Sunday, August 28, 2016

The NFL Double Standard is Alive and Well

The National Football League has descended as low into the hypocrisy barrel as it can go if you ask me.

While the internet explodes this morning over Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the National Anthem, I'm more disgusted with the double standard of the NFL, not only in their support for his decision to disrespect the flag, but also with their decision to disallow the Dallas Cowboys to wear stickers showing support for the officers that were murdered in their city in an ambush.

The NFL released this statement with regard to Kaepernick's protest:

The NFL also released a statement, obtained by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport: "Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."

With regard to the Arm in Arm decal the Cowboys wanted to wear on their helmets, the NFL said that every team "must be uniform," and so the decal was disallowed.

One Dallas Morning News sports columnist agreed, saying that there are "other ways to honor them without opening this political door," however I believe that Colin Kaepernick has opened a much bigger political door.

I'd rather focus on the NFL in this debate than Kaepernick because the NFL has long proven itself to be a disreputable and biased organization.  They allow criminal behavior from their players, they stage raunchy, anti-police half-time shows at the Super Bowl, and they have consistently shown bias against behavior that goes toward Christian morality and positive role models, only reversing themselves on that last issue when called out about it.

When asked about his boycott of the flag, Kaepernick said:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

If this is "bigger than football," then don't use football to protest it.  Do something where you can make a difference.  Perhaps he should follow the advice of this Army Ranger.

How many inner city, troubled kids does he mentor?  I haven't seen that information yet.

Kaepernick is a spoiled, ungrateful brat who most definitely wants it to be all about him.  As bad as that is, shame on the NFL for allowing him to hijack their platform for this nonsense.

But of course, the NFL likely feels the same way.  Really, the bottom line here is that it is okay to boycott the American flag but not okay to support police officers.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Happy Spot!

Spot is one happy dog!

I just wanted to share these pictures of Spot that his foster shared with me.

Look how beautiful!

Because of a few very generous donors, Spot was tagged by Rocker's Rescue over the weekend and is now able to begin his heartworm treatment.  I have received the money from the Go Fund Me drive which I have now forwarded directly to Rocker's Rescue.  In addition, he had money from Paws4Life which will also go toward his care.

I'll admit -- that makes me a little nervous, but I have full confidence in the decisions of the veterinarians and know that they are excellent at what they do.

Spot's new foster is teaching him basic commands and spoiling him rotten, which he deserves!

Thank you again for donating to Spot.  I will post updates on his care as I receive them.  I can't wait to see a healthy, thriving Spot!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Stunning Spot Dies Monday Without a Rescue: URGENT!!!

UPDATE 2:  Spot has been tagged by a local rescue!  He is safe!  I can't announce the name until they do, but I will as soon as I get the go-ahead.  I'm very happy with the outcome and have submitted a withdrawal request for the GoFundMe money which will go directly to the rescue as promised.  Anyone wishing to confirm this can check with the rescue once it's been announced.  I want everyone to feel their donations have been honestly and wisely accounted for.  I will be making up the service fee that GoFundMe and WePay keep so that the rescue will get the entire $600, plus a personal donation of my own.  I'm looking forward to seeing spot thrive!  Thank you, again.

UPDATE 1:  The GoFundMe page collected enough money for Spot before midnight last night.  Because of this, the shelter tells me he is now safe and has a pending rescue.  You saved him with your shares and your donations!  Thank you and I will update when he is settled somewhere!  But for now, he is safe!

See end of this post for Spot with his new foster mom!

Spot is going to die Monday unless we can raise up to $400 for his veterinary care.

I posted about Spot last week and have been sharing him excessively on Facebook and social media.  He is at Caddo Animal Control and the Paws4Life group is trying to get a rescue to tag him so that he can go to foster care and get treatment for heartworms, get neutered, and put on some weight.

We need donations.  Fast.  Before Monday.

I met Spot.  He is loving and sweet.  He's energetic -- who wouldn't be after being in a kennel all day -- but he is dog friendly and simply stunning.  Pictures don't do him justice.  When I met him last week he kept nuzzling my leg and hands so I would pet him.  His tail never stopped wagging.

Spot has a foster that will keep him and let him get treatment.

All he needs is a rescue.

And donations.

Please help save him.

He deserves a chance to be a family dog, to play outside, to be loved.

Donate to Paws4Life and designate that it is for Spot.  There is a blue button on their Facebook page.  It is safe.

No amount is too small.

You can also donate on my PayPal link on this page -- it is safe.  The button is in the right sidebar.

It must be done this weekend -- Monday, he will be euthanized.

Share this post -- your share might be the one that saves his life.  And donate!

I've pledged $100 to him and I'm a broke teacher.  Can you match me?

UPDATE:  I have set up a GoFundMe site for donations for Spot.  It's safe.

Photo courtesy of the Paws4Life Facebook page

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Save Spot the Stunning Super Dog

Look at those ears! 
UPDATE:  Spot is safe!  See latest post.

I went to meet a dog yesterday.  Not just any dog -- an absolutely beautiful dog who has less than a week to live unless someone helps him.

I have been following the Paws 4 Life page on Facebook which is a group that is helping save animals at the Caddo Parish animal shelter; they have rescued and transported many dogs from Caddo to other states where they can find safe, happy homes.

One dog that has not been so lucky is Spot.

Spot was abandoned by his owners and is a heartworm positive Lab/German Shorthair mix.

He is a stunning dog.

Spot only has a few more days to live.  As I write this, he has perhaps until the 19th before he will be euthanized -- he is already on borrowed time.  He was on the list for this past Friday, but someone has put up $400 in pledged money for his heartworm treatment.

All he needs is one person to step up and say he can live with them while he receives treatment.  That's all.

I had hoped I could do it; that's why I went to meet him.

Steve and I met the rescue volunteer at Caddo Animal Control on Monty Street.  We brought Jazz with us because if Jazz and Spot got along this would be a done deal.  I was very nervous because I really wanted it to work.  Jazz is a very timid dog, even at home where he is very comfortable -- he's a mama's baby and well, he's just timid.  We have had him since he was six weeks old and was found abandoned by a dumpster; he was riddled with all kinds of worms and very sick and dehydrated, but he survived and thrived.  That was seven years ago.

As we walked to the meet and greet area where Spot was, I saw him standing at the fence watching us - I literally gasped and a tear welled up.  He is so beautiful.  I mean, really.

We walked into the gated play area and Spot loved Jazz.  He was all wiggles and tail wagging.  Jazz
was terrified.  It was nothing Spot did -- Spot just wanted to play!  But Jazz just isn't accustomed to other dogs much and was nervous.  We stayed in the play area and we all tried really hard to make this friendship happen, but in the end, we decided we couldn't bring a dog home and put Jazz in a situation that would make him nervous.

Perhaps in time or in a different meeting situation they would have hit it off.  But we had no way to know for sure.  As much as it broke my heart, we had to leave Spot there.

So look:  all he needs is a roof -- someone to take him in.  The rescue has the money for his medical treatment.  There are no expenses to you.  NO EXPENSES.  This dog needs a quiet home where he can rest while he is treated.  In all likelihood, he will have to stay at the vets office for a few days for treatment for his heartworms.  But then he needs a quiet place to come recover.

When his treatment is done, he can easily be adopted out.  You don't have to keep him.

He just needs someone to give him a chance.  To give him shelter.

If you can help Spot, contact the Paws 4 Life page via Facebook.  Message them.  Or call Caddo Animal Control at 318-226-6224 and tell them you want to help.  They can put you in touch with the right people.

If you can't foster Spot, please share this post on Facebook and with everyone you can -- the more people that see it, the better the likelihood that someone who can help will see it.

This dog has so much potential and will make someone a lifelong loyal friend if only given a chance.

Update:  88 shares in just a few hours!  Thank you!  Keep it going!  #savespot

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Asking for a Little Help

I can hardly believe it's time to head back to school.  Where did the summer go?

I went to the school yesterday to get my classroom ready; got all the computers and projector plugged back in and checked out to be sure everything works properly.  The waxing crew had come in and the parquet floors are gleaming!  We are polished up and ready to go!

Three years ago I used my blog to appeal for help for some supplies; I teach in a high poverty school and my kids seldom have the supplies they need.  I like for my classroom to be a comfortable, welcoming place where students feel like something good can happen at any moment.  I don't ever want them to dread coming to class or to feel unprepared because they don't have what they need.

I have already spent close to $100 of my own money on supplies: yesterday I went to WalMart and bought hand sanitizer, notebook paper, pencils, colored pencils, rubber bands, staples, paper clips, basic things that run a classroom.  I do this every single year.

When I asked for help on this blog three years ago, the response was stunning.  For almost two months the school secretary would call my room to tell me I had "another" package from Amazon.  I always sent a different student to the office to pick up our new package. The supplies from that appeal lasted three years!  We received reams of notebook paper, boxes of tissue, boxes of spiral notebooks and even class sets of novels that we still read.

I need help again.

I'm so excited to begin this year - year number twenty for me.  I'm teaching a new course this year (English III) along with my regular English II classes and I have some really wonderful things planned for my students to keep them engaged and enthusiastic about learning.

If you can help us, please look at the links below I've posted from Amazon of the things we need.  Every pencil, every book, every package of paper helps - nothing is too small.  You can order direct from Amazon and have your purchase shipped directly to the school: it should be addressed:

Bossier High School
Attn: Pat Becker
777 Bearkat Drive
Bossier City, LA 71111

If you'd rather make a cash contribution, you can use the PayPal link in the upper right sidebar.

As needs are filled I will update this post so you know you aren't ordering something that we've already received.

My students are really good kids and they are grateful for everything anyone does for them.  We take advantage of "Stuff the Bus" campaigns and I've used Donors Choose and other similar sites.  This direct appeal is what has worked best for us - I mean, last time I appealed to my readers I got enough supplies for three years!

We all appreciate your help!  Truly!

Added:  Huge thanks to Political Clown Parade for the generous cash donation!  Thank you so much!

Added:  I had a box of the spiral notebooks from Amazon in my teacher box today!  There was no name, so whoever you are, thank you so much!  Very grateful!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Gypsy is a Hit at Shreveport Little Theatre

The Shreveport Little Theatre has a huge hit with its summer musical, Gypsy, based on the life of Gypsy Rose Lee.

We took in the Sunday matinee yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as did the rest of the packed house.

The story follows Mama Rose, played by Linnea Fayard Allen, as she raises her two daughters in show business.  Working the vaudeville circuit is tough and Rose is a tough stage mother.  The dreams of being on stage seem to be Rose's of course, but eventually daughter June runs off to be an actress and daughter Louise becomes the famous Gypsy Rose Lee.

The musical is huge - it's long and the cast is large, and SLT handles this beautifully; I was amazed at the numerous set changes that the crew had to navigate, but it all flowed seamlessly.

The music was of course wonderful; the orchestra sounded great and there are many familiar tunes in this play such as Gypsy's signature "Let Me Entertain You," "Everything's Coming up Roses," and "Together," to name but a few.

Linnea Fayard Allen was stunning as Mama Rose; everyone around here knows she's a fantastic singer, but as Mama Rose she belted out these sometimes challenging tunes with the flair of the true professional that she is.  Her facial expressions and movements were adorable and she was able to make Mama Rose such a sympathetic character.  I'm not a theater critic so forgive my ignorance, but it seems to me that in the wrong hands, Mama June could be seen as an overbearing and unlikable figure, but of course she is not.  Ms. Allen's performance of "Rose's Turn" was outstanding and emotional.

Tessa Anderson as Louise was wonderful and she has a lovely voice.  She makes the transition from innocent Louise to sultry Gypsy both heartbreaking and exciting.  Giddy about her mother's imminent marriage to Herbie, Louise's heartbreak is palpable as all of her dreams of a normal family and a settled home are shattered.  She takes the satin gloves from Rose and the transformation is done, her confidence as a burlesque performer increasing with each performance.

Speaking of Herbie, Pat Maxie did a fine job as the candy salesman/agent who fell in love with Mama Rose.  His own heartbreak was tragic when he finally realizes she will never marry him, she will never change, and she will never stop micro-managing her daughter's life.

A wonderful surprise for me was the performance of Dwayne Durham, Jr. as Tulsa.  His big scene when he tells Louise of his dreams was just stunning.  He's a young man with a lot of talent that I hope to see more of in future productions.

Truly this is a huge cast and there are so many great performances.  Just treat yourself and try to catch one of the remaining performances - you won't be sorry.

Call the SLT office for tickets at 318-424-4439, or go online to order.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Confession: How I Got Addicted to Pokemon Go

Duck Pond: Kings Highway 
I caved.

I downloaded Pokemon Go.

I didn't mean to do it, but I did.

Yesterday afternoon my 24-year old son and I had some errands to run and we started talking about the game while driving out to BPCC to get him registered for his last semester there.  He collected the cards when he was a little kid although I don't think he ever really played the game.  We just liked collecting them and looking at the pictures...finding "rare" cards, that kind of thing.

The phenomenon of this game has just been amazing and so he went ahead and downloaded it while we talked.  Once on campus, he engaged the game and caught a couple of Pokemon.

Our next stop was the dentist and while he was with the doctor I downloaded the game...I was just sitting in the waiting room and thought, "Well, why not.  Let's see what all the fuss is about...".

And there you have it.

The game, as you know by now, is designed to get pasty, puffy kids off the couch and out into the sunshine.  They have to walk to play the game -- you can't do it while driving.  You can get from one Pokestop to another while driving, but just collecting Pokemon, or hatching eggs, you have to walk.

