Answer Man: What's up with the big, white chair in Mascoutah?

News-DemocratJuly 16, 2013 

I recently attended a family reunion in the Ag Building at Scheve Park in Mascoutah. In the field behind the building was a fenced-in plot of land with a well-manicured lawn -- and a large, white Adirondack chair sitting in the middle of it. We were all curious as to the story behind this chair. -- Sue Paoli, of St. Jacob

As long as Mascoutah was going to the dogs, Tim Boyce and his friends figured residents should have as much fun as possible en route.

So now when you command your four-legged family members to sit, they can do it in style in this custom-built, oversized chair in the middle of the city's soon-to-be-officially-opened dog park.

"If you go to the Outer Banks (off the coast of North Carolina) you see these huge Adirondack chairs everywhere," said Tim Boyce of Boyce, Hund & Associates in Mascoutah and one of the top dogs behind the new pooch playground. "We were just looking for something that was fun."

So, Jack Spratte, former minister at the St. John United Church of Christ in Mascoutah, volunteered to put on the dog by building what is already a popular conversation piece.

"I'm really happy he did that," Boyce said. "We've even had a discussion -- it's all white now, and it looks good, but we've talked about maybe having a rainbow color in the back for kids and their pictures."

That would be the final pot of gold for this project that was unleashed about eight months ago. Last fall, Boyce and his volunteer crew got things rolling by planting grass and erecting the fence. All materials and labor have been donated except for the brief work it will take the city to install a line to a water fountain.

Already, however, residents are enjoying the new facility, so it won't be a dog's age until it officially opens.

"We need a pavilion for some shade and we have a couple of fence things to add," Boyce said. "It's usable, but we just haven't announced that it's opened yet. I would hope within a month it would be open -- maybe even by our homecoming (Aug. 2-4)."

Once it's open, visitors likely will find fern-type trees behind the chair, a welcome sign next to it and additional landscaping around it. But without a doubt it's the chair itself that will be the real treat for both pets and people.

"You can actually see it from Sixth Street," Boyce said. "I've had people call and say, 'Tim, I can see the chair more than I can the fence.' It's just going to be a welcoming thing that I think is going to be easy to remember the dog park by -- you know, 'Hey, that's the place where the big chair is!'"

Did the sergeant who sang a song for the Vietnam soldiers make other recordings? -- C.W., of Fairview Heights

With the growing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, it probably was inevitable that any military-themed musical career would be a short one for Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler.

His improbable rise to brief stardom started in May 1965 when the Army combat medic was severely wounded in the knee by a feces-covered punji stick while on patrol near Pleiku. After developing a serious infection, he was flown to Walter Reed Hospital, where he teamed up with Robin Moore to write "Ballad of the Green Berets."

Soon after Sadler sang it on the Jan. 30, 1966, "Ed Sullivan Show," Americans began flooding radio stations with calls and running to record stores. It spent five weeks at No. 1 from March 5 to April 2 and ended up atop the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart.

He followed that up with "The 'A' Team," which reached No. 28 later that year, but he soon disappeared from the musical stage. Two later albums -- "Sadler Country" and "Of Thee I Sing" -- went nowhere, although you can find them on amazon.com and www.barrysadler.com.

You also can sample the Casca the Eternal Mercenary series that Sadler and a team of ghostwriters began churning out in 1979. (Casca Rufio Longinius was a Roman soldier who lanced Christ on the cross and, thus, was doomed to wander the Earth forever until the Second Coming.) Sadler, who was once convicted of manslaughter in a love triangle killing, was gravely wounded during a robbery in Guatemala City in 1988 and died a year later at age 49.

Today's trivia

Who reportedly provided the inspiration for the song "The Ballad of the Green Berets"?

Answer to Tuesday's trivia: Last weekend's thrilling five-hole, sudden-death playoff at the John Deere Classic in Silvis was actually just a walk in the park compared to the classic finale at the 1949 Motor City Open in Detroit. In that one, Cary Midddlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum battled it out in what is still the longest playoff in PGA history. When darkness made the course unplayable after the 11th extra hole, the two agreed to be declared co-winners. And, when it came to most golfers in a playoff, it was the more, the merrier, at the 1994 GTE Byron Nelson Classic and the 2001 Nissan Open, where six golfers wound up going overtime in each one.

Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or rschlueter@bnd.com or call 239-2465.

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