Dear Hearts & Gentle People:
Heavy hearts exist in western Missouri as our neighbors to the south begin the impossible-looking cleanup and re-building of their devastated town, Joplin. I'm proud to say that Lexington jumped right in to help, courtesy of Randy Small. Randy Small Transportation is filling (at least) one school bus tomorrow to take to Joplin with supplies the rest of us have gathered. It's hard to think of something the folks down there do not need.
Courtesy of Bill '56 Tempel, just look at this incredible post:
and then, to cheer you up, travel to the web pages for this edition
Several of you have checked in, to make sure we're all right here in the old hometown. Yes, things are fine here. Word was that a shed on the edge of town was hit, along with some fairly minor damage in Waverly. The Trinity Church (formerly Evangelical) on Franklin was hit by lightning and had damage to its steeple. Of course the folks in Sedalia suffered greatly yesterday. It's been a tough, tough week. Tornado watches/warnings every day until today, when things were peaceful. It's good to know our siren system works.
Don't tell the Emergency Warning System people, but the minute the siren goes off: "Take cover immediately," we all rush outside. Perhaps a bit of overconfidence in our charmed life in Legendary Lexington.
We have had two local losses since I wrote last. First, our esteemed Maid-Rite man Norman Vialle died. A few days later Frances Keller, mother of Billie Keller Hulver and Don Hulver, passed away. There may have been other losses, but those are the only ones I've been notified about. Both had long and full lives.
Roger Slusher sent a request:
Since you're in touch with Jack Gueguen, please ask him when the present Catholic church partially burned; the photos look like around the 1920's. Also please ask him what he knows about the 14 Stations of the Cross that were in the Zion AME Church and are now being stored at the Museum. Where did they originate? When were they purchased? Why were they given or loaned (which?) to the AME Church? The frames look like they date to the late 1800's.
We have a spectacular photo of three (or possibly two) Catholic churches. It's a montage, and I could use some help understanding which building is which. The caption says it shows modifications to the present church, but I'm certain at least one photo is of an earlier Catholic Church on Highland. I will ask Webmaster Supreme Bob '58 Ball to post it on our website. Be patient, though, it could take a few days.
Debbie Entine wrote to locate Sharon Shurmantine McGuiness. I think I worked that, but she also included a P.S. to Jim '59 Lorantos:
- miss the burgers, miss the chicken sandwiches, miss the hot beef sandwiches, and miss the turkey sandwiches!! There will never be another Modern Cafe.
Shirley Briggle '53 Miller commented on our website receiving a lot of hits from Israel:
I'm not too surprised that the most interest in our TLC would come from Israel. I spent 10 days in Israel once, my favorite foreign country, and the Israelis are interested in everything.
Al McCormick thinks this is an odd request, but I don't:
You are going to think I have lost my mind but, do you have any information about the history of the Duck Pond? Interesting request, huh?
Well, Al, as you now know, it is the Goose Pond. And yessiree, we have plenty of info about the Goosepond....and about all manner of Things Lexington.The Downtown History Project committee is hard at work gathering information to answer questions exactly like this. We are researching and recording the history of each building.
Ifthe TLC family has anything that would be of interest, please send it along. Our ultimate goal is to have these histories framed and on display during the big 150th observation in September. Here, for your reading pleasure, is our record of the Goosepond (or Goose Pond). I will ask the webmaster to post the photos that we have. This will give you an idea of what we're up to.
The Goose Pond
Local historian B. M. Little, Jr., wrote, “Goose Pond Hollow was an unearthly tangle of thicket, undergrowth and nondescript trees…A number of side gullies fed into the main hollow, and in summertime were spawned amazing quantities of mosquitoes in stagnant pools of water.”
A public plan to reclaim that wasteland was proposed in the fall of 1912 and about 4 and 1/2 acres were purchased that winter. Seven houses around the area were purchased, six were demolished and one was moved to Franklin Avenue. Funds were raised with the promise that the newly created playing field would be donated to the public school district. Since all the donated funds had been expended, volunteer workers were needed.
