Category Archives: Missouri

Exploring Mark Twain’s Hometown in Hannibal, Missouri

Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer Statue

On our journey to the upper Midwest, we made a stop for three nights at Mark Twain Cave and Campground in Hannibal, Missouri. The historic town of Hannibal is known as the boyhood home of famous author Mark Twain. When Twain was growing up he was known as Samuel Clemens and here on the Mississippi River he drew from his life experiences to create the characters in two of his books, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I was excited to visit his former home, especially after seeing other Twain historical sites including his home in Hartford Connecticut last year. Some years ago we also visited the old mining town of Virginia City, Nevada where Twain had been a newspaper reporter.

Stream next to our campground

This campground was a good choice for us as it was only a few miles to the downtown and the Twain Cave was walking distance. The campground was also pretty with our site backing up to a stream and woods. We set up our bird feeders and had some good sightings. My favorite was the Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (a life bird)!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

In Hannibal you can visit Twain’s boyhood home as well as other homes significant in his life. I started at the Visitor Center which has exhibits, information and a film. I have always enjoyed Twain’s witty humor and some of his quotations and sayings were on the walls like the one below where he describes his younger years along the Mississippi.

From the Visitor Center I went on a self-guided tour of Twain’s boyhood home with the entrance at the back of the house. Following the directions you visit the various rooms which have been set up to look like the period of time in which he lived here. All of the rooms had been glassed in for protection and therefore did not look very natural. Once I saw the rooms, the route took me back out through the front to a small street. There are several other buildings of significance that can be toured on this street including the home of Twain’s childhood friend Laura who was the inspiration for Becky Thatcher in the book Tom Sawyer. There is also a house that was the law office of Twain’s father and around the corner is the former home of “Huckleberry Finn.” Although informative, I was a little disappointed in the homes which seemed too sanitized and did not grab my attention as I thought they would.

Mark Twain’s boyhood home and location of the fence from his novel Tom Sawyer
Becky Thatcher Home

A museum in town has a collection of Mark Twain memorabilia and information about many of his books. Areas have been set up to portray scenes, for example visitors can sit on a raft on a simulated river while watching a segment from a Huckleberry Finn movie. In another area, kids can try their hand at whitewashing a fence like Tom Sawyer tricked his friends into doing. In the photo above next to a bust of Mark Twain is a type of bicycle that he learned to ride at the age of 48. He wrote humorously about the experience: “Get a bicycle, you will not regret it. If you live.” One area of the museum has paintings done by Norman Rockwell, my favorite American artist. I really enjoyed visiting his museum in Massachusetts last summer although I haven’t blogged about it yet. Perhaps some day. Rockwell was commissioned to complete illustrations for Twain’s books and traveled to Hannibal so he could immerse himself in Twain’s world. He even spent some time in Twain’s Cave so he would have a feel for what it would have been like when Tom Sawyer and girlfriend Becky got lost.

Norman Rockwell’s painting of Tom Sawyer white washing the fence

Hannibal was a nice town for walking around with well maintained old buildings. At the edge of the downtown you can walk up several flights of stairs to a small park and then on to a lighthouse memorial on a bluff. I was hoping to have some good views of the Mississippi River and the town up there. I got up below the lighthouse but the stairs leading up to it were closed. I did find beautiful wildflowers though.

Purple Wallflowers

Hannibal lies right next to the Mississippi River which when we visited had been flooding. I climbed the levee and was amazed at how wide the river was. Nearby roads had been flooded as well as a few buildings, a park, parking lot and walking paths. In the photo below you can see railroad crossing signs emerging from the water.

The flooded Mississippi next to Hannibal’s levee

While I was standing on the levee another woman visiting the town came up and we talked about all the water. I exclaimed how neat it was and then had to catch myself. This wasn’t neat for the people of Hannibal and neighboring communities. It was also interesting to watch large cranes continuing to pile sandbags along the levee. While visiting the local museum I had asked a staff member how to find the statue of Mark Twain with a pilot wheel. (Twain was once a riverboat captain). She told me I wouldn’t be able to get to it as it was now in the flooding river.

Sandbags along the levee
Someone thoughtfully put a life jacket on Twain in the flooded river!

There was also flooding across the road from our campground. The driveway leading to a resort was too flooded to cross and part of the property was inundated as well. In addition, the main road heading past our campground was closed. Right before the “closed road” sign was the turnoff to the campground. We were very glad that the camping entrance was not flooded as that easily could have been the case. I read that this year has been the worst along the Mississippi in several states since the great flood of 1993. Concerns continue even as I write this article as flood waters in some areas have not receded. (We arrived here on May 4).

