So much to see – so little time by Bob Karolevitz Grafton, Illinois (delayed) � A notable industry here is the R & R Worm Farm, advertising �Worm Castings, the Best Dirt in town.�
Which reminds me, we had lots of political discussions at the 50th annual conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors � which was the reason why we�ve been here in the first place. (I qualified as a columnist.)
The four-day meeting was held in the Pere Marquette lodge, a beautiful facility built in the 1930s by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
I thought it was a Republican-leaning organization, but in a special ISWNE poll John Kerry beat George W. Bush for the presidency 63 to 10. Ralph Nader got two votes.
But in answering the question about whom would you like to interview on a one-on-one basis, Bush edged Kerry 29 to 27, while Nader was chosen on 10 ballots.
One of the conference speakers, incidentally, was U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who had nice things to say about Tom Daschle. But so much for politics!
We had a bus tour which took us to the government locks at Alton, which controls barging on the Mississippi. We learned in one of our sessions that South Dakota doesn�t have lakes behind our dams, but reservoirs.
The speaker, of course, represented the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and she favored shipping over recreational and environmental concerns.
A highlight of the conference was a visit to the Elijah P. Lovejoy monument, an imposing spire in the Alton cemetery. In case you didn�t know, Lovejoy was an abolitionist editor who was murdered by a mob while defending his printing press back in 1837.
He�s sort of the patron saint of newspaper people, the first martyr to the freedom of the press in the U.S.
After the meeting we visited Phyllis�s relatives in the St. Louis area. Thanks to a cousin and his wife � Loren and Alice Gunderson � we were kept sightseeingly busy for four days.
We saw Cats in the magnificent outdoor Muny theater; we toured the flower-bedecked Anheuser-Busch brewery (Phyllis got to see Clydesdale horses close up � they�re bigger than her miniatures); we made a short stop at the prehistoric Cahokia Mounds; and, of course, we went to the famous 630-foot Gateway Arch, where we gawked a lot, but I couldn�t get my wife to ride to the top of it.
I was especially impressed by a side trip to see the life-size statue of Robert Wadlow, who at a shade under nine feet was the tallest person in the world. He would have been a heck of a basketball center.
On the way back to South Dakota, we stopped at Abraham Lincoln�s restored New Salem village to refresh our memories of the 16th president. I had forgotten that he signed the Homestead Act into law in 1862, a fact so important in our state�s history.
Oh, there was much, much more for us to absorb on our trip � but one of the things I learned at the ISWNE editorial critique was: Keep it short, stupid! And so this report will be necessarily brief.
All in all, it was an enjoyable time, but � once again � it�s good to be home.
� 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz