Daily dose: Local history, Thursday morning coffees in D.C., a not-so-cyber attack, the tradition of Thanksgiving football

Daily dose: Local history, Thursday morning coffees in D.C., a not-so-cyber attack, the tradition of Thanksgiving football

Local history

In 1911, a big crowd of students surrounded the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Champaign last night with stones, bricks and fires and began an assault on the place containing hundreds of defenseless men, women and children. Only by a miracle was a serious panic averted. The front of the structure was wrecked with stones and bricks while a flaming barrel was carried from the enclosure on the west side of the structure. The attacking horde demanded to be admitted to the theater free of charge, they were denied entrance and a free-for-all fight followed.

In 1961, Santa Claus came to downtown Champaign Friday and was greeted by a sun-drenched crowd estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000. Santa appeared from the top of the Flatiron Building amid a cloud of smoke and a burst of flame. He also crowned Miss Merry Christmas, Wanda Decker, a gorgeous Champaign High School senior.


Thursday morning coffees in D.C.

I once went to one of these with my nephew and sons and it actually was an enjoyable event . I would recommend it to any Illinoisan.

From the Chicago Tribune ...

WASHINGTON, D. C.— Bespectacled and bow-tied, Sen. Paul Simon launched his Illinois Hospitality Breakfast series in 1985, setting aside an hour on Thursday mornings for conversation, coffee and sweet rolls with people visiting the nation's capital from his state.

Today, the quaint name is gone. So are the cups and saucers from Simon's era. He retired from the Senate in 1997 and died in 2003.

Now guests get their jolt in a paper cup and nothing fancier to munch on than doughnut holes from Dunkin' Donuts, but Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, despite party differences, have kept alive the 26-year-old tradition.

Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, arrived in 1997. Kirk, a Republican, was sworn in a year ago.

On Nov. 17, the two convened the final Illinois Constituent Coffee of the year, with plans to resume them early in 2012.

The coffees draw students and educators, salesmen, scientists and soldiers, farmers and cheesemakers, union leaders and advocates for children.

Held almost every Thursday when the Senate is in session, the coffees are on hiatus because of the holidays and the seasonal dip in tourism.

Guests at the coffees get a word or two with the senators and pose with them for portraits taken by a Senate photographer. The refreshments are paid for out of the senators' campaign funds.

"We are almost completely in partisan breakdown right now," Kirk observed, "and to have a Democrat and Republican meeting every week with all comers is pretty unique in Washington."

The coffees are at 8:30 a.m., when the senators, flanked by the U.S. and Illinois flags, relate what's before the Senate and invite guests to state their names and causes. Before a question-and-answer session, Durbin delivers a decree: "If you want to make a speech, you must run for office."



The cyber attack that wasn't

From the State Journal-Register ...

Though it apparently wasn’t true, the purported cyber attack by the Russians on the Curran-Gardner water system will be accepted as fact by current and future generations.

Search for Springfield news on the Internet, and you will find thousands of stories and analyses of the Russian attack that never was. I could almost feel sorry for the Russians if I weren’t brought up to believe that they wanted to “bury” us (see Khrushchev, Nikita).

The last time Springfield got this much worldwide attention, Barack Obama was downtown. Or maybe it was when Lincoln was buried here. Or maybe it’s because of that joke about Frank, the chili cookoff judge from Springfield, that has found eternal life on the Internet (you can look it up).

People around the world were talking about Springfield because of this cyber attack news. We got worldwide notoriety the hard way.

These items are cut and pasted directly from cyberspace stories about Springfield and the water pump failure. There are thousands of these:

“Last week, cyber-security expert Joe Weiss reported news of a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system hack at a water utility in Springfield, IL, that burned out a water pump. According to Weiss — as well as subsequent reports from Wired and Network World, and a blog by Eric Byres, CTO of Byres Security — the intrusion, first noticed on Nov. 8, appears to have originated from an IP address in Russia.” — Government Security News



The not so proud tradition of Thanksgiving football

From Wednesday's N-G column ...

In 1895, the University of Illinois football team traveled by train — along with about 700 fans, including the president of the UI, Andrew Draper — to play Purdue on the holiday.
Illinois lost 6-2, and the Champaign Daily Gazette charged Purdue with chicanery.
“The field was in miserable condition,” the Gazette reported. “In fact, it was the only muddy place in the town of Lafayette. It had not been raining there recently, but still water stood in pools all over the field, and it did not take long to work up a quality of mud. It is a known fact that the Purdue men, who are termed mud-rats, can put up a better game of ball in the mud than they can on a dry field, and it was an open secret about Lafayette that they spent several hours previous to the game pouring water on the field from a large sprinkling cart.”
A year later, in 1896, two teams of volunteers from the Champaign and Urbana business communities faced off in a charity game at West End Park. Among the players was Joseph Royer, the Urbana graduate who designed the Champaign County Courthouse and Urbana High School. Royer, then 23 years old, played quarterback for the Urbana team. Among the Champaign players was Dan Swannell, who with his father operated the longtime Swannell’s Drug Store in downtown Champaign.
About 300 people attended the game, a benefit for the local Dorcas Society, a church-based charitable group, that was won by Urbana, 4-0. But the game was marred by late-game fisticuffs between players from both teams.
“To make matters still worse,” reported the Daily Gazette, “several men who had nothing to do with the game rushed onto the field. Quiet was finally restored, but from this time on to the finish, the game was robbed of all interest.”




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