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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
Monday construction workers in downtown Superior were preparing to pour the concrete sidewalks serving businesses on the east side of Central Avenue's 400 block. Today their construction zone may be covered with snow. At least for several days now the National Weather Service has been predicting the possibility of accumulating snow this week. Monday the weather forecasters had moderate confidence in their forecast. Tuesday they were more certain we would have snow today, but uncertainty surrounded the amount which ranged from 1 to 5 inches.
The Weather Service forecasters don't always get the forecast right but their accuracy record is improving.
Sunday afternoon Rita and I went to Abdal to check on harvest progress. While I have never lived in the Abdal community, I have ties to the Abdal area. My father was born on a Scully lease northeast of Abdal 100 years ago last February and later lived on a Scully lease in the section south of Abdal. His older brother attended the Abdal High School through the tenth grade before transferring to Superior for his final two years.
Glen was older than my father and Dad did not remember his older brother living at home. Glen was someone who came to visit. He left home to attend high school when Dad was only four years old. Unlike Sunday when we zipped up to Abdal and back, in the 1920s the trip from Abdal to Superior was a considerable undertaking.
I don't know the year or which lease they were living on but Grandfather told a story about a snow storm stranding him in Superior. The weather had been mild and early one morning he started to Superior with a team pulling a wagon load of corn which he intended to trade for coal. He got to Superior just fine but before heading home an unexpected snow storm had rolled in. He put his team in the livery stable and stayed in Superior until the storm passed.
When the weather cleared, deep drifts blocked the roads and there was no way he could get home with the team and wagon.
He was eager to get home for he had left Grandmother at home with her boys and the livestock to care for. He was certain she would be worrying about his safety as there had been no way to tell her he was safe and staying in Superior. When he learned the Missouri Pacific Railroad was going to attempt to reach Hastings, he decided to take the train.
The train ticket was a scoop shovel as the passengers were expected to clear the drifts ahead of the locomotive.
When the train stalled north of Abdal and the scoopers went to work, Grandfather deserted and walked the rest of the way home.
Saturday morning a visitor to The Express office spoke about my years riding a horse to country school and asked how I kept warm on cold and stormy days.
It was a question I hadn't thought about before. I didn't know how to answer him then and have been thinking about it since. The customer is about my age and I assumed everyone my age would have known how to keep warm. Apparently not.
I was fortunate to have been born after the invention of rubber overshoes. My grandmother told of walking through the snow to school and how wet her shoes and stockings would get. The way she told the stories it was easy to envision how miserable that must have been.
I always had overshoes. Wore them not only on wet days but also cold days. The cloth lined four buckle overshoe wasn't as warm as today's insulated boots but they helped keep my feet both warm and dry.
On the coldest days, I wore long underwear made of wool, and two pair of jeans or overalls. Under my coat I wore a sheepskin vest that my father had worn when he rode a horse to the same country school.
For added warmth I had lighter fluid fueled pocket warmer that I dropped down the back of my shirt. The pocket warmer was not optional on cold mornings for my father believed if a person's kidneys were warm then the person was warm.
They were hard to find as they had gone out of fashion but I preferred an insulated hat with flaps that resembled the early football helmets or the hats worn by bomber pilots. Such a hat fit tight over my head and kept out the wind and had flaps which covered my ears. In addition, I often tied a scarf over my face.
The scarf kept my face warm but made it impossible to see. I've worn glasses since the third grade and with a woman's scarf tied over my face, my glasses fogged up on cold days. When wrapped in all the gear I depended upon my mount knowing the way to and from school. At best I was only able to offer minimal guidance. Some days, I just let the horse pick the entire route.
I hunkered down over the horse. This not only reduced my exposure to the cold wind but it also allowed me to think I was capturing more of the heat coming off the horse. I can state without hesitation that horses offer a warmer ride than bicycles.
My movement on the horse, also helped to keep my body temperature up.
Hooded sweatshirts are now popular and I remember how excited I was to get my first one. Worn over the sheepskin vest and under the denim jacket the sweatshirt added a lot warmth.
Earlier this year one of my classmates at Pleasant Valley told me about the time she lost her sweatshirt. She was riding home from town with her mother when their automobile became stuck. They left the car and walked on home. Somewhere along the way the classmate dropped her nearly new sweatshirt. She was heart broken and insisted they go back out and look for it. She knew her parents didn't have the money to buy her a replacement.
It was hard to find overalls in my size but they were great for cold weather riding. Both overalls and coveralls eliminated the waist area gap common with jeans.
For an outer coat I wore a blanket lined denim jacket. Sometimes I wore two pair of gloves. It was harder to handle the reins but mittens were warmer than gloves.
November was the coldest month of the year for my mother strongly discouraged wearing long underwear before Thanksgiving. I've never understood why the calendar should dictate what one could wear. But my mother said no straw hats after Labor Day, no white shoes before Memorial Day and no long underwear until after Thanksgiving. Apparently, it was a "mother thing." My father complained about his mother not letting him go barefoot in the spring. When out of her sight he could shed his shoes and go barefoot, but it was harder to put on the long underwear while on the way to school.
I could however make sure a pair was included in my back pack. I had a big backpack in which I carried not only my lunch but also extra things like jeans, scarf, gloves and hunting knife. But I never carried school books in the back pack. Books were for school and I strongly believed school work should be done at school as I had better and more important things to do after school. Country school had me from about 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for 8 months of the year. At other times and days, I had "better" things to do.


