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Rocket’s Red Gare Over Galena Pride. Politics, Patriots

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Rockets’ Red Glare – Over Galena

Pride,

Politics,

Patriots

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Galena, Missouri is one of those Norman Rockwell towns that seems best represented by oil paint on canvas.

Galena, Missouri, a small town in the Heartland of America that gets immortalized by a Ralph Waldo Emerson or a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Galena, Missouri is the kind of small town that has New York City, Boston, Hollywood, teenagers in big city high school English classes smirking, “Yeah, Right, dude. Galena. Missouri – Like some small town like that ever existed Maybe, on Paramount’s back lot or in one of those writer guys’ imaginations.”

Galena, Missouri does exists

The Situation Report

Galena, Missouri is a small town of about 500 people in southwest Missouri. We are 78 miles from Joplin, Missouri, which makes us less than a hundred miles from the famous city in Kansas, named Galena.

There are actually eight towns or cities in the United States of America named Galena.

Galena, Kansas is a famous mining town.

Galena is a precious mineral used in lead and used in making ammunition.

The irony of Galena, Missouri is that an early explorer supposedly saw a mineral in the river that he identified as Galena and thus, Galena, Missouri would be born.

This Galena is a small town, which for decades boasted about being “The Float Fishing Capitol Of The World.” The Bill Rogers Motel on the the shores of the James River would welcome hunters and fishermen from throughout the United States.

Table Rock Dam went operational and people quit coming to Galena to go “float fishing.”

Hidden In The Hills

Most of Galena’s businesses in 2011 are out on the shoulders of the state highway. But, if you turn off the highway and go around the hillside or up the road into the city, you will find Galena. Missouri.

The 1920 Stone County Courthouse on the National Register of Historic Places is the hardest working tourist attraction in America because the building has offices, where work still gets done. The Bank of Galena Museum is the other tourist attraction in town. Outside of the funeral home, bank, medical lab, and the Masonic Lodge – basically, county government moved in to take over the abandoned storefronts of the square. The Baptist Church sits near, but not on the square. The new library is in town, but off the square proper.

Y Bridge Park

Over the railroad tracks, you find the Y Bridge Park, which sits directly across from a private home, which was Dick Lebow’s DX Service Station in 1960.

July 4, 2011 — In the city park, people began stopping by to see what the Galena Park Board was up to. The annual fireworks display is set up on the Y Bridge and people can watch from the park.

Mother Nature’s warm attitude sent people strolling into the snow cone concessions on the park grounds. Some grandparents looked for comfortable places to sit up their lawn chairs or a spot to sit on on the ground, while anxious parents rushed around making last minute preparations.

The dunking booth caused a few youngsters to limber up their arms for a possible future in the St. Louis Cardinals. Some kids smiled to show off their face painted kittens and flags. Meanwhile, parents, especially mothers, rushed about with wide pieces of ribbons and long stemmed flowers.

The long lowboy tractor trailer trailer sit front and center and commanded the center stage spot. Hidden behind patriotic pennants and beneath a humongous American Flag, the presence of keyboards, drums and displayed guitars suggested, “the band isn’t in the house – yet.”

An arched white metal trellis entwined in vines sprouts up on the flatbed trailer and like a fairy godmother, the young master of ceremonies seems to magically appear.

Tiny Tots Time.

Stone County’s smallest citizens make their debutante debut. The little girl’s stroll out on to the portable stage. The emcee asks questions and the youngest girls stare back at all the people in the crowd. Judges make their decisions and trophies are awarded to Stone County’s young future Miss America Contestants. Then, the band steps on stage and entertains with a variety of rock and roll and country and western music.

Meanwhile, Bingo is going on under the rural pavilion with the baby blue telephone poles. While the band plays, a few children dance to the music. Everyone is enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the fireworks. I wander around and take some photos for prosperity and my blog.

Then, I get asked if I want to call out Bingo numbers. Why not ?

The Aquamarine Compote

Back in the mid-1960s on the courthouse lawn, during a Stone County Fair, I and some devoted Bingo players settled in to a long highly polished dining room table to play Bingo, on the east lawn of the courthouse. They probably loved the game.

Me, I had my eye on an aquamarine compote to give my mother. That Bingo game lasted until midnight because I still remember how tired everyone seemed, when the person in charged announced the time and said that was the end of the night’s bingo.

I never did win the compote.

But, the man in charge of that Bingo game allowed me to pay ten dollars to buy the compote. At least, I got the compote for my mom.

Bingo Baby Boomer

This Fourth of July, I was willing to try my talents at calling out the numbers. I do have one of the best of all qualifications – I have a big mouth.

