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Features

  • Lynn Sefton Ferguson became interested in aerobics in 1979. Soon convinced that aerobics were very beneficial to a person’s health, both physically and mentally, she became an aerobics instructor.

    That was 20 years ago, and she is still going strong. Her energy, vitality and youthful appearance speak well for her chosen profession.

    She was introduced to aerobics through a friend whose sister was into aerobics in Oklahoma, where it was comparatively new. Her friend wanted her sister to come here for a clinic, but at least 20 people had to sign up to do this.

  • This week, Betty Bolles Feezel continues her remembrances of Carter Oil Co.’s Williams Camp north of St. Elmo.

    The Move to Williams Camp

    “We moved to Williams camp in 1939,” Feezel said. “My dad had a house built in Williams camp, which was nothing but a farm field.

    “The company leased the land and made out streets. Every street had a wide, concrete sidewalk on each side and an alley. We had a ton of fun skating on the sidewalks,” she said.

  • “One Happy Family” is the title of an article published in the August 1946 issue of “The Link” a Carter Oil Co. publication.

    In part, the article states: “Life in a Carter camp is like life everywhere – just about what one chooses to make it. … 200 people in the Williams Camp are taking full advantage of the opportunity to make a small community like a rich one for all concerned.

  • If you see a cowboy riding his horse down the street amid traffic in Vandalia, you could be reminded of the old big-city-based TV series, “McCloud."

    That cowboy is Brad Mason, doing what he likes to do best – work with horses

    Brad, one of Don Mason’s sons, was born and reared with his dad’s horses, and his background includes roping cattle, breaking horses to ride, working as a farrier for 13 years and working with horses at a racetrack. He still practices roping locally, but hasn’t made the rodeo circuit recently.

  • If you remember Gerkin’s Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Vandalia, you may also remember a young Vandalia high school student who worked there as a soda jerk, Clarence Alender, better known as “Butch” in those days.

    “Butch” would hurry (walking, no car) from the high school (now known as High School Apartments) and work during his 45-minute lunch break, then hurry back to school

  • Mark Heischmidt is very talented and creative, seemingly in any endeavor he undertakes. He taught art and English in the St. Elmo schools to all ages before retiring after a career of 34 years.

    As an interior decorator, he has lent his talent and touch to Mary Ann’s Restaurant's walls and also to friends’ homes.

    An artist, he likes to paint scenic landscapes, and he drew the illustration for cover of “Living the Dream," a historical fiction novel written by Barry A. Coughlin.

  • Visitors to the new National Road Interpretive Center in Vandalia may find themselves being guided through the center by lifetime Vandalia resident Joyce Mueller.

    Mueller not only gives the documented history of the displays of interest, but she also can share personal memories of Vandalia, which makes the tour all the more interesting and brings old photographs of Gallatin Street to life.

  • The site – the rural setting of Crown Point Church. The occasion ­– the first practice for the church family’s annual Easter presentation. The tone ­– good-natured, but committed, cooperation as the cast works together to tell the story of Jesus Christ’s last hours on earth.

    The inspiration was intensely felt as the curtains closed and the heartfelt voice of Marcia Frailey softly, but clearly, filled the sanctuary as she sang the poignant words to “How Can You Refuse Him Now?”

  • Some will remember a childhood and past years of early springs when a sure sign of the anticipated season was the arrival of tiny, fuzzy baby chickens at the local feed store. The large cardboard boxes had holes in the sides to allow for air and for glimpses of the little creatures and through which many little “peeps” and “tweets” were heard.

  • Last Monday, the Evergreen Outreach party was a special one, as they celebrated EO charter member Polly Grinnell’s 90th birthday with songs, well wishes, refreshments, and balloons.

    And the guest of honor reciprocated by sitting down at the piano and playing one of her favorite songs, “Turkey In the Straw.”

