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Fall 2010


Fall 2010

Letter from the



ith this beautiful Southern Illinois weather I feel obligated to say something about autumn. So, I think autumn is here, and I’m excited about that. But the autumn issue of Good Living in Southern Illinois is also here, and I’m even more excited about that. I think you will really enjoy the stories and surprises we have included in this issue.

Our talented writer and photographer, Dave O’Melia, has treated us to a feature on Free Again, the wild animal rescue near Carterville. Who knew? Not us, but Dave has the story and the photos to prove it. To please his publisher, he even ventured inside a bobcat’s cage to get better photos. I told him, “Don’t do it!” But not only is he talented; he’s fearless. Hope you enjoy reading about the things going on over there in the wilds of Southern Illinois. Gary Marx entertains us this issue with a play. He and his wife are the characters, so just think of it as a “He said, She said,” kind of dialogue. I don’t know if he is from Mars and she is from Venus, but let’s say she is in the orchestra pit and he is somewhere deep in his own end zone. Julie Willis, our beautiful columnist from New York City, has been making major changes in her life, and she tells us about them as only Julie can do, taking an incident out of her day and reflecting on its significance in the grand scheme of things. West Frankfort’s own Sherri Murphy has had life changing incidents to write about too. Her trip to Haiti has left her with a broad view of a world that is larger than she ever imagined. She told us previously about her fears and misgivings before the mission. In this issue we learn how she coped with the realities of life for the Haitian people. Our anchor story in this issue is a look back at the early days of WSIL-TV 3. It was a difficult story to tell, only because there were so many important people who made the station what it is today and so many humorous and interesting details of the years we tried to cover. There was no way to include everything that we found so enjoyable to remember. Our apologies to Jim Cox, the families of Gordon Briggs and Jim Bolen and countless others who get little more than a mention here in spite of the fact that they were so important in WSIL-TV 3 history. Their stories are available on the Internet and all of them are interesting. In conclusion, we are fortunate to have a television station of the quality of WSIL-TV 3 in Southern Illinois. Last but not least, we have provided you with a Trick or Treat treasure hunt in this issue of our magazine. Think of it as an open book trivia contest. What could be easier than that? The only trick is to send us your answers by 5 p.m. on November 17 2010. The treat is an extravagant dinner, a $100 gift certificate at Bella’s Trattoria at the Franklin County Country Club or a $50 gift certificate at Italian Village in Carbondale. Enjoy it lavishly with your significant other or treat some friends, but at the risk of sounding trite, you can’t win if you don’t enter. It’s just another way we’re saying the living in Southern Illinois sure is good.

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Volume 3 No. 3 Fall 2010 Cover Shot: Bill Plater, art director at WSIL TV 3 in the early days, drew this caricature of Cactus Pete, a long-time children’s show host played by Plater himself!

PUBLISHERS Michael A. Thomas Gail Rissi Thomas EDITOR Gail Rissi Thomas COPY EDITORS Genelle Bedokis Jan Catalina LAYOUT / GRAPHIC DESIGN

Michael A. Thomas

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Gary Marx Sherri Murphy Julie Willis PHOTOGRAPHY Michael Thomas Sherri Murphy Dave O’Melia


PHONE NUMBER (618) 937-2019 Good Living in Southern Illinois is published quarterly. It is available free of charge through our advertisers.

Good Life Publications 309 East Oak Street West Frankfort, IL 62896


Fall 2010

Features 14 Free Again 19 From Roots to Wings 22 So You Think You’re Smart 24 WSIL The Early Years 33 Bada Bing! Bada Boom! 34 Hal Smith, World Series Hero 38 Tailgating 101

Departments 6 Sherri Murphy Reaching Into The Darkness 10 Gary Marx A Football Drama in Three-Quarter Time 42 Julie Willis A Hard Day’s Night

Fall 2010

A young boy tends to food in an alley-way kitchen in Cap-Haïtien. Photos By Sherri Murphy Unless Otherwise Noted

By Sherri Murphy Comfort zones are so…comfortable (for lack of a better word); so why in the world would a woman who is afraid of insects, rodents, heights, flying, and hates the heat and humidity and things that smell badly ever travel to a place full of those things with people she has never met?

found on a map before it made headlines in January, 2010. After I viewed news coverage of the earthquake that literally rocked their world, Haiti beckoned me.

Through an interesting chain of events, I was asked by someone I had never met to travel to Haiti to help with a short-term missions program. She asked ME, the lady with a list of fears as long as my arm who was not at all interested in facing those fears head on. Nor was I interested in becoming unWell, sometimes, desires are bigger comfortable for the sake of people than fears, and I have found that if I I didn’t know. But I was willing do in fact “step outside the box”— to become willing. (I should have seen it coming!) my little comfort zone—beautiful gifts await me. And, I’ve learned After much prayer and inquiring that sometimes being “comfortabout the place to which I would be able” is relative. traveling, I made the decision to let my heart rule. In this instance comI recently traveled to Haiti, a land passion trumped fear. I normally that I previously could not have 6

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do not consider myself brave, but for some reason I could not say no. I allowed my fear of heights and flying take a back seat to the needs of desperate people who lived in a mountainous region in the tropics. The bumpy flight from St. Louis to Miami, Florida, was uncomfortable. I tried reading a book, sleeping, reading magazines, reading the Bible, talking to the person next to me, snacking, praying...nothing settled me. Thank goodness it was only a two-hour flight! Just when I thought I could take no more of the Found in the rafters of the author’s sleeping quarters, a boa constrictor wraps itself around the arm of a missionary




(1) With little running water available to the poor, many Haitians are forced to use unsanitary river water for bathing and washing. (2) The slum-like conditions of Cap-Haïtien, the second largest city of Haiti, are typical of most of the city. (3) An open-air bus called a Diahatsu waits for passengers to embark and disembark.

rocky ride, the pilot announced that we would be making our decent into Miami. In the Miami airport, I met up with more than twenty other volunteers from across the nation who would be joining me on my trip to Lagosette, Haiti, for our mission. I was excited to meet the people I had only corresponded with by email and a few phone calls. The excitement wore off quickly though, as turbulent flight number two entered my day. Another two-hour whiteknuckled flight brought us to San Tiago, Dominican Republic, and then a four-hour jarring bus trip that took us to the Haitian border. I took one glance through the bus window at the desperation of the hundreds who had gathered at the border to bathe and wash their clothes in the filthy river, and I could not look away. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I had entered a different world. A third-world, to be exact, and it was worse than anything I had witnessed through news coverage or read in books. We drove through Cap-Haïtien, the second largest city in Haiti that was

basically a huge slum, save a few nice buildings belonging to government officials. I was constantly waiting to round a corner to get to the nice area of the city but that area did not exist. We traveled to our missionary compound in the tiny village of Lagosette, by way of a Diahatsu, an open air bus—another extremely rough ride through dirt roads with potholes so large that I immediately felt guilty for ever complaining about the small potholes back home. The combined high heat and humidity were familiar to me as I am a resident of southern Illinois; however, in Haiti, there was no relief. There were no air-conditioned vehicles or cool buildings to slip inside for a dose of coolness. We had each brought along a batteryoperated fan to cool our faces so we could sleep “comfortably”, but I was beginning to get a sense that a “comfortable sleep” was not going to be possible. We arrived at our dorm—a concrete building with handmade bunk beds, with sponge-like mattresses topped with mosquito netting, and

concrete floors. We were told not to bring any food or snacks into our rooms because of a rat problem they had been encountering before our arrival. Our bathroom had a shower with a trickle of cold water, barely enough to get the soap out of my thick hair, but later proved to be the only relief from the heat. Thankfully, I never saw a rat in our room, however, there was a lizard in my bed, (found by a fellow missionary while I was in the shower) and a boa constrictor right outside of our room in the eaves, and the guys caught a tarantula that was larger than my hand! Normally, this would be enough to not only rob my sleep, but to also cause me to book the first flight out of there! Oddly though, after working all day in the heat, I never once had a hard time falling asleep. In fact, even during the first day, I began to feel “comfortable” being uncomfortable. “Americans are afraid to sweat”, said our missionary host Bryan, who had lived as a missionary for many years. “Really, it won’t hurt you.” He was right. Our days included scraping paint, Fall 2010


150 children in two different small villages. We also helped feed the hungry children during the daily food program in the compound. We brought clothes and shoes to give to the villagers as well as over the counter medications that we all take for granted, that just might end up saving a Haitian life.

