It was great fun to get together for lunch in Albia yesterday with my friend, Jan Horgen, who ordinarily hangs out way up north in St. Ansgar, but had been working on a couple of cases in the Ottumwa area early this week and was headed home.
A talented writer and reporter, Jan gave up the glory of newspapering some years ago to work for the U.S. Census Bureau, which I suspect pays better, affords a good deal more job security and also offers the opportunity to travel around.
We spent some time talking about the good old days, when there were progressive small- to medium-sized daily newspapers, as ours used to be, that turned writers, photographers (that's you, Arian, among others) and editors loose to work together on some pretty great stories. Good memories.
Of course we gossiped about everyone who wasn't there. So if you're wondering if we talked about you, chances are we did. In the nicest possible way, of course.
Since I usually carry the camera, I can almost always avoid showing up in front of the lens. Didn't work this time. Darned cell phones.
When I got back to Chariton at mid-afternoon, the Bruce Gookins were waiting at the museum and we had a good talk, too --- not that we've ever met or anything. But people do happen onto this blog and its tributaries --- and once a Lucas Countyan, you're always a Lucas Countyan.
Bruce and his wife are native Californians, who upon retirement moved to scenic Cedar City, Utah, and they are headed home now after attending an Air Force reunion in Indianapolis that Bruce had helped to organize.
Bruce is descended from several of the old Salem-area families, including Samuel and Lydia (Russell) Gookin and Milburn and Margaret (Clark) Hobson. His nearest ancestor at Salem is Craig Gookin, son of Samuel and Lydia, who married Alia Hobson, daughter of Milburn and Margaret, but died during 1901. Alia remarried after that and the family scattered far from Lucas County.
There used to be more Gookins in Lucas County than you could shake a stick at, but that's no longer the case. So it's always fun when one or more of them decide to come home.
I had gone to the museum to check on the school floor, which now is going back down after replacement of the old building's underpinnings. G M Builders salvaged the top layer of random-length oak flooring, put down above two other levels of flooring in 1941, and that's going back into place --- a fussy and time-consuming business.
We're also going to come up a little short, since there inevitably will be some damaged pieces of flooring, and we've got to figure out a source for replacement. They don't, as they say, make it quite like they used to.
But it does look now like we'll be able to open the school door and allow visitors to walk around when we have our fall open house, from 10 a.m. to noon a week from Saturday, Sept. 28. We will not, however, have had time to put the building back together by then --- some paint, other touch-ups and a good deal of hard labor also are going to be needed.
But there will be free coffee and hot cider and coffee cake on the 28th, perhaps some produce from the garden, all the buildings will be open to tour and we'll have some special guests to entertain the kids --- miniature horse, goats, bottle calf and some chickens. So mark the time and date on your calendar.