Friday, July 18, 2014

Welcome to my town

As I settle into my new community after our move last summer, I felt the need to step up and become involved. I learned of an opening on the Parks and Recreation Commission and applied. I was honest in my letter that I had only lived in the community for one year, but believe I would be an asset to the community. I pointed out that I had formed the Fort Des Moines Neighborhood Association in 2010, was elected president, a position I held until moving in 2013. I didn’t know what my chances of even being considered might be, but was thrilled when I received a call letting me know they were interested. The commission is a seven-person commission with only one other woman. Because they are trying to achieve gender equality, I was informed they were most interested in interviewing women.  I was very honored to be told I had been selected and my appointment went before the City Council last night. My letter expressing my interest was in the City Council’s packet of material, which was also made public on the Internet. I have no problem with the letter being made public. Never did I anticipate the outpouring of comments my appointment would bring.

So last night after work I stopped and picked up the three youngest grandchildren and their dog and brought them home to feed them dinner, prepare snacks and drinks for tee-ball practice at 6:15. (Even though it is true that none of my six beautiful grandchildren live in my community, they have chosen to participate in various recreational programs—paying the nonresident registration fees vs. the resident, and tee-ball is one such activity.) While waiting for the practice to begin, I glanced at my phone and see that a gentleman (I’ll refer to him by his initials—BM), had posted his “latest email to our mayor…what a slap in the face after all I’ve done for the parks and rec….” The posting was placed at 6:13 PM. The City Council meeting started at 6:00 PM, with public comments at 6:05. BM wrote (this is word-for-word what he typed and not typos on my part),

Last night I was forwarded a copy if the women’s notice starring she would like to be on the park and rec board. I’m completely amazed that anyone thinks a grandmother with no grandkids or kids in our Town, who moved here less than a year ago is more qualified to be on commission than a person who has volunteered for park and rec for years coaching several teams each session. Like tonight I would be there but I have practice for my Thursday tee ball. I’m sure she will have plenty of thoughts and ideas to improve the department. Beings she’s never coached 1 program here. Like I previously stated I’d love to be there to let all in attendance know how everything in this town is political or who the mayor likes. I do know that several people have forwarded here approved app around town. It truly is sad when u can’t put your feeling about someone who doesn’t always agree with your aside to make better programs for our children. You truly are the Barack Obama of [CITY] as I recently heard it said. Hopefully this great young woman will be able to pick up the slack from the many volunteer coaches who will soon be exiting.






Of course BM’s post, as of this morning, has over 87 comments, some in support of him and also threatening to quit coaching, many of them attacking his spelling and grammar and others posters attacking the grammar police’s grammar. As one person stated, “I hope your letter had less grammatical errors than this post. If I were the mayor reading this, I would have thrown it out after 3 sentences. I would have assumed the author having little enough sense to send a letter riddled with grammar mistakes had nothing intelligent to say. After parsing through the tome I have found that to be a valid initial impression. If this is typical of your decorum I believe the city is justified in passing over your interest in the board position.”

Then there were those individuals who can see the whole picture, and not just organized sports at the sports complex. She expressed the exact reason I applied for the position.  “If the majority, or all of the board of the parks and rec have kids, grandchildren, or coach perhaps it would be best to get a representative of someone from a different group. Although most of the parks and rec services [CITY] provides are for kids, that certainly isn’t the only group [CITY] caters too. People with out children can use parks, bike trails, and pools, and from what I remember the classes offered from time to time are for adults like the exercise programs or crafts. Maybe a voice from someone without children would add additional services to adults. I totally understand why the mayor would hope to have a larger variety of people on the board.”

The Mayor did respond to BM in the Facebook thread.

I assume that the “slap in the face” you indicated on Facebook is because I didn’t answer this email right away. I thought you knew that [CITY] City Council meetings start at 6:00. After seeing your post on Facebook, I apologize for not responding right away, but I was in the middle of the council meeting and not able to respond to your email, which came in at 6:04pm. We had public comment around 6:0, so instead of writing your email, if seems you could have easily been at the council meeting, stated your complaint, and then heading to your practice. I’m sure any of your assistant coaches could have handled practice for a few extra minutes.