Pokestops are GPS landmarks or sites in your city or neighborhood.  From the dentist office yesterday, for example, the game identified several nearby Pokestops, like the giant strawberry on the back of Strawns Eat Shop, the Dental Arts building by George's, the Centenary gold dome and soccer field, and several on Centenary campus.

The lure is this: once you're at the Gold Dome for example, well the soccer field is right there, just a few yards away, and Strawn's is right there, across the street, and Centenary, is right there, right across the street!

It's easy to find yourself a fair distance from where you began.
Photo courtesy of KSLA

We walked the Centenary campus -- first time my son had ever been on campus -- and looked at the Jack London bust, the band shell, the memorial garden and other various sites.  It was beautiful and interesting.  While walking down a shaded asphalt drive, the boys' soccer team returning from practice came up the hill, red-faced, hot, laughing, with gear strung over their shoulders.

"Y'all looking for Pokemon?!"  one boy asked.  We exchanged pleasantries with them then went on our way.  It was nice.

Okay so it's a dumb game.

But look, after a week of watching BLM protests and listening to hate filled rhetoric all over the news and social media, I kind of needed a dumb game yesterday.

We went to the duck pond on Kings Highway and it was there that I saw the social impact of this dumb game.  There were dozens, maybe a hundred, people there.  The usual moms with little kids were there, but now I saw clusters of teenagers and college kids, adults in their twenties, thirties, staring at phone screens but also talking to each other.  One cluster would join another cluster and off they would go.

We sat under the pavilion with our phones and just listened to the conversations around us.  Everyone was talking about the game: where they found certain Pokemon, something funny that happened while searching, some cool landmark they had seen, different game strategies.  More adept players were explaining strategies to newbies.  People were interacting.

That should not seem like such a weird phenomena but in today's world, it sort of was.

I could hear one guy talking about all the people around and how cool it was; "The only way the duck pond could get better today is if they had a power source out here -- my battery is dying!"  His friends laughed and they all looked around at all the people in amazement.

Couples walked by staring at phones.  Small groups.  Individuals. Some people looked very serious, others sheepish.  Everyone was having fun.

One twenty-something guy sitting on a plastic whale looked up and said, "This game is bringing world peace!"  I'm not sure about that, but I knew what he meant.  There was a cool, fun, vibe there.  People were meeting each other, bonded through a common thing, talking to each other, walking around in the fresh air, enjoying life.

At one point the game prompted me to choose a "team" - I said to my son, "It's asking me what team to join - what do I do?!" Some guy walking past me said, "Team blue - choose team blue." So I did.  He gave me a high five.

There are a lot of stories out there about how dangerous and stupid this game is, and it may be.  But for that moment, it was really cool.  It's going to be important for people not to mess it up, though; stay off of private property -- you don't have to do that to play.  Don't try to play while driving -- there's no point.  Pay attention to your surroundings all the time -- don't walk across parking lots staring at your phone (whether you're playing Pokemon or not, ever!) and don't go into dark places at night.  No need to.  As with anything in the world, ever, use common sense; I know that's in short supply lately, but use common sense.

Is it going to bring world peace?  Nah.  Will it get kids outside?  Yep.  The novelty will fade and in a few weeks it will probably not be such a thing, but for now, it's pretty cool to see people doing this.

Before you denounce it as stupid, give it a try.  You might find yourself having fun!

If you like this post, please share it!  If you love this post, please hit the tip jar on the right sidebar!  Thanks for reading.

Pokemon for Progress (KSLA)
What is Pokemon Go and Why is Everyone Playing It? (Slate)
Pokemon Go Tips and Tricks (TechInsider)
Everything You Wanted to Know About Pokemon Go but were Afraid to Ask (CNN)
Pokemon Go App Sends ArkLaTex into a Frenzy (KSLA)
34 Essential Tips for Pokemon Go

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Tour the H.A. Cook Guesthouse

With the world unraveling this past week, and dreadful news at every turn, I needed a little mental break yesterday and so Steve and I hit the road and drove down to Natchitoches for the afternoon.

From Shreveport, Natchitoches is seventy minutes away on I49 and we make fairly frequent day trips there because it's a lovely little escape.  There is so much history there and much to see.

You can check the links at the end of this post for previous trips; I don't want to be overly redundant and post the same old pictures here.

We arrived around noon and lunch was in order.

We started out with lunch at Lasyone's; in my opinion, it's the best meat pie there is.

There are many imitations, but Lasyone's is my favorite.

