Edith Channel’s Long Walk

1.

From the Lawrence, KS Daily Journal-World, 2/4/1915
From the Lawrence, KS Daily Journal-World, 2/4/1915

Lawrence, Kansas is 41 miles west of Kansas City. The weather in Lawrence on February 4, 1915, was “generally fair,” though there was a chance of snow in the “west portion” that night.

Edith Channel was walking west, into that snow.

2.

McPherson KS Daily Republican, 2/24/1915
McPherson KS Daily Republican, 2/24/1915

There are no reliable, current records of a publication titled “Our Country” based in Kansas City in 1915. At least, there aren’t any easily found online.

The Weekly Post in Kansas City was a real paper. It began publishing in 1912 and continued through the 20s.

The Old Santa Fe Trail led travelers to California in 1915. They might pass sites still haunted by the West’s chronic conflicts. “Comanches and Pawnees,” wrote author C.A. Higgins in 1915, had once made “almost every toilsome mile of the slow passage through Kansas dangerous for the wagon trains that wound slowly across the plains…”

Slowly, perhaps near a walking pace. Edith Channel could have kept up with those wagon trains.

3.

From the Great Bend, Kansas Tribune, an article dated March 15, 1915:

Miss Edith Channel, a Kansas City stenographer who is walking from Kansas City to San Francisco, arrived here last night and this morning left for Pawnee Rock. She is making the journey without funds other than what she earns on the way through selling subscriptions to Our Country, the weekly edition of the Kansas City Post. Miss Channel is a pretty young lady, and a Kansas girl, having been born in Topeka. This winter physicians told her she would have to go west and leave Kansas City or she would be liable to contract tuberculosis so she gave up the stenographic job and decided to go to California. […] She started February 24 and spent ten days visiting a brother in Topeka. The longest walk she has made in one day has been about 15 miles and she has hardly got used to the matter of walking yet but is making a little better time. She left about noon for Pawnee Rock.

She carries 14 pounds of luggage and is pretty cheerful over the prospects of the journey. she expects to get to San Francisco in plenty of time to see the fair and was particularly overjoyed here to find out that the roads were much better in the western part of the state than here. She has to make the trip now on the railroad right of way and thinks the trail road will be better to travel on.

The Fair in San Francisco was the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. It opened March 2, 1915 and closed on December 4 that year.

The same day the Great Bend Tribune published its blurb about Edith’s journey, the Barton County, Kansas Democrat published an article of its own.

“Miss Channel left Kansas City on the 2nd of February,” wrote the Democrat reporter. “She is making the trip alone… to the San Francisco Fair,” the article continued, “and is writing her experiences for the Kansas City Post.”

Edith Channel was “evidently not traveling for her health,” reported the Democrat, “for she has the appearance of being possessed of her full share of that article, and when she starts off impresses one with a confidence in her ability to reach her goal.”

The Democrat stated that Edith was “rather small, and dresses in a walking suit of khaki, and says that except for the fact that her muscles were a little sore from the effect of her unusual exercise she feels none the worse for her experience.

She thought she might reach San Francisco “some time in June.”

4.

Oregon Daily Journal, 6/5/1915
Oregon Daily Journal, 6/5/1915
Oregon Daily Journal, 6/16/1915
Oregon Daily Journal, 6/16/1915

5.

Olive Louise Woodward, Edith Channel, The Santa Cruz Evening News, 7/21/1915
Olive Louise Woodward, Edith Channel, The Santa Cruz Evening News, 7/21/1915

On July 21, 1915, The Santa Cruz Evening News published a photo of Edith Channel and a traveling companion, Olive Louise Woodward.

“With the three essentially feminine treasures,” wrote the Evening News, “–a curling iron, a small alcohol lamp and a jar of cold cream, reinforced with a wicked-looking revolver and a canteen, Edith Channel walked 2000 miles, alone–from Kansas City to Los Angeles.”

Edith’s journey, said the Evening News, had been made “to regain her lost health.”

A few days later, on July 24, 1915, the Fort Wayne, Indiana Sentinel published the same photo of Edith and her companion. The accompanying article was simply a longer version of the one published in the Santa Cruz paper.

Edith “never wanted for food,” she said. She’d met “many tramps and travelers,” but “they never molested or insulted me.”

“When I got to the Grand Canyon,” said Edith, she “stopped ten days.”

Edith was traveling the 500 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco with Olive Louise Woodward, “a nineteen-year-old girl who has already traveled all the way from Derby, England, to Vancouver, thence to Los Angeles, unaccompanied, though not on foot.”

Olive’s intention was “to gain experience, scare away a natural timidity of nature and eventually win her way into the movies.”

The girls were planning on 15 to 20 miles a day.

6.

