Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Summer Tour - Day 4

Today we were supposed to ride to Peoria, but en route from Wataga to G-Burg it began raining pretty hard and Tim had an electrical problem with his bike. We pulled into the Harley place and the fix was going to take an hour or so to fix, so we called the day off.

Calling off our bike ride led to a free day and a trip to Aledo, where I discovered the Wombie was taking the afternoon off, and, gee, wanna go to Ponemah and finish our larceny?  Never a quitter I quickly agreed and off we go again to the big block buildings that housed mementos from our grandfather's once-upon-a-time pride and joy.  Oh, uh, Mark, think that Sawz-All will get the job done this time?  Well, yes, thank you, very much.  The plate above the door on Building 6 and the front of the fuse box are now missing from the buildings and safely in the hands of family, where they will be preserved for future generations.  

Coming back from Ponemah Mark wound around a country route that took us back to the old school I came upon on my first day.  Only this time we got out and did a little investigating.  We discovered a cemetery in the back that had been, more or less, altered to suit the necessities of storage in the back of the school.   

This lone, tall stone with several smaller markers leaning on the base.  Looks like they were moved to make for more convenient movement about the grounds.  Heaven only knows where the exact placement of the souls are these days.

It was a small cemetery, and the farmer who owns the grounds probably had to decide what was best for him and the land.  To their credit, the stones survive, albeit in a decidedly less appropriate placing.

Inside the school from the rear.  The wall has been torn down to accommodate storage of hay. Note the ceiling lamps still hanging.  

A swing down toward Keithsburg and the enduring tombstone of the train that has been a staple here for decades.  It was a landmark to spot when a kid and it still is.  This stone has been stolen off and on throughout the years, but I believe the last theft resulted in a cementing that will discourage future theft.  And, no, the Wombie and I are not interested.

Another shot at this award-winning tombstone in keithsburg of Marissa Tharp who was murdered by her boyfriend in East St. Louis a few years ago.

North of Keithsburg about 5 miles or so is an old house that has absolutely no record on the Internet.  It is locally known as the Virduette Plantation and during the 19th century was quite a place.  It still is. This is a remaining smoke house chimney or kitchen house.

The home is undergoing renovation and restoration.  It is spectacularly Victorian with its gingerbread styling, huge wrap around porch and several connecting out building in the rear. 

This octagonal structure housed the water system. 

The metal gating has been painted silver, but was likely black.  

Very decorative accents and very neat window area.

Side view of the immense brick house.  Holly told us that the owner had had several thousands of dollars of uninsured antiques in the house and a group from Chicago came down and stole them.  And, no it wasn't Mark and I.

Side view again.  Looks like the kitchen area is to the right with all the windows.

Another shot of the kitchen araa and back rooms.

The porch is beautiful and ornate as well.  

Sprinkled about the yard were these original gas lamps.

Huge lightening rods have been built into the roof in various places.

This is an ornate fountain in the yard. 

Apparently this was the hired helps quarters down and across the road.

Former Virduette ground.

An old water tower, or what's left of it, on the plantation grounds.  After the great tour of Virduette we moved on through joy and and just eat of there is a small cemetery called Peniel.

Stopping at cemeteries so Holly could walk Miss Maddy, it gave me an opportunity to check out the stones.   In Aledo this one with a poem penned by a grieving sister-in-law etched onto the rear.  The poem is pretty poor first of all.  Secondly, imagine the price-per-word cost of this memorial.   Click to enlarge, but read it at your own peril.  

This young man died 6 years ago traveling too fast in his pick-up truck.  Nice front with his picture really seems to encapsulate him as a person.  But what is really neat is what's on the back.

Notes by friends and family were etched onto the back.  This is a really neat idea.  Again click to enlarge.  This is the type of stuff that makes walking cemeteries worth it, and should give us all some ideas for our forever stone. 

Fun day even if we had to alter plans a bit.  Tomorrow, I pick up the current Mrs. Blythe at the airport and who knows what adventures await.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Summer Tour - Day 3

Day three is largely a free day except for a trip in to Blick to talk to Annette about a job opening I heard about.  I am meeting Pat at 4:00 at the Brickyard to have an unbreaded tenderloin and a Bloody Mary, then over to BFE Community Center to discuss the week's rides.  

This picture was taken by Sherry Godsil.

I learned from Sherry and Jen that my old Fed Ex job is opening up and I wanted to check in to see if they would add any more hours from the 15 hour a week it is now, which is less than when I worked it.  I had a nice chat with Annette, my old boss and she said she'd love to have me back.   

Before leaving Aledo this morning, I stopped at McDonald's for a cup of coffee and get wired to see what was happening in the world (along with my fantasy baseball league).  This is what greeted me as I stepped out of the transportation conveyance.

Later on that day, after I returned, we were going to take Miss Maddy for a walk but needed to get some gas.  Saw this hot rod at the gas station.  Pretty nice, but it is one of those build from scratch with new everything kind of car which is nice, but kind of like taking a piece of glass and calling it the Hope Diamond.

While cruising around G-Burg I spotted this sign in front of a decidedly non-mainstream church.  Half offended at its marquee,  and wondering why they would so disrespect the notion of education, I thought it was blog-worthy.  Any thoughts?

A trip out to the fairgrounds to walk Miss Maddy.  The sight of the Mercer County Fair, this place has some memories for me.  Not sure I got into the fair thing, as a kid.  I recall my folks working the Seaton stand and helping with wiping tables down and stuff, but I never really got into the whole carney stuff and rides.  Mostly, I thought it was a bit tedious.

An administration building built in 1914.  Man, that sucker's old.