A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

Because I'm the kind of person who rarely does anything until absolutely necessary, most installments of this column have been written at The Express office. On Tuesday. Afternoon. This one's no exception, however it is special, because it's likely the last one I'll write while working here in the office.
This weekend, I'll move to Omaha and begin to help take care of my father-in-law. While living there in his house, I'll continue as a part-time copy editor for this newspaper, and continue to write this column. I wasn't exactly ready for such a big life change, but we rarely are. They occur in any event. I consider what I'm doing important, even if its only enabling my wife to do something she feels is important ­­ caring for her dad in his home. He wants to remain there until he dies, and we'll do what we can to make sure he can. We never know what's around the next bend, and sometimes injuries or illnesses warrant being cared for in a facility, but for the present, he's able to be home with "amateur" caregivers like us.
I've set up a work space in his basement, where I'll do my work for this newspaper on Mondays and Tuesdays. Hopefully, this weekend, I'll get the last of my aquarium fish moved to Omaha. That has been a difficult and time-consuming task, but one to which I'm well-accustomed.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

By the time this column appears in the newspaper the election will be over and we will know the results. Reports tell of possible record-number turnouts at the polls for a mid-term year. Pre-election campaigning and media reporting have been one for the books. On the campaign table have been many issues ­­ health care, immigration, the economy, abortion, the supreme court justice appointment and others. Most of the ads have been negative, against the opposing candidate, with the right and left candidates' ads often running back to back.
There are the 24-hour news media that cover the same campaign issues over and over, with some leaning all to the left and some leaning to the right. What happened to news broadcasts of years ago that told nothing but the facts during their respective 30-minute slots? Broadcasters from the past never let their personal feelings into the news. Now, a person knows exactly which station promotes the left or the right.
Maybe after the election is over, things will calm down a bit, but I doubt it. After all, 24-hour news stations have to run something to keep their ratings up. The important thing is that we registered voters cast our ballots. We did our duty as citizens of this great country. Before we voted, we listened to the candidates and their proposals, accomplishments and political stances. Some people think their vote doesn't make a difference but if everyone felt that way, elections would go by the wayside. Men and women died on the battlefields so we could have that right to decide the fate of this great country.
So, regardless of how the election turns out, we must take pride in our country and somehow come together. We may not like the result, but there will be another chance to change things at the next election.
Sunday will be Veterans Day! This date has always been important to my family, as I'm sure it is in many other families of veterans who served their country.
My great-grandfather, Oliver Henry Boyles, served in the 43rd Regiment, Missouri Infantry, during the Civil War. Oliver had two brothers who also fought on the Union side, but like many families during that war, they had another brother who moved to Texas and fought on the Confederate side. Oliver and his family moved to Jewell County from Missouri in 1899. Oliver's son, Claude Boyles, my grandfather, wanted to enlist in the army when the United States entered WWI, but was turned down at first because he was determined to be too short and slender. After trying to enlist a second time, Claude was accepted and served in the Batt. E 63rd Ar., 33rd Brigade, American Expedition, and was shipped to France, where he served until the war ended. According to Claude's eldest son, my father, Gerald Boyles, patriotic duty and a love of this country were taught to his children. When WWII started, Claude's sons, Gerald, Donald and Delmar, enlisted and served their country. Gerald served in the Battle of Iwo Jima and was attached to the 4th Marine Division as a pharmacist's mate. Delmar served on a battleship that took part in the Battle of Okinawa. Donald remained stateside during his service in the Navy. Claude's youngest son, Neal, served in the Air Force as a staff sgt. during the Korean War.
Three of the Boyles brothers, Gerald, Delmar, and Neal, and their father, Claude, became members of Emory Clemons Unit 263, American Legion, Burr Oak, and served for many years in the legion guard for parades, funerals of fellow veterans and local Memorial Day services. These four veterans are not with us anymore but American flags fly every Memorial Day in their honor in the cemetery's Avenue of Flags. The sons and a grandson of two of the Boyles veterans, show up along with other volunteers every Memorial Day morning and evening, putting up and taking down the flags.
Being proud to be Americans and in serving their country, veterans deserve to be honored every day of the week, but especially on Veterans Day.