Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Season

Christmas card and annual letter online.
This is the eleventh year of our custom greeting card.

Merry Christmas to everyone and Happy New Year.

Archive of all eleven can be found at

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Eddie" Brown, today that's Dr. Edward & Pastor

Another fellow worker from undergrad college days is Edward Brown (We addressed him as Ed or Eddie). Ed worked at the Short Stop Drive-In (Northwest corner of 7th and Lincoln). During my junior year, I moved back and forth - - worked some hours at the Ko-Op and some across the intersection at the Short Stop. By the time I entered my senior year, I worked mainly at the Short Stop.

(Click photo to enlarge) Edward Brown (2nd row, 3rd from left) 1967 EIU Warbler.
Bob Warnsley who worked at the Ko-Op is also in the group.
Edward and I were both industrial arts education majors, and we had one or two classes together. We shared several work hours at the Short Stop; he was an energetic and fun co-worker - had a great laugh. During our senior year, we both student taught at Mattoon High School. We rode together, back and forth from Charleston during that Winter quarter (Late Nov. 1967 to early Mar. 1968); we were out a few days after a brown recluse spider infestation was discovered in the service tunnel / crawl space. Ed graduated in the Spring of 1968 and began a teaching career in Chicago.

Edward Brown (1968 Warbler yearbook photograph)

Edward later graduated from Chicago State University with a Master's degree in education. He also earned both a Masters of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, specializing in pastoral care of the congregation. Ed was formerly the assistant pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois.

These days Dr. Edward C. Brown, Jr. is the senior pastor of the Skokie Valley Baptist Church in Wilmette, Illinois. Edward loves preaching (Listen to a recent sermon at the church's website) and teaching God's Word and has been privileged to preach in many pulpits across the nation and in two countries in Africa. Ed is married, and he and his wife, Diana, have one adult daughter, Camille.

March 2018
I recently revisited the church website for Skokie Valley Baptist Church (Wilmette, IL) and noticed that Ed was no longer listed as their Senior Pastor. He has retired.

In checking for information online, I discovered this article (A great story of his experiences):

Hurtado, Allison, The Skokie Story: The Bumpy, Rewarding Road to Diversity. Converge MidAmerica.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

June 2012: Forty Plus Years

From reports received from P-nuts (Ken) Lowry and 'E.J.' (John) Ganley, the recent get-together of five former Ko-Op workers of the Sixties was a rousing good time. Lots of catching up, reminiscing, and great stories of back-in-the-day were shared. They also provided these photos:

L to R: Lyle Mowery, Ken 'P-nuts' Lowry, Russ White, Gary 'Mongoose' Cook and E.J. Ganley
Seems appropriate, fitting that the guys are standing in the parking lot underneath the two windows of the 'Bahamas' room. If those walls could talk, they would tell some great stories - - some would be true and some might be slightly exaggerated.

Click on any photo for a larger view
Attending the mini-reunion were Lyle Mowery (Ames, IA and St. Louis Park, MN), Ken and Mary Lowry (Toledo, IL), Russ and Cindy White (Bonfield, IL), Gary and Becky Cook (Buford, GA) and John and Dianna Ganley (West Monroe, LA).

They ate lunch at Dirty's Bar and Grill, the food establishment that is currently housed in the old Ko-Op building. After lunch they moved to Roc's ('Black Front') and sat on the back deck.

The group met for the evening and had dinner at The Stadium Grill in Mattoon.

Thanks guys for the report and the great photographs. It's apparent to me that all of you had a good time. I'm sorry that I missed this one, but for sure we have to get together again - before another 40 years. Here's to good times and safe travels. And if any of you ever get out West to south central Utah, you have a place to stay near Teasdale! Johnse

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mini-reunion - June 26th in Charleston, IL

June 26, 2012 (Tuesday) is the date for a reunion of former Ko-Op Cafe workers. Expected to attend are Gary Cook, John Ganley, Lyle Mowery and Russ White. They will get together in the early afternoon and some are staying the night in 'Chuck-town' area. They extend an invite to others to join them. Email me for contact information and stay tuned for further plans and a followup report.
Ken Lowry of Toledo will be joining the get-together of former Ko-Op workers.

Should be a fun afternoon and evening; some of these guys have not seen each other for about twenty-four, make that forty plus years . . . back then we saw each other almost every day!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ken 'P-nuts' Lowry

Ken Lowry, a younger brother of Tom, came to EIU, Charleston and the Ko-Op in 1966. Fresh from Strasburg (IL) and Shelby County, he quickly made friends and soon fit-in-with our raucous crew living upstairs! Here's a brief biography summary from "P-nuts" Lowry . . .
Band playing on a Strasburg front porch (circa 1965); Ken in black.
"I'll try to write a run-down of a few decades. I don't know some of the folks mentioned in the postings that I've read. I was only there during summer, fall and winter of '66 (EIU was then on a 'quarter system' as opposed to semesters). I did pretty well that summer until the Mow and Mongoose returned in the fall. That's when I really got my education. I had one hell of a time. In fact, it was so good that I was asked not to come back for the spring quarter 1967!

