Al Packer: Murderer Or Misunderstood?
Obligatory article for this date.
According to an article by Judith Graham that we found in Sunday's Chicago Tribune, the Museum of Western Colorado, in Grand Junction, has concluded that Alferd Packer, noted cannibal, was not guilty of the murder of the men that he was accused of eating. Said David Bailey, chief curator of the museum, "I think Packer has been pretty much misunderstood."
When asked for a comment on this decision, O.J. Simpson said, "I'm glad that they found the real killer." Mr. Simpson then said, "I'm going to Disneyland!"
C.W. McCall Tour 2002
A-lookin' for Mavis.
We almost have enough participants to field a baseball team. Wanna try for a football squad?
To refresh your memory: the C.W. McCall Tour 2002 is a two-day event, taking place on Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8, somewhere near Omaha, Nebraska. (Hmmm, steak.) We'll be buzzing around the east end of Nebraska and the west end of Iowa in a whirlwind trip, just to get our pictures taken in the towns that C.W. McCall has mentioned in his songs. We're working on the details, but we've got to know if you'll be there.
See the Tour 2002 section for more information, and warm up your vocal chords by downloading the karaoke version of "Convoy" from the TechRen FTP site. Ratchetjaw or bust, baby.
Also on the calendar is The World's Largest Truck Convoy in Orlando, Florida on July 20. See the February 18 issue of the Legend-News for more information. The Legend-News can't be there (the day job wants blood), but we're not stopping you.
Not what you think.
We're not apologizin' for nuttin'. This is not the New York Times. But we do have something to say.
Since we graduated from high school, the staff of The Legend-News has noticed a lot of news stories telling of the lack of geographical knowledge by our children. We refuse to idly sit by and let ignorance run rampant.
In that spirit, we've decided to occasionally include geography lessons in our fine publication. While we do not delude ourselves into thinking that we alone can cure a lack of general knowledge, we do hope that we can impart useful (and sometimes useless) information to our readers.
Let's start off with a brief refresher on latitude and longitude. Fact: the Earth is round. You can't fall off the edge (at least, not easily).
A meridian is a line which extends from the North Pole to the South Pole (or vice versa, if you live in Oz). The prime meridian, the "zero point" for east-to-west measurement, runs through Greenwich, England. The measurement of the distance (north-to-south) along a meridian is latitude, which is usually expressed in degrees. From the equator to a Pole is 90 degrees, and 1 degree is about 70 miles (or 60 nautical miles).
Longitude is the measurement along the equator. Oddly enough, at the equator, 1 degree of longitude is about 70 miles. As the Earth is round (Remember? We mentioned that two paragraphs ago), and there are 360 degrees in a circle, then the distance around the Earth at the equator is 360 degrees, or about 25,000 miles.
Now here's the problem: the lines of longitude converge at the Poles. This means that 1 degree of longitude decreases as the latitude increases. At 60 degrees north (or south) latitude, 1 degree of longitude is about 35 miles, or exactly half of 1 degree of longitude at the equator. So if you plot a rectangular area of land by drawing its boundaries along the lines of longitude and latitude, then the top edge of your plot is smaller than the bottom edge. To illustrate:
The graphic on the left shows what the area of a plot would be, if it was located between 87 and 88 degrees west longitude and 44 and 45 degrees north latitude, and the Earth was flat. But since it's not, the actual area of the plot looks like the graphic on the right. Conclusion (and you can try this yourself): you can't cover a sphere with rectangles, because they'll overlap.
Now humans like to have nicely rectangular areas of land. In fact, the township — the basic unit of real estate in these United States — is 6 miles wide and 6 miles long. But what's 6 miles wide at one end isn't 6 miles wide at the other end, if the sides are aligned due north. In the northern hemisphere, the northern end is slightly less than 6 miles. Not much, but there's a principle here: how are you gonna hold your head high, knowing that your neighbors to the south have larger townships than yours?
The answer: longitude lines are not parallel, so land surveyors must account for this change in distance. Every once in a while, the surveyvors must deviate from the meridian they've been using and establish a nem meridian as a baseline. And that's why Correctionville, Iowa has its name. No, there is no prison in Correctionville; it got its name from "correction line", the point at which the adjustment was made.
