Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rhyme Time – What the Heck is a Calaboose?

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

Two years ago in Iowa,
On a beautiful summer’s day,
Ruth hoped to find a calaboose
And tried to point the way.

“A calaboose? What’s that?” I asked;
Ruth smiled as she replied,
“It’s like a prison or a jail,
To hold bad folks inside.”

So through the town we slowly drove,
Looking left and right,
We stretched our necks, Ruth checked her notes,
But no calaboose in sight.

“Maybe it’s not in town,” I said.
“We’d better ask someone.
Otherwise, we’ll waste our time,
And search ‘til the setting sun.

So I asked a woman who jokingly said,
“Do you have a relative there?”
Then she told us we’d passed it a minute ago
And started to tell me where.

“Go back one block and take a right,
You’ll see some kids playing near,
And maybe if we locked THEM up,
There'd be more peace around here.”

The woman was only kidding, of course,
And the jail was easy to find;
It was made of stone with a rounded top,
For our collection, the first of its kind.

It looked empty inside and was locked up tight,
As it was at the time of its use,
And I no longer needed to wonder and ask,
“What the heck is a calaboose?”

Happy Shunpiking!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quick Pic - Those Crazy Cows

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

On a trip to Iowa in 2011, Joann and I pulled off the highway to stretch our legs and find a restroom. As we stopped at the gas station, we saw this crazy cow sitting on the corner of the hotel parking lot next door.

She stood on a trailer, so she probably gets around to parades and other celebrations. She might be crazy, but she sure looks happy!

Then, early this spring, as Joann and I drove through Illinois on our way to Ohio, we came across this cow at a mailbox.

It must give the mailman, and many other people, a smile every day. It certainly did that for us!

Happy shunpiking!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Confederate Rest

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

Beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2015, many sites around the country are commemorating the Civil War and its battles. One of the most famous, the Battle of Gettysburg, was commemorated this year at the beginning of July.

On Memorial Day of this year, Joann and I decided to visit the northernmost Confederate Cemetery. We didn’t have far to drive. The cemetery, called “Confederate Rest,” lies within Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was a Union State and no battles were fought here during the Civil War. So how did this Confederate cemetery end up here?

Camp Randall, although now known for the Wisconsin Badgers football team, was originally the site of the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. With the outbreak of the Civil War, it became a U.S. Army camp for the training and organizing of Wisconsin militia. More than 70,000 recruits were trained there.

In the spring of 1862, the camp was surprised to learn that some 1300 prisoners would be heading their way. A corner of the camp was stockaded and numerous wooden frame huts were built to house the prisoners.

The prisoners were brought to Wisconsin after the Battle of Island Number Ten, which no longer exists. It was located near what today is called the New Madrid Bend, south of Cairo, Illinois.

When the prisoners were brought to Madison, many were suffering from battle wounds, malnutrition, and various diseases. They arrived on April 20th and 24th of 1862, with many townspeople turning out at the train station to get a glimpse of their arrival. The second train of men included many who were severely ill, and over the next four weeks at least several died each day until 145 had died.

There are 140 graves at Confederate Rest that are marked by name and regiment. It is said there are also 5 unmarked graves of the unknown. The men were buried far from their homes and families in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

In 1868, Alice Waterman, a widow who had been born in Louisiana and had lived most of her life in the north, moved to Madison. She did not know any of the soldiers buried at Confederate Rest. Even so, she took a great deal of interest in the cemetery, removing weeds, improving the landscape, and placing new headboards on the graves. She did all of this at her own expense.

When Alice Waterman died in 1897, she was buried at her request in the same plot as the men whose graves she had tended, but had never known. She always referred to them as “my boys.”

The Camp Randall Memorial Arch was dedicated in 1912 and serves as the entrance to the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Park. The arch is flanked by two statues; one an enlisted soldier, and one an officer. They have no names as they represent all of Wisconsin’s Civil War soldiers. Down the street from the arch is one of the prisoner stockades.

If you’re ever in Madison, visit Confederate Rest at Forest Hill Cemetery, the Memorial Arch, or view the single remaining stockade.

Happy Shunpiking!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

“Market Square”

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

In June, I published a blog post about the “Rivermen” mural in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, which we visited in September, 2012. After photographing that mural, Ruth and I located the largest of the many murals that were painted for the community by muralist Kelly Meredith.

This mural stretches across two sides of a brick building located on the square and it shows the activity on the market square in the early part of the twentieth century. It was inspired by a postcard photograph of Stock Fair Day in 1911.

In days gone by, Market Square was a meeting place for loggers and other early townspeople. Today, it serves as a marketplace for local farmers who sell fresh produce every Saturday morning from May through October.

Kelly painted this mural in 2006 between Memorial Day and Labor Day, finishing it in time for the Annual “Dozynki” (Polish Thanksgiving) Harvest Fest. This might seem like enough of a feat for a muralist to accomplish, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that she captured the faces of 130 different Stevens Point residents from the past and the present.

According to a local news story, Kelly said she wanted the community to take pride in local individuals from Stevens Point. She considered her artwork to be taking local history to a more intimate level by honoring actual people who ran or are currently running local businesses.

In order to raise funds for the project, faces were “for sale,” and community residents provided photos of friends and family members to be honored as a member of the crowd depicted in the mural.

Now, for a little fun, let’s play a game of “Where’s Waldo” (aka “Where’s Joann”). I am actually in three of the photos in this blog post. Did you notice me in any of the previous photos? After taking several photos of the mural that day, I left my camera on the tripod, started the timer, and ran into the scene to have my picture taken with the townspeople in the mural. I did this several times.

Near one end of the mural, there is a back door to a local tavern. As I went back and forth from the camera to the mural, people who were coming and going through that back door were entertained by my shenanigans and were watching me closely.

Did you find all three photos where I inserted myself? If not, you might have to click on the photos to bring them up in a larger size. You will then be in the photo gallery and will have to hit the back button on your browser to return to this blog post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this story and my little game. If you’re ever in Stevens Point, make it a point to visit this wonderful mural, which is located in the downtown Public Square.

Happy Shunpiking!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!