One afternoon I visited Mark Twain’s Cave and took a tour, the only way to see it. As a boy, Twain explored this cave and wrote about it in his autobiography. He also used the cave for his book about Tom Sawyer. Tom and his friends spent time exploring it and got themselves into a fair amount of trouble.

Mark Twain Cave Entrance – upper left of photo is a green sign marking the “discovery entrance.”

This cave was much different than others I have visited. Most have had bigger rooms and included formations like stalagmites and stalactites. The Mark Twain Cave has many narrow, winding passages and lacks formations. It would definitely be easy to get lost here and our group was glad to have a guide showing the way!

A narrow passage in the Mark Twain Cave
Our cave guide

Our guide told us stories about Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher getting lost in the cave for several days trying to find their way out. At times they put out their lamp light to conserve it. The lights were turned out for us as well and to be expected it was pitch black. Crawling around there would have been a nightmare! She also shared stories about other people that have explored or used the cave and the walls have a number of signatures from long ago. Jesse James, Missouri’s most notorious citizen also had a hideout here and his signature can be found in a remote part of the cave we could not see.

Jesse James Hideout

It was a great few days exploring Hannibal and Mark Twain’s Cave! I hope you enjoyed coming along.

Should We Go to Branson Or Not?

I debated for awhile whether we should spend several days or even a week in Branson.  Branson is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Missouri and there is lots to do there with the music shows and Silver Dollar City being popular draws.  We were interested to visit, but not sure if we wanted to fight the crowds.  I was also eager to get to Arkansas for fall color time and before cold weather might set in.  Just when I decided we would skip it, we found there were no openings in Northwestern Arkansas because it was the weekend of a large art and craft festival held in that part of the state.  Since we would have to stay some where else for several nights we went to Branson after all.

One of our favorite travel aids is the GPS map system I use on my IPhone.  We find this so indispensable that I don’t know how we ever traveled without it.   Since we are now always traveling to new areas, we really need the directional help to find the best and fastest route to towns, RV parks, attractions, restaurants, stores, etc.  I love, love this modern device!  Although the GPS rarely lets us down, on occasion it takes us on roadways we don’t expect.  Our drive from Carthage to Branson turned out to be one such case.

During our travels, we prefer to stick to the less traveled roads.  For this trip we chose a route away from the major highway and boy was it.  GPS took us on back roads that were often tiny county roads that felt like a roller coaster!   The reason for the roller coaster ride was that we were driving into the Ozark mountain region.  The scenery was lovely and roller coaster roads can be fun, but I was a little nervous since we were pulling a trailer.  We also had no idea where we were headed as GPS had us turning from one county road to another.

The signs on the roads also amused us.  We traveled on Roads M and N but all of a sudden we found ourselves on Road ZZ.  Were we nearing the end of the road?

We arrived to Shenanigans RV park in Branson, a lovely wooded site secluded from the town but on a terraced hill.   It was a little more difficult to get our trailer situated and I felt “perched” but it worked out fine.  Mark parked the truck in the back of the trailer.  He laughed and said he parked there to keep the trailer from rolling down the hill.

During our stay here we did not hear road or train noise but we did hear a different sort of noise, a whooshing or vacuum sound.  We soon found out that the noise came from a heart stopping thrill ride – the Bigfoot Action Tower that drops riders in a 200 foot free fall.  On the other side of the tower is the super sling that launches riders up into the air flipping them upside down a few times.

At night I could make out the very top of the lighted Bigfoot tower above the trees surrounding us.  When I mentioned the weird, ongoing sound to the RV owner she said that she was very upset about this new addition to Branson.  Since they live in the park upstairs from the office, the tower lights will shine into their home once they lose the tree cover in winter.  The frequent sound from the ride was also an annoyance to the park owners.   She said there was nothing they could do about it as the company that owns the ride had a right to build.  I felt sorry for them as their lovely, secluded spot was now disrupted.

