Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Malls

Although people have lived in and around Mayberry for millennia, the city founders decided the best locale for the town proper was on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River, turning their backs on the river forever. And so it was until the million year flood of 1993.

When the river receded the town fathers saw gold in the river bottom land, so armed with federal flood assistance money they built a million year levee and decided to create a retail city where once were only farms and scattered light industry.  The thinking, if we build it they would come, was successful beyond their wildest dreams.  A year after the flood construction began on the world's largest outdoor mall, and it was good.  For the next 20 years the mall attracted retailers from far and wide.

Retailers looked and what they did not see was an outlet mall.  The city saw empty space and put out feelers for outlet mall builders.  They hit paydirt, and last fall construction began on not one but two outlet malls, within a few miles of each other.  They broke ground on the same day, each racing to be the biggest, bestest mall ever seen.  The first opens this weekend, the second in 3 weeks.

The race to open has been fun to watch.  Seemingly the later to open has been the more successful attracting tenants.  Each of their 80 tenant spaces are leased and planning has begun on an expansion.  The first is half leased, although each claims they have 6 retailers the other place has.

Last week we had no Brooks or Ralph outlet, by the end of August we might have 2.  Christmas shopping just became easier.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Death on Denial

Too many of my compatriots spend their golden years polishing sports cars to a high shine in the hope of attracting attractive women who are not their wives.  While that is not a sanctioned trophy wife hunting strategy,  it is tolerated by the the incumbents solely because it gets the old duffer out of the house.  Mostly it's a harmless, yet expensive diversion.

I, on the other hand, am not trophy hunting and keep Camilla moderately dirty, so to spare my bride the ignominy of having a husband hanging around the house afternoons, I have chosen a close relative to assisted suicide.  I bought a bike.  My wife thinks I've gone mad.

Her questioning was predictable.  My rejoined not so much.  We have lived within a mile of our current apartment for the past 17 years.  We like it here.  Our new home is three blocks away. We know the neighborhood.  Best of all, compared to the house in the woods, the new place is on flat ground, on once upon a time river bottom land, once the most fertile land in the state.

Where do geezers go anyway?  From our new home:  The library-2 blocks.  Ye olde coffee shop-3 blocks.  Post office- 4 blocks, Grocery store- 200 yards.  Doc in the Box 100 yards.  For this I want a car?

Friday, July 26, 2013

On this date

Mrs. T's grandparents and friends, Milwaukee, Wisconsin July 26,1925.  Men in summer suits, Venus in fur.  Some things never change.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Contest Winner?

It's that time of year again.  Since 1982 the English Department of San Jose State University have sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  Open to anyone with a pen, paper, bad idea and a stamp, or at least access to the internet, the annual  Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, challenges writers to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

Knebworth House, The Bulwer-Lytton ancestral home 

The contest named for Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of classic lines such as "It was a dark and stormy night", "The pen is mightier than the sword", "the great unwashed:, and "The almighty dollar" selects "winners" in multiple fiction categories. This year's winners have been announced. The complete winner's list is here

Chris Wieloch was the overall winner with this entry:
She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination.

Adventure category runner up Ron D. Smith offered :
As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course.

perhaps you may prefer:

The Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered around the feast, a veritable cornucopia of harvest and game, a gastronomic monument to the bountiful biodiversity of the land, and while Mrs. Standish’s cranberry sauce was a far cry from the homogeneous gelatinous can-imprinted sacrosanct blob which has become the holiday’s sine qua non, the rest of the food was good. — Jordan Kaderli, Dallas, TX

He had a way with women that was at first endearing, then gradually engendered caution and finally outright rejection, like potato salad at a summer picnic. — Paul Sutcliffe, Pittsburgh, PA

Who says the Humanities are dead?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

hem days

For fat, old, white guys with a penchant for khaki, chin whiskers and Key West today may be bigger than Christmas.  In honor of Ernest's birthday, Sloppy Joe's bar in the Conch Republic is holding their 33rd anniversary Ernest Hemingway look alike contest finals.

