Wednesday, July 31, 2013

August Begins 151 years Since Minnesota's Great Sioux Uprising of 1862

Background: Scale model of the gallows on which 38 Sioux warriors were hung on December 26, 1862. (Left) recreation of a commemorative lithograph picture of the hanging at Mankato, Minnesota.
(Right) recreation of the granite monument erected at North Front and Main Streets, Mankato Minnesota. The monument was there for decades until it disappeared during urban renewal in Mankato in the 1980's. Disappearance of the monument does not change what happened here. This was the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County" Chapter 2 - 1970's Americana

"Hawkins County" has a dual story line until well into the second act. You have already met Pat O'Connor, the delinquent teenage boy on the run from the law. The premise of his story line: Can Pat O'Connor continue to elude capture by law enforcement for probation violation? Now in chapter 2, you will meet Jack Johnson, a nerdy college student whose life becomes enmeshed with Pat O'Connor's in way the two can not yet imagine. This is the second story line and character development, with Jack Johnson being the antagonist to the protagonist Pat O'Connor.

The band just finished "The Limbo Rock" as the Hamm's beer clock registered twelve midnight. By now, Jack's reception was down to just Marianne, him, Dave, and Rosie Martin. Dave grew up with Jack; they were good friends ever since grade school and even were roommates for a while at the Frat House at college. Decked out as he was in his Green Beret dress uniform, Dave looked quite nifty at the graduation and now at the reception. He and Jack were reliving the Sister Mary Louise story. 

Sister Mary Louise, or Sister Louie, as the kids called her behind her back, taught physics at the high school Jack and Dave attended. One of Sister Louie's favorite times of the year was when she taught the chapter on static electricity. The nun would haul out this little hand cranked generator from someplace and run a long, bare wire off of it, then teach the textbook stuff like usual, but it was obvious she could hardly wait to get to the lab assignment. When her moment came, she had all the students line up and grab hold of the wire, which they, like the sheep they were, all did because Sister Louie told them to and because everybody knew nuns would never even think of doing anything to hurt you. They took a vow or something about that. She would make light banter as she started cranking the generator, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until it produced an electrical charge. The kids closest to the generator felt little more than a tingle as the current entered their bodies through one hand and exited back to the wire through the other, but the poor schmuck who was on the end of the wire, that was a different story. He had no way to pass the current on so instead, he grounded it and got enough of an electric shock to lift him right off the ground, or so it seemed. He would drop the wire and flop around, shaking his tingling hands in dismay. Sister Louie really enjoyed that part and it always made her cackle with delight. That Sister Louie, she was a character, all right. They laughed at the memory, for a memory was all that remained of it now. 

"Hey, do the Sucipiat," Dave said. 

In response to the request, Jack launched into the tongue twister from the Latin Rite Mass he and Dave learned when they were alter boys. "Yeah, Father Dominus Vobiscum, you remember him, we called him father Dom, he comes up to me and he says, "Orate, Fratres."

Marianne nudged Rosie. "Aurora Borealis, did you say?"

Jack ignored her rather than honor that one with a reply. He knew Marianne was just showing off because she was liquored up and had an audience. "So I says back to him, I says, 'Sucipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostrum, totiusque ecclesiae sui sanctae.'" He shrugged nonchalantly at the trio of open-mouthed faces that stared back at him. 

"And the horse you rode in on," Dave said. 

"What does all that mumbo-jumbo mean?" Rosie asked. It occurred to her that Jack must be one of those Idiot Savants she heard about on TV. 

"Haven't the foggiest idea what it means," Jack said. "They just taught me how to say it back in the sixth grade. They never taught me what it meant."

"Sure, you remember that crap from sixth grade, but what did you do yesterday?" Marianne asked.

