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Getting ready for a Civil War re-enactment

Dressing: Sutlery provides
clothing and other articles

[MAY 25, 2001]  Just on the outskirts south of Lincoln sits a unique, small, yet world-famous family-run business. R & K’s Sutlery has supplied authentic reproduction Civil War-period clothing and associated articles for people all over the world. "You name it, from Australia to South Africa," Coons says. "I believe we are the largest sutlery in the world." The sutlery carries a full line of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, as well as military uniforms, accoutrements and weapons.

The business flowed out of Robert Coon’s 30-year hobby, performing in Civil War re-enactments. When his 29-year job with the utility company ended due to a back injury, it was a natural transition for him to break into the sutlery supply business. His passion, knowledge and expertise have made the business grow in leaps and bounds. He’s been at it for 15 years now, and his business just continues to grow. "I can keep barely keep up with it," Coons says. "Sales keep increasing."


Robert’s wife, Kay, is an important part in running the business. She works mostly in the office, handling orders, making travel arrangements and taking care of many other details. The Coons have brought in two of their grandchildren to help handle the expanding business. Sixteen-year-old Mallory Coons will be in the office full time as soon as school lets out. Brian Baker has been working full time in the family business for some time now and is particularly valuable to his grandfather on the road. They travel all summer long, setting up the store at various re-enactment sites.

The family is looking forward to a big business trip together this summer. Oddly enough it is overseas to England. The English are hosting a large American Civil War re-enactment and have a weekend full of battles and other activities planned. There is a chartered plane taking a large group of military re-enactors over as well.

With their vast stock valued at about $70,000, R & K Sutlery has supplied costuming for a number of movies, re-enactments, two Broadway theater productions and even the opera. "We are capable of coming in and outfitting an entire regiment," Coons says with pride, "and that takes a lot of stock."

R & K’s movie credits include:

•  "C.S.Hunley: A story about the 1st submarine." It was owned by the Confederates and sunk by a Yankee ship. The movie was made by Turner Network.

•  "The Day They Shot Lincoln"


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•  "The Patriot," starring Mel Gibson. This movie is from an earlier time period than the Civil War, but R & K supplied the ladies’ undergarments because they were the same kind.

•  "Last of the Mohicans"

•  "Gettysburg"

•  "The North and the South"

It takes a lot of clothing and miscellaneous articles to fully equip a full military regiment, and then there are two sides to that story. Kay jokingly says they are a "nonpartisan sutlery." They stock military uniforms for both the North and the South. Northerners wore two tones of blue, and the South dressed in gray. The military divisions include infantry (on foot), cavalry (on horseback) and artillery (shooting cannons).

The sutlery carries a vast variety of items. You name it and you will find it. They have specialized buttons, footwear, swords and all sorts of authentic reproduction weapons, ladies’ fans and sun umbrellas, woolen stockings, hats, haversacks, camping gear, and tents.

They have clothing in stock or you can have clothing custom made to fit. With 14 people sewing, they manufacture most of what they sell. You don’t have to be going to a Civil War event to find articles of interest from their products. Many items are quite suitable for modern-day use. Thick, woolen socks are great for winter outdoor activities, and there are decorative and functional accessories like ladies’ fans and gloves.

Most of R & K’s sales are orders that are processed and shipped. The Coonses do invite people to their stock house to shop, though they prefer customers to call and make an appointment. Phone (217) 732-8844.


You can see many of the items the sutlery offers online at their website, Their e-mail address is


[Jan Youngquist]

‘Nick’s Secret’

[MAY 30, 2001]   Nick’s Secret," Clare H. Blatchford. Lerner Publications, 2000, 175 pages, grades 4-6.

"Nick hadn’t seen her come into the pet shop, and that bugged him. Being deaf, he considered himself pretty quick at seeing things…Her hair resembled steel wool…Her expression seemed secretive."

Nick Wilder, who is 13, is about to be drawn into the lives of this strange girl and a gang of bullies. Nick agrees to meet Daryl, the school bully, at the creepy, abandoned Tower Motel. On his way to the meeting he is warned by the mysterious girl not to go near the motel, but he is determined to go in spite of a blinding blizzard. Before the day is over, Nick has discovered the girl’s secret dogs and Daryl’s secret.

Ionie and Nick become friends, with the common bond of loving animals. He ends up hiding the girl and her famous sheep-herding dogs in a basement room at the pet shop because a man is trying to steal the dogs. At the pet shop there is a final confrontation that involves the bullies, the thief and Nick.

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The plot moves at a steady pace and is full of suspense. This story will appeal to dog lovers and mystery fans.

[Pat Schlough, Lincoln Public Library]

‘The Gypsies Never Came’

[MAY 30, 2001]   Title"The Gypsies Never Came," by Stephen Roos. Simon & Schuster, 2001, 116 pages, grades 5-9.

