This is an installment into my search of the genealogy of my family and that of my wife. There will be tons of stories that I will write about after searching. Keep in mind I have tried to get all correct information but I can guarantee you there will be mistake and they are unintentional. Enjoy these and please let others know about my search.

It is my goal to keep the Knuppel search and the Sawrey search ongoing. Those are from my dads side and my moms side. Along with that, I will be looking into my wifes family with searches of the Meeker family and the Callaway family.

But these on this website are just a Fork in the Road. What that means is I have gone off the beaten path a bit, but still a direct descendant and looked for stories. As an example, it might be the 5th great-grandfathers wife side that I found something interesting. After all, it is the family of my 5th great-grandmother!


The Covingtons

my 9th great-grandfather



The Covington family can be traced back in Harrold, England to Elizabethan times when William Covington was born in the village in around 1593. There were Covingtons in other parts of North Bedfordshire, including Bedford and nearby Turvey and, of course, in the village of Covington just across the county border in the Kimbolton part of Huntingdonshire.

Where is Harrold?

Harrold is a civil parish and electoral ward in the Borough of Bedford within Bedfordshire, England, around nine miles north-west of Bedford. The village is on the north bank of the River Great Ouse, and is the site of an ancient bridge, linking the village with Carlton with Chellington on the south bank.


We know little of the early life of William in Harrold or of his wife, but a son George was born in 1617 and sadly died that same year. In November 1618 a second son William was born and eventually there were three more children, Joan, Hannah and Robert. The family all grew up in Harrold and in 1639 William was married in nearby Pavenham to Ann. Within the first few years of this marriage Ann died and, sometime in the 1640s, William emigrated to America (this coincided with The English Civil War).

We know that he was transported to Virginia as an indentured emigrant and that his transportation had been arranged by brothers John and George Mott. He arrived in Old Rappahannock County of the colony of Virginia (now known as Essex County). The Mott brothers were agents in recruiting and shipping colonists for Virginia and for this service they received a patent for 15,564 acres of land on waters draining into the Rappahannock River on 17 October, 1670.

This was for 313 indentured workers known as “headrights”. William’s name was on that list and so too was the name of Thomas Howerton (born in England around 1640 and shipped to Virginia in the 1660s. Thomas and William became partners and William subsequently married Dorothy Howerton who was probably Thomas’s sister.

William and Dorothy Covington raised a family. Thomas and William were obviously involved in the tobacco trade because in 1670 they purchased a small part of the Mott plantation for 3,000 pounds of tobacco. Originally this was for 300 acres, but by 1683 the partners had together acquired 1000 acres and they then divided this up by an “Agreement between Howerton and Covington to divide land from Mr. Mott. Howerton to have land on the south side and Covington to have land on the north side of Dragon Swamp”( 4th April 1683).

The Dragon Swamp is also Known as the Dragon Run; it is a stream which flows into a tidal tributary of Chesapeake Bay. In 1607 it was first explored by Captain John Smith and became a popular area for settlement in the 1640s by what are still referred to in Virginia as the Cavaliers.

William Covington’s will was made in 1696 and proved the next year when he died at the age of 77. He left the plantation, which by then included a mill known as Covington’s Mill, to his three sons. A daughter and a grand-daughter each received a cow.

William Covington was probably the first person from Harrold to set foot in the New World. His arrival in the 1640s was just over 20 years after the Pilgrim Fathers had made their epic journey to New England and when settlement in Virginia was in its infancy. Other members of the Covington family later came from England. Nehemiah Covington from the Huntingdonshire village of that name arrived in the 1660s.

Today there are more than a thousand names of the direct descendants of the Harrold branch stemming from “William Covington the Immigrant”.

Genealogical records based on primary sources such as wills, land registration, state and county records and family bibles, etc. show the spread of these Covingtons through the states of the USA over 13 generations. A random sample of 62 of these Harrold descendants (all those named William Covington) have revealed that they were born in 12 states of the USA:

Within this single branch of a family is the story of the making of America – early settlements in Virginia and the Carolinas, wagon train migration to Tennessee and to Missouri, and military involvement in the Revolutionary War the Mexican War, the American Civil War (on both sides) and two world wars. Between these major events ordinary people were involved in farming, setting up businesses, missionary involvement in the churches, public service, academic life and, even, rocket science. The Harrold branch of the Covingtons certainly played its part in the foundation of modern America.




The Year 2020 is here. I made a decision to deep dive into the genealogy of my predecessors and those of my wife Linda. So here is my plan. I will trace back four families in our history. The Knuppel’s, the Meeker’s, The Callaway’s and the Sawrey’s are the sources of my work. However, those will be done on and family search. It is my hope to make that into a book that I can write. What about the other stuff not included in the book?

From there I will feature side stories on different family members or there spouse on this website. From there I will venture off the path and delve into some historical context as to what I have found. Let me tell you now that what I have found spans many centuries spread among different several continents. In fact, my son Randy and I have been able to go back as far as 30 AD in some cases.

The stories as amazing. It is fun to go back and find references to slave trading, war heroics, settlers and traders of the early days of this continent along with the fact the some of the bloodlines are directly linked to famous historical figures.

Look for this to begin soon RIGHT HERE.



“You Want to Ride the Ball…..”

(originally written in March 2017)



I heard some version of that sentence at least three times. It still haunts me a bit from time to time. Allow me to work up to giving you more information at the end of the blog.

During the summer of 1978, I began working as a Union Laborer. School was out and I wanted to earn some extra money. One of my brothers knew the Union Steward and he had no problem getting me a union card. That is, he had no problem after I paid $500 for “dues” which was interesting since the union only charged $350. It is called “greasing the wheel” and I was set. I had no issue with paying the money because a union worker made a good wage. I was set to work from June 1- August 10.

