Bill Wundram

All of us boil at different degrees, but every now and then I sense the old chant, “I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any longer.”

A lot of us still fume over the leveling of the trees on downtown Davenport's Third Street. Remember all the hell that was raised a couple years ago when a single small tree was cut down on the levee for a Beach Boys concert? Last week, we took down a whole block of them. Isn't green the scheme of things? Well, Rock Island plants 'em, Davenport cuts 'em down.

Another puzzle: I'm wondering why, if there is money to be spent on masterpieces, some organization doesn't pick up those 26 original watercolors by Paul Norton that are now on the market?

Norton was our Quad-City artist laureate. Even a school (in Bettendorf) has been named for him. His work hangs all over the world. Shirley Davis, our Quad-City Times travel editor, just spotted a Norton print in the hallowed halls of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

A decade or so ago, James Gordon Bennett, the grandson of the newspaper mogul, commissioned Norton to do an extensive series of watercolors of the eastern United States. Bennett is now growing old, and recently contacted the Norton family in the Quad-Cities, offering to sell the 28 originals, along with quite a few prints off of them, for the pittance price of $20,000.

"Mr. Bennett felt the originals should go back to the home community of the artist," says John Norton, the son of Paul. "Though they are not local scenes, they are some of dad's best work - the White House, the Statue of Liberty and others."

After I wrote a brief note about their availability, a retired Deere & Co. executive purchased two of those Norton originals as gifts for Davenport First Presbyterian, Paul Norton's church. One was a mill scene in New England that has been widely reprinted.

"I only wish some group would buy those originals," says John Norton. "I've contacted the Davenport Art Museum and not much interest was shown." Now, Norton wonders if the Friends of Art (that Norton served as president) or the Beaux Arts Commit-tee might see fit to purchase those originals.

I can only think of the thousands of dollars that have been funneled into Davenport's gal-lery through the sale of Norton's best-known watercolor, the W.J. Quinlan ferry boat.

"Dad turned all receipts from the Quinlan over to the gallery that he dearly loved. They're still selling those prints. It would be nice if a little of that money could help buy some of dad's originals," says John.

Paul Norton was "the people's artist," our Quad-City version of Norman Rockwell. Let's spend that $20,000 and get back those original watercolors. Is anybody there?Does anybody care?

Gateways? There is none worse than the entry to Davenport off the Centennial Bridge. Smack-dab straight ahead is the decrepit old Standard Hotel, with its jungle of weeds from which Tarzan of the Apes could spring. What about that talk of converting it to a German-American Museum? C'mon. Are we se-rious? Is anybody there?Does anybody care?

We've heard this song before . . . Bridges? We are a fool's paradise in the Quad-Cities. There must be some manner of coordination so we are not repairing or painting or closing all of the three bridges in the Quad-Cities at the same time, during the same summer.

Is anybody there?Does anybody care?

And one more: Our utilities, when discussing rate hikes, are always talking about the cost to "the average cus-tomer." Humbug. Who, pray tell, is the average customer? I chal-lenge a utility to come up with a "Mr. and Mrs. Average Customer." I want to meet them. I want to spend a day with them, finding out how many 60-watt bulbs they burn and how often they turn on the water.

Is anybody there?Does anybody care?