Thank you for your interest in wanting to serve on the Parks and Recreation Committee. As we discussed in an earlier message, you missed the deadline for applying, so you weren’t considered for the spot. Also, the committee is supposed to be gender balanced and the open spot was ideally supposed to go to a female. Since a woman applied, they got preference over any males that applied. In 2016, there might be some spots open up. I would encourage you to apply before the deadline to be considered for the appointment.    

You also need to realize that sports are not the only thing that the Parks and Rec Committee oversee. We not only have activities going on up [SPORTS COMPLEX], we have a variety of activities for a variety of age groups and it is good to have a wide range of ages and experience on the Park and Rec Committee. While the candidate was chosen moved here one year ago, that candidate brings a wide variety of experience and knowledge to the committee and is a welcome addition to our community. And to set the record straight, I’ve never met her, but I’m looking forward to doing so.

Thank you Mayor, the individuals who see the complete picture, my son who called me around midnight to talk about the events of the evening, and my daughter who I woke up this morning to find this beautiful posting congratulating me on the appointment:

She brings a lot of community involvement experience with her, having helped organize and lead [CITY] neighborhood association. She participated in the Neighborhood Resident Leadership Certificate Program which provides “training and tools residents need to help neighborhoods achieve results through smart use of data, strategic planning, effective meetings, and developing partnerships with the public and private sector. Core leadership courses emphasize communicating for results, leading through conflict and change, and fundamental leadership skills.” She knows how to work with other community leaders and will do so professionally and articulately. I am wondering if the Facebook troll who has enough tech skills to locate her personal blog to mock it also was able to locate all of her community work?


I love you and I’m looking forward to serving my community.

And for the Facebook trolls and the record, I have over 13 years experience coaching, and it was in bowling.



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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Looking back -- Uncle Bill

My Uncle Bill passed away when I was only three years old and I don't have many memories of him. In packing up our mother's house for her move to assisted living, my sister came across a box with memorbilia on our Uncle Bill.  I knew he was a staunch union man, but reading newspaper articles and his obituary, I've come to learn so much more about him, and better understand my father's strong support of the Unions.  I am also questioning his death, thinking his death may have not have been natural, but more on that later.

William Martin Thornton, "the unionist who made a national name for himself by covering more than 100 Iowa cities and towns on the O'Sullivan boycott." 
The O'Sullivan boycott ended up in the Court of Appeals and involved the O'Sullivan Rubber Corporation and 250 strikers who walked out against the nation's "No. 1 heel" manufacturer and had been on strike for 18 months.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

11months in four paragraphs

Last I posted was in September and I was busy trying to get my DAR application ready (and finding pirates in my closet).  It was a long process. My application had some "holes" in it I had to clear up by further research and writing letters supporting my application.  It was voted on in April and in May I became an official member of the DAR.  Now I have about five other ancestors I wish to pursue for additional DAR lineages. 

I've spent 1,999,999 hours in Emergency rooms with my mother. Anyway it feels like that many hours. It seems like ages since I've scrapped anything.  I miss it.



We added a new baby to our family in December -- a lemon and white beagle we named Angel. 



Over the last 30+ years we will occasionally look at houses to move to, but it never goes anywhere.  Well this year, we found our perfect home, in a community just a few miles from where we currently live.  We went are from 900 square feet on one floor to 2350 square feet on three floors, at a time most people our age are downsizing.  We have always wanted a two story and love to have our whole family together, which is pretty hard in our present house.  Since taking possession we've enjoyed entertaining family and friends.  
If you are in the neighborhood, stop in. We love aging company!




