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Christmas Day in the Ozarks 1966 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Childhood Christmas Celebration

 

Christmas Day in the Ozarks

1966

COUNTRY LAMPS

 

The Ozarks’

Kerosene Lamps

The Ozarks Electric Cooperative and White River Electric Cooperative were two Ozarks power companies that were working to provide consistent, stable electricity to the farms and homes of Stone County, Missouri in the 1960s. In the winter, Ozark’s snowfall would bring trees and limbs down on power lines and families would have to resort to kerosene lamps at night until the power companies could get back into the rural hills and hollers to repair or replace the power poles. In the southwest Missouri Ozarks’ snow is usually on the ground for Christmas Day,so these decorative “coal-oil” lamps were always an important functional holiday decoration to have ready throughout the winter. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Friday December 9, 1966

I come back home from school and Momma has a four foot Christmas Tree set up. The cedar tree looks impressive sitting in the three pound Folgers Coffee can in the center of the wooden office desk.

 

The heavy wooden desk had originally belonged to J. Frank Couch, of Gilmer, Texas. Papa Warren had bought it from J. Frank and given it to Momma, “for Sam Junior to do his school work on.” It is a beautiful, heavy flat top wooden desk, with a slender middle drawer and three deep side drawers on each side.

 

Gravel from the driveway is packed tightly around the trunk of the tree. This year, like the years before, Momma had walked into the woods, across the road, with her ax and cut down the tree.

 

I know I will have to “water” the tree to try and keep it alive until Christmas.

 

christmas-tree-logo-photo-two-thumbnail_thumb[1]The nice thing about our Christmas Trees is they were “FREE”. One plant, other than ragweed, that seems to appreciate Stone County, Missouri’s rocky soil is cedar trees.

 

Momma’s “Warren Land” and Uncle Richard’s “DeLong Land” kept the Stone County courthouse in Christmas Trees for more than a decade.

 

Late November or early December, someone from the county would “stop by” and ask Momma if the county could get a Christmas Tree off of her land or Uncle Richard’s. Momma’s standard response: “Take an ax and cut as many as you want.”

 

Momma had her box of Christmas decorations sitting on the floor by the desk. I reached in and got the little strips of flimsy aluminum that is suppose to represent icicles and put it on the branches.

 

Later, Reynolds Wrap aluminum from the kitchen will swaddle the coffee can to become the tree skirt. It will give me something to do after I finish my homework.

 

When I got home from school, the old white Chevrolet pickup was parked in the driveway, which meant Momma was home. I suspect that she is down on the hillside in one of the hog houses, which means one of the old sows is probably ready to have pigs.

 

A few minutes later, Momma came in and said, “One of the old sows is acting up. I put her in the shed. She will probably have pigs tonight or in the morning. Do you have homework ?”

 

Yes, mam. I know, take off your school clothes and get on your homework.”

 

She smiles and nods.

 

Sam Junior’s Hot Dog Sandwiches

 

A couple of hours pass. I go in the kitchen and take wieners out of the ice box.

 

I know how to cook one thing – hot dogs.

 

I turn on the gas stove and heat up the water in a white enamel quart sauce pan. Once the water, steams and boils like a witches’ cauldron,then, I would dump in the wieners.

I come from a family that does not believe in “Raw Meat.” We cook our food. I would always wait until the steaming water bubbled like sulphuric acid.

 

I would watch the wieners boiled in the pan. Usually, I would take them out before they ruptured. Sometimes I would allow the hot water to rupture the wiener. Then, I would pour the hot water down the sink.

 

I had laid out slices of bread on the counter. With a layer of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip on the bread. If the wieners had not ruptured, then, I would take a butcher knife and slice the wieners lengthwise.

 

Once sliced, I would position the wieners on he bread and fold out the sides so that the wieners looked like tall, pink butterflies.

