Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

Ice Cream in Winter and Damn the Economy

Man it is cold. I mean it is eskimo cold outside and this afternoon it was in the 40s. Now its about twelve and wind chill of “oh hell no”.  I went to Walmart and I swear to heaven when I got to the car from the store my nuts had climbed under my armpits it was so freakin’ cold.

And I’ m not too intelligent anyway – I went in a tee shirt and jeans because the wife wanted ice cream. I slipped on my tennies, a jacket and hitched my henpecked ass out the door. Okay. I love her. So into the midwestern artic I go to fetch ice cream, thinking how this is sort of like selling ice cubes to eskimoes. My wife would buy them. She’d buy them and make me dog sled to the damn outpost to fetch them back.

Ice cream. Really. If you stuck your tongue out the window for 2 seconds you’d have ice crystals – couldn’t she just sugar her tongue with a dollop of vanilla? I am not a shopper. But I went to WalMart no less. I hate WalMart. Going to Walmart in our town is like going to one of those crowded hip dance clubs where no one has room to breathe only you dance while toting a shopping cart at the WalMart ball.

I’ll give it Sam’s gang, there prices are hard to beat and in Saint Joe that’s all it takes. Cheap. Not saying Saint Joseph is economically depressed but they’re thinking of renaming the town Saint Appalachia. Akron and Detroit and other steel belt cities are bigger and depressed, too, but really they are just what Saint Joe would be if we’d ever had big industry here in the first place. At least they had something to go backward from.

So Wal-Mart makes out as house prices tumble, factories are shuttered up, and the chamber of commerce whoops it up when another burger and fry chain opens up and creates 40 new jobs at 6.50 an hour. Seems to me that’s how the American economy has gone flying off track. It’s like a national burger joint. You have one guy making a helluva lot of money off the place and 40 employees who can’t even afford the food they’re serving.That’s all right, though. If the owner mucks it up, cooks the books as well as the burgers, mis-manages the thing into the ground, fails to capitalize in new equipment and cook up food that people ask for – well, heck, he can just cry to the government that he’ll have to put those people out of their jobs – and how it isn’t his fault that people don’t want the menu he insists on offering. And after studying this in several committees and disagreeing about how many pens they’re going to use to sign the various parts of the bill and adding a few hundred pork barrel entitlements to the bill – they’ll bail out the businessmen and offer them bonuses to stay on that some small countries would love to have as their GNP.

I hope my wife reads this. She needs to see what she started – all by craving ice cream. Okay, I feel better. Ggrandpockets1ot it all off my chest – and my nuts have finally dropped back where they belong. I’m signing off and getting myself some Neopolitan.


January 10, 2009 Posted by | humor | , , | Leave a comment

Church Steeple Storm Brewing

Church Storm Brewing

Church Storm Brewing

Downtown Saint Joseph, Christ Episcopal Steeple against a Stormy Sky.

I just like the way it looked with the oil painted sky and photo-shopped picture.


January 1, 2009 Posted by | Poetry & Art | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kansas City Chiefs have new Training Camp


Bricky red skyline of Downtown St. Joseph

Well, after a few years of wrangling Charlie Shields, Missouri Western and the City of Saint Joseph have come up with a plum for 2011 and beyond – the training camp site for the Kansas City Chiefs. It hinges on one criteria, getting enough money to complete new athletic facilities, new parking, and a couple new ballfields to replace the ones that will be under the new parking lot. The Chiefs, the University, the City and the County are kicking in, and yes, probably the taxpayers before long (besides the general use funds that will go to it already).

Some of Saint Joe's old architecture

Some of Saint Joe's old architecture

About time the Chiefs got their camp nearer home and supported somebody’s economy within their fan base instead of the money going to River Falls, Wisconsin in Packer territory. For my hometown, this is big news and it splits the community between the grumblers and the enthusiastic. The grumblers are ahead in the count. Too often in Saint Joe the grumblers win. Saint Joe has about as low a tax base as any city its’ size in the US – taxes are peanuts here, and the services reflect it. That’s the thing taxpayers don’t get. They want good schools, parks, police and fire protection, the streets salted and plowed the second it snows BUT they want someone else to pay for it. Anyone. Just not them.

Columns from the razed Robidoux Hotel stand sentinel

Columns from the razed Robidoux Hotel stand sentinel

Passing a tax in Saint Joe is about as easy as passing a boulder sized kidney stone. It doesn’t happen often and never without a bunch of screamin’ and hollerin’. So, as the city’s economic base crumbles, Snorkel-Economy just the latest casualty of the economic meltdown, people naturally want to avoid higher taxes but for crissakes, Saint Jo’ you have to have some taxes – or else no services.

Robidoux Row - a Museum for the city's founder Joe Robidoux

Robidoux Row - a Museum for the city's founder Joe Robidoux

The Chiefs situation is just one more blown opportunity to get the community rolling if this thing fails to materialize now that the Chiefs have said “Pony up and we’ll do it.”  Communities grow by an aggregation of attractions/amenities, services and conveniences. Saint Joseph has the convenience of a centralized location with good highways right through it, a river, a major airport just minutes away but it always seems to fail when it comes to capitalizing those other two things – services and attractions/amenities.

Rococco front of the Missouri Theater downtown

Rococco front of the Missouri Theater downtown

Add some ridiculously stupid government that can’t get anything done without deadlocking themselves in ego fights and ‘who’s in charge’ tug of wars and it’s not hard to see why the city always seems seems to teeter on the precipice if economic disaster. Poor services because of low taxes, mediocre schools, and a dearth of quality attractions, unless a second rate river casino is an attraction. I mean, this is a town that proudly hails itself as the home of Jesse James – a career criminal!