Mark and I ventured out for dinner the first night we got there traveling near the main road or strip that has the music shows and other attractions.  Traffic was backed up in both directions, so we were glad we took a different route and decided to stay away from the popular sights on that road.  Branson provides so many activities for families it is mind boggling with many of them along or near the main entertainment strip.  I had planned to reserve a music show or two for us to see while there but before leaving our RV site in Carthage, I had the brainy idea to get tickets for Silver Dollar City, the popular amusement park outside of town.  The park features rides but is also well known for music shows and craft demonstrators.  During this time was the fall festival and there was supposed to be an additional 100+ crafters at the park.   It sounded like it would be fun to go there for a day and I hoped it would not be as crowded during the fall as it is in the summer when families are vacationing.

The morning after we arrived in Branson we drove over to Silver Dollar City finding after a few miles bumper to bumper traffic which continued to the park.  Once we arrived, we had to go to Parking Lot 7 and then take the tram to the park entrance.  What should have been a very short drive from Branson was turning into an ordeal just to get into the park.  Once I got through the line to pick up our reserved tickets, we joined the hordes.  It was now clear that coming on a Saturday in fall was no less crowded than summer.  Silver Dollar City looks different than other amusement parks because of its setting in the mountains with many trees and old time buildings and decorations, designed to make you feel that you are back in the late 1800’s.  The walkways in the park are narrow and a little hilly, not conducive for the 30,000 people we heard were there that day.

We did our best to enjoy the jovial atmosphere and see what the crafters were making.  The picture above is one of my favorite stops, the candy kitchen and peanut brittle demonstration where two ladies really put some muscle into spreading the freshly cooked and poured brittle.

The knife demonstration was quite popular and I pressed into the crowd to see the blade being crafted with the heated stone.  I finally gave up when peering over many shoulders became too difficult and made my way over to the nearby lye soap demonstration where I found I was the lone spectator.   The young woman was busily stirring the heated mixture and pouring it into molds.  For some reason, the making of lye soap must not be as popular as knives.  Watching this brought back a memory from decades ago of my lone attempt to make soap with my friend Rhonda while we were both stationed in the army in Germany.  We cooked the soap outside in Rhonda’s yard and got it made, but it was quite a process.

There were a number of crafters to visit including a blacksmith, a potter, a wood carver, whittlers, wood turners, quilt makers, weavers, glass blowers, sculptors and a famous chuck wagon cook.  In the picture below, a wood turner has his lathe allegedly powered by a young man turning a giant wheel. Mark thought it was bogus and all for show – he said there was undoubtedly an electric motor underneath.

We headed to one of the quietest areas of the park where the Homestead Pickers play in a little wooden shed with stage in a forest setting.   The bluegrass music was fairly good and we had a place to sit and relax for awhile.

The food at Silver Dollar City is supposed to be “award winning.”  There are  some interesting offerings that you don’t see at the usual amusement parks like big cast iron skillets with a harvest meal of ham, potatoes, green beans, carrots, squash, etc.  The line at the Fry Bread shop was not as long as some places so I got a maple bacon fritter with jalapeños for a snack which was quite tasty although definitely not a health food.

Mark’s usually hearty appetite was non-existent on this day and he didn’t try any of the tempting food choices.  I guess Silver Dollar City sucked it out of him.  He even refused to pay the $3.50+ for a Diet Coke, his beverage of choice.

Leaving Silver Dollar City was easier than going there and we made it back to our trailer much quicker.  The next day, Sunday was very rainy and we stayed in enjoying the peace and quiet.  That evening was one of the highlights of our Branson stay, a gorgeous sunset after the rain stopped.

On Monday morning we left Missouri for Arkansas, a state we had not traveled in before that I had been wanting to visit for some time.

Thanks for reading!  In my next post I will talk about our visit to Northwest Arkansas.

Carthage, Missouri – The Peanut Man, Precious Moments and the Maple Leaf City.

 

Our three night stay in Carthage was because of one man, George Washington Carver.  His monument is located near here and I wanted to see it.  Mr. Carver was one of my heroes as a kid in school and we were traveling close by to his birth place and former home.   From the time we arrived at this National Monument I was impressed with what a great job the National Park Service has done here.  The property is beautifully maintained and the Visitor Center a wealth of information nicely presented.

Carver was born a slave in the early 1860’s and raised near the town of Diamond.  George’s mother was owned by Moses Carver.  After she was kidnapped by slave traders when George was a baby, the Carvers continued to raise him in their home.  As a boy, George spent a great deal of time in the woods where he said he learned to love God and plants.  He became known in his local area as the plant doctor and would help neighbors solve their plant issues.