Augie Knapp lives in Warsaw Junction, Pa., and works at a laundry after school. He has a birth defect, an almost nonexistent left hand which he keeps covered with a stuffed, flesh-colored glove. Augie is bullied at school and doesn’t have many friends, so he collects secrets — letters, Christmas cards, report cards and anything he finds in the pockets of the laundry where he works. He keeps these "secrets" hidden in a suitcase in the barn.

The day Lydie Rose blew into town and signed up for sixth grade changed Augie’s life. She drove into town in a broken-down convertible and declared she was Augie’s best friend. She told him the gypsies would honor the defect that set him apart and come to rescue him. After that, even though he told Lydie that gypsies "never come for gimps," he dreamed of being rescued by the gypsies and carried off into a better life.


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Augie endures many embarrassments and hardships, but Lydie always seems to be lurking in the background. When his suitcase of "secrets" is missing, Augie immediately suspects her.

Augie’s story is a one of a boy who desperately wants to belong. It will make you laugh and cry and perhaps change your outlook on life, but you won’t soon forget Augie or Lydie.

[Pat Schlough, Lincoln Public Library]


‘The Contender’

Released on video Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Rated R     Approx 127 Minutes     DreamWorks Home Entertainment -2000

Written and directed by Rod Lurie


Jeff Bridges

Christian Slater

Sam Elliot

Joan Allen

Gary Oldman (also the executive producer)


This movie uses graphic language to describe sexual scenes and presents some nudity.

[MARCH 10, 2001]  The box said “two thumbs up” and “Thriller!”

In recent years, the "two thumbs up" endorsement has meant that I probably was going to find the movie to be a loser. "Thriller" usually means I may endure it but I’m probably not going to be thrilled with it.

However, in the case of "The Contender," both my thumbs are up too, and I am indeed thrilled.

"The Contender" is a gritty movie, a political "action" film of sorts. It is a thriller because you don’t have a clear shot at the plot until it is finally revealed for you. At the end, you look back on the film and say, "Yeah, I should’ve seen that coming."

"The Contender" is gritty because it focuses on a dirty fight between political rivals to appoint a new vice president of the United States. The president (played very aptly by Jeff Bridges) selects a woman, Sen. Lane Hanson of Ohio (Joan Allen), for the job, against the advice of party officials and his own advisers. The previous vice president died somehow in office — but "The Contender" never tries to explain his passing.

The whole plot is wrapped up in the confirmation hearings and the process of bringing an appointee to office or sending ’em off packing.

Gary Oldman plays Sheldon Runyon, the Republican chairman of the selection committee. The highly respected, powerful senator seems bent on not only denying the president his day in the sun but also destroying the very career of Sen. Hanson.


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Two things about this movie made a good impression on me.

First, the acting was excellent. Oldman plays a perfect bad guy in this film (he seems to have the bad-guy act down pat). Jeff Bridges, who I thought incapable of playing a convincing president, stepped up to the plate and delivered. Christian Slater played the part of a freshman congressman who was seeking to do the right thing on principle, and was perfectly cast for the part. Finally, Joan Allen was wonderful in her portrayal of the contender under siege.

Second, the plot was dynamite. This movie seems to make you move away from certain characters and make certain assumptions, but you find yourself making a couple of 90 degree turns before it’s done. In the spirit of "The West Wing," it is full of political intrigue and the power of the Washington scene. "The Contender" is a film about respect and dignity and the rocky road to realizing those two values.

The first hour of the movie has a single weakness: The lack of actors on the set portraying political operatives, appointees, devotees and those holding office makes you believe the story less. They needed a fuller cast to make it seem like Washington and government.

This is not a partisan film about the usual struggle between Republicans and Democrats. Instead it is a story about the dynamics of power, accusation and truth.

So, I recommend this film to you if you enjoy a good thriller, if you enjoy stories about the political struggles of this nation and if you like a good fiction about how truth prevails.

I give it 3½ stars (out of five).


LCT announces auditions for ‘The Wiz’

[MAY 30, 2001]  Lincoln Community Theatre will conduct auditions for the final production of the summer season, "The Wiz," on Friday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday, June 2, at 9 a.m. Auditions will be at St. John Church of Christ, 204 Seventh St. in Lincoln.

This ’70s musical version of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" places Dorothy and her friends in a different context. The music, sets and costumes reflect a more contemporary life. The show features such favorite songs as "Ease On Down The Road," "Slide Some Oil To Me" and "Home." Performance dates will be Aug. 3-11.

People auditioning should be over 12 years of age and should bring a prepared musical piece to perform. An accompanist is provided. Copies of the script are currently available for reading at the main desk of the Lincoln Public Library. Scripts may not be checked out or copied.

