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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

It has been a hectic month--one filled with challenges and one filled with blessings. It has been a rather lean time, as I know it has for many this year. Last night, on Christmas Eve, I went to sleep with a wonderful sense of peace in knowing that my daughter was home, safe, asleep, our home was warm, and there were presents for her under the tree.

I am richly blessed with friends. Monday, my best girlfriends who are close enough, were here for lunch. In the middle of the laughter, I realized I was truly happy and forgotten whatever had been troubling me all week. For my girlfriends who are too far away, Mona in Kosovo, Carol in Philadelphia, Karen in South Carolina (Karen's card arrived while we were dining and we put it in the middle of the table), Michelle in Bartlesville, Teresa at Fort Leonard Wood, Rita in Cana--I send my love and gratitude for their friendship.

Keep the season in your heart.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jine the Cavalry

Today is the birthday of the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy, John Singleton Mosby, who was born in 1833. Fellow historian and emmy-award winning film maker Robert Lee Hodge commented this Southern icon:

Many years after the war, Mosby explained why, although he disapproved of slavery, he fought on the Confederate side. While he believed the South had seceded to protect slavery, he said, in a 1907 letter, that he had felt it was his patriotic duty to Virginia. "I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery—a soldier fights for his country—right or wrong—he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in ... The South was my country."

That says it all. In our book, The Day Dixie Died, we included an episode wherein shortly after the war had ended, a lone visitor was spotted at the grave of Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, and leaving a single flower upon his grave. The visitor was one John S. Mosby. His relationship with Stuart was the stuff of legend. He, after all, orchestrated the "Ride around McClellian, Ride around McClellian," yes boys, "Jine the Cavalry!"

Also from Rob,

Mosby is famous for carrying out a daring raid far inside Union lines at the Fairfax County courthouse in March 1863, where his men captured three high-ranking Union officers, including Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Stoughton. The story is told that Mosby found Stoughton in bed and roused him with a slap to his rear. Upon being so rudely awakened, the general shouted, "Do you know who I am?" Mosby quickly replied, "Do you know Mosby, general?" "Yes! Have you got the rascal?" "No but he has got you!" His group also captured about 30 to 50 sentries without firing a shot.

A toast, to the Gray Ghost!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Five Pounds of Pleasure

Fellow Festus fanciers, look no further! The perfect Christmas gift is here. Gunsmoke: An American Institution by Ben Costello is the ultimate, be-all, end-all, definitive work on this television classic.

Ben was my guest on "Topeka Talks" today and I was disappointed that the book had not arrived in time for the interview. Lo and behold, in this season of miracles, the promised goodies arrived DURING the interview and I excitedly ripped into the box on the air. It's a hefty volume--5 pounds and not an ounce of fat. Every page is a treasure. There is a synopsis of each episode along with the cast of guests for that show, as well as interviews, narrative, quotes, and hundreds of photos. There are endless hours of pleasure in this volume. Visit www.50yearsofgunsmoke.com to order and tell Ben that Deb sent you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Airheads

Topeka developer, Henry McClure, joined me on "Topeka Talks" the other morning. Henry and partners are responsible for the new College Hill project near Washburn University. This area had been suffering from "blight," I believe that's the polite term for run-down home and businesses. I'm all for development in these areas; when we allow our inner-city to rot, it only spreads. Henry said the apartments are 70 plus percent ocuupied, and he's working on retail deals. Kudos to Henry for taking a chance on Topeka!

Speaking of development, news from the Kansas Statehouse -- new leadership and the value of gambling; from back home, prisons are economic development.

It's going to be a long winter.