Jul 5, 2009

You might find this boring

I have been busy here in Missouri but with nothing that would be interesting to read about for most of my audience I'm afraid. We got here Thursday night. We haven't taken many pictures of our boring but busy adventures since getting here.

Most of the last 16-17 years or so, we've come here to Mountain Grove for the 4th of July. I never lived in Mountain Grove but it is where my parents were from and we came here to visit my grandparents all of my life. My parents moved here the same year I graduated from college and got married. It is the epitemy of small town nostalgia complete with a town square, family owned restaurants and grocery stores, old houses, old buidlings, old trucks and old stories.


I don't know how many of you ever watched Andy Hardy movies, but I used to watch them every Sunday after church and before and after Sunday dinner growing up.


Mountain Grove has always reminded me of those Andy Hardy movies. Of course, I didn't see this little town in its hey day 40's but I've seen pictures and heard stories. My parents graduated from MGHS in 1946 and 47. It is not hard to see the charm of this place through their eyes and memories they share. The charm is still here, the spirit that made it in exceptional little town.
In 1991 or so, my dad was part of a group that arranged for a piece of land, not far from the town square or high school, to be donated to the Alumni of the high school. An old spring house, where farmers used to keep their milk cool when they came to town to sell it, was it's centerpiece. Around it, over the last few years, they have built a stone wall with the names of the all the graduates since around 1888. Tables and benches were donated, and shelters for picnic tables and bricks were sold to individuals to pave the center walkway. Two years ago my dad designed and helped build with the time and donations of many volunteers, a large shelter with an enclosed modern kitchen, storage, and restrooms. I have seen the park grow from that old spring house in the middle of a run down lot, until it has nearly reached the vision of the few loyal graduates that wanted to have a special place to gather and remember this most unique town and high school they grew up in.




Around every 4th of July now, the park is home to many class reunions and following a parade on the Saturday closest to the 4th, everyone comes to the park for a bbq lunch. People literally come from all over the world to reunite with their friends and classmates. This has often astounded me. I graduated from a small town high school and have only been back once in 25 years. We've only had one reunion since then. But year after year, the Alumni of this high school gather together. This event is one of the main reasons we come time after time. The first couple of years we came to help trim, mow, and prepare the park as my dad seemed to always end up doing most of the work himself. Then others stepped up to help with those parts and we came to help my dad pick up, heat, and serve pulled pork sandwiches to the hundreds of people that gathered. We brought the bbq sauce bottles and pans and serving trays home every year and washed them. We emptied trash cans and cleaned tables and evesdropped on the stories and laughter that filled the park. It was such a great pleasure to be a little help in this annual event. This year, since my dad is not able to be as involved, our roles have changed. Others stepped in to arrange and serve the food. Caretakers have been hired to mow and clean the park and empty the trash cans. This year we came to help my dad enjoy it, knowing that we might need to keep him from doing too much or help him escape gracefully if he got too tired to stay. We set up tables and chairs and then took them down and that is all we did. We got off pretty easy workwise. My dad did leave a bit earlier than he used to and we stayed behind and it felt a bit strange and good at the same time, that he had done his job, it was taking care of itself now, he could enjoy and go home and rest. He had layed the ground work, he had started the job and now others see the vision and roll up their sleeves to keep it going. It struck me yesterday after he left, what a huge project he had helped to build out of just an idea. He helped build a gathering place like very few others, he helped build new traditions and helped everyone savor the old ones. As I write this, my husband is watching Field of Dreams and I was thinking that a few dedicated Alumni built a park too and people came and people will keep coming. It may seem a bit dramatic, but it is genuine. If you could see it, you would believe it.

So, today, we went to my dad's church to help celebrate its 125th anniversary. It was a fun and special service. Tonight we went back for a Preacher's Quartet and a Bluegrass family group. It was very impressive and entertaining. We have two days left here with a couple of mini adventures planned that I will share later if they happen and we get any pictures.

I thought I'd show you a couple of pictures of my dad and his wife's house they had built not long before they got married 4 years ago. (you may remember that my mom died 13 years ago) It is such a lovely place to visit.

This was last February when I was here and built the snowlady I posted.


This was yesterday.


And now for a bit of sad news. Remember this picture from my last trip?
Well, when we passed by the building where it was, we found they were in the process of sandblasting it away. This is how it looks now. A tragedy.

19 comments:

indybev said...

Thank you so much for sharing the story of your Dad's proof that one person can make a difference. What wonderful memories for you, and how proud you must be.
As for the sand blasting of the mural, I can't believe what short-sightedness brought that to pass. My home town (Pontiac, Illinois) just added 17 wonderful nostalgic murals to beautify its downtown area just off old Route 66. There is nothing like rural America!

