Below are examples of vegetable / fruit planter art ware.

Variety of White Hall Stoneware marks.


Many collectors of Illinois stoneware have become interested not only in the stoneware itself, but also in the history of the potter, potteries, and the actual history of the White Hall pottery center. An outstanding example of this is displayed in the following archive, a memoir of Mrs. A. F. Worcester documented in 1960. This first hand account will always be of great interest to the student of White Hall stoneware and the history of Greene County, Illinois.

Selected excerpts from a typed memoir by Mrs. A. F. Worcester in 1960. "The Town Clean Dirt Made Famous - - - Pottery Town." .........My grandfather, John Neff Ebey, pioneer potter, of Dutch parentage, grandfather born Sept. 10, 1805, in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. When three weeks old, his parents moved to near Columbus, Ohio, thence to Springfield, Illinois in 1826. There he married to Rebecca Brunk. He acquired 160 acres of land, there, upon which the state capitol now stands. Our pioneer potter resided at Manchester were my father, John V., was born in 1834. From here he moved to Ripley, where he laid out the town and named it for Ripley, Ohio. The progress of the pottery interest in Ripley is due to his efforts. From Ripley he went to Winchester, then to Chapin, coming to White Hall in 1863. Those pioneers were the parents of 10 children- 5 daughters and five sons. The sons, Leo C. , George W., John V., Charles , and William H., had all served in the Civil War. William H., was killed an action in the battle of Belmont, Missouri. Most of the sons and daughters with their young children were drawn to pottery town about 1865 to 1868. My father and Uncle Charles B.. are associated with grandfather in establishing the Ebey pottery works. One of my earliest recollections of grandfather was his twirling and rolling a small lump of clay. He loved the cool blue white substance, grandchildren, and a main pastime of walking down the east road about half a mile to ride back on a load of clay being brought to the potteries. Potteries owned and operated by our townsmen other than grandfather's in the 1870s and 1880's, were those of John King, Vermillion Brothers, Pierce Brothers, Hill and Prindlel, A.D. Ruckel, and M. C. Purdy who owned the first clay bank ever opened in the Whitehall area. W.W. Hubbs, our neighbor, owned clay banks in those years. In 1866 the manufacture of drain tile by hand-power was introduced. The Whitehall sewer pipe company introduced steam power in 1876. Some of the kilns were 42 feet in diameter, the largest in the world at the time they were installed. In 1865, David Culbertson put in a small machine for the manufacturing of tile in the pottery of the Pierce Brothers, and later established a horsepower machine and was able to put out 4000 tile per day. The passing of our grandmother Rebecca Brunk Ebey in 1873: after her death, grandfather made his home among his children. I remember that one Sunday morning, mother asked him to polish five pairs of shoes for us five children. He was glad to, but instead of getting the shoe polish, he accidentally got the stove polish, but we trotted off to Sunday school with those very shiny shoes. Our home place faced Worcester Street. The driveway lead up to the pottery, a long frame building one and a half stories. The walls were fashioned of wide planks, its floors were of the good earth. Far to the west of the pottery, rascinating to us children was the plod-plod of old Charlie in the clay grinding room. The large lumps of clay were put into the grinding machine which was in the center of the room. Old Charlie hitched to that long pole which was attached to the grinder, trampled around that beaten circular path to the urge of Uncle Bill Hogg. The large part of the pottery was where those old-time kick wheels were operated by skillful turners. The blue white clay was made into balls by the ball makers, usually young boys, the balls were proportion into various amounts from quart size to 10 gallon size jugs and jars. Placed on a rotating wheel, the turner with the rib and sponge, with which to manipulate, soon brought the lump of clay up, up, shaping it gracefully into the intended vessel. Cousin Brunk Davis was the big ware turner. Fred Shenkel turned out all sizes of milk crocks. Ware was dried both indoors and out, on long planks. When dried it was carried to the kiln, the door tightly sealed. Cord wood was used in the furnace. The burning of the ware was timed, then the sleek brown ware was taken to the ware sheds ready for shipping. Ah, the slip tub! It was on the upper floor. A large tub almost filled with a slip to glaze ware was fitted with a plunger which pumped a required amount of shiny fluid as the last word in preparing the ware for the kiln. Stoneware was everywhere, brown glaze ware. We children use the seconds for chairs, tables, and dishes for our play houses. Our back fence pickets were decorated with fruit jars, which were put there to dry and air until time to refill them with tomatoes, peaches, etc. The jar tops were grooved; into these grooves tin lids were sealed with ceiling wax. Families used the big five and 10 gallon sizes of jars to store away pickles and kraut for the winter. Housewives sat the gallon jug of sorghum on the back of the kitchen range when cold mornings so as to get the sorghum warmed up for the biscuits or pancakes? Old grandpa Lakin with whom I road miles each day on his little low-dray, until my mother became exasperated and resorted to drastic means to curb my runaway habit. As stoneware was plentiful in used for most everything, she conceived the idea of tying a jug to my ankle with a fairly long rope. Everywhere I went in the yard the jug went. That treatment was effective and lasting. Ada Vedder, Sarah Shaw, Virginia Vedder, Hattie Butler, Emma Pritchard, cousins Rebecca and Hattie Davis, and in teaching in the 1880's and the early 1890's.