Here's a aerial photograph of Correctionville, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey via TerraServer: [Update, 2012-05-01: It’s dead, Jim. — Future Ed.]
Notice the north-south road that begins at the bottom of the picture? That's Elm Street. Follow it north to the first intersection. At that intersection, the road coming from the west is Iowa Highway 31, which turns north and follows Elm Street. (If you want to see more detail, click on the picture and you'll be taken to TerraServer.)
Continue to follow Elm St./IA 31 until you reach that east-west road at the top of the picture; that's 5th Street. Notice that Elm St./IA 31 appears to end. Actually, it doesn't. If you look just to the east along 5th, you'll find the continuation of Elm/IA 31 as it proceeds north.
In Correctionville, 5th Street is the "correction line" where the east-west boundaries are shifted. And if you're in Correctionville, you can read all about the correction from the plaque on the monument at 5th and Elm, in beautiful downtown Correctionville.
In Chicago, Illinois, there's a correction line along North Avenue (1600 north). On the west side of the city, the streets to the north of North Avenue are slightly east of their corresponding sections to the south of North Avenue. (If you're wondering why all of the streets on this map don't appear to be straight, there's a simple reason. Although the city of Chicago is laid out on a grid, the grid isn't correctly aligned with true north. Yes, Chicago is crooked. [Insert your own joke here.])
In the words of Spike O'Dell, "now, you know".
Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch
What the fans are doing.
Starla Hendrickson is still working for Live! With Jim Thompson, and from her we get this story of a Brush With C.W.:
Today I spoke with one of the regular guests on our radio show. His name is Virgil Vaupel. He's a big, tall, long-legged cowboy in his late '60s with the old-fashioned long mustache and big ol' silver belly hat. There's nothing he likes better than being asked to share a story or two from his past.
I told him that I am a huge fan of C.W. McCall to which he responded (I may paraphrase a bit because I can't remember his exact words but this is the gist of the conversation):
Virgil's eyes lit up as he told the story. You can imagine how excited I was to hear this. Virgil is now a rancher, poet and singer. He lives alone in some of the most forsaken country around. I consider this man to be a good friend and trust his word. He is coming for dinner on Easter Sunday even though he has no teeth! We love him very much. I thought you'd like to hear that story. It sounds like what little I know of Bill. What a guy! He's always been my hero and probably always will be!
[This update arrived just before press time.] Virgil came here for Easter dinner today and told the story again so our kids could hear it first hand. They sat listening to him with wide eyes and open mouths as he told them about meeting Bill.
Our boy, Tanner, is six years old and knows most of C.W. McCall's songs by heart. When Virgil finished telling the story of his encounter with Bill, Tanner fired about 100 questions at him wanting to know everything including whether or not they rode the Silverton after breakfast and if he'd ever seen the Gallopin' Goose in a snow bank. He also wanted to know what a "Pollo Knife" was (from "Wolf Creek Pass" — Roy Jean stuck it through the convertible top) [Actually, that's "bolo knife". It's a short machete, with a blade that's about 10 inches long. — Ed.]. Our oldest daughter, Sam, who is twelve wanted to know if Bill ever took his dark glasses off and how tall he was and if Rena was with him and so on.
I wish I would have gotten the video camera out! If I had a tape of that conversation, I'd send it to Bill. I think he would be pleased with the next generation of C.W. fans.
Our youngest daughter is two. She's a major Johnny Horton fan. In fact, she named her new pony "Johnny Reb Horton" after the Johnny Reb song on his greatest hits CD. She really likes "Silverton" and "Sloan" but she says "Green River" is too scary and it reminds her of Halloween — I guess because of the background sounds. Personally, that's one of my favorites!
I forgot the best part of today's story. Like I said before, Virgil lives in the middle of nowhere — yes, there is a middle and he's right in the center of it! He has no T.V.; only a radio. Don't get me wrong though, he's a very intelligent man. In fact, he co-hosted the show a couple months ago and had a very frank discussion with Tom Daschle on the air. He's an avid reader and very articulate (despite the toothless disadvantage).