A little girl wears oversized sandals but fares better than many children who roam litter-strewn streets barefooted. Even a minor cut can result in serious infection due to unsanitary conditions and lack of basic medical supplies and facilities.

staining desks, building the concrete walls for a new pre-school on the compound (concrete work included handmade concrete blocks, mixing the mortar, passing blocks and buckets of concrete assemblyline style) in the heat. In the blazing sun! I remember thinking to myself, “Man, tomorrow, my back is going to be killing me! I hope I can still walk!� (I was not used to tackling heavy labor, and especially not in the heat of the the tropics.) We drank gallons of water to combat dehydration and remain healthy. Surprisingly, each morning, I would awaken with no pain at all. Not even the normal lower back pain I had experienced for many years on a regular basis. We also took a couple of trips to a nearby orphanage and rocked babies- sang to them, played with them, loved on them for as long as we could. We hosted a couple of Vacation Bible schools for about 8

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The last day of our trip, included a hike to the top of the Citadel, a three- thousand foot mountain that is topped with the ruins of a Haitian fortress. The Haitians are very proud of this fortress and it is also a place to learn a bit more of their tumultuous history. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to hiking to the top. There were many in our group that had made the climb before and had told how difficult it would be, but assured me I could do it. I, however, was not so certain. In addition to my extreme fear of heights, I am not in good shape. My hobbies include, writing, riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle, and reading. All require me to be seated. I had begun walking and exercising a few weeks before the trip to prepare myself a bit; however, I was very anxious about attempting the climb. As a

matter of fact, it was the part of the trip I dreaded most. Looking back on the week, I realized that I had fared very well. I had been exposed to many of my fears and found myself in many less than desirable situations, but also enjoyed a feeling of perfect peace and strength the entire time I was serving in Haiti. I could feel a power from on High that I had never experienced before. I felt that just maybe, I could, in fact, conquer yet another fear and make it to the top! As our bus began the accent up the mountain, I immediately felt calm. When the bus went as high as possible, we all began our climb. It was almost funny. The higher we climbed, I was waiting for the familiar fear to grab hold of me

and squeeze as hard as it could, but instead, I was enjoying the view! For the first time in my life, I was enjoying the view from the top! I was hot and sweaty, and it was a very difficult climb, but I made it! And enjoyed it! I felt very comfortable. On my journey down, an older frail Haitian man, Jean Claude, walked alongside my friend Tina and me. We began conversing and he commented that we Americans were always so happy--he thought we were there on vacation--and implied that we were happy because we “have so much”. We quickly made him aware of the reason for our trip and that we were there to give, not vacation.

photo provided

He told us his story- his struggle to provide for his family as he fled to the mountains after his home was destroyed in the earthquake- he lost everything. It was nearly impossible for him to provide for them. His desperate eyes tore at my heart. I asked him if we could pray for him, and he was happy to allow it.

“Dare to reach your hand into the darkness, to bring another to the light.” --Norman B. Rice--

He knelt down on that mountain, high atop the devastation thousands of feet below, and as Tina and I laid our hands on his head I asked God to bless him and his family. He in turn, prayed for me- that my flight home to America would be a safe one, and that I would be happy with my family.

He knew my fears. He was familiar with much more than I realized. I shared more with these people than I would have believed—hopes, fears, dreams, pain, and heartaches—but also perseverance. I found the ability to step outside the box to do that which The Citadel sits atop a 3,000 foot mountain. It was built by is necessary, to Henri Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellearn to become lion after Haiti gained independence from France. Haitian native Jean Claude (insert) accompanied the author on comfortable her descent down the mountain. photo by Tina Grounds in the midst of

uncomfortable situations. I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I feel that the Haitian people taught me more in 10 days than I could teach them in 10 years. I also learned to tap into power I had never used (God forgive me), and I learned that I could be comfortable doing what I am called to do, regardless of my surroundings. Norman B. Rice said, “Dare to reach your hand into the darkness, to bring another to the light.” And I did. And the wonderful thing about the light is, it illuminates all darkness. EVERYONE in the room gets to enjoy the benefits.

Sherri Murphy, posing with a Hatian child, writes several popular blogs and is a motivational speaker. She resides in West Frankfort.

Fall 2010



Graphic by Michael Thomas

Qu e e r h T In

By Gary Marx Pam and I were in Nag’s Head, N.C., about a month ago, and we stopped at Kelly’s for dinner. There was a line, so we put our name on the list and went to the bar to wait. It was fairly empty in there: one bartender and a few other couples. Some guy was setting up a drum kit for the band that would play later in the evening. And right over there, not far, sat a writer and his friend behind a stack of new books on a table. That’s the setting of this play, a true story, titled:

“THE PAUL HORNUNG INCIDENT” CHARACTERS: PAM and GARY: A Midwestern couple about to experience a communication problem. BARTENDER: He thinks he’s only a bartender, but, more important, he’s also a dramatic device in this story. PAUL HORNUNG: Former football stud and party boy. Now a slightly soft writer of overpriced books. JIMMY LAMBERT: Songwriter, ex-con and Hornung’s lifelong friend in need of a shave. 10

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ACT 1, SCENE 1 (Don’t be deceived; there’s only one of each) Pam and Gary take stools at the bar and order wine. They glance around the room. The bartender brings the drinks. GARY (to bartender): So, who’s the writer? Somebody local? BARTENDER: No. That guy used to play for Vince Lombardi. PAM (thinking): Lombardi? Lombardi? Why is that familiar? GARY (taking a closer look): Oh, that’s Paul Hornung! PAM (thinking): Horny? Did he just say Horny? BARTENDER: That’s right. PAM (thinking): I wasn’t asking you.

Bartender leaves, doesn’t come back, but he’s happy to have contributed to the development of plot. PAM (turning to Gary): You know Horny? GARY (wanting to impress, and shallowly thinking he could do so by quoting the bartender): Sure, he used to play for Vince Lombardi. PAM (thinking): Lombardi? They must mean Lombardo. Then, suddenly, she figures it out: “Horny” is a nickname because he was a trumpet player or something in Lombardo’s band. Of course! GARY: I’ve seen him on TV many times. PAM: Well, maybe you should go over and talk to him. Gary and Pam walk to the writer’s table. Another couple is in front of them, so as they wait Gary and Pam are greeted by a jovial Jimmy Lambert. Jimmy is wearing shades, holding a bottle of beer, acting like a good-old-boy outlaw celebrity and talking up a blue streak. Handshakes are made; names are exchanged. GARY: So you’ve known Paul a long time? JIMMY: Oh yeah, yeah, we go way back, back to Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington, but I’m living right here right now, where y’all from? PAM: We’re Southern Illinoisans, but we live in Kansas City. JIMMY: Kansas City! I spent Fall 2010


some time in Leavenworth, two years and one day, would have been longer, but Paul got me out early, talked the warden into knocking six months off my sentence.

to figure.

PAM (is fascinated by the backstage world of traveling musicians and their checkered pasts. But she’s puzzled. Wasn’t Lombardo’s band more conservative?

Gary listens to Paul tell a few more stories while Pam chats with Jimmy and rebuffs his not too subtle advances. The scoundrel! Gary drags Pam away and they say goodbye to Paul and Jimmy and retreat to a table to compare notes and tales.

GARY: So what do you do now, Jimmy? JIMMY: I do some song writing and stuff. PAM (clearly taken): Really? What kind of songs?

PAUL (sliding the overpriced book across the table and waving away the credit card): Cash only.

GARY (excited): Then Paul told about how he was checking into a hotel in downtown Kansas City with this girl, and …

Pam and Jimmy begin a long chat about music. The line opens up, and Gary slides over to meet Paul Hornung.

PAM: Jimmy said they always had groupies …

GARY: So is Jimmy’s story true, that you got him out of Leavenworth early?

PAM: Did you know Jimmy wrote a song that Willie Nelson recorded? It’s called “Run That By Me One More Time.”

PAUL (inscribing an overpriced book “To Gary…”): Yeah, nothing but true stories. Right, Jimmy?

GARY: And then he said …

GARY: What’s it called?

Jimmy doesn’t respond, he’s spinning tales and flirting with Pam. The rascal!

This is the cue for the guy setting up the drums. Ba-daboom!

PAUL: So yeah, I went to see him in prison, and this guy … (to Jimmy) who was that jackass?

PAM(she adores her husband, despite his personality): You know I was really impressed that you knew who he was.

JIMMY: The warden? PAUL: Yeah, that’s it, the warden. He says, “You Paul Hornung?” I said, “Yeah,” but he knew who I was. He wanted me to talk to the whole group, see? GARY: The inmates? PAUL: Yeah, all the prisoners, the guards, everyone. I told him I’d talk to them under one condition: that he release Jimmy six months early. And that’s what happened. But they had all the prisoners in the cafeteria, and I look over there, and there’s a salad bar set up. I said, “What’s this?” They say, “This is salad bar Tuesday.” I mean, we’re talking about murderers and thieves and stuff, and they’re serving them salad. Can you imagine? Salad! GARY (amazed at this turn in the conversation): Hard 12

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GARY (blushing modestly): Well, sure. He used to play for Vince Lombardi, you know. PAM (thinking: Lombardi? Again with the Lombardi? I wish he’d get that right.) GARY: And he’s been on TV and stuff. PAM: Yes, but I don’t know anything about Horny. GARY (thinking: Horny?) PAM: I mean, I don’t even know what instrument he plays. GARY (thinking: Instrument?) GARY: You mean what position he played?

PAM: Well, I assume he was first chair, but what instrument? GARY: Wha? PAM: Didn’t you say he played for Vince Lombardo? GARY (thinking: Lombardo?!) GARY: Do you mean to say, um, Guy? Guy Lombardo? PAM (pursing lips, eyes to the ceiling, the slow dawn of realization … ): Oh … well, maybe. GARY: Honey, have you seen this? He lifts the book to show Pam, who hasn’t yet seen the cover and the photo of Coach Vince Lombardi and Paul Hornung in football gear, and the title: “Lombardi and Me.” PAM: So… are you telling me this is about sports? Then why would Jimmy talk about music the whole time? And why would Paul have a name like Horny? And … GARY: Honey? PAM: What? GARY: Want to start this conversation over? PAM: No. GARY: I love you.

