Thursday, July 23, 2015

Morton Grove Little League All Stars, 1966

We posted this just short of half-century old nostalgic photo on my personal Facebook page back in 2011. We were reminded of it the last few days when a couple of my childhood friends somehow ferreted it out from among my hundreds of pictures posted, and clicked the Like button. It occurred to me that some among the broader audience of current and former Morton Grove residents who read my blog might find the photo of interest. Now the pictured individuals will have an opportunity to turn up in search engine results.

Morton Grove north side All Stars 1966. Starting top left: Tom Brown, John Tritschler, Kevin Dohm, Grady Foster, and Scott McKay. First Row: Richie Kengott, Michael Vincini, Rick Lauson, Bobby Brown and Ricky Klaser. Not pictured, Eugene Knepper and Bob Warren.

The names are as best as I can recollect, supplemented by several corrections and fill in the blanks supplied by Facebook friends. Additional corrections and amplifications are welcome (to email me go to the link on my profile page).

In the 1960s Morton Grove Little League (ages 8 through 12) was split into north and south divisions, with teams competing exclusively within division. Towards the end of each season separate all star teams were named for north and south to compete in the single elimination tournament against other towns that led eventually to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylavania. As I recall the dividing line between north and south was Dempster Street. There were AAA, minor (blue hats) and major (green hats) leagues. When in the majors I played on the Senators in the north. Our games were played at Harrer, Mansfield, Palma Lane and National Parks. My coach was a gentleman by the name of Bob Gore, an insurance agent who lived in a home abutting National Park, down the first base line. I bought my first life insurance policy from Mr. Gore when I was sixteen years old.

My father coached a different team in the same league -- the Indians if I recall correctly. My dad used our lawn mower to create a practice field in the Forest Preserve clearing down the street from our house on Austin Avenue. Dad had the best drilled team in the league. They were repeat champions. The Senators were a perennial patsy for the Indians.  
The Bugle, July 14, 1966

The only time we played at a field with an outfield fence was in All Star games. With our sparkling white all star uniforms, professional umpiring, freshly raked and lined and mowed fields, playing in an All Star game to us felt like appearing in the big leagues. 

After initially posting this photo we happened across this Bugle article to the right when we searched using several of the players names, announcing the north -- and south --- all stars, in 1966, not 1965 as we had first assumed. Based on the article, I have made what I think will be the final corrections of the names.

I was a center fielder and pitcher who played only center field as an All Star because we were one and done. I don't recall the score other than that the game was close and low scoring. I remember shaking like a leaf as the drive rose towards me, but still catching a hard hit fly ball near the center field fence. I struggled at the plate. Our game was at Austin Park, which had a snow fence installed across the outfield special for the occasion. I wore the MG hat that signified my All Star status until it frayed around the edges. The uniforms were returned for use by the next year's team. So it was, growing up in Morton Grove in the summer of 1966.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hot To Trot To Seattle

We have been in Seattle through most of July this summer, house sitting while my sister is off to Iceland, Sweden and Denmark with her niece (my oldest daughter). Meanwhile we got a fellow looking out after our home back in Bozeman.

When we blogged about the trip over on I-90 I neglected to mention the extreme heat we encountered along the way. At the lowest point on the first day of our trip (a bridge across the Spokane River) the thermometer peaked at 108 degrees.

The next day when we passed through the massive wind turbine farm above the Columbia River Gorge east of Ellensburg I noted that, as is the norm, there was little movement. On this peak cooling and electricity consumption day, the blades turned on probably one-third of the turbines and slowly rotated at that. I would venture a guess that perhaps ten percent of the electrical generation capacity was actually being realized. As per normal, alternative and renewable energy, alternative and renewable energy, alternative and renewable energy, say it five, ten, fifteen, a hundred or a thousand times and elect someone who says that for you -- that will make it work, Okay?
F/V Northwestern of Deadliest Catch fame, docked at
its home port, Salmon Bay above Ballard locks,
Seattle, Washington.

As we crossed over the Cascades and cruised down to Seattle temperatures cooled to the mid-90s due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean. We settled in and have been in Seattle since.

You could call it my home away from home, in that Seattle is the city I've spent more time in than any other place that I have not actually settled in my sixty plus years on this earth. My first visit was 53 years previous.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Let's Play Ball!

We decided to attend the Mariner's game Sunday -- the last before the All Star break. I had not been to a professional baseball game in Seattle since 1977. First for me there was the question of the ball park because the last time I had seen the Mariners they played in the Kingdome.. They told me the Kingdome had imploded. Sure enough the video is online.

So we jumped on the Route 5 bus and took it straight down to Safeco Field.

We were fortunate to secure fourth row seats up the left field line, just behind the ball girl. Seattle Reign and Women's World Cup soccer star Megan Rapinoe threw out the ceremonial first pitch fresh from the United States championship victory over Japan last week just north of here in Vancouver, British Columbia. That would be about all the Mariners fans had to cheer until the bottom of the 9th inning.

In red and gray opposing the Mariners were the Los Angeles Angels.

