Journal I can have. The FBO that provides fuel and maintenance to local and transiting aircraft receives a State Journal-Register and three Wall Street Journals daily. Pilots and passengers departing the FBO after landing to refuel may take a WSJ to read about their airplanes in transit elsewhere. If there are any left when I arrive after work, the counter crew may approve me taking one or they may indicate a few more flights are scheduled for the evening, and all WSJs on hand need to stay until those flights have come and gone. THEN they will slide one under my office door.  WSJs are important to the museum because I read every issue I get and clip anything related to aviation so I can file it upstairs.

On a good night I’m home by 7, but if the day at work was better than typical, and my outlook is good, I will work at the museum until 8, sometimes until 9 and on really good days until 10. They close at 11 pm.

On a good night, I’m eating dinner by 7:15 and washing it down the hatch with cheap Burgundy. I am trying to drink more iced tea and less burgundy, but it’s not working out very well. Regardless, even with iced tea, I am exhausted from semi-combat at my employer. I am often asleep in my recliner by 7:40, and awaken most frequently around 11 when I turn off the lights and go bed, but even that isn’t easy. Late night radio before midnight totally stinks. Last night it was so bad, I listened to a “sports radio” station as my head hit the pillow, not because I’m a sports fan but because the only other two stations I can receive clearly in the bedroom are right-wing diatribe and financial advice (two separate radio stations). At least I’m not offended by sports radio.  Getting to sleep is easy. I don’t drink more wine when I wander in after the early evening “nap” because I’m already half asleep.

Getting back to sleep after AWAKENING at 2 am is the problem! It is pure, freaking purgatory. I DON’T want to get up and do something. What the hell is there to do in my house?  I have begun to work on AeroKnow tasks at home just to stay awake after dinner. Sometimes I delay dinner because I know I won’t go to sleep before I eat.  I REALLY want to confine museum work to the museum and my employer who doesn’t complain if he sees aviation material on my showroom desk because he knows my FIRST PRIORITY while I am there is MY EMPLOYER. That’s as it should be.  I am HAPPY to earn my pay  . . . whenever . . . he decides . . . . to pay me.

My home computer is an old laptop I purchased about two years ago with a small screen. I cannot work with the small screen, even with a full-size keyboard plugged into it. Sooooooo I am committing my resources to a new desktop computer for HOME this Christmas, but not before. In fact I will  go shopping for one AFTER Christmas because I expect prices to be lower then.

With the desktop computer at home I HOPE to sleep solidly for at least six consecutive  hours a night by not napping. If I’m tired after dinner with or without wine, I will to to the frikking bedroom after turning off the lights and the thermostat to 55. Then I will use the time from whenever the hell I do awaken to write poetry or songs or whatever, even AeroKnow Museum tasks.

The real hard part? Holding onto things until January. That will be the hard part.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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DATELINE: Springfield, Illinois

The parking lot at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Walnut at Adams, was so dark when I drove into it at 4:50 am November 6 that even with my vehicle lights on, I could barely see the painted lines on the black asphalt. Parking next to a pickup truck on the far edge ensured that if I stopped close enough that I could open my door and had not feltt my front bumper hit anything, I’d be set for the day. One light over the side entrance to the church, where I had voted two years ago, was good for my pedestrian approach, and after I buzzed the custodian from the vestibule, it soon became apparent we were the only ones there. I understood the importance of the day, having been a  Precinct 50 judge for the previous 6 presidential elections and being pretty sure, this would be this would be history worth engaging for the duration of the day.

The  spacious all -purpose room that would be home to polling places for precincts, 43, 46 and 50 had been set up the night before with voting “booths on the far west wall, and  tables for 43 and 46 judges on the south wall and 50 on the north, next to the kitchen. The acoustics, thanks to the tight-weave “kitchen” carpet would prove superb over the next 16 hours, a major improvement over the previous site of Precinct 50 activity which had a tile floor and what appeared to be painted cinder-block walls. After chatting with the custodian a few minutes, I began removing materials from Precinct 50’s “big grey box” for the next hour’s set up of our part of the venue. Other judges began arriving closer to the designated 5 am, and by 5:20, 14 of the expected 15 judges were occupied in compliance with the election manual which describes, in great detail, what is to be done and in what order. We had all attended three hours of Election  Judge School as recently as two weeks ago, most of us had served during earlier elections, so things went without problems until we discovered that the ballot tabulating machine was not operating as required.  Election Board  technician Jacqui arrived very fast, and fixed the problem 10 minutes before the polls opened at 6:00.