Like Mongoose, I enlisted in the Air Force. That was Sept. of 1967.  I was sent to Westover AFB in Massachusetts right out of basic training - - to fearlessly fly a Smith-Corona in personnel. I was later stationed in Okinawa for six months and loved it so much, that I volunteered to go back. I ended up spending about four years there; four out of an almost six-year enlistment. I had one hell of a time there, too!
Mary and Ken visiting Graceland, TN
I got out of the Air Force in Aug. of 1973 and went to Lake Land College in Mattoon and then back to EIU. I soon got tired of school and went to work at the GE plant (General Electric) in Mattoon. I was laid off from GE in late 1976, so I took the postal exam in early 1977 and was hired to be a letter carrier. I retired from the postal service in 2004. After retirement, I worked five years with a 'Meals-on-Wheels' program to feed elderly folks. Now, I'm pretty much hanging out. I grow a vegetable garden every year and do some canning. I love the homegrown veggies.
Ken with his 1979 Gibson; usually plays a Fender Telecaster.
Some might remember that I did some guitar pickin' up in the Bahamas. I even tried to teach Lyle a few licks. I've tried to stay in practice over the years. I think I taught every roommate I had in the Air Force how to play 'The House of the Rising Sun.'

I got married in 1980 and have two daughters. They have each blessed me with a grandson and granddaughter. They live nearby, so I see them as needed. I married my second wife in 1995; that only lasted a year and a half. Somehow these women didn't catch on to my act!
Daughters of Ken Lowry
I married my present wife, Mary, in 2003. I had known her for around thirty years and worked with her at the post office. She's retired also, so we just goof around as we please. She's the best thing to happen to me.
Ken talking with BB King (2007)
I've played in a few bands in this area, most recently 'The Swingin Jon-Suns.' I still play the oldies. I suppose the highlight of my music career was meeting BB King and getting him to autograph my guitar. Mary purchased tickets to see him perform in Effingham, and arranged for us to meet with him after the show (Birthday present, sweet!). I still jam with some guys every week - getting set for our next gig.

Grandson will own that Gibson someday! (Autographed by BB King)
I'll always have great memories of the Ko-Op days even though they didn't result in a degree. We sure had some 'yucks.' I hope to hear from anyone who wants to e-mail (Contact Johnse for my email address).
Yours with 'a pair on-one-with',
Ken Lowry, A.K.A. P-nuts"
Ken and his grandkids takin' a spin (2 girls and 2 boys)
One more tune, another Animals classic - - often heard playing in the Bahamas room. Eric Burdon was such a rebel in those days. Here's to you, Ken. Keep rockin'.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

John 'E J' Ganley

Sometime during the mid-seventies, I heard that John Ganley was severely injured in a car wreck - - I thought it was in the Memphis, TN area, but I never learned the outcome. But like with the Mongoose, Whitey, and some others of the Ko-Op days, I continued to search. Last fall I came upon an alumni site for Newton High School, and discovered a recent small photo taken of John (No address or way to contact him, but I recognized that face). Led me to further searching until I discovered him and his wife on FacebookHere are John's remarks shared from our recent email exchanges:

"After graduation from EIU in 1967, I taught and coached at high schools for 35 years. At first, I moved around quite a lot including jobs at Chicago Mt. Carmel (IL), Memphis (TN), Baton Rouge (LA) and St. Petersburg (FL).
John Ganley on the sidelines (Photo in the 1966 Warbler Yearbook)

Yes, I was in a serious car accident in Normal, Illinois, and it was a close call back in 1975. I was in the hospital with a head injury for a week. There were no lasting effects (My wife might disagree with that one).
Early coaching days (John on the right)
In 1976, I got married and stopped the moving. First our daughter, Shawn, was born. Then the twins, a boy and girl - - Erin and Chuck. They were ten weeks old, when their mother suddenly, unexpectedly died. That was in 1986. I was a single father for thirteen years. 
John with the twins (c. 1997)
Today my oldest daughter teaches high school and is an athletic trainer in Clearwater, Florida. In college, Shawn majored in health and athletic training but she teaches Algebra, health, English or whatever they need covered. My youngest daughter, Erin just graduated from college in December. She always wanted to travel and hopes to teach in South Korea. My son, Chuck graduated from Durham, England in January with his Masters in Finance and a 3.5 overall average. He is currently job-hunting in the New York area. None of my children are married; I encouraged them to travel and see the world first!
photo of John Ganley at LaHacienda in Hot Springs, AR
Dining in Hot Springs, AR  (Nov.  2011)
I had a heart attack in January of 1998 and after thirty-plus years had to retire from coaching. I almost kissed the world good-bye. Doctors implanted a defibrillator in my chest, and I am good as new. More recently, I have had a knee replacement (2004) for an old football injury. I take good care of myself. I bike ride daily and have gotten my wife to join me.