To win the prize you need to look something like this guy  Can you smell the cigars? 

Mrs. T suggests that much of the world's problems may be laid at the feet of boys and beer. I can easily understand how beer may inspire a retiree to redefine his tall tale telling, beer swilling habit into a bona fide literary hobby, and looking like Ernie isn't much of a stretch for a guy with hair, but Key West in July?


Saturday, July 20, 2013

diana rigg

Before there was Farrah, before Goldie, there was Diana, and for young boys coming of age during the swinging sixties today's birthday girl, in the guise of Mrs. Emma Peel may well have been their introduction to television sex.  She was my first and personally converted me into a life long Anglophile.

Later, she briefly became Mrs. James Bond, in the George Lazenby classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (Can you name another George Lazenby flick?)

Late comers may have met her on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery series.

First loves never die.  Diana has had a piece of my heart for 50+ years.  Happy Birthday Diana


Friday, July 19, 2013

Be careful of what you wish for part 3

Over time Mrs. T and I have evolved a division of labor which works for us. Outside projects fall under my purview. Inside issues most likely will become my problem and I'm to keep out of the kitchen and grocery store. Obviously, I'm being simplistic. Mrs. T's list is far more comprehensive, just not as obvious. However we break up the tasks our plate is full.

For better or worse, we are not farmers with large plots of ground ripe for plucking. As best as I can determine there are no North American farmers, ranchers or sod busters in our family tree, especially near Mayberry. Instead, we have an old, hillside house too large for a family of 2 and their 2 dogs, on a couple of acres of land in a neighborhood being repurposed. We also have a next door neighbor who is a property developer. It was he who knocked on our door.

Paraphrasing Edward Lear, speaking for Owl, our neighbor inquired "Dear Toad, are you willing to sell for one shilling Your house?' Said Toad, 'I will.' And so we did. Now we are, as real estate agents say, "right-sizing".

Last weekend while you lounged at the pool, we stored most of our things and moved 3 blocks into an apartment which is 25% the size of our former home. Mrs. T and I met at this complex 17 years ago, we have fond memories, and are happy to begin our new adventure. Monday afternoon we put an offer on a condo, a bird fly mile away from our former neighborhood. If all goes well, in a month or so we can move again. We live in interesting times, the future is bright and I'm excited.

I may never ride the iron horse again.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Be careful what you wish for Part 2 of..

Mayberry is changing. Like most American suburbs, not long ago Mayberry was "in the country", it was farmland. The post war housing boom offered local farmers a chance to sell their land in hopes of creating a better life for their families. Most did, keeping 10+ acres around the farmhouse for themselves, something for dad to do, while the kids grew up, went to college and lost whatever connection to the land they ever had. Dad's plan worked.

Today, those kids, now approaching retirement age, find the knock on the door from developers hoping to repurpose their 10 acre parcels is becoming stronger. On our street 2 15 acre parcels are finally being developed as the old farmer's kids pack their bags and head to greener pastures. Locals grumble about the change in the neighborhood, but purely from jealousy.

I've been grumbling too. For the past year I have been SILENTLY grumbling about my ever growing, self created honey do list. My list is seasonal, self perpetuating, and never ending. Like yours mine a mixture of large and small, with a secret compartment for big things that can only be delayed so long before becoming life changing. The truly frightening never make the list.

Then we got the knock on the door.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One more day

I beg your forebearance, but promise it will be worth the wait. See you tomorrow in full. Enjoy your day.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

burr hamilton duel

2012: The oath of office for a Kentucky state officeholders includes a declaration that the official has not recently fought in a duel. In 2010, NPR reported that a Kentucky lawmaker was running a campaign to strike the language from the oath, a statement, which many felt evoked the famous Hamilton-Burr duel of 1804, the but anti-dueling oath remains on the books today:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of…according to law; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.
July 11, 1804: Statesmen Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr traveled to New Jersey to fight each other in a gentleman’s duel. After Hamilton’s death at Burr’s hand, the seconds of both men released a joint statement confirming the event and defending the honor of their friends:
Col. Burr arrived first on the ground as had been previously agreed. When Gen. Hamilton arrived the parties exchanged salutations and the Seconds proceeded to make their arrangements. They measured the distance, ten full paces, and cast lots for the choice of position as also to determine by whom the word should be given, both of which fell to the second of Gen. Hamilton. They then proceeded to load the pistols in each others presence, after which the parties took their stations.

