Repost: Protected

I originally wrote this post in 2012 after Sandy Hook. After the events yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it’s still as pertinent as it was six years ago. It was a school shooting, The difference was that this was at a high school instead of an elementary school.

Similarities exist. A shooter walks into a No Gun Zone and kills. Contrary to the Connecticut shooting, there was a, one, law enforcement officer on campus—on the other side of the high school campus.

Why is this important? The school contained 3,200 students, more than many of the small towns in the area, and with multiple buildings. Think on that for a moment. Over 3,000 kids, teachers, administrative staff and one, ONE!, protector.


The libs scream for gun control. That has never worked and they know it. But gun control is all the libs have, nothing else.

The current talking heads, including Florida’s ‘Pub governor call for more mental healthcare, and over-watch of those who have mental problems. That won’t work either. How can you know if someone, who has never drawn anyone’s attention, is homicidal? You can’t.

Then what is the solution?

One that has been proposed for years and the libs block at every instance. Arm the teachers, arm the administrators, and, hire some guards who have proven themself in critical situations—like veterans and retired or former police officers.

A single security guard for a campus larger than many small towns across American is a sure path to failure, as we have just seen.

The events in Connecticut triggered a memory. A memory from nearly 60 years ago at a time when I was in grade school.

The school I attended was rural…a country school of three classrooms with a peak enrollment around seventy students. There were three classrooms, first through third grade, fourth and fifth grades, and in the largest room, sixth through eighth grades.

There were three teachers—Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Rhodes, and Mr. Helfritch the Principal; one full-time janitor/school bus driver and two older ladies as cooks.  The school was rich. It sat in the middle of a half-section of land; property deeded to the school district after WW1. The property also contained two oil wells whose royalties made the school one of the best funded in the county.

This incident occurred early in the fall of the school year. A family rented an old dilapidated house about 300 yards from the school connected by an overgrown track reduced to a foot-path. That family had three children in our school; one boy my age, a younger sister and a younger brother.

The family could best be described as…white trash. The father and his several brothers were drunks. They worked occasionally at one of the nearby mines but only long enough to qualify for “relief.”

On this day, the older boy had done something, or perhaps, not done something to cause the ire of his father. We were at morning recess when we saw the father enter the front of the school, followed shortly by loud voices and words we weren’t suppose to know, much less speak. The father was quickly escorted out of the school by Mr. Helfritch.

I don’t remember his first name. I may not have known it. All our teachers had similar first names—Mister, Miss, or Misses. I remember Mr. Helfritch as a slight, blond-haired man of medium height with a flat-top haircut. He was a WW2 veteran and a state policeman before being recalled for the Korean war.

Lunch recess was the longest of the day; an hour at least. I suppose it gave the adults time to savor lunch, coffee and to talk a bit. On this day, Mr. Helfritch was, uncharacteristically, outside watching the kids. Some friends and I were playing marbles in an bare area we’d hacked from a small grove of man-high saplings and briers. It was “our” place. We hadn’t been there long when we saw the father returning accompanied by two of his brothers.

They walked up to Mr. Helfritch demanding the older boy. My friends and I were close enough to hear some words, enough to understand some of the conversation. When Mr. Helfritch refused, one brother took a swing. In an instant, two of the three visitors were on the ground. The remaining one had a knife in his hand and Mr. Helfritch had a .45 pointed at the knife-wielder’s nose at a distance of about two feet. He carried the pistol in a shoulder holster every day my Father later told me.

Someone called the Sheriff and Mr. Helfritch kept the three covered while Rudi, the Janitor, looped a few turns of rope around their legs. They were going nowhere quickly. A Deputy arrived some time later and hauled them off.

My Father, who was an auxiliary Sheriff’s Deputy, told that Mr. Helfritch was a reserve police officer. He had been a full-time state trooper before being recalled for the Korean War. When he came home from Korea, he decided to be a teacher instead of a state trooper, but, like many in those times, he kept his reserve police commission. It was the only way he could legally carry a concealed weapon in Illinois. It was the same reason my father was an auxiliary Deputy Sheriff.

I’d forgotten that incident for many years. Dad told me Mr. Helfritch said the school kids were under his protection. He would allow no one to threaten his students. I have no doubt, and it was proven in Connecticut last week, teacher’s today would do the same…if they had the tools to do so. Unfortunately, as was proven last week, those tools have been denied and those teachers did their best—dying defending their students.