Most of the players seemed to be smiling and winning, so I kept calling out the numbers until the game ended before the fireworks started about nine p.m.

The people in the park seemed in a festive mood as I strolled out of the park to find a location to shoot fireworks photos. The number of people in the park reminded me of my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s: Election Night.

Election Night in the 1960s and 1970s, people would come to Galena for election results.

Give Me That Old Time Politics – Election Run Up

Politics in Stone County and Galena, Missouri in the 1960s was like being Neil Armstrong ready to step on the moon – it was an adventure. The excitement in the air was like taking the enthusiasm for the Academy Awards, the Miss America Pageant, The World Series and The Super Bowl and rolling it into one event called: Election Night.

In the 1960s, Independents were like wood nymphs no one could prove they existed – and no one cared.

In the 1960s, there were Democrats in Stone County, but, they were covert.

Democrats were like CIA agents – everyone suspected them of being Democrats, but know one knew for sure. Unless a Stone County Republican died in office and a Missouri Democrat Governor appointed a Stone County man to serve out the term – you never knew.

In the 1960s, Stone County still celebrated Galena’s favorite son, Dewey Short. The congressman had gotten Galena the Y Bridge and gotten Stone County Table Rock Dam and the United States Navy even named a ship, the U.S.S. Stone County. Thanks to Congressman Short’s popularity, no Republican would dare pass up Galena or Stone County.

Congressman Gene Taylor campaigned at political rallies in Stone County. I listened to State Senator Emory Melton at one of the political rallies. I even attended a political rally and fish fry at Shoals Motel for a Republican challenger to Sheriff Tommy Walker. Most of the aggressive, get out the vote, campaigns of the 1960s were not against Democrats, they were Republicans squaring off to take the county nomination in August for the November election.

Crane, Missouri – 38th Parallel Of Missouri Politics

The Crane Broiler Festival was always an important Political Demilitarized Zone: The 38th Parallel Of Missouri Politics. By the broiler festival in late August, Missouri Republicans had earned their local and county party nominations, showing up at Crane to make speeches always helped to bring hold out hardliners into the fold and to remind the people, who said, “I vote for the person; not the party” – that they weren’t in Kansas in ruby slippers – they were in Stone County, Missouri – where even Jesus Christ was expected to vote Republican!

In more than 50 years of life, I never recall a Democrat or an Independent ever speaking at The Annual Crane Broiler Festival.

Election Night In Stone County In The 1960s

Come Election Night, you knew collectively Stone County voted “A Straight Republican Ticket,”; what you didn’t know was how the rest of America voted?

Election Day people would begin drifting into Galena to wait for “the fireworks.” Once the polls closed, then, information would start to find its way around the square. There was always a carnival atmosphere in town. Galena, Missouri has always been a town that “rolls up the sidewalks after 4 p.m.,” but – election night people would sit on the courthouse lawn, camp out in one of the businesses on the square and wait.

A pickup would be parked on the street in front of the courthouse. In those days, the Stone County Health Center was Gene Hicks Cafe and Pharmacy. You could sit in the cafe and watch someone in the back of the pickup scrawling the changing election numbers on to the two joined and tepid blackboards. Some of the local old timers would camp out on the church style pew benches leaned up against one of the trees.

Everyone always waited for the results of two elections: The President Of The United States Of America and The Sheriff Of Stone County.

All the results were yelled out from the back of the pickup before the figures were scrawled on the board, but usually people only seemed to really care about who got the White House and who gets to be The Sheriff Of Stone County.

Sometimes some people would be concerned about who became The Governor Of Missouri and, in later years, some people seemed interested in who won election as County Clerk or one of the county commissioners – Usually, though, in Stone County – the President and the Sheriff were the Big Dogs that kept people on the edge of their seats.

While the fireworks exploded over head to announce the crescendo to this Fourth of July, I realized America Politics will be no less explosive in the 21st Century. The thunderous roar of the blasts served as a reminder that the political apathy that we tolerate keeps us as spectators on the bleachers in our own political processes.

We have to watch our politicians, listen to their words and watch their actions. We have to hold politicians accountable to maintain freedom. When we shrug off those responsibilities, then, we get less than we deserve. We get whatever is let at the bottom of the barrel.

Freedom should always be celebrated by the explosions and fireworks overhead. The loss of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current state of America’s economy suggests that we may have shrugged off the political process once too often. We need to get back into the fray. We need to support Americans with vision for freedom and the future.

Generations of aspiring young pitchers and Miss America contestants have the right to expect more from the inherited legacy of their nation. Freedom should always be protected and celebrated, which is, no doubt, the lesson that The Founding Fathers intended to leave enshrined in our hearts.

Sam

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