On October 6, 1913, Mayor Albert Taubman announced that he “set apart…October the 14th and 15th, to be observed as Park Days, and call(ed) upon all the able bodied citizens to lend aid with teams, tools, and the work of their hands, to the end that this playground may be a monument to the public spirit of our people…”
Six hundred people responded on the first of several work days! As many as 60 teams of horses and mules worked on the project. Long wooden tables were set up along the south rim of the area with a cook tent. The women of Lexington furnished desserts, and grocery stores were asked to donate food; a group of male “chefs” prepared the food. Mid-afternoon snacks of cookies and lemonade were provided by Lexington High School girls. There was even a hospital tent with a uniformed nurse to treat the blisters, cuts, and scratches.
In the fall of 1913 a minstrel show under the direction of B. M. Little, Sr., began to help raise money for the project. Known as the Goose Pond Minstrels, prominent local leaders continued to perform these shows until World War II to raise money for community projects.
The new playing field was turned over to the school district in March of 1914, and a community swimming pool was soon added in the northeastern area just behind the new Lexington High School which was built in 1927. For many years the Goose Pond served as the schools’ football field and track. During the Great Depression, the WPA built concrete bleachers along the south side. In later years it was mainly used for physical education classes but, since the closing and demolition of what became the Lexington Middle School in the 1990’s, it has become a community baseball field.
Speaking of the Battle of Lexington anniversary, Valerie Wood (’73) Hellyer sent a compliment and an interesting site to visit:
Once again, thank you for the awesome job you do with the TLC! I can’t imagine who would be able to step into your shoes when the time comes! I wanted to mention that the Chicago Tribune did an article on “The Midwestern War” on April 10 in the Travel Section. The article is mostly about the Civil War battle fought in Boonville, but Lexington is discussed as well. It’s a very well-written and interesting article. They also give a website for more information on Missouri’s 150th events: www.mocivilwar50.com
The Downtown Building History Project committee consists of Tourism Director Dan Cambridge, Bill Cohrs, Slick Heathman, Linda Marchetti, Michelle Neer, Roger Slusher, Fred Tempel, Mary K. Wilcoxon Gooseman, and myself. And boy, have I heard some good stories!
And speakingof stories...I've had a few from Wayne Tabb. This is one he will let me print:
I used to "spin" stories with friends and acquaintances in Austin and Houston. Building the airplanes drew a lot of attention around my unique shop, so there were many visitors that became friends. You know how it is when guys start talking. One's story triggers memories in someone else's mind until hours are spent doing "one better." How I grew up around Lexington seemed to be the most entertaining because I heard it dozens of times..."Tabb, you gotta write these down and put 'em in a book."
I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up and lived in a small town with good parents, and Lexington seems to have had a unique patchwork of colorful people to grow up with. This town is so rich (in character) and everyone "has a story." So I started a journal of notes as old adventures found their way into my memory. When the notion struck me I'd start expanding the notes into chapters that I could add to as time went by. I tried to not over elaborate and kept writings as I remembered them and not embellish notes because the raw material was sufficient in itself.
My mom and aunt kept themselves busy with their old brownie and developing their own pictures. There are hundreds of them. After mom died, I scanned every picture and filed them digitally.During and just before high school my dad bought an 8MM movie camera. Floods, fires, parades, Truman, fishing trips, girlfriends of mine, first airplane rides and whatever else my dad could put on film. There are hundreds of feet of old film of high school events and parades, weddings etc. back in the fifties...now on DVDs. I've got movies of Don and Louie Coen at the greenhouse when they were kids. I mention that because their names come up frequently in TLC. Our parents were close friends. I recall being with the Coens quite often as a kid. Somewhere in all of those movies and black and white stills is a good record of "Growing up in the Midwest"...which is what I chose to title my book IF I ever did finish it. As I read TLC and see the memories of others, something they say always reminds me of my own adventures and believe you me, I still think mine were unique...just like everyone else's.
