A few odds and ends to wrap up a long week:
The sky was falling
Those strange lights in the night sky over Millstadt recently were nothing compared to what Shirley Bergner's grandfather witnessed almost a century ago.
Henry Hirte was among five men starting to plow a field near Tilden after lunch on July 13, 1927, when they heard three explosions followed by rumbling and screeching. They looked just in time to see faint smoke and then dust thrown up in a field about 700 feet away.
They admitted being afraid, but finally walked over to the spot, where Hirte dug out a meteorite that had slammed into the ground. The 46-pound rock had buried itself 17 inches into the dry clay. Two other pieces were found nearby. They are now housed at the Illinois State Museum, the Field Museum in Chicago and the University of Iowa.
"I was too little I think to remember too much, but I remember my grandfather talk about it," said Bergner, who now lives in the house her grandfather built. "And one time when we were in Springfield we went to the museum and were able to see it. He did sell it to them as I remember. I don't know how much he got -- $50 or something."
If you want to see a picture of Hirte holding up his out-of-this-world discovery, it's included in "The Tilden Meteorites" by A.R. Crook and O.C. Farrington in the 1929 transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science at www.il-acad-sci.org. Or send me an email and I'll send you a pdf file.
My Thursday update about the new St. Louis classical music station being developed failed to mention a couple of facts that longhair music fans might find helpful.
First, as my sharp reader Claude Barrow, of O'Fallon, reminded me, St. Louis still has a classical music station -- although you need a new kind of radio to hear it. In addition to its standard FM signal, KWMU also offers three HD signals -- including Classical 90.7 at KWMU-3.
These are what are called HD2 and HD3 channels, which more and more stations are adding to provide extra programming diversity. They do, however, require a radio that can process those signals, which are located right next to the stations you're probably more familiar with.
You may be thinking, oh, great, something new to buy, but it might be a good investment. According to the map at www.rafstl.org, the traditional FM signal for the Radio Arts Foundation's new classical station will extend only 20 miles east of its tower at Hanley and Manchester.
In other words, much of the metro-east may not be able to pick it up. But the station's HD signal will be available for 50 miles in all directions.
HD radios seem to start from about $50. To see what's available, try www.stlpublicradio.org (they get a percentage if you buy through them) or amazon.com. For a look at the stations you're missing without it, go to www.hdradio.com. St. Louis has nearly 50 HD stations, including KSD's Classic Country, KIHT's Hip Jazz and KFTK's Music With Class.
Barrow tells me his HD radio, which he bought at Radio Shack for "reasonable cost," allows him to listen to live St. Louis Symphony broadcasts on Saturday nights. And, with another little gadget, he can broadcast the signal to his old-fashioned radios throughout the house.
Speaking of St. Louis radio, my good friend and noted St. Louis media historian Frank Absher has just released another book sure to please those who have watched and listened to local broadcasting over the decades.
"St. Louis Radio and Television" boasts 128 pages crammed with photos bound to bring back memories. Here's a teaser: The cover features a young Harry Caray -- minus his Coke-bottle glasses -- sitting in front of a KXOK (not KMOX) microphone.
You can get a good taste of the book at amazon.com. Better yet, go see Absher when he signs his latest work at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Nashville Public Library, 219 E. Elm St. He also will be at the St. Louis City Library at 4401 Hampton Ave. at 10 a.m. on Nov. 17.
I have a couple of tough nuts to crack, which is leaving me a little crabby:
June Martin, of Millstadt, has lost her source of "crab apples," which she uses to make jelly. And, B. Klein is looking for a business that would crack open her bumper crop of black walnuts. If anyone has suggestions, please write or call.
Is there any significance to the domino that Domino's Pizza uses in its business logo?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: Ebenezer Scrooge might have been the first in line to join SCROOGE when Chuck Langham organized the group in 1979. It's the Society to Curtail Ridiculous, Outrageous and Ostentatious Gift Exchange, whose motto is "Have a happy, but frugal, holiday season." About 2,000 people have joined to receive tips from Langham, who limits his holiday purchases to 1 percent of his annual income. If you'd like a copy of this year's newsletter (which Langham was finishing when I called), send $2 to Langham, 1447 Westwood Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903-5151.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com