The altruistic spirit was exhibited among the early pottery owners when cold severe winters came and when they were forced to close the potteries for about three months. I recall that those men, loyal to their employees, and realizing the hardships that worked on them, helped to "tide them over" the rough road by every possible means and with the cooperation of the Chapin Brothers grocers. The pamphlet issued for the Centennial was printed in distributed by A.D. Ruckel & the same one enclosed in our newsletter (issue number four, volume 2). The sewer pipe factory founded by H. H. Arnold is headed by Carleton B. Stahl, who came to White Hall near 1895. White Hall pottery works was headed then by C. A. Ruckel. Executives of both institutions were H. H. Shirley, T..M. and Hal W. Galhuly, all White Hall boys. Hill and Prindle, pottery owners, kept a full stock of groceries on Worcester Street where their employees and calyhaualers founded it a convenience to trade. Grandma Gosnelll was a frequent visitor. Her daughter was Uncle Charlie Ebey's wife, and grandma Gosnell was Grace Gosnell Pierce's grandmother, And we loved to see Grandma Cogdel come. My collection of war news 1917 to 1948, I prized the letters written appearing in the White Hall Register Republican of cousins Lt. Royal and Floyd Davis, sons of Newt and Mary Floyd Davis. Dow, cousin Fletcher's son, brother Wills two sons, Dow's son and our grandson, Dan W. Kennedy, all served in World War II. Will G. is still in the Air Force, in Germany. Silver Cornet Band of years ago, band members were Tom Grant, Fred Nevius, E. K. Shirley, Tom Thurman, Cube Vermillion, Sam Silkwood Jr., Brunk Davis, brother Dow, Frank Hill, Herbie Huggins used to hold torches for the band while they played. We boasted of an organ in every home. Grandma Nevius named our street "Organ row." The Hill, Fuller Davis, Ebey Methodists; Morris, Saxe, Hubbs, Baptists; Julia Hubbs, Farris, Ernest Morris, Glenn Saxe, brother Dow, and I, were the only ones left (her mother died) visiting sister Annie in Jacksonville, June 21, 1904, that come to attend the funeral of Aunt Jane Davis just a month before. Other, of the family, father, Will, Annie, and Nellis, have answered the Last Roll Call. Rev. Crane, being a great friend of the potters he was often in the home of Aunt Jane Davis visiting the boys, Hardin, Newt, Brunk and Fletch. About 1887 he made a visit to Pottery Town and at the request of the pastor, he occupied the pulpit at the evening service. His text was from Romans 9:21. "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel into honor, in the other dishonor ?" A spell bound audience among whom were former pottery friends, listened to that sermon one-hour and a quarter. Sunday school: Teachers when we were in the young lady years were Emma Griswold, Mina McCollister, and Nora Culbertson Mason. Started to school: only Jesse McClure Greene, Fannie Arnold Morrow and I are the remaining ones.