First voters,  a married couple, had arrived about 5:45 and waited patiently in the warm and spacious church lobby until we opened the doors to the all-purpose room. During the previous off-year election, he had been living/voting in New York City, and she had voted in New Jersey across the river.  They were delighted to be in Springfield, and I was delighted to welcome them. 

From my position at the end of the Precinct  50 judges tables, I examined each ballot to be sure it had been initialed in our precinct’s red ballpoint pen. The  ballot handed my way was from judge Dave on my left. I  inserted it into a secrecy sheaf, handed it to the voter, reminded each that the ballot was printed on both sides, and pointed to the ballot box nearby.

Before the voter reached me each  has spoken first with judge Frieda who checked the person’s name and address with her  list recently printed by the election office. Those that were on it took two steps to the next judge who removed a voter application from a binder and asked the potential voter  to sign it. If the signature matched a signature recorded and displayed in that binder and both a Republican judge Dave and Democrat   judge Christy  agreed  that it matched,  Dave initialed the allot and passed it to me. We were short one judge at our precinct, so Dave was doing double duty as signature verifier and ballot initialer.  I kept an hourly tally of voters receiving ballots. Between  6 and 7 we greeted 15.

Those whose names and addresses did not match ours were given  every opportunity to vote. Frieda and Chrisy mad many calls to the election office for clarification and instructions. Several learned they had not come to the right  polling place and were directed to where they could vote. Many provisional ballots were given on site so those requiring them could vote. Later, records would be further cross-checked and vote counted or not.  Those who did not meet residency requirements for county and city candidates and issues were given Federal Ballots that included only candidates for election to federal offices in the D of C.  We issued two November 6.

From 7 to 8, we welcomed 23 voters. . . . .From 8 to 9 — 44 . . . . .From 9 to 10 — 30 . . . .From 10 to 11 — 31 . . . . From 11 to 12 —  38 . . . . From 12 to 1 — 31 . . . .From 1 to 2 — 39 . . . . 2 to 3 — 37 . . . . . 3 to 4 — 24 . . . . . 4 to 5 —  45 . . . . 5 to 6 — 28. Half an hour before the polls closed,  eight more hand voted, and from  6:30 to 7, five more.  I announced to everyone in the polling area at 6:57 tat polls would close in three minutes, and there were no voters and no one waiting to vote  at 6:59.

Lunch for the judges was purchased by respective precinct committeemen, or  “committeepersons,” if you prefer. Republican precinct committeeman George Tinkham sent a friend of his  to visit the two Precinct 50 judges who asked for pizza. No one knew the name of the Democrat Precinct 50 committeeman. Tim Moore, Precinct 45 Democrat committeeman generously purchased  sandwiches for the two Democrat Precinct 50 judges. Several of us had brought food which  we placed in the church kitchen, and all judges from all precincts and parties were invited to help themselves. I brought donuts and grapes, Burnel Heineke brought  a crock pot of home-made chilli and an incredible pineapple upside down cake. Another judge from home-made pumpkin bread.  Delicious! No judge ended the day hungry. 

I had brought a book to read during slow times (The West-Going Heart by Eleanor Ruggles, about Vachel Lindsay), but there was absolutely no time to read, and almost no time to eat. There was more than an hour passing between bites of pizza in early afternoon. Absolutely essential for every judge at Precinct 50 was the mandate to be alert, focused on The VOTERS, and dropping everything to greet all comers with a friendly, welciming attitude. We were all amazed and thrilled by the very large response from voters in all precincts.  I was particularly happy to greet many friends who live in our part of Springfield.

Precinct 50 had begun the day with 800 ballots, and at 7:00 pm, we had used 387. Two ballots had been mistakenly been declared SPOILED before they were tabulated (counted) so we know that 385 voters successfully voted in Precinct 50. Total  ballots successfully processed by the three precincts totaled 1,309.

