Welcome to Agincourt, Iowa



“The fabric of our lives….” Sounds like a cotton commercial.

With time, the fabric can fray and fade. My own patchwork hides most of that hopeful pattern when life was new, unworn, its colors bright; its weight still a little stiff from the newness. Those patches are each a merit badge, won dearly and received with grace. They’re worn with honor, if not with pride. I’m grateful to have become Raggedy Andy in my old age.

Would I choose to be an aging child of privilege, at mid-life yet still wearing the Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes of youth? In other words, would I choose to be Mitt Romney, stiff in his tailored togs that are never allowed to become care-worn or thread-bare—certainly never patched? It’s easy to say “no” since that prospect was never mine.

My life is a story (one probably not worth telling, which of course hasn’t stopped me) and that may account for Howard’s penchant for weaving personal tales. Not always happy ones at that.

“A few figs from thistles…”

by Howard A. Tabor

In a room, darkly

This week is the anniversary of an event that left its mark on Agincourt, one still evident today. In the back yard of a house on North Fourth Street there is a pond, edged with flagstones; green with algae, waterplants and the golden glint of koi. But that pond was unintended, the patched and petrified scar of an accident a hundred years ago. This is one of those centennials—like Titanic—that should pass acknowledged but without celebration.

On Monday morning, the twenty-second of April 1912, Agincourt woke to a banner headline:


The crater filled with spring rain before Mrs Glennie’s release from hospital, eclipsed by a complication: the concussion had given her long-term deafness. Like “Murder on the Orient Express” however, there is the easy answer—a tragic accident—and then there are other more complex solutions.

The Plantagenet‘s clipping file owes everything to our long-time archivist Fran Jellicoe. Each day for forty years, Ms Jellicoe made confetti from two or three copies of the newspaper and cross-filed each clipping by multiple proper nouns. Her knowledge of local history might have rivaled even Hal Holt’s! Evidenced by their own file, the Glennies’ stayed below the radar: jury duty; promotions at the insurance company where Martin worked; his photographic hobby; Adah’s term as secretary at the Women’s Club.

But there are other unsettling scraps of paper. I have to wonder about these:

  • Less than two weeks after the explosion, an audit at the German-American Insurance Co. (Martin Glennie’s employer) found irregularities in the company’s investments, losses so severe that the regular quarterly dividend was cancelled.
  • Adah Glennie was pelted with broken glass, but were her wounds on her front or her back? Was she walking toward or running from that garden shed?
  • Sheriff Krohn’s investigation was inconclusive, which allowed a substantial insurance policy to be paid out. [Where is CSI when you need them?]
  • And two months after that, Adah Glennie filed for a marriage license to wed an old family friend from Omaha. She and her new husband moved to Council Bluffs.

Second-guessing isn’t second-sight, which is why I’ve changed the names. So, if these observations reflect badly on anyone, let the error in judgment be mine.

By the way, I visited Martin Glennie’s single grave last weekend, the anniversary of his explosive death. There were fresh flowers in a green glass vase.


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