The Ebey pottery works was transferred by my father in his brother Charles B. in 1882 to D. C Banta, who in 1883 deeded and those lots and pottery to A.D. Ruckel who had operated a pottery since 1870, which was located across the C and A tracks near the grain elevator. Mr. Ruckel invented and erected the first flash wall kiln used in White Hall and it was afterward came to use in the stoneware world. A machine for making pots had been invented by Gaylord Martin of Ripley in 1899, and this machine was utilized Mr. Ruckel. This marked the beginning of the end of the old kick wheel in turning ware by hand.; (taken from Clay Products). In 1936 C. A., and Nora Ruckel, owners of the s A.D. Ruckel company transferred their well-established business to a worthy employee, R. F. Barnett, former bookkeeper and manager. Going back to the 1870s and 1880s when there were seven potteries turning out ware in Pottery Town: in 1863,grandfather, the house which he had built in Chapin was moved by wagon road, over hills, across strains, to pottery town. And was our grandparents first home there, the two-story house which stands on East Bridgeport Street. Grandfather moved the pottery building across, in sections, as he did the house, setting it up on the site where the A.D. Ruckel pottery now is located. In-laws: Mike and Emma Galhuly, neighbors: Will and Jennie Strong, the Banchleys, the Harrisons, the O. F. Griswolds, the Pritchard's and Perkinses. Married about the time Fred and I were: Charles and Emma Chapman, Elmer and Leona Griswold, Dick and Annie White, Melvin and Clara Owings Black, Fred and Ada Pierce, Will and Edith Pritchard, Ed and Ollie King, Elmer and Cora Winn, Will and Leona Teeter. In 1894: Nov. 20, pioneer potter, departed this late life at the age of 88 years at the home of Aunt Jane Davis. The singers were Mrs. M. B. Ross, Della Boone Henry, Mrs. W. N. Rutledge and Ellan Duncan Silkwood. Pottery Agustus Pierce, .M.C. Purdy, M. Pittinger, H. C. Morris, and W.W. Hubbs, bore his body to its resting place. And in 1937 we visited White Hall. We spend a few hours at the sewer pipe factory where H. W.. Galhuly piloted us around, as we made a selection of crocks, brown and blue casseroles, a straight-up pink crock which serves as a drinking bowl for the dogs. We prized the blue pitcher which we used everyday. The tall blue vases which stands on our mantle. On our way home, near the towns of Lebanon and Springfield, Missouri, roadside displays of Ruckel pottery. August 3, 1950, Ebey reunion gathered in Winchester. George II had left Pennsylvania in 1826, coming to Sagamon County with the youngest of his family of 11 children; Roseanne , John Neff (my grandfather), and George III, the older ones either deceased are married. His death, in 1847, at the home of George III one mile north of Winchester where my son owned extensive farmlands and operated a pottery for many years on the Winchester -- Jacksonville highway. The pottery is laid waste. Uncle George" like grandfather, sold no jugs to saloon keepers. On the pottery were sheds, in large letters, flared these words: "Prohibition Forever."

Ebey re-union, August 3, 1950: my daughter, my granddaughter, and her little one, the fifth, sisth, seventh and eighth generations, dating from George I. Visit to pottery town: a few minutes with the Averys, Emma Chapman, Fred King, Jesse Harrison, Will Teeter, Hal Galguly, Carlton Stall. We drove to the Ruckel pottery: We met and talked with the son of Charles Weis, an early day printer. Upstairs was Earl Liming, using molds in a corner was a relic, a kick wheel which was last used by our pottery friend Bert Nevius. We saw a jug made by Hill and Prindle on March 23, 1883 and presented to Tom Davidson. Over to one side was a jug probably the largest in United States, turned on Christmas day, 1895, my cousin Brunk Davis. As we stood on the porch of Mr. Barnett's office, I realize the house is the H. C. Morrow home, next door to my childhood home which was moved years ago, as the Ruckel pottery taken over in 1883 grew. I envision W. W. Hubbs driving his big yellow horse into his back lot, on coming home from the clay bank. Mr. Barnett, told me that the blue ware had been discontinued since the war. So, with a box of crocks of the inevitable white kind which he Mr. Weis packed, we began our journey West.

.... "Happy carefree children, Scampered up-and-down the streets,

Where joy and freedom reigned, in……..

The streets of Pottery Town!"

