Archive | Fun RSS for this section

County Courthouses in Alabama

Yesterday I had a hearing in Bibb County Courthouse in Centreville, Alabama.  Most of the courthouses I am in on a regular basis were built to be very utilitarian.  The Bibb County Courthouse was built in 1910, a time when courthouses were designed to be more, for a lack of another word, more majestic.  The Bibb County Courthouse has had additions and restorations since then, but the main Courtroom still has that majestic open feel to it.

In Alabama many county courthouses have been restored and modernized, but still retain their majestic look.  Samuel A. Rumore, Jr., a past President of the Alabama State Bar, researched the history of the courthouses in Alabama.  He published an article each month in the Bar Magazine about a county’s history and its courthouse.  Here is his article on Lamar County, Alabama.   I believe he compiled his research into a book.

Jimmy Emerson has photographed a number of current and past county courthouses in Alabama.  It is very interesting to see all of the different styles of courthouses.

Broadwell, IL man leaves estate to actors he never met

Broadwell man leaves estate to actors he never met

Actors Kevin Brophy, left, and Peter Barton.
Posted Feb 07, 2013 @ 10:22 PM
Last summer, Ray Fulk died alone, just as he lived. Ray, 71, had no running water in his farmhouse near Broadwell. When he drove, it was a Ford from the 1960s. He bathed in a nearby creek. When the creek was frozen, he didn’t bathe at all.

He never married, had no children or close family and few friends. But he considered two actors, Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton, to be his friends. He liked the shows in which they acted but never met either of the men.

So imagine their surprise when Brophy and Barton learned that a stranger had named them beneficiaries of his estate; an estate that will likely amount to the high six figures after Ray’s 160 acres of farm ground are sold. Depending on the price paid per acre, and $10,000 an acre might not be far off, it could hit a million dollars. Barton and Brophy will each get half.

Attorney Donald Behle, who has an office in Lincoln, is executor of Ray’s estate. Following Ray’s death on July 16, Behle sent letters to Brophy and Barton informing them that a central Illinois man they had never met was leaving them a sizeable chunk of money.

“What’s the first thing you would think if you got a letter like that?” Behle says. “You’d think it was some kind of scam.” So did Brophy and Barton, who, understandably, thought this was too strange to be legitimate.

It’s no joke

Both men were television and movie stars in the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, Brophy’s biggest break was the 1977 TV show “Lucan” in which he played the title character who had been raised by wolves. Ray kept a Lucan poster on the wall of his house many years after the show went off the air.

One-time teen idol Barton acted in movies and TV shows, most notably as Dr. Scott Grainger in the daytime soap “The Young and the Restless” from 1987-93.

Barton and Brophy know each other and worked together in the1981 movie “Hell Night,” which starred Linda Blair.

After receiving the letter concerning the bequest, Barton flew to central Illinois to check it out. He met with Behle and learned this was no scam and no joke. He saw the ramshackle farmhouse where Ray Fulk lived and the empty corn bin where he was found dead.

Dennis Gleason had known his neighbor Ray Fulk ever since Dennis was a boy. He describes a man who was, at the least, eccentric. Dennis says Ray would sometimes come to his farm and stay all day.

“I probably knew him better than anybody,” says Dennis. “I felt sorry for him.”

Dennis says that as a young man, Ray didn’t get along with his parents, especially his mother, because he couldn’t hold a job. Later in life, Ray had tendencies toward hoarding, believed in some bizarre theories and loved animals. The only other beneficiary in his will was the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago to which he left $5,000.

“He loved his dogs,” says Dennis. “He took better care of his dogs than he did of himself.” Ray had his own pet cemetery on his farm where he buried his dogs.

Wrote letters

Two years ago, a Springfield cardiologist told Ray he needed heart bypass surgery, but Ray didn’t believe it, especially after he heard how much it would cost. A concerned nurse asked Dennis if he could help convince Ray of his urgent need for cardiac surgery. Dennis could not convince him, and, inevitably, it was his bad heart that killed Ray. In July, he had gone to the corn bin near his house where he kept free weights for exercise. He died there, probably of a heart attack. His body was found a couple of days later.

His will, which has now been through probate, requested that he be buried at the pet cemetery with his dogs, if possible. It wasn’t possible. Instead, he was buried next to his parents at New Union Cemetery in Lincoln. Only about 10 people, including Behle, Gleason and some caretakers, attended the graveside service.

Behle had acted as Ray’s attorney in an earlier civil matter, so in December 1997, Ray approached him to draw up his will, including the bequest to Brophy and Barton. I have a copy of the will. In it, Ray refers to Brophy and Barton as “my friends.”

“I found a couple of letters he had written to them,” says Behle. “They sent back responses that basically said thanks for writing and please watch me in whatever their next movie or show was.”

In the TV show “Lucan,” Brophy’s character had wolf-like powers when angered. Given his intense love of dogs, that must have appealed to Ray.

Behle says Ray felt an especially close, perhaps even telepathic, connection with Barton, probably because of one of Barton’s TV shows “The Powers of Matthew Star.” It ran for one season, 1981-82. Barton, co-starring with Louis Gossett Jr., played the title character. Among his powers, Star, an alien, was telepathic and could also move objects with his mind.

Behle has spoken to Barton and Brophy about possibly coming to central Illinois to host a fundraiser in honor of Ray Fulk. Proceeds would be donated to animal shelters, in honor of what were God’s most beloved creatures in the enigmatic mind of an enigmatic man who left behind a most unusual last will and testament.

