Friday, August 19, 2005

Horace Mann Flower Power

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Photo: Red vains beautifully contrast with the light green leaves of this plant.

Needless to say, flowers are beautiful. I see so much ugliness about town which could be overcome with a field of flowers here or there.

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Photo: A Butterfly Bush, teaming with dozens of hard working bees of many species

I took the photographs for this post on the grounds of Horace Mann Plaza.

Horace Mann Companies has a staff of talented, and hard working grounds keepers who have turned the Horace Mann Plaza into an oasis of natural beauty. A lunch time walk through the Horace Mann Plaza can be a reinvigorating experience. With plenty of shade trees, and dozens of flower patches plotted along curving paths it's a worthy pick to include on any walking course.

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Photo: A beautiful butterfly visiting some beautiful flowers

Horace Mann Plaza is located just one block east of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. The plaza is located between Jefferson, and Washington streets, and occupies two city blocks, starting at seventh street on the west side of the Plaza.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Zen of ALPLM

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Find a quiet place.

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Clear your mind of distractions.

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Breath deep.

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This building was meant to be photographed. I love the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. It's a balanced mix of 21st century minimalism, and classic greek style. The Eygptian limestone gives the building a luxurious, and ancient look reminiscent of the temple of luxor itself.

This complex is truly the most beautiful set of modern buildings in Springfield, Illinois, and probably in all of downstate Illinois. It rivals the old state capitol just one block south, and the Horace Mann Insurance Companies home office just one block east for projection of aesthetic purpose through architecture.

Buildings like this don't just take up the space where they rest upon their foundations, they project outward to the area around them, and into the community beyond by making a simple, quiet, yet powerful statement about society, the mind of man, and the ability of human beings to shape the world about them. It's definately a zen experience pondering upon all this building's curves, and edges.

I post four photographs of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum to meditate upon. All were taken August 18th, 2005.

Sixth & Capitol 08/17/05

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O.K., I know what yur thinkin.

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JeromeProphet has somethin fer construction.

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Well, I'll admit it.

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I may have graduated from college, and work in an office, but their job is sure a lot cooler than mine!
The photographs above were taken at the intersection of Sixth, and Captol streets in downtown Springfield, Illinois. It appears that new sewer mains are being installed. Perhaps water mains are being installed as well. Work has been slow but steady along sixth street, and is moving its way into the heart of downtown Springfield's historic district. I don't know how far north along Sixth street the project is slated to go. There's a considerable disruption of trafic along Sixth, but despite the trouble, projects like this are rare in the downtown area, and so are probably long overdue.

I love the colors of the powerful machines. When you look at what these machines are capable of doing, and how close they are working next to the surrounding office buildings it's quite impressive. There's a lot of careful planning, hard work, and talent involved, and I doubt most people really appreciate that fact.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Walgreen's at Macarthur and Ash Update

Slain by a Dragon.

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The King is Dead!

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Long Live The New King!

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The photographs for this post were taken around eight p.m. Tuesday evening on August 16th, 2005. Man was it strange, but fun to snap these photos. To see an entire building converted into rubble - a very interesting sight.

I had driven past the old store that very morning. I knew that the building, which resided at the South East corner of Macarthur, and Ash for well over fifty years, was soon to be demolished. The demolition crew had removed the plate glass windows the night before, and had spray painted the words, "Keep Out" in neon orange along the front of the building. A poster board sign was left in the locked glass doorway of the old buiding informing customers to use the new building - as if that were needed?

Still it came as quite a shock when I drove past the store that evening to discover it was almost completely demolished - with just a few remnants of the north wall standing.

A part of me feels sad that another tangible part of my childhood, and adolescence has been dispatched into the history books. I guess in some way it was justifiable. Out with the old, in with the new. I guess the new store doesn't have any mice, or cockroaches yet. And the new building probably meets all the new fire, and safety codes, and is probably cheaper to heat, and cool.

Ultimately I suspect that Walgreen's just wants every store to look exactly the same inside, and out. They probably know exactly how many twinkies are in row seven, shelf three, column four in every store in the country. When your growing as fast as Walgreen's I guess knowledge about inventory, and uniformity is worth the cost of tearing down a building that was exactly the same size, and served its function perfectly well up to the day they tore it down.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Effect

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A dark crystaline myst wrapped its damnation upon the sleeping village of Jerome. Every business, every home, every living thing had been enveloped in its sweet cold touch. No one seemed to notice.

But the old woman saw it coming, for she could feel the ache of it as deeply in her soul, as in her aged, and fragile bones. It was just like before, only stronger now, she muttered to herself. She felt the pain of it seeping into her stomach as it glided across the farmer's fields, crossing Panther Creek. and White Oaks at the edge of town. It had finally crossed Spring Field and met the outskirts of Jerome. The clock struck Midnight.