Grab a Broom

I was assigned to work at the new power station they were building just outside of Havana. The first day they took all my information and assigned a foreman to me. I was to grab a broom and clean all day. They had part of the plant up and union men of all trades were working on it. I was to clean an area that was the outside perimeter of the plant. I was told NOT to clean the inner circle. It was open to the sky in that area and workers were working high and they wanted to keep people out of the area on the ground level. They told me that was to prevent injury and things could be accidentally dropped from high. They assured me nothing had every fallen but it could. By 9AM I am cleaning and sweeping and leaning on my broom like any good union laborer when about 10:30AM I heard a whizzing sound and then workers yelling. One of the groups above had allowed a roll of cable to slip out of their grasp and it can down to the ground with a whizz. Whiping around and it would have decapitated any one in its path. So much for nothing every dropping.

Geniuses at Work

A couple of interesting things happened that I want to share that didn’t directly affect me but is related to the power plant construction. The first one deals with a railroad. There was a crew that was to build a railroad track from one end of the site to the other. Rails were mounted on five foot planks and then they were placed together (linked) to form the tracks. Problem was… they started with a crew on one end and another crew on the other end and they miss meeting each other by a good 50 feet. They had to go back and remove some of them and re-do the linking so they could complete the project. This took about 3 days to get it back on track.

Another day here was a horrible thing happen. Every day new pieces of steel were lifted up and beams were placed in the building of the plant. One particular day I happened to notice them swinging in the beam and a guy standing on the adjacent beam slowly signalling the beam into the correct place. He got to the last part and told the operator to set it down. Just as he did it moved about 3-4 inches and it was set down on the feet of the guy doing the signalling. Long story short he was taken to hospital and had three toes on each foot gone. The beam had crushed them. Ugh.

Sitting Idly

Another thing was I was working in the back lot of the site and I came across a guy sitting in a crane. He was just sitting there. He sat there for about 4 hours and then when I came back past him I struck up a conversation. I asked him why his crane was not running and why he just sat there. He said several days before he was sent out there to work and when he was done they instructed him to leave his crane and they would have him bring it up the next day. Problem was… in between that time they had unloaded a very large load of lumber in the path of his return. They couldn’t get him back. He was told to go to his machine and just sit there until the path was clear for him to return. It was 6 days later that they finally got him back. He was paid the entire time to just sit there.

What to Do With Lazy Workers

One oddity happened. I had worked there for about 3 weeks with a guy named “Butch”. He didn’t work hard and he showed up about three days per week. The supervisors called a short meeting one morning and informed all of the workers that Butch had been promoted and was to become a supervisor immediately. Wait, this is the guy that doesn’t work hard and only 3 days per week? Yep. About 3-4 weeks later we got the scoop. They put him in that job to make him show up. It worked. Butch was there everyday and didn’t have to work, only supervise. I guess somebody was a genius to think of that.


I had a horrible couple of weeks when I was assigned, daily, to run a jackhammer. They needed concrete taken out of a 80’x60′ area that was 14 inches deep. It was a mistake and they neeed to rectify it. So for about 10 working days I ran that hammer. It was hard work, slow work and when I got home I was shaking a bit like a jackhammer. Then they rewarded me for four days ( I never complained to them about the jackhammer) and was given a job “spotting.”

Making Sure Nobody Gets Covered Up

This job is on the ground as the backhoes are working. The holes are about 40 feet deep they have a laborer in the hole doing some digging to make it a clean dig. So I stood on top of the hole and watched the laborer work as the backhoe also worked in the same hole….. if the laborer should get covered by the backhoe I was to signal the operator to stop and then I was to alert others that he had been covered up. Then three of us were to go into the hole and dig him out. It never happened.

The Ball

One day my foreman’s boss approach me and ask me if I wanted to work high. I asked him what he meant and he pointed to the top of the building. I stood there for a long while and then I began to talk.

Me: “You want me to work up there?”

Boss: “Yes, it’s an easy job. All you do all day is make sure everyone has water. You check the water jugs.”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Boss: ” It’s easy. They have flooring and railings up there and besides you make a $1 more per hour.”

Me: ” Ok, I guess I can.”

Boss: ” Good. You want to ride the ball up?”

Me: “huh?”

Boss: “The ball. The ball on the crane. just grab ahold and ride it to the top.”

Me: “Nah, I don’t think so.”

Boss: “Ok, there are steps that go up there. ”

So off I went. I found the stairs and headed up. Oh but wait! The stairs ended at the fifth floor and there are eight stories to the building. What am I looking at? Oh my. There was a straight up ladder that extended to the sixth, seventh and eighth story. Straight up. I stood there for a few seconds when some random guy came by and asked me if there was a problem. I told him I was unsure about climbing the ladder to the top. He responded with, ” do you want to ride the ball up?” I declined and grab the rungs of the ladder. White knuckling my way one at a time. I reached the top level. What am I going to do now? I had to swing my legs over to get on the flooring of the work area. I froze for a bit. Some guy asked me if I was ok and I shook my head affirmatively and slowly swung my leg over and crawl over to reach the top.

I was at the top and not feeling very well.  My new supervisor approached me and asked me if I was ok.

New Boss: ” hey buddy, you ok, you don’t look so good.”

Me: ” I guess I am ok.”

New Boss: “Great, let me get you started and you now that you make a $1 more per hour working high, don’t you? (I nodded) You have five areas up here to make sure they have adequate water supply. If a water jug gets almost empty you need to signal the guy down there running the ball. Tell him and he will send a new one up.”

So he pointed to my first area and I started over there…but one thing didn’t look good. They told me there was flooring a railings up here. Technically, they were correct. BUT it was boards running from beam to beam with a rope railing around the edge. GULP. So I started over. Slowly I inched my way over, holding on to the railing. The boards were bowing in the middle and I felt really uncomfortable. I reached the water and it was fine. I told myself I couldn’t do this job. I inched my way back and got to some solid footing when another random guy stopped me.

Random Guy: “Hey buddy, you ok?”

Me: “No I don’t think so. I don’t feel real good working high.”

Random Guy: “But you get a $1 more per hour working up here.”

