Dear Hearts & Gentle People:
My neighbor moved away last month. She is downsizing into a retirement apartment in Overland Park. Why is this of interest, you ask? Well, besides the fact that she was a super neighbor (brought us wonderful chicken salad and kept her property pristine), she is the mother-in-law of Tony Dow. You may know him better as Wally Cleaver, from "Leave It To Beaver."
It was so much fun to meet and get to know him these past years - and he is very much like he was on "Leave It To Beaver," a really nice guy. Still looks the same except for all white hair. But the real reason I bring this up: he is an artist as well. Works in metal sculpture, and within recent months, one of his works was installed at (ready for this?) The Louvre! He and wife Lauren flew to Paris for the celebration. It is a BIG deal, and we are really happy for him. Just sorry that our contact will be limited in the future. The Dows live in Topanga, CA.
What's new in Lexington? Our streets are now being resurfaced, making life and tire alignment much better. Also there is an Auditorium Commission which has been tasked with upgrading and determining future best use of the building. It has been named by the state as an Endangered Historic Property. (The auditorium, not the committee...although I could tell you stories.) This designation means that the project will be eligible for grants and other helpful policies which will make the improvements easier and move us to the front of the line in some cases. More on both of these projects as the summer progresses.
We had a cool spring and a good bit of rain. Now we have heat, Excessive Heat Warnings. Our 42 flowerpots on the downtown corners have been planted and are looking great. Quite a bit of facade work going on downtown, and some sprucing up in the neighborhoods too.
But here is the more official Lexington news, from Tourism Director Dan Cambridge:
Wanted to mention a couple of things that might be of future interest for TLC.
#1 Our remaining Second Saturdays in downtown Lexington on July 11, Aug. 8, Sept.12 and Oct. 10. Craft and antique vendors, trolley tours entertainment, etc.
#2 Our new tourism website is now up at www.visitlexingtonmo.com. I'll let you be the judge, but we hope it presents a really appealing view of Lexington for visitors and locals alike. Much we would like to add to it, including, perhaps, a link to TLC archives? Also would like to figure out a way to put podcasts from Tall Tales & Short Stories on it.
Please feel free to proceed with the link to TLC archives, Dan. I have disc recordings of the Tall Tales & Short Stories sessions (thanks to Warren Calvert!). Let me know if you can use them.
Lucia Cope '59 Hulston:
Reading Jack Gueguen's poem about four boys singing brought the annual talent shows to mind. I have some vivid memories from them, two especially: two girl cousins doing a "Me and My Shadow" routine, dressed in tails, top hats, and canes, black and white; the other is of boys dressed in tutus. I think it would be a fun topic, as well as class plays.
She is, of course, remembering the LHS Minstrels and Variety Shows. The two cousins - Janis Ray Beretta '54 Beyer and Ann Beretta '55 Powell - did a polished and unforgettable routine. Is it possible there are film records of any of these performances? I believe they were all directed by Miss Angela Mautino with tears and threats and much affection.
Thanks for the new issue. I guess I forgot to tell you that I did locate our old typing teacher, Mary Saxton (using internet resources and good luck). I found her at the Baptist Home, PO Box 1040, Ozark MO 65721. She's in her early 80s now. When her husband, Dean, died several years ago, she kept up her home for a while, and now has assisted living. Her mind is still bright. She likes to correspond with former students: firstname.lastname@example.org .
She also spends time reading. Her personal phone # is 417/581-0658. We had a great phone conversation, recalling the quartet. I sent her a copy of the "poem" but never heard back. She and Dean taught at the Springfield campus of Vatterott College (vo-tech) after starting at their main St. Louis campus shortly after leaving LHS. The only ones who would know Mary and Dean would be those who were at LHS in '50-'51, the only year they were there -- just out of Warrensburg.
The administrator of the care center where Mary Saxton lives near Springfield just wrote to me about her -- she even does some substitute teaching now and then besides reading a lot. She seems to be "the life of the party" among the elderly she lives with. If you include an update on this former LHS typing teacher, you can include that.
