Saturday, February 27, 2010

Update on My Mother Brenda Steunenberg Richards

Her is a brief update on my mother, 91 (working on 92) years young Brenda Steunenberg Richards. I know quite a few family and friends read this blog but are not in regular contact with me or the immediate family and I have not posted an update since November 2009.

Click on the picture of my mother to the right to read the story of the cross.

My mom is resting comfortably at Vineyard Hills Health Center in Templeton (near Paso Robles) CA, where she has been for over three months now. The facility is about 30-40 minutes away from where I reside in San Luis Obispo County, CA. My dad, John Sr. or "Rich," remains at their nearby home in Paso Robles and my sisters Beckie and Kris also live nearby.

Mom is weak, frail and fighting the inevitable health issues associated with age. However, she is comfortable and fortunately has not suffered the severe dementia/Alzheimer's that plagued her mother/my grandmother, Francis Steunenberg, or her sister/my aunt Doris Steunenberg Knowles. Her short-term memory is not very good (but then neither is mine) so she may not remember I was there minutes after a visit ends, but she knows who we are and can express herself quite clearly at times! We are still able to have enjoyable visits and converse, particularly during those periods that she is awake and/or not fighting an infection that tends to create a more confused state. Moms spirit and smile still shine through as does her ever present concern about others rather than herself (no mom, I'm not going to eat your food as your baby boy eats too much as it is!).

We know the days are numbered but Mom keeps fooling us with her staying power through each medical crisis. She is comfortable and cared for and that is all we can ask.

We love you mom.

If you have any inquiries, want more details or need an address, please contact me at:

Monday, February 22, 2010

High Tone Music of Idaho

Below from our friend and Idaho music history affectionado Gary Eller. Thanks for your continued great work Gary (and the supporting cast of musicians) for your many contributions to the preservation of historical Idaho music. John

Greetings from Pickles Butte, home of the Idaho Songs Project. Here are some update items for the project.

The projects website at has been updated with audio tracks for January through May based on pre-radio era Idaho-related music. There are some very cool new songs that relate to the fabric of life in the earlier days of Idaho in these postings. Just follow the link to Idaho Songs of the Month.

And, two weeks ago we released High Tone Music of Idaho. You can read about this project at the Recordings link for the website above, and I've also included the cover below. The project contains 16 audio tracks and an interpretive booklet. All songs are based on pre-1920 Idaho-related sheet music performed in the "classical" piano/five-string banjo style, Sean Rogers of Boise is on piano and lead vocals and I'm on banjo and harmony vocals. This instrumental combination graced fine music parlors and halls a hundred years ago, before banjos became uncool. In many respects, the three-fingered banjo style anticipated the bluegrass style techniques by many decades. $15 plus tax and shipping, if you're interested in this unique project.
(Click on picture to enlarge for better viewing)

My 2010 calendar is filling up fast with historically-based Idaho songs programs for the Speakers Bureau program of the Idaho Humanities Council around Idaho. Also, I'm playing banjo for the Chicken Dinner Road bluegrass band which will be doing festivals and other events all over Idaho in 2010. Perhaps our paths will cross during the year.

As always, if you find some early Idaho songs based on actual Idaho people, places or events that are not in the Idaho Songs bibliography that you can access at the website above, please let me know.

And if you find technical or factual problems with the website, please let me know.

Regards - Gary Eller

(While looking for a chicken dinner, I found the following link. Take a look and a listen. John)
Chicken Dinner Road

Saturday, February 20, 2010

James Carl Behlen Sr.

We had another untimely and unexpected death recently with the passing of my wife Cindy's father, James Carl Behlen Sr. I recall what may have been my first visit (an early one anyway) to the home of my future in-laws, Jim and Jackie Behlen. I am not sure of the exact date, but well over thirty two years ago as that is how long Cindy and I have been married. Her mother Jackie and father Jim were then living in Dublin, CA so we were in closer proximity and visits took place more frequently. I sat down for the first time at their kitchen table, trying to play it cool and make the good impression as the boyfriend/college man/future son-in-law. No sooner had my rather sizable derriere hit the chair when the loud cracking of wood could be heard and down I went in a pile of splinters. Talk about life's most embarrassing moments! Fortunate for me, I wasn't skewered, the cameras weren't rolling and the chair was not a family heirloom. Jim and Jackie massaged my damaged ego and continued to make me feel at home. Jim had a good laugh and would not let me live it down anytime soon thereafter. Cindy lost her mother Jackie to cancer not long after those first visits I had to the home in Dublin.

Through the years, we didn't always have a lot of time with Jim, as we moved to different states and opportunities to visit became more limited. It seems time has never provided enough when death comes knocking. I will always remember my last visit, hug and cry with my father in-law Jim, immediately following the dispersing of Jimmy Juniors ashes (another much too soon a death) out of an airplane over Sand Mountain, Nevada in 2005. It was a rather incredible moment that remains etched forever even in my somewhat weak memory. Junior and senior are now soaring together again. We love and will miss you always. My loving condolences to my wife Cindy, sister and brother in-laws Mandy and Kevan, Jim's wife Patti and all the rest of the many members of that side of our family. John

James Carl Behlen Sr.

James Behlen Sr. born on April 30, 1933 to Carl and Sophie Behlen Mandella and Frederick Mandella died February 5, 2010 due to heart failure.
He was preceded in death by son, James Behlen Jr.; wife, Jacqueline Behlen; wife, Marilyn Conradi Behlen; and his parents.
Jim is survived by his wife, Patricia Behlen; children, Cindy, Kevan and Mandy Behlen, Gene, Jerry and Lisa Conradi, Sheree, Jim and Leslie Vassion; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
At Jim's request, no services are planned. His family will meet Saturday, February 20, 1:00 p.m., at 7701 Hardeson Road, Everett, WA in the cabana at Westridge Estates.

Legacy Guest Book - James Carl Behlen Sr.

Idaho's trial of the century

From the Idaho State Journal, Friday, 2/19/2010, a nice summary of events surrounding the assassination of Ex-Governor Steunenberg and the trial of Bill Haywood.
Click on the link below.
Idaho's trial of the century by Vern Herzog

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Big Bill Haywood's revenge: the original intent of the exclusionary rule."

An interesting and informative assessment and opinion of the exclusionary rule in law and the key role it played in the Haywood Trial.

Click on the link below.

Other viewpoints, opinions and analysis are welcomed. I will probably come back and re-visit this article at a later date.

Big Bill Haywood's revenge: the original intent of the exclusionary rule.