Curtain. Gary Marx is a former columnist and news editor for The Southern Illinoisan. He’s now a freelance writer and author, and he works for The Kansas City Star. But no matter where he is, he’ll always be an Illinois boy. Contact him through his Web site: www.

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Fall 2010

Bev Shofstall is on a mission to rehabilitate wild animals

Text and Photos By Dave O’Melia


ree Again is a wildlife rehabilitation center located north of Carterville. The mission of the facility is to rehabilitate wild animals and return them to a suitable habitat. Injured animals are provided with food, shelter and veterinary care until they are healthy enough to be released. Unfortunately, not all of the animals recover enough to fend for themselves in the wild and must be cared for permanently. The director, Bev Shofstall, uses some of these animals to help in her endeavor to educate the public. Many of you have seen Bev running one of her programs at one of the local refuges. In the spring, you can find her feeding a huge influx of baby animals, everything from raccoons and bobcats to screech owls and eagles. At other times she and her helpers are engaged in rescuing, caring for, and releasing animals. Whenever I have talked to Bev Shofstall, the director of Free Again, I have learned something. She is a human storehouse of information about the natural world. Here are a few tidbits: Robins spend a few weeks as ground birds after leaving the nest. The robin fledgling you see on the ground is probably just fine. If a raccoon mother has babies on your property, she will raise them and the whole family will leave. Don’t feed wild mammals at central stations. These serve as a gathering place for animals and create a breeding ground for disease. Just toss out some apples randomly or plant an apple tree that is some distance from your dwelling. Avoid cutting down trees that have large leaf nests in the top or that are hollow during the spring of the year. They often house squirrels or raccoons in them.

Inset:Taz, a bobcat declawed by a previous owner and unable to defend itself or hold its prey, would not survive in the wild. It is illegal for non-licensed indivuals to own a bobcat. Above: Bev Shofstall greets Bonnie, a racoon sent to the shelter 6 years ago after living with a family that fed her a steady diet of oreo cookies. Too overweight to climb trees, Bonnie is now used in educational programs. Opposite: A baby screech owl found after a tree-trimmer chopped down its nest will be returned to the wild soon. It is one of six screech owls that have been rehabilitated this year at Free Again.

Rescuing wild animals is an exciting, dangerous and difficult task. On one, dark, December night, Bev got a call in the middle of the Fall 2010


night from a couple that had seen the vehicle in front of theirs hit a bobcat. She headed out while the couple waited at the scene. The bobcat, though injured, was in pain and ready for a fight. It took Bev, some of her helpers, and the couple who had seen the incident a long time to wrestle the angry bobcat, biting, slashing and screaming, into a carrier with the aid of a control stick. It turned out that the bobcat had a hairline fracture of its pelvis that healed completely during the cat’s winter stay at Free Again. The cat was released back into the wild in the spring. Another incident involved an unfortunate deer that was discovered during a man’s arrest for other charges. The deer had been tied in a thicket with a wire around the neck. Its head was twice the size it should have been. Of course, it wanted nothing to do with Bev or the people helping and had to be tranquilized to be freed from the wire. An ice storm was moving in and since the tranquilizer lowers the body temperature, the deer had to be taken back to the Free Again facility. Unfortunately, there was no way to transport the animal except to put it in the back of a Ford Explorer and hope it didn’t wake up until they got it to a secure area. The deer slept through the trip and was rehabilitated and released. The staff at Crab Orchard Refuge


Fall 2010

had been monitoring an eagle’s nest. They noticed that one of the fledglings was on the ground. They were not overly concerned since eagles often spend some time on the ground before starting to fly. In time, they discovered that the parents and the other fledgling had abandoned the eagle on the ground. Bev was called to rescue the bird

Thelma, a bald eagle found with a broken wing that was not set properly, is unable to fly and is a permament resident of Free Again.

of prey. The eagle was awkward but active as she started to approach and fell into some water among the water lilies. This caused great concern since Shofstall had no idea how deep the water was. In she went! She ended up wading into chest deep water with her

heavy gloves to rescue a scared and struggling eagle. All went well, though, and “Lilly” was rescued. Her injuries prevented her from being released so Lilly helped Bev with her educational programs for a number of years. Shofstall gets a fair number of requests to remove animals that people think are a nuisance or have been abandoned. Bev helps wildlife that is in danger or is injured. Free Again is not animal control. When you find a wild animal that is hurt give them a call. Sometimes people call about animals that are not really in distress. She gets a lot of calls about fawns in the early summer. Mother deer leave their fawns in a safe place while they feed. This is the “baby deer in distress” that results in unnecessary concern. People will collect the poor fawn and make the call. Once they find out that this is normal behavior for deer, they think the fawn cannot be returned to the wild because humans have touched it. This is a wives‘ tale. The fawn should just be returned to the place they found it. For those that just can’t bring themselves to believe this, take a rag and rub the fawn’s genitals until it defecates and/or urinates. Wipe the fawn down with the rag to remove your scent. A caller in a suburban area demanded that Bev come and get a groundhog right away. Bev asked,

Bev Shofstall talks about racoons at a Family Understanding Nature program held at Crab Orchard Refuge. Educating the public about indigineous wildlife is a passion of Shofstall. Schools are encouraged to plan field trips to Free Again but Shofstall will also travel to schools to put on a seminar.

“Is the groundhog injured?” and was told that it seemed healthy. The caller, anxious, told Bev that she needed to remove the groundhog because kids play in the neighborhood. Bev asked, “Are the kids hurting the groundhog?” Of course, the caller was going crazy by this time, but the groundhog was simply minding its own business and presented a threat to no one. Not the kind of wildlife that needed Bev’s help. Another story Bev tells is about a fox that had taken up residence in a neighborhood. The caller wanted to know what Bev would do about it. The fox was feeding on a nearby population of wild bunnies and the caller thought the fox and her litter should be moved.

Bev responded, “When baby animals are right at the edge of being weaned and draining mom to the max, the mom will go out looking for more protein and, after all, bunnies are food. Moving the foxes is a bad idea since they would most likely be killed by coyotes in short order.” Then the woman on the other end of the line expressed fear that they would attack children. Bev informed her, “Foxes are just not interested in attacking humans.” The caller in this situation was dissatisfied but neither the foxes nor the bunnies really needed help. We all love our dogs and cats. It is not surprising that our domestic pets are responsible for many of the animals that are brought in to the shelter in the spring. They dig

up burrows, chase deer and attack songbirds. Domestic cats are not native to this continent and have had an enormous environmental impact on songbird populations. If you have a cat or a dog, please try to control its activities to help your wild neighbors.

Dave O’Melia is a full time professional photographer. He offers portraiture, sports, weddings and wildlife photography and may be reached at You will find examples of fine photography at his web address: http://djome.zenfolio. com. Also available are equine and pet photography. His interests include, polo, fox hunting and kayaking.

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Free Again

4031 Big Muddy Road, Carterville, IL 62918 618-988-1067 Free Again could certainly use your help in the form of donations. They can use chain link pens, lumber (no pressure treated wood), tools, cleaning supplies, cat taxis and release sites. Release sites can be as small as 5 acres for a box of squirrels or much larger acreages for deer.

Schedule of Nature Events October 2 -Free Again Yard Sale Your donation is appreciated. 4031 Big Muddy Road, Carterville, IL 62918 618-988-1067

October 9 - Families Understanding Nature Great Horned Owl Program 10:30 am -11:30 am Crab Orchard Refuge 618-998-5933 October 15 Nocturnal Animal Program 5pm-7pm Lincoln Park Jonesboro 618-687-1731 October 16 and 17 - Vulture Fest Makanda10 am -5 pm Both days October 30 - Owl Presentation and Owl Prowl Shawnee Audubon Society 618-683-2222 War Bluff Valley Sanctuary 5 pm November 13 - Families Understanding Nature Opossum Program Crab Orchard Refuge 618-998-5933 10:30 am-11:30 am December 11 - Families Understanding Nature Bobcat Program Crab Orchard Refuge 618-998-5933 10:30 am-11:30 am


Fall 2010

By Gail Rissi Thomas


don't know how many times I heard it in the past month, “Oh my gosh, we took Tim to school last weekend. How did he ever get to be a freshman in college? I can't get used to his room being empty.” or “Kara is leaving in two weeks. She's counting the days. So am I. I'm practicing not crying.” I hear it in the grocery store. I read it on Facebook. They're moms, and their babies are leaving to go to some fancy college in Pennsylvania, or St. Louis, or to U of I, or SIU. It doesn't matter. They're going away to eat what they want, when they want, to do their own laundry or not do it, and to stay out or up as late as they want. Erma Bombeck said it well, “For the rest

of their lives, a mother has moved from a supervisor, to a spectator.” Yeah, it happened to me once too. Our oldest son, John, left home in 2003. Could it possibly have been that long ago? John applied to MIT in Cambridge, and although I personally thought that was a little far from home, (face it, I thought Carbondale was a little far from home,) you have to support that kind of ambition. Besides, he’d never get in. He did. We'd never be able to pay for it. They did. He'd change his mind before he'd really move a thousand miles away

all by himself. He didn’t. My sister, a friend and I drove him out to Massachusetts that August. In the summers since, I have listened to the parents around me, whining about their babies leaving home. It’s a life story I can relate to and it brings back the memory of my own heart-rending experience of leaving my son in Boston when he began his first year of college life. I still fight back a tear or two

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as I write this; it was on my birthday for heaven sakes!

changed his mind. He can't do this either.”

