Sunday, March 18, 2012

(Literal) Item From the Past: The Galena Mug

As predicted, the warm temps lasted through the weekend, which meant cleaning out parts of the garage on Saturday, which I didn't much want to do, and taking a long walk on Sunday, which I did.

The same weekend in 1989, it was cold. I remember that because I drove to Galena, Illinois, on (Friday) March 17 that year, and at one point on US 20 not far from that town, my car hit some ice and gave us a momentary scare. It was cold the entire weekend, but Galena didn't disappoint. It's a lovely town in the extreme northwestern part of the state, rich in historical associations, including a former residence of U.S. Grant.

I went to Galena because of Jim Post. In early 1989, instead of paying attention to the Super Bowl, that Sunday I went to see him do his one-man show, Galena Rose: How Whiskey Won the West. Amazingly, there's a late '88 article from the Reader about the show online.

"Though Post's soaring tenor pipes produce some of the strongest, sweetest sounds this side of heaven, the show is anything but syrupy nostalgia," wrote Hank De Zutter. "For it features flesh-and-blood characters -- Indians betrayed, a runaway slave recaptured and freed, an Irish fugitive caught with his pants down, a pioneer woman uncertain about starting over in a town without lace curtains, and Mississippi River poleboat men, fueled by little more than dreams and drafts of whiskey -- the whiskey, Post claims with ample historical evidence, that 'won the west.' "

I'm not sure, but I probably read the article when it was originally published, and it might have influenced my decision to see Post's show. In any case, Post inspired me to go to Galena itself. All these years later, the only physical reminder I have of the trip is this souvenir.

I'm glad I still have it. A lot of things have been lost or kicked around in the years since then. In this pic, it's holding hot tea, which is what I use it for more than anything else.

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