Sunday, August 05, 2012

Mormon missionaries and a new toy

My new toy:

We had a really nice shower here in the neighborhood Saturday morning --- and Mormon missionaries in the evening. I'm not sure the two were related, but you just never know.

The rain was great, and I'm not going to go on and on about the fact we need more. Major news stories of the morning include parts of Oklahoma, where daily highs have been topping 110, in flames. We're not there --- yet. So gratitude's in order and a few cooler days are ahead.

I like Mormon missionaries for a couple of reasons. All the ones I've met are decent and polite kids. And if other varieties of Christians weren't so danged lazy, they'd be out pounding pavement, too --- instead of eating chicken sandwiches and yowling like scalded cats.

Back in the day when I lived in an apartment during the work week, four missionaries lived next door for a couple of years. Great neighbors. Quiet, friendly, helpful. The only problem: They look alike --- it's the white shirt, the tie, the nametag, the haircut. And they rotate frequently. So you'd just get used to saying "good morning" to one elder when he'd be replaced by another elder and it took a few days to notice.

Our encounters usually end in impasse, I think. I like to tell in great detail the story of how my Mormon ancestors got stuck in Iowa's mud, test knowledge of Mormon history (it can be a little sketchy, depending) and expound upon my conviction that every LDS family driving between Utah or elsewhere west of the Mississippi and Nauvoo should spend at least a day in the south of Iowa touring points of Mormon interest and perhaps spending a little cash. They're polite guys, and have to listen even after their eyes have glazed over. I'm thinking of having a brochure printed.

That would be only fair, considering the Book of Mormon issue. They're always offered and I usually accept. I figure there's probably a tally sheet somewhere and points awarded. But one needs only so many Books of Mormon, so I generally pass these on unobtrusively --- like on a park bench or store counter. Golly, that makes me a Mormon missionary, too.

Yes, I'm polite to missionaries of all varieties and always accept literature. But since Kingdom Hall folded and Baptists and their kin went out of the soul-saving business there just aren't many others around.


I've got a new toy and spent too much time playing with it Saturday --- an online subscription (not unreasonably priced) to, a Cedar Rapids-based outfit that describes itself as the "world's largest newspaper archive."

I got out the credit card mostly because I like to research the genealogy of Chariton buildings and other aspects of local history. These newspapers are all available on microfilm, in Chariton in the genealogy room at the public library. But it takes a long time to wade through microfilm and Darlene's index is focused on people rather than buildings and events. So the word-search aspect of NewspaperArchive is very helpful.

Before you bite, however, make sure newspapers you're interested in actually are there. Because of the Iowa connection, its strong on Iowa newspapers --- but even the Chariton collection is incomplete (for now at least). Available issues end about 1904 and some early editions of some papers aren't there. The collections from other states can be sketchy.

I was really happy to find Rock Rapids newspapers and spent much of the afternoon following the trials, travels and tribulations of my grandmother's Dent and Dunlap families. And I'm headed back into the archive this afternoon. But since I got so preoccupied yesterday I didn't finish up the Sunday bulletin, so need to get to work on that now.

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