Saturday, March 18, 2006

Vergious Abuse in Blackjack, MO

Today Honey brought to my attention a short but disturbing story in my favorite news source, People magazine, about the town of Black Jack, Missouri. The story focuses on the Shelltrack/Loving family, composed of an enagaged heterosexual couple and their three children. The family is fighting a municipal ordinance that allows no more than three unrelated individuals to share a single residence, an ordinance that has resulted in at least three other cohabitiating couples with children moving out of town.

Weird, right? I go to the city website to see what they have to say about it and oddly (or not) enough, they have nothing to say about it, not in the section on occupancy permits, not under code enforcement division and not under "Before buying a home."

Hm. So I follow the link to "municipal codes" and get directed to a nifty site called and find it in Divsion 1, Section 6-76, Definitions:

"Family: an individual or two (2) or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption, or a group of not more than three (3) perons who need not be related by blood, marriage or adoption, living together as a single non-profit housekeeping unit in a dwelling unit."

Huh. In addition to barring straight people living in sin, this ordinance would also rule out any gay couple and their roommate, more than three roommates of any variety, housing coops, group homes for developmentally disabled or runaway children, halfway houses for parolees, alcohol/drug rehabs, artist's communities ... in fact just about everything that makes the Bay Area a good place to live and what makes towns like Black Jack places I never want to even visit.

Delving further into the city website, I check on the Mayor's page. Mayor McCourt is a kindly appearing grandpa type. He describes Black Jack as a bedroom community of St.Louis of about 6800 people with a "small but vergious business community."

Being the Jeopardy-watching geek that I am, my interest was piqued by this word, vergious. I figured it might mean thriving or something of the sort so I switched over to Merriam-Webster, who did not know what vergious meant either. Nor who suggested that perhaps I meant "regious?" Could Mayor McCourt have meant a regal or royal business community? Probably not. Vagous? A wandering, unsettled business community?

I resort to a Google search and discover that Mayor McCourt must have been delving into medieval cookery. Vergious is a sour fruit juice, usually grape, but sometimes crabapple, that is stored in a barrel.

This website features recipes from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin. Here's one that features vergious:

To boyle Mutton with Endiue, Borage, or Lettice, or any kinde of hearbes that may serue thereunto.

WHen your Mutton is well boyled, take the best of the broth, and put it in a pipkin: and put thereto an handfull of Endiue, borage, or what hearbs you list, and cast therto a few corrans, and let them boyle well, and put thereto a peece of vpper crust of white breade, season it with pepper grose beaten, and a little vergious, and a little Suger, and so powre it vppon your meat.

Or, with the alternate spelling:

To make balles of Mutton.

TAke your Mutton and mince it very fine with suet. Then season it with sugar Sinamon, Ginger, Cloues and Mace, Salt and raw egges, make it in round balles. Let your broth seeth ere you put them in. Make your broth with Corrance, Dates quartered, whole Mace and salt. Thicke it with yolkes of Egges, and Uergious, and serue it vppon soppes.

I am feeling truly concerned for Mayor McCourt. Not only is he working under the influence of vergious, but he has the very bad luck to be living in a town that has effectively banned inpatient drug treatment facilities. It gets worse--since I don't believe vergious is commercially available, he must be making it himself. That's manufacture. And if he's supplying anyone else in Black Jack with vergious ...that's distribution. If vergious passes over state lines, it's trafficking--he could be facing some serious time in a federal prison if he doesn't get some help and soon. It's never easy watching anyone fall prey to the ravages of drug addiction, but such a public figure .... we just feel so ... helpless.

But! The City Council meets March 21st to decide if the Shelltrack/Loving family can stay in Black Jack or if they will be forced to leave. Let the Council know that while you are in favor of forcing people to get married, you are most concerned that the Mayor get the help he needs and urge them to remove this bizarrely mean-spririted piece of legislation from the municipal code.

Black Jack City Hall * 12500 Old Jamestown Road * Black Jack, MO 63033 Phone: (314) 355-0400 * Fax: (314) 355-4196

The city of Black Jack cable news station:

NEWS 20 / MEDIA DIRECTOR - Randy Gardner

CITY CLERK- Karen Robinson

COURT CLERK- Karen Jones


I would tell the Shelltrack/Loving family to move here, but I don't think they'll be able to find a five-bedroom, 2,300 square foot home for $180,000 like they have in Black Jack. Anyway, due to the weight of all the sin happening here the entire Bay Area is probably going to break off and drift away into the Pacific Ocean. Maybe we can throw out a rope while we're floating past Hawaii. I've heard really nice things about Kauai.