For those of you who have had a similar experience, or those who have dreaded the moment since the delivery room doors closed behind you, you know what I'm talking about. I think of it as pouring every ounce of energy, love and enthusiasm into a project for 18 years, then driving it 1500 miles away and leaving it on a street corner to fend for itself. That's not just how it feels, that's how it is.

I turned into the first parking lot and grabbed for my phone. “John?” I said breathlessly. “Mom,” he said quietly, with a question mark in his voice.

We had just unloaded the last few things from the car. Parking was limited along the narrow street behind his dorm. We were warned not to linger, as those spaces would be in high demand. I had done pretty well until then, although I had dreaded the moment. I threw my arms around John for a last hug, and ran and got in the car as my sister said her goodbyes. As we pulled away, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw him standing with his hands on his hips watching us leave. I kept looking back, hoping he would turn and go into the dorm, but only saw him keeping his vigil, watching us drive away. “Oh John,” I was thinking, “Please go inside. Just go; go somewhere,” but now he was standing in the middle of the street, still watching. I could barely focus on the clutter of cars and trucks, even some small moving vans. Children, soon to be college students, darted out in front of me, without looking where they were going. John was no sooner out of sight in my rear view mirror when my cell phone rang. “Oh my gosh,” I thought. “He's 20

Fall 2010

“Yes, yes, what?” My mind was reeling. If he had changed his mind, that would be OK. All the money spent, the long trip, the FAFSA financial reports, we'd even forgive him that. If he wanted to go back home, we'd understand. I listened intently for what he would say. His voice held a tiny hint of exasperation. “Mom, turn your flashers off.” I was silent for only a moment while I processed his advice. “Oh, OK John, thanks.” Neither of us said goodbye. That had already been done. I closed the phone and dropped it into the seat beside me. I knew that the kid was going to be just fine. And eventu-

ally, so would I. That was seven years ago. John has gone on to graduate school at the University of Michigan. He writes papers I don't understand with words I've never heard and with what I seem to remember as equations—numbers, mathematical signs and parenthesis stuck here and there in the middle of sentences. He is on track to receive his PhD in April and of course we're very proud. Journalist, Hodding Carter, said, “There are two lasting bequests that we can give our children. One is roots, the other wings.” If this was your year to give them wings, the nest probably seems a little roomier or even empty. If you're still struggling with setting one less place at the dinner table and can't get used to a bedroom that never needs cleaning, take it from someone who's been there. You'll get over it. I'm sure that someday I will.

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Fall 2010


By Gail Rissi Thomas


think it was a Sunday afternoon in September. Could it really have been nearly 15 years ago? I was outside with our two sons, and it seems we were shooting baskets. My husband came around the side of the house, beckoning us to come in. “You need to see this,” he said. I grabbed Jay who was only about five and John and I followed him into the house. He led us to the small room, liberally referred to as an office, which held our Apple computer. “Look at this,” Mike said as we gathered around the screen.“Look!” He was beaming with excitement. I looked at the screen and saw sentences rolling up. “Hey, anyone out there from Milwaukee?” “Flat River, Missouri here.” “How's the weather in Bismark? Any snow yet?” I stared blankly. “Yeah?” I said. “What is that?” “People talking,” he responded with disbelief that I was not impressed. “I looked at my oldest son, then 11. His eyes were wide with amazement. “Yeah, so?” “Oh my gosh,” John said. “Cool.”


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“Who are they talking to?,” I asked, still missing the big picture.

rible diseases for which, surprisingly enough, I did not have the symptoms.

“Each other,” Mike and John both exclaimed in unison. My response was one that I have repeated at least a thousand times since computers became a part of our life. “I don't get it.”

I didn't think that the day would come that Mike would have a phone number I needed, and as I walked out of his office, I would say, “Mail it to me,” and I would sit down at my computer and mumble under my breath because it wasn't there yet. Certainly, I never thought I could Christmas shop in my jammies at 3 a.m. or visit with another friend with insomnia at 4 a.m. I never dreamed that we would ever publish a magazine, that Mike would complete it on his computer and have it at our printer in Paducah within hours without ever leaving our house. Isn't the Internet wonderful? Don't you wish you had invented it?

It was probably John who had the patience to take the time to explain to me that I was getting a glimpse into my future as I had my first look at something called America Online. I think it took Mike exchanging a couple of sentences such as “Mike here in Illinois,”and responses on the screen like “Hey Mike, how are ya? Nice to meet you,” before I understood that our words could be seen by people all across the country. Needless to say, the implications of that fact and the impact it would have on our lives were not obvious to me for some time. I didn't realize that the day would come when I would no longer look up a number in the phone book, because I could do a quick search on white pages and make the print so big that the 3s and 5s no longer looked alike. I didn't think that instead of finding a chicken casserole recipe in one of my now obsolete cookbooks, I could do a quick online search and find 511,000 of them.(And I am not exaggerating.) I didn't understand, that hypochondriac that I am, I could stay up all night long if I wanted finding strange and ter-

Now with all that hype, Good Life Publications is proud to announce, probably not the first ever, but at least our first ever Internet Trivia Contest. This could be a lot of fun if you like this kind of thing, and if you don't, well it could still be worth your trouble. For every useful and usable fact found on the Internet, there are probably a million useless and unusable trivial bits of information. Mike didn't think my finding that the 1943 Miss America had a dog named Teddy was even useful enough to make it into a trivia question. But we did manage to agree on 12 questions that we present to you.

First prize: $100 gift certificate to Bella's Trattoria at the Franklin County Country Club in West Frankfort. Dine in style on the exquisite Italian cuisine prepared by Chef Jeremy Castellano in beautiful surroundings overlooking the Franklin County Golf Course. Second prize: $50 gift certificate

Trivia Questions 1. In a Frederick Goodall painting, what famous person’s mother is seated at a table with a little girl? 2. In the poem by Shel Silverstein about a room that needs cleaning, what is the name of the lizard in the bed?

to none other than one of our personal favorite restaurants, Italian Village in Carbondale. Celebrating their 50th anniversary in business, you're bound to have a great time at IVs.

3. At the end of “The Last Lecture” what does Randy Pausch say will happen to you if you live your life the right way?


5. What are the names of Pillsbury Poppin Fresh’s pet dog and cat?

1. Everyone over age of 18 is eligible with the exception of independent contractors who do work for Good Life Publications. 2. Printed or written answers (if entering my snail mail) that are illegible will be considered wrong. 3. All answers are available on the Internet but you may, of course, use all other sources. 4. All answers have been carefully researched but in case of a dispute the decision of the judges is final. 5. You may enter as many times as you want, but only one correct entry per person will be eligible for the drawing. 6. The deadline for receiving winning entries is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010. 7. Gift certificates need not be used in their entirety in one visit, but credits will be issued for unused balance. Not redeemable for cash. 8. Winners will be notified by November 17, 2010 and announced in the 2010 Holiday issue of Good Living in Southern Illinois.

4. How many hula hoops were sold in America in 1959?

6. If you are in Clarksville, TN, standing at the intersection of Route 48 and 7th street, what sits directly to your north? 7. The singing duo Trout Fishing in America “just want a cup of coffee”. What do they want it made in? 8. Of the five original members inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame, which was the last to die? 9. Which two United States presidents were elected to congress after they served their terms as president? 10. Although he has long passed away, where would you go if you wanted to see Roy Roger’s famous horse Trigger? 11. What is the profession of comic strip character Charlie Brown’s father? 12. What famous American entertainer was born at 500 13th Street in Corning, Iowa? E-mail Answers to: or Snail Mail Answers to:

Good Life Publications Trivia Contest 309 East Oak Street West Frankfort, IL 62896

Important: Please include your name and a phone number so that we may notify you if you are a winner. Fall 2010



Fall 2010

Fall 2010


By Gail Rissi Thomas


here was a time in Southern Illinois—back in the 1950’s and 60’s—when so many of us lived in a perfect world that our houses looked and sounded pretty much the same. In the evenings everyone was at home, the kids hopefully doing homework, but likely tormenting one another. Dad was on his way home from work and Mom was hurrying to have the dinner ready shortly after he arrived. The comforting smell of frying pork chops or chicken wafted through the rooms and, on a good night, a hint of apples indicated there just might be a dessert somewhere in the mix. For those fortunate enough to own a TV set, a call went out over the airwaves at about 5 pm that usually brought at least the younger members of the


Fall 2010

family into the living room to drop to the floor in front of the screen: “Hey you shooger boogers, get in this room! Lucky’s here.” Nobody would argue the fact that television opened our world in Southern Illinois just as it did in every thriving metropolis across the country. But we were a hundred miles from a thriving metropolis, and if anything helped bring that wonderful outside world to our living rooms here, it had to be WSIL-TV Channel 3. Born as UHF Channel 22, the station—brought to Harrisburg as a business venture by partners D. L Turner and Charles Farrar—was scorned by many as a long shot at best. It would seem that the sparse population of the rural communities, the hilly and tree-studded terrain and the low strength of a UHF signal would

When WSIL first went on the air for two days in late 1953 it merely broadcast a test pattern. Later this “Indian Head” pattern, an industry standard introduced by RCA in 1939, was broadcast after the television station had signed off and played the United States National Anthem. These days, of course, broadcast test patterns have all but disappeared as most television stations broadcast programming or advertising 24 hours per day.

studio and generously shared time and knowledge with us from his career at the station. Kiesling started working behind-the- scenes jobs there in 1981. “The station opened with a two-day test on the air in late Started as a UHF (Ultra high frequency) Television station, 1953,” Kiesling WSIL did many remote broadcasts of sporting events including this 1954 SIU football game as well as filming the IHSA Boys said. “They began programming in Basketball Tournament at Champaign for later broadcast in the southern Illinois area. (Inset) The remote truck featured a 1954.” camera platform on the roof.