WHITE HALL STONEWARE COMPANY cc: 1910 (L-R) Lincoln Vermillion, Bill Elliot, Elmore Dean,   Ben Lawson on donkey, Milo Dean, Hal Galhuly, George Vermillion, and Frank Denham



Articles and photography by Greg Mathis

At age twelve, Grover visited the White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware Company, and composed an article of his experience and entered it into competition. His composition appeared in "The Boys World" on February 22, 1908:

White Hall Stoneware Factory

Dear Editor: As I never have written to the Round Table yet, I thought I would try it. I like the Boys. World fine, and I won.t miss Sunday school on its account. I'm 12 years old, and I go to school every winter. I have not missed any in school for two terms, and I don't want to miss any. I live near the city of White Hall. That is about 2 mile east of it. There are three sewer pipe and stoneware factories in this town. I have been through the largest one twice, and I would like to go through it again. Perhaps, you have heard of the White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware factory. It is the largest one in the world of this kind . This factory is four stories high. When we (my father and I) first entered this factory, we went into the engine room. Here we saw two very large engines and many smaller ones. They were all polished bright. Some of these were run by steam, and these run others, and made electricity to run still other engines. From here we went to the place where the clay is mixed and ground. The clay is hauled from a clay bank East of here by an electric train. We now went to the next story, where there were all kinds of tile and sewer pipe made. We looked around there awhile, and then took the elevator to the top story, and skipped the third one. In the fourth story we found the place where little jugs and jars were made. We now went into another room, where the larger jugs were made. There were several places for them to be made, and there were three men in each place. One was to take the fresh away, and bring the ones that were made the day before back. Another man was to put the clay in the molds and put them together. The third man was to put the handles on the jugs. Then we went in to the place where the jugs and jars were slipped or polished. There were some girls working here. Then we went down a short flight of stairs into the third story. Here also they were making tile and sewer pipe. While some of these tiles were being made, others were being trimmed. On the elevator men were taking the ware down to be baked. In a short time we went down to the first story, and looked through the other side of it. Here was the place where men were making twenty gallon jars by hand. The man would first take a large ball of clay, and then the jar would be made by his hands. We now walked out of the factory to look at large kilns. There are six or eight of these in all. Well, I guess you are getting tired of this, so I will stop for this time. I would like to see this in the "Boys World." Yours Truly, G. T. WHITE HALL, ILLINOIS " slide show pictures show……..the place "where the jugs and jars were slipped or polished," tHE KILN in Grover.s account , take the fresh away, and bring the ones that were made the day before back," Gover's description of "polishing" was actually maintaining the generators, then, we went down a short flight of stairs into the third story....Here also they were making tile and sewer pipe, …Grover Thompson.s "Boy.s World " essay. "Perhaps, you have heard of the White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware factory," .It is the largest one in the world of this kind," as written by young Grover Thompson. REPLY FROM "Boys World" EDITOR - We know you enjoyed going through the factory and seeing the things made, and know too that the other boys will enjoy your description of it. We hope to hear from you again "Boys World." Grover graduated from White Hall High School in 1913 as class valedictorian and then went on to attend the Brown Business School at Jacksonville, Illinois He was there the valedictorian of the class of 1915. Grover was a very promising talent and achiever. The Henry Shirley family were close neighbors and friends. For all practical purposes Mr. Shirley watched Grover grow up and became a close friend, an influence, had similar occupation ambitions, and quite likely to a great degree a mentor to Grover. In 1915 Grover was immediately employed at White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware Company at the Business Office and worked as bookkeeper under the supervision of Administrative Manager Henry Shirley. Moreover, this mutual everlasting friendship grew further. This is clearly evident , as Mr. and Mrs. Henry W. Shirley served as witnesses and standing up for Grover at Grover.s marriage to Jettie B. Staples, January 1, 1916, at White Hall. This must have been quite a New Years Day party.

