Tour de Madison County

written April 29, 2012   Time to fly. The best thing about Edwardsville–what I will miss most of all–is its wide-ranging web of old rail lines converted to concrete bike paths.  The Giant gets a workout several times a week.  For most rides I like to have a destination, as both a marker of progress…

He’s Still Remembered Reverently By Used Car Dealers

written April 25, 2012     Was Abraham Lincoln “great”? This question was posed to us by Dr. Hansen in January. We could have said yes: he of the five dollars, toys logs, and marbled thrones.  But that would have left a lot of time to fill.  What Dr. Hansen was trying to suggest was…

44: An Oral History of the Election of the Barack Obama

The Forward to 44: An Oral History of the Election of Barack Obama Studs Terkel died one week ago tonight. I heard about it on NPR radio the next day while driving from from Alton to Edwardsville, Illinois. An interview with Studs was being replayed on the air, in which has was describing one of…

I Might Wear This Shirt For Awhile

The following interview was conducted November 6, 2008, part of a series of discussions called “44,” with people of varied background about their reactions to the 2008 election of Barack Obama. This interview is with Christina Schultze, an Obama supporter in 2008, a lesbian activist, and owner of Trash, a politically-tinged variety and clothing store….

Keeping Fingers Crossed: Will Barack Obama Be Her President, Too?

The following interview was conducted November 7, 2008, part of a series of discussions called “44,” with people of varied background about their reactions to the 2008 election of Barack Obama. This interview is with Joanne Carlson, a fifth-grade English teacher and the mother of the author. She has taught in the same small town…

That Reminds Me of a Story: Lincoln’s Metaphors and His Audience

written February 2012 Amid the backwoods of Indiana and Illinois Abraham Lincoln received a formal education that was meager, to be kind. With less than a single year in a schoolhouse, Lincoln himself was years later critical of pioneer curriculum.[1] Apart from these “blab schools” Lincoln relied on his own hunger for reading the few…

Yellow Journalism on the Prairie: Illinois Ablaze Amid the Lincoln-Douglas Debates in a Political Fire Flamed by the Ink of Partisan Newsprint

written June 2009 The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 are generally perceived and beheld as a series of seven oratory contests between two Illinois men of renown, the prize being a United States Senate seat. The historical record of the events, however, in the form divisive newspaper reports and editorials, theoretically expanded the field to that…

Lincoln In Edwardsville: The Moral Idea is Boldly Suggested

written February 2012 Edwardsville had a history of “pseudo-slavery,” embracing Illinois’ Black Laws, and an antagonism towards abolitionists long before Abraham Lincoln spoke in the town in September of 1858.[1]  Gov. Edward Coles’ attempt to free slaves and end Black Codes in 1822 also included a ban on the future “emigration of free negroes to…

So This Is the Blues

written June 2010 The average person on the street would rather endure a light carpet-bombing than visit the old hometown.  Opinions on most birthplaces range from questionable queasiness to downright despondence,depending on if you are an escapee or one of the ones left behind to pick up the pieces and carry on.  It may creep…