Photos provided

make a television station doomed to failure without a large population of viewers and a broad base of potential advertisers. But entrepreneurs Farrar and Turner, both with backgrounds as movie theater operators, believed that TV was the rising star, soon to take over as number one in all entertainment venues. In a documentary filmed on the history of WSIL in the mid 90’s, Turner said, “We had to go into TV to protect our business. We owned 22 movie theaters between the two of us and we felt that TV would eventually destroy us.” Mark Kiesling, promotions director, who most of us recognize as the news anchor for WSIL TV-3, gave us a tour of the Carterville

businessmen Robert Wilson and John Kirby, who made major inroads into updating and replacing equipment. Finally in 1983, Mel Wheeler purchased the station with his son Steve Wheeler serving as station manager and Steve’s wife Bonnie Wheeler as news director. That management team, which brought the station into the state of the art broadcasting system it is today, is still at the helm. As a part of our tour of WSIL, Kiesling introduced us to Robert E. Carter, an engineer who has been affiliated with the station on and off since 1956. Carter talked us through 45 years of changing technology that affected his job and of course the magnificent quality of the television picture we receive today.

For a while, WSIL was truly the only show in town, as area competition from KFVS in Cape Girardeau was not reaching into Southern Illinois and WPSD out of Paducah did not come on the scene until 1957. The Harrisburg station was an innovator, a pioneer in several areas such as remote broadcasts, but lack of reinvestment and maintenance allowed equipment (l-r): Engineers Robert Carter, Charles Gilliam and Bill and organization to Martin, shown here in a 1956 file photo, were responsible fall into disrepair. for changing the WSIL broadcasting format from a UHF station to a VHF station in 1959. The major disadvantage of It was eventually sold to Harrisburg UHF was its limited broadcast range and reception.

(Photo provided)

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Teamsters Local # 347 • (618) 932-3191 President: Terry Rawson • Vice President: Tracy Davis Secretary-Treasurer: Rosi Miller • Recordiing Secretary: Jerry Cunningham Trustees: Terry Gossett Stan Patterson Charles Mazur

Fall 2010


An unidentified newsman delivers the local news using little more than a desk as a set. With limited resources in a fledgling industry, production values often took second seat to content.

Before the advent of video cameras, a considerable amount of local broadcast material was actually filmed using an 8mm camera and then taken to the station to be put on the air. “The cameraman used to have to go inside a little closet with absolutely no light, like a photographer’s darkroom” Carter explained. “There he would open the film

The WSIL television studio in Harrisburg hosted as least one March of Dimes telethon, bringing in the Ted Weems Orchestra, a nationally recognized big band, as its main draw to attract viewers. (photo provided)

canister with the 8mm unexposed film. The film was just loose in the can, not even on a reel. He would line up the sprockets on a reel and the film would be sucked into a U-shape. There were tubes in the machine that would get extremely hot and compressors that blew constantly to keep everything cool enough that it wouldn’t catch fire.” That was more or less a crash course for dummies on the art of 1950’s television. By comparison we got a quick look at WSIL’s state of the art broadcasting system of 2010. I could have caught on quickly. You push this button until it’s time to push that one. Just not sure what any of them do, but it made us appreciate the genius of someone like Carter, who has learned, adapted and changed with the changes over nearly five decades. Carter sees “making things easier” as a kind of mixed bag.


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“What they did was take broadcast television which was very simple and introduce computers,” Carter said. “Now instead of one or two things to go wrong, there are 450.” But things could indeed go wrong and Carter recalled one incident that gained the station some unwanted publicity. “Back in the 80’s you could grab anything you wanted off satellites,” Carter said. “The signals weren’t protected like they are today. We had some college kids from SIU working the night shift. Actually I think it was one kid from the Radio-TV Department and his friend. Well, this one guy grabbed an adult film from the satellite feed and began watching it on a small monitor. His friend came in, saw what was going on and thought he’d like to watch it too, but he wanted to

watch it on the big main monitor so he went over, pushed a button and there it was. Only problem was, when he pushed that button, the adult film was now broadcasting on our signal. They didn’t know it until they got a few phone calls from viewers complaining about it. Well, they realized what had happened and fixed the problem. Funny thing was, then they got even more phone calls from people who wanted them to put it back on the air.” The one fact that probably all of us as modern day television viewers fail to appreciate is that during the early days of broadcasting, everything was performed live and everything had to be produced right there in the TV studio. For many years, WSIL did not broadcast ABC News, airing instead a children’s time slot featuring cartoons and shorts such as the Three Stoog-

was the only one around who really knew much about television. He had come from New York, and a talented musician in his own right, produced the “Bee-Hive,” a show that ran late at night and featured all local amateur talent. It gathered a large following. Jim Cox, a fresh-faced young man, followed Bolen and quickly became a WSIL star. Cox hosted the show, “The Hour,”where he interviewed local personalities. Once in a while Cox got a crack at a real star like Phyllis Diller, when the Du Quoin State Fair brought her to the area. Cox left the station after a few years and became a headliner on KEZK Radio Station in St. Louis where he resides today.

Saturday mornings brought “Junior Talent Review,” where youngsters from surrounding communities showed off their talent, whether it was singing, tap dancing, or twirling a baton. Imagine the prominent Southern Illinois business leaders who may have had their moment of fame on Uncle Briggs puts on his ‘cartoon eyes’. the Harrisburg stage. es instead. It was not until sometime in the late-1970s they became Uncle Briggs, played by Gorthe last ABC affiliate in the United don Briggs, was a character with States to abandon the practice of off-the-wall shenanigans such as pre-empting the network news. his “cartoon eyes” that delighted age groups from the younger set Early Channel 3 personalities like through college. If you grew up in Jim Bolen and Jim Cox wore many Southern Illinois in the 1970’s, you hats. They might report the loknow “cartoon eyes” are made with cal news, do the weather and then your fingers and thumbs and bendstar in their own local shows. Jim ing your wrists backward against Bolen, historical accounts tell us, your face in an almost impossible

position. As far as we know, Briggs invented “cartoon eyes”. With his trademark polka-dot painters cap, his sidekick “Bananaman” and character “Sally Safety,” Uncle Briggs became an area cult figure. T-shirts proudly proclaiming “Uncle Briggs Loves Me” were worn by locals of all ages. Sadly, Briggs Gordon passed away in 1987. Fans may be interested to know there is an Uncle Briggs facebook page which includes a couple of video links featuring him. Most all archives from the early programming years were destroyed when the station moved from Harrisburg to Carterville. Fortunately,

Typical of many on-air personalities with multiple duties at the station, Raymond “Lucky Leroy” Marvel hosted Junior Talent Show, pitched sponsors products such as Viviano Pasta, hosted a gospel show as well as a children’s show while at WSIL-TV. (provided)

long time employee John Van Hoy salvaged some classic footage, including many Cactus Pete Dairy Brand “cut-ins”. Fall 2010


So when Lucky Leroy came on the air shouting for the “Shooger Boogers to get in this room” he was in the Harrisburg studio, headed for Southern Illinois stardom. Dressed in a rhinestone cowboy shirt and cowboy hat, it was just him and his guitar, singing old standards from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams in the best backwoods hillbilly character he could muster. In his own words from a piece of archival film, he says, “I’d just ball and squall up and down the wall and yell good evenin’ y’all.” A Baptist minister—Raymond Leroy Marvel in real life—Lucky Leroy made his mark on the Southern Illinois population, especially the kids who were a faithful audience seven nights a week. I have a personal Lucky Leroy story that involves a very close brush with fame. My father was a professional photographer, and saw television as an exciting venue for expanding his business. Marvel, who also had the responsibility of selling ads for the station made a sales call one day when I had the disadvantage or perhaps advantage of being home from school sick in bed. My dad asked Marvel if he would do him the favor of coming in back of the studio where we lived to pay a visit to his daughter, and Marvel was only too happy to oblige. After my dad announced to me that I had a surprise visitor, I heard the familiar booming voice shout, “Hey you shooger booger, what are you doin’ in bed?” He sat on the edge of my bed talking to me, teasing and saying he only wished he had his guitar so that he could sing me a get-well song. I was speechless, and breathlessly returned to school the next day to 30