 

Two wieners on a slice of bread would fill the slice. I would spoon on relish. Then, I squirted on catsup and added a slice of cheese before using the other slice of bread as a top. On Momma’s hot dog sandwiches, I would add a squirt of French’s mustard.

 

In the dark ages, before the invention of the microwave, you had to be able to at least cook a little.

 

Hillbilly Hog Hospital

 

HOG HOUSE LANTERN THUMBNAIL 1Momma comes back to the house. She had a couple of hot dog sandwiches. Since the first grade, Momma has asked me what we had for lunch at school today. Usually, I remember. Today, I can’t remember.

“It is Friday, which means it is the weekend. She tells me about her day and I really don’t have anything interesting to tell about my school day. After a few minutes she heads back down on the hill to wait for the old sow to have the pigs.”

 

When you have three or four old sows, there is the likelihood that a couple of old sows may “pig” on the same night. When your herd is expanding toward the number 25, rest assured there will be days and nights when you feel like a nurse in a maternity ward rushing from one sow to another.

 

If Momma had a couple of old sows in “delivery mode”, she would keep an eye on one and I would “play doctor” for the other.

 

When a pig is born, the important function is to clear away the afterbirth from the nostrils so the little squealer can breath. Keep an eye on the sow, because a squeal from the newborn pig will have the old sow trying to get up to check on her baby.

 

Every now and then, Momma would have a “mean old sow” that would rather fight than have her pigs. You always kept your distance from an old sow in labor.

 

Momma comes back to the house. She has another old sow that will probably haveHOG HOUSE LANTERN THUMBNAIL 1 pigs tonight. She has already got that old sow in the lower shed. I just need to get ready and go down on the hill. She will keep an eye on the old sow in the upper shed. I get to watch the old sow in the lower shed. Daddy has the sheds wired for lights. The light in that shed usually works.

 

My old sow is not suppose to be mean. The sow Momma is watching is usually mean, when she starts to pig. I will just have to watch my old sow and make sure she doesn’t lay down on any of her pigs by accident.

 

A severe labor pain can cause an old sow to “jump up.” When an old sow jumps up from labor, she is fighting the pain and anything nearby that could be the source of her pain becomes the target.

 

Snorting and grunting the old sow will come at you. I was taught there is only one way to “Stop” an old sow or boar that is charging at you.

 

Farm stores don’t sell tranquilizer guns. Pharmacies don’t sell farmers Novocain or any type of livestock muscle relaxer drugs. The farmer has to rely on his God-given common sense and the shared knowledge from other farmers.

 

You pick up a stick of wood, a shovel, a hoe, an ax handle or any type of tool handle you can get your hands on. Then, you swing it down as hard as you can across the hog’s snout, That will stop the hog in it’s tracks” Momma told me time and again.

 

HOG HOUSE LANTERN THUMBNAIL 1Momma explained that you busted the item over the hog’s snout to stop it from charging at you. You can slap a hog on the side and it will shrug off the blow like a nuisance house fly. Hogs go through brush and saplings in the woods, so they just shrug off the scrapes and keep going.

 

I don’t know if the procedure would work for everyone, but the procedure always worked for me to stop our Yorkshire, Duroc and Hampshire sows. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it too often.

 

My old sow had 12 pigs. Momma’s old sow had 15. My old sow had a runt, but he looks okay.

 

Momma’s old sows averaged 12 to 18 pigs by the time she put the two bulk hog feeders out in the field. The bulk hog feeders were the science fiction equipment on any hog farm.

 

Take Me To Your Feeder”

 

By the early 1970s, Momma had bought two bulk hog feeders. The two fat, cylindrical tubes were connected to their respective oversized metal bowls that had a series of lids that hogs could raise with their noses.

 

Whenever I stood out in the field and looked at the bulk hog feeders they always looked like two strange fat, short, landed UFOs.

 

I could always imagine a tiny green man asking me to take him to my leader. I just always hoped I got to the little alien before one of the old sows went rooting around and decided that he looked more like a root than an alien.