Due to his color George was unable to attend the local school so he eventually left his home to attend school in another town.   In order to go to college he enrolled at the Iowa State Agricultural College, the first black student to do so and graduated with a degree in botany.  Afterwards, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to head the Agriculture Department at Tuskeegee University in Alabama where he taught for many years.   He became well known for helping poor farmers learn better ways to manage crops and improve yields.  Through experiments he found many uses for different plants.  He discovered more than three hundred uses for the peanut.  One of his most famous experiments was massaging peanut oil into the muscles of polio victims.   Mr. Carver became known as the peanut man, especially after testifying in Washington D.C.

My favorite part of the monument is the mile long trail that goes through the woods past the areas where George got spring water for his family, learned about nature and grew a garden in the woods.

A statue was placed in the woods to commemorate George’s life long love for nature.

Along the trail are a number of inspirational quotes in stone from Mr. Carver who was considered a deep thinker and had much to say to encourage others to live better lives.   I especially liked this one in the picture below:

The trail eventually leads to the small frame house that the Carvers lived in during George’s later boyhood.  It has been preserved as a working farm house.  The park service had placed laundry around the yard to show a typical wash day.

This was one of my favorite places we have visited so far on our trip. It was inspirational to see what Mr. Carver was able to accomplish from such a difficult background  Very humbling!

Many of you have probably seen or heard of the Precious Moments figurines that have been popular for gifts or collecting for years.  The Precious Moments Chapel located in Carthage is perhaps the most unique place I have visited so far on this trip.  Mr. Sam Butcher is the artist and creator of Precious Moments.  In 1989 he opened the Precious Moments Chapel, gardens, museum and gift shop.   The centerpiece on the property is the chapel where Butcher hand painted 85 inspirational murals, using stories from the Bible with Precious Moments figures.

Above is a picture of the impressive artwork as I walked into the chapel.  The largest mural on the back wall (below) shows figures making their way into heaven.  As a memorial, Butcher symbolized real people that he knew who had passed away and represented them with Precious Moments figures.

Butcher spent an incredible amount of time working on these walls and ceiling and the paintings are certainly amazing.  The chapel also includes a number of stained glass windows in the hallways, again based on bible stories.

In order to reach the chapel, you walk a series of paths through gardens that feature Precious Moments angel statues and fountains.

There is more to see in the chapel area I could talk about, but for brevity sake I won’t explain further except to say that the property is a continual work in progress.  I knew there would be a gift shop here but I had no idea how large it would be and that there were so many different Precious Moments figurines.   There were many, many shelves lined with these collectibles as well as other Precious Moments merchandise.

Carthge Missouri calls itself the Maple Leaf City and is known for several things – their beautiful court house, a Civil War battle that burned the town down, Route 66 and the Maple Leaf Festival.   The court house (above) was built in 1894 and looks like a medieval castle. I read that it is one of the most photographed buildings in Missouri and it is a stunning building.  I like visiting court houses and always enjoyed seeing them in California during my walks with my friend Arlene in various towns and cities.

The day we visited, the town was preparing for the maple leaf festival that weekend.   There were signs all over town noting that this was the city of maple leaves.  Even the fire hydrants like to dress up for the occasion.

Carthage is located near the city of Joplin, Missouri and both are on the old Route 66 highway.  In Carthage there are a few historic businesses along the route that are still open.   I was disappointed though that the drive-in movie theater was closed for the season.   It would have been fun to go to a drive-in, something I haven’t done since I was a kid …… I can’t even remember how long it has been!  We did drive a little on Route 66 just to enjoy the old time ambience.

Thanks for checking out the blog!  Next time I will talk about our trip to Branson Missouri where we go from nice and quiet to crazy!

Independence – A Twisty Tower, Court 1880’s Style, The Trails Start Here and a Dangerous Depot

 

When we arrived to our campsite in Independence, the first landmark I noticed in the distance was this unusual tower.  I soon found out that the tower is a Temple and the International Headquarters of the Community of Christ, a faction of the Latter Day Saints.  It was fairly close to our RV site – across the park and down the street.   I learned that Independence is sacred to the Latter Day Saints as Joseph Smith had a revelation that it would be a gathering spot of the Saints during the Last Days.  Before he was killed, he picked out land to build the City of Zion.

The Community of Christ Temple was completed in 1994 at a cost of $35 million. It is an impressive building and I especially liked seeing it lit up at night, although I was concerned about the electric bill!  During nightly walks, Mark got tired of me wondering how the church paid the light bill.  Besides the Community of Christ, the headquarters of several other Latter Day Saint groups are also located here within a few blocks.   I found the number of large church buildings, auditoriums and visitor centers mind boggling and LOTS more lights.   The light bill mystery was never resolved!

