Writing and Photography samples of
Jerry Bacon
while editor of
Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc.'s
corporate newsletter
Plains Pride

( Graphic Design and FrameMaker Document Publishing also by J.B. )






Prairie Pride
Prairie Pride
a home near Lindsborg
Story and Photography by Jerry Bacon

Appearing as diamonds against velvet, stars silently dissipate into the indigo sky of a distant dawn. In perfect stillness, the crisp night air of spring knits a wispy layer of fog across the tops of endless grasslands. Legions of field birds begin to proclaim in concert the dawn of a new day now spreading its way across the prairie from the East.

   About five-and-one-half miles north of Lindsborg, atop a slight rise against the eastern slopes of Coronado Heights, the sun rises on the home of Bruce and Mona Peterson and their brand new daughter, Kara Nicole. The Peterson family is making a new home in an old house that Bruce has bought, jacked up, moved, gutted, resided, reroofed, rewired, replumbed, scraped, refinished, spit-shined and polished from its abandoned and dilapidated condition in 1981. The project goes on to this day.
   Roaming about the yard–or sleeping in the shade–you'll find 'Britt,' a Golden Lab/Chow mix plus a dozen-or-so cats with a dozen-or-so names too numerous for anyone but Mona to recite.
   Bruce and Mona are both part of the Great Plains Product Development Group in Assaria. Bruce is a grain drill engineer and Mona helps coordinate the production of operator's manuals for both Great Plains and Land Pride equipment.
   The Peterson's house was originally built in Lindsborg at the beginning of this century. In 1919, a fire destroyed the home of a rural family and this house was purchased as a replacement. It was then to make its first five-mile move to a location about a half mile southwest of where it now stands. At that time, it was the home to a family with seven kids, a grandparent, parents and a teacher. That far from town, the house shows very little evidence of having electricity or complete plumbing.
   In 1981, Bruce took interest in the then abandoned house and began the process of finding out if it could be saved from further deterioration. Locating the owner and writing to ask if it was for sale was the beginning of a quest. Bruce bought the house in 1981 for $1, excavated and constructed a new full basement on his own adjoining property to the north of where it so long stood and moved the house a second time to its present location.
   During the decade-plus of work that Bruce has done, he has kept a photo album which documents the history of the house. Included in the album are photos acquired from two sisters that once lived in the house (now living in Lindsborg). These old photos show the two iron-wheeled tractors used to make the first move from Lindsborg to the country.
   More recent photos show the excavation of a new basement and foundation, the second half-mile long move, and testify to the piles of debris removed from the house in the remodeling process.
   Bruce and his helpers have wired, plumbed, built a new cistern from a grain silo, installed a drain field, stripped the worn floors, resided the house and landscaped the yard.
   One of the more time consuming projects was removing, stripping and refinishing all the natural wood trim throughout the house. Finding replacements for missing or stolen pieces of intricate trim found atop door jambs and window casings is a project still to be completed.
   Even a dozen years later, the project is still underway. One by one, rooms take on their refurbished personality that for so long was hidden in neglect. Brass hardware regains its luster, polished wood floors again reflect your presence in their new shine.
   And, most importantly, a family begins to grow within its country charm. Bruce, Mona and Kara Peterson are transforming this house into their home.

   Evening comes just a bit early as the sun sets behind Coronado Heights. The skies become a golden blaze with clouds rimed in silver, stars slowly reclaim their majesty as night begins to fall. Your soul tells you that it is time to sit on the front porch, rest a bit and try and take it all in.
   Tomorrow there will be something else to restore, something broken to fix or a missing part to find. But for now, tomorrow is just about as far away and silent as the stars overhead.






American History 101

American History 101
Three-Hairs' style
Story and Photography by Jerry Bacon

Most of us involve ourselves in re-living the past indulging our lazier natures in front of a TV set after dinner. By watching a prime-time western or a favorite rented video, we passively (and incorrectly) assume that we are getting a 'real' education in what our American history must have been like.
   Maurice Spangler, on the other hand, loves to relive the past in a first-hand manner.
   Maurice, who is a welder at the Abilene plant and his wife Kathy, have been 'into history' recreating the lives and events of early frontier life. They try and keep their attention to duplicating life on the frontier between 1800 and 1840. As much as possible, they try to keep everything authentic and hand made from natural materials the way it was done a hundred and fifty years ago. Some crafting techniques that were commonplace then are very difficult to authenticate with today's methods and materials.
   As members of the Smokey Valley Long Rifle and Pistol Club, Maurice and Kathy are know as 'Three-Hairs' and 'Mountain Flowers." They travel to many events during the year setting up the medicine man lodge. Their new baby girl, 'White Spring Flowers' bears the name given by the father following Indian lore. Her modern name is Samantha or 'Sami' for short.
   The lodge, which is a reproduction of a mid-19th century Indian tee-pee, is fourteen feet in diameter. The markings on the tent indicate that it is the lodge of the medicine man 'Five Horses Running.' The black stripes represent north and south with the alternate white stripes representing east and west. The red bear claws represent strength.
   Mountain Flowers is becoming somewhat of a specialist in the art of animal hide clothing. The hides of animals when used as clothing have several advantages over western cloth garments. Similar to skin in its ability to insulate, cool or keep one warm, the treated hides of various animals provide an almost ideal garment. She has fashioned herself a white pigskin dress with beaded belt—a beautiful garment indeed. Other frontiersmen in the club wear jackets, shirts and pants fashioned by her from deerskin, buffalo, bear and rabbit.
   The Smokey Valley Long Rifle and Pistol Club is one of many clubs dedicated to preserving and re-living the past of the American Frontier. With more than two dozen members in the club, their numbers include traders, buck skinners, blacksmiths, (Three Hairs' specialty) candle makers, gunsmiths and many other trades common to the early American expansion period.
   When the shift is made from highways and televisions to hiking trails and sustaining campfires on wet nights, one gets a much deeper appreciation as to what kind of persistent people helped make this wonderful country. And after the primitive life has been appreciated first-hand, it quickly becomes the preferred life style of these unique individualists.