 

Sunday, December 18, 1966

 

Daddy arrived from Houston early this morning. I love it when I see that blue and white fleet side half ton pickup pulling into the driveway. It means daddy is home for a couple of weeks.

 

Aunt Bill sent me one of her German Chocolate Cakes. And, the white coffee can tin with the gold shape of the state of Texas was packed to the brim with Aunt Bill’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. She packed the cookies in wax paper in the can,so they did not crumble. I love these cookies.

 

When daddy came home for the Fourth of July, he didn’t go by Aunt Bill’s house before he headed for Missouri. Daddy said Aunt Bill got on to him for not stopping at her house first, because she had some chocolate chip cookies to send to me. This time, daddy said, Aunt Bill didn’t take any chances. She made sure she and Uncle Audrey went by the house the night before daddy left out for Missouri. Thanks to Aunt Bill, we got the cake and the cookies.

 

I don’t know if we will go Christmas shopping in Springfield tonight. I know daddy is tired from the drive, but I hope we get to go.

 

I did get to go Christmas shopping, The trip from Houston to Galena always wore you out. I know daddy had to be tired, but he knew that I looked forward to him coming home for the holidays. We looked everywhere for the Operation game. We spent every night going shopping before Christmas.

 

Monday, December 19, 1966

 

I didn’t have to ride the bus from school tonight. Daddy and Momma picked me up once school let out and we headed to Springfield to do more Christmas shopping. I really want the “Operation” game for Christmas. Store after store in Springfield said they had it, but it sold out fast.

 

Last weekend, I even talked Momma into going to Springfield and going “down on the square.” Momma doesn’t like shopping on the square. It is always a pain for her or daddy trying to find a place to park to shop on the square.

 

Earlier in the month. Momma and I went to Aurora to the stores, to try and find the game. No luck.

 

I didn’t get the Operation game for Christmas. That year we left no stone unturned trying to find the game.

 

In the 1960s, The Ozarks seemed a remote location “right smack dab in the center of the United States.: If something “new” in terms of fashion, toys or technology got released or announced in New York City or Los Angeles it meant that it would be at least six months and probably a year before the item would be released and available for purchase in The Ozarks.

 

December 2011, I was curious about the types of toys the stores are selling for kids at Christmas. I strolled into the toy aisle of the Wal-Mart store in Branson West Missouri, there in the games section were plenty of brand new “Operation” games waiting for parent and grandparents to purchase them.

 

 

Home Sweet Hen House

 

I started school at Abesville Elementary in 1960. Momma and I arrived and she was looking for a small place to buy, so I could go to school in Missouri. If I started school in Missouri I could start at age five. If I were to start school in Texas I would have to wait until age six.

 

Momma already owned her land in Missouri that she and daddy planned to build their “Dream Home” on when he retired. Time and again, I heard her tell people we were just looking for a place we could, “batch.” I understood it to mean a “temporary” location.

 

We ended up with a house about a quarter of a mile down the road from Grandma and Uncle Richard. It was a weird house. It had a weird design. US houses in Missouri had gabled roofs.

Our house had a “Hen House” roof. Technically, the roof style is called a, “Shed Roof.” However, in Missouri in the 1960s, when people built their chicken houses they seemed to use the slanted roof.

 

Ernest Cloud build our house. Everyone always talked about the beautiful work Ernest did as a cabinet maker. The story is that whenever there were leftover pieces from construction jobs that he worked on, he would use those materials and built the house that we lived in.

 

In The Ozarks, in the 1960s people were building homes out of beautiful red brick. Older homes that used the giant rocks belonged to the 1930s, 1940s and a few to the 1950s. The rock houses had huge rock and a wide white line between the stones.

 

Alas, our hen house was a rock house. It had a garage attached, which only served to continue the hen house look.

 

In the beginning, even though we lived by the state highway, there were so many trees in the yard, the house was almost completely hidden from the highway.