She resisted at first, believing that she alone understood its nature. That somehow she would offer it some human friendship, some kind offering of thoughts in exchange for her soul.

It had taken her father, her mother, her sister, and her husband. It had come in the night for her before, but she had always outlasted it. At ninety nine years of age she saw her life hidden in the myst itself. Fear rose within her. While she did not fear death, she did not want to succumb to the myst. Not like the others.

Frantically, she crawled from bed making her way across the darkened room to the south facing window which looked out upon Alberta Lane. She peeled back the edge of the curtin. As she rose from her chair she began wiping beads of water from the cold glass making slow deliberate circles. Her arms were feeble now, withered by her years, and the bone tumors which had riddled her arms. Pulling herself up, she craned her neck, softly pushing her fragile skull up to the edge of the sill, and with her eyes wide open she peered out into the myst.

A glowing green point of light appeared in the distance. She pulled back, and then looked again as if in disbelief, her look then turned to horror. Flinging her hands to her face in terror she let out a gasp before collapsing into her chair. It was just as it had been before, she screamed. She quickly yanked the curtin shut, and drew back across the room. Slamming her wheelchair into the night table she crawled into her bed, pulled her nightclothes over her head, and died.

The next morning a village deputy was called to investigate what one resident had reported as a loud whaling sound. A blood curdling cry which many in the village had heard that night, but which most had been too frightened, too drunk, or too apathetic to report.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Early Springfield Life Wasn't Easy

While Oak Ridge Cemetery is the second most visited Cemetery in the United States I doubt that most residents of Springfield, Illinois have spent much time there - while living that is.

This weekend while I visited Oak Ridge Cemetery I witnessed dozens of friends, and family members paying their love, and respect to their beloveds. With their words, and their flowers they came alone, or in groups. It was a touching scene. Some visitors simply stopped in their automobiles by the side of a grave heads bowed in silence for a time. Others came in groups. Parents, and grandparents bringing children to the grave of a family member. In their deeds they are saying, "This place is important, and this person is important to our family, we do not forget."

From these displays of respect, and love I know that the people of Springfield have not forgotten those they have put to rest in our nationally known cemetery. However there's a great deal of Illinois, and Springfield history just behind the tree lined hills that surround Lincoln's Tomb. Most of Springfield's founding families are resting peacefully in the older sections of Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Wandering the tombstone covered hills of Oak Ridge Cemetery is not only a chance to step away from the hustle, and bustle of modern day Springfield, it is also an opportunity to step into Springfield's past.

I visited, and photographed several family plots, and gravestones. I'll share these photos over the coming days, and weeks.

I thought I'd start off with the McConnell family.

I do not have any historic background information on the McConnell family of Springield (circa. 1840-1855), but I did spend a few moments at their family plot. It was both a sad, and beautiful sight. While I sympathized with the sense of loss this family must have experienced, I also believe that the McConnells must have held onto their faith, and hopes to carry the through. I suspect that the McConnells believed they would be together again in the afterlife - just as they were buried together.

Their pioneer determination is both beautiful, and profound, and acts as a lesson to future generations. I walked gingerly near the gravestones to take the following photos.

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The McConnell family would have resided in Springfield, Illinois during the same time Abraham Lincoln did. After reading each stone I realized that this family lost five children under the age of five.

I'm not sure what this child's name is (photo below).

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The stone below marks the resting place of two McConnell children.
The names of two infants, Edward, and Ann appear on the same stone. I found this stone to be the most telling, and tragic.

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Infant Charles McConnell's burial stone appears in the photo below. Charles died in November of 1842.

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Mary Ann appears to have been the eldest of the McConnell children buried in this family plot. Mary Ann wasn't quite five when she died. Note the use of the middle name Ann. Ann was the given name of an earlier departed McConnell child.

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One can only wonder how the McConnell family manged to carry on despite suffering from such continued loss, and heartache.

For Mother, and Father to bring each child into the world must have been an act of faith, and hope. Hope that their dreams for the future of their children would be realized eventually, and faith that despite all the broken dreams, and broken hearts that it was still worth it.

For the McConnells to witness their young, and innocent infants being struck down time, and again, must have been nearly unbearable for them. Let's hope some of their children lived into adulthood.

In any detailed discussion of Abraham, and Mary Todd Lincoln, inevitably there is mention of the suffering which each endured in the loss of their three young sons. Only one of the Lincoln's sons reached adulthood. We shouldn't forget that their experience was all too typical of American life just one hundred and fifty years ago.

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