"Yesterday, hmm   " Jack scratched his chin as he puzzled over that one. (to be continued)

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County Chapter 2 - 1970's Americana

"Hawkins County" has a dual story line until well into the second act. You have already met Pat O'Connor, the delinquent teenage boy on the run from the law. The premise of his story line: Can Pat O'Connor continue to elude capture by law enforcement for probation violation? Now in chapter 2, you will meet Jack Johnson, a nerdy college student whose life becomes enmeshed with Pat O'Connor's in way the two can not yet imagine. This is the second story line and character development, with Jack Johnson being the antagonist to the protagonist Pat O'Connor.

"Well , folks, I must be running along," Father Donovan said. He shook Jack's hand. "Again, congratulations and best wishes, Jack."  

"Thanks, father," Jack replied. "Keep your cassock loose."

Senior ran through all the film in this load and advanced the camera so he could remove it. His subjects were seeing spots anyway because he was using flashbulbs even though it was sunny outside. "Got some good ones here." He looked at his watch, the one that took a licking but kept on ticking. "Let's get out of this crowd."

"Yes, the caterer's at the lodge hall already," Esther said. 

"Good," Jack said, rubbing his hands together. "Let's eat so we can get down to some serious drinking."

When the two couples got to the parking lot they split up, with Senior and Esther heading toward their big Plymouth Fury and Jack and Marianne continuing another two rows to where he parked his 1966 red Ford Mustang. He did the polite thing and and held the door open for her, bowing deeply as she got in. Firing up the Mustang, he laid a patch of rubber as he squealed out of the parking lot. 

After dropping off the cap and gown, Jack took the back road to the lodge. He planned it that way so he could belt down a couple of bourbon and sours before everybody else showed up. By the time he had to stand at the head of the reception line as the honored guest, he was already feeling quite mellow. Everyone seemed to enjoy the punch bowl that had been set up, so much so that some folks even came back and refilled their cups several times. Come to find out, someone named Jack Johnson Junior spiked the bowl with vodka. 

The graduation party proceeded to the dining hall where everyone sat down to a sumptuous feast - ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, whole kernel corn, and those little square dinner rolls that came stuck together in sheets of twenty. Jack managed to get through the whole affair without having to make much of a speech. He was glad of that, because he hated standing up in front of a group, even a friendly group such as this one, and speaking off the cuff. After dinner when everybody tinkled their spoons against their coffee cups and hollered for him to give a speech, he thanked his guests for coming and sharing his special day. At the last moment, he also thought to thank his folks for paying for this whole shebang. 

The crowd thinned quickly after the meal and those remaining adjourned to the bar. It contained a live band this evening, the Gestures, a Mankato group who recorded a hit record that made it to the charts. By this time, Jack was so well-oiled he even condescended to dance with Marianne, something he rarely did, because although he looked to be graceful on his feet, he found it challenging to spell rhythm much less possess it, for Gene Kelly he was not. (to be continued)

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This is how the largest execution in US history was carried out

video
This hanging took place  at Mankato Minnesota on December 26, 1862 after the Dakota Conflict, or great Sioux massacre earlier that year. President Lincoln ordered the Union Army to carry out the execution of 38 Sioux warriors involved in the massacre. This working scale model of the gallows is on display at the Blue Earth County Historical Society in Mankato. 2012 marked the 150th anniversary of the Dakota Conflict.

Read "Blood on the Prairie: A Novel of the Sioux Uprising" in your choice of formats at Amazon here:

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We honor all victims of the Dakota Conflict

We forgive the crimes committed by our ancestors

We support the reconciliation long-sought by both the white and Indian cultures


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County" Chapter 2 - 1970's Nostalgic Americana

"Hawkins County" has a dual story line until well into the second act. You have already met Pat O'Connor, the delinquent teenage boy on the run from the law. The premise of his story line: Can Pat O'Connor continue to elude capture by law enforcement for probation violation? Now in chapter 2, you will meet Jack Johnson, a nerdy college student whose life becomes enmeshed with Pat O'Connor's in way the two can not yet imagine. This is the second story line, with Jack Johnson being the antagonist to the protagonist Pat O'Connor. 