For more information, call (217) 732-4298 or visit the LCT website at


39 get roles in LCT’s ‘Tom Sawyer’

[MAY 4, 2001]  Sixty-seven young people from second through 12th grades auditioned for Lincoln Community Theatre's upcoming children’s play. Thirty-nine have been cast in what promises to be a delightful rendition of "Tom Sawyer." Performances will be at 7 p.m. June 28 and 29 and at 2 p.m. June 30 and July 1 at the Johnston Center on the Lincoln College campus.

Cast / Characters

Alison Maske of Mount Pulaski — Susan Harper, school girl

Gracie Wood of Lincoln — Gracie Miller, school girl

Brian Welter of Lincoln — Muff Potter, town derelict

Joe Allspach of Mount Pulaski — Sheriff

Anthony Jones of Hartsburg — Injun Joe (dangerous)

Tom Swanson of Lincoln — Doc Robinson, young surgeon

Kaitlyn Przykopanski of Mount Pulaski — Mrs. Walters, Sunday School superintendent

Holly Phillips of Lincoln — Widow Douglas, Aunt Polly's friend 

Julie Wood of Lincoln — Mrs. Harper, Joe's mother 


Brianna Skaggs of Mason City — Amy Lawrence, school girl 

Kelly Dowling of Lincoln — Aunt Polly, Tom's aunt 

Ben Herrington-Gilmore of Lincoln — Tom Sawyer (always in trouble)

Spencer Harris of Lincoln — Huck Finn, Tom's friend (a free spirit)

Alison Kessinger of Lincoln — Cousin Mary, Tom's relative 

Doug Rohrer of Lincoln — Judge Thatcher (new in town) 

Emili Moneyhun of Lincoln — Mrs. Thatcher, the judge’s wife 


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Molly Mathewson of Athens — Becky Thatcher, daughter of Judge and Mrs. Thatcher

Shelby Voyles of Lincoln — Sally, school girl

Payton McVey of Atlanta — Ben Rogers, town boy 

Max Pozsqai of Lincoln — Joe Harper, town boy

Corey Moynahan of Sherman — Alfred Temple, town boy 

Nathaniel King of Lincoln — Mr. Dobbins, schoolmaster 

Patrick Perry of Lincoln — Reverend Sprague, minister 


Emily Berglin, Taylor Berglin, Tony Curcuru, Kelsey Dallas, Nettie Duncan, Stephen Duncan, Greg Gandenberger, Luke Hanger, Katy Reynolds, Moses Rogers and Todd Schumacher, all of Lincoln; Joel Rankin of Mount Pulaski; Jillian Nichole Dowell of Kenney; Darci Dixon of Athens; Tanner Milan of Sherman; and Emma Jo Schumacher of Springfield

Coleen McLaughlin-Moore is the director, Miranda Stone is technical director, and Rachel Washam is audiovisual technician.

The local production of "Tom Sawyer," by Tim Kelly, is presented by special arrangement with publisher IE Clark.

For more information see the LCT website,


LCT’s ‘Charlie Brown’ cast announced

[APRIL 23, 2001]  Lincoln Community Theatre’s cast for the first performance of the summer season, "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown," is set to begin rehearsals. This popular musical was the very first production ever staged by LCT in 1972 and will kick off Lincoln Community Theatre’s 30th season.

Cast as the ever-suffering Charlie Brown is Sean Edward Hall of Springfield. Hall has directed several LCT productions, but this will mark his debut performance on the Lincoln stage.

Appearing as Linus will be Jeff Kindred of Atlanta, a familiar face on the local stage.

Two of the leading performers from last summer’s popular show "Annie" will also be appearing in "Charlie Brown." Jill Nessler of Sherman ("Annie’s" Miss Hannigan) and Carrie Schreiber of Lincoln ("Annie’s" Grace Farrell) will appear as Lucy and Patty.


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Rounding out the cast will be LCT newcomers Josh Twente of Lincoln as Schroeder and Tony Crawford of Clinton as Snoopy.

Season tickets for the entire season are still available by contacting LCT, Box 374, Lincoln 62656 or by calling (217) 732-2640.

Further information regarding season memberships, auditions and cast lists is available at the LCT website located at

[LCT news release]

Lincoln Community Theatre website

Lincoln Community Theatre’s (LCT) website is up and available. The site serves a number of functions, from providing information on becoming a season ticket holder to showing what new productions are being planned. Pictures from last season's productions are also posted.

If you are interested in joining a performance or just going to see one, visit LCT’s website at, e-mail LCT at, or write to Lincoln Community Theatre, P.O. Box 374, Lincoln, IL  62656.


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