Seth Smith's pinch hit home run in the bottom of the 9th was way too little, way too late for the Mariners.

The home team suffered a 10 to 3 loss in what the Mariners manager said was the "worst game of the year."

But for us it was the best because we got a renewed taste of what it meant to be in the major leagues.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Uncle Lyndon King Armstrong At Rest

Here at Along the Gradyent our blogging pace slowed considerably during June and into July. The primary cause? Our five-years young laptop started slowing down and sporadically freezing up, then self-checked into hospice and died, so the local PC repair geeks confirmed, leading to need for replacement. "No problem," we said. We went to the places that sold PCs in Bozeman, systemically checked out the machines and the interfaces to see what features could be had and how those features comported with our needs. We settled on the brand and style whose keyboard I am presently pounding.

But we learned then that Bozeman is not a place where vendors actually stock computers. It could take from five to ten days to get a machine in hand after shipping from some distant West Coast distribution center, by which time we were preparing to leave town on our segment of a low-cost multi-family midsummer's journey of musical chairs' housesitting.

"No problem," I said, "I don't need a computer immediately, I have a smart phone, that I can use that at least to search the net, navigate and receive and send emails," a bold claim which led sequentially, of course, to that four-year old hand-held devise's rapid demise. When we finally pulled up to a Best Buy in Seattle, the credit card lords hiccupped at the prospect of authorizing an expensive electronic purchase 687 miles from home.

Anyhow, I shall spare readers the remaining details except to say that our blogging output will ramp up slowly as we learn a new system (since when did icons become charms?) and we enjoy the beauty and bounty of gorgeous summer weather.

Now let's get to our presently intended blog post.

About two-thirds of the way from Bozeman to Seattle lies the city of Spokane. Laying just west of the Idaho/Washington state line, Spokane's population rose from 350 in 1880 to about 20,000 in 1890. Spurred by a rapidly growing mining sector and following a boom pattern typical of the American West, the city's population skyrocketed to 100,000  by 1910. Spokane took these last 100 years to garner its second hundred thousand citizens.

One of the 1890 migrants whose move into the city surged Spokane's population and drove its economy was my great uncle, Lyndon King Armstrong. Lyndon King Armstrong was a pharmacist, miner, engineer, publisher and trade association leader.  Lyndon set out from Bathgate, North Dakota, to the Pacific Northwest early in 1890.

Monday, June 15, 2015

On the Road to Bathgate: Great Uncle James Dyer Foster -- Teacher, Farmer, Assessor, Real Estate and Insurance Agent, and Agriculturalist

Readers of this blog know we have posted a series of stories about my ancestors, including on what I call the family's greatest generation. We wrote in depth on my grandfather Issac J. Foster (1861 - 1934) -- real estate man, rancher, farmer, civic servant, insurance agent, auctioneer and county sheriff -- and his brother George Sanderson Foster (1864 - 1946) -- Chicago lawyer, owner and developer of real estate, Democratic politician and banker. Ike and George were the two eldest of five sons born to William K. and Margaret Sanderson Foster between 1861 and 1871. 

My dad's first cousin, Etta Hoskins Meyer ,and her
husband, Phillip Meyer, opened KFYR TV in Bismarck,
North Dakota on December 19, 1953
We followed with posts about two of their brothers-in-law -- R. D. Hoskins (1860 - 1946), newspaper publisher and lawyer, first clerk of the North Dakota supreme court, and bookstore and florist proprietor, whose family went on to form a radio and TV media company in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Lyndon King Armstrong (1859 - 1942), pharmacist, engineer, miner and publisher of Spokane, Washington. Each of these men was worker, hustler, entrepreneur and pioneer to the core. Eash was a civic leader and dabbled in the political sphere.

With this post we open a chapter on the fourth son (Isaac was the first and George was the second) of William K. and Margaret Sanderson Foster. James Dyer, known as J. D., moved to the western frontier like his brothers. But J. D.'s migration hewed north, staying above the 49th parallel and maintaining a Canadian branch of the family. J. D. had the family's characteristic drive and a multitude of skills and interests. He led a fascinating and productive life. J. D.'s contributions to his community and his province were many.

Judge Jim Foster

Around the time I launched this research and blogging enterprise a few years back I learned of the existence a living second cousin not previously known to me. His name is James (Jim) Foster, grandson of J. D. Foster. James Foster resides in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Jim had a distinguished judicial career. In this video clip from last year, Jim pushes for a new Red Deer courthouse. The locality's booming population (driven by a vibrant energy economy) and resulting legal wranglings have outgrown the built-in-1982 courthouse to the point that Red Deer traffic court is now being held Mondays and Tuesdays at the Red Deer Lodge hotel. I wonder if the judges have to check out of their chambers by noon?