When you "hand it over," I don't think it would be the same, and the next generation after we are gone wouldn't really care and they will never know the freedoms we enjoyed. This is "our time." I think that answers the question as to why outsiders find TLC interesting. Those are the "good ole days" that kids or other generations today cannot duplicate. And you know these will remain with us all through eternity. Everything except the tears. It does say, "He will wipe away every tear." Heaven, "the next frontier."
When I get some time, I'll dig out some pics for "who is this person." Might be fun.
I am hoping Wayne follows through on this, since it fits into my current project and our long-running walks down Memory Lane in TLC. But, Wayne, I must disagree that ours were the "good old days." They were, certainly, but we have a lot of younger readers who consider their growing up in Lexington the "good ole days" too.
Jim O'Malley picked up the vibes about Lexington's buildings:
I've been wondering about the Eagle Building in Lexington; about the date of its building and about the Eagle Lodge that built it. I looked up the Fraternal Order of Eagles on Google and found the name of Chuck Cunningham who's the Corresponding Secretary for the Order. I've included his reply. Hope you find this interesting and useful.
The only F.O.E. Aerie that we have listed in Lexington, Missouri was Aerie No.243 and was instituted on July 23, 1902 and was closed on July 11, 1932. As to the construction date; we do not have that information.
Grand Secretary, F.O.E.
This is the first I have heard of the present church partially burning, unless you are referring to the AME. I was away at college when lightning struck the AME steeple and set it afire. Might have been in the early 1950s. I did see the result once when home on vacation, but the fire damage seemed confined to the steeple. It was quickly rebuilt, somewhat shorter than it had been originally. The church might still have an 8 x 11 pencil sketch I made of the exterior as seen from our front porch across the street, which would show how it originally looked. My dad thought it a good rendering and offered it to one of our neighbors who attended the church.
As for the Catholic Church, none of our family ever mentioned such a thing happening there. I've always found that old building remarkably well preserved for its age (I've known it personally since the mid-40s). Monsignor Dibbins had the interior wonderfully frescoed in the 50s/60s, and very recently Father Hansen had a more thorough renovation done after some of the ceiling plaster peeled. The appearance today is the best I ever recall it.
If some fire damage occurred there in the 20s, somebody would have to sift through old copies of the Lex. paper to find the reference since any witnesses would no longer be with us.
As for the 14 Stations, I never had a glimpse inside the AME church. I do remember that our church had a sizeable set of beautiful stations when I was a boy. I never knew how long they had been there, or where they came from. I think they might have been replaced in the simplification of church furnishings carried out by a series of pastors in the years following Vatican II (70s, when the school closed). I would suppose that they would have been stored in case of future use in the church basement, and it could be that they were given or sold at a modest charge to the AME upon request. I think I would recognize them if I saw a photo. Each was surmounted by a triangular rise in the burnt-gold frame with wooden cross on top. Each station looked like a full-color original rendering of the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) scene depicted. I confess that I never inspected them up close. I'm glad to hear they are being restored, if they are the ones I recall.
You might want to consult the present pastor, whom I've copied, because he might know how to find answers to your questions in the church records. I also copy Mike McDonald, my contemporary in elementary school, who might well have a clearer recollection of these matters.
In a recent issue, Bette Phipps '59 Thomas inquired about Linda Kerbrat. We received the following response:
I am Janice Elsea Lohoefener, and I have an answer for Bette Phipps Thomas about Linda Kerbrat. This question was passed along to me by a church member who uses this site. Linda is now Linda Owens. She married Steve Owens from Napoleon and has lived in Manhattan, Kansas for over 40 years. She is my aunt, and you can find her on facebook.
Memorial Day is approaching, and Dollie Neece Walters wrote that an area boy who went to school in Lexington participated in raising the flag at Iwo Jima!
That should make us all proud.
Stay in touch, Folks, and send storm news, current events and tender memories for others to enjoy. Till next time I remain,
Your devoted scribe,