Edith Channel, SF Chronicle, 8/1/1915
Edith Channel, SF Chronicle, 8/1/1915

Edith Channel reached San Francisco at the end of July. “Upon arrival,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle, “she went at once to the tuberculosis booth in the Palace of Education at the exposition.”

Edith there explained to the head physician that her father and grandfather had died from the disease.

The physician examined her and “pronounced the young woman in perfect health.”

“A complete cure,” he said, “The exercise and out-of-doors life did it.”

7.

Independence Kansas Daily Reporter, 12/14/1915.
Independence Kansas Daily Reporter, 12/14/1915.
The Wichita, Kansas Beacon, 12/14/1915
The Wichita, Kansas Beacon, 12/14/1915

Edith’s age was given in articles as 23 and 25. The US Federal Census from 1900 listed a 23-year-old Earl Dinsmore living with an Edith and Lester Channel, both 24. A Kansas State Census taken in March 1905 shows a 29-year-old Edith Channel living Lincoln, Kansas with a J.J. Channel and a boy of 12, Carl Hill. The next Federal Census 5 years later finds an Edith aged 34 living in Pennsylvania with a Chester Channel.

It seems likely Edith really was 39 or 40 when she died, rather than the ages she gave to various newspaper reporters along her journey west.

Some articles about her suicide stated she had been employed by the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which closed just before she died.

The lies and secrets Edith kept as she carried her pack across the west in the last year of her life don’t matter now. She was a singer; sure. A writer–okay. A photographer? Whatever.

Finding the first trace of her journey in those old papers, addled, distracted and pressured reporters haphazardly gathering the bits of her story on the way–that long-distance view was too compelling to not trace. Like piloting a time-traveling drone quietly buzzing above her head as she strode the tracks and the roads.

The vast buzzsaw of the Great War was sweeping a continent an ocean away, and soon enough, America would join the fight. Anarchists and spies were setting bombs up and down the East Coast. Inventors and innovators were flourishing.

In Kansas, a woman decided to make a new younger self. She might have just been a liar. But maybe she saw that she still looked young and saw an opportunity to grab something before it faded away. Even if she didn’t have tuberculosis–the white plague–when she arrived at the Exposition, even if that was another fiction, it no longer matters. She packed her curling iron, cold cream, a lamp, and a gun. She  set out on the Santa Fe Trail. She had a purpose, that much is clear.

She must have found something she needed on her walk. It might have been her English friend Olive. It might have been the moments of fame in the papers, always a few pages back from the war reports.

Of course, it didn’t fix whatever was broken within. And Edith seems to have been forgotten outside the microfilm machines scanning papers across the years, the scanners digitizing those images.

Until now.

I don’t truly know why Edith Channel made her journey. But across 100 years I can see her, a ghost in khaki with her soft hat and her pack, under the hard stars and those great skies out west that terrify, and awe.

I know her fate.

I don’t want her to stop walking.

The Fake Kidnapping That Was Not Fake And Was Definitely a Kidnapping And…

Back in the day, when I was blogging about crime all the time, I would’ve been tempted to really dive into the nuttiness that has recently come to light regarding the kidnapping of Denise Huskins, but honestly, I’m not feeling it today.*

It’s too crazy. From “The Hoax That Wasn’t…,” a post published by CBS’s Sacramento affiliate:

It started as a kidnapping investigation, then police called it a hoax. Now the FBI is saying the kidnapping of Denise Huskins was a real event, and that a man has been arrested in connection with the case.

A 59-page criminal complaint was released on Monday with the news of Matthew Muller’s arrest. It details him as a Harvard-educated former attorney who once taught at the prestigious school, but was disbarred earlier this year.

The 38-year-old is from Orangevale, and is a former Marine who suffers from Gulf War Syndrome and is bi-polar [sic].

Now just go read the rest yourself. Because I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been covering crime on a regular basis since 2004 and reading true crime tales since I was 11 or 12.

If you’re curious about the guy who allegedly conceived of this insanity, a friend tweeted some links she found last night:

(Edit: I want to note that the facts known about Matthew Muller seem to make the two links above line up, but the guy’s appearance seems to have changed in a marked way; enough to make me wonder if the first really is him. Error? Identity theft? Who knows? Anything possible in this bizarre situation.)

That’s a start, I guess.

*I certainly don’t rule out writing about this later, but last night I was just too locked in a state of “WHAT THE FUCK” to wrap my head around it.

My Sunday Workout, Posted Mostly To Consistently Post Something

At a certain point in the day on Sundays, especially, I realize if I haven’t gotten a morning run in there is a chance I won’t do anything. So today I groaned heavily, wrote a workout plan and did the following (in sets, not all at once):

  • 100 burpees
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 squats
  • 50 leg raises
  • 50 curls (with 25-lb dumbbells)

I did the simple, non-push-up burpee, which still incorporates what amounts to a jumping squat, so that was a shitload of squats.