Continued character development of Jack Johnson:

Jack looked so much like Robert Redford today, so handsome and charming, that if the actor could see him now, even he would be impressed. He turned to the side to give his dad a profile shot, then back again to make bunny ears behind Marianne's head for the next click of the shutter. "Don't know him, except his name's Adam Nelson. Industrial Arts, so what can you expect? The dumb wiener cut the cheese down there, too. I tried my best to calm him down, but I might's well been pissing into the wind for all the good it did."

"Jack, did you really try to reach out and help him in the true spirit of Christian brotherhood?" Father Donovan said. 

"Um, why yes, of course," Jack replied. 

"Yes, I saw you trying to help him," Esther said. "Honestly, carrying on like that! They should withhold his degree."

"It's a sign of the times, mom," Jack replied, lifting his pants leg to show Senior a little calf. "They'll graduate anybody these days." (to be continued)

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Blood on the Prairie: A Novel of the Sioux Uprising, Dakota Conflict, American Civil War.

video

Colonel Henry Hastings Sibley, leader of the Indian Expedition during the Dakota Conflict of 1862, described the massacre of settlers in these words. Quoted from the Ancestry Life and Times of H.H. Sibley.
Note the casualty figures he uses. Not only did the Dakota Conflict result in the greatest loss of civilian life in an Indian war in U.S. history, but after it was over, the largest mass execution in U.S. history, 38 Dakota warriors, in my home town of Mankato Minnesota.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County" Chapter 2 - 1970's Americana

"Hawkins County" has a dual story line until well into the second act. You have already met Pat O'Connor, the delinquent teenage boy on the run from the law. The premise of his story line: Can Pat O'Connor continue to elude capture by law enforcement for probation violation? Now in chapter 2, you will meet Jack Johnson, a nerdy college student whose life becomes enmeshed with Pat O'Connor's in way the two can not yet imagine. This is the second story line, with Jack Johnson being the antagonist to the protagonist Pat O'Connor. 

Continued character development of Jack Johnson:

"Father Donovan, would you mind posing for a few snapshots with us?" Esther said, hoping this ploy would dissuade the priest from murdering her youngest son. 

"Why, of course, Esther," Father Donovan replied, releasing Jack. 

"Pose like you mean it folks, while I snap a few," Senior said.

A few turned out to be more like nineteen, for the ever-thrifty Esther purchased the jumbo roll of film at the drugstore. Actually, there were 25 photos on a roll, but Esther wasted six shots at Aunt Pearl's 93rd birthday party at the nursing home last week. As she explained to Senior, you never know when the Lord might call Pearl home, and the photos would come in handy for the Westerville-Johnson genealogy she was working on. 

Father Donovan, Esther, Jack, and Marianne smiled as they looked at the camera, but jack always managed to have the most animated poses. One time he even threw his clapboard graduate's cap into the air in keeping with tradition. The four continued to speak as they posed while Senior snapped pictures from every conceivable angle without being indecent. 

"Dear, who was that retard sitting next to you?" Esther said, grinning pleasantly through her teeth. She glanced at the priest and put her hand over her mouth, embarrassed. 

"Now Esther, ever since Vatican Two, we Catholics have been striving to be more ecumenical, more tolerant and accepting, even to the least of our brethren," Father Donovan said, displaying his newly capped teeth. "Like Jack, here. By the way, did you see that dumb moron who burst out laughing during the commencement?"

"Yes, the big fat asshole who disrupted the ceremony," Marianne said, smiling demurely at the camera, every inch of her the epitome of the All-American Girl. "Who was that turd anyway?" (to be continued)

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

And now for something completely different....

"Hey four eyes! Get some more cracked corn out here pronto or I'll give you something to remember me by! Only then will I endorse your book, "Blood on the Prairie: A Novel of the Sioux Uprising" and give it the Royal Order of Raccoon seal of approval."