It should not have happened. The best defense for our children is still people—armed people—armed teachers willing to do what is necessary to protect their charges.

A Family Tradition

Times change…and then sometimes they don’t.  I grew up in the Fifties in rural Southern Illinois. Like most of the country, we had our traditions of the Holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were THE big events of the years for families. Easter was another one but it was more oriented towards faith and many families observed Easter at church and at home.

The big three holidays usually involved traveling for many. My sister and brother-in-law visited us at the Farm most of the time. My brother-in-law was an outdoorsman, a term not often heard anymore.

In the summer, he liked to fish. He and my sister built a home on the shore of a twenty-acre lake. In the winter, he liked to hunt. Ducks and geese had their season. Squirrels and rabbits had theirs.  In the fifties, there was no deer season. They were rare after being almost hunted out during the Twenties before hunting became regulated.

I’ve written about our Thanksgiving hunting tradition in another post. However, there were other hunting traditions, too, during the Fall. The most common was rabbit hunting.

While November and December were Duck and Goose seasons; August and September was Squirrel season, October was reserved for Rabbit Season and was my favorite. When I was growing up I hunted, and trapped, rabbits in a variety of ways. A neighbor kid and I once hunted them with baseball bats in an overgrown gully after a fresh snow. We had also hunted with bows and arrows. But we hunted most often with firearms.

I killed more rabbits with a .22 rifle, catching them sitting along a fence line. But hunting with dogs was the best.

Dad raised a variety of hunting dogs. His favorites were Beagles. In October, my brother-in-law Dick Harriss would arrive early on Saturday and Dad  and I would load up a half dozen dogs into his pick-up and we’d head off to the fields.

On this occasion, we went to an area called Beaver Dam, a section of the Big Muddy River that ran through Franklin County, IL. It was a small river than ran through the farm of one of my mother’s cousins, Roy Miller. Roy wasn’t much of a hunter but he did like to eat rabbits. We could use his land for hunting as long as we gave Roy a ‘tithe’ of any rabbits we killed.

Unlike hunting for Quail or Pheasant with dogs, hunting for rabbits with dogs was different. In the former case, dogs were used to find and flush birds. You could only kill game birds while in flight. Rabbits, on the other hand, didn’t fly. Dogs would range ahead of us searching for sitting rabbits. When one was found, it ran with the dogs not far behind.

That day, we had been walking along a fence line towards the river. Dad was on one side of the fence. Dick and I was on the other side. We were silent. The only sound was the crunch of ice ribbons forced out of the ground by the sub-freezing overnight temperatures as we walked with a whisper of wind through the saplings growing along the fence.

Roy Miller hadn’t cleared his fence line in some time. It was overgrown with saplings and briar patches. We were half-way to the river when the dogs flushed a rabbit that took off down the fence line with the dogs running right behind it. The race was on.

Rabbits don’t have much endurance. They are sprinters. They will run a bit and then hunker down hoping whatever is chasing them will pass them by. Beagles hunt by scent and by sight. When beagles lose sight of their prey, they start sniffing. Hunting rabbits with dogs is a series of sprints and pauses.

If the rabbit runs away, how can a hunter shoot one you may ask. It’s simple. Rabbits don’t run in straight lines or directly away. They run in circles. All a hunter needs to do is to listen to the dogs. When the rabbit circles, the sound of the dogs will let you know to keep and eye for a streak of brown running through the brush or a field. The trick is to shoot the rabbit, not the dog who is following close behind. Some hunters never learn that little skill.

On some occasions, the rabbit will circle, return and never be seen. In fact that is what happens in most of the cases. On that morning, I was on the outside, away from the fence line. Dick was on the inside close to the fence, Dad was on the other side of the fence.

We heard the dogs turn on the circle. I was carrying a Stevens, break-open, single shot, 12ga shotgun. I usually carried it open, empty until I heard the dogs approach. Dad carried his Remington Model 11 and Dick carried his 16ga bolt-action shotgun. When the dogs began to circle, I slipped a #4 shotshell into the chamber and closed the action.