Lobbying for a new courthouse

Red Deer Court
Recently retired justice Jim Foster and Chris Rickards, president of the Central Alberta Bar Society say Red Deer needs a bigger courthouse. (Meghan Grant/CBC)
To properly accommodate the population, Rickards says 16 courtrooms are needed, up from the now seven.
He and recently retired Queens Bench justice Jim Foster are leading the push for a new courthouse.
Foster served as attorney general under the Lougheed government and was a judge in Red Deer for more than 20 years. He says a new building has been needed for decades.
"I understand that governments don't get around to building courthouses until there's a crisis …well, we're there and we've been there for a longtime."
Foster said 40 per cent of his time as a judge was spent on family-related matters. He said it's children who suffer the most when those issues aren't dealt with for months at a time.
"It's very damaging to children, these are little people, no voice and no vote and they're the ones most affected," explained Foster.  
In another interview, Jim Foster projected that court congestion will cause delays that violate defendants' rights to a speedy trial.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Obama Nation Chokes Off Bozeman Lunch Program

November through March I swim most every weekday at the Bozeman Swim Center, which is attached to the high school so it serves dual purposes as a community and a high school pool. While I do my laps at one one end of the Olympic size swimming pool, high school students swim in their PE classes at the other end. I see the students in their swimwear. Virtually all are fit and trim.

This isn't like back east and the urban ghettos. Our kids are not sedentary and fat. So here comes Barack and Michelle Obama deciding in their stilted mindset what our children (not theirs mind you) are supposed to eat. One size fits all -- from Washington DC and urban America top down dictates are playing out in Bozeman, Montana. Thank you Dear President. Thank you know-it-all First Lady. Thank you America. 

Today's front page news:

Drop out? Bozeman High weighs leaving federal lunch program

To fight an epidemic of obesity and get American kids to eat healthier food, the Obama administration has imposed new rules on school lunches.
Limited calories per meal. More fruits and vegetables. Whole wheat only. No more white bread, fattening chips, soda, brownies or ice cream sandwiches.
It may sound great to health-conscious parents, but at Bozeman High School, many teens are just saying no.
“They’re voting with their feet,” said Bob Burrows, support services and food service director for the Bozeman School District.
For the first time in 20 years, Bozeman’s school lunch program is losing money. As of February, revenue had dropped from $1.2 million to $1 million. Most of the loss happened at Bozeman High.
Michelle says it is "unacceptable" to run the program any
other way -- uninformed arrogance speaking. In Bozeman,
our children eat food, not labels.
The high school has long had an open campus at lunchtime. Students have the option to walk or drive off campus, and they can easily eat at nearby restaurants.
So Burrows is asking the Bozeman School Board for permission for the high school to drop out of the Obama administration’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act school lunch program.
It would mean losing $117,500 a year in federal subsidies. However, Burrows calculates the switch would raise more than enough revenue to cover that loss and put the high school lunch program back in the black.
For the past 32 years, the Bozeman School District has required its food service to be financially self-supporting so that it doesn’t eat into money dedicated to educating students.
One of the impacts of the Obamas' outreach is that it drives business to the burgeoning "Jesus Burgers" program across the street.

Jesus Burgers is starting up this WEDNESDAY!
(Jesus Burgers is our weekly outreach to Bozeman High School. At 10:00am we start cooking and preparing for the 250 students who walk over to have a free burger in our church) We are in need of help. We need grillers, people to help set up and clean, and servers. If you've never been to Jesus Burgers come and join us and I promise you'll love it! If you can help please contact Pastor Patrick at the church or leave a comment. THANKS!

Financially self-supporting is not a term in Obama's vocabulary. Here they can and will do the right thing. In Washington they won't and don't. Pay no attention people. Move on. 

UPDATE: As someone who was 5'10" tall when I started high school and weighed in at 112 pounds, I can vouch for the reality that for many maturing youths the Obama program is mean spirited bunk. As a parent of three appropriate weight children I am tired of seeing my kids come home starving because they couldn't stomach the muck that was being served up in the schools. So I am happy to report that the Bozeman School board did the right thing.
The Bozeman School Board voted 5-3 Monday to leave the National School Lunch Program because its nutrition rules, designed to fight the national obesity epidemic, were deemed too strict. 
The school’s food program lost $35,000 last year, and while that wasn’t as bad as the $205,000 mid-year loss, the program is supposed to be self-supporting to avoid eating into classroom dollars. Officials predicted that losses would deepen as federal food rules tighten in the next few years. 
School Board trustees, in a rare split vote, agreed to adopt Superintendent Rob Watson’s recommendation to suspend the high school’s participation in the national lunch program. Bozeman’s elementary and middle schools will stay in the program.
Bozeman High’s dropping out will mean losing a $117,000 federal subsidy, but it will let teens have choices like Rice Krispy treats and other snacks, which will be outlawed under the Obama administration’s food rules this coming school year.“We’re going to continue to serve healthy, wholesome meals,” promised Bob Burrows, food service director. He argued Bozeman High can continue to follow the old federal guidelines for making lunches healthier, and may actually be able to do more with local foods under more flexible food rules.
Burrows said the “one-size-fits-all” federal limit of 850 calories per meal was too low for active kids like athletes. And its limits on salt in future years would make it tough to offer most meals with meats.
Last school year under the federal program, white bread, Gatorade, tater tots, mini-burgers, goldfish crackers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were banned from the menu, and cookies were shrunk in size. Next year, cocoa and other snacks would have been off limits.
With Bozeman High’s long tradition of an open campus at lunchtime, that would mean more students voting with their feet and eating at nearby fast-food restaurants and grocery stores. 
“I think we can do far better than the federal program’s restrictions,” Vice Chair Andy Willett said. There’s a risk of a public backlash, he added, but the school district just spent $4.5 million to renovate and expand its food service building to create a top-notch food program. 
“Our kids are far better off if they stay on campus than if we send them out into the world of fast food,” Trustee Douglas Fischer said. 
Kenzie Bradley, a Montana State University student, told the board that the cafeteria can offer food that’s “as nutritious as you want,” but if teens don’t think it’s good, they won’t eat it.
We will identify the three one-size-fits-all communist thugs who voted against free choice and work to ensure they are not re-elected in future school board elections.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Gallitan River Whitewater Fatality

