Murder on Seminary Street


– Bumper sticker of the week: Hope is a good companion but a poor substitute for action.

– It matters where you come from: My grandfather was one of my best friends when I was growing up. We hunted, fished, and gardened together. I think what made me think about him was the fact that I grew kohlrabi in my garden this year. I pulled one out, peeled it, and ate it with salt the other day, just like my grandfather and I used to do. He was an underground coal miner. Tough as nails in his younger days. He told me they would go underground before the sun came up, and surface after the sun went down, for days at a time. That kind of work takes its toll. When they got a day or two off, him and the guys would drink. He said he did things that he wasn't proud of when he was drinking, but he never elaborated, nor did I ever ask what they might have been. My grandmother and mother also never said. I don't think they wanted to taint our relationship. The only thing he ever said to me was to not let alcohol ever influence my behavior, which it ends up I have been fairly successful at. My grandfather was an early union supporter. He understood how badly the company exploited them. They lived in a company house, bought company groceries, and when needed, got company loans at high interest rates. He said most of your paycheck was spent before you got it. At times, you owed them. He had trouble with that. For his union support, he received a broken back and a burnt down house. He never worked after that broken back. He laid on a piece of plywood for six months, then had an ulcer burst, which nearly killed him. As long as I knew him, he did odd jobs, like mowing lawns and painting. He was a slight man, not weighing any more than 100 pounds. He never said anything about the broken back, but I heard others say it was not an accident. Carts and donkeys were used to pull the coal out of the mine shaft back then. It was said one of the carts was cut free, and the cart hit my grandfather on the way back down the shaft. The company called it an accident, which apparently caused quite a commotion among the works. The miners refused to work for several weeks. Anyway, my grandfather never said anything about the incident. He did always say you have to take responsibility for the things you do. I think he was warning me to take up issues with caution and approach them carefully, because your actions will affect more people than yourself. It ended up my father died before my grandfather. We were sitting in his back shed not long after my father died when he said he wished he had died rather than my father. How much more of a friend could I have had, willing to die to make my life easier? He died about 6 months later. His body just wore out. I was 19.

– Murder on Seminary Street: Wright Tree Service paid North Seminary Street a visit recently. It wasn't part of Galesburg's Beautification Program, I can assure you. In case you are not aware, which you should be if you live in Galesburg, Wright Tree Service does the bidding for AmerenIP when it comes to cutting our trees in half, in the name of protecting AmerenIP's wires from falling tree branches. The cutting is described as in our best interests, since we wouldn't want to be without power for an indefinite amount of time. I watched them cut back the neighbors trees some 15 feet from the power line. I thought that a bit excessive. I called Wayne Allen, who was helpful and told me who to call at City Hall. There is probably a rule as to how far back from the line they can cut, but they weren't sure. I should call AmerenIP. Of course, they no longer have a local number, so I waited 15 minutes to talk to a human. The guy was very nice and sympathetic, but said basically there is nothing you can do. They can cut as far back as they think is necessary. I called Wayne back to let him know what I had found out. He suggested I talk to them and ask them to take it easy on my tree. This sounded like something of a suicidal mission, but I agreed. They pulled in front of the house and I asked if they could please take it easy on my tree, that it was a beauty and I would prefer it to stay that way. They said they were cutting back 10 feet. I said I could show them it was 15 feet. They said they would take that into consideration. They proceeded to slaughter the tree. I blame them and AmerenIP. Ameren does anything to maximize their profit, regardless of the effects it has on our property and the City’s overall beauty. Stop by and take a look. This ain't Oz anymore. Dorothy went on a rampage, while the City sits back and watches. Oh well, its only a tree. I'm probably lucky it wasn't me.