At first it seemed the rabbit would come on Dad’s side of the fence. But when the dogs got closer, they switched to our side. Because I was on the outside from the fence, my shooting section was to my right. Dick, closer to the fence, could only shoot if the rabbit appeared to our front. Most often a rabbit would follow cover, in this case the fence. I expected Dick would get the shot.

We continued walking down the fence line with a slightly slower pace. The dogs came closer and I cocked my shotgun. We took a couple more steps and I spotted a streak of brown through the high grass to my right. I brought my shotgun to my shoulder, swung on the target, gave it a bit of lead and fired.

I thought I had missed. The dogs stopped and began to mill about as if they had lost the scent. walked over to where I had last seen the rabbit.  The field was a pasture with dead, brown grass rising about eighteen inches over the ground. It was threaded with small game trails and tunnels under the cover of fallen grass stems throughout the field. I walked about fifty yards through the grass when I found the rabbit. There were a couple of blood specks on its fur but it appeared to be otherwise undamaged. I raised my hand indicating that I’d found the rabbit and then slipped it into the pouch on the rear of my hunting jacket.

It felt good swinging in the pouch as I walked back towards the fence. In a few moments the dogs found another rabbit and another hunt was on.

We finished the day with a half dozen rabbits. I got another one late in the day. Dad and Dick split the rest. We gave one rabbit to Roy for his ‘tithe.’ We were all pleased with the results of the hunt.

I remember this day for another reason. It was the day I broke the stock of my shotgun. We were loading up to go home. Dad and Dick slipped their guns into gun cases. I didn’t have one. We were loading the dogs into Dad’s pickup when my shotgun fell to the concrete of Roy Miller’s driveway. It landed vertically on the butt of the stock and the stock cracked at the grip behind the trigger. Its weakest point.

It was an old shotgun, older than me or Dick. It was probably made around the time of WW1 and the woodwork had a bit of hidden rot. It was a cumbersome gun to use. I had to cock it to fire and the hammer spring was so strong that I had to brace the stock on my thigh and use both thumbs to cock the hammer. One time my thumbs slipped and it went off, braced on my thigh and for a moment I thought I’d broken my leg. I hadn’t but I did get a bruise that took a couple of weeks to heal.

Rather than take my shotgun to a gunsmith for repairs, Dad traded it for a 12ga, single-shot Winchester. The Winchester was of a different design and it had a safety and cocked when the action was closed. It didn’t have an exposed hammer like the Steven had.

It was the last shotgun I owned until a few years ago when I found a Remington Model 11 shotgun just like Dad’s at a gun show. It had been re-blued and the stock and forearm had only a few dings and scratches. All  of Dad’s (and my Winchester shotgun) firearms were stolen while I was away at college. I always envied Dad’s Remington. Now I have one just like his.

We continued to hunt rabbits every weekend in October for several years until I left for college. I’ve not hunted rabbits since. Today, people in Kansas and Missouri prefer to hunt deer and turkeys. My hunting choice was and still is rabbits.

Chasing Pancho Villa

It’s time for another story from my family lore. This one is about Uncle Bill, William Watson. Uncle Bill was born in Scotland, not far from Edinburgh, in 1894. He and the rest of the family immigrated to the US in 1904 when My father was two years old. Grandpa and a few of my Grandmother’s brothers were already in the US, having arrived some years earlier in response to the gold rush in Colorado.

Grandpa and his Brothers-in-law found a small gold strike near Cripple Creek, CO. The mine produced enough for their families to be brought to the US. Grandpa was the one selected to go back to the UK and escort the families to Colorado. This he did.

When the families arrived in Colorado, the Brothers-in-Law were missing and the gold mine was owned by John D. Rockefeller. According to the land records, the Brothers-in-Law sold the mine to Rockefeller three months after Grandpa left for England and disappeared. Grandpa and the rest of the family always believed the disappearance came first in that transaction.

The families of the Brothers-in-Law moved to Pennsylvania where they had other relatives. Grandpa’s family remained in Colorado for a number of years until they were forced to flee to Illinois.

The family settled near Trinidad, CO, to work in the mines. The family trade was hard-rock mining. My father was too young, at that time, to work in the mines like his older brothers, John and Bill.