Broadwell man leaves estate to actors he never met

Bonnie and Clyde’s crime spree ended Mate of captured emu spotted in Morris

MORRIS, Alabama – Last week the Gardendale Police Department caught an escaped emu roaming the streets, and today the mate of the captured female has been spotted in the Morris area.

According to a report from theNorth Jefferson News, the Morris Police Department was notified the male emu was loose Monday, and the owner of both birds had reported their escape to the Birmingham Humane Society.

The male bird is said to be aggressive and citizens are warned to not approach it. If anyone sees the bird they should call local law enforcement or the Morris Police Department at 647-0596.

Little Humor for Tuesday – Chuck E. Cheech: Mice chew into evidence bags, eat and nest in marijuana

Some mighty mellow mice are lurking somewhere in the Wichita Police Department’s evidence and property building downtown.

Evidence clerks at the building at 410 N. Waco discovered that mice had chewed into and nested in three bags of marijuana connected to cases from 2009, Lt. Doug Nolte said. The clerks said it was evident the mice ate some of the marijuana, according to a police report.

“We’ve got some mice that are stoners,” Nolte said.

The clerks weighed the marijuana that was left and resealed it. The exterminator that is contracted for the building has been contacted, Nolte said.


Nats will name William Howard Taft new racing president

Posted by Dan Steinberg on January 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm

WN_RcngPresJrys_Mascots_revised“No man of better training, no man of more dauntless courage, of sounder common sense, and of higher and finer character, has ever come to the Presidency than William Howard Taft.”

So wrote Theodore Roosevelt in the 1909 souvenir program, distributed with each ticket to the inaugural ball of his successor. Roosevelt, of course, had chosen not to run in the 1908 election, instead designating Taft as his hand-picked successor, despite the latter’s minimal experience running for political office.

Now, 104 years later, Roosevelt will again welcome a surprising member to an exclusive club. And it will again be the rotund, mustachioed Taft.

That’s right, the Washington Nationals will introduce William Howard Taft – or “Bill” – as their newest racing president at Nats Fest Saturday afternoon.

AP, via Big League Stew.

AP, via Big League Stew.

“Teddy has handpicked the next president for the Presidents’ Race,” Nationals COO Andy Feffer said late Friday. “There was a great amount of banter and discussion back and forth, but Teddy won out with his recommendation.”

While the team considered all sorts of presidential options, this was actually an inspired choice. Taft avoids all the messy political subtext that virtually any post-war president would have created. He has an intimate connection with baseball, having
started the tradition of ceremonial first-pitch tossing with a 1910 delivery before a shutout win by Walter Johnson at Griffith Stadium. He’s also widely credited with having accidentally created the seventh-inning stretch.

Plus, Taft’s facial hair and girth likely will inspire love and merchandise sales.

“They’re all rather large, but he will be a little bit larger,” Feffer said.

And then there’s the Roosevelt thing. For better or worse, Teddy became the face of the Rushmore Four, the President who attracted screaming children, newspaper headlines and television reports. Roosevelt’s first-ever victory at the end of the 2012 regular season ended one longstanding gimmick; Taft’s arrival could herald another.

That’s because, as you learned in 10th grade but later forgot, the historical rift between the two men was among the more fascinating personal disputes in presidential history. Roosevelt had entrusted Taft with both the presidency and control of the then-ascendant Republican Party when he left office. But the Colonel later soured on Taft’s record and leadership, and decided to challenge him in the 1912 primaries.

The rhetoric that followed was every bit as good as Davey Johnson vs. Joe Maddon.

“It is a bad trait to bite the hand that feeds you,” Roosevelt said in April 1912, complaining that Taft “has not merely in thought, word, and deed been disloyal to our past friendship, but has been disloyal to every canon of ordinary decency and
fair dealing.”

“The memory of the names Mr. Roosevelt has called me still lingers in my ears,” Taft said the following month. “Since the time he began his personal attacks on me he has used all the epithets he could think of, and all the names in the calendar,
such as no President has ever been subjected to by a man who has had two terms in that office.”

Roosevelt trounced Taft in the primaries. But Taft still controlled the party machinery, and took down Roosevelt at the convention. Roosevelt then ran as a third-party candidate, dooming the Republicans to defeat and allowing Woodrow Wilson to take office nearly exactly a century ago.

“The rivalry was as bitter as it gets in politics,” said Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University. “There’s nothing like the feeling of betrayal, and both men felt betrayed by the other. Roosevelt’s feeling was ‘I made you, you were nothing, and you turned around and stabbed me in the back.’ Taft believed, with good justification, that Roosevelt cost him his re-election and led to the election of a Democrat. This was bitter and personal.”

And now? Well, now giant-headed replicas of these two political titans – once allies, later rivals – will run down the foul lines at Nationals Park.

The team will refer to Taft as “Bill” and the “Big Chief,” due to his later role as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He’ll be on Twitter at @NatsBigChief27. He’ll first meet the world at 2:15 on Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center,
where he’ll later gladhand and take photos with fans. And sometime this spring, he’ll be one of five Presidential mascots sprinting out from that outfield gate.

“Not only do I think he’ll be well-received, but he’ll add to the competition,” Feffer said. “Who knows what’ll happen next? He might even give Teddy a run for his money.”

Nats will name William Howard Taft new racing president