In June 1999 I married Dianna. She is the reason I moved from Florida to West Monroe, Louisiana. We have a good life. She is an artist and teaches art at West Monroe High School, her alma mater.

I enjoy watching the local teams play. West Monroe High has the 5AAA state championship football team, and I don't miss a game. I substitute teach there almost daily. Dianna says that she will retire in five years. I want to move back to Florida if that can be worked out. Dianna has lived in Louisiana all her life and her family is here, so this may take some convincing.

We travel back to Illinois every year. My mom (92 years old) and two of my brothers live in Decatur. Dianna and I go to Charleston and look around the old neighborhoods. The Ko-op is still there, but it appears to be unused. We also visit friends in Newton. Dianna's former pastor is retired in Springfield, and we have visited him.
EIU Football Reunion in 2008 (John seated at the table)
Back in 1974, Walt Stine was living in Normal, IL and was fixing to move to West Virginia - - last I heard of him.

I guess at the time I didn't know it, but my experiences at the Ko-op were some of the best years I ever knew. It's hard to believe I complained as much as I did then and have such good memories now. The best people I ever knew came from there, customers and co-workers alike. I think a reunion would be great."
Back in Florida (Summer 2011); enjoying retirement
John, you've had quite a life journey so far, and I'm glad that I and other Ko-Op workers have reconnected. Hope to see you sometime later this year. lj

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mongoose - Where Have You Been?

Over the years of using the Internet, I've tried to find Gary Cook many times. Gary was usually the person that other former Ko-Op workers wanted to locate and reconnect with, but I could not find a trace. That was until February 2012 when I finally located another Cook with a hometown of Dupo, Illinois on Facebook. It was his younger brother Brian; a quick email exchange and Brian gave me an address for Gary. Here's an update of what the Mongoose (His nickname: I believe Gary always said he was a furry little critter that was unusually fast!) has been up to all these years:
Note: At the end of this posting from Gary, there is already a comment from Lyle Mowery (Click on it to read). Add one of your own.

After graduation from EIU (Aug 1968 - I thought I was the only one who graduated in the summer rather than Spring, those pesky credits needed for a degree), Gary enlisted in the Air Force in November '68. In his words (From here on out), "I wanted to be a pilot, but my eyesight wasn't good enough. I ended up working in a military pay unit, became a fighting accountant. After training, I was first stationed at Scott AFB in Belleville, Illinois and lived in Dupo, where I'd grown up, played basketball, and finished high school. I married my wife, Becky, in March 1969. Spent my last year in service (1971-'72) stationed in Thailand, and Becky went back to Eastern that year to finish her degree in Education.

When I returned from overseas, Becky and I lived in Dupo, where she taught school and I got a job as an auditor in the Commercial Dept. of Safeco Insurance Company in St. Louis. Work called for me to travel a lot, and I was promoted and moved to Cincinnatti in 1978. In 1985, I was again promoted and moved, this time as Branch Manager in Washington, DC.  Next in 1987, We moved to Orlando, FL, again working as a Branch Manager. In 1991 I moved up to become the Southeast Division Manager in Atlanta, GA. One of the things I liked to do when I had some spare time on the road was visit college campuses. I've seen 55 in total, from Washington to Yale and Minnesota to Florida.

In 1993, I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and continued to work until 2000, when I took a medical retirement - - completing almost thirty years working for Safeco. More recently only a few years ago, I contracted Lymphoma. I got through the Chemotherapy and have been in remission for about 6 months. I am doing well. I still get around albeit with leg braces and forearm crutches. The Mongoose may be slowing down physically, but my mind still operates about on a par with an 18-year-old.

In 2010 we downsized into a small ranch to eliminate any stairs (Lives in Buford, GA). Becky had back surgery 3 years ago. That didn't turn out as well as we'd hoped, so she uses a cane to walk - - between her with the cane and I using my crutches, we make quite a pair. But we feel blessed to be doing as well as we are. We still get places, it just takes a little longer. It is fun racing those carts up and down the supermarket aisles! (Note: Former friends and workers from the Ko-Op days wanting to get in contact with Gary can email me for his address information

Gary, Becky and David at a Georgia football game
We have one son, David (In photo at right), who lives about 20 miles away, and a grandson, 7 years old, who lives with his mother a couple of hours from us. Our grandson spends a weekend with us every 3 to 4 weeks, and we really have a good time entertaining each other. As for other interests, I used to like to play racquetball, golf, swim, and work out. I can't do any of that anymore, but spend most of my time watching sports on TV, particularly college football and basketball, and reading.

