Sunday, October 23, 2016

100 Years Ago Today

Today and perhaps for the next few days we are going to once again enter Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine. So, strap in and enjoy the ride.
Today is October 23, 2016. My grandfather John James Sutor was born on October 23, 1906, so today would have been his 110th birthday. A century ago today he turned 10 years of age. I have spent the last couple of years going through old photographs, scanning them and documenting as best as I can who is in the picture and where the picture was taken. Along the way I happened across a photograph album and this was the first page on the inside.

The photo album was a gift from my great grandmother Mary Emma Parsons to my grandfather John James Sutor, Jr. I don't normally refer to my grandfather as a junior but since at times I will be referring to his father I must in order to distinguish between the two.

I want to say a few words about the photo album and its contents. The pictures contained in it are glued to the pages so they were scanned in place. It was difficult to get the album apart and put back together but it was done without damaging it or the contents.

What was the United States like in 1906 when my grandfather was born. Theodore Roosevelt was president. The flag had 45 stars. In April the San Francisco earthquake destroys much of that city killing at least 3,000. In September Bradbury Robinson of St. Louis University throws the first legal forward pass in an American football game. In November President Roosevelt takes a trip to Panama to inspect the progress of the construction of the Panama Canal. It was the first official trip outside the United States by a sitting president. The average life expectancy was 47 years. There were 8,000 cars in the United States and 144 miles of paved roads. The average wage was 22 cents per hour. The average worker made between 200 and 400 dollars per year. Over 95% of all births occurred at home. Sugar cost four cents per pound, eggs were fourteen cents per dozen and coffee was fifteen cents per pound.

By 1916 when he turned 10 years of age the president was Woodrow Wilson. The flag had 48 stars. In March Pancho Villa leads 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against Columbus, New Mexico killing 12 United States soldiers. United States troops pursue him across the boarder into Mexican territory. The Chicago Cubs in April play their first game at Weeghman Park (modern day Wrigley Field) defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 in 11 innings. The cost of a loaf of bread was seven cents. Sugar was four cents per pound. The 40 hour work week officially began at the Endicott-Johnson factories. Only six percent of Americans had graduated high school. The average price of a car was $400.

The young fella on the left is my Grandfather John James Sutor, Jr. The picture is undated but he appears less than 4 years of age so my best guess is around 1910.

The picture above is my grandfather John James Sutor, Jr. in the middle flanked by his two older brothers Martin Parsons Sutor and Frank Bullard Sutor. It again appears we are in the area around 1910. None of the buildings in the picture are familiar to me. The two most likely locations are on the home farm in Sparta Township or the home place of his mother in Henderson Township.

I can add nothing to this picture. It is the Spoon River, but the where and why escape me. They are certainly lost forever in the mists of time.

The photograph above does not identify either of the women. I suspect I know who they are and will share by best guess. The woman on the left is most likely my great grandmother Mary Emma Parsons Sutor. Her father was Franklin Parsons born January 9, 1826 and married to Sarah Bullard on March 19, 1849. She passed away on March 25, 1869 at the age of 40. He remarried on September 5, 1871 taking Actus Baxter as his second wife. It is my suspicion that Actus Baxter is the woman on the right. The difficulty with pictures is that you may know who people are but unless you mark them somehow we are left guessing decades later.

The pictures above from the next page in the album appear to be from a school and school function. Once again I have no information on them.

The upper picture is interesting and helps lend some credence to the comments I made regarding the two women above. The woman on the left side of the picture is Mary Emma Parsons Sutor. Note how her head in this picture is tilted slightly in the same manner as the woman in the other picture. The facial features are similar enough to lead me to feel confident in her identification. The picture above is featured in a family history written by Paul R. Dick entitled "The Sutor Saga: Belfast to Zurich". The picture was provided by my grandfather and the people pictured are identified as follows. From left to right: Martin Parsons Sutor, Mary Emma Parsons Sutor, the boy in the sailor suit and the girl behind him are unidentified, John James Sutor, Jr., Frank Bullard Sutor, and John James Sutor, Sr. The picture was taken in 1918. The picture below it is of John James Sutor, Jr. While the picture is undated from his appearance in the one above in 1918, in the one below he appears older. Since he would have been 12 in 1918 we can reasonably assume in this one he has entered his teenage years.