Pictured right to left, Grover Thompson's grandson, Edward, great granddaughter, Carrie, and Edward's wife, Carolyn; Grover's grandson, Daniel and Daniel's wife, Jean. Each shown holding a sample of State Map marked vessels with much pride. These connect to Grover's life to the Shirley Family and to the White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware Company, White Hall, Greene County, Illinois. This unpublished essay, written November, 2009, is submitted for inclusion to the archives of the: Foundation for Historical Research of Illinois Potteries, Springfield, Illinois; Greene County Historical & Genealogical Society, Carrolton, Illinois; Organizing Board of Annual Greene County Days, Carrolton, Illinois; White Hall Township Public Library, White Hall, Illinois; and the Illinois State Museum of History, Chicago, Illinois. While segments are based on conjecture and speculation, very few dated documents survive or possibly ever existed. Interviews and hand written notarized statements of Daniel R. Thompson of Kimberling, Missouri, Edward L. Thompson of Jacksonville, Illinois, Judy Lee Harper of O.fallon, Missouri, Laura L. Thompson of Jacksonville, Illinois, and Robert W. Staples of Winchester, Illinois, are on record and provide clear representations of Grover Lee Thompson's life and achievements. These include Grover.s bookkeeping career in the Administrative Office of Henry W. Shirley at the White Hall Sewer Pipe and Stoneware Company. Any additional information and pertinent securing documentation are vigorously sought, and their receipt most sincerely welcomed and appreciated by the Thompsons of Green County.


 (L to R ) Administrative Mgr. Henry W. Shirley, Grover Lee Thompson, Sylvia Painter, C. B. Stahl, Ada Lowenstine, Hal W. Galhuly, Helen Teter, Mary Garders, Roy Dugger.


Grover Lee Thompson, son of Elias Franklin Thompson, was born at nearby Wrights, Illinois, September 22, 1894 and grew up under a most meager means in his childhood with his mother, Mary Stinnett Thompson, and older sister, Dicie, on Railroad Street in White Hall. Grover.s father, Elias died in 1909. By age twelve , Grover developed a strong interest in drawing and design and produced interesting witty artistic post cards in 1906. While showing a keen sketching talent, he occasionally included good humor.

The Thompsons of Greene County

By Greg Mathis

When studying the history of Greene County, Illinois, and connecting it to the great Nineteenth Century pottery center at White Hall and surrounding communities, a plethora of great family names arise. All interested parties, historians, students, and researchers, need read the words written and the messages so clearly conveyed by Mrs. A. F. Worcester in her memoir "The Town Clean Dirt Made Famous - - - Pottery Town" documented in1960. Many of the established and honored names of the community are therein expounded upon and reminisced about. Many Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century important events are recalled, and Mrs. Worcester's words express much. As one really "hears" what she says, they find a time and place that exhibits high moral fiber, impressive family standards, the high work ethic, an unbeatable level of pride of the family name, and genuine neighborly respect and love. A similar message is also expressed in the April , 1997, Vol. 14 No. 3, Collectors of Illinois Pottery and Stoneware news letter article "The Morrows, Greene County, and Illinois" and connects another very highly regarded family of the County to the hugely important ceramic industry of Nineteenth - Twentieth Century Illinois and America.

Another greatly contributing family to Green County was the Thompsons, having their fair share of impact to the area, ties to the pottery business, and a capture of the American Dream. A direct descendant, Daniel Thompson, reflects on his family and the County beginning with his chronological account "Barrow Station: Standing on the raised rail bed across the street from Russell Wells. home in present day Barrow, it is not apparent that this little hamlet was once a thriving mercantile and rail center on the old C. B. & . Quincy R.R. With the exception of the rail bed, there is little in Barrow that would help tell the story of how it was an important stop on the railway. As we researched the Thompson family line, it showed that Barrow and the surrounding area not only played an important role in the Thompson family but was also home for, Doyle, Patterson and Ballard families. Barrow was home to a young Clarence W. Ballard and his father, W.C. Ballard and wife Carrie Antrobus Ballard. Lemuel Patterson, Thomas Groce and others lived in nearby in Patterson. There are dozens of Thompson.s buried in the nearby cemetery including our Revolutionary War grandfather, a son of our progenitor who arrived in Virginia from Ireland in the early Eighteenth Century. In fact, Barrow was the home of Thompson.s and Ballard.s five generations before James Thompson and Marjorie Ballard married. Barrow is located off of Route 106 North of White Hall. Mr. Wells recalled that Barrow was once known as "Thompson," named after Robert Thompson who established the township in 1869 as a result of a contract with the C.B. & Quincy Rail Road, whereby the railroad built a side track and maintained it in exchange for the right-of-way through Thompson family farm land.

