November 10, 2018

Being Warm at Mill Inn


By Ed Chasteen


First of the season it was yesterday when it came, the snow is gone this morning without a trace. Crystalline-white puffs of white had drifted down on a fairy like array of fall-covered leafs, cocooning us in fragile beauty too soon gone, leaving behind a quickly descending bone-numbing cold beneath a cloudless blue sky.

Chris comes first. Rode from home over near Penguin Park. John drives up. Then Jay. On his bike. Chris and Jay ride off at 8 o’clock, headed for Mill Inn. John drives home. He will meet us at Mill Inn a little after 9 o’clock.

Every November since before this century began we have celebrated my birthday with a Saturday breakfast at Mill Inn. Evelyn, Marie, Vicki, and Deborah have been here for all this time to welcome us. We always let them know when we’re coming. They always bake a cake. I was late this year letting them know when exactly we were coming. So I told them I would understand if there were no cake.

I follow the two riders. Driving SAG, I’m in my HateBuster Mobile. But in the cold I’ve not attached the blinking yellow light on top or the RIDERS AHEAD magnetic sign on the back. I did remember to put the tool kit with bike repair stuff in my car.

We pull together two big tables and take over a nearby third for the 18 of us who all arrive soon after 9 o’clock. Matt had joined the other two on the road about halfway between Liberty and Excelsior Springs. Matt lives in Excelsior Springs and rode out from home to ride in with us. Matt is working in Memphis, Tennessee, helping put up an Amazon Distribution Center and is home for a few days. Sharri, his wife, and Darien, his daughter, come to breakfast with us.

Ed Piepergerdes and wife, Pam, have come. Ed has a bacon covered ice cream float for Delfina, result of an inside joke later explained to all of us.

Before our food comes, I ask for everyone’s attention to quickly describe the Pairs Project and invite them to participate. “Each January and September I pair folks one to one across faith lines for 13 weeks to hold seven online conversations using seven sets of questions I provide. On the last Tuesday evening from 7:30-9:00, we hold a Human Family Reunion at William Jewell College. Each member of the pair comes and takes three minutes to tell the life story of the one to whom they are paired, using the information obtained in the online questions. Our next Reunion is Tuesday evening December 4 this year. Everyone who has been paired, is now paired or thinks you might in the future be paired is invited to come.

Ed and Pam were paired in the spring of this year with a Muslim couple. Dave and Rinne Wood are paired this semester with a Baha’i couple. Dan Mack, a rider not present this morning, was paired this spring with a member of the Sikh Gurdwara.

We have finished eating and about to go around the table, hearing a short story from everybody when Evelyn and Deborah appear with cake. Two kinds. More than enough for everyone to have more than one. I do.  “Hey, folks, this is Evelyn. She owns this place,” I announce. “I should have known I couldn’t be too late.”

Kim is here on crutches. Just this Thursday she had a mishap on a trampoline. Husband Roger is with her.

Present today: Jay Smith, Pam Piepergerdes, Rinne Wood, Graham Houston, Ed Piepergerdes, Jason Swan, Terry Clark, Chris Harlan, Delfina Ortiz, Matt Farwell, Sharri Farwell, Darien Farwell, Kim Siegel, Roger Siegel, John Vernickas, Mike Nason, Ed Chasteen



November 9, 2018

What Happened to You and Me?

Reflections of a Former English Teacher

2018 by Ed Chasteen


“I” is never the object of a preposition. I learned and taught this as a rule of proper English. He hit you and me. She looked up to you and me. Both correct by the rule. He hit you and I. She looked up to you and I. Both incorrect by the rule. But increasingly seen and heard. In print. And conversation.

By what rule? Free form language? The canary in the coal mine? Harbinger of what’s to come? An emerging new English when the present becomes the past? An issue hardly worth considering when pressing problems loom. But offering a thoughtful diversion

Whether a sign of grammatical malpractice, a teaching-learning failure or a conversational culture shift, it does grate on older ears, birthing one more generational divide to be bridged.

The sentence fragments populating this short piece also were taboo when “I” could not be an object.

