Monday, July 16, 2012

Boom goes the dynamite

I have fairly eclectic taste when it comes to what I like to watch on TV. I love my soap, my news and weather, crime shows, comedies, dramas and home improvement shows. But, in the last couple years, I have started watching historical documentaries from the History Channel or National Geographic. A few months ago, I watched a three-part documentary called Prohibition on PBS. It was fascinating. I love learning things about history that completely escaped me in school.

Now, after six viewing hours of Prohibition, I thought I knew quite a bit about the whole time period and the people important to all sides of the issue. Somehow, though, I still didn't know this quirky little story of Charley Melvin, the crazy prohibitionist bomber from Iola, Kansas.

You don't know this story, either? Why, let me enlighten you.

See, apparently, this guy, Charley Melvin was a little nutso. That's a clinical term, I'm sure. He lived in Iola, Kansas, in 1905. Iola is in southeast Kansas, about two hours away from Kansas City. Well, Charley started suffering from insomnia and could not sleep, which made him even crazier. Even though he didn't like alcohol on principle, his friends convinced him that he should drink beer and whiskey to help him sleep. Whoops. Backfire. It actually made him even crazier. In early January, he got drunk and decided that it would be a good idea to get some guns and kill half a dozen of Iola's saloon keepers. I'm thinking Charley wasn't only nutso, but also not that bright.

Charley bought the guns needed to complete his diabolical plan, but in the meantime, wandered around the town square seeing giant pillars of fire. Yes, giant pillars of fire. Luckily, police were able to arrest him before he carried out his mass murdering spree. They arrested him on grounds of insanity. Shocker, I know.

The state mental hospital treated him for a whopping four months before declaring him cured. At which point, they released him. But, see, Charley wasn't so cured afterall. Less than two months after his plans to kill the saloon-keepers failed, he decided to try another tactic. He planted bags of dynamite in several of the town's illegal saloons. (They must've been illegal in name only, as they were prominently located in the town square, so I'm thinking the cops could've shut them down, had they any desire.)

At 12:26am on July 10th, Charley stood a block from the Eagle, Red Light and Blue Front saloons and watched his handiwork. He had placed bags with hundreds of sticks of dynamite at both the Eagle and Red Light saloons. The explosions ripped through the buildings and could be heard in towns miles away. They completely damaged the walls and roofs of the Eagle and Red Light saloons. The Blue Front saloon, which was in the middle of the other two, collapsed, trapping the saloon-keeper in his second-story apartment.

It even caused massive damage to the brand new Allen County Courthouse, including destroying 71 windows and stopping the two-day-old clock that had just been installed.

Charley later did admit that the damage was " ... a great deal heavier than I really wanted." He ran away. Police found three more sacks of dynamite at various other saloons around the town square. Apparently, Charley decided not to set those other explosions.

Police found Charley some two months later and charged him with burglary and larceny, in connection with the theft of the dynamite. Not sure why they couldn't charge him with, oh, something like bombing, but, whatever, I'm not an early twentieth century lawyer. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. And, as much as I'm sure he was probably crazy, the jury rejected that defense, and Charley was sentenced to prison. He spent 11 years in jail before being released in 1914, shortly before his death.

So, now you know all about crazy ol' Charley Melvin. And, now you know why I drove down to Iola late at night on Friday in order to run the Charley Melvin Mad Bomber Run for Your Life 5K at 12:26am on Saturday morning. Well, truth be told, I didn't do it for Charley. I did it for my friend Jen, who lives close to Iola and is on the planning committee for the run.

They came up with the race as a way to encourage healthy habits in southeast Kansas and as a way to turn a crazy, bad story into something good. I do think it is quite hilarious how much alcohol I saw being drunk before the race. I don't think Charley would've approved.

As crazy as I sound for running at 12:26am, I was in good company. Almost 400 people ran in the race, including myself, Cory, my friend Nikki, Jen and Jen's husband Arthur.

Me, Jen and Nikki before the race started.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

As is the case with most important conversations, the following conversation with Molly occurred as we were in the car. We were driving around and started talking about the 4th of July. Personally, it is one of my favorite holidays. It is steeped in tradition for me personally, so I hope to be able to pass along some of the love for the holiday to the girls. 

I was telling Molly about the plans for the day. (The girl loves to know in advance what we are going to do every day from here to eternity!) I told her we were going to run in the 4th of July race, then go watch the parade with our friends. Molly wanted to know why the 4th of July was a holiday. What came next, I can only apologize for in advance to her future geography teacher. I'm sorry, Mrs. Future Geography Teacher. I tried, I really did. 

And, cue another of my infamously bad explanations. (See previous charity example.)

Me: Well, it's a holiday because we are celebrating the birth of our country. It's kind of like a birthday for America.
Molly: Who's America?
Me: America is the country we live in.
Molly: I thought we lived in Olathe.
Me: We do live in Olathe. Olathe is our city, and our city is in America, the country.
Molly: I thought Olathe was in Kansas.
Me: Yes, Olathe is in Kansas. But, Kansas is our state. And, really, our country is called the United States of America. So, America is really made up of everybody's states. Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, Florida - these are all states that are part of America.
Molly: Silence. So, are we going to wave 4th of July flags at the parade?
Me: Well, technically, it's called an American flag, because it's the flag of America. Our country. Remember? But, yes, we will wave them at the parade.
Molly: Oh. I like eating blueberry muffins at the parade.