Sad lessons are taught every day.

Live your life to the fullest. Take risks for sure. But calculate them carefully. One of the risks not to be taken lightly is whitewater rafting during the height of the spring run off. Wait until July or August and live to tell about it lest you too end up being the subject of a sheriff's office report.
On May 31st, 2015 at 4:17 pm, the Gallatin County Coroner’s Office was dispatched to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for a 43 year old male who had drowned in a white water rafting accident. The individual has been identified as Brian Niedermeyer of Bozeman, MT. Mr. Niedermeyer was one of 8 individuals who were on a guided white water trip when the raft flipped, just north of House Rock.  According to the Geyser White water company had safety measures in place to include 2 rescue Kayaks and 2 people on land with safety line throw bags. Mr. Niedermeyer failed to grab the safety lines as they were thrown to him.
Here is the full report.

BOZEMAN -A Bozeman man drowned Sunday after a whitewater raft he was on overturned on the Gallatin River.
"There were seven other people in the raft, nine with the river guide. The raft did go over just north of House Rock and the individual passed away," said Gallatin County Undersheriff Dan Springer.
Brian Niedermeyer, 43, was on a guided rafting trip with Geyser Whitewater Expeditions.
"According to the company they had their safety measures in place.  They had two safety kayaks as well as two safety lines on land and I know that the other seven were self rescued or rescued by the company," Springer said.
According to Geyser Whitewater, Niedermeyer was wearing a life jacket and failed to grab safety lines when they were thrown to him.
House Rock on the Gallitan River.
"Most life jackets have a certain amount of buoyancy in them to keep your head above water most of the time.  But in the Gallatin River, there are a bunch of splashing waves, so it takes some conscious effort to stay out of the waves and float with your life jacket," Eric Becker, owner of Geyser Whitewater Expeditions.
Becker said a major incident on the Gallatin River is rare and it's usually safer to go with a guide.
"Typically it would be, especially if you are a beginner," Becker said.
With current river levels high,
Geyser Whitewater is no longer running trips by House Rock.  It will offer them later in the summer when levels come down. 
Montana Whitewater Raft Company is currently not running trips by House Rock either.
To check stream flows, click here

Brian Niedermayer's obituary was published Sunday. He leaves behind a widow and three young sons.

Brian Joseph Niedermeyer


Brian Niedermeyer passed on Sunday, May 31, 2015, at the age of 42 following a whitewater rafting accident on the Gallatin River in Montana.

Brian was born in Portland, Oregon, Nov. 2, 1972, and spent most of his life growing up in Oregon. He was an incredibly loving husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend who enjoyed being active. His bright blue eyes and smile lit up the room when he walked in. He made friends wherever he went and always left them smiling!

Brian married Angela Perry on Sept. 11, 1999. In 2000, Brian obtained a position at U.S. Bank in Merchant services and rose through the ranks to become one of the top merchant service representatives in the country. Brian's expertise lead to his current position where he put together complicated merchant service agreements for large corporations. Last week Brian celebrated his fifteenth anniversary with the U.S. Bank.

Brian was a consummate inventor, holding a number of patents related to data security and fraud protection, including a number of patents still pending. He leaves behind many family and friends who will miss him forever. Brian was a man with a huge colorful light and presence, remembered by everyone he met. 

Brian is survived by; his wife, Angela Niedermeyer and sons Charlie Niedermeyer, Bennett Niedermeyer and Finn Niedermeyer; brothers, Terrence Niedermeyer, David Niedermeyer, Patrick Niedermeyer and his wife Teresa, Paul Niedermeyer and his wife Lisa; and sisters, Maureen Ann Longton, Jeanmarie Courtney, Lisa Marie Niedermeyer, Karen McComb and Sister-in-law Ranee Niedermeyer. Brian also had many nieces and nephews; Erica Niedermeyer, Kristen Niedermeyer, Edward Niedermeyer, Nicole Niedermeyer, Timothy Niedermeyer, Kelly Chumbly, John Grove, Kimberly Grove, Emily Longton, Robert Courtney, Andrew Courtney, Aaron Courtney, Ryan Cavanaugh, Carly Cavanaugh, Kevin Cavanaugh, Jack Niedermeyer, and Anna Niedermeyer, Hunter Dupuis, Danielle Dupuis, Maximillian Niedermeyer, and Ava Niedermeyer.