Life is a Drag

Life is a Drag!
Story and Photography by Jerry Bacon

You can challenge your friends to a friendly drag race on any town's "main drag" or a lonely, back-country road but nothin' compares with the real stuff!
   The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) standardized the drag racing track at 1/4-mile in length with timing traps for acceleration time through the first 60 feet, top speed through the final 66 feet; and elapsed time from start to finish of the entire 1,320 feet of track. The 1/4-mile timing track is extended at each end for burnout and staging before the starting line and deceleration and safe stopping beyond the finish line.
   The "Christmas Tree," or starting lights, consist of a vertical light pole with seven lights in specific sequence. The top two lights are pre-staging and staging lights. When a dragster's front tires are at the starting line, the second staging light is illuminated. The next three yellow lights flash in a downward sequence at .4-second intervals to a green "Fair Start" or a red "Foul Start" light at the bottom of the pole. Leaving the starting line before the green light causes a foul start and disqualification of the car and driver. A driver's reaction time is critical at this point in achieving a fair start off the line.
   There are several employees at Great Plains that own and race cars in various classifications of NHRA drag racing. Racing in this Midwest region covers four or five states and can add several thousand miles to your tow vehicle in a season of sport. Five hundred miles a weekend isn't unusual for a team to travel.
   Eric Monasmith, Forklift Maintenance, S-1, has owned four cars and has been drag racing since 1979. Currently, he owns two; one is a 1990 rear-engine dragster with a 468 cu. in. big block Chevy engine. This power plant delivers 550 horsepower and races in the Super Pro or Super Competition categories. Racing in the top of his category, this dragster has speeds of 145-plus m.p.h. and times of 9.35 seconds in the quarter mile. His fastest time: 9.17 seconds at 145 m.p.h.
   The dragster's engine is monitored by a custom built onboard computer that keeps record of engine speed during a quarter mile run. Data on engine performance is stored for later analysis in the pit area on a laptop computer. With this information, Eric can precisely determine–and learn from–engine, drive train and driver performance at any point along the track.
   At home in the garage, he as a 1966 Nova that is street-legal and turns 118 m.p.h. in 11.47 seconds in the quarter mile. It's power plant is a 406 cu. in. small-block Chevy which delivers 500-plus horsepower and races in the Super Pro category.
   Eric's wife, Sindy Monasmith is also actively involved in drag racing. An important part of the racing team, Sindy travels the fastest keeping up with their 21/2 year-old daughter Rashelle going 90-miles-an-hour in one direction and Eric going 145 in the other. Sindy also works for Great Plains as one of two telephone receptionists in the Assaria Office.
   Blake Monasmith, Eric's brother, is employed at S-1 Maintenance and maintains machinery for Great Plains.
   Blake has owned and driven his 1970 Chevelle since 1982, a long-term relationship with a car. It runs a 454 cu. in., 425 horsepower Chevy engine and will produce times of 12.61 and 108 m.p.h. on the track.
   Brett Weis, a recent addition to Great Plains, has been part of the company since January of 1993. Brett is the operator of the Accupress at S-1 Fabrication.
   His car: a Super Competition, rear-engine dragster with a 355 Chevy engine delivering 450 horsepower. Brett's fastest time so far has been 149 m.p.h. in 9.31 seconds. Top cars in this class can expect to achieve speeds of 151 to 152 m.p.h.
   Brett has been drag racing for four years and has owned his own dragster for two years. He started in drag racing by helping a friend build his rear-engine dragster which is now the car that Eric Monasmith owns and races.
   Alan Pixler, S-1 Sub Assembly, is rebuilding a 1975 Chevy Monza with the chassis and body currently under construction. Alan's Monza will sport a 327 or 355 small-block Chevy engine when completed and should do quite well next season when he races in the Super Pro category.
   Rick Grabiel, S-2 Quality Control drives a street-legal Mustang 289 racing in the pro category. It's 300-horsepower engine turns in respectable times of 13.60 at 95 m.p.h. for the quarter mile.
   Eric Monasmith helped rebuild a 1965 Olds 4-4-2 that Tim Alt now owns and races. Tim, a second-shift Welder and material handler at S-1, has owned this Oldsmobile for two years and produces times of 13.00 seconds at 103 m.p.h. The 455cu. in. engine produces 400 horsepower.


Sample of Technical Writing


Webpage Design and Content Copyright ©2001 Jerry Bacon