(I thought that $1 more isn’t going to help me when I die up here)

Me: ” I think I need to go back down.”

Random Guy: “Ok, you want to ride the ball down?”

Me: “No thanks.”

So I decided to forego the dollar more and head back down. I walked over and then it struck me that I need to go back down a straight ladder and I froze. I had to swing my leg over and grab the rungs of the ladder at the same time. I stood there. Another guy asked me if I was ok and repeated the same offer to have me grab the big ball on the crane and ride it down. I mustered the courage to climb down. I finally, reached the ground, and my legs were shaking and I felt ill.

Once on ground,  the first supervisor came to me and I told him I couldn’t work high. He said it should be worth it for a $1 more. I made some comment about being at the top and seeing Canton from there and how I wanted to live to have a family and the dollar meant nothing to me. I told him I was sick and was going home.

That night, laying in bed, I could visualize everything I saw from the time starting up to getting back on the ground. I passed up the extra money but that didn’t bother me. The next day back to work, the supervior told me that less than 20% were cut out to work high.

I wonder if things would have been different if I would have ridden the ball.



Previous Blog Posts:

Sunday Fight Behind the Root Beer Stand

Remembering My Time Around Easton

“Oh Well, I Will Strike Her Out Anyway”

What Were Our Parents Thinking?

Call the Sheriff

Kilbourne Condom

I’m Still Paying For It

My First School Basketball Team

The History of Me- My Birthday


Words From your Grandpa

I really don’t anticipate that my grandchildren will ever read these words but I plan to tell them anyway. Being a grandparent is an awesome thing that happens to a person. It is kind of like a reward for enduring the parenting years. I never dreamed of being a grandparent. Not because I didn’t expect my kids to get married and have children but I never thought about getting old. Really, I didn’t think about all those old people I remember from my days would translate into me being old enough to have grandchildren.

There’s something to be said about grandkids. They are transforming to the soul. Watching, listening and being part of their life is an awesome thing to be part of. Whether you view it personally or it is shared through Facebook, FaceTime or some other means, it is a fun thing to be part of their growing up.

Yes, it is much different when you do that as a parent. You are the one that is most responsible for shaping them into becoming functioning adults. Now those kids and their spouses have done fantastic work in raising their kids and have allowed us to be part of the outside shaping of their lives.

I’m still learning this grandpa thing and how to be good at it. I will always be a dad and that role will never end even after I am gone. They will continue to hear my inner voice by the things I said and now will be able to pass that wisdom to my grandchildren. I think being a grandfather means I can spend my time offering them love and the little bits of wisdom I’ve managed to collect over the years.


To my Grandchildren:

You can do anything. Sure, I can sense the apprehension of that statement but you were born with a purpose. No one is like you and no one has the same gifts as you do. Use those gifts and trust them when the opportunity arises to do good in this world. Be confident in those gifts and use them with confidence and passion.

Trust Your Parents. Yes, that is the same as obeying them. You will not always agree with them in what they are saying or doing but they deserve your unconditional love. By doing this, you will create a lifelong bond. This bond will be needed when you make a mistake or are dealt a cruel loss. Having your parents love and loving them back will soften the blow when hard times come into your life. Respect your Parents.

Listen to your heart. Tune out all the distractions in life and all the noise around you. This allows you to understand and you will hear your heart that God uses to pour out his love for you. You are beautiful. You don’t need to be perfect to be beautiful so allow love to stream over you which will make you feel valuable, worthy and beautiful.



Enjoy Life. Do things that are fun. It doesn’t matter if you are a child or an adult. Enjoy. Dance, jump and skip around every chance you find. Live life to the fullest. Take time to sketch something, play a game, read a book or color. Find time to enjoy at all stages of your life.


Don’t be Judgmental. You don’t know what someone else is going through until you’ve walked in their shoes.



Practice Good Manners. It doesn’t cost a thing. Practice them and make an impression.


Work Hard. Every day is an opportunity to be better then they were the day before.


Seek a Valuable Life. A valuable life isn’t always found in what you do or what you have; a valuable life begins with understanding that the point of being alive is to love as much as you can along the way. A valuable life is about giving love to yourself when you need it and giving love to others when it’s requested. A valuable life is about sharing your heart when you are ready. A valuable life is measured by the times you trade your mistakes for grace; bitterness for forgiveness and hate for love.


Love God with All Your Heart. What does this actually mean? You take time each day to work on building a relationship with him. You do that through prayer. Give him the best of your affection. Share your joys with God. Run and Sing to Him. Allow him to know your private hopes and dreams. Let him know you appreciate what he does for you and tell others what he has done. This type of relationship allows you to seek him out when things aren’t going well. Cry to him, Admit you him your human errors. Apologize to him. Be honest with him at all times even when you are angry or disappointed in him. Then listen. Listen closely to the things he says and ask if you don’t understand.


These are a few of the things that I believe will help you be a better person.




PS. I’m still learning how to be a good grandfather.

Is Retirement Biblical?

In broad terms, retirement is withdrawing from your work and seeking the ability to live life to the fullest without obligation, worry or commitment. Retirement allows for the mentality to do what you want when you feel like doing it. It is a reward for hard work.

There are those that will tell you that retirement is not biblical? That is not so. The only mention of retirement found in the Bible is stated in Numbers 8:23-26 where God tells Moses that the Levites (who are the priests that are in charge of serving God but doing lots of work around the Tabernacle) would be allowed to begin work at age 25 and then work until mandatory retirement at age 50.

However, these priests were not expected to bag their bags and go the nearest beach in Tel Aviv but were “expected” to begin assisting the younger men in their work. It was a new work now. It was the mentoring of younger men by providing wisdom from their 25 years of experience in serving the Lord.

Now if you go to a Bible Commentary, you are likely to find that the elders are under no obligation to do any work that requires labor but are to become counselors which in turn allows the younger men to assume more responsibilities.