Brian was preceded in death by his oldest brother Gregory Niedermeyer and parents Edward and Annamae Niedermeyer. A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Monday, June 8, 2015, at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas More Church in Portland, Oregon, followed by a reception at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from June 5 to June 7, 2015
- See more at:

Here is a video, one year previous almost to the day, shot at the House Rock location where Brian's raft flipped. Note that the first raft is under control and shoots through the rapids, whereas the second raft founders before entering the sluice and flips -- everyone survived last year.

The videographer said.

Published on May 29, 2014
Stopped down to check out house rock this evening and it was roaring. The rivers are moving with the snowpack melting and a few kayakers and rafters were out. A couple boats flipped but everyone swam to shore safely and then got back in the boats. I love to kayak but will wait to the levels go down.

May Brian Niedermeyer rest in peace. Out deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cube Square in Huntsville is Offering Leases

We said "the cubes are coming, the cubes are coming." Now the cubes are here. Cube Square is gearing up for the 2015-2016 school year, offering full year leases effective August 1. We blogged earlier this spring about the "cargotecture" movement and my in-laws development of Cube Square. The structures are built by stacking and knitting together sturdy steel shipping containers. Industrial chic cargotecture is the hottest new thing in apartment living.

Here is the floor plan.

For more information check out Cube Square's Facebook page.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday Pictures

On Monday we drove in to town to spectate the good old, traditional Memorial Day parade down Main Street in Bozeman, featuring veterans honoring their comrades who gave all to protect freedom and serve our country. Fifteen percent of Montana's civilian population are veterans, second only to Alaska's sixteen percent.

Here are many of the participants, with the Hotel Baxter, The Cannery Lounge, Burger Bob's, Leaf and Bean, Poor Richard's and Cactus Records in the background. We've learned that the Leaf and Bean (a coffee house and bakery) has just closed down and Poor Richard's (a news stand and tobacco shop) is ending its 40 plus year run this week, soon to be replaced by less funky and more upscale retail. That's progress I guess. Click to enlarge. Enjoy!

 The Bozeman Post 14 American Legion color guard lead the way.

 The Apsaalooke Nation, better known as the Crow Nation, presented their colors as well.

 The Ladies Auxiliary was out in force.

An open air bus for some of the older fellows.

POWs and MIAs are not forgotten. 

The Bozeman High School Marching Band was out full force in their spiffy new uniforms playing patriotic music. Bozeman is a great music town. It starts in the grade schools, where every public school 5th grader takes up learning to play a musical instrument. The middle and high schools have large and varied music programs. The maestro of the local symphony orchestra will be appearing in Carnegie Hall next week. Most weekdays he can be found on the Bridger Creek Golf course where he stands out from the rest with his rhythmically smooth and syrupy swing. The Gibson manufacturing facility off of 19th Avenue produces the guitar maker's acoustical instruments. Not bad for a town of about 40,000 people.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

When It Rain It Pours

We are having an eighth straight day of rain here in Bozeman. While I doubt that is a record it is certainly the longest stretch of precipitation in the three years I've resided in the Treasure State. That, plus the eight days of snow we had in April, will go a long way towards making up for a below normal winter snowpack. 

Meanwhile, to the south, to say the rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma has been drought busting is to put it mildly. Portions of neighboring Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas and nearby Nebaraska have been inundated as well.

Here is the scoop on the record setting month as reported by the Weather Channel.