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Abraham Lincoln accepts copy of Blood on the Prairie Sesquicentennial Edition into their Research Archives




President Lincoln was deeply involved with the Dakota Conflict of 1862. He personally wrote the death warrants for the 38 Sioux warriors who were hanged at Mankato Minnesota by the Union Army on December 26, 1862. This remains the largest mass execution in United States history.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County Chapter 2 - 1970's Americana Nostalgia

CONTINUED CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT OF JACK JOHNSON

Esther approached her youngest and stood before him, admiringly. She brushed his gown with her hands and stepped back. "Let's get a look at you, Jackie." Jack stood straight and tall, which meant he was looking at the top of Ester's head as she put her hands on either side of his face. "I was so proud of you in there. My little boy is now a man." She hugged Jack tightly and began to cry. Jack hugged back, but because he was so self-conscious with the spectacle his mom was making, he backed away from her. Geez Louise, mom, why do you always show off in public like this?

"It's nothing to cry about, mom."

"It was a beautiful ceremony, Jack." Marianne intervened and took Jack's hand. "Congratulations."

"Thanks, babe," he replied as he kissed her, chastely.

"Where's the camera, Esther?" Senior asked, anxious to get this show on the road.

By now, Esther had composed herself and wiped her eyes on an ever-present Kleenex. "It's right here in my purse, father." She removed the 35-millimeter camera and handed it to her husband.

"The Johnsons," Father Donovan said, appearing out of the crowd. He approached Jack and put his hands on the new graduate's shoulders. "Congratulations, Jack."

"Thanks. Say, that was an unusual invocation you did in there, Father."

Father Donovan looked at Jack. "Unusual invocation...what about it?"

"Well, 'Ree, Rah, Ree, gimme my degree, yea, God,' is awful brief. It sounds more like a cheer."

"Oh, Jack, you did it to me again, didn't you?" Father Donovan brought his hands up, wrapped his fingers around Jack's neck, and began shaking him, gently. His voice strained to a high pitch. "You make me crazy!" Jack took this opportunity to let his tongue hang out and make a choking sound.

"Father Donovan, would you mind posing for a few snapshots with us?" Esther said, hoping this ploy would dissuade the priest from murdering her youngest son. (to be continued)

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County" Chapter 2 - 1970's Americana

"Hawkins County" has a dual story line until well into the second act. You have already met Pat O'Connor, the delinquent teenage boy on the run from the law. The premise of his story line: Can Pat O'Connor continue to elude capture by law enforcement for probation violation? Now in chapter 2, you will meet Jack Johnson, a nerdy college student whose life becomes enmeshed with Pat O'Connor's in way the two can not yet imagine. This is the second story line, with Jack Johnson being the antagonist to the protagonist Pat O'Connor. 

Jack and Adam stood to take their turns in line with Adam first, followed by Jack. Adam quickly ducked out to the restroom, returning to the line moments before his name was called. 

"Jack Johnson, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology."

Jack ascended the steps. He approached Professor Davidson, smiled, and shook his hand as he looked out into the audience, beaming. Rather than walk the rest of the way across the stage, he skipped, touching the brim of his cap and waving at the other deans as he did so. The audience caught this and laughed along with Jack's glee. Jack flashed his pearly whites at them also. 

"Henry Block, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting."

After the ceremony concluded, the graduates left the fieldhouse in procession to the tune of yet another march. Jack spotted his girlfriend Marianne and his mom and dad, Esther and Jack Senior, whom everyone referred to as Senior to distinguish him from Jack, standing on the fieldhouse lawn. Esther was a homemaker who did not work "outside the home" as was the phrase then, but rather, devoted her life to making a home for her two Jacks. She and Senior had two other kids, James and Julie, both older than Jack by several years, who were married and living out of state. As was also the custom with some families, all the Johnson kids' first names began with the same letter. Jack was the afterthought, totally unplanned, but loved and doted on like a lot of the youngest were. Nothing was too good for Jackie boy. 

Senior was an executive with a popular sporting goods company in Mankato that made fishing rods and reels. He got his start working for a canning company in Hawkins County several years prior and then transferred into a supervisory slot at the present firm fifteen years back when Jack was but eight years old. From there he worked his way into management. 