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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Murdering Pirate, Part 2

Researching my pirate ancestor, Barnabas Lowell, I found some additional information. The following was taken "History of Story County," A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement by W. O. Payne, Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co, page 36-37, discussing early settlers:

...those who came in this year, with all the exultance of their hopes, Had virtually all the empty to pick from. One of these incomers, who is left some record of his arrival, was Jeremiah Ray. He came in November, over the Jasper County Trail, crossing the county line near the headwaters of Wolf Creek, somewhat west of the residence of William Parker. Hey drove northwesterly, seeking the cabin of Sam McDaniel. Which seems to have been a rendezvous for what settlers there were then in the county, and was the place before noted at which the election of 1852 have been held in this portion of the county. About the time that he saw the smoke of the Macdaniel cabin, he met on the Prairie and man, who proved to be Barnabas Lowell, very unattractive of appearance, but nevertheless disposed to make his acquaintance. Lowell guided Ray and his family to the McDaniel cabin, where a rather rough crowd was found, who played cards and drank whiskey far into the night. So uninviting was the outfit that Ray and his wife declined the hospitalities of the cabin, and spent the night in a shelter of the wagon. Ray got away as early as he could the next morning; and, while it does not appear that there was anything worse about McDaniel than the sort of company about him, Lowell subsequently appears as being of the type that are too often found upon the far frontier, lawless and reckless, and suited to give a bad reputation to the locality where such type is found.  

Starting on page 41 is discussion of the murder of Mrs. Lowell:

[Discussing residents of the county and a Mr. O'Brien who had set out on foot to meet his constituents on the other side of the wide, pathless and slough interrupted prairie, including Sam McDaniel.] The last named he met on the prairie and McDaniel told him that he was going to Newton to get two doctors to examine the body of Mrs. Lowell, who had died very suddently and was believed to have been murdered by her husband. Continuing on his circuit, he visited the Lowell cabin on the West side of east Indian, across the creek from the McDaniel farm, and assessed Lowell, and found Lowell there. Lowell had not yet been arested but was expecting tha he soon would be; and, in fact, O'Brien on his way home across the prairie, met Sheriff Zenor and Coroner Deal on their way to make the arrest.
Story County has been fortunate in not having very many murder cases, but of such cases as it has had, the most revolting appears to have been the first one. This was the case already referred to, wherein Barnabas Lowell was believed to have murdered his wife. Further developments did not in any wise remove the first impression. The essential fact of the matter seems to have been that Lowell tired of his wife and choked her to eath. Lowell, as before noted, was one of the following of Sam McDaniel. Associated with the two was a young man named Billings, whom McDaniel met in Jasper County and brought home, and who married McDaniel's sister. Lowell seems to have followed Billings to the neighborhood and brought with him his family, consisting of his second wife and two practically grown girls. Lowell crossed the creek and built his cabin in the edge of the timber on the east side, on a farm which, for many years, has been the property of John M. Wells.
The first person, outside the Lowell family, to be advised that anything was wrong, was Mrs. Mary Hagfue, a widow who had that Spring moved into the Country and established herself, for the time being, a little North of the Lowell cabin. She had been preceded by her son, Isaac, and was accompanied by her son-in-law, S. Harvey Dye, as well as by the younger children; and her family have been more or less prominent and always highly esteemed in the vicinity since. One of the Lowell girls came over on Sunday night and urged Mrs. Hague's immediate attention, as her mother was very ill. Mrs. Hague responding, found the woman dead. The circumstances immediately aroused suspicion, for there was no apparent reason for the woman's death, and she had been quite well when the family dined that day at the McDaniel cabin. Furthermore, there was about her neck a course handkerchief, which Lowell refused to have removed, and his whole attitude was that of one who did not want the body to be examined by Mrs. Hague or any of the other neighbors who had in the meantime come in. The body was buried in what was known as the Mount Cemetery on the McDaniel's farm; but the neighbors were not satisfied, and, as noted, McDaniel went to Newton for doctors and the doctors, when they came, found plenty of evidence of foul play. The Lowell girls, when matters had progressed far enough so that they dared to tell something of what they knew, in spite of their father's threats, related how he had shut the door between the two compartments of the Lowell cabin, and had refused to let them come in, notwithstanding the very great disburbance in the room where he and his wife were. There were so unds of striking, choking, and struggling, but Lowell was a man of much strenth and the struggle did not last very long. It was also said by the girls that their own mother, Lowell's former wife, had died under similar circumstances in Ohio; and it seems not to be doubted that Lowell was a man of Bluebeard disposition, who married women as he had opportunity and felt inclined, and disposed of them when weary of them.

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