In Pursuit of May Rainfall Records 

    From Colorado and Nebraska to Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, several cities have already seen one of their wettest Mays on record. Here's a look at where things stand right now.
    Amarillo, Texas – 9.26 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, making it the second-wettest May on record. The all-time record is 9.81 inches in May 1951.
    Austin (Camp Mabry), Texas – Extremely heavy rainfall Monday dumped 5.20 inches of rain at Camp Mabry, lifting Austin to its wettest May on record. The rain tally is 16.72 inches of rain through May 27, making it by far the wettest May on record, topping the old record of 14.10 inches in May 1895. It's also the third wettest month on record. September 1921, with 20.78 inches, leads the pack for the city's wettest month.
    Corpus Christi, Texas – Rainfall in May 2015 is 13.41 inches through May 27, which is well beyond the previous May record of 10.44 inches that was set in 1941. A total of 4.56 inches fell on Thursday to clinch the record. Amazingly, just nine days prior, exactly 4.56 inches of rain also fell in the city. May 12 and May 21 are now tied as the third-wettest May days in the city's weather records.
    According to senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen, May 2015 now exceeds Corpus Christi's total rainfall for the entire drought-parched year of 2011, which was only 12.06 inches.
    Houston, Texas – 13.59 inches of rain has fallen through May 27 at Bush Intercontinental Airport on the city's north side, pushing it to fifth place among the city's wettest Mays. The record wet May there is 15.87 inches in 1907. 
    Lubbock, Texas – 8.41 inches of rain has fallen through May 26, making it Lubbock's second-wettest May on record. The total would have to rise to 12.69 inches to claim the title for the wettest May. According to the National Weather Service, the last time it rained 8 inches or more in a month in Lubbock was September 2008 with 8.70 inches.
    Wichita Falls, Texas – May 2015 became the wettest month on record in this northern Texas city early Friday afternoon, May 22, when the city's month-to-date total reached 13.33 inches as of 1:11 p.m. CDT. That broke the record for May and for any month on the calendar, both set in May 1982 with 13.22 inches. Through May 27, the May total has reached 14.53 inches.
    According to the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, May 2015's rainfall in Wichita Falls exceed that from the previous six Mays combined - 13.41 inches.
    Oklahoma City – Oklahoma's capital reached a month-to-date total of 14.53 inches at 5:56 p.m. CDT Saturday, breaking its all-time May rainfall record of 14.52 inches in 2013. Only 21 minutes later, the city broke its June 1989 record of 14.66 inches to become the wettest month in Oklahoma City history. An extremely heavy downpour followed with more than 2 inches of rain.
    Oklahoma City's new all-time record monthly rainfall total cracked the 19-inch mark Wednesday, reaching 19.12 inches through May 27. This is more than the average precipitation over a five-month period from March through July (18.68 inches).
    Tulsa, Oklahoma – The city's May total is 12.09 inches through May 27, making it the second-wettest May on record. The record of 18.00 inches in May 1943 will be a tough one to beat.
    Fort Smith, Arkansas – This western Arkansas city has now recorded its wettest month in history with 18.34 inches of rain through May 27. This broke the previous record of 15.02 inches in June 1945. Several days ago, Fort Smith surpassed its May record of 13.67 inches from 1943.
    Wichita, Kansas – The largest city in Kansas topped the 10-inch mark Saturday thanks to heavy rainfall. Through May 27, the city's month-to-date total was 11.69 inches, making it the second-wettest May on record. The standing record for May is 13.14 inches in 2008.
    Lincoln, Nebraska – 10.83 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, ranking as the wettest May in the Nebraska capital, topping the previous wettest May record of 10.72 inches set in 1903.
    Valentine, Nebraska – 7.07 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, ranking as the third-wettest May. The current record wettest May of 8.96 inches was set in 1962.
    Colorado Springs, Colorado – 7.66 inches of rain at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport through May 27 ranks as the second-wettest May on record. The wettest May was in 1935 when 8.10 inches was recorded. Interestingly, several co-operative and volunteer observation sites only a few miles west of the airport have picked up 10 to 12 inches of rain this month.
    Of the first 27 days of May, 21 have had measurable precipitation (.01 inch or greater) at the Colorado Springs airport; that is an all-time record. Five other days have had a trace of precipitation, and only one has been completely dry.
    Pueblo, Colorado – A total of 5.17 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, making it the second wettest May on record. The wettest May was in 1957 when 5.43 inches was measured.
    Every day since May 5 – that's 23 straight days as of this writing – has brought at least 4 inches of rainfall to at least one location in the state of Texas, according to CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. At least 100 of the volunteer network's 1,699 reporting sites in Texas have recorded at least 10 inches of rain this month. The wettest of all has been Pottsboro, near Lake Texoma along the Oklahoma-Texas border with a total of 22.70 inches through May 27.
    Oklahoma has also taken a drenching this month, with month-to-date totals topping 10 inches across much of the southern half of the state. One CoCoRaHS site northeast of Norman has reported 25.88 inches of rain since May 1 
    Among other states in the May rainy zone, top month-to-date totals by state include 19.75 inches near Uniontown in northwest Arkansas; 16.59 inches near Ruston in northern Louisiana; 13.73 inches in the Ivywild neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado; 12.85 inches near Fairbury in southeast Nebraska; 14.33 inches southeast of Topeka, Kansas; and 12.87 inches in Plattsburgh, Missouri near Kansas City.

    The totals are prodigious. They would make Noah and his two-by-two legions proud. Here is the full size Texas and Oklahoma 30-day precipitation map. 

    Saturday, May 23, 2015

    Harms Woods, Glen View Club and the North Shore and Western Railway

    The North Shore and Western is still there -- remnants thereof that is.

    When we blogged on the first quarter century of Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois, one of the coolest discoveries was the find that the club was once served by a trolley or streetcar line that ran 3.75 miles from the club grounds to Evanston, where the bulk of the membership resided at that time. The line jutted through Harms Woods across the East Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River, and then paralleled Old Orchard/Harrison Road into Evanston. The single track system comprised a streetcar, a snow plow and two employees. It was operated for the convenience of the membership and transported employees and caddies, as well as whatever members of the sparse population who lived along the route desired. It took Evanston picnickers to Harms Woods too. The streetcar line operated between 1907 and 1933, when improved roads and rapidly increasing automobile ownership made it obsolete. 