    Polly, who was born on Feb. 15, 1919, began taking piano lessons when she was 8 years old and was urged diligently by her mother to practice, practice, practice.

  • OUR PLACE Youth Center in downtown Vandalia is a popular gathering place for young people, offering a highly-visible, safe and pleasant environment, with entertainment, games and opportunities to grow in character, individuality, self-esteem and tutoring to aid their education.

    Seeing the need for an attractive and safe place for youth to gather, Phyllis Rames set forth to provide such a place and campaigned for volunteers and the support of others to make this happen..

  • Megan Roper grew up on a farm and loves animals so much that her heart’s desire was to be a veterinarian. However, she also loved animals so much that she decided her sensitivity for them would cause her too much distress to see them suffer, from illness, injury, abuse or neglect.

    “I knew I couldn’t take seeing them in pain and abused, and I’d end up taking them all home with me.” So she decided to become a photographer and take photographs of animals. Thus, the startup of Diekemper Photography.

  • Many around Vandalia will remember a little, red-headed, freckle-faced paperboy of years ago, delivering the Decatur Herald and Decatur Review newspapers on his bicycle in all kinds of weather.

    Few probably ever imagined that little boy, Donald “Ferd” Funk, would grow up to contribute so much to his hometown of Vandalia and surrounding communities with the same conscientious commitment to the task at hand, industrious, but with a friendly, willing spirit,

  • The word shawl is described in the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary simply as “a fabric square for the head and shoulder.”

    The word “shawl” also brings to mind thoughts of being wrapped or enfolded in warmth, shelter and comfort.

    These are the feelings and sensitivities a group of Brownstown–Sefton United Methodist Women members is endeavoring to give to others with their hand-crocheted prayer shawls. The shawls also symbolize encouragement, understanding and Christian love through prayers for the recipient.

  • As millions of people the world over watched on television, Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th and first African-American president of the United States.

    Literally countless others attended the event in person in Washington, D.C. The volume of people was such that a photograph taken from space indicated the masses of humanity.

    Vandalia Community High School senior Brittany “Nikki” Stine, was among those huge crowds on the mall braving the very cold day of January 20, 2009, an experience she will always treasure.

  • “Parkinson's is a long, lonely road … for the afflicted and for the caregivers. It’s just as bad as Alzheimer’s. At least with Alzheimer’s, they are still moving. With Parkinson’s, everything shuts down, and it’s a long, lonely road.”

    These are the words of Charlene “Pokie” Pryor, as she described the disease that began to claim her lifestyle when she had two grand mal seizures in 1996.

  • Many of our readers are familiar with the music and ministry of Laurel Jean, who has been blind since birth. Her gift of reaching people spiritually and joyfully through her music, as a creative pianist, composer, vocalist and speaker, has blessed many through her ministry.

  • More people are reaching the age of 100 years these days, but probably few of them are retaining the energy, mental capacity, enthusiasm and appearance of Erma L. Warner.

    Erma seems to have put the brakes on aging at about 75, although she reached her 100th birthday on Dec. 17, 2008, and celebrated it with a party.

    When Erma was called to set up an interview, she gave detailed directions to her rural home, down to the finer details of “you will cross a crick and go up a hill, to the second mailbox.”

  • Twenty-four years ago, Jerry Stine donned a red suit and white beard for a Four Mile Church Christmas celebration, and it has become his “seasonal uniform” every Christmas since.

    Stine has become a Christmas-time regular at the Golden Circle Nutrition Senior Citizens building in Vandalia for several years.

  • Sally (Bergin) Behrends and her brother, Harold Bergin, remembered the bells their father used to put on his horses when they pulled the sleigh at Christmastime.

    Although it was a common sight and sound in those days, a local newspaper in February 1936 referred to their father, John Bergin, driving his sleigh to town as a “spectacular sight.”

    The newspaper article also stated that it was “a fine looking sleigh, all polished and ornamental, with two different sets of bells, one large set and the other smaller.”