Dear Hearts and Gentle People:
Hints of Spring tease us here in the old hometown. We are not naive enough to think there is no cold weather left to occur, but we are enjoying mild temperatures right now.
It seems the rest of the nation is enjoying mild humor at our expense, thanks to Paul Harvey. Yes, please cease and desist. Many of you have written about the new bridge, which we used to call the Lexington bridge and are now calling the Richmond bridge. Seems there was a slight miscue, for the three of you who don't know. A little thing like a 6-9 inch difference in height from one side to the other. And stop snickering.
To add to our travel woes, the old bridge has suffered further deterioration. Two big holes have developed in the roadway. No problem - the DOT simply put metal patches over them. Don't think we don't have plenty of excitement, one might say suspense, here.
And now to the bad news. Oh, you didn't think that was bad? Listen to this: our old school (nee Lexington Jr-Sr High High School, later Lexington Middle School) is being demolished. Saturday there was a public sale of items salvaged from the school. Jack Gueguen, along with others, suggested I be authorized to collect souvenirs for all of us. I thought the salvage company might have other ideas. Indeed they did. They sold quite a few things, and I trust some will make their way to the museum. On a personal note, my husband and I put in a bid for four of the finials on the building. They will be lovingly displayed in our yard on South St. for you to visit at any time.
Snaps Hulver submitted a photo of LHS in the early stages of demolition, but I couldn't bear to send it to you. Thanks anyway, Snaps. If anyone wants to see it, just let me (or him) know.
I do apologize for the length of time elapsed since the last TLC. You may dock my salary. However, it is tax season, and I have a little tax preparation business (H&R Susan) which keeps me hopping at this time of the year. Not to mention a few thousand community and church activities. There. Choose whichever excuse you prefer.
And because of this, some of the correspondence may be a bit dated. First are comments on recent TLCs:
From Jack Gueguen:
Susan, when the biggest circus of them all came to town in the mid 1940s, the tent was out in Estil Heights in a field (south end of 27th St.). By that time the 2 circuses had combined and it was known as Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey. It was a 3-ring circus, and I remember being very impressed by the size of the tent. I think the circus train arrived at the old Mo. Pacif. station adjacent to 20th St., across from the Cemetery entrance. (Passenger service to Lex. was suspended probably before WWII.) Such excitement for small boys! I don't remember if there was a parade through town.
Mary Pat Gueguen '58 Miller:
I know I won't be the only one to comment on this, but the STAR magazine in the Kansas City Star today (Sunday 12/21/2003) was excellent coverage of Lexington. Good job to all involved! I will be asking for extra copies and sending it to my family.
It makes me long for someone to take on the project of "re-discovery" of 16th Street, formerly seen as one of the more notable streets in Lexington, at least that's what my Mother used to tell us. We used to see pictures of our wide street in its "heyday," with Central College right up the street (I think my Mother attended Central College, right Jack?), the Battlefield, the historic AME church across from our house, the "new" high school, and , of course, several 1800's houses on the street. I would gladly feed some money into that project, before our 1840's house falls down. Can't wait to get to Lexington and see all the new shops.
Editor's Note: The cover story on Lexington in the Star section of the Sunday KC Star brought a burst of business to Lexington, which continues to this day, over two months later. The merchants are delighted.
Diane Gibson '58 Conger:
Thanks for the TLC. I enjoy every issue that comes through email. The pictures give my heart pangs of homesickness as I see streets and familiar landmarks.
You and I were privileged to grow up in the best town and at the best time. Lexington had its share of characters, sweet souls and lovable rascals. So many are indelibly etched in my memory.
I believe there was a circus that came to town when I was very small. I just have a vague memory of walking in some big field, through mud and straw, and sitting on old wooden bleachers in a big tent watching elephants, etc. I think I would have been around four years old. It is one of my earliest memories. I have a sense that it would have been at the time I lived in the house on 13 Highway, the one the Lee family lived in later. I moved to Oneida on my 5th birthday, so it had to be before that time.