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tell all the kids who had been at my house. Much to my dismay, I met with a reaction akin to “Yeah, right.’” No one believed me, Lucky Leroy was such a celebrity to all of us, I might as well have said that Elvis appeared in his sparklestudded suit and sang a few bars of “Love me Tender.” Lucky left the station to preach full time and passed away in 2004. Another WSIL celebrity who stole the hearts of Southern Illinoisans was Cactus Pete. For 18 years Bill Plater, the station’s art director, played the bearded hillbilly char-

acter, originally created by Jim Bolen. Plater also was star of “Its Fun to Draw,” a show for children, created to fill airtime on Saturday mornings, followed by “Ruffles the Clown,’ a character also played by Plater and sponsored by Chesty Potato Chips. Plater lives in Marion, and we had the privilege of talking with him about the phenomenon of the popularity of a character who did little but talk, drink milk, and talk about drinking milk in between the showing of a cartoon or a Three Stooges episode or two. “We started with the Cactus Pete

show just showing cartoons,” Plater recalled. “Eventually we added things like Laurel and Hardy and westerns. There was only one TV in the house, and only one station received clearly, so adults had to watch what the kids were watching. We realized that they were a part of our audience.” Although Cactus Pete, known by his big bushy beard, and flannel shirt, did nothing more than lean on a split rail fence and talk between features, he had all the mystique of a Wild Bill Hickok blended with the gentility of Mr. Rogers. His 18-year run was an amazing feat when compared to the shoot-em up super heroes that entertain kids today. “I had never been on the air until I took over as Cactus Pete,” Plater admits. “They used to say that I only got the show because I was the only one in the station that could wear Jim Bolen’s hat size.” Dairy Brand Milk was the only sponsor for Cactus Pete, and basically, Dairy Brand Milk was the central focus of the show. Plater talked about drinking his milk, how good it was, and how he drank it out of a tin cup. Within three days after his first mention of the cup, they told us that you couldn’t buy a tin cup within thirty miles. They capitalized on that by offering a deal. “Take two of these tabs off the top of your milk carton, boys and girls. Have Mom take them to the grocery store with a dime. Give them your name, and in three days you can go back and pick up your own tin cup with Cactus Pete’s name engraved right here. Then you can drink your milk just like Cactus does.” By the way, if you still have your Cactus Pete cup, you might want to

hold on to it. If not, you might get lucky enough to find one on EBay for anywhere from $25 to $50 bucks.” Again, Plater reminds us, it was all live. “The camera light came on, and you stood on your mark and started talking. There were no second chances,” Plater says. “Things happened. The camera just sat there; there was no reason for it to move. One night, the cameraman, Van Hoy, was in the darkroom developing film and the cable got tangled up somehow. The camera started moving to the right, so I had to keep moving to the right to stay on camera. I was half way across the studio before he came out and caught it. That was just live TV.” Cactus Pete became such a local celebrity, that he began making personal appearances at Saturday matinees and special events. “Cactus Pete was kind of like Santa Claus,” he said. “Kids wanted to get up close to him and touch him. Luckily, I was always in costume, so when I went out any time I

wasn’t working, nobody recognized me. You know, I enjoyed it, but I never felt like a celebrity. It was just a job, like any other job. I’d sign on with, ‘Well hello Buckaroos.’ I’d sign off with, ‘Well, so long.’ That was real clever, wasn’t it?” The significance of WSIL and the impact it had on Southern Illinois cannot be overstated. They brought us the first telethon when they ran a March of Dimes Telethon in 1956. They were the very first TV station to film the IHSA Basketball Tournament in Champaign. “They would film the games and bring the film back to Harrisburg and show the game the next day. Even though everyone knew the results, people were wowed,” says Kiesling. It was a simpler time. People were easily impressed and kids were easily entertained, so much so, that even dinner was often delayed a little until the family had heard Lucky say, “Be the good Lord willin’ and the creeks don’t rise, I’ll see ya’ tomorrow.”

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Fall 2010

Bada Bing! Bada Boom! A Piece of Baseball History Found in Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar Has Significance for One Former Southern Illinois Resident By Gail Rissi Thomas


nce in a while the star of fame shines on someone more than once. When my husband called former major league catcher Hal C. Smith in August at his Texas home and asked him for an interview, Smith may have been a little surprised. But when Mike told him that he wanted to write an article about him for the Good Living in West Frankfort magazine, he could tell that he caught his interest. Smith was born in West Frankfort in 1930, and although he moved with his family to Detroit long before he became the famous major leaguer that helped save the 1960 world series for the Pittsburg Pirates, he was kind and generous with his time in sharing his memories for a publication from his hometown. We published the story about his three-run homer in our late summer issue We were the ones who were surprised when our son e-mailed us to say that in the New York Times, he had read that the game that was Smiths biggest claim to fame had

recently been found on film in Bing Crosby's wine cellar. You may have read the story by now, as it has been widely publicized that Crosby, part owner of the Pirates in 1960, was too superstitious to go to the seventh and deciding game of the series with the New York Yankees. Instead, Bing went to Paris and listened to the game via short wave radio. But before he left, he hired a company to film the game off a TV monitor in kinescope, an early relative of digital video recorders. After Crosby returned home and watched the game, he stored the 5 canisters of film in his wine cellar for safekeeping. It was a far thinking move. Not even the networks kept film of the games they broadcast. No complete games from that period exist due to the fact that the film would be reused or discarded. It wouldn’t be until the 1970’s when Major League Baseball would archive its games.

2009 by an employee of the Bing Crosby estate who was in Bing’s wine cellar culling through videotapes of Bing’s many television specials. The film had not degraded and has since been transferred to DVD. Major League Baseball has bought the rights to Bing’s treasure and will broadcast the game on the MLB network in December. Those who have seen the film say that it is vintage Americana. It is shown just as NBC broadcast it. There are no fancy graphics, no interviews in the dugout from reporters on the field and no instant replays. For Hal Smith, who spent his childhood in Southern Illinois it is probably a much greater surprise than our call to him to request an interview for an article. And for Good Living in Southern Illinois magazine…well, sometimes you just get lucky. The reprint of our story follows.

The film was found in December of Fall 2010


tive by the name of Hal Smith.

(photo courtesy of Earl Williams)

Hal Smith was born in West Frankfort in 1930. His father was a coal miner and a farmer but during the Depression years of the 1930’s times were difficult. “A lot of the mines were closed during the Depression,” related Smith in a recent phone interview. “We moved to Detroit when I was in the 7th grade. My dad and mom both got factory jobs and my dad eventually went to work with my uncle painting in factories for Henry Ford during the war years.” Smith went to Townmount Grade School in rural Franklin County. “I played baseball in school. We had a grade school team and would play teams from other schools,” Smith said. One of Smith’s teammates during those years was Pete Jackanicz, who remembers that even at that young age Smith could ‘hit a baseball like you wouldn’t believe’.

“I went to a big high school in Detroit,” Smith said. “I guess today it would be a 5A school. I was a pretty good athlete. I was captain of the basketball team and played quarterback on the football team. I had a lot of scholarship offers to play football in college. But what I really wanted to do was to play baseball. In my junior and senior years I hit for over .500 and I had a lot of major league scouts interested in me. At that time there was By Michael A. Thomas no draft like there is today. The Yankees were one of the teams that were interf you mention the 1960 World Series between ested in me and they flew the New York Yankees and the Pittsburg Pime to New York. The morates to any knowledgeable baseball fan you ment I walked into Yan(Card courtesy of Matt Buffington) are likely to hear the name Bill Mazeroski menkee Stadium and looked tioned. It was Mazeroski, a slender second baseman known around I thought ‘this is the place for me’ and more for his defense than his power, who hit a home run in the I accepted their offer.” bottom of the ninth in the seventh and deciding game of the series to send the Pirates to an improbable 10-9 win against Smith signed with the Yankees in 1949 for the mighty Yanks. But the stage would not have ever been set $5,000. “That was pretty good,” laughed for Maz’s heroics if it hadn’t been for a southern Illinois naSmith. “But it was all downhill after that. In



Fall 2010

1950 they paid me $200 a month and the season only lasted for five months so during the offseason I would paint with my dad and uncle so I would have enough money for next year’s spring training.”

interested in me. At that time there was no draft like there is today.

After honing his considerable skills in the Yankee organization for 4 years, Smith headed to spring training in 1954 with high hopes. He was scheduled to be the starting catcher in the Yankees first exhibition game of the spring when he became ill with a severe case of mononucleosis. He lost so much weight that he was reassigned to the minors to regain his weight and get his strength back. Seeing his dream of playing in the Major Leagues given a setback, Smith naturally wondered if his chance would ever come again. It was then that Yankee manager Casey Stengel gave Smith some words of encouragement. “He told me that I was too good a catcher to not ever play in the Majors and that if he didn’t keep me that he would trade me,” Smith recalled. In the fall of 1954, Smith was part of a 16-player trade between the Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles. One of the Baltimore players the Yankees got for Smith was a young pitcher by the name of Don Larsen, who in 1956 pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.