On Tuesday night I made it to BFE Community Center where Jen, Rick, Christopher, Carrie, Tim and I drank some ice cold Bud Light.  "Just one more..." was the mantra.  Nice to see everyone, and we made plans to ride the next three days.  Best laid plans of mice and men.  The picture above is that of Richard, who has grown into a man-size looking fellow  who just last April was sporting a Bieber "do" and weighing all of about 40 pounds.  Now he has a real haircut and getting ready for football practice.  He won the "Most Changed" award for the trip.  And yes, Vince, the man-eating German Shepherd with a bad case of bloodlust was hanging around sniffing my calves.  Good thing Tim fed him, his appetite was abated. 

We are planning on a trip to Peoria tomorrow for a Davis Bros pizza and the Lincoln Library in Springfield on Friday.  On Saturday a trip to Anamosa is planned.  Yee Haw!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2012 Summer Tour - Day 2

Mark has decided to take the day off so we make plans for fun and adventure.  We have our coffee, and decide to travel South.  Holly has heard there is a place near Roseville that sells bread.

The place she has heard is an Amish enclave that has moved into the Roseville area and they sell their produce at the Farmer's Market and small shop adjacent to their home.  Outside two men dressed in traditional Amish garb are sitting in a sing.  Running around are two kids, a girl and boy.  She has the long dress and bonnet, the boy has the suspenders, pants and flat brim hat.  Sorry, no pics, it just didn't feel right.  

We enter the store and find all kinds of interesting things, but Holly has her eyes on the bread.  No Rye, as Holly questions the young rosy-cheeked girl repeatedly manning the counter.  But hey we do have white, wheat and cinnamon swirl.  We can't take them yet because they are in the oven.  We have an hour to wait till the bread is ready so we decide to go to Ponemah. The above picture was of the most delicious smelling stuff in the world.  The smell engulfed the car and Holly was kind enough to break off pieces for us.

Never heard of Ponemah? Don't feel bad.  It doesn't exist anymore.  This is one of the buildings that were in use 50 or so years ago as part of the Sinclair Oil Company pumping system.  Don't bother Googling it, there is nothing on Ponemah and I mean not-a-thing.

Ponemah was an unincorporated place south of Monmouth and opposite Larchland.  All that exists now are about three buildings, an old lagoon and a railroad line.

My grandfather, Leonard E. Westlake, my mother's dad, worked for Sinclair after dropping out of school at a young age.  He was a water boy for workers putting in a nationwide pipeline in the ground.  He eventually worked his way up in the company and was given a pump station of his own which was located in Ponemah.  There were three or four houses, mostly of people who worked the station there and very little else.  

This is the only picture I have of Dick at work.  I have no way of knowing if this is in Ponemah or Quincy.  Date your old photos people.  Or better yet,  scan them and put them in a storage disc. 

After a few years when my mother was born here, they moved into Monmouth, where she would enroll in Monmouth College, meet Herb and the rest is history.  Dick and our grandmother Mona, would alter move to Quincy Illinois where he was the superintendent of that pumping station.  He retired in 1959.  

These are photos of that station, or what is left of it.  Leonard, or Dick, as he was called, was the chief honcho here and I am not sure how many it employed.  It was certainly neat walking around the place and exploring.  There is very little left for treasure hunting since the buildings have been used for farm equipment storage for decades.  Yes, we were certainly trespassing. 

Gothic, spooky place even in sunlight.  Thank heavens we had Miss Maddy to protect us from...oh...say, owners. 

Wombie Mark casing the joint and those big steel doors with the weathered patina would make wonderful decor in just the right room.

What ya doing, Mark, hiding?

This is one of three building left.  Big and big-blocked, these structures were built to last.  The walls are solid with thick as hell blocking, but the roofing is not so good.  

Dark passageways lent for some spooky exploration.  Wouldn't want to be stuck here at midnight.  Used now for storing farm equipment, all that is left is roof and walls.

Mark was curious about these two gauges fairly high on the wall.  We saw no evidence of stairs or a walkway.  There is even a light there that lends itself to closer inspection.

Old piping long since stopped functioning.  I wish we had pictures of the inside in its heyday.

Outside is a lagoon.  How it was used in the pump station is a mystery, but it is now used for refuse and old plastic drain field piping.

Another look at the left side of the lagoon.  There are also mounds of block which made us think some of the building had been bulldozed down.  One sign plate read "Building Number 6", and there are only three left.

An older boiler.  It read Kewanee Boiler on it.

Toilet that hasn't seen a good crossword puzzle in years.


There were no treasures to be had, but that doesn't mean we left empty handed.  On that far wall were 4 or 5 strange 8 inch or so wall devices that swiveled and had a large screw for further tweaking.  One or two may have ended up in the truck, but we wanted more.  There was mention of a lever, the front of an old fuse box and circular valve handle.   

This is not the fuse box we wanted, but this was large and looked newer. 

Stairway leading to another dark area of mostly empty space.

Storage area.

Hard telling what was stored here.  Can't imagine foodstuffs, workers would have had that at their homes.  No one slept her.

We decided to leave, get the bread from the Amish folk and then head into Roseville for lunch.  There we had the best tenderloins and it was here that we hatched a plan to obtain some old pump station ephemera.  We were weren't exactly pickers, we were going to be takers.  

We went to the local hardware store to see what items we needed for our larcenous project.  It was agreed that a crow bar and a hack saw would serve our purposes.  Our plan was to get the front of the old fuse box and the "Building Number 6" nameplate above the door.  

Unfortunately, the tools did not work for our needs.  We had to walk away from the treasures in defeat.  No bail money needed today.  No cops and robber chases through the cornfields.  No "Look at me, Ma, I'm on top of the world" exclamations as the cops close in.  Nope, not today.  Not today.