March 6, 2020

Just Saying…

By Q.C. Jones

Marching Backwards into History…

Hey everyone, it’s March. Actually it’s March for all of you, but for QC Jones the calendar remains in February, but my editor tells me the doom’s day clock of deadlines points to 11:59. So here I am huddled like Bob Cratchit before my little desk, struggling with cerebral frostbite and brainstorming about what to cover. All this and, the weatherman just said today is one of the coldest days winters.

I could write about spring, but artic chill doesn’t allow the mind to wander. Ides of March could be a topic, but the word “cliché” keeps popping up. Global warming is a cheery thought, but nowadays the Politically Correct term has become climate change and I must admit I am ready for some change from these temperatures.

Perusing the internet for cool topics, I did notice that Davenport High School (now referred to as Davenport Central) started their formal Drama Club in March of 1917. No doubt in the days before TV, this group brought some cool productions to the Iowa Side of the Quad-Cities. A century-plus three years of thespian activity might be viewed as a point of pride for some. But hardly, makes for light-hearted reading.

Scouring the internet for interesting things in March has become my afternoon passion. Here are some tidbits from the history of the QCA. Area troops participated in Civil War battles in March. Fort Donaldson and Pittsburg Landing in 1862, plus the siege of Spanish Fort in Alabama in March 1865 all demonstrate the courage of our forefathers. The war end Appomattox Courthouse in April of that same year; there were troops from the QC area present at the surrender.

Here’s another interesting tidbit. The town of Farnhamsburg was founded in 1826 by (our own) Colonel George Davenport and Russell Farnham, who also founded Muscatine. When they put together the paperwork to file the charter, they changed the name to Stephenson. It was renamed Rock Island in March 1841. One can only imagine how American Life would have changed if the 1929 song later popularized by Johnny Cash would have been “The Stephenson Line” instead of the powerful Rock Island Line. Fittingly, March 17, 1975 was the last day for the Rock Island Line as it entered the final stages of bankruptcy.

Remaining on the Illinois side of our QCA, March marks another historic event. In 1912, infamous Rock Island hometown boy (and Al Capone pal), John Looney, and Rock Island Mayor Harry Schriver got into a quarrel over the prosecution of one of Looney’s “business partners” on gambling charges. The mayor had police bring Looney down to the station on March 26th, where he beat Looney to the point of hospitalization. The next night, Looney’s gang met in Rock Island’s Market Square which is conveniently located near 17th Street and Second Avenue. Rounding up more than 2,000 angry friends, the group stormed the police station. Two people were killed and eight more wounded by the police. When word went out, the Illinois governor declared martial law and sent in a force of 600 troops to maintain the peace.

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or so goes the old almanac story. My research demonstrates other. Moving forward in time to March 1972, photographs shared by QC old-timers and the newspaper indicate a snowstorm of apocalyptic proportions struck our hometown on March 29, 1972. An old clipping from the Times-Democrat reported the area took an 11-inch pounding. Somewhat gleefully the unknown author pointed out the storm exceeded the 8.3-inch snow which occurred on April 1 -2, 1970. A little more research indicates that 1972 was nothing compared to the 27-inch dumping received in late March of 1927; maybe our grandfathers really did walk to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which claims to be 80.5 percent accurate in such matters, makes this heartwarming statement: “The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for frequent snow events—from flurries to no fewer than seven big snowstorms from coast to coast, including two in April for the Intermountain region west of the Rockies.” Holy Cow! Wonder what Groundhog weather prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, says? Happily, Phil missed his shadow this year and is calling for an early spring. Forget the old farmers, the longshot money is on the furry Phil despite his estimated 32 percent accuracy rating.

Despite the weather, I plan to observe The Grand Parade on March 14th. Advertised as the only bi-state parade in the world, I suspect hundreds of Irish folks will don their best green and ride, dance and, yes, march along the parade route.

Finally, on a personal note, your pal QC Jones traditionally never claimed Irish ancestry. Believing my blood flowed with German blood as pure as Duke Wilhem’s (IV) Reinheitsgebot of 1516 (called the purity laws), I attended St. Patrick’s events as an aloof, casual observer. But I did one of those Ancestry DNA tests a few years ago. Turns out, I am pushing 29 percent Irish.

Let the green beer flow. Just saying…

Filed Under: Humor