Thursday, January 30, 2014

And Then There Were None

It was Mark Twain who observed that the promise of a tale to be told is too frequently lost in the telling.
"As the lecturer remarked, this whole region is blanketed with Indian tales and traditions.  But I reminded him that people usually merely mentioned this fact--doing it in a way to make a body's mouth water--and judiciously stopped there.  Why?  Because the impression left was that these tales were full of incident and imagination--a pleasant impression which would be promptly dissipated if the tales were told."*
At this stage of the telling of the history of the Sloan family on the Arkansas, one discovers that indeed the promise has been fulfilled to the extent that it may be done.  For to continue would require the telling of the fortunes of this Jason Sloan, great grandson of Jason Sloan, the progenitor of the line.

Truly, there are tales best left untold.

*Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, chapter 59. 

© 2014 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

America's Folk Singer

Pete Seeger, May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014 RIP

Monday, January 27, 2014

Global Disaster

Mark Twain was wise beyond the age in which he lived, and vain about it, too.  But it is truly amazing the insights he had; and his succinct writing is a perpetual model for logic of thought and clarity of expression.  Behold, how this passage written about 135 years ago is yet today a highly accurate picture of "scientific" projection as it exists in this twenty-first century!

-----And in umpteen thousand years the planet will no longer be capable of sustaining life.

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, chapter 17.

Some day I might like to share Mr. Clemens's understanding of monetary policy and the economy.  He nailed it in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, but I fear we have ignored the message much too long.  Perhaps I'll forego the post.  Spitting into the wind.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

More Winter Wonders

Winter Sunset

Wind Carving on Concrete

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tipton County

The wind is hootin' and howlin'.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sloan: Higher Up the River

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, Jason Sloan spent much time in Western Arkansas.  He was enthralled with his grandson, Marshall, and the boy adored his Grandpa.  Sloan’s wife had died only five years after her youngest child, Lewis, left home.  John Sloan graduated with honors from Princeton, took his JD from Harvard Law.  He married extremely well, remained in the East and became one of New Jersey’s leading lawyers.  He was later elected to the United States Congress.  He had no children.

Jason’s daughter, as we might have predicted, married old money from the Deep South.  She lived in New Orleans the rest of her life.  She had one child, a son.  This story is not about him.

Marshall Sloan had taken an early interest in mineralogy, and from the time he was seven years of age, he and his grandfather took extended camping trips to the Pencil Bluff area, searching for and studying the minerals to be found in that region.  It was good that these fellows had this time together, for in June 1901, at the age of 78, Jason Sloan, once known on the Great River as Geoffrey John Slade, played his last hand. Marshall, thirteen years old at the time, took this loss very hard; but his interest in all things mineral continued.

 In 1906 Marshall matriculated at Colorado School of Mines where he pursued formal studies in his beloved field.  For the rest of his life, he was given to telling one and all that “the years I spent in Golden were the key to my happiness.”  Indeed, it was at Mines that Marshall met Jacqueline Boyce who was to become his wife.  Miss Boyce matriculated as a civil engineering student when Marshall was in his junior year.  Though she finished only two years due to her decision to marry Mr. Sloan, she was a brilliant woman and a strong help-meet to her husband.  Mr. Sloan’s in-depth studies of metallurgy and chemistry positioned him well for the career that he envisioned.  Marshall graduated in the Spring of 1910 .  He was immediately hired by Colorado Fuel and Iron.  He moved to Pueblo and went to work at once.  He was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the first coke furnaces in the Pueblo works.  These went into service in 1916.  The successes Mr. Sloan had in his endeavors could only insure his future, and a stellar career he had.

In addition to achievement of success in his own right, which seems to have followed this line of the Sloan family down through the generations, we should note that the original Slade/Sloan progenitor disposed of his enormous financial holdings in a most interesting way.  His wife predeceased him, his children were all financially well-fixed.  So, naming each of his children, Jason bequeathed to each one dollar.  The balance of his estate, then, was to be divided equally three ways.  One third to Marshall, one-third to the Louisiana grandson, and the remaining third to establish and support “in perpetuity” a river transportation museum to be devoted to the conservation of the history of the role of the riverboat in America’s development.

For the purposes of our story,  it is sufficient to note that Marshall Sloan was an extremely wealthy man.  Jacqueline and Marshall had but one child, Jason, whom they named after Marshall’s beloved grandfather. We met Jason earlier as Uncle Jep spun one of this yarns in which we learned that Nancy Woodson was the object of one of  Uncle Mack’s daydreams, but she married Jason Sloan.  Uncle said, “You recollect the Sloans.”  Indeed, everyone on the Upper Arkansas knows the Sloans.  Today, there is scarce a charitable endeavor in the Valley which does not have the names and some of the money of Marshall and Jacqueline Sloan.