Independence, a city with a lot of history is probably best known as the beginning point for the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails.   It was here that people stocked up on supplies and organized their wagons.  Above is a large mural painted by Thomas Hart Benton for the Truman Museum.  It is titled “Independence and the Opening of the West” and depicts what the settlers faced on their journeys.   There are a number of signs around the historic town square and surrounding neighborhoods noting the route where the trails passed through.

A yearly festival called “Santacaligon” is held in September and celebrates the three trails.  The Frontier Trails Museum is down the street from our camp site.  There are also swales left over from the days when wagon trains made lasting indentations in the ground trying to get out of town.  Below is a picture of swales believed to be from those days although the grass might make it a little difficult to see them.

One of the highlights of our stay was attending an annual re-enactment of a trial called, “The Bandit Rides Again” put on by the Jackson County Historical Society.  The original trial was held in 1880 after a young man from the Jesse James gang known as Whiskeyhead was tried for participating in the famous Glendale train robbery near Independence.   The re-enactment featured the same cast of characters as the original trial.  Many of the actors were actually lawyers, judges and law enforcement in real life.  It was great fun to watch the process play out.

The best part was that it felt very authentic as it was held in the same court house and court room as the original trial and all the actors were dressed in period attire.   The attendees were the jury and at the end we were asked for our verdict.  The jury was split about 50/50 – Mark and I voted “not guilty” and were then told that Whiskeyhead had in fact been found guilty and sentenced to prison.

The outlaw Jesse James and his gang caused a great deal of mischief in Missouri robbing banks, trains and stagecoaches.  After Jesse was killed, his brother Frank turned himself in and was put in jail in Independence to await trial.  Above is a photo of the jail which is now a museum that includes the marshall’s home.

Frank James was treated more like a guest than a prisoner and his jail cell (above) was furnished with furniture, rugs and pictures by his friends.  He was even invited to have dinner with the Jailer’s family.

We drove to the small town of Liberty north of Independence and visited the Bank Museum.  The James gang was suspected of robbing the Clay County Savings Association of $60,000 in 1866.  This was the first daylight bank hold up in the United States.  Since there was not enough evidence as to the identity of the robbers, no one was arrested.  You can tour inside the former bank and see the vault where the loot was stolen.  In above picture, the green metal door leads into the vault.

After seeing the inside I went out to take a few pictures and promptly fell off the curb onto the street.  I ended up with two skinned knees and a hole in my jeans.   Years ago when I used to walk our dog around the neighborhood at night in the dark, I tripped and fell a few times.  One Christmas my kids took pity on me and as a gag gift got me a set of protective knee and elbow pads.  They would have come in handy on this trip!

We had to check out the cute 1879 Chicago and Alton train depot just down the track from where we were staying.  It might look harmless on the outside but inside lurked an unknown danger, an overly enthusiastic volunteer!  Although the tour of the depot was supposed to be short, it seemed to never end.  Mark and I laughed afterwards that although a small place, the rooms seemed to stretch on forever as the guide pointed out the memorabilia and the history behind them.

We were trapped but eventually got back downstairs to the waiting room (above) and made our escape.  It is pretty cool that this is the only restored wooden two story train depot left in Missouri.

Another find right down the street from our park is the Bingham-Waggoner Estate built in 1852.  This is one of the best historic home tours I have taken.  A friendly docent took me through the rooms where 95% of the furnishings and possessions are original to the home.   This three story mansion has 26 rooms and the Waggoner family lived here for 97 years.  One of my favorite things about the house were the painted floral decorations on the walls and ceilings in most of the rooms including the sitting room pictured below.

What sets this tour apart from most others is that you can touch anything in the house and even sit on the furniture.  I took advantage of this and played a song on the piano in the parlor.

I will close this post with a picture of perhaps the most beautiful historic home I have seen since traveling full time.  The Vaile Mansion, built in 1881 is stunning.  I ran out of time and couldn’t take the inside tour, but I got some pictures of the outside as I walked around the grounds late one afternoon.   Instead of seeing this home, I decided to venture out of town and see the bank museum.   I probably should have seen the Vaile since it is so beautiful and I also would have saved some wear and tear on my knees!

Thanks for reading!  In my next blog we move further south to another town in Missouri for further exploring!