Uncle John was the oldest and was able to get a scholarship to the Colorado School of Engineering. Uncle bill tried to do the same, anything to escape being a miner. He, unfortunately, lacked the scholarship of Uncle John. Consequently, he chose to escape the mines by joining the Colorado Militia. In 1911, at age 17, he became a cavalry trooper in the Militia.

Colorado had two different militia categories due to the Dick Act of 1903. A year or so later, Uncle Bill’s Militia unit was merged into Colorado’s National Guard. Uncle Bill had been a part-time Militiaman and attending a local Pueblo college on the side while gaining some blacksmithing skills working for the mines.

After being a National Guardsman a few months, the Army nationalized a few of the western Guard units to expand Cavalry coverage of the US border. The Mexican Civil War was building and cross-border raids were becoming a problem. Uncle Bill’s Guard unit was one of those nationalized for a six-month tour guarding the border around El Paso, TX.

Members of the 11th Cavalry, Circa 1913.

Uncle Bill liked being in the Cavalry and transferred to the 11th Cavalry. When the Ludlow Massacre occurred, the 11th was sent to Trinidad to ‘pacify’ the area. There was open warfare in some more remote locations between the miners and the Colorado Militia. When the 11th went to Trinidad, Uncle Bill, assigned to be a farrier, stayed in El Paso. There was the concern that Uncle Bill might not be ‘neutral’ if he went with the 11th to Colorado.

The cross-border excursions from Mexico grew. In 1916, the 11th Cavalry, along with Uncle Bill, was sent into Mexico after Pancho Villa. That trip soured Uncle Bill on his future in the Cavalry. A number of the 11th’s officers had been trained in the German Kavallerie Schule (Cavalry School) during the period after the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Germans did not treat their enlisted troopers well. The officer graduates retained that training when they returned to the US.

It was not uncommon for a German officer to slap or strike an enlisted trooper with the flat of his sabre. A saber-strike, although with the flat of the blade, often caused cuts and other small injuries. US trained Cavalry officers did not strike troopers. They told their NCOs to ‘instruct’ Trooper Smith as necessary. The NCO would then lead the offending Trooper behind the barracks and ‘reason’ with him.

A fight with an NCO was acceptable. In those situations the Trooper could fight back. But, when struck by an Officer, the Trooper could not. That difference caused problems when the 11th was sent into Mexico.

The techniques taught in the US and German Cavalry Schools differed. The US School taught officers to lead with their troops, live with their Troops, and fight with their Troops. The German School did not. They taught their officers to be aloof from their units, to lead from the rear, to ‘manage’ the fight by issuing orders from a vantage point. To the Troopers, this appeared to be cowardice. The opinion of the Troopers were that the German trained officers cared little for their men, that they were brutal and many Troopers said they would shoot any of those officers during a fight if that officer appeared in front of them.

Uncle Bill rejoined the 11th, after their time in Colorado, in New Mexico, and in 1916, under the command of General John Pershing, went into Mexico. For nearly a year, the 11th and other US Army units chased Villa around the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The effort failed to catch Villa and strained relations with Mexico.

Uncle Bill spent World War I with various Cavalry units patrolling the US/Mexican border. He was in high demand for his skills as a farrier and by the end of World War I was promoted to Sergeant. He left the Army in 1920 and entered College at Champaign, IL at the school that would later become the University of Illinois. I don’t know if Uncle Bill actually acquire a degree…I don’t remember if he or Dad ever said. Uncle Bill was hired by the State of Illinois as a highway engineer during the 1920s and would eventually become the state’s Chief Highway Engineer. He died in 1965 in the Veteran’s Hospital near Jefferson Barracks, MO.

More Memories from The Farm

A facebook friend and our local state Representative Rick Brattin had to chase down an escaped bull over the weekend. When I read his wife’s post, I had a flashback to a similar escape over fifty years ago.

I grew up on a small farm in Southern Illinois. Dad was a coal miner and part-time farm, or it could have been the other way around with all the UMWA strikes in the fifties. Mom was teaching school. As I remember, I was around twelve.

The time was in the Fall. My Grandmother had moved in with us a few months before. The Farm mostly raised crops but we did have some hogs and a few cattle: a bull, three cows and a couple of yearling calves that were destined for the market or our freezer.

