Day 9

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Day 9

Sunday, July 16, 2000

The place where we stayed, the Henry VIII Hotel, is due to be demolished in October. As a result, there's a certain laissez-faire attitude on the part of the staff and maintenance. We're sure that at one point, the Henry VIII was a pretty nice hotel. Now, however...

(It does raise an interesting point, though. They're not part of a chain, and they're not rebuilding the hotel. How could they possibly justify continuing to spend money on maintenance? They can't use repeat business and they don't really care if word gets out that it's a lousy place to stay. The hotel was sold out during the convention, and we expect it'll do fairly well on out-of-town suckers for the last two to three months of its life.)

We naively reported our fallen headboard to maintenance, who "got right on it," as you can see

Somebody apparently decided to take a look at the interior telephone wiring

At least our falling apart air conditioner worked; not everyone was so lucky

There really wasn't much going on in the morning that we were interested in, so we ducked out and headed off to a nearby town called Alton. There, after a bit of getting lost and visiting three or four nearby towns, we finally found what we were looking for (which, ironically, is the state's tallest monument to an Illinois resident).

This is a monument to Elijah Lovejoy. Seems Mr. Lovejoy decided that slavery wasn't right and said so in his newspaper. This pissed off a bunch of people, so they came and tossed his printing press in the river. He bought another printing press and said it again. A mob showed up and threw his printing press in the river again. He bought another printing press and printed the message that slavery was still wrong. A bunch of angry people sank his press again.

The fourth printing press was still in the warehouse when the mob showed up. Mr. Lovejoy (who by now, you might expect, was a little tired of buying printing presses) defended his press. The mob shot him. At the time, he became a symbol of Abolition. We think Mr. Lovejoy helped make it possible for folks like us to say and print what we think.

Thank you, Mr. Lovejoy.

The monument pillar

There are two plaques at the base of the monument that briefly tell Mr. Lovejoy's story:

Elijah Parish Lovejoy (Nov 9, 1802 - Nov 7, 1837) was a newspaper editor, social reformer, and Presbyterian minister whose death at the hands of an angry mob at Alton, Illinois, made him an enduring symbol of the fight for human liberty and freedom of the press. Born in Albion, Maine, Lovejoy graduated from Waterville (now Colby) College in 1826. He moved the following year to St. Louis where he taught school and began his career as a journalist. In 1832 Lovejoy decided to become a minister and returned to the East to study at Princeton Theological Seminary.

In November, 1833, Lovejoy began editing a religious newspaper, the St. Louis Observer. Lovejoy's antislavery views so enraged proslavery Missourians that he fled with his newspaper to Illinois. Three presses were thrown into the Mississippi river, yet Lovejoy persisted in publishing the Alton Observer. He was shot dead while defending the warehouse in which a fourth press had been stored. His body, buried on his thirty-fifth birthday in an unmarked grave at Alton cemetary, was later exhumed and reinterred at its present location on a hillside north of the Lovejoy monument.

Base of the monument

If the laws of my country fail to protect me, I appeal to God, and with him I cheerfully rest my cause--I can die at my post, but I cannot desert it. -- Elijah Lovejoy

The angel at the top has a quill pen in its right hand

You cross the Mississippi and enter Alton (Illinois) on this cable-stayed bridge

Laura likes the look of cable-stayed bridges

After that inspiring historical trip, we headed back to the convention to catch another talk by Terry Pratchett and another session with the MST3K guys.

This is one of the guys (Sampo) who runs the Satellite news web site

This is the other guy (Erhardt)

The talk this time as more fun because Kevin Murphy grabbed a wireless microphone and loped out into the crowd. He ran all over the room and took questions from all four corners (and the in-between, too).

Bill Corbett and Mary Jo Pehl listen to a question

Kevin Murphy searches for a worthy questioner

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Mary Jo Pehl

Mike Nelson

Bill Corbett

Bill Corbett and Mary Jo Pehl

Kevin Murphy interviews one of the more rabid fans

Mary Jo Pehl

A question is asked

Kevin Murphy ponders whether the questioner deserves a Timmy Bighands cap. [Timmy Bighands was a website that Mike, Kevin, and Bill, along with some other ex-MST3K folks started. They were promoting it big time at this convention. Sadly, they couldn't figure out any way to make money on it, so it folded in February, 2001.]

Kevin Murphy

Finally, the presentation was done. The video of the Amateur MST3K contest wasn't available (technical difficulties), so the Closing Ceremonies mostly consisted of "Bye!"

We, however, still had amazing sites to see, so we launched the SS Creaks and Groans and within a short time were gazing at The Worlds Largest Catsup Bottle (located in Collinsville, Illinois).

This catsup bottle even has a web site! (, although when we last checked [Sept 2001], it wasn't working...)

The World's Largest Catsup Bottle is, sadly, not full of catsup (it's a water tower)

Now that's a big bottle of catsup!

Close-up of the catsup bottle

We bid a fond farewell to the world's largest catsup bottle

After seeing this, we were pretty worn out, so we put a few more miles behind us and docked at the Quality Times campground. It was mostly a run-of-the-mill campground, except that they had fireflies! Laura had never seen fireflies (they don't live west of Kansas), and Robert hadn't seen them since he was a kid. Laura didn't realize their lights turned on and off. Robert hadn't remembered how cool they looked (the lights flash so briefly that it looks like little fairies dancing about). [Want to know more about fireflies? Check out The Firefly Files at Ohio State University.]

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