The Bible is full of men that work long into their life such as John the Apostle was still writing while he was in his 90’s. Moses was 80 when he asked for freedom of the Israelites slaves. He worked until he dies at age 120 years old.

Retirement should mean you are no longer doing the work of old but now have increased time and opportunity to do God’s work. This is God’s design. Everyone has the opportunity to use the time given to them after their working retirement. What is important now is we must decide how to use and redeem the time that God has given us. We must take every chance we have to serve the Lord.

One particular job of labor is to be pursued as long as possible and as productive for as long as we can. However, God calls us to labor in his vineyard until he calls us home. Be faithful, glorify God, serve the common good and do all you can to further his kingdom.





The Fight. Let’s get one thing straight right now. I wasn’t involved in The Fight. I was an accessory I guess, though.  More on that later on.

Sandy VanOrman and I hung out together the last couple years of high school from time to time. We had some interesting things that happened to us together. Here are a few recollections of those times. I remember we used to make tapes together with music and our own broadcast. Such as a newscast that would stop and then a current song was stuck in there to fill in the words we wanted to say. An example might be…. ” Here we are on Michigan Avenue in Chicago” (then the song Walkin’ Down the Street singing do-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy do) and “look there is a man with a gun coming towards us” first would be athe song…(there’s man with a go over there) and followed by (song We Gotta Get Out of This Place, if it’s the Last Thing we ever Do”) We thought they were hilarious.

We both enjoyed music. In fact on February 9, 1964 we went on a youth group trip on the train to Chicago to see a play that was chaperoned by Carol Kreiling. We got home about ten minutes until seven to my house and no one was home. On the TV that night was The Beatles making their first visit to the Ed Sullivan Show. We got two badminton rackets and played along with them in my living room. That was for every song they played and we knew all the words to it. We loved the British Invasion.

Some Sunday Football

Sunday afternoons were spent playing football. We would sometimes play behind the Lutheran Church in Manito with Kirk Hilst, Nello Rossi and a host of others. We would play tackle and it got brutal but we never  broke any bones. On occasion we played on the side yard of Sandy’s house (the one he stills lives in). That lasted for a pure two hours as we started at 1pm and ended at 3pm. This gave me plenty of time to still get to Linda’s house.

Algebra 2 Test

There was only one time I remember doing a bad thing while in high school. I worked the last three years in the principal’s office running errand and doing the leg work instead of going to study hall. During my junior year it was around Christmas time and final exams were upon us. I had ONE teacher in high school in my four years that I didn’t like. I didn’t like him at all. He taught Algebra classes and Geometry. He always had a smart alec thing to say to me. So this Christmas he ran off copies of his Algebra II test and put it in his mailbox. I wasn’t in that class as it was some of the upperclassmen. I swiped one of the tests the day before and decided to give it to Sandy. Lo and behold what did he do? He had a study party somewhere and invited many classmates over to “review” for the test. I was stunned and expecting the word got out. Nope. Sandy never told them where it came from and they all did very well on that test. I dodged a bullet and knew at that moment Sandy had my back.

Drag Race Nationals

I knew nothing about cars. Let me repeat that. Nothing. One day Sandy got tickets to the National Drag Finals in Indianapolis and made plans for us to go. His plans we no lodging, no plans, just go. That first day he was in heaven as we wandered the pit area and he knew every engine and stuff around. I just followed. He talked to everybody and everybody talked to him. About 6pm it was time to get some food and park his car in a bank lot and sleep. Sandy wanders over to me and says, “I got us a room tonight.” Whoa, we were staying in a hotel? Then he says that one of the crew members (4 of them) had offered us their floor to sleep on and he accepted. Did we know these guys? Well, at least I didn’t. Sandy was unfazed and we went to their hotel and slept ( I think my eyes were open all night) on the floor. It was a nice gesture but I had visions of being chopped up while I attempted to sleep. Nothing happened and they invited us to stay close to them all day down in the pit. I can say I went to a Nationals Drag Race but I can’t say I learned much. But Sandy Ford ( he loved his middle name) had a blast and we came home in one piece.

ACT Test Day

Sandy’s mom was a really nice lady but she worried all the time where he was and what he was doing. One particular night we had been out hanging around with Kirk Hilst and wandered back to his house. They had a ping-pong table in the basement and we played and played. It was also the night before Sandy was to take the ACT test. He didn’t tell Kirk or I about that. It was almost 2 AM when we heard footsteps coming down the steps and there was Sandy’s mom, in her housecoat, looking for her son. She saw him playing and stopped in her tracks and exclaimed, “Sandy, you know what time it is? You need to get home, you are taking the ACT test tomorrow.” He told her he woud be home right away. She left and the three of us stood there staring at each other when Sandy exclaimed, “Bup, I think I better go home.”


Forest City Church

This is a short story as several youth went to FCCC on Sunday and youth group. It was the boys duty to take the church collection every Sunday. Several times I decided not to go and I always would get a call about 15 minutes before the collection was to be received. They urged me to come and help as there wasn’t enough help. On some occasions Sandy and John Eubanks would stand up front with the money as the preacher gave a prayer for the offering.  They would try to see who could blow out the candles on the alter table (our backs were to a praying congregation)without anyone knowing they were trying to do that.

The Fight

SandyFordVO I think it was a Fall Sunday when this happened. It was likely late September or early October as the weather was pretty decent. This day it was planned. I don’t what started it or anything but today Sandy was schedule to fight Jim Avery behind the root beer stand in the alley in Manito at 2pm. I was going with him. Sandy wasn’t a person that just looked for fights but he didn’t mind sticking up for himself. (my parents asked me later if I know this was going to happen and then they weren’t very pleased with me).

It was 2pm and about 20 teenagers were hanging around in a circle waiting for the main event. Sure enough it started. They danced around and smacked each other with some hard blows but no winner. The crowd was cheering almost non-stop. We were not paying much attention to anything else when the Manito Police car came down the alley and some scattered while others stayed put. The police chief, George DeCanter, got out of the car and asked who was fighting and both of them spoke up and admitted their particiapation. George put them in the police car and told the rest of us to leave or be arrested.