I had my usual meat pie with a side of red beans and rice while Steve did the platter with salad bar, dirty rice, and vegetable.

We like to walk along Front Street and window shop; we have a few shops we always go to on each trip though.  We never miss Kaffie-Frederick.

Where else can you get a key made, a cast iron skillet, rubber rain boots, copper weather vanes...

...tiny terrarium plants and cypress Santas, all under one roof?

We also like to visit Tres Bien Antiques on St. Denis.  At present, I believe it's the only antique store in the Historic District; the one on Front Street (where The Book Merchant used to be) is closed. The fellow that runs Tres Bien has recently opened the H.A. Cook Guesthouse right next door.  He graciously gave us a tour and all I could say as we went through it was "oh my gosh..."  Simply gorgeous.

The guesthouse is available to rent and would be perfect for a group because there are three large bedrooms.  Family reunions, wedding parties, or just a group visiting the Christmas festival would be perfectly comfortable here.

The website has many more pictures but here are a few that I took yesterday:

This is the living area:

And another view:

One bedroom:

And another:

Both of those bedrooms have a little alcove with a child's bed (and their own wall-mounted tv) and bath.  The bedrooms all open onto a balcony overlooking St. Denis.  The balcony has tables and chairs where you can sit and have coffee in the morning and watch the town wake up.

This is the third bedroom, also with a full bath.

The lovely, spacious kitchen:

And bar area which adjoins the living area - all very open.

The dining room:

There's even a huge laundry room:

The back balcony:

There's a downstairs courtyard with full kitchen as well.  The condo is completely handicapped accessible; there is also off-street parking and you're within walking distance of everything you might want to do in historic downtown Natchitoches.

I could totally live there.  Forever.  It's beautiful.

It was too early for dinner so we headed down to Melrose to visit; I'd heard they had some storm damage recently was curious to see how things looked.  The barn is still roped off and repairs upcoming but the Clementine murals in the Africa House look beautiful and I was glad to see them. My creative spirit is always infused after a trip to Melrose and to my mind there is no more beautiful spot along the Cane than Miss Cammie's plantation.

We returned to Front Street and hit the Pioneer Pub for a cold beverage (that's a Hay Ryed from Red River Brewing) and some fried alligator (my favorite!).

We always meet the nicest people there - either locals, employees, or tourists, and it's easy to spend the afternoon there.

Before we left, I had to stick my toes in the Cane River because you know the legend: once you dip your toes in the Cane you can never leave it.  And I never want to.

There's just something about Natchitoches and the Cane that brings peace to my soul.

(If you want to see more of Natchitoches and of Melrose, there are several links below, as well as a post on Oakland Plantation.)

If you like this post, please share it!  If you love this post, please hit the tip jar on the right sidebar!  Thanks for reading.

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Epperson Demands UDC Remove Confederate Monument Within the Year

Detail: Caddo Parish Confederate monument
The attack on the Caddo Parish Confederate monument continues.  This post updates his latest shenanigans and attempts to pull recent events together into one post for anyone just getting up to speed on this nonsense.

Caddo Commissioner Ken Epperson is apparently not content to abide by the decision of the Long Range Planning Committee of June 9 which decided to form a subcommittee to address his protest against the Confederate Monument standing outside the Caddo Parish Courthouse.

Last week Mr. Epperson slipped an item on the agenda for the Work Session held yesterday which said "Item relative to the removal of Confederate States Monument from the Caddo Parish courthouse property."

CPC Agenda July 5, 2016, page 4

No other explanation was given which left little room for public comment should anyone have wanted to address it in the comments portion of the meeting.  Most of us thought the matter had been settled when Mr. Epperson agreed to the citizens subcommittee on June 9.

After the June 9 meeting, on June 22, Mr. Epperson published a column in The Shreveport Times which consisted primarily of the text of a 2002 title search of the courthouse property which found no title ever conveyed.  In the words of historian Gary Joiner: "They're squatters."

KTBS reporter Gerry May investigated the title issue and reported on June 27:
Epperson cites a title search that was done in 2002 to determine ownership of the courthouse land.  
While the title company wrote, "our records do not disclose a deed," it went on to say "acquisitive prescription would have long since prevailed over any flaw in the dedication of the subject tract." 
And what is "acquisitive prescription?" 
"It's a method of obtaining title to property by use and possession over a certain period of time," explains Caddo Parish Attorney Donna Frazier.
So, we can conclude that the parish does have rights to the land on which the courthouse sits, but here is where Mr. Epperson finds fault: in 1903 the Caddo Parish Police Jury, predecessor of the Caddo Commission, donated a part of that land to the United Daughters of the Confederacy as well as $1,000 to construct a monument to the Confederate dead.  The grant gave them use of the land in perpetuity and it has not been contested in over 100 years.

