Monthly Archives: April, 2017

The Great Flood Of April 28 – 30, 2017

Over the past three days we in Carbondale, Illinois have received over 11 inches of rain.


It has rained so much and so fast that University Hall, on the Campus of Southern Illinois University had to evacuate 180 residents due to flooding.  The following are photos from the SIU Newspaper, The Daily Egyptian.



042917_Flooding_04_WEB_JW-1Folks that have been in Southern Illinois longer than I have, and I have been a resident for over fifty years, say that this is the worse flooding that they can remember.

IMG_0005 2 Someone sent my friend, Ryan Cheek, this photo looking north on highway #51 leaving Carbondale.

The only good thing that has come from our April Deluge is that our beautiful Campus Lake, which had been drained to remove toxic algae, has been restored to its’ former splendor…almost overnight.




A Photo by University Photographer, Steve Buhman, uploaded from Facebook.

In contrast to its’ dredged look.



Mother Nature has a way of instructing us that no matter what our plans are…she can disrupt them.




Where Can I Make a Difference, Or, “The Consumate Professionals of Southern Illinois University”

Have you ever wondered, where is my place…how can I help…what is my purpose in life?


These are lifelong questions, although they become amplified when you retire.  I was speaking with the Administrator that I worked for, at the conclusion of my career, as he loaded his vehicle with personal items from his office.  This gentleman is an extraordinary hard worker.  I walk the Campus of SIU most days and on the weekends.  It was not unusual to see him coming or going from his office on both Saturdays and Sundays.  Also, he arrived early in the morning, on weekdays, and stayed until late in the evening.  The Vice Chancellor…lived Southern Illinois University…much as I did during my time there.  SIU will miss Kevin Bame.


My friend and colleague, for many years, Brad Dillard…is cut from the same cloth.  I remember Brad when he was a student employee…so many years ago.  From those days until the present he has possessed a single-mindedness and determination to produce an excellent work product and to be a mentor and friend to all he encounters.

Brad, who is now the Director of Plant and Service Operations, is one of the most honest people that I have ever encountered.  His care for the staff that work under his direction is unparalleled.  He is a caring person and a consummate professional…that is always trying to make a positive difference for his beloved SIU and for the dedicated members of his organization.


I ran into Mr. Fred Gilbert, Painter Foreman, and one of his colleagues today on my Campus Walk.  Fred is one of the nicest people that I know…and an extraordinary gifted painter.  Also, he is a master Carver.  This man leads one of the most productive Paint Shops that I have ever witnessed.


I often see my friend, David, in Morris Library, who is the Custodian there on the day shift.  He is always working and endeavoring to improve the cleanliness and physical atmosphere for the students of our University.  When I greet him…he is reluctant to stop…and will only do so for a moment because he is so focused on making a difference for SIU.


My friend, Ryan, cleans an extremely large custodial area that encompasses several large campus buildings, with a small crew to assist him.  Ryan is a gentleman and a professional.  He does not complain…he has been working ill for three weeks…and yet he is one of the most pleasant professionals you will ever have the privilege of meeting.


There is a scripture that says, ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.’   Ecclesiastes 9:10   KJV


SIU is a Garden of Beauty…Or “Thank a Grounds Employee”

I think that it must have been made clear that I love to walk the verdant, lush, Campus of Southern Illinois University.  It has been said, many times through the years, that SIUC is the loveliest Campus in the state of Illinois.

IMG_1759The Grounds Department maintains over 1,200 acres.  They also ‘provide snow removal, street cleaning, and parking lot maintenance,’ according to their web site.

IMG_1369IMG_0696Every day that I am privileged to walk the SIU Campus…I see Grounds Staff busily maintaining their handiwork!

IMG_1612IMG_1681 3The juxtaposition of our well manicured Grounds with our historic Campus Structures results in a Painting worthy of Monet or Vincent van Gogh.

IMG_1691 5IMG_1984 2IMG_0920 4The Grounds department does all of this picturesque work with a staff of under fifty full time and twenty-seven student workers.

They accomplish all of the Grounds maintenance as well as having a crew dedicated, daily, to moving furniture and equipment, and fifteen of the staff are trained in the removal of asbestos.

IMG_0995IMG_1684 3My friend and colleague, of many years, Elizabeth assists the Superintendent of Grounds, Dave, in the daily managing of the Herculean job that this well run department produces.

IMG_1969 4IMG_1547We have been to the United Kingdom twice.  Both times I could not help but admire the emphasis that the British place on their flower gardens… in their individual yards. SIU is unparalleled in the spectacular…peaceful…lush…beauty of its’ Campus.

Thank you Grounds Department!



Beautiful France

Once Mary Jane and I retired we set out to do something that was a long time dream of ours…travel to Europe.  In fact we embarked on a ‘Retirement Mediterranean Cruise’ in the spring of 2011…or six years ago.