Pony Express Statue - Where Johnny Fry took the first ride

Thing is, it’s not a bad town to raise kids and it could be great if they’d just do a few things. Hire a professional curator to operate and run the museums for one. The city has a great but underutilized and poorly operated museum system, yet as a history buff I can state this is a very fascinating place with some great possibilities. Protect the parkway from developments of any kind. The museums are in place, their artifacts and the history they represent are great – they just need some funding and direction. The Chiefs camp is another step. It brings people here. It gets the name on front burners in season and increases tourism. I could be a pessimist and say oh hell, they’ll blow it again but this is my hometown. I’d like them to win one for a change.


Belt Highway - St Joe's Fast Food Mecca


December 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attack of the Ice

How it all Began...

How it all Began...

Last night about 5 pm  it was 60° outside, wet and melty, this morning its all frozen solid in sheets of ice. Big icicles on the eaves and tree limbs and walking out the door is a an invitation to go “ass skating”.  The snow is melted off now so it isn’t even good sledding weather – just cold, and brown – that midwest drear that get the winter blues a-goin’. Winter is gorgeous when there is fresh snow and ice – but old snow and snow melt puddles are dirty and brackish, a Saint Jo townscape all done in browns. The orange cone monsters are out too – street crews everyhere, and those signs  “Your tax dollars at work” – proclamations that we’re too stupid to realize that for ourselves.  Six guys are working on the Belt and I see three of them sitting on the truck watching the other three work. The sign should say “Half your tax dollars at work.” That’s when I even see anyone there. Usually its just a long file of orange soldier cones congesting three lanes into one without a worker bee in sight. Our subdivision has a great idea to save money, though.  Don’t do a thing to the roads – let the potholes patrol the speed limit. Saves on road crews, tar and gravel and on police enforcement. Locals call them speed slumps.

Speed Slump at Work

Speed Slump at Work

Speed slumps are most useful – mini skating rink, local swimming hole, speed enforcement, and eventually becoming gravel quarries – at which the neighborhood will need to incorporate them and hire a personnel manager.

I write poetry at odd times and more in winter than summer since I’m inside more, I guess. All the road crews and orange cones and delays get me to thinking and I write about it:

Its winter whiteness now
preparing the roads for the season
of eternal road repair,
a slow lift and collapse like bolsheviks:
the white revolution,
fought against asphalt and pancake sidewalks
ice upended like flapjacks
come spring, like breakfast for the roadcrews
that whistle “The Great Pretender”
while they fill blacktop buckles
with tar slurry syrup
in the heat
they’ll repeat
when the cold jester follows
undoing their labor.

They tar and gravel cars here
before they salt and slosh them.
Its winter whiteness now,
except for the edges
where the myth is sullied
and dirty, gutters of exhaust
fumes made visible
our dark environmental secrets
exposed by the snows.

©Chuck Elledge2008


December 27, 2008 Posted by | humor, Poetry & Art | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to everyone! Christmas is just around the corner and here in Saint Joseph, Missouri it looks to be a white Christmas. Most of our shopping’s done, the tree’s been up for a couple of weeks, the puppy chews happily on the wrapped packages and the cat chases him under the branches at least once a day. Keeping the ornaments on is the challenge but the pets are too much fun to watch to try and stop them.

My reason for starting a blog? I hope to put a lot of genealogy online, biographies, documents, abstracts but done in a bit different way than the usual databases do – a bit more entertaining, or irritating, depending on your viewpoint.  Commentary about my family, its history and characters, good and bad. Besides these bios and the supporting documents & photos, I hope to add my reviews of genealogy books, sites, and software (I’ve read, visited and tried tons of ’em) from the viewpoint of one who is not a computer savant but an ordinary guy who just wants to research family history effectively.  Hey – if  I can follow a book, navigate a site or use a piece of software effectively anyone should be able to.

I wanna rant, too, from time to time.  Like the need for World Connect and other gedcom databases to add an “ignore this stupid person’s databases” button you can click when you find one of those incredibly dumb collections of names that have moronic impossibilities abounding. Very few families have ever had any ancestors with children born before their parents.  You wouldn’t know that, though, from a LOT of the gedcoms you’ll find out there.  Oh – but, Chuck….. there IS a disclaimer to verify and do your own research before accepting. Research? Huh? It takes research to figure out that Junior wasn’t born before Senior? My Lord, why would anyone want to post a gedcom that stamps a big red stupid on their forehead?   Anyway, you get the point…brickwalls are for the genealogy section, brickheads for the rant section. If no one even reads the rants that’s fine. It’s still therapy, like the letter you write but don’t mail, just to get things off your chest.

Then there’s the immediate family stuff, you know, Kids, grandkids, reunions and family news. Most people will wanna just skip this stuff unless stories about my cat chasing the chihuahua chasing the cat chasing my daughter  is the heart-warming kinda schlock you really enjoy reading.  It’s my family and I love them, and, so far, they tolerate me as a kind of family relic, like the old lawnmower they used to cut the grass with that is still in the shed. Neither of us work right half the time,  both emit foul odors, strange noises and bring back fond memories for them.  If you’re here looking for something genealogical just skip over these, please.

Finally, in the spirit of self aggrandizement that has become the web, I reserve the right to toss an occasional poem on the archive pile. .They’re really good. Trust me. I wouldn’t lie, or exaggerate, or blow my own horn. They are so good I’ve decided to publish them here for the sake of a wider audience! And some of my family qualify as a ‘wider’ audience and will probably be the only ones who suffer themselves to sample a line or two.

First post is in the bag, folks, and Santa will soon be filling his bags and his sleigh. I sincerely hope everyone of you who read this missive a blessed and happy end of year, no matter what your belief, or where you are. Peace be with you.


December 19, 2008 Posted by | family | , , , , | Leave a comment