All the Wilers…

Mr. Wiler was the third generation owner of Wiler’s Diner along the road in the heart of Elizabeth, and his name was John –John Jr. for a while but then just John. His dad was, of course, John Sr. but he was just John most of his life because he didn’t father John Jr. until he was in his forties.

The senior John was a confirmed bachelor, a devout Baptist deacon in town and held the closest thing to a claim to the founding fathers of Elizabeth. John Sr.’s own father was also named John but had a different middle name, but John Sr.’s grandfather had the same middle name as John Jr. and it was all so confusing that no one cared to care very much. Anyway, Wiler’s was a good diner and that’s all that mattered to most.

John Jr. often wondered about his name’s legacy, and even spent some time as a young man researching his family’s history at the Galena and Jo Daviess County historical society.

It’s in the Barrows Mansion right in downtown Galena, a big old building just like every larger town had in its early days –a rich family builds the biggest house just because they can, even though they don’t have any more kids than the other families and most times one less, but they have a servant or two that might live in the house (if they were white).

Dubuque has the Ryan Mansion, Freeport had the Taylor mansion but it burned down and that became infamous in itself, and Galena has a couple more mansions that are now antique shops, and Elizabeth had the Green Mansion and Wishon Manor.

Right in the middle of the nineteenth century made lead made mine owners rich and they built their mansions because they could.

Merchants and merchandisers moved to the area and set-up shop where they could make the most money, like Hezekiah Gear, and Amos Trumbler, and Daniel Barrows the merchant who made his fame and fortune by selling things to other people who were working hard digging dirt and lead ore out of the earth.

Apples will fall…

Of the few and several remaining leaves cured in the breeze and light and dew dangling from branches, each twists and flutters independently, drawing attention to their fastening not obviously visible. How do they remain when all the others have fallen?

Do they have a strength or stubbornness or means of support we cannot see? Or are they too proud to die? –Resisting what befell others? –Resisting Autumn?

What is inevitable, the course of Spring birth, Summer strength and vitality and veins drawing and returning sweet nectar, to Autumn maturity that ages some –no, most –to Fall, to trickle unnoticed, fluttering on breeze or gust to dance their death suspended on waters below and be carried to someplace else but not unlike here.

Or, they will resist on the otherwise deserted branches resisting stoically the inevitable.

They may be too proud to fall with the others, but they will fall, or rot on their branches and fall from their own weight instead of the noble breeze. And the falling will lack the autumnal ceremony and nobility of flutter and dance in newly crisp airs. They will just fall, too weak and withered to resist any longer.