And asked if they were prepared, being answered in the affirmative he gave the word present as had been agreed on, and both of the parties took aim and fired in succession. The intervening time is not expressed as the seconds do not precisely agree on that point. The pistols were discharged within a few seconds of each other and the fire of Col. Burr took effect; Gen. Hamilton almost instantly fell, Col. Burr then advanced toward Gen. Hamilton with a manner and gesture that appeared to Gen. Hamilton’s friend to be expressive of regret, but without speaking turned about and withdrew - Being urged from the field by his friend as has been subsequently stated, with a view to prevent his being recognized by the Surgeon and Bargemen who were then approaching. No farther communication took place between the principals and the Barge that carried Col. Burr immediately returned to the City. We conceive it proper to add that the conduct of the parties in that interview was perfectly proper as suited the occasion." lapham's quarterly

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Today's birthday boy most likely travels unrecognized. Those under 40 may, unless their parents had a bit of funk, have never heard of the man. If you came of age during the Age of Aquarius at one time you could recite all 18 minutes of his magnum opus. Even then, knowing more than 2 of his songs qualified as fandom. " I don't want a pickle....."

Woody's boy Arlo turns 65 today. Happy birthday.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Let us give thanks

This may be one of those factoids that would cause Mrs T to say, they don't know that....  She can be a cynical woman.  However, learned researchers credit  Two Rivers, Wisconsin pharmacist, Edward Berner, with being the first to install chocolate syrup on the top of ice cream, on this date in 1881.  Prior to Berner's intervention, chocolate syrup had only been used as an ingredient in ice cream sodas.  Live and learn.

Granddaughter Liz has moved in for the week, so we have vowed to enjoy chocolate syrup enriched ice cream concoctions every day until we, Guinness book of records like, agree and affirm which purveyor makes the best of example in each of our self defined categories.  The sacrifices we make for science.



Saturday, July 6, 2013

On this date

Beatle fans celebrate July 6 because it is the anniversary of the 1957 date John Lennon and Paul McCartney met.  Seven years later, again on July 6, the Beatles first film, A Hard Day's Night, premiered in London.  The rest they say is history.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Alabama Governor to be Furnishes White Flag of Surrender at Appomattox-- Linen Napkin From Lady Who Brought them Biscuits That Morning

Friend and contributor to these pages Mr. David Bagwell, of Point Clear, Alabama has his own "White Shoe Law Firm" in Fairhope and along with his successful law practice David is a noted historian, especially of anything related to his beloved Alabama.  David wrote the following article for the newsletter of the Historical Society of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and I am grateful for his willingness to share.  

David A. Bagwell (1)

Thomas Goode (2) Jones was a United States District Judge for the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama from 1901 to his death in 1914. Mostly, let’s call it the Middle District.

Just for an appetizer, we have here the Confederate officer who provided the white flag of surrender at Appomattox, former Governor of Alabama and Gold -Standard Democrat, author of the first-ever lawyer’s code of ethics, nominated for the job of Federal Judge by President Teddy Roosevelt on the recommendation of black educator Booker T. Washington. And, when he died, he was succeeded as Judge by the author of the Clayton Antitrust Act. Alabama at the turn of the last century was quite a place, and Jones was quite a man.

Jones was born in Macon, Georgia in 1844, and in 1850 at the age of six moved with his parents to Montgomery, Alabama, where he would live for the next sixty - four years, give or take Army service in The Late Rebellion or Late Unpleasantness, according to how your great-grandmother might have preferred to say it.