Here is a copy of the original minutes making that donation.  These minutes can be found on microfilm in the Shreve Memorial Library:

Caddo Parish Police Jury Minutes, 1903

According to esteemed local attorney Arthur Carmody, the land upon which the monument sits belongs to the Daughters of the Confederacy.  Mr. Carmody had a guest column in The Shreveport Times this week in which he says:

There is a pertinent legal doctrine called estoppel which squarely fits this case. It means that when one party acts, and the second party accepts that act and relies upon the representations of the first party, that the first party cannot later repudiate those acts to the detriment of the second party.
Clearly, what Mr. Epperson is attempting to do is contradict and repudiate the actions of his predecessor by which he and the Commission are bound. 
There are further arguments which support the continued honored place of the monument on Texas Street. That relates to the good faith possession of this site by the UDC for some 115 years without any adverse claim of possession or ownership by any other person or party.

In the meeting yesterday, July 5, it turns out Mr. Epperson introduced a resolution to demand the United Daughters of the Confederacy remove the monument within the year:

"I hereby move that the Legal Department of the Parish of Caddo notify the owners of the Confederate monument located on the Texas Street side of the Caddo Parish Courthouse via certified correspondence, giving them a period of (1) one year to remove said structure from the Caddo Parish Courthouse grounds. The Period of time designated for removal shall be effective September 1, 2016, and ending on August 31, 2017. 
This action is based upon the opinion rendered by United Title of Louisiana, Inc., dated March 27, 2002, addressed to Mr. Dannye W. Malone, Esq. the Parish of Caddo attorney.

This proposal is dated June 23; Epperson's proposal was sent to committee.

Victoria Shirley of KSLA news reported on the meeting yesterday in which she says, "Epperson claims the way land was donated wasn't legal because it wasn't done in the way land donations would be handled in present day".

That kind of logic boggles the mind.  Think of all the deals that aren't legal under that premise, to include even the Louisiana Purchase which was in essence done on a handshake and outside of Congress.  It wouldn't pass Constitutional muster today.

Mr. Epperson is getting desperate.

Not to mix apples and oranges, but with shootings in our streets on a daily basis, it would seem he could pick a more worthy cause.  At the June 9 meeting, when one citizen suggested he worry instead about repairing roads, Mr. Epperson boasted that they have $21 million dollars in the roads fund. So why do we still have roads that rattle your undercarriage like cattle trails and with pothole large enough to plant trees in?

In the end, the citizens that spoke at the June 9 meeting, and from what I can tell, the meeting on July 5, are opposed to any action removing the monument.  Most of us realize that the monument has no racial overtones as Mr. Epperson contends, and creates no real division anywhere; in fact, most people don't even pay attention to it.  The only division it incites is that of the race-baiters like Mr. Epperson and his crony Ardis Cash.

Yet, Mr. Epperson wants to continue to waste our taxpayer dollars beating this dead horse.  The United Daughters of the Confederacy own the land, own the monument, and have said they are not going to move it.

That should be the end of the story, but I have a feeling it won't be.

If you'd like to write a letter to Mr. Epperson in support of the monument or perhaps suggesting other avenues in which he should direct his focus, his address is:

Kenneth Epperson
Caddo Parish Commission
P. O. Box 29436
Shreveport, LA  71149

Meanwhile, lets keep an eye on the upcoming agenda items should he decide to sneak in another maneuver.

Caddo Parish Monument Under Attack (May 19)
Report From the Caddo Parish Commission Meeting in Which Commissioner Epperson Blasts "Jake-Leg Bloggers" (June 9)
Epperson's Continued Attack on the Caddo Parish Confederate Monument (June 22)
The Caddo Parish Courthouse Remains a Thing of Beauty (July 2)

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Caddo Parish Courthouse Remains an Impressive Thing of Beauty

Photo by Amanda Currier
As Caddo Parish Commissioner Ken Epperson slips another Confederate monument removal item on the agenda for the Work Session on Tuesday, perhaps this is a good time to note an article in the Louisiana Bar Association Journal this month which profiles historic courthouses throughout the state.

I drive by the courthouse fairly often and have been inside many times, but seldom have taken the time to learn about the history of the building or to appreciate the beauty of its art and architecture.

(I'm going to quote heavily from the LBA journal which quotes heavily from the official Caddo Parish website. No plagiarism is intended and I'll link you back to sources.)