A nice note from Jan Jiovenale '57 Tubiolo:
These TLC's really keep my heart close to home. Dad happens to be visiting right now and, in response to Don Lejeune's query re the Old Pickle Factory, Dad related something I've heard many times over the years. In 1931 or '32, for at least two summers, Jimmie Jiovenale used to work for Mr. Aull in his 'pickle garden' and hauled the cucumbers to the Pickle Factory in a horse-drawn springloaded wagon. He recalls that 8 or 10 people worked there and the pickles were separated by size on a slatted conveyance, so that the smallest cucumbers fell out first, leaving the largest to be sorted out for the big dill pickles. He was 12 or 13 at the time.
I really enjoyed Don
Stephenson's comments about Carl Stalling and about the Curry brothers. I
believe Bob Curry worked at the Post Office in the 50s and 60s and then moved to
Hemit, CA. He was a nice fellow. I'm still wondering if Carl
Stalling was the brother to Bob Stalling of the Slusher and Stalling Insurance
Agency in Lexington. Ben Slusher was the father of my classmate Jim
Slusher, and I remember Ben's partner Bob Stalling as an older, rather quiet
I enjoyed the story about Judge John Pollard's meeting with Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley. How about asking Harry Dunford to share his memories of the time the Tom Mix Wild West Show came to Lexington! I'll even add my memories of it, too! Best Wishes to all.
Your recent newsletters have been excellent. I have sent the following to Don Stephenson: Nathan Curry was in my class of 1942. He was a carrier jet pilot and was shot down. His picture appeared in the KC Star and elsewhere being fished out of the drink. This, however, was during the Korean War, not WW2.
Curry was here in Lexington for our 50th class reunion in 1992, and has been back several times. I talked to him on the phone at Christmas. He lives in Deer Park, TX, and lost his wife about a year ago. I believe all his brothers are deceased. Bob Curry worked at the post office here for a number of years before his retirement.
Nathan, Bob Jackson, Charlie Welch, George Bill Reynolds and I were buddies during high school and we played a lot of basketball together and referred to ourselves as "The Trusty Five." Welch died at a very early age, the rest of us are still living. Reynolds has Alzheimer's and is in a rest home in Florida. Jackson is in KC and hasn't changed a whit.
In regards Don Lejeune's remarks, I well remember Pierre Lejeune, Ephie, and their father. L.E. Zumalt and I used to hang around their garage a lot in the 30's. I also knew Pierre's son, Pierre Jr. According to official records he was Pierre Curtis Lejeune Jr, Fireman, USN, when he died in combat aboard the USS Astoria in the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942. This was just a few days after the Marines landed on Tulagi and Guadalcanal and the outcome of that battle was as yet undecided.
Another item in TLC was the statement that Jack Mason Chevrolet was located on Franklin in the building which now houses The Glass Company. Actually Jack Mason Chevrolet succeeded Allen Chevrolet and was always located in the building fronting on Broadway and extending back all the way to Main Street.
However, the building which was mentioned on Franklin was occupied by Charlton & Gibaud Motor Company and they did handle Dodge and Desoto cars. They remained in business until the early 50's. Mr. Gibaud and his wife at one time owned a grocery on 20th Street across the street from where Harold Harden's business is now.
I am taking up too much space. However, I am sending separately a copy of a story I wrote a long time ago about a place called "Tabo." It is kinda long so you may not want to reproduce it. I do understand at least one person like it so much they posted it in their bathroom.
And here it is....
THE LEGEND OF TABO
by Harry Dunford
Once upon a time --many years ago --there was a uniquely enchanted place where all the Swains and Damsels liked to go. It was a place that was particularly enchanting in the spring when the sap began to rise in the trees and the warm winds of the southwest replaced the cold breezes from the north.
It had a strange name, the roots of which have never been known, but which the Damsels and Swains called "Tabo." It was not on any map yet all the Swains and Damsels of the Kingdom and even those from nearby Kingdoms seemed to know how to get there --especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
In those days most of the Swains did not have wheels of their own so they congregated at a certain street corner near the Post Office; they would cluster in groups with their thumbs in the air and beg for a ride by loudly uttering the magic word --"Tabo!"
The Damsels, of course, did not participate in this act of hike-hitching for they were brought up to be ladies and in those days ladies did not do such things. The Damsels would simply pool their money, hire a carriage and they, too, would be off to "Tabo" for an evening of fun and, hopefully, romance.