    We identified the right of way's route by reviewing old maps,
    USGS 1953 topographic map showing Glen View Club, Harms Woods and the North Shore and Western right of way.
     and aerial photos,
    Aerial image of Glen View Club and Harms Woods, 1939, showing North Shore and Western right of way across top.
    and satellite images.
    Satellite vuew of Glen View Club and Harms Woods, 2005, faint image of North Shore and Western right of way across top.
    Looking for more evidence, we put out an "all cameras" bulletin.
    From the North Branch trail, which runs just west of the river, it would be straightforward to explore the old right of way, and, identify, perhaps, what remains in the way of old ties, rails or earthworks. I would not be surprised if footings of the trolley bridge over the river remain visible as well. These explorations I cannot perform from Bozeman, Montana, so I can only hope an intrepid reader will do so, and photograph and report on what they find.
    Brian is past President of the Professional Photographers Association 
    of Northern Illinois, and is a member of the Professional 
    Photographers of America , the American Society of Photographers
     and the Associated Professional Photographers of Illinois.
    Sure enough, Brian Morrison, an intrepid professional photographer working out of Northbrook, Illinois, responded. Brian found time in between weddings and commercial photo shoots to reconnoiter Harms Woods off of Old Orchard Road and the North Branch trail, searching for remains of the old right of way. He reports
    After a trip to Harms Wood this afternoon, I was looking for more info on the NS&W and came across your blog. There are definitely visible remnants of the line. I had done the same recon with old and new aerial photos that you did, and came to the same conclusion - that research onsite was necessary.
    Brian found berms that were built up to raise the right of way above the marshy bottom land, remnants of concrete piers and footings, and areas layered with stone aggregate. Here are several of his photos.

    Remnants of concrete pier, single wooden bridge/trestle support post embedded, east side of river, short view.
    Remnants of concrete pier, single wooden bridge/trestle support post embedded, east side of river, long view
    Path trod on right of way berm extending between river and North Branch trail.
    Concrete footing embedded in berm.  
    Another concrete remnant.
    Brian reports no evidence of rails or ties was found. He surmises the rails were scrapped to support the World War II war effort. That thought is fitting for those who we honor for giving their lives for our country this Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to Brian and thanks to those men and women.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Morton Grove During the Baby Boom: Carl Eckhardt, His Filling Station and the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters

    We wax nostalgic in our Morton Grove history posts. The research is fun and interesting. The posts are pretty popular too. So I've been poking around, looking for fresh material on Morton Grove people, places and things from the "old days" suitable for research and writing. 

    It is an easy call to work toward a post or posts about the Poehlmann Bros. greenhouse operation, but not for today. The firm opened in Morton Grove in 1887 and was a major local employer until it succumbed to the Great Depression. Poehlman Bros. was a sprawling, nationally known and immensely successful business, at its peak said to be "the largest of its kind in existence." 

    Ad in the Evening Times (Grand Forks N. Dak.), November 13, 1911. "We are distributors for this territory for the famous Poehlmann Bros. Co, the largest, most modern, best equipped flower growing establishment in the world, employing the most skilled workmen and producing flowers that command the patronage of the most critical public, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Winnipeg to New Orleans.
    There is a mountain of accessible research material on Poehlmann Bros. It will take quite some time to sift through the materials and organize thoughts. In the meantime I've been looking for projects that can be digested and presented in more readily manageable chunks.

    So I poked around looking for 1950s and 1960s material on Morton Grove public schools, especially District 70 and Park View School, which I attended, hoping to find newsworthy items. I used the name "Eckhardt" in a few searches, keying off of Edward E. Eckhardt, who was superintendent of schools and unquestioned authority during my nine years (K through 8) at Park View. Entering "Eckhardt" together with "Morton Grove" in search engines turned up plenty of hits in the news clipping services. But very little was on Edward. Almost everything was on his brother Carl. Some of the best finds are accidental. 

    There are dozens of reports on Carl's decade long standoff with the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters. The brotherhood was an irresistible force. It encountered a man who was an immovable object.

    Brother Carl and his modest two pump gas station on the northeast corner of Austin and Lincoln avenues, stood toe-to-toe against the the teamsters union. The union local he took on was so tough that it prevailed time and again in internal turf battles fought against the Jimmy Hoffa led national union. Carl insisted on principle. The teamsters insisted on dues and more dues. Carl withstood pressures that made his competitors wilt. Litigation and lobbying ensued. The resulting publicity revealed Carl's mettle and exposed the seedy side of the United States labor union movement. 

    Sunday, May 17, 2015

    Horsing Around

    One of the cool things about living in Montana, is you will be driving along East Main Street, look up and see this!

    Government Weather Data Are So Accurate

    We have had drenching rains in the southwest Montana valleys the last day or so and much welcomed accretion to snow packs at elevation. Here is the southerly ridge view locally at Bridger Bowl this morning. 

    I wanted to know just how much rainfall we have had so I looked to the National Weather Service report.

