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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

MVPA Convention trip

We are attending the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's annual convention in Huntsville, AL. Joyce Faulkner and I will have a booth displaying our books. We actually made it through Memphis without eating BBQ. We drove through northern Mississippi and Alabama this afternoon. Mississippi can boast of beautiful rolling hills and northern Alabama is agricultural with green fields everywhere. We didn't make it to Decatur in time to try Big Bob Gibson's BBQ so that's on the docket for our trip home. We are staying close to the NASA Space Center. Tomorrow is "explore Huntsville" day before the convention opens.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Route 66 in Lebanon, MO

Enjoy Americana nostalgia? Do you remember the TV series, Route 66?

If you answered yes to either question, check out my latest article on Route 66 at .

For more info on Route 66, visit

Tying Flies at Missouri's Bennett Spring State Park

I took a fly-tying class with Jim Rogers at Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon, Missouri. I should admit that I know nothing about fly fishing except I l saw the movie, A River Runs Through It, and I love to watch casting fishermen.
Judy Fortner
Luck was with me.  The other five class members knew as little as I. Together we stumbled and fumbled our way through several attempts until Judy Fortner, Director of Tourism in Lebanon, MO, achieved success.

Everett's on the left, mine on the right
Judy listened closely as Jim walked her through the string wrapping, feather fluffing, chenille wrapping, feather wrapping and string tying.

Jim said ties are typically made with the colors of nature to blend with the environment but it's easier to teach someone with the brighter, contrasting colors. However, I'm not sure he thought even neon colors would have helped me.

Once we finished our works of fly-tying art, Jim showed us a tie that won the International Fly-tying Championship. He used deer hide to produce his work of art.
An international champion

We started over, followed directions more closely and produced six totally unique “wooly worm” flies. Believe me, the fish at Bennett Spring would be safe if we cast these flies into their waters.

If you visit Bennett Spring State Park, check if the class is available and sign up. It’s fun. Jim’s a great instructor and you quickly realize it’s not quite as easy as it looks. Check out the website at

We then took a casting lesson, but that's another story...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Americana history in the beautiful Ozarks

I'm off on another trip to Lebanon, Missouri, and Bennett Spring State Park. My plans include a night in an old Route 66 motel, the Munger Moss, a visit to the Route 66 museum, a visit to an alpaca farm, a night at the state park, learning how to cast and tie flies, maybe even trying my hand at some trout fishing, and plenty of good food.

Lebanon is located off Interstate 44 in southern Missouri, in the middle of the Ozarks and offers a great re-connect with both Americana history and nature.

I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

St. Louis World's Fair in 1904

Sometimes by accident – or with help – I stumble across something that fascinates me. When I made plans to visit Jefferson City, MO, this week, Kyle Stewart of The Beender-Walker Group suggested I might enjoy the “Museum after Hours” program at the Missouri State Museum.

Robert Herman
I attended the lecture by Robert Herman, a Jefferson City resident and St. Louis World’s Fair expert.  In 1986, Robert and his wife found a World’s Fair artifact in their new home. Fascinated by the history of the piece, they began researching the fair and developed a decades-long love affair with the event and its memorabilia.

The fair, called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. With nearly 20,000 visitors, the St. Louis Fair covered nearly two square miles and became a temporary home to the 20,000 exhibitionists and vendors. The fair opened on April 30, 1904, and closed on December 1.

Billed as the “University of Man,” the fair brought together 50 countries, 44 states and the first Olympics ever held outside Europe. For most Americans, it was the first experience of world cultures. People came from around the world, brought their homes with them, and set up their country’s exhibits.  At the time the fair was planned, St. Louis boasted 600,000 residents and was the sixth largest city in the country.

Robert shared the stories of the edible ice cream cone and iced tea – both popularized at the fair.  His slide show and presentation covered the history and organization of the fair, pictures and descriptions of many of the International exhibits and personalized stories from people he interviewed. One man told him that he attended the fair as a child and remembered his first ice cream cone. He described it as “the ice cream was a little bit soft, the waffle a little warm, and half of the whole thing ended up down the front of my shirt.”

At the time, people were fortunate to have homes with one single light bulb in each room. For the first time, they saw thousands of lights on the buildings at night. The Palace of Electricity showcased such inventions as the x-ray machine, tape recorder and electric stove. Innovations viewed at the fair became the topic at family meals and social events for years to come.