Text© 2014 David W. Lacy

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Love Letter

from the People.

A pox on both your houses.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Double Aggravaton

When a shirt is placed on a hanger the top button must be fastened.
--Rules of the Laundry According to She Who Must Be Obeyed.

I do not fasten the top shirt button when I wear the shirt, yet I must follow this protocol which inflicts double aggravation upon me, to wit, the aggravation of buttoning the button when the shirt is hangered and the further grief I experience when I want to wear the shirt and have to unfasten the thing.

One might think, quite incorrectly as it turns out, that the fact that I do laundry, fold clothes, and hang shirts and trousers would be quite enough.  No-o-o.  I must do it according to the rules as established by SWMBO.

Really, I have no room for complaint, for even as I record this little diatribe, she prepares my dinner. Were it not for her cooking, I'd pretty much be reduced to canned soup and cold-cut sandwiches. And her cooking is well-worth the effort it takes for me to button a couple of collars.  And then some.

Thank you, BBBH!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sloan: The Second Generation

By 1871, Jason Sloan, considered to be one of Little Rock’s finest citizens, had amassed a small fortune in his business of real estate development, along with several shrewd investments in various enterprises in the state.  He performed his business duties with the same acumen which had made him a successful operator on the River.  His charm continued to be one of his greatest assets.  He had also by this time a beautiful wife, daughter of a state senator, who had stood beside him for these past ten years and had given him three excellent children, two boys and a girl.

There were those who would have avidly supported Sloan had he chosen to run for governor, and there were those who encouraged him to do just that.  But as we have seen, Jason was a shrewd individual.  He knew that power is exercised not in the offices where the titled people operate, but in the backrooms by people such as himself, bright, charming, moneyed, and incidentally, ruthless.  He exercised his power in this fashion, and by 1880 nothing moved in the State of Arkansas without Sloan’s imprimatur.  His elder son, John, was in his third year at Princeton, his daughter, Melissa,  who was just this season presented to society seemed poised to be the next “Belle of the South.”  His younger son, Lewis, at a mere sixteen years of age, decided that enough was too much and he departed for parts unknown.  Sloan himself would say, “Two out of three is not bad.”  But underneath this apparent cavalier attitude was the breaking heart of a loving father.  And, of course, with his resources, and unbeknownst to Lewis, Jason was aware of every move the boy made, knew exactly where he was and with whom he was associating.

Following only so far in his father’s footsteps, Lewis boarded a riverboat bound upstream to Fort Smith.  Lewis, though, did not undertake any form of gambling or graft, for what he lacked in guile, he made up for in ambition and raw physical work.  He traveled as a hand on the boat, chucking wood, firing boilers and generally taking sharp orders of the sort he would have resented had they come from his father.  He made two runs from Little Rock to Fort Smith, then decided that life on the river was not a career option.  He worked on the docks in Fort Smith, he worked in the livery, and wherever or for whomever he worked it was remarked that he was a go-getter.

Lewis Sloan had arrived in Fort Smith at a propitious time for an ambitious young man.  It was a mere five years earlier that Isaac Parker, later renowned far and wide, was named to the bench at the Federal District Court.  He, along with the federal marshals and other law enforcement officers, was “cleaning up” a heretofore lawless region, including not only Northwestern Arkansas, but also the Indian Territory across the River.  The decade of the 80s was a boom time for Fort Smith.  The population more than tripled to about 12,000 souls.  In June of 1886, a packet arrived with a shipment of goods, including industrial machinery, but the man to whom it was addressed was no where to be found.  The captain of the boat ordered the stuff unloaded on the dock.  Lewis was in the right place at the right time.  With his connections at the livery, he was able to obtain horses and drays with which to move the equipment, and with his small savings he rented a building, not much more than a shed, but with a roof overhead.  There he placed his find, and his road to riches, while not yet paved, certainly was under construction.  His business grew with the town.

Steamboat 'City of Muskogee' on Arkansas River

Lewis married, of course, as young men, given the opportunity, will do.  Sally Ford had arrived in Fort Smith by train, the railroad having arrived there a decade earlier.  Her father was a furniture manufacturer from Philadelphia, and he was in town to establish a western branch of his company.   It was only natural that a manufacturer in need of equipment was going to deal with Lewis Sloan, and one thing led to another.