The greatest challenge of the day came after we closed the doors and it was time to process  ballots. A common single ballot box using a wonderful computer that read each ballot inserted presented the judges with 1,309 ballots that had to be sorted by precinct and then verified VALID.  We were looking for ballots that had not been initialed, that were damaged, that kind of thing. Once the sorting was done, each precinct counted ballots. Simply put, the goal — if say 350 Precinct 50 ballots were counted, we would count 450 unused ballots. If we counted 355 ballots and we then had counted 450 unused ballots, we would know “something’s rotten in Denmark, ” so to speak.  A time-consuming hiccup occurred when after counting, we discovered one more ballot than  we should have had.  We also learned that another precinct was short one ballot. All four Precinct 50 judges had counted our ballots twice, and there was no disputing the number. Early into the process of re-examining every ballot we had, we discovered the missing ballot from the other precinct. Despite each precinct initialing its approved ballots  with different-color ink, we had missed it in the separation and counting process!  The  wayfaring ballot  was returned to its rightful “home” across the all-purpose room, and a silent, but palpable YAHOO we felt by the nine judges from precincts 50 and 46!

The rest of the evening was spent putting all ballots into a special ballot box with a  special seal we would  sign and attach to the box. The rest of the materials were returned to be “big grey box” I had opened at the start of the day. The “big  grey” was placed into the trunk of Republican judge Dave’s car, and Democrat judge Christy carried the ballots out to he car. They would receive extra pay for driving to the Sangamon County Building where a hardy team from the election office would remove the “big grey box” from the trunk. They would then park the car near by, and both Republican Dave and Democrat Christy would deliver the  ballots tot he Ejlection Commission Office inside. They  would sign their names as “delivers” of Precinct 50 ballots for processing.   I left the church at about 855 after carrying the “big grey box” to Dave’s trunk.  One precinct was still processing the goods when I departed. The other had exited 10 minutes earlier.  Dave and Christy would likely be home by 9:45, in time for a late dinner and the 10:00 news.

The parking lot lights showed me what I had missed at 5 am. It had been rainy and misty all day, and it was moderately cool, downright refreshing to be outside after 16 hours inside. At home, I enjoyed the dinner I had purchased the night before for this occasion: a store-made chef salad,  fully half of te store-baked apple pie and all the Carlo Rossi Burgundy I cared to quaff. 

When I crawled under the covers about 11:30, Ohio vote counts were still not tallied, but it looked like things were going in favor of the Democrat candidate for president.  When I arose from six good hours of slumber to head out to the airport museum today, the outcome was  no longer in doubt.

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

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A friend from an advanced planet visited my home and my city last weekend. His name is Peter Pero, and the advanced planet is Chicago, which is my way of saying “it’s another world.” I know because I visited the city, his home and his charming wife Byung earlier this year when I was invited to share the story of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay, his poetry, my poetry and s0me of my songs at Chicago’s College of Complexes, a club for citizens who like to think and learn. It was a fab weekend, I wish to bejeebers I could visit and perform there again, and if anybody’s interested, the full story of my visit can be found in my Honey & Quinine posts around March of this year. Peter wanted to learn more about the Lindsay fanatic, my city and  my aviation museum.

Friday night we had dinner at Casa Real on North Grand, not far from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. The place was packed, and noisier than some jet engines I have stood next to. The food and service were excellent. After, we drove to a Shop’N’Save across the street and bought a few six packs of Michelob Premium Amber Ale. There was most of a gallon of Carlo Rossi Burgundy already at home in case that proved insufficient.

Peter was impressed with my collection of vinyl records. They seemed as rare as arrowheads to him. He was delighted to find my Phil Ochs album “All the News that’s Fit to Sing” in the rack. Phil was a passionate folksong writer/performer whom Peter remembered when Ochs sang at the Art Institute of Chicago some weeks before he committed suicide. Peter had not heard Ochs’ song “The Thresher” which I’ve been playing and singing since about 1968, and it was as much an education for him as his memories of the man were for me. I introduced him to one of my fave musician songwriters who lightened the sky like a Roman Candle and sadly faded to oblivion: pianist Biff Rose. I saw Rose twice on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, bought all three of his albums and mourned is sorry fade to ignominy. We listed to all three albums, plus some Basie, The Dillards, a Mike Nichols and Elaine May comedy album; also part of an album by Southern regional comedian Dave Gardner (who played Springfield’s Lake Club in the 60s; my father met him when he visited Roberts Bros. downtown to buy some clothes). The evening was a hoot, and it was a late night for the both of us: lights out about 2:30.

I respect the wishes of my house guests in the main — the worst exception being “Lenore” of the spring of 2009. I could write a book consisting mostly of my regrets about that wonderful encounter that went south faster than the Titanic, but with no permanent fatalities beyond the death of a dream. I’ll spare you the details —  and Peter recommended commencing the rest of the morning at 9:00 am. I was happy to oblige, but my morning commenced in my home office at 7, which is late for me.

