Springhouse Ink

Volume 31, Number 4

There has been this whisper in my ear at night. “When are you going to take over Springhouse?”

And then there are visits with Dad when he has said, “When do you think you’ll be able to take over the magazine?”

My former boss at the Harrisburg Daily Register would say, “This is something you’ll need to know how to do when you take over your dad’s magazine.”

Various people in conversation over the years have asked, “Do you intend to do the magazine one day?”

My uneasy answer has always been, “Yes, some day, but...” It looks like the “buts” are now in the past.

The word “intimidation” comes to mind. I was a staff writer for the newspaper from July 1999 to March of 2012. Then my supervisors made me managing editor from that point to May of 2015. I know how to operate a newsroom for a five-day-a-week newspaper and can bring home a steady paycheck with it, but with cuts in staff life was beginning to get out of hand. The 9 a.m. visits with the sheriff were fun, but the 9 p.m. or later conversations after school board, county board and city council meetings had me burning the candle at both ends.

That whisper in my ear never stopped. “When are you going to take over Springhouse?”

I was optimistic I could do both, but that was a pipe dream. The weekends I planned to devote to the magazine were more often spent sleeping. The expected next magazine date was getting later. It was time to get out of the comfort zone of the newspaper and try something new.

So we’re doing it. I’m learning how to start up a business. Talking to the bank to set up a new account was an education.

“Is it a corporation, LLC or self proprietorship?” the banker asked me over the phone.

Good question.

“Is the tax ID number going to remain the same or change?”

What’s a tax ID number?

“You may need to get legal advice on setting up a new business.”

This obviously was going to be more involved than I thought. Plugging in copy and sending to the printer is one thing. Getting a bank account open so I could cash renewal checks was another.

After a visit to the courthouse and to the newspaper to place a legal ad running for three consecutive weeks, I guess I’m clear to set up the bank account now.

But that’s the boring stuff. The interesting thing about this magazine is the stories we are bringing to light.

Neighbor Gene McCluskey really got things started by taking Dad and me to the site of an old Mississippian Indian cemetery between Grater Road and Saltwell Road east of Equality. The Indians worked the salt spring on Saltwell Road and buried their dead on a bluff above it on Grater Road. Still evident on the ridge top were the cavities in the ground where one George Escol Sellers had excavated, unearthing the graves to find the bodies entombed in sandstone slabs, buried with pieces of earthen pottery that was crumbling. McCluskey had a copy of an article Sellers wrote for Popular Science Monthly in 1877 regarding the pottery used at the salt spring in separating the brine from the salt. We reprint that story Aboriginal Pottery of the Salt-Springs, Illinois.

Looking at that issue of Popular Science Monthly I saw there also was an article Gar-Pikes, Old andYoung by Professor Burt G. Wilder of Cornell University. As the salt springs and the Saline River go hand-in-hand and gar are among the most prevalent fish in the Saline River, it seemed fitting to include that article as well. I’m interested in it, anyway. Wilder had only studied dead gar found on the banks, but in a trip to Peoria he managed to capture a baby gar in the Illinois River. At that time people were not sure whether to classify gar as a fish or a reptile. Wilder developed a peculiar affection for his pet gar. He learned they have organs that function as lungs. The article is scientific and readers are forgiven for skipping over the more technical parts.

An unexpected contribution came from Jill (Howard) Barker. Barker’s mother was Janet (Peterson) Howard, one of the first students at the College in the Hills at Herod. This college was part liberal arts school and part commune. Students learned to take care of themselves as well as staff, to sing on radio and perform for the Civilian Conservation Corps staff, to drink alcohol on a river tour at Cairo and to swim. Artist Penny Cent even tried to show them it was possible to swim across the Ohio River to Kentucky. At least two of the staff walked with limps from earlier bouts with polio, not uncommon in the 1930s. The school billed itself as a “Venture in education.”

Greg Bailey submits an article on the tradition of erecting a pole when a candidate announced his campaign. He de- scribes the 210-foot pole erected by the Whig Party in Springfield in 1844, at that time the second tallest manmade structure in the country. Abraham Lincoln was in attendance. But celebration soon led to horror.

Oh, good news, I guess. The Rebel is back. He didn’t die after all, he was only off somewhere doing an Elvis impersonation, and saw fit to write to us about it.

We reprint Clarence Bonnell’s The Illinois Ozarks essay explaining his discovery of Old Stone Face at Somerset. He described the face as that of an old woman. I haven’t checked out the road there lately, but my last visit there was a ditch in the driveway deep enough to mire a car in. The Forest Service closed the road in April to May to repair erosion damage.

Dixie Terry’s From My Kitchen Window column features recipes using morel mushrooms and picking advice. Yes, we know, the morel season is behind us now because we’re late. But at least you’ll be ahead of the game for next year once you read Dixie’s column.

The staff here at Springhouse are always interested in trying new things and we just caught wind of this phenomenon of social media. We can put Springhouse stuff out on the web, right under people’s noses, and it doesn’t cost us anything! Our Web site www.springhousemagazine.com is the hub, but now we also have our Facebook page at https://www.face- book.com/springhousemagazine?ref=hl

Or just go to Facebook and search “Springhouse magazine” and it should pop up.
We have essays, photos, at least one snake video and other stuff. Speaking of video we also started up the Springhouse magazine YouTube channel at the cumbersome url address:
https://www.youtube.com/chan- nel/UCtpZIorp9-v702yKUvueWQg

I don’t know of an easier way to find it. Once we get a few more videos up there it may grow in popularity. Right now there is just a video of a rat snake on my porch.

The magazine’s digital footprint is growing slowly, but everything counts. We call it “free marketing.” Others among the staff call these new projects “playing around” when time would be better spent “updating the mailing list” and “send- ing out renewal notices.” We’ll see who wins this match. 

The adventure continues…


This page last updated Saturday, October 21, 2015 08:52 AM.