BILL: "O'er the land and of the free
And the Home of the Brave!"
I just got done singing the National Anthem at the Toastmasters International Convention in Chicago,
fellow Toastmasters and guests, when a severe thunderstorm hit the Chicago Area. And as I was walking across the street to
get a bite to eat, there was this big bright flash of lightning--so bright, that the brightness was the only thing that I
could see. When the brightness cleared, the thunderstorm was gone; but, so was the convention center and every building in
Downtown Chicago over ten stories. And as I looked around further, I didn't see any automobiles. All I saw was a lot of horse
drawn carriages and people riding horseback. I figured that the lightning had caused some kind of atmospheric time warp, as
I found myself walking somewhere in the middle of Late 19th Century Chicago. And that's when I met the Colonel and his
wife, as they were walking in my direction. The Colonel was carrying a two foot long First Place Speech Trophy which I knew
couldn't be from Toastmasters, because Dr. Smedley hadn't even been born yet. Curious, I began to speak to them.
"Congratulations, sir, on winning your speech contest."
COLONEL SMELTON: "Why, thank you, son!"
BILL: "But do you mind telling me which organization you belong to, being it can't be what I think
COLONEL SMELTON: "Why certainly, son! We belong to LAS. (That's L-A-S) That stands for the League
of American Spokesman. We always have our Speech Contests in Chicago every year. Incidentally Son, the name's Colonel Smelton--Colonel
Beaurgard Smelton from Abilene, Texas. And this here's my wife, Bobbie Jo Soppleweed-Smelton. Don't care much for the maiden
name, son; but the woman carryin' it is one fine lady!"
BOBBIE JO: "Oh Beauregard, you ol' Smoothie!"
BILL: "Hi, my name is Bill Baxter form California, Land of the future!"
And so I got to hang out with the Colonel and Bobbie Jo for a few days, and attend a lot of the LAS
Workshops. I had a great time; But, still I couldn't help wonder, if I'd ever get back to my own time, and how I'd get back
there. One early blustery Chicago Morning, The Colonel and I just outside Downtown Chicago. and we walked by this farm
owned by Mrs. O'Leary. And that's when I heard the most awful noise!
BILL: "What in the world was that?"
COLONEL SMELTON: "Oh, that's nothing son! That's just Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. She always makes that kind
of ruckus every time it kicks something over in the barn over yonder.
BILL: "Oh is that all, well....what?"
And I reached for a newspaper lodged in O'Leary's mailbox. And I read the date on that newspaper,
and it was that fateful morning of October 8th, 1871!
"Colonel we have to get out of here, and to the other side of Downtown, lickity-split!".
COLONEL SMELTON: "Why's that son?"
BILL: Because in about 5-6 minutes, here is going to be a golden brown crisp!"
BOBBIE JO: "Look...."
BILL: .....yelled , Bobbie Jo who pointed at O'Leary's barn totally engulfed in flames.
COLONEL SMELTON: "Tell me somethin', Son! When Y'all
mentioned Land of the Future, you meant......"
BILL: " ....yes, Colonel !"
COLONEL SMELTON: "Let's Skeedaddle!"
BILL: And so, we made a bee line towards the Downtown Area to try to out run the blaze.But, as you
know, The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 spread so rapidly, we couldn't overtake it. But, we kept on trying, as we pushed into
the Heart of Downtown. We came to these declining steps, where I stumbled, and toppled down the steps in a sitting position.
"Ooh! Ooh! Ow! Ee! Ow! Ow!"
"Ooh! Ooh! Ow! Ee! Ow! Ow!"
When I got to the bottom of the steps, I sprained my ankle, and I couldn't get up. Then I looked
up and saw a large burning beam descending down upon me!
NURSE: " Doctor! Doctor! The patient is coming too!"
BILL: And I came to in a hospital room, not far from the Toastmaster Convention. And it was there
that I found out that I'd been unconscious for days, because I'd benn struck by lightning!
DOCTOR: "Son, I'm Dr. Beauregard Smelton."