I had one problem. I was 15 and didn’t have my license. You see, I could get several places I wanted to go to without being on the main road. Just take the backway and you can be there. My parents didn’t mind.  Just before they left for the police station, Sandy had George give me his keys and told me to pick him up at the station when things were over. I drove around Manito without a license for a good 80-90 minutes. I probably drove by the police station 10 times waiting for his release. Finally, Sandy got out and he took the wheel. I was feeling like a big shot criminal but never got caught.

We headed out of town and Sandy drove to Havana. He was still talking a mile a minute about the fight, the arrest, the stuff that when on at the station. He drove down to the river to clear his head. We got out and looked away from the car and then we heard the sound. His Ford was rolling down the hill and heading for the river. Luckily, when Sandy got out he didn’t shut his door. We both ran after the car and Sandy jumped in and slammed the brakes about 3 feet from the edge of the water. That would have been something to explain.


We had some good times together!



Previous Blog Posts:

Remembering My Time Around Easton

“Oh Well, I Will Strike Her Out Anyway”

What Were Our Parents Thinking?

Call the Sheriff

Kilbourne Condom

I’m Still Paying For It

My First School Basketball Team

The History of Me- My Birthday

I spent my first 7-8 years growing up in the Easton School District and around their activities. There are numberous things I remember from that time that I will give some recollections about.

Grade School

EastonILEaston Grade School did not have kindergarten so I entered the first grade with Miss Corbin as my teacher. She was a disciplinarian and the principal of the school. You had to tow the line with her. My classroom was up the stairs and to the left. Everyday before school, if the weather was decent, we played bombardment on the concrete just in front of the school. It was 1st grade through 6th grade playing together. I don’t know how it started but everyday this 6th grade girl tried to get me out. I could always manage to catch her thrown ball. All I remember was she was a minister’s daughter. That would have been in the 58-59 school year.

The only time I remember EVER getting in trouble in school was in the 2nd grade. I had Jane Pottorf as my teacher and the room was up the stairs and to the right. This particular day we were practicing for our Christmas program at the high school on the stage. Our class was backstage and Randy Phelps and I were horsing around and I pushed him. He fell into the backdrop and it almost feel over. Miss Corbin marched over and asked what happened and I told her. She proceeded to give me two swats on my butt and that was the end of things. Boy, that could have been a real issue if I knocked the scenery over.

I made myself very aggravagted one day which was Halloween. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was in costume and kids wore them to school. This day I was able to get to school without many knowing it was me. Classmates kept asking who I was so Ben Walters started chasing me. I was the only one in that class that was faster than he was. He didn’t catch me and quickly announced, “that’s is Tom Knuppel because I can’t catch him.” I was irritated at myself for not thinking about that first.


This is not a big story but I can remember something that would not “fly” in today’s world. Riding the school bus after school was not a fun experience as we were the last ones to get off. We lived on a farm about 2.5 miles from Easton and about a mile from Knuppel’s station. so what we did was get off the bus at the corner of Rt. 10 and Lowers’ Road and walked home. Four of us did that. right down the side of Rt 10 to our house which was about a mile and a half from our house. We got home a good 20 minutes before the bus would have let us off. I was about 7 yrs old, Lyle was 12, John was 14 and Jane was probably 17 years old. We did that everyday. Sometimes we would get a ride home from Carol Kreiling who was drive home from her teaching job in Mason City. Try getting off the bus anywhere but your stop nowadays!

Easton Merchants Softball

My brother Bill played summer softball for the Easton Merchants. They played in Peoria once a week at the Proctor Center. I would try to find a way to the game as many times as possible. Once I was at Knuppel’s station (I had walked there) when I remembered they played that night. I went to the stop sign at the corner of Rt 10 and Rt 136 and waited for them to pull up to the stop. When the car came to the stop (with six large adults in it) Bill told me they didn’t have any room for me as the car was full but somebody said let him go, We’ll make room. I felt special. Some of the players I recollect are Ron Trimpe as pitcher, Zeke Pottorf was the catcher, Jim Trimpe at first, dont recall second base, Tub Pottorf at shortstop and Bill Trimpe at third base. I know my borther, Bill Knuppel played center field but the rest of the outfield escapes me. Bim Estes was on the team and also pitched and was, in my recollection, the most fun of the team (he hailed from Canton). Some of the tougher teams in this league were the She-Kat Club and Palmer House. In the area they had a little general store on the corner about a block away and…. here I was about 6-7-8 years old walking down there by myself getting a sno-cone. Life appeared simpler in this days and very little reason to be afraid.

Living on the Farm

I have several stories from the farm that I think I will leave for another time. Along with that will be a story or two about going to Easton High School basketball games in 1957 and a mention or two of the local restaurant called Kep’s. Also, Kenneth Kramer and Dr. Yero get a mention in the next part.



“Oh Well, I Will Strike Her Out Anyway”

What Were Our Parents Thinking?

Call the Sheriff

Kilbourne Condom

I’m Still Paying For It

My First School Basketball Team

The History of Me- My Birthday

I continue my blog today with some adult things that happened to me. I have no order in which I will post them. Just random this and that about me.

Umpiring and Refereeing

I umpired and refereed for about 7 years after I quit coaching at Balyki. I got alot of games around Havana, PORTA, Green Valley, Manito and the Limestone area. I have a few stories I would like to share with you. Most of those games I partnered with Dave Brown who was teaching at Forman.

Warmup Between Innings

One of my earliest softball games was in Jnior High school and they were girls softball. I tried to be accomodating and talk to the player when needed  for some instructions. One of the games was between Forman and Green Valley being played in Forest City. The game was awful. Forman was leading something like 25-0 and I tried to widen the strike zone to get the pitchers a chance to throw strilkes. After about 2.5 innings Green Valley put in their third string catcher. The pitcher had thrown her warm up tosses and with one more I instructed the catcher to “throw it down.” She caught the last warmup and just looked at me. I told her, “go ahead, throw it down. ” She did just that. She looked at the ground then tossed it at her foot to the ground. Their coach was Jim Oltman and I asked him to let her know what that meant.

