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Letter from the Editor, September/October 2011
By John Moody

Dear readers,

The late historian Shelby Foote wrote a novel about the far-reaching effects of the Civil War set nearly a century after the fact during the civil rights movement of the 1950s. It was for our purposes appropriately called "September, September." We welcome you to the September issue of SO Magazine as we mark the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States with our cover story. Contributor Theresa Schieffer writes about the 114th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry Reactivated and the popular summertime ritual the group performs weekly to the delight of visitors. 

At day's end on Tuesday evenings for most of the summer, the dedicated members of the 114th gather at Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery to re-create a bit of history as they remove the flag while dressed in Civil War uniforms. The crowd, typically numbering in the hundreds, travels from far and near to witness the event. It is patriotic, educational and inspirational. Like the soldiers they honor, these folks are not casual about their duties. So much so that they have training in the proper military ways of the Civil War. If you should attend, you will hear drums and bugles and muskets and cannon and maybe even your own heartbeat.

When it comes to the outdoors, there is no more qualified expert for our tastes than The State Journal-Register's Chris Young. So we tag along with Chris for the best of the region's fall color drives. He takes us to Pike and Fulton counties, both long known for their autumn spectaculars filled with festivals and food. Chris also provides this issue's architecture piece. If you've ever wondered about the grandeur and history of some of the area's courthouses, this story and several familiar images will be worth your time.

Writer Julie Kaiser also heads outside in this issue. She has great tips for the campers in your camp. She talks comfy footwear in the form of hiking boots and comfy sleepwear in the form of air mattresses and tents.

Brian Su may not be your typical American, given that he sought asylum in this country from his native China, but he's living an American dream right here in central Illinois. Years ago, Su, who lives in Chatham, came to California on business and defected. His decision to make Springfield his new home was influenced by his affinity for Abraham Lincoln. Writer Julie Cellini brings us this story of a man who refused to give up.  

All those SUVs you see on the road today really got their start with a Chevrolet design dating back to 1936. Freelance writer Carol Sponagle brings us John Carpenter's panel wagon. Carpenter searched hard and traveled far to track down his pride and joy, affectionately called The Meat Wagon. It's an award-winning beauty that usually makes people stop to have a look. Don't miss it.

Michael Higgins, August Mrozowski and Sean Keeley are names that many of us connect immediately to the Springfield restaurant scene. SJ-R food editor Kathryn Rem's story shows us that each of these restaurateurs takes the concept of buying local to a whole new level. While these gastronomic luminaries do what's right for their clientele - think fresh, healthy food - they are also helping to boost the local economy. It makes pretty good business sense all around.

Our house feature this time around is a horse farm out in the fresh air. And, don't miss columnist Geoff Bland as he educates us on the goodness of home - Illinois wine, to be specific. And, we pack our bags for trips to Memphis and to Naples ... Florida, not Italy. 

Don't forget to check out our On the Town pages in the back of the publication, and visit us online at www.springfieldsown.com. Thanks for spending some of your time with SO Magazine.


Story published Friday, September 2, 2011 ( Volume 6, Number 5 )

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