November 8, 2018

Theirs and Ours: What’s in a Name

2018 by Ed Chasteen


David Duke is the name; 1988 is the time. The David Duke I know teaches religion at William Jewell College and lives here in Liberty, Missouri. He and I teach at the same college and go to the same church, just a block off campus. I know David’s wife, their children, his parents.

My first knowledge of the second David Duke comes one November morning in 1988 when I go into my yard and pick up my just delivered Kansas City Star. The huge headline splashed across the top of the front page: KLANSMAN WINS ELECTION IN LOUISIANA grabs my attention. I read the whole story standing there in my front yard. That’s where the other David Duke comes into my life. He is that Klansman.

I take that newspaper to my Race Relations class at William Jewell.” Class, we need to do something to help the folks in Louisiana redeem themselves,” I say. We talk and plan for weeks. Then months. We get the governor of Louisiana to invite us. A black church, a white church and a businessman agree to host us. We write a song and design a T-shirt. An airline flies us and our bicycles there and back. Free of charge.

The Klansman has made headlines for his divisive message. We seek equal treatment. With our bright yellow HateBusters T-shirts, our HateBusters song, the governor’s invitation, the church’s welcome, our community bicycle ride and the Human Family Reunion afterward at the black church, we make a big splash.

The governor gives our time in Baton Rouge his official approval. We speak at LSU. We have a morning radio show to talk about race relations. And a crawfish boil in a deacon’s back yard. The city newspaper writes a big story, casting a bright and complimentary light on our presence. We end on Sunday with a visit to both churches; then lunch together at a cafeteria run by the businessman.

The only down note during our three day visit comes soon after we first arrive. I have decided in advance that my first call should be to David Duke, the Klansman. We need to know each other. What makes us both do what we do and believe as we do. Just the two of us. Off the record.

I make the call to his office, the only number I can find.  Someone answers. “Is David Duke in?” I ask. “Who’s calling?” I’m asked. “My name is Ed Chasteen. I’m a teacher from Missouri. I would like to meet Mr. Duke. Just the two of us. I think we need to know each other.” The line goes dead. We do not meet.

Mr Duke is not reelected. His name appears in the papers now and then as years pass.  He erupts on national news in 2016: “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life. Make no mistake . . . our people played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”

William Jewell’s David Duke died young some years back. In his memory every year our campus holds a David Duke Symposium to showcase excellence in student achievement.

Long live the spirit of our David.

October 30, 2018

Open Letter to Sarah Cool in Atlanta

from Ed Chasteen



I got an email question from food service at William Jewell College asking who would pay for the refreshments I ordered for our WCH-HFR-WJC on Tuesday, December 4 in our college union. “HateBusters will pay,” I replied. Then I scrolled through several emails, deleting as I went. And your name appeared.

When you were on campus as a student, then in Liberty and other countries after graduation, I was amazed by your good works and the fact that just by being present, you elevated everyone and everything to a higher plane. But the timing of your generous gift could not have been better. Such an immediate answer to HateBusters need for money! I learned long ago to commit to pay bills for good things before I had the money, knowing that it would come; but, also knowing that to wait would jeopardize the whole enterprise.

How you could have known from such a great distance now between us what as HateBusters we need at the moment back on campus is a question for which I venture no answer. Sages and mystics might know. I choose the simple path of accepting that this is how it is meant to be and always is. Some things defy us. Examined too closely, they lose power through us to do their good.


October 29, 2018



Second Baptist Church

To Other Communities of Faith

Box 442                                                                                  ph. 816-803-8371

Liberty, MO 64069                                                     e-mail:              

Connecting People across Racial and Religious Lines


By Ed Chasteen


I am a member of Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri and serve my church as Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. On behalf of my church and for myself personally, I want the Jewish community in Pennsylvania, here in Kansas City and everywhere in the world to know we stand with them and against those who hate and harm.

The differing and diverse religious perspectives found in America bring to us a resilience and strength not available to those countries where religious monopoly is practiced. Beyond enduring religious difference, we endorse that difference. We profit from our differing religious perspectives when we speak up and speak out to let those who would do any of us harm that all of us stand together in opposition to them.

They may kill our bodies. Martyrs, by their death, defeat their assassins. By revealing the weakness inherent in those who use guns against those they dislike, martyrs win. Dying for a noble cause is remembered in the human saga as the time we are at our best.