Marshall Sloan was born in 1888.  His parents had just seen their twenty-fourth birthdays, yet he was the only child born to the union.  A family reunion, one in which Jason Sloan was privileged to meet this new grandchild, took place in 1891, when the elder Sloan came to Fort Smith to study the possibility of establishing a glass factory.  The recent discovery of gas made that a possibility, and  it was done, but more importantly, the splintered family was reconciled.

Text © 2014 David W. Lacy

Monday, January 13, 2014

Conversation with Random People: Eleven

It is not always the case that a random conversation is funny.  One might be enlightening, yet convey information that, while true, is not the sort of thing we want to know.  But we may need to know. Some conversations are heart-rending.

The essentials of this story are true.  Of necessity identities are masked.

Spouse and I were in the local eatery, seated in a booth.  The person approached the table, beaming smile on face, reached out and touched me on the left arm.  I spoke this person's name, said, "It's good to see you!"  The response was, "I can't remember your name."

The individual was an employee and confidante for many years.  We shared office space.  We worked together to achieve common goals.  I mentioned that we had worked together a long time.  "Oh," was the response, "I know that.  I know who you are, I just can't remember your name.  I have Alzheimer's and it is quite troublesome, sometimes."

At this point my spouse came to the rescue of these two long-time friends and introduced me by name.  "Oh, yes.  Of course.  It is good to see you again."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Is "Squash" spelled ess-cue-you-ay-ess-aitch?

One of the blessings we have in being housebound during the recent snow/cold event is the time for games.  Scrabble is the favorite, though we have been known to do Phase 10, SkipBo, and Rummikub.

It has been Scrabble for the most part this past week.
After supper as I finished redding up, BBBH said, "Wanna play a game?"  I said, "Sure."  I should have turned and noted the fire in her eye.  For we settled into the game, and it was soon clear that she was playing with a "Take No Prisoners" approach.

Usually our scores are fairly close, each of us scoring in the 300 to 330 range.  While she wins her share, imo, I had won perhaps three previous games in a row.  

She crushed me.  Final score:  BBBH - 394; vanilla - 232.

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. --Proverbs 16:18  KJV

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Warming now, and the temperature is above the freezing point, 34o.  This is a pleasing development.  Pictures are included for those guys and gals who love the "beautiful snow."

Back to the house.

The coming rainfall is almost certain to create more problems.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Riverboating #T

For four years Geoffrey John Slade had plied the Lower Mississippi riverboat game.  Early in the game he had moved from boat to boat, practicing his con games and his prowess at the card tables.  Slade traveled unarmed.  In the 1850s this was virtually unheard of.  No revolver, no derringer, and he never so much as carried a knife.  His theory was that charm defused any situation, and his practice of this theory proved to be effective.

In June of 1853, though, Slade’s fortunes increased immeasurably when he settled on Grand Turk as his more-or-less permanent home.  This riverboat had a capacity of 4400 bales of cotton.  She carried forty stateroom passengers, and hoi polloi in numbers up to 300 passengers, depending upon direction of travel and time of year.  The boat plied the Great River from New Orleans to Memphis, and up the Ohio to Louisville.  Slade was good at what he did.  It was clear, though, that things were about to change in this country.  Differences of opinion, philosophy, and differences in theories of economic practice and human relations between the North and the South were stretching things to the breaking point.  Old Geoff did a bit of reflection and personal analysis.  He is 31 years of age, has no roots and nothing to look forward to but ceaseless trips up and down the river.  He made a plan, a bold and daring plan, but one that if successful would see him into a new and different lifestyle.

Just before nine o’clock in the evening of January 17, 1854, Grand Turk pulled in to the landing at Napoleon, Arkansas where she picked up seven passengers for Vicksburg and New Orleans.  When she steamed from the wharf  an hour later, Geoffrey John Slade was no longer on board.  But this fact was not to be discovered until the great steamer was far, far down the river.  Meanwhile, Geoff with all his own worldly goods, that is, the clothes on his back and the hat and boots he wore, and one large carpet bag which contained the cash gains of the man’s gaming exploits in which he had recently done well, indeed.  In addition, the bag contained most of the cash that had lately been nestled inside the steamboat’s vault.  By the time it was discovered that the boat no longer carried its cash, Mr. Slade was many miles up the Arkansas on a small but fast packet that ran from the Mississippi to the interior of Arkansas.  The man’s good fortune, or guile, or good looks, or whatever combination of these it might have been, held fast as he settled in Little Rock. 

On February 6 that same year while at wharf in New Orleans, the Grand Turk, along with a dozen other craft, burned.  On that same day,  G. Jason Sloan opened a land office in downtown Little Rock.

© 2014 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Driveway Access

A couple of angels. My son, Delbert, sent his friend who had a front-loader. Cleared the driveway.  Thank you, kind people.