I rode the bus arriving home around 3:30pm. Grandma greeted me with the news that our bull had escaped. He had broken through a 2×4 fence and tried to get to the cows, it being that time of year. He failed to break into their pasture. From there he wandered off looking for more female companions.

I called our neighbors, told them of the escape and asked if anyone had seen the bull. No one had, but one, our neighbor a half-mile down the road, said he’d seen some tracks along his fence line.

Some farms put halters on their bulls, a halter being easier to lead cattle…when cattle, the bull in this case, is cooperative. Our bull didn’t wear a halter. I found some half-inch hemp rope in our barn, told Grandma where I was going and took off after the bull.

Usually this bull was docile. But, in some circumstances, he had a stubborn streak. It took me an hour or so before I found him grazing in a meadow about a mile back in the woods on another neighbor’s farm. He had broken through a number of fences and was scratched up from the barbed wire. He wasn’t in a good mood.

I tried to make a rope halter to lead the bull back to our farm. He didn’t cooperate. The most I could do, at that point, was to keep him in the meadow instead of wandering off deeper into the woods.

I finally heard Dad and some neighbors hollering, looking for me. I answered and in a few minutes they arrived. Dad took over, tried to make a rope halter and after several failed attempts gave it up as a bad idea. He made a lasso instead, put the rope around the bull’s head and attempted to lead him off.

That didn’t work either. The bull liked that meadow. Even with all of us pulling on the rope, the bull wouldn’t budge. Another neighbor arrived in a jeep. One neighbor had the idea of tying the rope to the jeep and forcing the bull to follow. Everyone agreed it was a good idea.

Dad tied the rope to the jeep’s bumper. Our neighbor put the jeep into double low and slowly moved off. The bull got stubborn. He didn’t want to go and dug in his hooves. The jeep inched forward, the bull resisted, the rope tightened, the bull’s hooves dug deeper into the meadow’s loam.

All that suddenly changed. The bull collapsed. The jeep dragged it a foot or so before stopping. The bull was dead. In his stubbornness, he had strangled himself with the rope.

You can imagine the scene. Dad and some of our neighbors turned the air blue. The neighbor driving the jeep was apologetic. Dad acknowledged it wasn’t the neighbor’s fault and besides everyone had agreed on the tactic.

Dad sent me off with our jeep-driving neighbor to get our tractor and wagon. I returned a while later to find the bull strung up from a block and tackle being field dressed. We lowered the bled out bull on the wagon. Dad thanked our neighbors for their help and we rode home, Dad driving the tractor, our neighbors riding with me and the bull in the wagon.

We dropped off our neighbors along the way home. Dad was fuming. The bull was registered Black Angus and Dad made quite a few dollars in stud fees from it. I was smart enough to keep quiet. Obviously, Dad wanted to be mad at someone but he had no one except himself. I learned a lesson that day. Some times it’s better just to keep you mouth shut…among learning other lessons.

At home, we switched the wagon from the tractor to our pickup. Dad took the bull to our closest meat locker where the bull was turned into steaks, roasts, sausages and hamburger.

We ate well that coming winter. It was a costly lesson for Dad. There were some things in this world, the bull in this case, who were more stubborn than him.

Thanksgiving Remembrance

I hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving. As I am known to do, I repeat some selected posts on Holidays. Some Holidays trigger particular memories. Thanksgiving always triggers one for me about an older cousin of mine. My Grandmother’s nephew actually.

Here for your enjoyment is a tale of Heinie Mueller. I hope the story may trigger some memories of yours of those who have gone before us and left a memorial mark on our lives.


Heinie (Henry) Mueller was Grandma’s nephew. He served in the US Army during WW1 though most of the battles on the front lines. He was gassed twice, received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star plus some French medals.

Heinie was a character. He walked with a slight limp and cussed every third word. He didn’t care who he was with nor who heard him. If somebody didn’t like his language, it was just too bad. Usually, Heinie would send them on their way with a few choice words and phrases.

After the war, he married a lady named Irene and moved to Woodriver, IL. They would drive down to visit us every few months—more often after we moved to the farm. Heinie liked to hunt squirrels, rabbits, and geese and he would frequently appear during hunting season. He, Dad and I would go hunting while the women-folk visited.