No story about my grandfather would be complete without a picture of a dog. How or why the dog is sitting in a rocking chair in the yard is beyond me. I remember growing up there were always dogs around. Grandpa had at least 10 and often closer to 20.

The pictures above appear to have been taken in Galesburg at the house John James Sutor, Sr. and Mary Emma Parsons Sutor owned at 790 North Broad Street. The picture on the left is John James Sutor, Sr. The center picture is Mary Emma Parsons Sutor. The third picture is the two of them together.

The picture above and the last one for today is Martin Parsons Sutor. It states at the ranch which would lead one to think it was taken at the Sutor Brothers Ranch in Kansas. The trees and foliage cause me to question that. Where he was it was apparently hunting season. I know grandpa used to go out west to hunt so perhaps they went together.

The next picture is complicated and will require an entire blog post to explain. It will require some review of family history especially the Kansas portion of the family.

That is all for today aside from this. Happy birthday Grandpa. I know you are remember fondly by each of us. You have impacted our lives for the better in ways that you perhaps did not intend or realize. As a stone thrown in a pond causes ripples in the water, your life, your actions, your conduct and your legacy ripple through our lives and those of our children and grandchildren even today. Thank you.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I keep learning new things about hurricanes. It rains a bunch so they leave behind plenty of pools of stagnant water. Now we have hundreds, no thousands, well actually millions of mosquitoes. They are breeding and feeding. I think that is the only two functions they have. Lily, Rose and I try to walk a walk a minimum of five miles. If we tried that today we would probably leave in good health and return home anemic. It is a challenge to walk to the corner and back. The round trip is almost exactly a half mile. We were out just before dusk and it looked like a cloud swarming around us. Rose and Lily were even trying to hurry back home. 

What do I miss from Northlandia? 
Palms, pines and southern live oaks here so zero fall color. We have river birch in our yard but hurricane Matthew basically striped the leaves off them. 

One of the trucks going around Tybee Island picking up yard waste. The truck and trailer are separated by a crane claw that picks up whatever limbs and other yard waste piled along the road. Progress is slow but they are getting the job done. 

This one is for you Mr. Blythe. 

It has been parked near the Doctor office where Carol goes the last two times we went. It appears to be some car lovers everyday transportation. It is a Studebaker President. 

Lily says good girls can get away with this too. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I wanted to share a bit of the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. It isn't just the fallen trees, flooding and downed power lines. Those are a big part of what happened. 

The trees have been taken off both houses and repairs have started. 
The tree above is at the Jaycee Park. It is still in the same condition today. Since it doesn't block the street it isn't a priority. The problems extend far beyond that tree. 
The Tybee Island Post Office was damaged. Many of the residents do not have home delivery. They pick up their mail at their post office box. Tybee Island mail has been relocated to Wilmington Island Post Office until at least Thanksgiving. A typical wait for mail pickup is two hours and some residents report waiting 3+ hours for mail. 

Bonaventure Cemetery is closed until damaged trees can be removed. The city of Savannah crews have higher priority work so it may be some time before it reopens. They are not sure how many monuments have been damaged. They have assured concerned citizens that Gracie is undamaged. 

Finally, Fort Pulaski National Monument was flooded and damaged. There are hundreds of trees down on the island. They are unsure how long it will be closed. To understand the scope of the damage it is 8.27 miles as the crow flies from Bonaventure Cemetery to Fort Pulaski. The damage extends several more miles east and west and for hundreds of miles to the north and south. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Seriously? No

Some days?, oh hell, most days I feel like this. 

I'm in a fantasy football league. This past weekend Mr. Blythe's team was my opponent. His team had the highest scoring total in the league this year. My team lost by the largest margin of any team in the league. Congratulations Mike! I will do this Friday to forget this loss and the one the Packers will put on the Bears Thursday night. 

My current comments on the presidential election. 

Halloween is coming up and my costume is picked out. If the weather is cold I'll have to stay home. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Underbelly

We live on the corner of Solomon and Anderson Court in the city of Tybee Island, Georgia.  In the past, up until sometime in the 1930's, Solomon was not not a street. The rail line ran from Savannah out to the beaches on Tybee and Solomon was the railbed. A little over a week ago hurricane Matthew passed just to our east in the Atlantic Ocean. There was considerable damage on our little island. Carol and I were headed to Benny's the other day for some social interaction and a beer or two. We got a couple blocks from home and noticed this tree. 
If you look closely at the roots you can see an object running off to the right. Here is a closer look. 
Being from a railroad town in Illinois the outline is clearly that of railroad rail. It had laid just below the surface since the rail line was removed at least 80 years ago. A storm revealed what had long been hidden. 