Anyhoo, today Virgil was walking around our dining room looking at the pictures and plaques and things on the walls and shelves. I have a shelf for C.W. stuff. He was looking at the album covers I've collected and said, "Do you have a record player?" I said no, but told him I have a lot of C.W. McCall music on CD and asked if he'd like to listen. He sat there at our dining room table and stared out the bay window for a long time and just smiled and listened as I played what you've sent me. [Starla has the (almost) complete works of C.W. McCall, thanks to a copyright-infringing fan. — Ed.] Sometimes he would laugh out loud. Whenever I would come into the room he would say something like, "God, I haven't heard these songs in years" or "I don't think I've ever heard this one before". It was pretty cool… Another Kodak moment missed.
Old Home Café
Back where it all began
C.W. McCall continues his week of co-hosting Music City U.S.A. with T. Tommy Cutrer, November 1975. This selection is from Wednesday's show, November 19.
Song A’ Th’ Week
Words without music. Call 'em poems.
(Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album
Wolf Creek Pass
I's thumbin' through the want ads in the Shelby County Tribune when this classified advertisement caught my eye. It said, "Take imme-di-ate delivery on this '57 Chevrolet half-ton pickup truck. Will sell or swap for a hide-a-bed and thirty-five bucks. Call One-four-oh, ring two, and ask for Bob."
Well, I called Bob up on the telephone, he says, "Hello, this is Bob speakin'." I says "This here the Bob got the pickup truck for sale?" He says, "Yeah." I says, "Where are ya?" He says, "Fourteen east on County 12, turn right on the one-lane gravel road, you can park in the yard, beware of the dog, wipe your feet off, knock three times, and bring your billfold."
Well, I tooled on east on County 12, turned right on the one-lane gravel road, and I parked in the yard and a German shepherd come out and grabbed onto my leg. Then I knocked three times and wiped my feet, the dog let go and the screen door opened and Bob come out and says "Whaddya want?" I says, "Come to see your truck." He says, "Follow me. Come on, Frank." (Dog's name is Frank.)
Well, we all went past the chicken house, through the hog pen, down to the tractor shed, and then wound up in back of the barn in a field of cowpies. And settin' right there in a pool of grease was a half-ton Chevy pickup truck with a 1960 license plate, a bumper sticker says "Vote for Dick" and Brillo box full of rusty parts, and Bob says "Whaddya think?".
Well, I kicked the tires and I got in the seat and set on a petrified apple core and found a bunch of field mice livin' in the glove compartment. He says, "Her shaft is bent and her rear end leaks, you can fix her quick with an oily rag. Use a nail as a starter; I lost the key. Don't pay no mind to that whirrin' sound. She use a little oil, but outside a' that, she's cherry."
I says, "What'll take?" He says, "What've you got?" I says, "Twenty-eight dollars and fifteen cents." He says, "You got a deal. Sign here, I'll go get the title and a can full of gas." I put the nail in the slot and fired 'er up; she coughed and belched up a bunch a' smoke and I backed her right through the hog pen into the yard.
Well, Frank jumped in and bit my leg and I beat him off with a crowbar. He jumped on out and the door fell off and the left front tire went flat. I jacked it up and patched the tube and Frank tore a piece of my shirt off. Then Bob come out and called him off and says "You better'd get on out of here."
I went left on the one-lane gravel road, went fourteen west on County 12. Took two full quarts of forty-weight oil just to get her to the Conoco station. And I pulled up to the Regular pump and then Harold Sykes and his kid come out. He says, "I've seen better stuff at junkyards and where'd you ever get that truck?"
I says, "That's a long story, Harold. I's thumbin' through the want ads in the Shelby County Tribune when this classified advertisement caught my eye. It said, "Take imme-di-ate delivery on this '57 Chevrolet half-ton pickup truck. Will sell or swap for a hide-a-bed and thirty-five bucks..."
Old Home Café
The Legend-News is Copyright 2002 TechRen Enterprises. "I hope you've got your sums right." Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music.