He was a student at the Virginia Military Institute when in 1862 he, like all the others there who were eager to support its professor Thomas Jonathon [“Stonewall”] Jackson and the Southern effort, left with the VMI students en masse for the Confederate Army. Gen. Jackson, surrounded by VMI men, on the day of his death said at Chancellorsville “The Institute will be heard from today!”. Jones was heard from in the war.

Jones rose to Major in the Confederate Army, clearly a dead-end career, and the legend is that he provided and carried at least one of the white flags of truce at Appomattox. The story is that the “flag of truce” had at breakfast that day been a white linen napkin from the basket of biscuits which a local Virginia lady had brought over to the soldiers. What could be a better legend than that, to drape the future of Judge Jones? It fairly dripped with Southernness: “The Lost Cause” [sic], Appomattox, surrender, a Southern lady, a starched white linen napkin and a basket of biscuits! Not for nothing is the Montgomery baseball team named “the Montgomery Biscuits”! [or, was it actually for nothing?]. The Alabama Department of Archives and History would kill to have that “white flag”, so if your great-grandmother left it to you and you are squirreling it away, kindly out with it.

Jones continued his “military career” after The Late Unpleasantness, and he was elected Captain of the Montgomery Greys in 1876 and was Colonel of a regiment of state troops from 1880 to 1890, commanding state troops in every serious Alabama riot from 1874 to 1894. There was a great need for “State Troops” back then, a sort of early National Guard, to protect from lynchings all over Alabama [his experience led him to lead on that subject at the 1901 Constitutional Convention, as we will discuss] and maybe less nobly, coal mine labor strife around Birmingham.

The year after Appomattox, in 1866 Jones was admitted to the Alabama bar and practiced law, among other activities including journalism. As a lawyer Jones wrote the 1887 Code of Ethics of the Alabama Bar, generally acclaimed as the first-ever lawyer code of ethics anywhere, and acknowledged by the American Bar Association as the source of its first ethics code. Lawyers in the Eleventh Circuit today encounter Jones’ work regularly, whether they know it or not, since that code was the basis of the ethics provision setting out how to determine “a reasonable attorneys’ fee”, which in 1974 was adopted by the old Fifth Circuit in its landmark case Johnson v Georgia Highway Express. At the height of his law practice Jones was lawyer for the L&N Railroad, maybe the most powerful business force in Alabama through its president Milton Hannibal Smith, interestingly enough a renowned ancestor of Judge Ginny Granade of the Federal Court in Mobile.

Jones got into politics after the so-called “Bourbon Restoration” following the end of Congressional Reconstruction. That restoration resulted from the election of Republican President Rutherford B. Hays in 1876 upon resolution in the famous “smoke-filled room” of Washington, D.C.’s Wormley House Hotel, which resolved the Hays-Tilden Controversy and House challenge of the 1876 election.

Jones was elected to the Alabama legislature and was its speaker in 1886-1888.

By the 1890 Alabama Governor’s election, Reuben Kolb, Alabama’s best populist politician and a progressive white planter who had bred the “Kolb’s Gem” watermelon, was running as a Democrat for Governor with strong support in the white counties and also from black voters, but was considered a radical challenge to the post-Reconstruction Bourbon redemption. The conservative whites coalesced behind Jones, a darkhorse, on the theory that he was the weakest anti-Kolbite who could not guarantee where his delegates would go if he withdrew. Kolb was hurt but supported Jones, who was elected for the then two-year term in 1890. But in 1892 Kolb ran again, from his own separate Agrarian party, and the close election– which populists called “The Crime of ‘92" -- might be the dirtiest ever in Alabama. But Governor Jones turned out to be what passed then as a strong advocate of racial fairness and general genteel integrity, and a strong anti-lynching governor. In the silver and gold currency controversies of the 1890s [we are past all that now, aren’t we? “But wait! There’s more!” There’s still Ron Paul!] he was a gold - standard Democrat.