I don’t remember Heinie ever shooting much. He seemed to just like getting outdoors and walking in the woods. When we flushed some game, he would more than likely let Dad or me have the shot.

One year, Heinie and Irene came down for Thanksgiving. They arrived on Wednesday and Irene brought makings for oyster dressing. She and Grandma would fix Thanksgiving dinner the next day while Mom went to pick up my sister who was attending college. Heine, Dad and I planned to get up early Thanksgiving morning and go goose hunting.

We left the house early Thanksgiving morning, about an hour before sunup, and drove down to the Muddy River bottoms where Dad share-cropped corn on a ten-acre field. Dad built some hunting blinds along the edge of the field when Heinie announced he was coming.

The blinds were set up along a tree line with an open view across the corn field. The field had been picked late in the season and there was a lot of corn spillage to attract geese and an occasional deer.

It was cold. Ice had formed on the surface of the field and crunched as we walked across it towards the blind. It had been built out of salvaged two-by-fours and scrap sheet-metal for the roof with a covering of corn stalks for camouflage. Across the front was a tarp that would be dropped to allow us to step forward to shoot.

For whatever reason, the wind, or low hanging gray clouds or just general cussedness, the geese didn’t appear that day. Heinie had brought a hip-flask and would take a nip every so often. Dad was a Baptist and didn’t drink, but Heinie didn’t care.

By 11 o’clock, we decided that we’d give up hunting for the day. Dad started a fire to make some coffee and to fix a quick lunch hoping to sober Heinie up a bit before we went back to the house.

Heinie had been nipping steadily since we arrived and was feeling good. While the coffee was perking in an old coffepot, Heinie started talking about when he was in the Army. He had joined the US Cavalry in 1912 at the age of 17 and had gone down into Mexico with Black Jack Pershing after Pancho Villa.

After a bit, he talked about going to France to fight the Germans. Heinie was a Corporal by that time and had transferred from the Cavalry to the Infantry. After Mexico, he said, he didn’t want to ride or see another horse for the rest of his life.

Heinie was promoted to Sargent on arriving in France and took over a rifle platoon. He fought in a few battles and managed to survive with only some minor wounds. He was lightly gassed with chlorine a couple of times when his British-made gas mask leaked.

After we had finished our coffee and the fried egg and bacon sandwiches Dad had warmed over the fire, Heinie was silent for awhile. Then he began to talk about the Second Battle of the Marne and tears started flowing.

Heinie had been in charge of a rifle squad when they had left the US, first as a Corporal and then as a Sargent. Not long after arriving in France, he was made a Platoon Sargent and Company interpreter. Heinie had known many of the men in the platoon for several years, some from the excursion into Mexico.

Heinie’s grandparents had immigrated from Hesse, German in the early 1880s. They spoke both German and French. Heinie, born in Illinois, didn’t speak English until he entered school and retained a slight German accent the rest of his life.

Heinie’s company was in the front line trenches and preparing for battle. The Battle of the Marne had been going on for some time and the allies were preparing counter-attacks. An hour before the company was scheduled to attack, Heinie was sent back to the battalion headquarters. It had been decided that all interpreters would be held back and would not attack with their troops because they would be needed to help translate for all the prisoners that would be captured—so they assumed.

Heinie paused several times to blow his nose and wipe his eyes before continuing. The whistles blew and the troops attacked. After several hours, survivors began filtering back through the battalion headquarters area. It was later determined that out of Heinie’s company, he and seven others were the only survivors. None were from Heinie’s platoon.

Later, Dad told me that every year Heinie would get a bit liquored up and start talking and remembering. One of my uncles, Dad’s older brother, joined the Army just before WW1 but had spent the war in the Cavalry patrolling the Mexican border out of El Paso. Usually Dad wasn’t too tolerant of drunkenness but Heinie was different. Dad said it was a small thing to give Heinie an audience. It quieted his ghosts.

Heinie is long gone now. But every Thanksgiving, I remember him.

It’s Summer Time!

Officially, Summer will arrive this afternoon. Today is also the longest day of the year,  and, coincidentally, it’s my Father’s birthday. He was born 110 years ago today in Newcastle, UK.  More than a century ago.  I find it had to believe. If my Mother was alive, she’d be 108.  Wow!