The Caddo Parish courthouse was designed by Shreveport-born architect Edward F. Neild who was apparently a very busy man who designed many well known local buildings including the Louisiana State Exhibit Building at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds, the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, the gymnasium and Northwestern State University, and many buildings on the Louisiana Tech campus. Beyond the Louisiana borders, Neild designed the Truman library in Independence, Missouri and was a consulting architect on the rehabilitation of the White House during Truman's administration. He also designed two of the Japanese relocation camps in Arkansas during WWII.

(Photo courtesy of Historic Courthouse)
For the Caddo Parish Courthouse, which dates back to 1926, Neild used pink and gray Tennessee
marble on the floors with a Belgian black marble border. The walls are Rosetta marble and Art Deco flourishes can be seen throughout the foyer especially, and in the exterior ornaments, carving, and large lamps on each side of the entrance.

Like many buildings around here, the courthouse also has its share of haunted stories.  The seventh floor still has the ominous jail cells that once held prisoners and the eighth floor was where the condemned were hung. KTBS reporter Devon Patton took a tour in 2014 and filed this story:
One the eeriest places in the courthouse include the abandoned jail that sits on the 7th floor. Above the jail is the place where the hangman used to execute criminals. We found the latch where the floor would drop the person from the 8th floor to their death.
Interestingly, and perhaps Commissioner Epperson should read this, the article in the Louisiana Bar Association magazine notes the Confederate monument standing on the north side of the courthouse and the oddity that the land it stands on does not belong to the parish but to the Daughters of the Confederacy:
On the Texas Street side of the courthouse, a Confederate Veterans Reunion Monument honors those who died fighting for the Confederacy.Unbeknownst to many, this small tract of land within the perimeter of the courthouse property is actually private property owned by the Daughters of the Confederacy and not to the Parish.
As it has been noted many times, the small plot of land upon which the monument stands was donated to the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903 along with a donation of $1,000 for the commission of the monument.  It is theirs for use in perpetuity.

As Commissioner Epperson has escalated his push for removal of the monument, a recent story by Gerry May of KTBS news indicates that this could create far more problems than Epperson may be willing to bear:
(Photo courtesy of Historic courthouse)
In a recent guest column in the Shreveport Times, Epperson wrote, "The Confederate monument is placed illegally on Caddo Parish's property and should be removed immediately by the owners." 
Epperson cites a title search that was done in 2002 to determine ownership of the courthouse land. While the title company wrote, "our records do not disclose a deed," it went on to say "acquisitive prescription would have long since prevailed over any flaw in the dedication of the subject tract." 
And what is "acquisitive prescription?" 
"It's a method of obtaining title to property by use and possession over a certain period of time," explains Caddo Parish Attorney Donna Frazier. It's something that goes back to frontier days. If you stayed on a piece of land for 30 years, you became owner.  
And to that, noted historian Gary Joiner says of the parish, "They're squatters."
The Caddo Parish courthouse opened in 1927 and while the metal detectors and the heavy security were never in Neild's plan, the beauty of his design remains.

Both inside and outside, the Caddo Parish courthouse is worth taking a moment to stop and admire.  And no nasty push by any politician with an agenda can spoil that!

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Civil War Era Baseball at Mansfield Battle Park

If your vacation plans this summer include staying around the Shreveport/Bossier area, keep in mind that despite the budget cuts throughout the state, the Mansfield Battle Park and Museum is still open, despite rumors to the contrary.

I checked with Park Manager Scott Dearman who tells me that they are open Wednesday - Sunday, 9:00-5:00 and that they don't expect to be shut down.

In fact, tomorrow, July 2, you can go and enjoy a hands-on program on Civil War era baseball beginning at 11:00 a.m.  Baseball was one of the many games the soldiers would play to break up the monotony of daily life:
A park ranger will begin with a brief talk on the evolution of the 19th-century game known as Town Ball. After this, what better way to learn about the soon-to-be “National Pastime” than to play the game? The rules will be explained to all participants and equipment will be provided to play a 2-3 inning game. So bring your family and friends and a picnic lunch and enjoy a game of baseball! And just a hint, there are no strike outs! 
Here is an interesting article about baseball during the time of the Civil War by Michael Aubrecht:

