Thursday, March 05, 2009

Remembering Priscilla and Other Things

Whew! It has been a busy week until today. I had a volunteer board meeting Monday night in nearby Marion and a different board meeting last night way up at O’Fallon, and in between on Tuesday night I drove up to DuQuoin to speak on “Remembering Priscilla.” That meant researching, reviewing, gathering papers for each gathering, and leaving the farm in plenty of time to arrive safely and on time.

I got to the closest place, Marion, by the skin of my teeth on Monday night after finding all the parking places taken at our Williamson County Baptist Association board meeting. I didn’t want to park on the street as so many had to do, so I parked behind our pastor’s car and made certain I left before he and his wife did. That was good because it made me forsake socializing and got me home early, which I needed to do.

The meeting was interesting as several men were there in their yellow hats and vests and reported ever so briefly on helping elderly homeowners clear fallen trees after the recent storms in Metropolis and Kentucky. Their goal is not only to increase the numbers of those on “the chain gang,” but to obtain a trailer so their supplies can be kept on site as various crews come and go according to the free time they have to donate. We voted to adopt their goal.

Then Myron Taylor gave us handouts and explanation about the five-gallon bucket project that the men in our churches will be participating in soon. The idea is to fill the buckets with needed items so they can stay clean and untouched by ants or animals in the homes of AIDS in Africa. Just $100 can create a bucket that can make a tremendous difference in care on a continent where home care is more likely for terminal patients than hospital care.

As soon as I was back at the farm, I was doing a little more study and preparation for Tuesday night’s presentation. It has been quite awhile since I had spoken just focusing on Priscilla on the Trail of Tears, so I enjoyed digging into and updating her story with new information.
I went early enough to find the home where the DAR was meeting, and I was thrilled when I saw the beautiful old house beside an ancient brick-laid street. (The hostess told me the house was built in 1863, I think it was.) It was as simple to find as Mary Haines’ clear email had explained.

One member was a descendant of next door neighbors of the Brazilla and Mahala Silkwood family, and she brought seeds to share of Priscilla’s hollyhocks that had been passed down in her family and which now grow in her own garden. Another member Sharon Dollus was a descendant of Levi Silkwood, Brazilla’s older brother and she had been to Virginia and had information I lacked about Brazilla’s parents there. She has already emailed it to me!!

The group thoughtfully rearranged their business meeting after I had spoken and we had had refreshments. So again , I was on my way back to Marion early after the more than gracious hostess Doris Rottschalk had gone out and skillfully unparked my car between the one in front and one in back

(I realized later maybe I could have done this without her help, but Doris did it in a minute while I would have been getting in and out of the car being fearful I’d ruin the evening by bumping someone else’s car.) When you aren’t a good driver, and I am not, you have to be an overly cautious one. And I am. That explains my excellent driving record. It also explains why I often walk quite a ways to avoid parallel parking.

Our Illinois chapter board to the Trail of Tears Association has been meeting during these winter months up in the O’Fallon/Cahokia area to make up for our two board members up there having to drive down to Carbondale the rest of the year. Our president Sandy Boaz is a great driver, and we connect in Marion to ride up with her. After quick sandwiches at the local Subway, which has become “our” place, we then head to a meeting room at the O’Fallon library.

We heard reports and made plans. We saw Cheryl Jett’s publisher’s copy of her new book on the city of Alton, which will come out March 23, and we heard about Herman Peterson’s book contract soon to be signed. We congratulated Gary Hacker on his great book on the Trail of Tears through Johnson County that we’d read and studied since the last board meeting.

Herman reports that everything is go for our first 2009 general meeting of the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, which will be at the newly renovated Morris Library at Southern Illinois University. If the auditorium does not quite get finished by then, another room is already waiting for us. I am so eager to see the new facility. I wrote feature stories as a student journalist when the library was being built in 1954-55, and I am excited about the improvements bringing one of the nation’s great libraries up to date.

Despite the pauses for laughter that our TOTA board can’t seem to refrain from, we have to be efficient and leave before the library closes. Without making any coffee or restroom stops coming home, we were back in the Marion Kroger parking lot by 9:30.

That gave me opportunity to run in for Senior Citizen Day and shop for the items on my grocery list that I made in the morning. The frozen and fridge stuff was put away last night, and today I’ve been putting away the rest of the items. We’ve been eating soups and sandwiches quite a bit, so I actually made a nice dinner at noon today.

Oh, yes, the first thing I heard from Gerald when I woke up this morning was that Erin made a three-run homer last night when the Aggies beat Houston again—this time on Houston’s home field. Gerald completed our income taxes yesterday with Doug Hileman, and Doug and Beth are on their way to Baylor at Waco to see Luke’s baseball games there this weekend.

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