Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow, minor disasters and a little history

Still a construction zone, but you can get an idea here of how the expanded version of Chariton's Hy-Vee grocery store is shaping up.

We seem to be enjoying the best of both worlds here this morning --- yesterday, the anticipation of a major winter storm; today, not that much snow and practically no drifting.

Traditionalists got to make the obligatory trip to the grocery store for provisions, kids got out of school at noon, many businesses got to close early and we all were spared evening meetings for various good causes (I'm sure those who had to drive any distance in it probably didn't enjoy the experience, however). It's not even very cold --- 21 degrees.

Today, everything should return to normal with minimal fuss. We could have used the moisture, though I'm glad we didn't get it in that form.


I held off on going to the grocery store until it started to snow seriously yesterday afternoon, not needing either bread or milk. Then couldn't stand it any longer and came home with confectioners sugar (for cream cheese frosting), polish sausage (jambalaya)  and ice cream. Probably should have stayed home.

As mentioned before, Hy-Vee is a constant source of entertainment these days. The biggest part of the new wing was opening up Thursday --- filled with coolers for dairy and processed foods and freezers for frozen stuff. Just like the big time. This was a little confusing because the sausage had moved but the luncheon meat I use as a locator hadn't. It all worked out though.

Produce was in transit from the east side of the old store, now the middle of the expanded store, to the west side of the store, where it will reside permanently --- although with new display cases and expanded selection I suppose. I don't see how the staff is managing to stay sane amid all the turmoil.

So this guy I didn't know from Adam came up beside me while I was practicing Zen and the art of ice cream  selection and started complaining at length that it was too messy to get to Wal-Mart so he had been forced to shop at home. This seemed to have something to do with the price of bacon. You want to say in situations like this, "well why don't you just move closer to your favorite Wal-Mart?" but all that comes out is, "golly."


I've already complained elsewhere about Wednesday at the museum when in a little under an hour, our main computer was pronounced dead and beyond resuscitation, the Stephens House furnace stopped running and a mouse was sighted in the library.

A new computer has been ordered and data will be transferred from one hard drive to another and a new furnace fan motor for the Stephens House also is on its way. But still no resolution on the mouse situation. We're patrolling sticky traps daily.


There are a number of small puzzles about the museum's Stephens House, constructed by contractor A.J. Stephens near the turn of the 20th century --- including exactly when it was built and why its exterior seems a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle put together of rusticated concrete block and blonde brick. I happened across a couple of brief newspaper articles recently that clarifies some of that.

The following appeared in The Chariton Leader of May 18, 1911: "Yes, I have decided to erect a brick residence to be occupied as my family home, on my grounds in the west part of town. You can see the place from the north side of the square. It heads the street (Braden Avenue) and is a sightly place. I have been accumulating brick from my building contracts at several points over the state and thought this would be a good time to build. Chariton is to be a better town than ever --- Andrew Stephens."

On 29 June, the Leader reported: "Andy Stephens is getting the work on his brick residence, in the west part of town, well under way and when completed will have one of the prettiest homes in Chariton."

And finally, from the Leader of Nov. 9, 1911: "Andrew Stephens will soon have his fine new residence in the west part of the city completed. This is one of the finest places in Chariton, pleasing in appearance and architecturally as near perfect as possible to make it. It is a veneered building, of cement blocks and Mr. Stephens has spared no pains in the construction of this house, which will soon be occupied by the family."

So now we know. Granted, it's an interesting old house and I like it --- but despite its position on the National Register of Historic Places "architecturally as near perfect as possible" is stretching reality just a little.

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