It struck me how it is a reflection of our current political process and the deep divisions within our population. We thought, or more realistically hoped, that we had moved beyond the racism of our past. That we had developed social programs to ensure the weakest among us were fed, clothed, housed and received adequate medical care. That the aged and infirm could live with dignity. That we continued to be an example to the world that people of all races, creeds, religions and cultures could live in peace. We were wrong. 

We are increasingly not "the land of the free and home of the brave". Too many of our fellow citizens are willing to trade some of their freedoms for the illusion of increased security. Willing to strip religious freedoms from those who do not worship the same "God" they do. They claim to be followers of "God" but do little to help the weak and poor their "God" commanded them to love. They fear immigrants. They are worried about terrorists sneaking in and attacking them. They cling to their guns claiming they are needed to protect themselves from their government, terrorists, criminals and anyone else they deem dangerous. They don't want anyone telling them how to live. If you are gay, lesbian, transgendered, or want an abortion they want control over your life. 

So, to me, it seems like the tree that fell here on Tybee. It pulled up what we thought was gone and buried forever. What we thought was changed in our country was the same. Barely covered, under the surface. A storm came along and revealed the truth. We had covered our problems up but they are not solved. We have not changed. The progress of decades can be lost in days, weeks or months. It is our sad and tragic truth. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I have been absent from this blog for too long. The problems with blogging were numerous. We traveled to Illinois where data was limited. We had friends and family to visit. Beer to drink and pizza to eat at Budde's. There was also plenty of work to be done. We had intended to stay another week but hurricane Matthew appeared to be headed toward our house on Tybee Island. We completed our final task up north a week ago Monday by going to the courthouse to vote. When that was done we headed south spending the night in Lexington, Kentucky. Tuesday we arrived back on Tybee Island to the news that a voluntary evacuation was being recommended. Wednesday was spent preparing the house for the coming storm. Hurricane shutters were put on the windows, anything that could be blown away was stored. The evacuation order went from voluntary to mandatory. It does not mean they will drag you out of your home and force you to leave. It does mean that once the winds reach tropical storm level at 39 mph no city services are available. No police, no fire, no emergency responders. You chose to stay and take your chances. You chose to risk your life, not theirs. So Carol, Rose, Lily and I loaded the car and headed north to South Carolina. We were followed by Brian, Tammie, Bailey and Josephine to wait out the storm in Camden at Carol's sisters home. We were about 100 miles inland and got some wind and lots of rain. Power was off there for about six hours. We were able to return to Tybee on Monday. The return trip was filled with anxiety not knowing what we would find when we got home. You know what to expect with a Midwest tornado. There will be a relatively narrow swath of severe damage and lesser damage as you move out. We learned how different hurricanes are. The damage extends for miles. Power lines down. Trees uprooted from the ground. Roofs off houses. We made it through the checkpoint and back home. The house was still there and damages were minimal. Lots of debris and plenty to clean but no serious damage. Many neighbors have it much worse. The good news is that this is not just a city. Tybee is a community. We help each other. The cleanup will continue for weeks, perhaps months. The city estimates there is about 1,000 tons of debris to be removed. It will take time but we will recover. Rebuild. Replant. Renew. I will post pictures soon. For now, it is time to get back to cleaning and recovery. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Work? Not to Me

We are back in Illinois for a bit to enjoy things we can do here we can't do in Georgia. Try getting a Midwestern pork tenderloin sandwich in Georgia. You know the ones. Those deep fried beauties that the golden fried loin is two or three times the size of the bun. Getting to go to your favorite bar to have the best pizza around and a lineup of craft beers to match with any meal. Maybe even the chance to ride in the combine while corn is being harvested. 
The young man we have mowing the acres of yard doesn't weed the flower beds. So when we came back they looked like this. 

After a couple of days crawling around pulling weeds and figuring out what flowers survived they now look like this. 

It might look like work to you. It didn't feel that way to me. There is something about getting out there and working in the dirt that always feels satisfying to me. We aren't done yet but the progress is clear and makes me feel good.