Wheel Play

Dave and I did many, many games together over the years and we talked about strategy several times. What that means is being in the right place at the right time. One day we got to find out. It was a varsity softball game in Havana. Sue Goodin was the coach and they were playing Canton. Dave was working the plate and I had the bases and Canton had one runner and thr]ird with two outs when they hit the ball deep into the outfield. It was my responsibility to go into the outfield to see if the ball was caught. This was from the time  it left the bat  no doubt ball in the gap. The runner from third scored and the batter was headed to third. Here is where we could and would find out if we would be in the correct spot. If the first throw goes to third base it was his job to be there to make the call and he was there. The ball caame to third and got by here and now the runner was steaming home and it was my responsibility to make a call home if needed. Sure enough it happened and I was there standing near home plate and the ball got there before the runner and she was out. I nonchalantly called her out. We had successfully completed the umpire’s wheel play!

Watching Inside Play

Again, Dave and I were discussing strategy of refereeing basketball. On the way to Norwood Junior High we were talking about attempting to get better at watching the play away from the ball. Dave Baird was the coach at Norwood and was always pleasant and had very little complaints and that made it a decent place to work. So the game is in the second period and I was down low under the basket watching the inside play as the ball was outside being passed round. I am intently watching the inside game when I see the ball out of the corner of my eye hit the floor just around the basket and one of the Norwood players takes his hand and knocks it out-of-bounds. I got this call! I blow the whistle, say the ball is off # whatever-it-was and award the ball back to the visiting team. Nothing, I mean nothing was said and play continued. At half we were discussing things that had happened and Dave asked me about the one call I made awarding the ball. I told him that the Norwood player had knocked it out and therefore gave it back to the opposition. Dave looked at me and said, “but the ball went through he basket first and the kid just swatted it out-of-bounds for the other team to take it out.”  I was sooooo intent on watching the inside play I forgot to consider it had gone through the basket!

“Tommy, Tommy”

This basketball game was at PORTA High School. It wa a good distance from Manito to Petersburg but Dave and I got a varsity girls game to call. That was good, until the crowd fills in and I hear a very loud voice calling out, “Tommy, Tommy” and immediately knew it was Petersburg/Havana attorney and very distant relative to me John L. Knuppel. He lived in the PORTA district and was well known as a heckler in basketball game. I remeber seeing him ejected from the Mason County tourney once and it happened regularly. John at one point in his life was an Illinois State Senator and got in an argument with the Secretary of State. He got so mad he dumped his soup on him. The bottomline is if you were in an argument you would rather have him on your side than the opposition. Back to the game. He only called out my name twice during the game but it did get too me a bit and I was flustered. It was late in the game and not really close when the ball takes a quick change and I back pedal about three or four steps when I fall down on my back and lo and behold I hear this loud booming voice yell out, ” way to go, Tommy!” I decide to not work anymore games in Petersburg.

She Didn’t Impress Me Much

Back to softball and another game at Havana. Coach Sue Goodin was angling a bit with us as her team was facing the best pitcher in the area. They were playing Tremont and their pitcher was Margie Eckhoff. I had never seen her pitch but had certainly read about her abilities. I was doing the plate for this contest and before the game I would sneak a peek over to the Tremont side and watch the pitcher warm-up. What I was seeing was not impressing me. It appeared to be a soft lob ball. Sheesh. So the game started and it was the bottom of the first when she took the mound and Eckhoff took her warmup tosses. They were a bit harder than I saw earlier but nothing terrific. She took her last warmup and I called, “play ball” and what came next was a very fast pitch to the catcher which I thought was going to hit me. It was no issue for the catcher but I was taken back by the velocity. I think the pitch was down the middle and I called a strike. Wow, this was going to be something. She threw strike two equally hard and the batter had an 0-2 count. I was a bit flustered and the next pitch came to the plate and the batter attempted to bunt the ball but it went foul. I was so out of my game that I called it a foul ball when it should have been a strike out foul bunt attempt. Eckhoff came in a bit to get the softball back and said, “but she bunted the….. Oh well I will strike her out anyway.” Of course she did and did and did. She tossed a no-hitter but I had totally been un-prepared for what i witnessed in this game.



Today I am recollecting the times that I drove to St. Louis…as a 16 and 17 year old. I took other kids with me. Almost exclusively Jerry Wills went every time. He just turned 15 years old. What kind of parents allows their son at 16and 17 years of age drive to St. Louis for the entire weekend and take a 15 year old friend and sometimes younger?  I will answer that question and more at the end of the blog.

The Entire Weekend at a Motel

Collinsville-WelomeWe would go to the ballpark to see the Cardinals play about three to four weekends per summer. We made reservations at Holiday Inn in Collinsville (it was a Holidome) most of the time. Some trips we stayed closer to Edswardsville. It depended on who was with us and where we felt like staying. Can you imagine a 16 year old kid trying to secure a motel/hotel reservation today? It can’t happen now but times were different for sure.


“Sir, Sir….”

A&WrootbeerThese trips had their moments. We were not malicious but did a few things that are to be remembered. We were (me, Jerry Wills and Denny Fletcher) staying at a Holiday Inn near Edwardsville. Nice place and very close to a drive-in Root Beer stand. We decided to go there and eat in my car, since it is a drive-in. As were finishing we notice the nice mugs with root beer in them and someone said we need one of those. So one was removed from the tray on the drivers door and we proceeded to check out. Of course, you turned on your lights when you needed service or was ready to go. We did that. The girl took our tray and I quickly backed out. She got about ten steps away and noticed one of the mugs was missing. I was just putting it in “drive” when we heard her say. “sir, sir…..” We never looked back and went to our motel. ALL NIGHT long we were worried. Figuring they got our license number or car description we fretted the police may coming storming into our room with guns blazing and ready to cuff us. It never happened but wasn’t worth the worry.