A visit to the restored Lincoln-Herndon Law offices downtown was item #1 on the day’s itinerary. Unfortunately, the place was short-staffed, and the one person there was in he middle of a scheduled group tour. We heard him advising the gentleman at Tinsley Dry Goods souvenir shop, accessible through an open door at the back of the visitor orientation area on the Law Offices’ ground floor. Tinsley is a terrific gift shop for anyone seekiln’ Lincoln. We looked around; nothing lightened our wallets.

We went next door to Prairie Art Alliance’s Gallery II, delighted it was OPEN a little after 9:30 and equally delighted to encounter my friend, manager Jennifer Snopko at the welcoming desk.

Jennifer Snopko, proof positing that not all works of art hang on walls

I had not been there since playing and singing at their First Friday gallery reception, and it was great to see so much new art.

Peter Pero, visitor from an advanced planet at Prairie Art Alliance Gallery II.

watching tourists from other planets outside Gallery II

view from the front desk at Gallery II

With the permission of their chaperones, the young ladies outside Gallery II posed for Obewan Cameraguy.

The group tour was still underway upstairs at the LHL Offices, so we boogied across the street and half a block south to



The Golden Frog Cafe, which, sadly ceased operations seven days after our Saturday visit, offered some terrific souvenirs, among them this.

The Golden Frog where the creative thinkers group Writers Bloc was certain to be in session. Since I must work most Saturdays, this was my first opportunity to visit the new meeting venue.. The writers are all long-time friends of mine, and it was great fun to introduce my friend from an advanced planet.

We enjoyed a light breakfast and coffee, all prime chow and caught up with the peoples’ lives. Peter wisely decided to try a third time to visit the Lincoln-Herndon under-staffed Law Offices while we natives jabbered away in the usual way, and he returned later appearing satisfied with  his good fortune visiting the upstairs main event over there.  He was just in time to savor, following his return, the sounds of Bossa Azul, a local “bossa and jazz” trio I am happy to call friends.

Bossa Azul at play (and song) October 20 at The Golden Frog Cafe.

briDEEP, briDEEP, briDEEP

We stayed for a set of their scintillating strains before taking off to the airport.

Peter visits the Research Room at AeroKnow Museum

AeroKnow Museum is best seen in daylight. Yes, there are lights there, but daylight is the best time to see the six rooms upstairs. We were also less rushed than then previous evening when he arrived, parked his car for the entire visit  in the free parking lot, and I became host and tour guide in my pickup truck.  He seemed to appreciate the collection. Too bad he doesn’t live closer to Springfield. A friend who might want to help is a terrible thing to waste.

considering a model of a Japanese torpedo bomber in the Kits Room

It was at that point that the battery in my Sony Cyber-shot ran out of juice. To give it time to recharge, we departed for lunch at the restaurant Galery II’s jovial Jennifer had recommended for Peter’s first HORSESHOE SANDWICH (choice of meat on open-faced toast — white, whole wheat or rye — and smothered with french fries and an incredibly well-prepared cheese sauce), a Springfield landmark like Lincoln and Lindsay. The Brickhouse is located on west side of 5th Street between Adams and Monroe. Jennifer was absolutely RIGHT about their horseshoe sandwich. There were many customers, but the ambiance was commendably quiet, absolutely terfiic!  I was blown away by the sprinkling of chive on the top and the mildly “warm” seasoning of the sauce. I am not a hot sauce fan, but I totally enjoyed the treatment of the sandwich. It was too “hot” for the visitor from an advanced planet. When he asked for a simple lettuce salad, our server brought an AMAZING production of greens and a plethora of additional items (carrots, olives . . . all sorts of salad “fixin’s”) Peter was knocked over by its appearance, and so was I. He didn’t even want dressing on it; just wanted it to tame the seasoning of the cheese sauce. He gave half of it to me, which went home in a “doggie bag,” and I enjoyed it with dressing, with dinner Sunday night. I can’t wait to go back to The Brick House for another horseshoe.

We returned to the airport to retrieve my camera with battery charged, and then it was back to town to tour the Illinois State Museum.

outside the entrance, a happy surprise


I don’t know WHAT this is, but it was great to see the words of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay and the artistic creation of my friend Felecia Olin!

information about the creation at the base

It was as interesting as always, and Peter was impressed.

posing with a creature that was native to these parts, even before Abe







Then we drove out to Washington Park to hike off some of the horseshoes we were digesting.The walk was excellent. Lots to see and photograph.






