Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Buffalo Soldiers

Long ago, when our son was a teen-ager, one of his favorite popular singers was Bob Marley.  He especially liked Marley's song about the Buffalo Soldiers and he would listen to it over and over.  At that time I had never heard of the Buffalo Soldiers and had no idea of their impressive history.

But today at Pawnee Park in Junction City, Kansas, we learned much more about these heroes.  They are celebrated in Bob Marley's song and in an impressive monument in downtown Junction City, the home of Ft. Riley military base, but almost no place else.

In the center of the monument stands a larger-than-live bronze statue of an African-American soldier in full military uniform of the late 1880s.  His left hand holds his rifle and his right hand grasps the bridle of his horse, saddled and carrying his bedroll and provisions.

From bronze plaques aroung the perimeter of the memorial we learned much more about the Buffalo Soldiers.  During the Civil War about 180,000 "Colored Troops" fought alongside others for the Union cause.  At war's end they were free and justifiably proud of the role they had played in that military victory.

The following year, Congress authorized the formation at Ft. Levenworth, Kansas of four regiments of African-American soldiers, two infantry units and two cavalry units.  Colonel Benjamin Grierson and Edwin Hatch immediately began recruiting for volunteers to create the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, both comprised completely of Negro soldiers.  Racial prejudice at Fort Levenworth was so widespread and intense that in 1875 the cavalry units were moved to Ft. Riley, Kansas, and the infantry units to Louisana and Texas.

Their first active combat service was in the many and various Indian wars.  They fought Apache, Comanche, Lipan, Sioux, Kansa, and other tribes to secure the American West for settlement.  They were officially called the "Negro Cavalry" but it was in these battles that they earned, from their brown-skinned foes, their popular name, "Buffalo Soldiers."  Wikipedia records an incident that explains that name:

In September 1867, Private John Randall of Troop G of the 10th Cavalry Regiment was assigned to escort two civilians on a hunting trip. The hunters suddenly became the hunted when a band of 70 Cheyenne warriors swept down on them. The two civilians quickly fell in the initial attack and Randall's horse was shot out from beneath him. Randall managed to scramble to safety behind a washout under the railroad tracks, where he fended off the attack with only his pistol until help from the nearby camp arrived. The Indians beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind 13 fallen warriors. Private Randall suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder and 11 lance wounds, but recovered. The Cheyenne quickly spread word of this new type of soldier, "who had fought like a cornered buffalo; who like a buffalo had suffered wound after wound, yet had not died; and who like a buffalo had a thick and shaggy mane of hair."

The name soon was extended beyond the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments to refer to all African-American soldiers.  The Buffalo Soldiers earned 23 Medals of Honor for their service in the Indian wars.

In addition to pacifying the West, Buffalo Soldiers insured the safety of those laying tracks for the transcontinental railroad, protected riders who carried the mail, and strung miles and miles of telegraph wire thru dangerous wilderness areas.  In the early 1900s, these brave black soldiers patrolled and secured the U.S./Mexican border frtom the raids of Pancho Villa and his "villistas."

Back home at Ft. Riley, however, they and their families were strictly confined to an area of small segregated housing.  An abandoned theater in the area served them as a "blacks only" USO.  Some remember that the uniforms, weapons, equipment, and horses issued to them were often used or inferior.

In the Spanish-American War, Buffalo Soldiers served in Cuba and the Philippines.  They served as the earliest "park rangers" in several of the western national parks before the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. In World War I, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments again patrolled the Mexican border where they engaged in combat with Mexican troops and captured many German nationals, preventing them from entering the U.S.  In World War II, they served in North Africa under General Benjamin O. Davis.  In 1944, about a decade before President Harry S. Truman de-segregated the U.S. military, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, the Buffalo Soldiers," were disbanded.

Those who served and their families and friends resolved that this remarkable history of military service by the Buffalo Soldiers would not be forgotten.  Donations from individuals, agencies and businesses funded the creation and construction of this memorial in Pawnee Park "within sight of the racially segregated family housing built by the government for black soldiers and their families."

This memorial insures that the world will remember the Buffalo Soldiers.  In spite of hardships and prejudice, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments of the United States Army lived up to their mottos:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kansas City

We have spent the weekend in Kansas City visiting three of  Bruce's cousins -- two on the Kansas side and one on the Missouri side of Kansas City.
First Church of the Nazarene, State Line Road, Kansas City, Missouri.