    ASUS65 KTFX 171545
     945 AM MDT SUN MAY 17 2015
     :                                       YDAY 12-HR 24-HR  24-HR  SNOW
     :ID    STATION          ELEV            HIGH  LOW   PCPN   SNFL DEPTH
     BHK  : BAKER MUNI APT   2929 :           71 /  48 / 0.05 /      /    
     BIL  : BILLINGS LOGAN   3567 :           61 /  43 / 0.29 /      /   M
     BZN  : BOZEMAN YELL APT 4475 :           50 /  40 / 0.34 /      /   0
     BTM  : BUTTE MOONEY APT 5700 :           45 /  38 / 0.44 /      /
     CTB  : CUT BANK MUNI AP 3838 :           51 /  36 / 0.71 /      /   0
     DLN  : DILLON AIRPORT   5200 :           47 /  39 / 0.79 /      /   0
     GGW  : GLASGOW WOKAL AP 2285 :           51 /  45 / 0.60 /  0.0 /   0
     GDV  : GLENDIVE AIRPORT 2457 :           64 /  46 / 0.53 /      /    
     GTF  : GREAT FALLS APT  3664 :           47 /  41 / 1.25 /  0.0 /   0
     HVR  : HAVRE AIRPORT    2585 :           52 /  41 / 0.72 /  0.0 /   0
     HLN  : HELENA AIRPORT   3828 :           49 /  43 / 0.80 /  0.0 /   0
     JDN  : JORDAN AIRPORT   2662 :           55 /  46 / 0.63 /      /    
     GPI  : KALISPELL GLAC   1865 :           66 /  47 /    T /    M /   M
     LWT  : LEWISTOWN APT    4145 :           49 /  42 / 1.01 /      /   0
     LVM  : LIVINGSTON APT   4653 :           55 /  40 / 0.72 /  0.0 /   0
     MLS  : MILES CITY APT   2628 :           68 /  48 / 0.07 /      /
     MSO  : MISSOULA AIRPORT 3202 :           58 /  45 / 0.00 /  0.0 /   0
     SDY  : SIDNEY AIRPORT   1985 :           59 /  46 / 0.76 /      /    
     OLF  : WOLF POINT APT   1980 :           56 /  45 / 0.94 /      /  

    According to the vaunted United States Weather Service the 24 hour rainfall through 0945 this morning at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport was 0.34 inches. Oh hell. During the time alone that we shivered through the lacrosse game last night we got that much rain. Anyone who has stuck their head outside during the last 24 hours knows that the Weather Service reading is aburd.

    Then I looked at the rainfall reports for the amateur stations around town. 

     BOZEMAN AGRIMET               08 AM SUN     1.03    
       BOZEMAN WHEATLAND WU          12 AM SUN     0.17    
       BOZEMAN BAXTER MEADOWS WU     12 AM SUN     1.59    
       BOZEMAN S COTTONWOOD WU       12 AM SUN     0.13    
       BOZEMAN GAMTRELL 10ESE DNET   09 AM SUN     1.17    
       BOZEMAN TAYABOSHOCK 3SE DNET  09 AM SUN     0.95    
       BOZEMAN BRIDGER MOUNTAIN 6NE  09 AM SUN     0.96    
       BOZEMAN 1SSE MSU WU           08 AM SUN     1.36    
       BOZEMAN HYALIT 6SW WU         09 AM SUN     1.08    
       BOZEMAN TAYABESHOCKUP 3SE WU  09 AM SUN     1.02    
       BOZEMAN WHEATLAND WU          09 AM SUN     1.04    
       BZN SCOTTONWOOD WU            09 AM SUN     0.62    
       BOZEMAN WHEATLAND WU          09 AM SUN     1.04    
       BOZEMAN ROUSE WU              09 AM SUN     1.12    
       BOZEMAN BON TON WU            09 AM SUN     1.08    
       BOZEMAN FG WU                 09 AM SUN     0.83    
       BOZEMAN S BLACK 4.1WSW WU     09 AM SUN     0.87 

    A couple of stations have readings that are obviously in error. But the Tayebeshockup station, which is a mile or so up the road from us, measured rainfall of 1.02 inches. Baxter Meadows which is out towards the airport, rings in at 1.59 inches. For our area, which averages about 16 inches of precipitation annually, those are very significant rain totals.

    Here is what the Billings Gazette reported locally. 

    Steady precipitation since Friday dropped over an inch of water on Billings and set a daily record for rainfall in Livingston.
    The National Weather Service office in Billings logged a daily rainfall total of 1.32 inches in Livingston for Saturday, shattering the old record of .74 inches set on May 16, 1977, Meteorologist Brian Tesar said.
    The precipitation from the three-day storm was heaviest in the Yellowstone Valley area.
    “Generally, the heaviest rainfall fell from Livingston to Park City,” Tesar said
    By Sunday afternoon, Friday’s storm had dropped 4 inches of rain in Reed Point and 3.1 inches near Greyclff..
    In Billings, totals ranged from 1.13 to 1.74 inches. Big Timber received 2.68 inches of rain, 1.8 inches fell in Red Lodge and Ryegate got 1.73 inches.:

    Let's hear it for NOAA. Welcome to systemic bias. The United States government is thy name.