Rambling though central Illinois, pondering rodent genetics.
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Squirrel talk abounds after a recent mention in this space of a black squirrel near my home in Elmwood. Well that little rascal, or one of his ancestors, frequented Laurel Street five years ago and has returned recently to frolic near the home of Susie Reicheneker, who has also got pictures of a white-tailed squirrel last fall. David Vaughan reports he has also seen a black squirrel on East Ash Street. I’ve learned that black squirrels are actually a color phase of grey squirrels that is becoming more common across Illinois. But Larry Waughop of Elmwood takes issue with the idea that somebody imported black squirrels from Colorado. He says the Colorado tree-rats are called Abert’s squirrels and have tall tufts of hair on their ears, which is why they are also called “tassel-eared” squirrels out west.
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Big news in Elmwood is that Jody McKinty has purchased the old Sarah’s True Value Hardware building and is going to turn it into a poker machine parlor. In addition to drinks, Jody said the new bar, Elmwood Place, will have a very limited food menu to start. Busy woman, Jody, who already has two taverns to run and – thankfully – will be able to bring back her successful St. Jude Fundraiser in Yates City on June 12. That’s the event that has gone from raising $1,000 in its first year to $126,112.12 in 2019 for the 16th annual event. … Speaking of a welcome return, the crowd at Sweetwater Park in Elmwood for last Thursday’s ball games was as large as I’ve seen in many years. Similar reports are coming from other ballyards. Seems people are starved to return to the activities they once took for granted. Better news for those in need of some ball diamond popcorn is that the Elmwood concession stand will be open again as you read this.
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Need another eating option? The Feed Store in Princeville opened its dining space on Tuesday. This has been a much-delayed event that was slowed by a major fire back on Feb. 12, 2020. Since then, the Country Feed & Supplies store has already reopened (and sells bales of straw for less than half the price of straw in Peoria). … There are still moments in life when it seems I’ll never really be adult. One came last week while driving my wife’s car home from a track meet, just as dark settled in. While I had prescription sunglasses along, my regular glasses were still at home – all three pairs. And driving at night with sunglasses – something I’ve done more than I like to admit – is not easy. Now I technically don’t need glasses to drive, since the father of a friend cheated for me at the driver’s bureau years ago and took that restriction off my license. That technicality aside, the glasses sure help. What to do without them? Make do. Which means I was left to drive home wearing my wife’s bejeweled Lisa-Loeb-looking glasses – and praying nobody would see me. Sigh. Sometimes it really is hypocritical to lecture the boys on maturity.
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Why is the same editorial cartoon appearing again (above left)? Well, we cropped out the words last week and it had people confused. Sorry. … If I was a billionaire: I’d try to hire Morgan Freeman to read me stories. … Parting shot: My wish is that McKinty had opened an OTB parlor next door, though the success rate for that business is worse than printing a newspaper. But why? Placing bets on a real, live event is way more fun than watching a computer screen (even if the race is probably fixed, as I’m reminded in every episode of Peaky Blinders, still the best show ever on Netflix). I’d pay to go back to July 4, 1983, the day Dave Righetti tossed a no-hitter for the Yankees and my buddies Shmoo, Jimbo and I cashed winning tickets all day at Fort Erie Racetrack – with time to spare to make it to Mrs. Griffa’s annual party and eat any remaining deviled eggs. Standing on the rail, slapping a Daily Racing Form wildly as a horse came to the finish to win me money ranks among the most exhilarating experiences of my life. And while I haven’t been to the races in years, it occurs to me that my young mind had no clue where those days would ultimately rank.
Contact Jeff Lampe at (309) 231-6040 or email@example.com