Independence Missouri – Mr. Truman’s Neighborhood

It was difficult deciding where to stay in Kansas City/Independence Missouri area.  Not many RV parks to choose from and I was torn between two – a positively reviewed park north of Kansas City that was next to to an amusement park or a smaller RV park with less enthusiastic reviews in Independence.  I decided on the park in Independence and it ended up being a great find.   We found this park to be walking distance to the historic town square as well as other points of interest.   This was the first time we were able to walk to so many places.  Although the park itself was nothing special, our site backed up to a wooded area and the birding here was great!  Another plus was the park was not near a major highway or road.  We did hear plenty of train whistles as the tracks were right across from us!   But as I have said before, we like trains, so all was good.

The most famous citizen of Independence is Harry Truman and he lived here most of his life.  There are many places in town you can visit that were an important part of his life.  This town really celebrates him.  I knew very little about Harry Truman before but left knowing quite a bit about this former president’s interesting life.  Above is a picture of the Independence courthouse where Harry got his political start as a judge.  It is a gorgeous courthouse modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The best place to learn about Harry and the United States during his presidency is at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum.  This has been one of the best museums we have visited on our trip.  Truman never planned to become president – he supposedly didn’t even want to become Vice President.   He had only been Vice President for three months when Franklin D. Roosevelt died during his fourth term in office.  During Truman’s presidency he had to deal with some trying times including dropping the Atom bombs, ending World War II, the reconstruction of Europe, beginning of the Cold War with Russia and the Korean War.  Above is a picture of Truman’s most famous phrase, “The Buck Stops Here.”  This sign sat on his desk in the Oval Office.

In 1948 when he decided to run for re-election his popularity was very low and public opinion was he could not win.   Truman went on a whistlestop campaign; traveling by train across the United States with many stops to win back the confidence of the people.  In spite of the negative predictions, he won the election.   Although not popular again when he left the presidency at the end of his term in 1957, he was welcomed enthusiastically back to Independence.

When Truman left office there was no presidential pension and no secret service.  The Trumans had to survive on a small military pension from World War I.  They returned to their home in Independence.  Harry began working on his presidential library and museum which was completed in 1957.  Below is a picture of his office at the library.

Harry and his wife are both buried on the library grounds.  Below is a picture of their graves.  Harry died in 1972 at the age of 88 and Bess died in 1982.  She holds the record of longest lived First Lady at 97 years.

The National Park service now manages the Truman home and gives tours.  The inside of the home was left just as it was when Bess died.  The Trumans lived quite modestly compared to most former presidents who returned to more fancy homes.   Photographs are not allowed inside but here is one of me in front of the house.

Truman’s last car, a 1972 light green Chrysler was also donated to the National Park Service and is parked in the garage.  I read that Harry loved his cars and took great care of them.  I thought it was interesting that he asked the State License Bureau for the number 5745.   May 7, 1945 was the date of victory in Europe, an important date for Truman as President.

Mark found a book for me on Kindle called “Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure:  The True Story of a Great American Road Trip.”  Harry and Bess took off alone on this trip across the United States in 1953.  I have always enjoyed reading road trip stories so could not resist this one.  Maybe I will give a review when I have finished reading it.

There are a number of places that you can visit in the “neighborhood” that were important to Truman.  As a teenager, Harry’s first job was at the Clinton Soda Fountain on the old town square.  The fountain (above) still operates and of course we had to stop for an ice cream treat.  There is a fun letter in the back of the store from Harry to his daughter talking about his first job and how he was paid $3.00 per week to mop floors, wipe off bottles, make ice cream for sodas and wait on customers.

Harry loved to walk around town, even in his later years and often took a similiar route.  The historical society has created a visitor walking guide and I walked his route one day.  On the sidewalks in front of a number of homes in Harry’s neighborhood are plaques noting people that were important to the town and especially to the Trumans.  Here is an example of one of the plaques, Harry’s former teacher.

Walking Harry’s route reminded me of the 10km Volkssport walks I used to do around California with my friend Arlene.  We saw so many historic homes, many of them Victorian.  I have always believed that in order to really get to know a town or city you have to walk around it.  Here is one of the homes from my walk that I thought was so attractive.  Harry served in World War I with a man who lived in this home.

One of the last stops on the walking tour was the Episcopal church where Harry and Bess were married in 1919.  In a town with many big churches, this church from 1881 was much smaller.

Thanks for spending the time reading the blog.  Next time I will talk about some other interesting places in Independence.