An 11-year old Hal Smith (center) poses with his family for a 1941 Christmas photo. Hal’s parents were Earl and Ruth (Williams) Smith. Hal had a younger brother, George, and a sister, Joyce. (photo courtesy of Earl Williams)

Smith also played for three seasons for the Kansas City Athletics where he had his best seasons. “In 1957 I was the only catcher to hit over .300,” said Smith. “They were paying me $14,000 and the Fall 2010


next spring I held out for a $2500 raise, which I got. People tell me if I was playing now I would be a multi-millionaire.” But it was in Pittsburg that Smith would find fame, if not fortune, when in 1960 he became a member of the National League Champion Pirates. The team featured solid starting pitching and future Hall of Famers Bill Mazeroski and a young Roberto Clemente. “Clemente’s locker was next to mine and I knew then that he was going to be a superstar. I told him that I had seen a lot of players in my day and had only seen a couple of guys that had his kind of talent. But you know, he was kind of a hypochondriac and would miss games and I told him ‘Roberto, if you play every day we’re gonna win the pennant.’ He told me ‘Smitty, I play.’”And win the pennant they did. The Pirates were big underdogs going into the series. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra were just a few of the weapons the Pirates faced. “We always thought we had a chance,” said Smith. “We had a lot of guys who really knew how to play baseball and we knew if everybody did their job we could win.” Indeed, the Pirates won the first game of the series 6-4, but any confidence the players gained quickly vanished when the Bronx Bombers took the next two games 16-3 and 10-0. “ I remember it all,” Smith said. “When they beat us, they beat us bad. We only had one good relief pitcher, Elroy Face. Our other guys were just mediocre.” 36

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Hal Smith, right, was greeted by Roberto Clemente, left, and Dick Groat after hitting his crucial homer in the 8th inning of Game 7. (AP Photo)

If the Pirates had given up hope after their two lopsided losses, they didn’t show it. They took the next two games on the road in New York when pitchers Vern Law and Harvey Haddix tamed the bats of the Yanks with 3-2 and 5-2 wins respectively. With their backs to the wall and the series returning to Pittsburg, the Yankees put on another pow-

erhouse display winning Game 6 in a 12-0 rout, setting the stage for Game 7. The Bucs jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the Series’ final game and, with Vern Law pitching another fine game, they looked to be in good shape. Law carried his shutout for 5 innings, but in the 6th the powerful Yankees tallied 5 runs and added two more in the 8th inning to take a commanding 7-4 lead. The

Pirates had tallied two more runs in the 8th to trim the New York lead to 7-6 when Hal Smith stepped to the plate with two outs and two runners on base. He blasted a pitch over the left field wall of Forbes Field sending the hometown crowd into a frenzy as the Pirates took the lead 9-7. But the Yankees were not done. Aided by some smart base running by Mickey Mantle, they tied it in the 9th by scoring two runs. New York Times writer Richard Sandomir described the bizarre play that tied the game: The Yankees were trailing, 9-8, with Mantle on first and Gil McDougald on third. Berra hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Rocky Nelson, who quickly stepped on the bag for the second out. For a split second, Nelson seemed ready to throw home in time for a tag play on McDougald for the final out of the World Series. But Nelson immediately became distracted by Mantle, who never took off for second when Berra hit the ball and was now standing just a few feet away. Nelson reached to tag Mantle, but Mantle made a feint and dived back safely into first. McDougald scored, and the score was tied, 9-9. Smith recalled the play that almost cost the Pirates the World Series and laughed, “Yeah, I guess their runner was smarter than our first baseman.” The first Pirate batter to face Yankee reliever Bill Terry in the bottom of the 9th was Bill Mazeroski who belted the second pitch he saw into immortality. Many say it was the most famous homer in Series history. It’s still the only Game 7 walk-off homer ever hit. The Pirates had done the improbable; they had defeated the mighty New York Yankees in the World Series. “The fans went crazy,” Smith said. “The Yankees couldn’t believe that we had won. Mickey Mantle cried.” Mantle said in later years that losing to the Pirates in the 1960 World Series was his most disappointing moment as a ballplayer. But for Hal Smith and the rest of the Pittsburg Pirates, 1960 was a very good year.

Fall 2010


football, and although I've never been involved in one, I've seen and smelled firsthand that a Saluki Tailgate on a gorgeous October weekend in Southern Illinois is like a culinary masterpiece painted on the backdrop of the epitome of merriment. But the tailgating idea has been stretched to the wildest boundaries, expanded to include not only obvious sporting events like soccer, hockey and baseball games, but such unlikely situations such as tailgating while awaiting Supreme Court decisions without the convenience of cars and tailgates. Groups of college tailgaters have in several instances had to be dispersed from areas outside hospitals while they waited for a best buddy to come through a surgical procedure. What is that? Cutting edge tailgating? The point is anywhere people have to wait for something to happen, they might as well eat and drink while they're doing it.

By Gail Rissi Thomas


hh, the smell of the bratworst, the compliments of the crowd. It's time to tailgate folks, and if there was ever a better idea to make a football game more interesting, I can't imagine what it would be. As many of you know, it's not entirely uncommon 38

Fall 2010

for some fans to get so carried away with the tailgating they end up skipping the game. And if you, like my husband and I do most of your tailgating in front of the TV or computer, then you also know that TV tailgating can get even more extravagant and sophisticated than the parking lot type. Most of us in Southern Illinois are inclined to associate tailgating with

In short, we at Good Living in Southern Illinois, tailgaters though we aren't, decided to throw our portable grills into the fray, so that if we ever do get the opportunity to pull the old Honda Odyssey up into a parking lot and let down the tailgate, we won't look like first timers who haven't even read any of the hundreds of Tailgating for Dummies articles of advice available out there. We certainly don't have a portable generator to plug in all the crockpots, but we wouldn't want to show up without chairs or have to try to bum a barbeque fork from a tailgating neighbor. Ocean Spray, Tostitos and just about every food blog and website on the internet is running a contest for the best tailgating ideas submit-

ted by viewers, so we decided the best thing to do was offer a few ideas from Southern Illinois foodies and cooks just in case you're looking for a new idea or two. So here's what's cookin'. Steve Rhoads, part owner of West Frankfort's Coleman Rhoads Furniture is a long time Saluki supporter and tailgater. “We do a great tailgate,” Rhoads says, referring to a group of regulars who meet before every home football game. “We have a group of people who have been getting together before every game for five or six years now, and gosh, I think we have about the best tailgate over there. We followed Ryan Patton all the years he played, so there were a lot of West Frankfort people involved, but there are others too, from Carbondale and around the area. Of course Ryan graduated, but that hasn't changed the tailgate. We're right there where the team runs past and then the band comes through, it's a fantastic atmosphere to be in.” Rhoads claims no credit for the fabulous food enjoyed at their tailgate but suggested that we talk with Paul Farkas for the best game recipes.

couple of weeks we'll probably be having a fish fry.” Farkas says that the sky is the limit when it comes to grilling. “We've grilled salmon, pineapple. I think one of the favorites is Portabella mushrooms. We just put them sliced on foil on the grill and brush them with olive oil. Then light salt and pepper and granulated garlic. Sometimes as we take them off the grill, we top them with a small piece of cheese and let it melt. It's great. We're usually the first ones to set up and the last ones to leave.” And if cooking is not your thing but you still want to contribute something interesting to the tailgate gathering, The Carbondale Neighborhood Co-op has some interesting suggestions that will feed a crowd at a moment's notice. The Co-op Deli is full of unique selections. Jerry Bradley, outreach coordinator, suggests some traditional ones such as picnic potato salad or apple cole slaw. Others are classically seasonal, like squash cakes. They have selections for the vegetarian, like wheatberry salad or vegan calico pasta salad and some entrees to try out on the gang, such as Gingered Peanut Pasta or The Dale (as in Carbondale) Broccoli Salad. All you have to do is stop in on your way to the party, grab and go. Lisa Smith from the Co-op staff offers a variation on chili.

“Paul is the guy,” Rhoads says. “He has wonderful recipes, and he is pretty much chief cook and bottle washer. He is the creative one behind this whole thing. I caught up with Farkas on a non-game day and tried to steal his secrets for being branded, “Best Ever.” “We've done so many things that I can't even think of them all,” Farkas said. “Of course we usually have three or four grills going. I know we have the best brownies anywhere. Terry Brown from West Frankfort makes a couple of pans of brownies, and if they aren't there, that is one of the things people will be asking for. We generally have anywhere from 40 to 50 people at our tailgate.” “Sometimes we have cookers full of chilli or homemade soup. We've had really good taco salads, something different all the time. We have a couple join us from Carbondale, Alfred and Caroline Jackson. She's from Alabama, and she makes some of the best Cajun dishes I have ever tasted, like red beans and rice. We’ve had fried chicken, and in a

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Fall 2010


Just to be sure we've covered all the bases, we went to Bob Martin, owner of Martin’s Cafe and Catering in Benton to see if we missed something important. Martin has been catering good, hot comfort food for 35 years. Combining that experience with his love of football and the Salukis, creates lots of of opportunities for the do-it-yourself

way or the carry-out way. Don't forget to order ahead, and as boring as it may sound, never underestimate food safety. Be sure that gathered around the TV or on the go, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and sometimes, the best secret to a recipe is simplicity. Here's another recipe that will draw oohs and aahs from the crowd.