Marianne was Jack's sweetheart in the truest sense of the word, and even he knew he knew that she was much better than she deserved. A drop-dead gorgeous, slender brunette with long, black hair and dancing green eyes, she reminded Jack of Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind, which also happened to be his favorite movie. Actually, he favorite movie was Behind the Green Door, but since it was a porno flick, he questioned whether he could count that one. 

A finance officer now, Marianne earned her college degree a few years back and worked a full time job at the First national bank in Dovetail Falls. Two years older than Jack, she met him at a bar when he was a junior. They were more or less going steady since then - she was more and he was less, and one quarter she even went so far as to as to help finance his education. He was so in debt that unbeknownst to his folks, he cashed their check for his tuition and used it to pay bills. Good old Marianne came to the rescue and paid his tuition, knowing full well she would never see the money back. (to be continued)

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County" Chapter 2 - Nostalgic 1970's Americana

"Hawkins County" has a dual story line until well into the second act. You have already met Pat O'Connor, the delinquent teenage boy on the run from the law. The premise of his story line: Can Pat O'Connor continue to elude capture by law enforcement for probation violation? Now in chapter 2, you will meet Jack Johnson, a nerdy college student whose life becomes enmeshed with Pat O'Connor's in way the two can not yet imagine. This is the second story line, with Jack Johnson being the antagonist to the protagonist Pat O'Connor. 

Thinking it might help if he focused on something else, Adam stared straight ahead, trying to ignore Jack and force down the giddiness that always overcame him whenever he got this way. It was no good. He sensed Jack leaning towards him and against his better judgement, turned to look the devil in the face. Sure enough, the devil was staring at him with crossed eyes, grinning stupidly.

It put Adam over the edge. He burst out laughing, loud enough that several nearby students turned around and glared at him, thoroughly disgusted with his antics. In an effort to stifle his laughter, he put his hands over his mouth and then bent low in his seat as the pain from his bladder spasm hit again. 

Meanwhile, Jack assumed an attentive posture and stared solemnly at Professor Davidson who, because he was so intent on his own speech, ignored Adam's outburst. "It has been my pleasure to address you today. We will now issue the degrees beginning with the post-graduate students."

The band began to play a majestic march as the students stood and filed out of their chairs into the left aisle, just as they had rehearsed. 

"John Steinbeck, Master of Arts in American Literature." (to be continued)

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Serial: "Hawkins County" Chapter 2 - Nostalgic 1970's Americana

 CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT OF JACK JOHNSON

"Had quite a couple beers before," Adam croaked. "Now I gotta go to the can so bad my teeth are floating."

"As this, the 54th graduating class ceremony draws to a close, bear in mind that society looks to you for the future," Professor Davidson began. "You are our hope for a better tomorrow."

Aha! Adam made the stink bomb. Atom bomb? Adam bomb? Anyway, there was till plenty of time for revenge. Oh, you poor slob," said Jack. Just sit still. Don't laugh or cough or anything."

"What happens in our culture, our world, indeed to our entire universe and beyond in the next three decades is in your hands. It is your actions that will be judged by the generations to come..."

As the professor droned on, Jack leaned over to Adam. "Did you know Southern University uses Astroturf, so they don't have to worry about their cheerleaders grazing at half time?"

"...and whatever you do, whether good or bad, what heights you achieve, what accomplishments, what contributions you make..."

The two grads stared at each other a second, then Jack broke into a big grin. Adam began to giggle, causing him to lean way forward in his chair in agony.

"Come on now, don't laugh," Jack whispered. "You'll flood us out!"

Adam groaned. "Shut up, you son of a bitch!"

"...will become the standard for our times and set the tone for the generations to follow." Professor Davidson put his notes down on the podium and looked out at the audience. "So judge not harshly the mistakes made by honest men in the past, lest the future generations judge you in like manner." (to be continued)

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