During the War Between the States, countless baseball games, originally known as "townball", were organized in Army Camps and prisons on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. Very little documentation exists on these games and most information has been derived from letters written by both officers and enlisted men to their families on the home front. For the hundreds of pictures taken during the Civil War by photography pioneer Matthew Brady, there is only one photo in the National Archives that clearly captured a baseball game underway in the background. Several newspaper artists also depicted primitive ballgames and other forms of recreation devised to help boost troop morale and maintain physical fitness. Regardless of the lack of "media coverage", military historians have proved that baseball was a common ground in a country divided, and helped both Union and Confederate soldiers temporarily escape the horror of war.
And here is another article from the Smithsonian about the earliest baseball game:
Though various forms of baseball were played in England and America for over a century prior to the Civil War, modern rules of the game were not developed and employed until the 1850s. The evolving Knickerbocker Code or rules had its origins in metropolitan New York in 1845. Union soldiers, more familiar with the game, introduced others, including Southerners and Westerners to baseball throughout the Civil War, resulting in thousands of soldiers learning the game. Upon returning home, the game spread to friends and neighbors and soon the sport was played in every region of the country, solidifying its title as “The National Pastime."
If you want to learn more, and play a game yourself, head to Mansfield. You can bring chairs, a grill, and a cooler and spend the day at a fascinating historic site!

Here is an overview of the Mansfield State Historic Site, including directions on how to get there.

Here is their Facebook page.

This would be a great time to support the site and the museum and we are extremely lucky that they are still open given the near constant threats of closure by the governor.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The War Horse Memorial: Richmond, Virginia

The War Horse (photograph from The Virginia Historical Society)
Recently a friend of mine handed me a thick, blue folder inside of which was articles, photographs, postcards, souvenir booklets, and magazines all relating to Civil War themed topics.  Because I have recently joined the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she wanted to share some things with me that she knew I would be interested in.  The folder is a treasure trove of interesting topics and now that my Cammie Henry manuscript is in the hands of the publisher for round two of scrutiny, I have a little time to delve into my blue folder.

One of the photographs that caught my eye was of The War Horse memorial which is located at The Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia.  The monument is a memorial to the horses and mules, both Union and Confederate, that were lost during the Civil War.  It is estimated that between 1,300,000 and 1,500,000 horses and mules were lost during the conflict either through injury or disease. At Gettysburg alone, it is estimated that 3,000 horses and mules were lost.

The monument in Virginia is a life-sized bronze horse who still wears his saddle and bridle.  His head hangs low, his ribs are exposed, and he is exhausted.  His back foot is slightly raised, which according to philanthropist and horse breeder Paul Mellon who commissioned the monument, is "what horses do when they are tired."

In doing a little research on the monument and the artist who created it, I learned that this monument is actually one of three War Horse monuments.  The other two are three-quarter sized and stand at The National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, VA, and at The United States Cavalry Museum at Ft. Riley Kansas.

By the time Paul Mellon commissioned the one for the Virginia Historical Society, he had decided that 3/4 size was not large enough and so the artist's mold had to be enlarged for a life-sized monument.

The artist is Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England. She is well-known for her work in portraying animals and Mellon knew her because she had created a monument for his Kentucky Derby winning horse, Sea Hero, in 1993.  According to "The Origin of the War Horse" by Lisa Campbell of the National Sporting Library and Museum, Mellon was acquainted with artist John Skeaping under whom Ms. Pullan had studied. Skeaping highly recommended Ms. Pullan and so she was hired to do the Sea Hero commission.

In creating the War Horse monument, Ms. Pullan was aided by vast numbers of photographs and input from Paul Mellon.  Mr. Mellon knew exactly what he wanted this horse to look like and had been inspired by this photograph he saw in a book: it is "The American Tommy Atkins in a Montana Blizzard" by Remington.  The horse in that painting is also exhausted, gaunt, and has his back foot slightly raised.

In Lisa Campbell's article, Tessa Pullan says Mellon "supplied the photographs which were of a horse used for battle reenactments. He also sent a couple of photocopies of prints or paintings to give me an idea of what he was after. One was a horse in a snow storm which is the one I based the sculpture on."  Pullan also studied photographs of abused and starved horses, a process she describes as "horrendous," but that helped her get the effect she and Mellon wanted.

The horse was intended to represent both Union and Confederate sides and a great deal of research went into the gear on the horse so that it could represent either side.  It is also interesting to note that the scabbard is empty, indicating that the rider did not survive the battle.

The monument at the Virginia Historical Society was unveiled in September 1997; at the base of the monument is the inscription:

In memory of the one and a half million horses and mules of the Confederate and Union armies who were killed, were wounded, or died from disease in the Civil War.

Some say that the best time to visit the monument is at night; the lighting on the horse causes a huge silhouette on the wall behind him which is a striking sight.


Tessa Pullan's website is here.

More about animal mascots of the Civil War.

The War Horse photographs.

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