1901 was a big year for Jones as Elder Statesman and former Governor. In Alabama’s 1901 Constitutional Convention, in which the Chairman of the Convention announced in his opening speech that its sole purpose was to disfranchise black voters so supposedly white voters could have an election without race and class differences, Jones led an impromptu strong floor fight for serious impeachment tools to be used against Sheriffs whose dereliction led to lynchings. He didn’t get exactly what he wanted, but the final draft went most of the way.

He was elected President of the State Bar of Alabama.

In 1901 Jones was nominated as United States District Judge for the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama by President Theodore Roosevelt on the recommendation of renowned black educator Booker T. Washington. Jones served until his death in 1914, when he was replaced by Congressman Henry DeLamar Clayton, Jr., author of the Clayton Antitrust Act of all things, but then, Judge Clayton is a story for another day.

Judge Jones and his wife Georgene Caroline Bird of Montgomery had thirteen children [four of whom died in infancy], the most famous being Judge Walter B. Jones, Circuit Judge in Montgomery who was reversed by the Supreme Court in the landmark cases NAACP v Alabama and N.Y. Times v Sullivan.

Judge Walter B. Jones caused Jones Law School in Montgomery to be named for his father.

Oddly enough, although Judge Thomas Goode Jones and his wife had thirteen children, today there is no living descendent of the pair. It’s up to us to remember Judge Jones, and that’s what this publication is designed to do.

1. David Bagwell is a member of the board of this Society and a solo lawyer in Fairhope, Alabama, which is a failed utopian colony but a wonderful little bitty picturesque town on the shores of Mobile Bay, across from Mobile. He is immediate past Chairman of his County’s Bar Association. He may be reached by electrons directed to  david@bagwellesq.com

2. His middle name “Goode” is usually used, and it is pronounced like “Gude” rather than “Good”.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


That July 4 is the anniversary of the 1776 signing of the American Declaration of Independence from Britain may at best draw a yawn from anyone not born in or living in America.  Other stuff happens on July 4, even if we American's are too busy to notice.

For instance, on this date in 1862 Reverend Charles Dodgson and Reverend Robinson Duckworth, rowed up the Isis River, near Oxford England with the three daughters of Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church,  Lorina (13) Alice (10) and Edith (8).  To amuse the children during their journey Dodgson told the girls a story, a story of a bored little girl who goes looking for adventure.  The girls loved the tale and asked Dodgson to write it down for them.  He began the manuscript the next day although he did not present the children with " Alice's Adventures Under Ground" until November 1864.

Pleased by the girl's reaction, Dodgson, writing as Lewis Carroll, went to work preparing Alice's tale for publication, expanding his story and illustrations.  The world finally met Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in November 1865.

Happy Independence Day friends!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day trivia

It is well known that former revolutionaries, later political adversaries who repaired their former friendship late in life, American presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826.  Adams, 8 years older than Jefferson was buried along with his wife Abigail, son John Quincy Adams and JQ's wife in the crypt of United First Parish Church in Quincy Massachusetts.

Jefferson, died at his home Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia and was buried next day in the Monticello graveyard.  Jefferson, for all his accomplishments is known for the simplicity of the design and  message on his tombstone which was erected by his family in 1833: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and father of the University of Virginia"

Visitors to Jefferson's grave regularly chipped off pieces of the headstone for souvenirs, so much so that the stone was moved for its own protection, twice, once closer to the house by the new owners after Jefferson's descendants sold Monticello, and again later the family reclaimed it and moved to the family estate Edgehill.
In 1882, a joint resolution of Congress authorized funding for a new monument, the one seen today, and ordered to be placed upon Jefferson's Monticello gravesite.

What is less well known and may perhaps be scandalous to Virginian's, is that Jefferson's original tombstone has lived since July 4, 1885 on the campus of the University of Missouri.  The headstone was a gift from the Jefferson family in commemoration of the first state university in the former Louisiana Purchase territory

The stone, in terrible condition, is scheduled to be restored by the Smithsonian later this year.