Getting Baseballs Hit into the Stands

There are a couple of stories here that could be open to interpretation. I would imagine Jerry Wills has his own thoughts on these. We always went early to the ballpark and preferred to get their when the gates opened so we could watch batting practice and try to get a ball hit into the stands. What happened on one occasion is we were just a few minutes late as they started because we, including myself. bught a hot dog and a program before entering the field area. We come bounding down the stairs in left center when I see a ball being hit that hits partly up the stairs where I swat at it with my program and then it goes back down to the concourse. I am going to get that ball! I run at the ball with one guy ahead of me I slide on the concrete to get ahead of him and unintentional knock him down. I grab the ball and hurriedly get up and out of his way. Let me back up here, the guy was on crutches. I knock a guy with crutches down to the ground. I wanted the baseball and I got it but I never made eye contact and never issued an apology. I will do it now. If you are the guy I knocked down that day, ” I am sorry for knocking you down to get the baseball, but I wanted it.”

Plop, Plop into my Hands

It was another warm day at Busch Stadium and Jim Ritchie, Jerry Wills and myself bought tickets down the third baseline just between the dugout and the bullpen area they used along the side of the field. I was seated closest to the field, Jim was in the middle and Jerry was next to him being the furthest from the field. On the way down, Jerry was moaning again and again about how he had never gotten a baseball yet in all the time we had been there and how it seemed I got one every trip. Waaa, Waaa! I don’t know the circumstances of this particular game but a batter hit one past me and Jerry reached up and deflected it. He attempts to keep it in front of mim when Ritchie puts his hands into the fra to gt it and knocks it towards himself. I was still seated as the ball was too far away at the start. Drinking a soda, Jim smacks at it one more time and it lands in my lap. I have ONE MORE baseball! Jerry is still TICKED to this day.

Run Jerry Run

gump2It was a fleeting second that Jerry and I looked at each other considered whether he should run or not. As mentioned earlier we like to get the as soon as we can. One particular game we were hanging out at the wall in center field because several players were back in the area shagging flyballs and general talking to each other and occasionally to us. Jerry was leaning over the wall for various reasons and his comb fell out of his pocket and hit the field below. We noticed it but so did pitcher Lindy Mc Daniel. He stuck the comb in his glove and threw it up to Jerry to retrieve his possession. At that instance, Jerry and I froze as we contemplated he running out of the stadium with the glove of star reliever McDaniel. I know Jerry would become one of the fastest in Mason County track but the reward of attempting to get the glove was offset by the fact of getting caught. Jerry was fast but couldn’t out run the walkie-talkies of the ushers. The glove was thrown back down with a “thanks” from Jerry.


It was me. I did it and felt really , really stupid for it. What happened on this trip is that I was the oldest ne as I was most of the time. Also, was the only non-alcoholic drinker. The others were. I was the oldest so I was the one they thought would have the best chance to buy them some beer. We were staying in Collinsville and if you East a bit out of town there is a bar that is/was in the country. It was sitting all by itself. It was around 2PM I drove out there with the others basically slumped down in the car. I was the only car in the lot and when I walked in there were NO patrons. I guy comes out of the back and asks me what I needed. I tolded him I needed a case of beer (think is was Budweiser) and he looked at me and said, “Can I see your ID” to which I replied by slapping my back pockets and saying, ” I must have forgotten my billfold back at the hotel.” He said ok and went to the back and brought it out then proceeded to tell me how much I owed. What do I do but PULL OUT MY BILLFOLD and pay the man. He probably was laughing his butt off as I turned and left with the purchase. I walked out of the door towards the car and was shaking my head all the way to them. It was a facepalm moment.

What Were Are Parents Thinking?

I believe I have the answer to that.They trusted us. We were good kids and that was good enough for them. My parents trusting me with the car and some friends. The friends parents trusting them and me to be a good driver and stay out of trouble. It was a matter of trust and we passed the test.


NEXT SEASON will be our 50th season for Jerry and I to go the St. Louis. Care to join us?


SIDENOTE:  That is all for Part One of Driving to STL. There will be a Part Two coming along the way. Hope you enjoyed my recollections and if you know anyone that might have been involved or would like to read these, feel free to let them know. I closed the comments section of the blog as I got 76 SPAM comments in two hours the other day and I couldn’t keep up deleting them. I encourage comments on my Facebook page. Thanks!


January 15th – Call the Sheriff

January 11th – Kilbourne Condom

January 8th – I’m Still Paying For It

January 4th – My First School Basketball Team

January 1st – The History of Me- My Birthday

NOTICE: I have changed the date of these blogs to Monday and Thursday and not Sunday/Wednesday. These days give me a better chance to edit my work. 

I thought I heard those words. Maybe not. More about that near the end. But it all starts with me riding my bike to Forest City almost daily in good weather. I believe it was from about age 11-13 that I did this. I have tons of stories that I remember from riding my bike to town. So I will call this one Part One and there may be more coming later in my ramblings in 2017.

Nothing to Do in the Country

It was five miles from my house to Forest City. I lived in the country and my siblings were older and had either left the house for good or were in high school and were running around with their friends. What am I going to do all day? I got the idea I would ride my bike to town. We would play ALL day (who does that anymore?) and then ride my bike home before dark.

Is it Too Dark?

I remember vividly my mom telling me not to ride home if it got too dark. Light bulb goes off in my head to play the system. I would wait until almost dark and call my mom and ask her if I should head home. Almost invariably she would tell me no that she would come in and get me. We would put the bike in the trunk of the Oldsmobile and go home. I thought I was pulling something over on her but now looking back I know better. She didn’t mind.