Chrisy said...

I loved reading your story...it certainly sounds like an Andy Hardy sort of place, the sort of place that you read about in books, but wonder if they still exist. I'm so pleased your Dad has had such a wonderful time there giving so much to the community....your words about him leaving early but you knowing that his work will go on were poignant..
ps How I wish you'd got to the CocaCola mural prior to them sandblasting! You could have thrown yourself up against the wall...and refuse to leave...so sad to see things like this go...

Lumilyon said...

Well Marsha, I have really enjoyed reading these accounts of your trip so far and am not bored at all! You sound very proud of your dad and rightly so. Like Bev, I'm gobsmacked that they're removing that mural but pleased that you got a photo before it disappeared. Have you thought of giving a copy to the local library or local history society?

WingingIt said...

i have become familiar with your artwork through lorrie and julie....the "sisters" piece that you made them is divine...my sister just visited with me and you inspired me to make "queen of dreams" for her...using her cute little face..thank you so much for the inspiration!

Shawn Borror said...

what a lovely story about your father, he sounds like an interesting character and that is a gift to be able to recognize now...i'm happy for you and for him to have been part of something lasting...

yoborobo said...

Marsha! How could I possibly be bored reading that? It was like climbing into a time machine and going on a little trip. How great that your Dad has helped to build this wonderful tradition. He should be very proud of all his hard work. This is a place where people are an actual community, in the real sense of the word. It makes me smile to know it is there. I had that in my old Topanga life, but it's very hard to find where I live now. Thank you so much for sharing this! As for the coke mural - it breaks my heart - but I think some little fairy must have tapped you on the shoulder the day you took your picture. Thank goodness you did! Enjoy the rest of your trip! xoxo Pam

Kim Mailhot said...

It is so great that you are all helping to transform traditions so they can keep up with the changes in all of your lives. I am sure your Dad was glad to still be able to be involved in some ways and to watch what he has built continue on.
Times sure do changes, don't they - quickly or slowly, for better or for worse, but they always change...our challenge is always to keep in the flow...
Thanks for sharing the trip with us so beautifully !

deb did it said...

not bored at all...in fact captured me with this story of family, history and community good will. Your Dad is a wonderful soul. and damn those sandblasters who dared to remove such a beautiful piece of history...at least you have the photo for archives. Enjoy your moments.

Tina said...

Sounds like your having a good time :) Saw you in the new Somerset! Congrats! a whole page of YOUR work!!!

sherry lee said...

Nothing boring about this trip you are on or this post. It was very deeply moving. You told this story with love.

Elena Lai Etcheverry said...

not boring! I just love nostalgia!

Terri Kahrs said...

What a beautiful legacy your father has left, and all of the wonderful memories he's been responsible for are priceless. Now I know when you've gotten your generosity of spirit, My Friend!

As far as the sandblasting - there are no words to describe how I felt when I saw those pictures. You were in the right place at the right time on your last visit, Marsha, and managed to capture not only a piece of Americana, but a piece of history.

Enjoy the remainder of your stay, and have a safe trip home! Hugs! Terri xoxo

BlueRidgeLady said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes reading about the legacy your Dad helped create. A beautiful place for people to come together and enjoy. Their home is just lovely!! I was so sorry to see the mural go away....I love to see them, old or new!!

I have an award waiting for you on my blog whenever you have time. Enjoy your trip!! Hugs!

Cathy said...

Once again, I've been slow in blog visiting..It looks as though you're having a great time on your family adventure! The whole story is amazing. It sounds similar to the town I'm from in VA. Everyone who went to high school there remains close even though we are scattered about the country. It's a shame life has changed so drastically and our kids will probably never experience the simple small-town life of days gone by...
I'm glad your dad was able to be a part of the celebration.
BUt I'm really bummed that they sandblasted the brick wall!!!
Love your artwork since I visited last. The Giver is gorgeous and love ch ch ch change.
Great stuff! Congrats AGAIN on being published.
Hop the rest of your trip is fabulous!
hugs,
cathy

whymsicalmusings said...

Boring you say BORING!!!! Never Never Never on your beautiful blog. Always so much to read and you touch my heart each time I come here.
Enjoy the time away.
XXXX
Becky

lilylovekin said...

I was sad to see the Coca Cola sign sand blasted away. What do people think?

Sharon said...

Thanx for taking me back home again. I went to Mountain Grove as a kid, but never saw it this way. Too young!!:-) Sharon

Susan Sager Brown said...

Wait, Am I the only one who noticed that the truck looks like the one in Brokeback Mountain????
xoSusan

Hayley Egan said...

Nice Dad story, he sounds like a character and it's nice to see him looking so well (above)... How sad about the wall!!!!!