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Columns

  • Our nation's freedom is not free

    Ernest Thorp had two consuming passions when growing up on a farm outside Wapella – farming and flying. As a child of the Great Depression, he had plenty of opportunity to pursue both. Thorp was a college student at Illinois State University in 1941 when he earned his civilian pilot’s license. Two years later, he was training to fly B-17 Flying Fortresses.

  • Plank road helped settlers cross bottoms

    History is ever unfolding.  
    Driving east on U.S. Route 140 toward Bluff City this past Wednesday, I was surprised and thrilled to see logs piled up near the bridge construction site along that road.
    The squared logs were reminiscent of the hewn logs that had formed the plank road across what was known as the Okaw Bottoms more than 150 years ago. The logs, harvested from the virgin forest and squared with a woodcutter’s ax, were laid crosswise over the road with planks over the top to fit the wagon wheels.

  • Banks of the Okaw-Nov. 4, 2010

    This week’s Mystery Banks Photo: This young man, pictured nearly 50 years ago, attended high school in Vandalia and moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1975. He is married and has two children. His father was an auto body repairman at a local garage.
    Do you know him? If so, call The Leader-Union, 283-3374.
    No photo in last week’s Mystery Banks Photo.
    This week’s Scrambler:  ratts  yb nigdo thaw si rynaceses, hent twah si lobsipes, dan lydsunde uyo rae nodgi eht bimlesisop.

  • Post Office building unchanged in 75 years

    Last week’s column centered on the mural in the Vandalia Post Office painted by artist Aaron Bohrod under the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.).
    This government program was created on May 6, 1935, to help provide economic relief to the citizens of the United States who were suffering through the Great Depression.
    On Aug. 27, 1934, Postmaster George L. Hausmann was notified that out of the 25 sites offered for construction of the new federal building, the corner location of the Schulte home at Fourth and Johnson streets was chosen.  

  • Banks of the Okaw-Oct. 21, 2010

    In last week’s Mystery Banks Photo were: Barbara (Austin) Randall, Betty (Francis) Schaub, Shirley (Davis) Jones and Anna Ruth (Radliff) Lilly.
    Identifying them were: Don and Ellen Willms, Howard Koester, Normalee Terry and Elizabeth Kasten.
    This week’s Scrambler:  fi ouy tel rafulie hobret yuo, uyo liwl veren dececsu.
    Can you unscramble it? If so, call The Leader-Union, 283-3374, by 5 p.m. next Monday.
    Last week’s Scrambler: Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. (Henry David Thoreau)

  • The Way We Were-Oct. 21, 2010

    15 Years Ago

    1995 – Brent Ellis, 31, joined the Vandalia Police Department as a patrolman, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of “Sonny” Banal.
    Bill Donaldson was the keynote speaker for a Veterans Day program at Crawford-Hale American Legion Post 95.
    John Burnam was re-elected president of the Vandalia Board of Education. John Gehrke took a seat on the board, succeeding Calvin Scott.
    Fayette County began a search for a new animal control warden following the resignation of Max Pummill.

  • Modern medicine helps fight disease

    It has been 12 years now since I was told that I had breast cancer…a fast growing type they said. On a scale of two to nine, I was a seven – not a good number to be.
    Being the first in my immediate family to be diagnosed with cancer, I searched my ancestor charts for kin who may have died as a result of this particular immune system disease. I came up nearly blank. In fact, throughout the lives of my family members, the most common "disease" seemed to have been old age.

  • Banks of the Okaw-Oct. 14, 2010

    This week’s Mystery Banks Photo: These young women were pictured during a physical education class at Brownstown High School more than 60 years ago. Two now live in Vandalia, one in Beecher City and one in Freeport.
    Do you know them? If so, call The Leader-Union, 283-3374.
    In last week’s Mystery Banks Photo was: Gary Stine.
    Identifying her was: Charlotte Bone.
    This week’s Scrambler:  cussesc lysluau mosec ot sehot ohw rea oto sybu ot eb glinkoo rof ti.

  • The Way We Were-Oct. 14, 2010

    15 Years Ago

    1995 – The cost of extending sewer lines to Vandalia’s western Interstate 70 interchange was less than expected. Thus, Mayor Rich Walker was proposing additional infrastructure improvements, including new sewer lines and manholes along the river bottoms in the city.
    Judge Dennis Middendorff ruled that Stuart Heaton, a Bluff City man convicted of murder in 1992, could continue to use a Chicago law firm. Jenner & Block took on Heaton’s case on a pro bono (free) basis.

  • Edward Beck – a quiet, earnest man

    We hear a lot about Paul Beck, who with his son, Guy, are credited with being the first white settlers in Fayette County, entering the dense virgin forest as early as 1805.
    There is another Beck – John Beck – who deserves a moment in the spotlight of history. He was Paul’s younger brother, and also came to Illinois before statehood, settling in neighboring Montgomery County.