 

A slight pig trail through the trees was the only indication that there was something in the woods.

 

At dusk, the slender, anorexic trees blocking the way looked like a Hollywood movie setting for a horror flick. In the sunlight, we were still so far back in the boonies from the main highway, “God had to pump in sunshine.”

 

Momma bought some hair goats for the brush and sprouts. Then, she bought a chain saw and the trees began to disappear. Suddenly, the hen house sat close enough for everyone going by to see.

 

While I was in the United States Air Force in the early 1980s, the roof of the hen house fell in. Momma got a trailer and put it on the property until she could get what she wanted. The remains of the hen house got bulldozed down on the hillside.

 

Thank God for the invention of the bulldozer.

 

I never liked the house that we lived in because most of the rooms seemed slightly larger than a Ma Bell phone booth. These series of phone booths had simply been joined together to resemble something like a house. The kitchen was so small you had to go outside to change your mind,

 

The fireplace collected soot and weary birds. In the winter time, the fireplace was more of a huge draft that let in cold air, rather than a fireplace. Momma finally blocked off the fireplace and got a large gas heater stove to shut out the cold.

 

If you have ever saw the 1986 movie, “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, then, you have an idea of the hen house that we batched in. The movie house was a nice, prestigious looking building; our house didn’t look that good and it had the hen house roof.

 

Operation Christmas Tree

 

Sunday, December 25, 1966

 

In Houston, I would bolt out of bed and rush through our huge old house toward the Christmas Tree. The house had cathedral ceilings. It was an old home, but it was majestic.

You rushed down the hallways and it was like being a kid and running through Westminster Cathedral. You were celebrating being alive and you wanted all of God’s creatures to know it.

 

In Galena, the house was small. It was cozy because it was cramped. The still green Christmas Tree sat on the desk. Brightly wrapped boxes were positioned around the tree.

 

Tonka Pink Surrey Jeep

 

Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey always sent me something for Christmas. I ripped open theTONKA PINK SURREY JEEP THUMBNAIL 1 wrapping paper and got through the outer box to the toy box. I got the Tonka Pink Surrey Jeep that I had wanted since I had seen it.

 

Elvis Presley in the movie, “Blue Hawaii” had drove this type of jeep. I learned to dance watching Elvis Presley on TV as a kid.

On a family outing to Galveston, Texas, a couple of years later, a Pink Surrey Jeep had passed us on the highway.

 

Aunt Bill always listened to me. I had told her about the Elvis-type jeep that had passed us on the way to Galveston. Of course, I told her I had seen the jeep toy in a store. I had even forgotten about the jeep until I saw the box. As always, Aunt Bill came through.

 

1960s Secret Agents

 

Once I saw Patrick McGoohan in the TV show, “Secret Agent”, I became intrigued with the ideas of “secret agents.” Roger Moore was “The Saint.” Sean Connery became “James Bond” the famous “007.” Dean Martin did the tongue in cheek, “Matt Helm” movies. James Coburn was “Flint.”

 

While the 1960s were about “The Space Race,” The Cold War remained a reality. The Americans didn’t trust the Russians. The Russians didn’t trust the Americans. Nobody trusted “The Red Chinese.”

 

In America, China was a Communist country and the location meant it was the “Far East”, which meant, “The Orient” and in the 1960s there weren’t that many Americans, other than Chinese-Americans, who spoke Chinese.

 

The Russians didn’t seem in the Cold War days to trust the Chinese. Russia had Lenin Communism. China had went with Trotsky Communism under Mao Tse tung. Trotsky had to flee the Soviet Union and the Russians, evidently didn’t appreciate the fact that one of their “political exiles” had influenced a neighboring government.

 

Of course, in the never-ending debate of forms of government, “The A-Bomb Paranoia” loomed large in the back of everyone’s mind. The Americans were afraid the Soviets would launch their Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles. The Russians were afraid the Americans would launch their ICBMs. Then, around 1964, China announced they had “Nukes.”