Which is an unpleasant set of words to pack in one phrase, I guess.

Verdict: good calisthenic workout, would use in a hotel room (sans curls) or in jail, I guess.*

Still have all sorts of anger issues and a need to prove myself, but at least I’m too tired to worry about those right now.

*Prison workouts is a whole Thing among home workout/raw/primitive fitness type folks–which honestly makes a lot of sense. Guys come out of lockup racked all to hell and not all facilities have weights anymore. You can, it turns out, get a whole hell of a lot done fitness-wise in a very small space. When you live in one of the most wintry cities in the US like I do, getting out and running every day just isn’t always the best option.

Mysterious Explosion at Salty Brine State Beach, Narragansett, RI (updated)

Google maps
Google maps

Update, 12:55 p.m. –A Twitter user receiving texts from the scene isn’t the greatest source in the world, but this is a worthwhile update to at least point out there could be many reasons for random explosions–like damaged gas lines or faulty grills:

Original post–First noticed reports of an explosion at Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett Rhode Island on Twitter, from various bots that tweet interesting reports from websites used to monitor emergency services radios.

It is a gorgeous, warm summer day in most of New England, as perfect a beach day as you might imagine. Any beach in this region will be crowded, the roads leading to them thick with traffic as well.

The Providence Journal reports:

[Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management] Spokeswoman Rayna Maguire said details are still sketchy, but a 50-year-old woman who appeared to be “trapped” on the rocks had been taken to South County Hospital. There were no other reports of injuries.

Maguire said that witnesses reported the explosion was under the sand and blew the woman onto the rocks.

A few beachgoers tweeted what they heard or witnessed.

There are no indications right now as to the source of the explosion, however since April, 2013, it’s not much of a stretch for New Englanders to assume terrorism is afoot when something like this occurs.

For the mouse is a creature of great personal valor…

humorous-157_smallMice are cute but no one wants them in the house.

We got our cat Bella to catch mice and other vermin and she has been a phenomenally successful little hunter. When we lived in Georgia she killed mice, lizards and at least one rat.  Here in Worcester, Massachusetts I’ve lost count of her mouse tally, but it’s in the double digits.

Bella’s hunting skills are great because mice really freak out my wife, Dana.​ And if I’m being honest, they give me the willies, too. I’m embarrassed by that, considering I grew up in a rural area, but I can’t just make myself not be creeped out.

When Bella catches one I’ve found I can handle scooting it into a small bucket, taking it outside and dropping it in the storm grate.

This is not necessarily a death sentence if the mouse is merely stunned when I get it in the bucket (Bella has killed them outright merely by pouncing on them) because they are great little swimmers; I tell myself I’m giving the little guys some kind of fighting chance they definitely wouldn’t have with Bella.

Tonight, Bella caught two mice in a row. The second she killed in the process of pouncing on it. By the time I had it in a small bucket (wearing thick, suede work gloves the whole time–told you they freaked me out) it was gone. It plopped in the brackish waters beneath the storm drain grate and floated there, motionless, another bit of refuse.

The first mouse, though–when I saw her with it, the mouse was cornered beneath a cabinet in the kitchen, all twitching whiskers and contained energy. Bella would swat it, stun it, and then it would recover and try to scamper away.

I trapped it beneath the overturned bucket. I put on the work gloves, and scooted it in the bucket. Then I called my 14-year-old daughter into the room and made her pull a couple of paper towels so I could cover the bucket and ensure the mouse didn’t spring out as I carried it downstairs.

I carried the mouse in the bucket down to the street. The night was warm and still, and headlights flashed far up the street. I crossed to the storm grate and upended the bucket.

The mouse slid out and hit the thick metal grate. It bounced, found its bearings and sprang onto the pavement, and it was gone, running as fast as its tiny legs could go.

Whatever vestigial hunter remains in my brain tracked it visually and for a moment I wondered if I should take a handful of long strides and stomp it flat, leave some message to the universe about the minor brutalities of man under the street lights.

I let it go. And as I walked back into the house I wished it well. I imagined it rushing across that vast expanse of black pavement towards the safety of shadows, wondered if it felt something like relief even as it fled.

I don’t want that mouse in my house, but tonight it is my hero.

Tired

I was tired today, so I deleted two draft posts after they felt too long and like a little bit too much work.

I did decide that I’d go ahead and post a couple of things I’ve made recently that I enjoyed creating, even if they are probably too nutty by half.

Both, like the music/sound collage pieces posted here, were created for @manual_txt, which I co-created with one friend and currently run with another (my co-creator may or may not still post; we’ve kept it very casual so I don’t bug either guy about it).