Hmmmm ... not really sure I got through to her on that one. Although, to be fair, I do like eating blueberry muffins, too. I did buy her a placemat with a map of the country on it, in hopes of improving on this understanding. Let's hope she gets it down before we go to kindergarten next month. Or, my kid's going to be the only one saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the "4th of July flag!"

Molly did get to wave her "4th of July" flag at the parade.

But, despite this lack of understanding (aka. Mom's failure to explain), we had a great 4th of July. It started at the Lenexa Freedom Run. Cory ran the 5K, and I ran the 10K. It was miserably hot, and they ran out of water at one of the aid stations, which was not cool. But, I managed to squeak in just under 50 minutes (49:48), which was good enough for 4th place in my age group. And, as you all know, I do it for the medals!

Running into Danie after the race. I actually ran into quite a few more people, but our camera  memory card was out of the camera, so we had to make do with the iPhone camera.

Posing after something like our 13th Lenexa Freedom Day Run together. It's our tradition!
Yay! I got 4th place in my age group. If I'm counting correctly, I've gotten 5th place 3 times, and this is my 2nd time with 4th. Not trying to brag, just trying to illustrate how much I love that they give medals up to 5th place instead of 3rd like most races!
Next up: it was time for the parade. We were really crunched for time because I made Cory stick around for the awards ceremony to get my medal. We drove back home, showered and were back at the parade in 40 minutes. A new record. (Though, I did not get my annual 4th of July Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit from McDonalds. It's the only day of the year I get it. The medal was worth it, though.)

Before the parade began. Talking with Megan and Anne while Charlotte chowed down on some donuts.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Charlotte the Destroyer

You know the saying, "Cleaning up with children in the house is like shoveling snow in a blizzard?"

Meet Charlotte Elizabeth:

This is what Charlotte did to my shoes in my closet.

This is what Charlotte did to her sister's travel bag upon our return from Chicago.

This is what Charlotte did to my clean laundry.

This is what Charlotte did when she  knocked the entire contents of the pepper shaker onto the floor. (I will admit this one was an accident.)

This is what Charlotte did to my room when left alone for 15 minutes.

Wow. It is a really good thing that girl is cute.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Martinis all around

A friend of ours, Brent, organizes this race called The Martini Mile. It raises money for Ozanam. We really like to help support our friends' fundraising efforts, so last year, Cory ran in it. Unfortunately, it happened to fall on a day when we had a million things going on, so I couldn't do it.

This year, we both wanted to run it, so we created a team. But then we figured out that it was the same day as Molly's dance recital. Plus, Cory majorly sprained his ankle less than a week before the race. No way could we do the race and recital, so we recruited other people to run instead of us on our team. We were planning to try to get down there to cheer our team on, but wouldn't have to count on making it for the start.

But, then we got the news that two of our team members dropped out. So, we had no choice but to attempt to do both (Cory's sprained ankle and all). Molly's dance recital was in Lawrence at 1pm, and the race was down at Martini corner at 4pm. According to the Garmin, it was a 48 minute drive. It was going to be close!

We managed to book it from the recital to the race, and we even made it with time to spare. I did have to change clothes while we were driving down I-70, but I'm talented like that. So, it was all good. (Don't worry, Cory was driving, and I made sure to only change when no other cars were beside us!) I wasn't at all sure how the race was going to go. It was hot and it was 4 o'clock. I'm strictly a morning runner, so running any time after 9am is a completely foreign concept to me.

We had a four-member relay team, with each team member running one mile. Our team consisted of Chris, Anne, Cory and me. Chris started the race, then Cory (gimping on the ankle), next Anne, then me pulling up the rear. As everyone came in, they kept talking about the big hills. I thought, "man, I do hills all the time, I'm sure it's nothing." Yeah, well, I don't sprint hills, and I definitely don't run them in full sun at 4pm. Plus, my hills are not mountains of brick road. These hills were brutal.

Chris handing off to Cory.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Yeah, Mon, Jamaica!

A long time ago, we decided that for our 10-year anniversary, we would actually go on a trip. We hadn't been away together since before Charlotte was born. Plus, our last vacation was a trip to an all-inclusive resort for a friend's wedding. It would've been really awesome had I not been pregnant and puking the whole time. (It's a good thing Charlotte's cute!)

We were originally going to head to Hawaii, because even though Cory had been, I hadn't. But, once we started looking at prices, we decided to try somewhere else. Hawaii is expensive! We found a deal on Costco's Travel site (Did you even know they had a travel site? Because I didn't.) for an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. Considering I was most looking forward to sleeping and hanging out under an umbrella on a beach, Jamaica was as good as Hawaii to me. Beach? Check. Umbrella? Check.

The deal we found was for six days and five nights. It sounds like enough time, but when you count two whole days of travel, it really was too short. Aunt Amber came up from Texas and stayed at our house to watch the girls. They had a great time and absolutely did not miss us.

There's not much to write about the trip. I slept a ton. Cory ate a ton. I read six books. Cory drank a lot of mudslides. It was pretty fabulous. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves:

We just arrived in Jamaica!
First thing I did? Put my feet in the ocean.

First thing Cory did? Find a pizza.