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Fall 2010

Broccoli Torts 1 cup cooked coarsley chopped broccoli Âź lb shredded cheese (your preference) 2-3 minced green onions 1 cup light cream 3 beaten eggs 1 tsp. Salt 1 stick soft butter 3 oz cream cheese 1 cup flour Mix first 6 ingredients. Set aside. Mix last three ingredients, shape walnut sized balls and press into mini muffin cups lining the cup to the rim with the dough. Fill each one with broccoli mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before turning out of pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.

More About The Egyptian Drive-In

(Ed. Note: Perhaps no other story we have run has ever received as much attention as did our story on the Egyptian Drive-In which appeared in the previous issue of Good Living in Southern Illinois. Archie Brown, a former resident of Herrin, wrote to tell us his memories of the theater)


very dear friend of mine, Helen Boyd Hardcastle from Carterville IL, mailed me a copy of your magazine which I found very interesting. Since I was one of the very first employees to be hired by Wayne Smith and Harold Greer, I can fill in a few gaps regarding the train that ran around the property. When Harold was bought out by Wayne he removed the tracks and train and shipped them to Amarillo, Texas and re-assembled them in the Palo Duro Canyon Park to be used for entertainment purposes for park visitors. Harold knew I was attending a technical school at a local air force base and asked me if I would be interested in working for him on the weekends. Since air force pay wasn’t much for a new recruit, I accepted along with my friend, Leon Brandon, from Herrin. I now live in San Jose, California and I miss southern Illinois more than I ever thought I would. As a matter of fact, I have a picture of the Egyptian drive-in theatre hanging over my desk

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Maybe you can find space in your next publication for my letter to wish all my Herrin High, class of 1951 friends, a hearty hello. Thanks so much Archie D. Brown San Jose, CA

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Fall 2010


By Julie Willis


t is Friday night and the seats are filling quickly. The staff has just finished tasting the specials and we are tweaking our uniforms getting ready for a full night of service. Candles are lit, menus are wiped, the music is cranking, and the entire staff takes a collective inhale. It’s show time. 42

Fall 2010

My section is filling up, and as I head over to start greeting my customers, I see Kay. Kay is an occasional regular, around 70 years old. I see her about twice a month. She is usually accompanied by her friend Jim, who seems to be around 85. They appear, upon first glance, to be out of place in this crazy trendy bistro in the heart of Manhattan, but they actually fit right in. They seem to look out for each other, and they enjoy a good meal. Tonight I see that Kay is dining solo, and she seems perplexed. I head over to say hi.




• General Practice • Criminal Law • Family Law • DUI • Drivers License Reinstatement • 10 Years Experience

“Hi Kay! How are you tonight?” “Well, Julie to be honest I am very upset.” Seeing my section get busier by the nanosecond, I risk going into the weeds and sit in the vacant chair across from Kay. “What’s the matter?” I ask, hoping the story is good, but not epic.

205 N. Logan Suite B West Frankfort, IL 62896

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“You know how a million years ago we all came to earth from another planet, right?” Now please understand that I have lived in New York long enough and have waited on enough tables to know there is only one reply to this question. “Of course.” I say with a shrug and a look that says “duh!?!” Kay shakes her head to me in agreement, knowing she has found a soul mate. “Julie, I am so worried, because as you know, the world is supposed to end in 2012, and did you know the government is doing nothing, NOTHING to save us? There is no money for research of other planets or anything. I mean, where are we going to go?” Sigh. Kay is one of the many reasons I will forever miss my time as a waitress. Waitressing is one of those pedestrian jobs that is almost a right of passage in New York, especially for actors. Like acting, it is one of those

Fall 2010


jobs where when you tell people what you do they almost certainly tell you of a time when they, too, waited tables and then you have a moment of shared empathy. For example, when you tell someone you are in theatre, almost everyone has a story of when they were in a play, whether they played the left molar in their fourth grade health class or the time their high school did a traveling production of Anne of Green Gables and they played Anne. When people find out what my dad does for a living, it is probably a rare occasion that someone replies with, “that reminds me of the brief time in my early twenties when I was a loan officer at Goldman- Sachs.” But tell them you wait tables, and nine times out of ten someone has a story from his college days schlepping pies at the Pizza Hut, or the overnight shifts serving the crazy people at the local Denny’s. It is like sharing stories of old war wounds. With added salt. This commonality is another reason I really loved my job. It came to me just when I needed it. I lost my job in the days after September 11, 2001, and I was feeling a bit lost and did not know what to do next. My unemployment was not enough on which to live, so one day while walking in my neighborhood I stumbled upon a new place that was not quite open, and as luck would have it, they were looking

for help. Having VERY limited experience (4 weeks at a Cracker Barrel in Indiana) I charmed them with an “I lost my job in 9-11” story and landed the job, working lunch shifts. Great! I thought I could do this for a few months, get back on my feet, and keep moving forward. Nine years and thousands of cups of coffee later, I found myself in a similar place of transition. After spending the summer in Southern Illinois recovering from surgery, and having just acquired a new full-time teaching position starting in the fall, I returned to New York ready to work a couple of shifts a week, for the fun and the extra cash. As I went to my first shift in two months, it amazed me how things had not changed. It was the same staff, who by now are dear friends, the same customers, and the same food. The only thing was I had changed. I always felt I would know when I was finished serving dinner. This particular Monday night it became painfully clear. The pace of the busy night suddenly seemed hostile. I found myself annoyed by a customer’s simple request of a refill on his water. I felt….old. I did not belong here anymore. At the end of my shift, I looked at my manager, and as sure as I have ever felt about anything, I took one last look around the place that was a second home to me for so long, and

blurted the words “I am all done here.” On bad nights, my quitting speech was going to be much more eloquent. Oh well. So after hundreds of shifts and thousands of customers, I finally retired my little black apron last month. Oh how I will miss Kay. I will also miss the crazy guy who used to take pictures of me and bring them in framed in a bunch of different sizes, forcing me to threaten him with a restraining order. I will miss Simone, the aging drag queen palm reader who would sneak into my section on weekends and hustle my customers trying to make a buck while I looked the other way. I will miss the cash. I will REALLY miss the cash. But now I can enjoy my weekends. I can take advantage of going to bed before midnight and rising when the rest of the world greets the day. And for the first time in my adult life, I have health care. It was not an easy decision. But it was a clear decision. Originally from West Frankfort, Julie Willis is currently living in New York, New York, where she is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Humanities at Hudson County Community College, part-time actress, and part-time waitress.


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Fall 2010

Fall 2010


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at the Following Locations: Aaron M. Hopkins, Attorney ................... pg. 43 Antique Annex ........................................ pg. 11 Baldwin Piano & Organ ........................... pg. 2 Bella’s Trattoria .................................... pg. 18 BFJ Interiors ....................................... pg. 31 Cache Creek Animal Resuce ................... pg. 16 Cache River Winery .............................. pg. 35 Calico Country ..................................... pg. 45 Coleman-Rhoads Furniture 18 Cooks Portable Warehouse ............ Back Cover Decorating Den .................................... pg. 21 Dr. Dale Brock, Optometrist ................... pg. 32 Dr. Seb Pagano, DMD.... ...................... pg. 45 Dr. Stephen Ponton Foot Clinic........... pg. 19 East Main Market ............................. .... pg. 46 Etcetera ................................................ pg. 41 Event Center ......................................... pg. 21 Franklin County Chiropractic......... pg. 4 Gandy’s Auto Body ............................... pg. 21 Herron Chiropractic ............................. pg. 21 Honker Hill Winery ............................. pg. 47 Image Graphics ............................... pg. 8 Italian Village Pizza ............................. pg. 37 Jackson Pools & Spas ............................ pg. 47 JenRuss Glass Design............................. pg. 13 Kreative Kitchen Design ..................... pg. 46 Martin’s Catering ............................. pg. 44 McDonald’s 20 Mike Riva, Attorney .............................. pg. 45 My Favorite Toys ................................. pg. 41 Natural Meds ....................................... pg. 47 Neighborhood Co-Op ............................ pg. 37 Paul Lawrence Insurance...................... pg. 32 PDO Design Group .............................. pg. 4 Pizza Mikes ............................................ pg. 47 Prairie Living at Chautauqua................. pg. 40 Ramey Insurance ................................ pg. 21 Shelter Insurance .................................... pg. 28 Sisters Three ........................................... pg. 43 Smart Body Rx ......................................... pg. 45 Southern Illinois Bank ............................. pg. 13 Southern Illinois Surgical Appliance ...... pg. 11 Stotlar Herrin Lumber ......................... pg. 32 Teamsters ............................................... pg. 27 Tom’s Place ............................................ pg. 39 Walker’s Bluff 2 Week’s Chevrolet ................................. pg. 21 West Frankfort Aquatics Center ........ pg. 35 Wolf Rock & Mulch 11

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Good Living in Southern Illinois Vol 3. No. 3  

People, Places and Pride of Southern Illinois

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