When I remember the Ko-op days, I particularly think of the great guys with whom I worked and lived. I believe Lyle said it best in that it was like a fraternity. Every day was exciting and you just knew there were going to be laughs and good times to be had.

Some random memories:
Late night card games - - Western Style Guts as I recall (Did we call it IL Guts?, a variation of draw poker: 3 cards down, look at your hand, bet - dollar bets were the norm, discard then draw - - up to three, final bets, show hand, loser(s) who bet & stayed in had to match the pot; serious poker when eight or nine players circled a table in the Bahama room; sometimes the games went all night long).
Listening to those Dale Carnegie records on Friday evenings (After closing at 4 p.m. and the weekly cleanup), when what we wanted was to get paid and get going.
Drinking quart bottles of Meister Brau all evening, and Lyle never cutting a class.
EJ Ganley drinking those milk shakes with the raw eggs mixed in them (John was trying to get his weight up for football).
You and me drinking that home made wine the grad school guy brought that summer (Cannot remember his name, but he brought back the best hootch from IN. His girlfriend's father was bootlegging, and every Sunday night he brought back one or two bottles and gave them to us. Wow, what a supply, a college student's dream - - we got so that we were waiting for his return).
Whitey, Lyle, and I roasting in the Bahamas, until we'd open the windows in the middle of  winter to cool down.
Working out on the pin ball machines every spare minute.
Jack Worthington (Now lives in Beaverton, OR) getting smashed on Mogen David (MD) between tennis matches and then throwing his racquet during the next match.
Then there were the regulars, in addition to the ones Lyle mentioned (Earlier posting). Can't remember the names now, but the guy who used to smoke the long thin cigars and always had something witty to say (Believe his first name was Milt, cannot remember his last name). Joe the postman, who ate lunch there regularly and was a real nice guy. The old lady, with the open sores covered with scotch tape (My first encounter with what was probably Alzheimer's. She did love to dance and flirt in front of the juke box - - of course that was a bit discombopulatin' to us young undergrads, oh-my-heck she was in her eighties).
Carl Finfrock slicing off a thin piece of his thumb into the salad during rush hour and Mize not finding it, but going ahead and putting the salad out anyway.
Someone spilling hot water on Mize's chest and seeing nothing but his butt and legs sticking out of the ice machine (I was the one who turned to dump a full pitcher of scalding water out of the coffee urn, and caught Mize in the stomach as he was scurrying through!. Damn that had to hurt, but I learned of the value of immediate application of ice. Later useful when I slipped on a slick floor and put my hand into a deep fryer with oil smokin' hot at 475 degrees. Maybe I was just accident prone?).
The BBQ, with ingredients like cracker crumbs, Catsup residue, chopped up day-old burgers, and the gelatin from inside the canned hams. Mize always said 'it gives it body.' To this day every time I eat BBQ, I wonder what's in it. What an energy level that guy (Mize) had, and I gotta say I sure learned a lot from him.

My wife, Becky still has a brother and sister in the Robinson, IL area, and we get up there once a year or so, but haven't been back to Charleston since I graduated. Would like to do that some day."  Gary
It's great to be back in contact with Gary; love seeing his family, reading about his life, and learning that he has not lost any of that wonderful spirit and unique sense of humor. He made me laugh and smile.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pinball Wizard

     Yesterday's New York Times had an article about Steve Kordek, the designer of the two-flipper pinball machine:
Helvesi, Dennis (Feb 23, 2012). Steve Kordek, a Pinball Innovator, Dies at 100.
     Brings back memories of the Ko-Op's pinball room with it's four or five machines crammed around the walls, often smoke-filled and packed with guys (I'm sure that a co-ed played once-in-awhile, but in those days guys dominated the game). The slap of the flippers, flashing lights, bumpers thumping, and the roll of the chrome-plated ball; smooth timing and dexterity. A time filler. Relaxing, mind-numbing - - winding down perhaps?
     Also remember hanging out in the pinball room after closing some nights, seeing how long we could keep playing without adding coins - keep going off extra points and replays earned. Finding out how far we could nudge a machine before getting 'Tilt.' Some of us were pretty good, and we often left free games.

     During open hours, I also remember a tournament held, open to anyone - - except us guys working.
     Every other week the two fellows from Samuel Music (Effingham) came in to clean and maintain the machines. They were usually there for about two or three hours and also took care of the jukebox (New tunes). Video games are cool today, but it's not the same.