The observation wheel (what we know as the Ferris wheel) was transported down from the site of the Chicago World’s Fair. It took thirty railroad cars to carry it. The axle alone weighed seventy tons. It was destroyed at the end of the fair because of the prohibitive cost to move it.

This is just a sampling of the information that Robert presented in one short evening. He and his wife have donated their World’s Fair collection to the museum which plans to open the complete exhibit in 1914.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Jefferson City Trip

Beautiful summer weather should charm my drive to Jefferson City, MO, in the morning. I plan to visit the Missouri State History Museum tomorrow evening and attend a special lecture on the St. Louis World Fair.
Missouri State Penitentiary

Thursday morning I will meet with Mark Schreiber, a local historian, to learn more of the history of the area and state. Friday morning I plan to head to prison again for a 2-hour tour of the Missouri State Penitentiary. Maybe I should clarify that this is a return visit and that's my "again" story.

I will have lunch Thursday and Friday with three super people from a PR/media relations firm. I always learn from them and have a great time in the process. One of the three will be a suspect in the book I'm researching.

Murder Takes No Prisoners, the third in the Hap Lynch mystery series, will take a giant leap toward seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday I will share a bookselling booth at Railroad Days in Moberly, MO. I'm looking forward to making some new author friends.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Social Media Works

Social media works. Yesterday I posted a blog about my son Mark's KC Royals adventure and today I received a call from him.

"It was an awesome afternoon," he said.

The event, a Royals thank you to corporate sponsors, was like a fantasy baseball afternoon. Invited by corporate sponsor Assurant, Mark enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Jeff Montgomery and Dennis Leonard.

When he arrived, Mark was provided with his own locker and uniform. They took his picture to post on the scoreboard. The participants warmed up on the field before their game - just like the big boys. With an announcer and the scoreboard, Mark said it felt like a real game.

"Amos Otis was our manager," Mark said. "John Mayberry managed the other team. They were my heroes."

I thought about the many childhood conversations when Mark wanted to be like his favorite players. Some days it seemed like every conversation revolved around Royals baseball. "Did you get the chance to talk to them?"

"Not as much as I would have liked. They seemed to be having as much fun as all of us." Mark did talk to Amos but didn't have a chance to talk with John. "I should have spent more time in batting practice instead of talking though," he laughed. "I'm glad Michele and the boys went along. They had as much fun as I did,"

"I'm glad they went along so we have pictures!" I said. "Did you get to keep your shirt?" "Yep. Got the whole uniform."

"Did the other team have a different color," his dad asked.

"No, they were all the same color."

"And everybody got to keep their uniforms?" I asked.

"Yep. It was sweet."

"Wow," his dad and I said almost in unison.

The Royals have played a big part in our family. Not only did Mark and his brother Chris grow up with the Royals but when our grandson Ben was critically injured in an auto accident, George Brett and Aaron Guiel visited him in the hospital. Mike Sweeney became Ben's buddy. For his "Make-a-Wish" dream trip, Ben chose a Royals game and the chance to meet his favorite players. One year after the accident, through Blue Cross' sponsorship, he threw out the first pitch at a Royals game.

It's fun to add another chapter to our Royals stories!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sons and Mothers

Do other mothers have a hard time keeping up with their adult children? This one sure does.

My son Mark has always loved the KC Royals. He grew up playing in Little League and loving it. However, that paled in comparison to his love of all things Royals. George Brett, Amos Otis, Frank White, Willie Wilson, Paul Splittorff, John Mayberry - these were a few of the guys he loved to watch. As good parents do, we took him to games and attended his games. Life goes on.

Royals Scoreboard

Mark grew up, married and is the father of three boys - who also love baseball and the Royals. He takes his kids to baseball games and watches their Little League games. A couple of days ago I checked my Facebook. Surprise! Surprise! Our daughter-in-law Michele had posted pictures of Mark playing at Kauffman Stadium - in a Royals uniform. No, he didn't get signed. It was some special event. He played second base. I doubt the smile ever left his face.

After the game

I still don't know any details. I texted Mark and asked "What and Why." He answered back "It was awesome. I had an absolute ball." I still don't know the "What and Why."

What does a mother have to do to find out about things? I could have been there, taking pictures, yelling and screaming, a big smile on my face.

After all, I've always been the president of his fan club. Maybe thay's why!