You approached "Tabo" from the west on a ribbon of concrete which wound through rolling hills and farmland. Just before you arrived you crossed a small river by means of a quaint little bridge. Just off to the left was a rustic non-descript sort of building that did not look enchanted at all; this was an illusion, however, so that old folks would not be able to tell what a special place it was. For, if the old folks really had known of some of the spells that it cast, they surely would have closed it down.
Just inside the door, to the left, there was a counter and behind the counter stood a lady who presided over such things as soda pop, hamburgers and a concoction that was known as "three-two." Now, "three-two" was pretty harmless stuff, but if the old folks had known that the Damsels and Swains were imbibing it even a little bit, they would have had a hissy.
As you passed by a corn-popping machine at the end of the counter, you immediately entered a large room that was rustic in appearance. Along the walls were crude looking booths made of plain old wooden planks but which well served the purposes, particularly when the table was full of flagons of "three-two."
In the center of the north side of the room was a large machine which had glowing lights and push buttons. This machine was made to eat nickels and it never went hungry. Each time a nickel was placed in it there came forth wondrous noises with strange names such as "Tuxedo Junction", "One O'clock Jump" and "Moonlight Cocktails." The Swains and Damsels enjoyed the noises from the machine so much that they would jump out of the booths and fill the floor with motions that were sometimes graceful and sometimes wild. Seldom was the floor vacant when the machine was in operation.
Most of the Damsels and Swains who came to "Tabo" were from the village of Ington, but there were also those from a neighboring town of Higgs and sometimes the Swains of each town would take umbrage at each other and a little ruckus would occur. Even to this day, it is said, that when you get a group from Ington and Higgs together there is liable to be a fuss.
The Lord of Tabo was a Squire known by the name of "Lige." He was a rotund individual with a sense of humor who --if the occasion demanded it --would use his authority as Squire to make the Damsels and Swains behave themselves. He was fondly remembered for many years after his demise.
Today, "Tabo" is no more. The little bridge across the creek is gone and where the rustic building stood there is a mere patch of ground which is not noteworthy to the passerby. A larger bridge stands further to the south and much higher than the original bridge so that when you cross it you seldom ever glance to the north because there is nothing there anymore -- except memories.
The following is a first-person Tabo memory from someone who must remain anonymous:
I made it to Tabo one time. I was a senior in high school, and of course Tabo was Forbidden. I was Going Steady with a classmate. A bunch of us, couples, went out to Tabo - I think it was Spring. Anyway, not a big crowd, but we knew almost everyone in the place except for a few regulars.
We didn't even try for beer (or three-two). Just ate and had Cokes and danced. Nothing too wild. The dance floor was quite warped from all the times the place had flooded, and you had to dance downhill. That is my most vivid memory of Tabo except that, at some point in the evening, I needed to go to the restroom. It was, you may have heard, outside and down below - I think maybe one degree above an outhouse. Well...I was not about to go there. So I told my "Swain" that I needed to be driven to a friend's house a mile or so down the highway. He was incredulous: "Let me get this straight. You will eat the food here, but you will not use the restroom???" Of course!
Arthur Knapheide '56 checked in for the first time:
Wow what a job you have done and are doing! What do I have to do to be included on the email list? Please let me know. List me as Arthur "56" Knapheide. As I read TLC #60 & 61 it brought back a lot of memories, like Catfish the Cabbie. Don LeJeune was right - Catfish did work for Red Kukendall.
Joy and I spent 2 days in Lexington in August, and there have been a lot of changes. We look forward to our next visit and hope to spend more time there to look up some of the people.
...I would really like to contact some of those classmates of mine. Has there been any talk of when the next class reunion may be? I know it is a lot of work for those that live locally and I would like to thank them for their efforts.
Arthur later requested an email address for "Little Herbie" Hoeflicker if anyone has it.
Despite some gloomy news at the beginning of this issue, there are many good things happening too. New stores all the time, many houses being restored, and the downtown is jumpin' weekend nights! Look to the web page at
TLC #62 web page
And now we come to the end of TLC #62. But stay tuned! There will be a bonus to follow shortly.
Your devoted scribe,