I would get to town about 10AM and stay until 7-8PM. We would play baseball, baskeball, football, go to the Forest City ditch and back to baseball and repeat. It never got old and we were never malicious in things we did. Well, I guess that is open to interpretation. We did a few ornery things that are remembered. But we weren’t criminals.

Penny or Dime?

Everytime I rode to town my parents gave me two dollars to use. That was plenty. Afterall, the soda machine took dimes as Pepsi was 10 cents per bottle and a candy bar was the same price. I could have 10 sodas and 10 candy bars in one day (Pepsi and a Snickers)…. and frequently I did. From time to time I accepted an invitation to eat lunch with someone in Forest City but I didn’t often as I was in town ALL DAY long for many days a week for every summer month.

I am not sure if we were low on dimes or not but we (whatever kid was with me) decided that we could file a penny down to fit the size of a dime. But how? Just up Main Street on the left as you head to Manito (about across from the phone booth) Frank Woiwode owned a shop that was locked but had all kinds of saws and stuff. One of my brother Lyle’s best fdimeorpennyriends was Terry Woiwode and we secured a key from him to work on our craft. We took ten pennies and ground them down to dime size. Then we went to the outdoor machine at Bud and Jerry’s Grocery Store and put one in. Out came the penny back in the return slot, no luck. We tried them one-by-one and lo and behold ONE of the ten worked and we got a soda. It was the only of the ten that worked!

The next day, I rode to town and we went in to the grocery store and there, on the side of the cash register, was our penny. We concocted a plan to distract them near the back so we could switch that penny with a bad one and use it again. We did this about three times and decided to quit and not press our luck. Bud and Jerry’s was our favorite and only hangout and we didn’t want to mess that up.

NOTE: I hope the statute of limitations has run out on that Federal Offense!

Bud and Jerry’s

budandjerrysSince I have mentioned the grocery store in Forest City, I am going to expand on it a bit. They were nice to us kids but never to the point to make us feel warm and fuzzy. I think they lived in Matanza Beach or Quiver Beach while running the store. One night, after dark and after their closing time, we were roaming around the town and came to their front door. For some reason I walked by and turned the door handle and it came wide open. I know what you are thinking…. the store is ours. We walked just inside and yelled to see if they were there and no answer. We were excited but knew (yes we had a conscience) this was wrong. We left and went down the street to another kids house to “prove” we could get into the store. We went back to the grocery and went in. Then we quickly went out and latched the door which caused it to lock. We never told the owners as we thought it not best to let them know we tried. We took nothing from it but an experience.

Baseball Arguments

When a bunch of kids play baseball all day things don’t always go smoothly. At this point I will reveal some of the kids that I played with in Forest City. Some of them may be in the other stories and some not. In a days time it was Bob Skaggs, Jerry Wills, Denny Fletcher, John Limback, Ed Embree, Stan Embree, Jim Petty and Mike Kolvis.

markthespotOne particular game stand out. We were playing on the Junior High school diamond most of the time (using good equipment as they story comes in a bit) when there was a play on the base paths that involved Jim Petty and Mike Kolvis. They burst out with plenty of loud obscenities and innuendoes that the rest of us playing found humorous. Then the next thing stunned us. Mike tells Jim to “kiss my ass” and Petty retorts with “mark the spot.” Without hesitation Kolvis whips down his pants and points to his butt cheeks. We, including Jim Petty, just laugh and smile at the discussion and go back to playing baseball.

I have more baseball stories than will be in Part 2 of this topic.

Turning on the Christmas Lights

It was a hot day. Probably it was June and Jerry Wills and I were sitting on the steps of the Town Hall. It was located where the Firehouse is now located in Forest City. You could sit on the steps and see in three directions really well. This particular day we were likely talking about  a myriad of things that we normally talked about. I was finishing a Pepsi and Snickers sitting there looking at the lines running across the street to the town hall. Forest City kept Christmas lights up all year long. I studied the line coming across to a box located on the outside wall. I actually did it twice. Carefully I could tell the Christmas lights could be turned on by flipping that switch. I told Jerry I had it figured out and he should watch me turn on the lights. I reached up and proudly pulled the switch and no Christmas lights came on. Instead it was the switch for the Fire Siren that alerted the town there was a fire and help was needed at the firehouse. I quickly shut it off. Jerry and I looked at each other for a millisecond and RAN. We just ran. Jerry told me the next day his sister mentioned she heard the fire siren and did he know where the fire was.

The Equipment

The Forest City Junior High school used a closed chute as their emergency exit from the upstirs in case of a fire. Those of us around all the time found we could shinny up them and come to a door at the top. Sometimes it had a bar that kept it from being opened from our side. Well there was two of them and the west side always was left with no bar and we found we could push it open. So what we did was we would walk all the way around the school to see if there were any cars around. If no cars, we would go up the west fire escape, push the door open and we were in charge of the school. Let me tell you now that we NEVER damaged anything or vandalized a piece of the Junior High. BUT what we did do (about 25-30 times) was go to the equipment closet and use all the baseball stuff everyday for our baseball games.

sheriffbadgeThat was fine and dandy until one day, one of the guys and I checked out no cars and took the equipment back and was heading to the fire escape when we heard a noise. A person. We slid down the escape and for some unknown reason just stood up the hill about 50 feet away. The library door opens and the JH principal wiggles his index finger to come to him. We went inside and he was in his office and I could have sworn I heard him say “call the sheriff.” But I guess he didn’t as he simply asked us if we had just been in the building. We nodded our head affirmatively. He asked us what we were doing and we told him about using the equipment. He informed us nicely that he had seen evidence of someone in the building but never saw any vandalism or anything missing. He then said we should leave and never do that again. We left and NEVER, EVER attempted that again.


I would bet you didn’t know that Forest City had a mafia. Well they weren’t called the mafia they were the DTG. That’s for another time!


Previous Blogs

January 11th – Kilbourne Condom

January 8th – I’m Still Paying For It

January 4th – My First School Basketball Team

January 1st – The History of Me- My Birthday