It was a special privilege to attend worship on Sunday with the cousin and his wife from Kansas City Missouri. 
Family ties are important to us and this has been a great weekend.  One of the benefits of living full-time in the RV is the opportunity we have to visit family and friends in many parts of the country.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The State of Missouri

Lake Allamon at Wallace State Park, Cameron, Missouri
Canadian Geese at Wallace State Park, Cameron, Missouri

Missouri Musings
Home of Mark Twain, Jesse James,
Harry S. Truman,
and the pony express.
Site of a national compromise
that did not prevent
the Civil War.
Wide rolling prairies dotted with
massive cylinders of hay.
Molded by two mighty rivers,
it launched thousands
migrating west
into the unknown frontier.
25 Aug 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

National Frontier Trails Museum, Independence, Missouri

Independence, Missouri, was the principal"jumping off" point for all three of the major western trails -- the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail.   Although Independence was a frontier village of just several hundred people it was the place where wagons were purchased, loaded, and organized into trains for the trip west.
Today we enjoyed a visit to the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Missouri.  Here we saw a video and many displays which recall the saga of what is believed to be the greatest voluntary, overland mass migration in the history of the world -- the overland migrations across the American West during the 19th century.
Covered wagons in seemingly endless trains carried households to the West.
An emigrant wagon with the average 10-by-4-foot bed could not hold very much.  Foodstuffs headed the list and were chosen according to what would keep without spoiling.   Cooking utensils, clothing, bedding, weaponry, tools, and spare equipment rounded out the inventory of essentials for emigrants'  survival.   "Nice-to-haves" included those things not essential for survival but helpful to have on hand like medicines and bandages, tallow, lanterns, spy glasses, scissors and sewing notions.  Luxuries would be the last things to pack and the first things to throw out when the oxen began to tire.
This reconstructed "store" in the museum represents one of the places
where the emigrants went to buy provisions for their trip.
The blacksmith shop was also essential in outfitting
the emigrants for their westward journey.

Despite the dangers of the journey, crossing swollen rivers, facing massive buffalo herds, possible Indian attacks, crossing wide expanses of desert and rugged mountains, historians report that an estimated 90% of those who began the journey west reached their destinations.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hannibal, Missouri

Last night we stayed at the Mark Twain Cave Campgrounds,
one mile south of Hannibal, Missouri.
The cave was well-known to the young Mark Twain
and became the subject of later stories.
Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher were lost in this subterranean labyrinth.
Tom and Huck found a treasure in the cave.
Injun Joe was trapped in the cave and died.
We had visited the Mark Twain boyhood home in 2006,
so this year we did not schedule time to go there again.
We did enjoy an evening walk and a view of the Mississippi River.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Home of cities, large and small,
but flat as a table,
Laden with fields of corn, soybeans and hay;
Dotted with prosperous farms and grain elevators;
Criss-crossed by lush forests and
lovely rivers and streams.
Breadbasket near the heart of the nation;
Helping to feed the stomachs of the world.
This grain elevator near the intersection of Hwy 78 and I-74 at Brimfield, Illinois
is the subject of many paintings, watercolors, and sketches seen in art displays
in the Galesville and Peoria areas of Illinois.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bishop Hill, Illinois

Today we visited the  Clay and Fiber Fest at Bishop Hill, a small village in Illinois.
Numerous vendors displayed their wares in tents on the lawn
as well as in more permanent displays indoors.
The official Bishop Hill website discribes the history of the colony as follows:
          "In 1846, a group of Swedish immigrants seeking religious freedom left their native land under the guidance of their charismatic spiritual leader, Erik Jansson. The site for their new utopia, later called Bishop Hill, was described to them as a “land of plenty, brimming with milk and honey,” and they struggled to make it so. These Janssonists built a successful communal society based on economic and religious principles. Many of the structures erected during this building campaign still exist. The colony grew and flourished for fifteen years before disbanding in 1861.
          "Today Bishop Hill is a quiet country village where the charm and character of the original colony has survived the test of time. Bishop Hill is a National Landmark Village, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and it is an Illinois State Historic Site."
The Colony Administration Building was build in 1856.
It now houses an art gallery in the basement and guest rooms upstairs.
The Colony Steeple Building erected in 1854
is now the location of a museum.
The Colony Church was built in 1848.
Visitors can still see the worship room as well as numerous
displays about the life of the utopian community.