And this from his sister Mary Pat Gueguen '58 Miller:
We went into our local Baskin Robbins last night and I inquired if they had "Chocolate Revel" ice cream. They never even heard of it. Even the older lady working there. I remember it from the old Odessa Ice Cream Shop days... creamy vanilla ice cream (real ice cream) with ribbons of chocolate running through it, and when you dug way down into the bottom of the container, you would run into a LOT of gooey, rich chocolate. Then as we left we got a HAND PACKED quart of Pralines 'n Cream. Seems like if we ever get a half gallon of anything at the store, it just goes to waste (waist) so we indulged in the real thing, just less of it, which is the story of our life today. Boy, do I remember hand-packing that cold, hard i.c. for special orders. Daddy said it gave us muscles.
That got me to thinking of some of our customers, high schoolers mostly, when we managed the Odessa and their particular favorites or the memories they had of the place. I remember Mikel Fenner liked lemon ice cream and "Stirs", a scoop of vanilla i.c. in a coke glass with chocolate syrup and nuts on top. (I had such a crush on that guy.) Somebody else liked a scoop of i.c. in their fountain coke.
I don't want to turn this into a Gueguen conversation but some of you may remember your favorites. If Susan needs a topic for the next TLC.... Just one of the joys of the good old summertime.
We have discussed the Odessa a number of times in TLC, and I believe there are a couple of photos in the archives. This is a timely and appropriate subject for TLC. My vote now goes for Anything Chocolate, but in the Old Days I always got orange sherbet, lime sherbet, or chocolate - often a scoop of each when I couldn't decide... and if I had 10 cents. Wish I'd known the Chocolate Revel secret then!
Conrad Pitz '56:
Susan, I know it's been a while since I got the TLC #117 but I happen to be surfing and checked out the website Lexington Connection and happen to see the request for information on Mittieville or the Peckerwood club. I can remember going out to the Peckerwood Club with my folks in the late 40's and early 50's to eat Catfish and all I can remember about the owner was everybody called her Ma Mittie and when you went in the front door you could see her sitting in an old rocking chair back in the back by an old pot belly stove and her little dog would be laying on the floor by her. I think at that time the place was run by her two daughters and their name was Minnie and Evelyn, the bartender was a gentleman from Wellington and his name was Stanley Gates. I don't remember when Ma Mittie passed away but I do know that Minnie & Evelyn and Stanley Gates were still running it in the 60's when I left Lexington. They use to have live music back on the weekends back in the 40's & 50's. I do remember people dancing on a small dance floor that they had. There was a house back of the club and that is where Ma Mittie, Minnie & Evelyn lived. Back in those days this was a very popular place to go. I have talked to people over the years even from out of state, and they had all heard of the Peckerwood Club. Hope this might jog some one else's memory and you can get some more information from them.
The subject has also come up in the past, but we certainly have not heard everyone's memories.
Barbara Lee '57 Fay:
Every time I pass by 13th and South Streets, I look at the southwest corner where the post office now stands and remember Central School. When I was in first grade, I thought I was in a castle because of the big, imposing structure with the turret, which I later learned was the location of the Miss Rush's office. She was the principal and 6th grade teacher. Quite an elegant lady, too.
Remember the cloak rooms? The wooden floors that were routinely oiled? The restrooms in the basement? And, oh, those awful cinders on the playground where we played wicked dodge ball games, and bounced on the teeter totters (are those even allowed anymore?). And I acquired ugly, calloused hands from swinging on those monkey bars in the back.
Alas, most of these memories exist only in my mind, but if I had a photo of the old place, I sure would be happy. I do have a tea cup with a picture of the building, at one time the high school, I believe. Central went up in flames (or more appropriately, went down) sometime while I was away at college in the late '50's or early 60's. So, if anyone has any info on the place, let me know. Thanks.
It's possible there is a photo of Central (which was the High School before our LHS Jr-Sr at Main & 16th was built) in our TLC archives, but I'm certain there is one at the Lexington Historical Museum.
I attended the far superior Arnold Elementary School (just kidding!) but have similar memories of cinders playgrounds (don't we all have cinders embedded in our knees?), cloak rooms which always smelled like wet wool, oiled wooden floors, milk delivered by the Big Boys (Coen and Hulver, in our case), teeter-totters, Dodge Ball, jungle gyms and the resulting blisters or calluses. Our bathrooms were on the same level as the classrooms, however. And someone once wrote words to this effect: the entire school was run by six teachers (Miss Margaret Smith was the principal and also taught 6th grade) and one janitor. Amazing, isn't it? The doors were never locked. Boys and girls used separate stairways, but the reason for that escapes me now. Anyone?
Your devoted scribe,