We are blessed.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Rules

 At the front entry.  The sidewalk is at the bottom of the yardstick.

All of yesterday's effort wasted.  Better hope there is no need to get a car out.

Please, no adjectives such as "beautiful" or any of its synonyms. 

Get the Horsie!

The Lady and her dog.

And it goes on and on.

We are house-bound now.  No way to go anywhere, and nothing to go anywhere for even if we could.  Everything is pretty much closed and no one is going anywhere. And cold!  You would not believe how cold it is.  Yes, you might, because you are probably experiencing this, too.  Stay safe.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rereading Psalm 23

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. --KJV

What exactly do we recognize here?  That we are sheep, docile, dense, helpless sheep whose existence depends entirely upon the Shepherd.

He feeds me, he leads me, he shields me from fear.

In this most recent reading, too, I recognized something I had not thought about before.  "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" may not necessarily refer to my own impending death, though I had always thought of it in that way.  He will drive from us the fear of evil as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death with a loved one who is preceding us in that walk.  

He is faithful in our want; He is faithful in our pain and sorrow.

Friday, January 3, 2014

There. . .

Christmas is put away.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hi, I'm Al of the Daily News #T

Did I tell you about the time your Uncle Alfred become a newspaper man?  Well, you know Uncle Al is your Mama's youngest brother 'n he was still to home after all the others done moved on to they own homes.  He was a bright one, though, an' he loved to read and write.  Now that, he taken after his mama, I reckon.  So when he's about twelve,  thirteen, he gets this idee to become a news reporter.  He start nosin' around the community, keepin' open his eyes and ears.  Whenever he hear somethin' or see somethin' he think is newsworthy, he goes and writes it up.

In the dinin' room is this big ol' oak table and smack in the middle of it, your grandma keep this big ol' marble slab, oh, 'bout a foot wide and twicet as long.  Musta weight twenty-five, thirty pound.  So anyways, Al would skootch the slab to the edge the table and use it as a desk for his writin'.  Grampa tole him, "You break that slab, we use it as a headstone for your new dug grave."  Well, it was a heirloom, doncha know.  Fambly tale was that it was one hunnert percent Eye-talian marble and that it come over from Europe with the first of the Harris settlers to this new land.  Hit had been in the fambly for at least seven generations, if nobody had lost count.

Well, Al keep his pencil sharp with his little pen knife, and after while he decide to contact the newspaper about workin' for them.  Now he din't just write off to the editor, neither.  No, sir.  He write the editor personal by name.  It were Everett Grimes over at the Lamar Daily News back then.  Al say he can keep the paper updated on important goin's on around Holly, and he sent along a sample a his work.

Well, ol' Grimes were some pleased with what he read, and he was impressed by the boy's gumption, so he writes back and tells the lad that if he submit a story each week, hit will be considered "on its merits" an' if it is published he will be paid a dollar.

Whut a deal!  Anyways, there was no holdin' the boy back now.  Soon ever'body in that corner the county knowed that Al was a reporter for the News.  An' bout ever' other week, his stuff got run in the paper.  Hit did.  An' that's how your uncle become a newspaper man.

'Course all good things come to an end, so they say.  Al's news career come to an end when he mail in a story to ol' Grimes about a good time had by local residents over to Coolidge.  The story mention a local school marm and  Banker Wills, whose wife, according to the story, was in Denver at the time of the alleged party.  Needless to say, the story did not make the cut at the newspaper, but it did boil Grimes's blood some.  Not only was Banker Wills the president of the bank in Holly, he was a state representative up to Denver, and he held some paper on a property Grimes had over to Springfield.  But that warn't what got Grimes a goin'.  The afore mentioned school marm was sister to Mrs. Grimes.

Well, Everett Grimes were a gentleman, an 'stead of jus' firin' Al outright, he get in his Essex and drive on over to Holly and look the boy up.  He explain to the lad in quite some detail whut newspaperin' is all about, what a reporter's responsibilities are.  How to tell news from, well, you get the idea.  Suggest maybe someday when he graduate school Al might come on over to Lamar and talk to him.

Then Grimes drive on over to the bank.

© 2014 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome, 2014!

"What are your New Year resolutions?" asked Beloved Beautiful .

"I'm not making any this year," I replied.

Silence. No response. Nothing. Nada. Nil. Zip. I turned a bit to look toward her. She wore a quizzical, nay, even puzzled look on her face. "What?" I said.

"Nothing," she replied. "I'm just trying to grasp the concept of being satisfied with that level of performance."


Happy New Year, Everyone!