We were so excited to have the opportunity to have a short visit with our friend of many years, Margo, in Nice, France.  During our shore excursion in France, we first stopped in the mountain commune of Eze.

Eze is 1,401 feet above sea level and is also know as the eagles’ nest due to its’ extraordinary view of the Mediterranean.

According to Wikipedia, Walt Disney spent a significant amount of time in Eze.

maxresdefault-1From Eze we soon arrived in Nice for lunch with our friend, Margo.  I immediately was fascinated with the architecture of the old city.  At lunch I ordered a dish that was  a Nice cuisine or Nicois.  After a lovely lunch…where I took note that many at the restaurant had their dogs with them, setting calmly at their feet or under the tables.  I also noticed the very relaxed and non hurried atmosphere of the French.

We were in glorious France just long enough to wet our appetite for more.  In 2012 we traveled with our dear friends again to Paris for three days and nights that captivated my imagination.


The French people are friendly and welcoming.  Those that I had the pleasure of encountering were mild mannered and quieter than Americans.  They are a people that value manners and decorum.  When you enter a shop or cafe…they expect to be greeted…and once engaged…they are very pleasant.

From our ‘appartement’ or ‘chambre’ in the 15th ‘Arrondissement’ we could see the Eiffel Tower, brilliantly lit at night.

The ‘Musse d’Orsay’ was simply a fabulous museum with the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh Paintings that I had ever seen.  It is housed in an old railway station.

As we walked along the Seine and looked across at the Cathedral of Notre Dame…I reflected that if there was a more lovely place on Earth…I would like to see it.





‘There is Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself!

Although I missed church this morning, Mary Jane told me that one of the subjects that Pastor Janice West spoke about was fear.  How often do we do we make decisions as a result of our fear?


I had a colleague who told me, years ago, that the reason that he attended church was due to the fear of burning in Hell.

Fear can take many forms.  We humans are prone to worry.  Often what we are worrying about…never occurs.  Yet we are sleepless…sad….And in a constant state of turmoil and acid indigestion…resulting from our obsession with what might happen.


‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet you’re heavenly father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?’   Matthew 6:20   KJV


Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed that, ‘we have nothing to fear, but fear itself,’ during his first Inaugural Address in the midst of the Great Depression.  His buoyant optimism literally carried our economically broken Country through the Depression and World War II.


So often life brings us opportunities and happiness and peace…that we really did not altogether earn from the sweat of our brow.  It is highly probable that there is a Higher Power looking out for each of us…and guards and protects us often…from the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’


Life was a gift to each member of humanity…we did nothing to earn it or to deserve it.  I think that it is vital that we appreciate our great gift…and trust that the giver of the gift…has his eyes on us.


Calmer Heads Must Prevail.

When I was a child I often heard my elders speak of ‘Calmer Heads Prevailing.’  I know now more than ever what that phrase means.  IMG_1122

In our national government we are seeing Brinksmanship with our policy toward North Korea…like we have not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Bellicose words and chilling statements regarding nuclear war…seem in the glory days mode of General George Patton and movie star John Wayne…until they are taken literally.


Gunshots have just been fired in Paris on the Champs-Elysees.

In Illinois, our republican Governor and our democratic Speaker of the House and Senate President cannot agree on a state budget for the past two years.  Our wonderful State University, SIU, is preparing to lay-off hundreds of people and possibly outsource entire departments.


The people affected are hard working carer employees that love their University.  Many work countless hours without pay and seek nothing but the best for the University that they love.

These are not jobs that people are getting rich from.  Also, they have not received a pay raise in several years.

If they are fortunate enough to retain their position they can count on their health insurance rising…perhaps 100% or more.  Remember, many of these dedicated staff make little more than minimum wage…many qualify for Food Stamps!


Yet these dedicated…hardscrabble individuals only ask that their elected government Senators and Representatives and Governor…allow them to keep working…often at poverty level income…so that they may provide for their families…and support their church and charity organizations.

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Yes, you heard me correctly…ask a waitress who gives the best tips…they will tell you that people who have known suffering…and often have little extra to give….

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So, Governor…we can show you poverty…come to Southern Illinois…and imagine what it will look like without its’ Economic Engine and its’ Beacon of Higher Education…in the midst of a forgotten people.


Have you met yourself?

Admittedly the title of the Post seems strange.  I was watching the premier episode of

Julia Louis -Dreyfus hit television show, Veep, Sunday night.  One of her opening lines occurred as she was being interviewed by her former Presidential Aide, during the time that she was president of the United States on the last season of the show, Dan Eagan.


As Eagan asked her what she had been doing over the year since she had lost the presidency…she replied that she had gotten reacquainted with a wonderful person…Selina Meyer.  The comedic beauty of the statement was its’ real life sincerity.


As a young person I sought adults to emulate, and at time ‘Ape’  peoples’

Behavior while in search of an identity that I was comfortable with.

However, this practice of seeking the accepted societal behavior and endeavoring the emulation of it is very common in both work and social settings.

