It’s just another (Sun)day… and Missouri

Not everyday on earth has to be exciting and action-packed. Some days are just filled with the usual stuff: Waking, eating, writing, cooking, watching some TV, and hanging out with the homies (literally, the people at home 😂).

The last few days have been like that. Low key. A good time to write about Missouri.

Union Station, Kansas City – JoAnn Ryan

Missouri, the “Show Me State” and “Mother of The West

I drove across the state of Missouri back in…. what was it? September? Feels like it’s been ten years already! As I drove out of The South and into the Midwest I somehow thought it important to write this in my journal:

“You know you’re in the Midwest when there’s a Cracker Barrel at every major exit.”

And a specific question for Missouri:

Why is the word Missouri printed so small on their license plate? I’d really like to know. You can’t hardly read it!

A short story of a tragic beginning

Both my maternal grandparents were from Missouri so I was looking forward to driving across the state. Grandpa was born in Kansas City and grandma in Branson. They weren’t too fond of the place though, owing to circumstance rather than anything else. Bad memories lurked there.

My grandfather was adopted out not once but twice and bounced around fosters homes in between. He knew his birth mother but she wasn’t certain enough of his birth date to tell him what it was exactly! All she could remember was that it was 1903 or 1904. Crazy! He’d had to settle on his own date to celebrate in January of 1903.

Born a little later, in 1908, my grandmother had misfortune as well in the form of a control-freak mother who refused to even let her to go out and play with other children. She was allowed to go to school and to the library, thus she became a book worm. It was one of her few salvations aside from her beloved father. He was rather sickly though, apparently as a result of being worked like a dog, as was common in those days. He died when she was still a teenager.

Heartbreaking stories!

A story of migration

So, they eloped in 1926 as soon as my grandma turned 18, and together they escaped to the west, which in those days was still a bit wild but it was quickly becoming less so. They got as far as Salt Lake City, and even though they had zero ties to the Mormons, they decided not to go any further. This part of their story always reminds me a bit of Mark Twain’s migration south, as detailed in Roughing It. Not nearly as humorous though.

Despite cars replacing wagons, traveling back then was still hell. I mean hell. Prior to arriving in the SLC area a thick rain had decided to fall at the western edge of The Rocky Mountains. So, it ended up taking them something like 10 hours to go just 20 miles because their car kept getting stuck. My grandfather would have to get out and shovel out the mud so they could go again!

Wow! It’s hard to imagine. We are so spoiled to have such simple things as paved roads.

Grandma refused to endure anymore of that. They settled down and did the best they could through more than 75 years of marriage.

When the depression hit they survived by making candy from scratch and selling it on the street. They became excellent candy makers, to our family’s benefit. Yum.

The stolen hit song?

My grandparents were awesome musicians as well, both having played in various jazz and classical bands. Shortly before her death in 2004, grandma sat me down and said: “I want you to listen to a song.”

I recognized it instantly. “Please Help Me, I’m Falling.” She told me she wrote the song but that when she sent it into music producers she never heard back for a long time. Imagine her surprise when it ended up becoming an extremally popular song. I 100% believed her. It’s not difficult to surmise that such things happened frequently in those days but lacking a digital footprint and a great lawyer it was nearly impossible to prove.

I felt so bad for her!

These are a few of the stories I remember but oh how I wish they were still alive so I could obtain even more, especially of Missouri.

I enjoyed Kansas City immensely, much more so than St. Louis. To be fair to St. Louis, perhaps I just didn’t go to the right places.

The weather in KC was beautiful and there was free parking everywhere as it was the weekend. I loaded myself down with some good KC BBQ and took a little tour of Union Station and the World War II memorial across the street. I wanted to stretch my legs and that I did. I had no idea of how many steps it took to get to the top. About a zillion or something but I did get much needed exercise.

Hope everyone is doing well!

10 thoughts on “It’s just another (Sun)day… and Missouri

  1. What in the world – How would you not know the date you pushed a whole baby out?! This was definitely an interesting but tragic story Jo. The things that some people have to go through, I would have eloped too! And to think that producers and record companies are still stealing peoples songs and music today is just horrible. But only in today’s time lawyers are more affordable and one can be easily obtained – it is so bad to hear all these bad things that people long ago had to endure. But I’m glad that your grandparents were around long enough to tell you their stories – I would definitely rate these as priceless. What happened to the candy business though? I’m sure they had a good candy recipe as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They operated a café for a while but it ended up being too much work and turmoil. Grandpa became a surgical assistant, which paid better and was more to his liking. I’m the same way though. I love making candy but doing it for a living would just take the fun out of it I think.
      They both lived into their mid 90s and had a comfortable happy life. It certainly was a different time and place from now. It’s interesting to hear those stories from the older generations! Makes me a whole lot more appreciative of all of our modern day comforts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, interesting, I’m sure people loved that candy too! But it was good that grandpa at least did what he loved after all! I always say I loved the easy living of long ago, but I would have want our modern comforts!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for “show(ing) me” Missouri, JoAnn. The sights and adventures you describe are captivating, maybe even a bit more so as they reflect a balmy greenery that won’t be ours again for several months. At least not for those of us who don’t live in Trinidad.

    More enthralling, though, is your grandparents’ story. To think of all the living they packed into their 75 years together. In that regard, they bequeathed a legacy you continue to this day.

    Oh, one question: did your grandparents pronounce the state “Missour-EE” or “Missour-UH?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing to think of the legacy left behind by individual people, especially when they are your own ascendants.

      Funny I don’t exactly recall how they pronounced it although I believe it was mostly Missour-ee. But when they wanted to be sarcastic or make fun of my great-grandmother, who by all accounts was crazy bitch, sad to say, they used Missour-uh.

      Glad to have sent you a bit of balmy greenery. I know in cold country’s winter you can’t have enough of that! 🌴

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All the more inspiring, JoAnn, to consider previous generations made their mark at a time much less mobile than is our own, and with much more limited access to information.

        That’s what makes your own grandparents’ trek from Missour-ee to Idaho all the more extraordinary. That awe extends to the intellectual realm too, as their musical accomplishments (your grandmother’s in particular) are astounding.

        The apple – or, er, the coconut – doesn’t fall far from the tree. What would they say upon learning their granddaughter lives off the coast of South America? That she explores a broad range of topics, running from travel, to flowers, to mental health, to cuisine…

        They’d be impressed, and gratified these things inspire your life, much as it motivated theirs.


  3. A very interesting story JoAnn. Idea stealing seems to be universal in all kinds of arts and businesses, I am so sorry it happened to your Grandma. Many great artists have covered this song, so it must have been very good. I just listened to it with Dolly Parton, wow, go Grandma!

    Travels through the past can be a strange experience …

    Liked by 1 person

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