 

Spy flicks and novels were all the rage in the 1960s because “The Nuclear Politics Of The Cold War” had every country worried about their neighbors. Of course, the “spies” were the guys who always brought the world back from the brink on TV and in the movies.

 

Secret Sam

 

Topper Toys came out with one of the best “secret agent” toys, “Secret Sam.” Instead of using suave, debonair,handsome men to advertise their toy, Topper put kids in trench coats. Suddenly, America had legions of the worlds smallest spies ready to save the world.

 

I was ecstatic when I opened the wrapping and saw my “Secret Sam” briefcase.

 

MY SECRET SAM BRIEFCASE_Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Secret Sam

The Atomic Bomb fallout of World War II created a Global Paranoia that pitted every nation in the world against one another in a never-ending Olympics of Cold War politics in which countries were suppose to choose up sides and go with one of the Super Powers: The Americans, The Soviets, or The Red Chinese. The only escape from the persistent paranoia was television and movie stories of brave espionage agents, who were always battling in the shadows,“The Bad Guys.” Topper Toys noticed that kids wanted to be “Secret Agents”, so they started selling this toy espionage kit with the periscope, message missile, pistol, silencer and the camera, Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

 

Secret Sam is a futuristic looking pistol with several attachments like a periscope. There is the message missile, where you can put a message inside and slip the orange sleeve on the rod. Then, you shoot the missile. The whole briefcase amazed me. I liked the function that you could push the circular button to shoot a plastic bullet out of the briefcase. The plastic peg on one end you press down to take a picture with the camera concealed in the briefcase.

 

Secret Sam quickly became one of those toys that allowed kids to become Peter Graves or one of the “operatives” in the “Mission Impossible” TV show.

 

MY SECRET SAM BRIEFCASE _closed_Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

In this photograph the “Secret Sam” briefcase toy is closed. The circular indentation is the side button you pushed to launch plastic bullets. There is a plastic peg that you push down to take a picture with the concealed camera in the case. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Operation Christmas Tree 1966 is over. You carefully replace your equipment in your briefcase. You hum the theme to “Secret Agent” and stroll confident toward the door. Your next port of call ?

 

Bucharest ? Budapest ? London ? Moscow ? Beijing ? Tel Aviv ?

 

Grandma’s house for Christmas Dinner.

 

Sam

 

Sam’s Wonderful World

of Toys Links

 

The robot that my mother and father bought me for Christmas 1959 was the Marx Electric Robot. It was not a handsome robot, but, the Morse Code functions and it’s ability to move amazed me. Of course, I was only about four years old at the time. The website below has more information on this unique robot toy. The other toy links are to remind you there should always be “a little child inside of all of us, when it comes to toys.”

 

Doc Atomic’s Attic Of Amazing Artifacts

http://astoundingartifacts.blogspot.com/2009/09/electric-robot-marx-1955.html

 

Toy Robot History

Daryl aka The Robotnut

http://www.robotnut.com/history/

 

Toys You Had

http://www.toysyouhad.com/

 

Antique Toys

http://www.antiquetoys.com/

 

Collectors Weekly

Toy Robots

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/attack-of-the-vintage-toy-robots-justin-pinchot-on-japans-coolest-postwar-export/

 

 

Alphadrome Toy Space Helmets

http://danefield.com/alpha/forums/topic/13898-toy-space-helmets/

 

Tootsie Toy Company

http://www.tootsietoy.com/

 

Louis Marx and Company Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Marx_and_Company

 

MARX Toy Museum

http://www.marxtoymuseum.com/

 

Mattel Toy Store

http://www.matteltoystore.com/

 

Hasbro United States

http://www.hasbro.com/?US

 

Hubley Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubley_Manufacturing_Company

 

ERTL Farm Toys

http://www.rcertl.com/

 

Scale Model

http://www.scalemodeltoys.com/

Toy Farmer Magazine

http://www.toyfarmer.com/

 