Tonight I posted “SIGNAL INTRUSION (For Silent Jim, Whenever He May Find The Dust)” on Soundcloud. It’s a 2:30+ piece I composed in the old-fashioned way (with a keyboard, writing out the notes on a software composition program that plays it back) then added some sampling and improvisation as I mixed it. We like @manual_txt ephemera to stay mysterious but I’ll tell you here that the sampled voice is from The Max Headroom Signal Hack, which I wrote about here.

A few days ago I decided to use another piece I wrote and some found footage to make a little @manual_txt movie. Like many @manual_txt tweets it’s about ghosts. It’s about dust. Featuring Pepsi.

I like to think if someone decided to loop @manual_txt media and listen to it for hours they’d go quietly insane and start seeing ghosts drinking Pepsi in the dust.

A guy can dream.

Is it weird?

OK, definitely not all. But maybe more.
OK, definitely not all. But maybe more.

My Twitter friend Amanda Mull, the managing editor for PurseBlog, tweeted a link at me about a strange crime yesterday, then followed up with this question:

I’ve been thinking about that question today. My answer last night was that it was less weird than it used to be, but still strange.

And it is strange, but I realized today that I no longer feel so bad about that.

I started to write something much longer here about me and true crime but realized I’d just be repeating myself. So…

A while back my friend Quinn told me she was sure I’d get back to covering true crime stories in some form. I didn’t argue but I felt a little skeptical. Turns out she’d observed something I’d only been half aware of: my interest in the subject was as strong as ever. Only my desire to really dig into stories I found unusually interesting waned.

Additionally, I’ve gotten over my wariness regarding the label “true crime writer”–or in my case, blogger. I know I’m just a writer, full stop, but I no longer feel the need to try and correct anyone who wants to pigeonhole me with terminology.

I just want to write about shit I find interesting. Especially if I figure out I might have something to add to the subject, even if all I add is my own weird perspective.

That’s what I’m doing by going from maybe a post a month on this blog to, what, three in one day? I’m shaking off a bunch of old crap. Finding whatever my groove may be now.

Let’s see where this goes.

It might get dark.

Hope you’re cool with that.

United Airlines, NY Stock Exchange, Wall Street Journal all suffer ‘glitches’

After reports of major delays in airports due to a computer issue affecting United Airlines, the New York Stock Exchange and the Wall Street Journal all suffered from cyber problems. All at this point have been explained away by the companies themselves as technical problems, not cyber breaches.

Then there’s this, tweeted by the Anonymous newsfeed, @YourAnonNews, just before midnight on July 7:

This looks at first like a subtle nod at some kind of action to come, something YourAnonNews might do, but some who learned of YAN’s tweet after the tech issues struck had a different take:

Ms. Lopez’s take doesn’t feel like a stretch, either.

Writing about crime and cyber crime over time I came to realize that a vivid imagination can serve writing about true events by sparking lively prose, but it can be troublesome once you start trying to sleuth or guess about whatever you’re covering. The little dramatist in my head tries to take over and turn real world events into a suspense novel. And sometimes the real world is mundane. There are coincidences. Machines fuck up. People write faulty software.

I’m trying to blog more, just about things that interest me–news, crime, cyber crime, unsolved mysteries, cold cases, missing people, history, fitness–but as I do I become aware of the way some of my thinking has changed since I did it every day as a job and for myself. One of those changes is accepting that sometimes there really isn’t any drama there (wherever there is at that time). At least no more drama than the usual theater of things falling apart. As they do. [WSJ]

It’s probably nothing: the United Airlines Computer Glitch

Computers fail. Entire server farms full of computers fail. Nothing electronic is failsafe. So, the full stop that grounded United Airlines on the morning of July 8, 2015 might simply be a tech problem. Such issues have occurred before and will again.

It is worth it to note, however, that United Airlines has offered rewards to hackers who find security flaws in the company’s systems. Those rewards could be considered a challenge, or they could be considered by some an implied admission that there are flaws to find.

And as Sophos’s Naked Security blog also notes, United has had issues in the past with data insecurity.

So far United has only acknowledged vague computer issues. And sure, that’s probably what it is. In case it’s not, the information may show up in searches like this, first. [NBC]

I’m sorry…

… my head is such an eerie place. It’s always been that way. Much of the spookiness is linked to summer. Summer is a haunted time, and always will be. Something about the leisure. The space, the hours you have to do nothing. To talk to others or remain in silence.

I run a weird Twitter account with friends, @manual_txt. Of late, I’ve begun composing odd bits of music and making sound collages for it. They are always strange, and they are incredibly fun to make. Here are two.

They are both purposefully understated and impressionistic. The latter is called “Ted’s Trance” because the quote sampled for use in the piece was from an interview with serial killer Ted Bundy, a particularly haunting and unsettling quote given the speaker and what he was talking about.

I feel like these particular pieces are leading me toward something creatively, but not 100% sure what that is yet. Whatever it is, it will be multimedia and hopefully just as spooky as can be.