Per History of Greene County, a side track and depot was built as laid out by Thompson in 1869. However, Robert Thompson was not among the first settlers in the area. The original settler in the area was John Thompson, a son of William Thompson. Thompson, arrived in 1813 when it was yet to be Greene County. Homesteads were few and far between. He obtained some government land and built a log cabin. He also cast the first clay brick used in Greene County, according to, A History of Morgan County, Illinois, by Donnelly, Loyd and Co. Publishers, 1878. The land that Robert sold to the railroad in 1877 was settled by George, William, and John Thompson, sixty years earlier. George Thompson was born in 1792, the son of William Thompson who immigrated from Ireland in the 1700.s with his father James Thompson and brother John of Belfast, County Antrim. They settled initially in Botetourt County, Richmond, Virginia. When John arrived in what is now Greene County, the country was sparsely populated and hostile Indians were active throughout the area. The Indians, becoming more war-like, Thompson organized his neighbors and cleared them from the area. He was later commissioned a Captain in the Black Hawk War. He later served as Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner. He died in 1865 at the age of 73.

The Union Regular Baptist Church was established on September 1, 1830 in a school house by Aaron Smith with William Thompson, Elizabeth Thompson, Peter Barrow, John Thompson and Winifred Brickey Thompson as members. Mr. Wells said that he believes that the foundations of the old church and school were made from a type of clay that John found. According to the History of Morgan County, there are clay deposits better suited for fire bricks and another used for stoneware. The congregation met in member households up until 1845 when a small church was erected. A new church was built in 1878. In 1870 a black smith shop was built as well as the first mercantile store. The store was owned by John Williams and was later known as Williams and Short after he took in J.J. Short as a partner. A year later William A. Thompson, son of David and Mary Thompson succeeded Short and the store became Thompson and Williams. Williams died in 1872 and Thompson became the sole proprietor which remained until 1873 when Thompson engaged J.F. Doyle. This is the beginning of a long association with the Doyle family which lasted for years. John Doyle was Justice of the Peace and owner of a large farm in Thompson/Barrow township. It is on Doyle property that the Thompson / Doyle cemetery was established. Several Thompson.s were named after Doyle family members including Lewalter Franklin Thompson, Elias Franklin Thompson, Grover Thompson.s father after Elias Doyle, Dicie Thompson, Grover.s Daughter after Dicie Doyle, and Edward Franklin Thompson after Frank Doyle five generations later. In 1873 David Hubbard and Henry Hanks became owners of the business. Later J.J. Short bought back into the business expanding it into a two story building with the second floor serving as a town hall. Then, Thompson and Doyle repurchased the store in 1875. The elevator was started in 1873 at a cost of approximately $1,000 by C.F. Bruce who left it uncompleted when J. N. Israel finished it at a cost of $2,000. C.F. Bruce later built a grist mill to process corn from the Doyle farm and others in the Barrow area. The Barrow Tile factory was built adjacent to the shipping yard. At one point Ashley and Bruce, proprietors of the firm manufactured eight hundred to a thousand tiles daily which were shipped to St. Louis. The clay for these tiles came from the quarry that John Thompson found following his arrival in 1813 and began making bricks from. The factory employed six to eight men who made 3 and 8 inch tiles from the superior clay found in nearby Clay City. That same clay later was used by the White Hall Stoneware company to make the heavy stoneware pots that are sought after by so many collectors today.

The United Baptist Church was organized in Barrow in June of 1874. Among the constituent members were Lemuel J. Patterson, James Doyle, Henrietta Doyle, J. F. Doyle, A.J. Ballard and William and Lucretia Ballard. Clarence W. Ballard of Barrow married Virginia Patterson of Patterson in 1912. Barrow was the home of William C. Ballard and Carrie Antrobus Ballard. They are both buried in the Williams cemetery on Barrow Road just west of route 106. It is likely that Ballard.s, Antrobus. and Thompson.s, all Thompson in-laws were all members of the same Baptist church." Many of these Thompsons made a livelihood and homes for their families at nearby Roodhouse, Clay City, White Hall, and Jacksonville, Green County, Illinois. Jewel Thompson Copley with her husband, Carl, maintained the Thompson/Doyle cemetery for years. Grover L. Thompson exemplifies these aforementioned people of high character and accomplishments within the White Hall community. These Thompsons, like the many other great families, had a strong bond with their neighbors and desire to just make things better.