Of course, the day would not have been complete without a tasty lunch at the bakery
which was built in 1864 as Mrs. Smith's Boarding House.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Birthday candles and watermelon

We continued to help celebrate the 13th birthday of our niece today.
She placed candles on her piece of watermelon
and we all sang "Happy Birthday"
What fun!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Galesburg, Illinois

Yesterday we had an early celebration of our niece's 13th birthday with a visit to Galesburg, Illinois.  Our day included lunch at Landmark Cafe and Creperie, Galesburg Antiques Mall, and Blick Art Materials Galesburg Outlet where our niece had the opportunity to choose art supplies which we purchased for her as her birthday gift.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ouabache State Park, Bluffton, Indiana

It is spelled "Ouabache" but pronounced "Wabash" and is the name of a beautiful State Park near Bluffton, Indiana.   The park is named for the Wabash River which runs through it and "Ouabache" is the French spelling for the name of that river. 

Wabash River

One of our favorite features of the Ouabache State Park is the asphalt surfaced bike path
which travels from the campground through the woods and along the river.
The 2.5 mile bike trail inside the state park connects directly with
the 2.5 mile Bluffton Rivergreenway which follows the
Wabash River from the state park into the city of Bluffton.
The Rivergreenway is popular for walkers, joggers, baby strollers, as well as bicycles.
One of the most photographed locations along the Bluffton
Rivergreenway is the covered bridge.
The distances along the Bluffton Rivergreenway are marked in 1/2 mile
increments -- each identified with a beautifully carved image.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Especially in hidden places
Darned itchy and irritating
But of unseen cause
Utterly mysterious
Gone in a few days
Something in our bed?

9 August 2011 - mshr

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Our truck has become temperamental. Our usually reliable Ford 350 with duals has begun acting up! It is so out of character for our trusty diesel steed but several times during the past two months, it has stubbornly refused to start.

It is usually so obedient to our wishes, starting at the first turn of the key and doing our bidding without complaint. True, there have been times when it has gobbled up a lot of our money as it recuperated from some vehicular virus. But this starting/not-starting game is different. It’s mysterious and unpredictable.

During one non-starting episode, we had it towed into a near-by Ford garage only to have it start without hesitation in their repair bay! Last week, during another non-start event, we pushed it by hand a short distance to a more level spot in the parking lot. There, it sputtered a bit but started. We wondered if the truck was having mood swings, going thru a mid-life crisis, or becoming temperamental. Then we realized that every time it has refused to start, it has been parked with its back wheels higher than its front wheels! Does it get dizzy or suffer an anxiety attack? Become unbalanced or unglued? Stubborn? Playing a practical joke on us? We don’t know.

Forty years ago, two psychologists named Myers and Briggs, developed a psychological assessment tool of human personality and temperament. It is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and is currently the "most widely used personality assessment" tool. A long list of questions gathers data about the person being assessed. On the basis of that data, the personality and temperament type of the person is described by letters:
           (attitude) E = extrovert; I = introvert;
           (function) S = sensory; N = intuitive;
           (decision-making) T = thinking; F = feeling;
           (lifestyle) J = judgment; P = perception.
Thus, one's personality type may be described as INFJ or ESTP or other possible combinations of traits.

I doubt that there’s a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for trucks. But, if there were, I think that, at the present time, ours would be classified as an IMAPain! We’ve not told our temperamental truck yet but it’s scheduled for a "temperament transformation" at the local Ford service center tomorrow! Ssshhh! Don’t tell!

3 Aug 2011 - mshr

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


My muscles ache. My joints are stiff.
My pace is getting slow.
                                                 My hands are weak; my knuckles gnarled.
                                                            They’re aging, that I know.

When I awake, I no longer can just
                                                                   Jump up, rarin’ to go.
                                                     First, I must check if my parts still work,
                                                             And then sit up, quite slow.

My belly is fat; my backside well padded.
                                                            My hour-glass figure is gone
                                                  For all of my sand just runs to the bottom
                                                            As time goes marching on.

My toes are crooked. My liver’s not well.
                                                        My blood sugar’s quite unstable.
                                                      I’m beginning to see vericose veins.
                                                       But, I think my mind’s still able

To cope with life; to laugh a lot,
                                                            And even make some jokes;
                                                         To thank God every day for life,
                                                             For friends and other folks.

So, ‘t would be nice if I could get
                                                         – but I’m certain that I can’t! –
                                                        A young and healthy donor for
                                                             A total body transplant!

3 Aug 2011 - mshr