Kenner Products Wikipedia

http://www.antiquetoys.com/

 

Dinky Toys Dinky Site

http://www.dinkysite.com/

 

Toy Collector Magazine

http://www.toycollectormagazine.com/

 

Auburn Rubber Company Auburn Toys Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auburn_Rubber_Company

 

Tonka Trucks Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonka

 

Buddy L Toy Company Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddy_L

 

Structo Toy Trucks TNT Toy Trucks

http://www.tnttoytrucks.com/Structo.html

 

Toy Trucker & Contractor

http://www.toytrucker.com/

 

Wham-O Toys Inc.

http://www.wham-o.com/

 

Ideal Toy Company Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideal_Toy_Company

 

Remco Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remco

 

Topper Toys Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topper_Toys

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 23, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Ecology, Editorial, Family, Food, Holidays, Money, Nature, Observances, Photos, Stone County History, The Ozarks, Tourism

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The Saga Of Ramon’s Trike

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The Saga Of Ramon’s Trike

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

As a child in Houston, Texas, I had a tricycle. It was made out of heavy black metal. It had a large wheel in the front and two smaller wheels on the side. I would zip up and down the concrete driveway of 313 East 26th Street on my tricycle.

Of course, when I got stationed in the Republic of the Philippines in 1988, I quickly learned the word, “tricycle” had a totally different meaning in the Philippines.

I could still zip up and down the road to Clark Air Base in a tricycle. But, it wasn’t my “trike” and it always cost me a few pesos

RAMONS TRIKE_9049_resized

Saturday afternoon, Ramon explains the neat features of his tricycle to his family. 

Canon EOS 40 D Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Monday, March 5, 2012 – The sun rises in the Republic of the Philippines and the morning breeze of Leyte carries the sound of a new tricycle through the coconut trees.

IMG_5059_resized

Ramon bounces along on this older motorcycle to try and use it to move sacks of coconuts.  In the Philippines, a motorcycle can sometimes be expected to perform like a farm pickup in the United States. 

Canon EOS 40 D Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Saturday, Ramon Q. Saldana Jr., took delivery of his new tricycle. While Ramon got his new Honda TMX 155 motorcycle, February 24, 2012, he had to wait for the sidecar modification.

RAMONS NEW MOTORCYCLE_FEBRUARY 24 2012_5868_resized

February 24, 2012 — Ramon is proud of his new motorcycle.  He is happy to pose for a picture.  Of course, once you get the motorcycle, then, you have to wait for the sidecar to be built to transform the motorcycle into a tricycle. 

Canon EOS 40 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Once Ramon got his motorcycle, he would need a sidecar modification to turn the motorcycle into a “trike.” In the Philippines, a tricycle, often called a “trike,” is a motorcycle with a sidecar that is used to transport passengers and products.

Ramon visited a local welding shop, in a nearby barangay, famous for their sidecar modifications. His name was placed on the waiting list behind the other orders. It appeared, at the time, that it might be the second week of march before the shop could begin work on his motorcycle for the conversion. Ramon picked the color and the design and in a matter of days, his new tricycle was ready to ride.

RAMONS TRIKE 002_9061_resized

Ramon gives his sister, Christy Warren, and his brother, Rafael a ride in his trike. 

Canon EOS 40 D Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Of course, vehicles have to be licensed and registered. The paperwork procedure proceeded along on schedule. Unfortunately, electricity in Leyte is not always reliable.

Everyday for a week, Ramon, went to the appropriate government office. However, the persistent power outages kept the computers off line. Finally, the last week in June, with all the paperwork completed,

 

Ramon was finally able to heed, “The Call Of The Open Road.” Now, Ramon get to zip up and down the road on his trike taking passengers to their appointments and taking kids to and from school.

RAMONS TRIKE 003_9064_resized

Ramon heeds “The Call Of The Open Road” and motors along the highway on his trike. 

Canon EOS 40 D Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Sam

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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