Have you ever noticed that people act differently when they are at work or church than they do when they are home or at a party?DSCN5239

I have known wonderful individuals…who were ten times more interesting…when they chose to remove the mask of ‘Society’s Theatre’…and reveal their true identity.

I have witnessed several married people who seldom exhibit their true self for fear of offending or loosing favor with their mate.


For years I was a member of an Academic Institution…that touted the supreme beauty of Academic Freedom…while at the same time threatening me for speaking out when  a popular Chancellor was terminated.


I love the institution…and my speaking out during a time of significant duress for me and my family is one of the proudest moments of my professional life.


A poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller speaks to the need to, as we say in the Presbyterian Church, ‘Have Voice.’

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did  not speak out-Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.”

I very much admire individuals who proudly display their individuality and uniqueness.

The next time you have an idea that you feel strongly about…say it without fear…be yourself…fly your flag!


Spring Study

As I was taking my daily walk on the Campus of Southern Illinois University, I could not help but notice the relaxed, playful, lightheartedness of the students that I encountered.

IMG_1753The spring weather is simply perfect for outdoor study and other pursuits.

IMG_1757 3Such as a shaving cream pie in that face!

The scenes of students studying outside on Old Campus…reminded me of the many SIU Yearbook pictures that I had seen of students doing the exact same thing 40 and 50 and more, years ago.

IMG_1751For the past two years, especially, we have been consumed with worry regarding our unique and beautiful University.  SIU is a beacon of hope and opportunity and promise around the world…and in the homes and hearts of the rural residents of Southern Illinois.

IMG_1756 2The hope and promise that enriched my life as a twenty year old Southern Illinoisan, who was born in Chicago, when I was hired as a Building Service Worker I…in 1978, is still available.  Many of the student workers that I supervised, on my custodial crew in 1980,…were older than me.  Yet SIU first reached me with employment opportunity and later with educational opportunity; and an enlightening of my understanding of the vastness and diversity of humanity…in all of its’ beauty and splendor.

IMG_1664The hope of our wonderful students…our youth…gives me hope!  Everything is possible…if you only believe!

Senator Dale Fowler is coming for meetings at the University.  The Senator and I are proud graduates of Eldorado High School…class of 1975!  He is a great chap with a good heart!

I cannot believe…and will not accept that our legislative leaders and our Governor will turn their back on Higher Education.  This is our hope for the future.  This is our lighthouse…shining brightly in the inky darkness of prejudice and fear and the despair of no hope for advancement from the station in life that we are born into.

IMG_0210 4The young instinctively know that ‘the world is their oyster,’ as the old saying clearly portrays.  They understand that opportunity is there for them if they will apply themselves and study and set out on the great adventure that is…life!


The Party of My Life

Please enjoy this wonderful Blog by my son, Jonathon.


On Wednesday I experienced my thirty-third birthday. I must confess, when it comes to my birthday celebrations, I’m more like a boy than a man in his thirties. What I mean is that I completely disagree with the idea some adults have that their birthdays are just another day. No! It’s an epic day of wonder and celebration where around two hundred people in my life take the time to say, “Hey, we like you. So thanks for showing up!” The following is some of the fun stuff that happened between Wednesday and Saturday in honor of my turning 33.

There were birthday cards, three cakes, pints of beer out with my brother and an old friend, a party and writers night at Longbranch Cafe and Bakery, laughs, pictures, a trip to Seasoning Bistro with my parents and brother in Benton, gifts, a multitude of happy birthday wishes and great…

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The Promise of Easter

Tomorrow we Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

‘And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magadelene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.  And very early in the morning the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.  And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?  And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.  And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.  And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.  But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall you see him, as he said unto you.’   Mark 16: 1-7   KJV


The resurrection of Christ is what gives the Christian faith its’ promise.  Although the destructive…depressing…Earth shattering scene of Golgotha had transpired…there is the renewal and transformation and hope of Life from the resurrection.


‘For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’   Psalm 30:5   KJV


I can only remember one Sunrise Service.  The Occassion had a special feeling for me…and has stayed with me for 45 years.


The intricate beauties of spring are indescribable.  We have endured the death of our plants and foliage and the spellbinding falling of the leaves from our lovely trees.  The cold…short…dark…days of winter…seem to go on interminably.  Nature seems barren and a wasteland…the promise of the beauty of spring…seems very distant.


But, then suddenly it begins…and the new life covering our home gives us courage that there is hope for the future.


Nature dies..and is resurrected in the spring.  Christ died and was resurrected!  And, so, we die, sometimes to our old manner of living…sometimes to our failures and hurts and pains and sadness of life and loss…to be renewed and resurrected to, “Joy in the morning!”


Easter is a time of renewal and revitalization and a fresh perspective on the haunting of the past…and the promise of the future!


Of course the hope of the human family is the hope of the resurrection…and renewal…and spring.