My Father’s family arrived in the US via Ellis Island in 1904. At that time, Dad was the youngest of the six children.  A younger brother would arrive in 1912 but he wouldn’t survive his teens.

A century.

Look how much has happened in that time.  In 1904 when my Father arrived in the US there was only 45 states in the Union. Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico, along with Alaska and Hawaii, were still Territories.  Teddy Roosevelt would win a full term as President.  Just take a look at this snapshot of the US in 1904.

  • Average life expectancy was 47.
  • Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were 8,000 cars and just 144 miles of paved roads.
  • Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
  • More than 95% of all births took place at home.
  • 90% of all physicians had no college education.
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • The five leading causes of death were: 1. Pneumonia & influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

Marginal Revolution.

Let’s add a couple of more.  The Income Tax didn’t exist. That wouldn’t arrive until 1912.  Senators were appointed by the State Legislatures, not elected.  Senators depended on the Legislature for their office. That meant Senators followed the instructions from their state or they would be recalled by the state. It was a prime factor that sustained State’s Rights.

Here’s a few more facts.

  • One in ten US adults couldn’t read or write.
  • Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from HIGH SCHOOL.
  • Coca Cola contained cocaine.
  • 18% of households in the US had at least one full-time SERVANT or domestic.
  • There were only about 230 reported MURDERS in the entire US.

What a difference a century makes.  It really makes you consider what our nation will look like in another century.  Will it exist? Will it divide into multiple countries like the breakup of Yugoslavia after the death of Tito?  Will it split along Red vs. Blue states, the welfare states of the Northeast and West Coast against the producing states of the South, Midwest, West and Southwest?  Will the Constitution still be the supreme law of the land?  Will the UN and NATO still exist? Russian and China in their current forms?

So many questions and no one has answers. I would say that most of us would want the US to continue but with a streamlined, more efficient and effective government. Unfortunately, there are so many who oppose our view.  Frankly, I foresee some form of civil war, to one degree or another, as being inevitable.

As Lord Acton wrote in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The statists have a taste of power. They will not release their hold on that power easily nor willingly. To that end, I’d suggest we take heed of the Coast Guard’s motto, Semper Paratus or Be Prepared.

Ithaca Auto and Burglar

A post by William the Coroner tickled a memory. The Ithaca Auto and Burglar mention by William is a sawed off shotgun with a 12 1/4″ barrel. It’s now outlawed by the feds but in past years it was the go-to weapon for close-in personal protection.

Dad had one.

During the William/Franklin County union/KKK/gangster wars of the 1920s and 1930s, Dad became an auxiliary Deputy Sheriff. Dad was a coal miner and UMWA member as was Grandpa. Grandpa was active in the union and in the local democrat party and was a bit “controversial.” This lead some to believe the Dad was the same and after a few confrontations decided he needed some personal protection.

This was reinforced when Dad’s younger brother Frank, the youngest of the family brothers, was murdered in Benton, IL. The family knew who did the killing but the murderer was a protected member of the Shelton gang.

Dad joined the Franklin County Sheriff’s office in 1928 as an auxiliary. He was issued with a uniform, a .38 Smith & Wesson pistol, handcuffs and a Winchester model 1897 12ga pump shotgun with the barrel and magazine tube cut down as was the stock just behind the pistol grip to produce a weapon about two feet in length. If I remember correctly, it held four rounds, one in the chamber and three in the truncated magazine.

I don’t know if Dad ever used the shotgun. If fact, I don’t remember him ever firing it, but I saw it daily in its clip inside the driver door of Dad’s GMC pickup. I remember Dad kept a handful of green Remington shotshells in the pickup’s glove box but I never thought much about it. The shotgun and pickup was a part of Dad. Dad kept the shotgun long after they were declared illegal. He was a “lawman” and no one made an issue of its length.

Sometime in the 1950s the shotgun disappeared. A new Sheriff was elected who fired all the deputies and replaced them with political favorites. Dad turned in his badge, handcuffs and uniform. He kept the .38, paying for it I expect, until it was stolen two decades later with all the rest of Dad’s guns.

I learned to drive in Dad’s pickup at age 10 when I was big enough to reach the pedals. Wherever I drove that truck, Dad’s shotgun went with me. I never thought much about it but it was there if need arose.