Foreground: Peter Pero. Background: Washington Park’s Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon during the annual PumpkinFest.






view of the carillon in late afternoon


Peter and inspiring sculpture

My friend Felecia Olin was having a one-woman gallery showing at The Pharmacy (visual artists organization) Warehouse,, walking distance from my home. We walked over there and spent about an hour. Because my Cyber-shot was out of battery again, I took my Canon EOS 20D SLR with a telephoto lens. I knew I would photograph everything  at atleast 70mm and up to 300mm, it was my only choice, and I thought it would be  great fun to play with it. I was right.

Around the gallery, people come and go, talking of Feliciangelo. (Sorry TSE)


a painting by Springfield artist Felicia Olin


visitors to FeliciaWorld, a terrific event

We walked home drank more ale on the front porch. Joining us was my guitar. We serenaded the lawn grubs for about two hours in the perfect autumn-crisp air and turned in early.

The next morning I occupied myself in my home office for two and a half hours waiting for 9 am, and it was time well spent. Then we walked over to my favorite breakfast restaurant a few blocks away and enjoyed another fantastic meal before heading out to the airport where Peter was reunited with his car, and he motored home to an advanced planet.

The visit was great fun. I felt like I was on VACATION.  As soon as Peter can find me a place where my songs and poetry — and reciting Vachel Lindsay’s poetry — are welcome for the cost of train fare, I intend to return north, and Peter hopes to bring an aviation enthusiast friend to Springfield, probably next year.

Thanks again to Peter Pero for the memorable visit and to you, the cherished reader of Honey & Quinine for reading this post. If you are into poetry, guitar, aviation or Lincoln and want to visit my town and stay at a semi-famous house where a visitor from an advanced planet slept two nights on a parlor sofa, let me know. I’d likely love to welcome you too.

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

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When I took the last sip of Carlo Rossi Burgundy in the duplex I was renting in about 1989, I had no inkling that I”d have that bottle with me in a duplex I owned 22 years later. It moved when I moved: from 326 S. MacArthur to 521 S. Glenwood to 1213 Interlacken to 428 W. Vine, and today it moved to my WELCOME Room office of AeroKnow Museum at the airport.a bottle of good cents

a bottle of good cents

It came to the airport  because the thought of someone breaking into my home and stealing this investment of time and memories was more than I wanted to live with. At best the burglar would have taken it. At worst, he or she would have dropped it to the floor from where it sat on my bedroom chest of drawers since 1997 and left me to filter the valued metal alloy from the shards of broken glass — pretty much what I’ve been doing recently, metaphorically speaking, as I approach the big SIX FIVE.

It came to the airport also because putting every penny I brought home from purchases here and there was not filling the bottle fast enough for me. I was determined that I would not go to a bank and exchange a $20 bill for the equivalent in pennies. That would be cheating.

At this time in the blog I concede there is nothing artistic about the process, I do not intend to write a poem or folksong about it, proclaim the name of Cheeses (when I talk to myself I call myself Cheeses as in CHEESES, that was stupid of me!), talk about restaurants, silver dollars,  Facebook, how much I love Chicago or Fort Monroe or Ft. Wayne, Indiana or Manitowoc, or the Shymansky family (my sister Dorothy’s side) Johnny Appleseed or Vachel Lindsay, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and yardcare. I’ve been ticking off these items on my categories list so I can suggest to readers this post is about them . . . . . and thus court additional readers who pay attention to blogs when these categories are mentioned. NOW . . . . . . . where was I?

the bottle and the barefoot boy with cheek of tan

Oh, yes, I remember. . . . The photograph of the boy behind the bottle is of the same boy ahead of it when the picture above was taken.  If I was three years old, the year was 1950. I will post more about the picture as I approach September 5. Suffice to say now that I show that picture to darn near every visitor to AeroKnow Museum. My goal, starting this morning, is to give visitors who don’t care to share heavy dough-re-mi with the museum will lighten their pockets of pennies. I want to fill this the bottle by my birthday.

There’s a nearby donation jar for those who care to be extra-nice with larger coins and folding money.

So if you find yourself of mind and spirit to see this bombastic enterprise in the weeks ahead, please bring pennies. The dollars . . . . almost . . . . won’t . . . . matter.

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

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