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Places Visited:
Missouri: Freistatt
Warsaw: Harry S. Truman Reservoir and State Park
Clinton: Henry County Museum and Cultural Arts Center
Independence: Truman Presidential Museum & Library

2003 Travelogue# 5 Marshfield, MO (20 miles E of Springfield, MO)
Mileage: 40310 Traveled 195 miles

Saturday, August 16, 2003

We've been at the home of Scott and Mary R. (Mary is Peggy's sister) and their son, Matthew. Peggy's aunt (age 94) also lives in Marshfield, and we've been able to spend time with her. It has been a joy being with family this past week.

This afternoon we attended the 30th Annual Freistatt Ernte-Fest (harvest festival) in the small community of Freistatt, about 20 miles west of Springfield, MO. This two-night festival (Friday and Saturday) draws 10,000 to 12,000 people each night. It's sponsored by the local Lion's Club and is a huge fundraiser for various charitable contributions.

As we approached the north edge of Freistatt, we saw a large open field where mounted sheriff deputies directed the parking. A large Bier Garten (beer garden) was the theme and setting for the event. Inside were pavilions with rows of picnic tables and around the parameter were vendors from various breweries selling their cold, cold, brew by the pitcher. This was definitely our first stop on this hot afternoon. We picked up a pitcher and headed to a pavilion to sip a little brew, watch the people and listen to the bands belt out polka music. The more seasoned polka couples didn't seem to mind the heat as they did their thing on the concrete dance floor.

After a few glasses of brew it was time to hit the German food line for the grilled Bratwurst, Sauer Kraut, German Potato Salad, and Apple Strudel. The recipes were all contributions by the local residents from their authentic German descendents of the community of Freistatt. Local residents attended all of the food pavilions.

We departed a little after 8:30; the people were still coming in, and the Polkatimers (name of the band) was still cranking out its "omp-pahs". As we left the large field-parking lot, I looked to the north and south and could see the lights of approaching cars that reminded me of the film with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, THE FIELD OF DREAMS and the famous one-liner "if you build it, they will come"… and they did, to Freistatt.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Mileage: 40409 Traveled 110 miles
Harry S. Truman State Park, Warsaw, MO
Electric Only at $14 for non- reserved site

We arrived Monday afternoon at the Harry S. Truman SP, located at the end of a long peninsula in the Harry S. Truman Reservoir, where the Osage and Grand Rivers come together. Even though our site was on a hill, surrounded by trees, it was still VERY hot and by the time we'd hooked up we were fighting heat exhaustion. Soon a brief thunderstorm rolled through, cooling things down, and then our day really picked up when we spotted several beautiful turkey hens and jakes feeding across the road.

Shortly thereafter, we drove into the old town of Warsaw, observing it's unique funeral home, once an old Butterfield Stage Depot; and the City Jail, once the town's first bank built in the 1880's. We then found Diantha's Restaurant for dinner. The food was traditional home cooking, but the portions were huge along with their specialty yeast rolls. These were the largest rolls we'd ever seen; they must have been 8 inches in diameter. The cook said they serve a hamburger on them, which contains one pound of ground meat. My chicken fried steak covered the entire plate.

After dinner, we drove across the Dam of the Truman Reservoir as the sun was setting behind the clouds from the previous thunderstorm. We drove through the State Park seeing more deer and exploring as evening came to an end.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Clinton, MO, our destination today, is the County Seat of Henry County, located in west central Missouri on Osage Indian land along the trail of the Texas-Sedalia cattle drives. The town of Clinton became a center point in the State because three railroads crossed in the City, the MK&T, Frisco, and the KCC&S.

Our first stop was the Henry County Museum and Cultural Arts Center, located near the town square. This museum is truly a step back into history. It is a three building complex with the main building being a fully restored Anheuser-Busch distribution center. The red brick structure contains the original floor plan and ornamentation. The clerk's office, work room, cooling room, stables and loft are still present, but now hold a variety of unique collections from Henry County's past.

In an adjacent building, the Historical Society has built a street scene, allowing you to stroll down the red brick street and stop in various exhibits. It is a walk during the late 1800's in a small town composed of original facades and interiors of the stores and offices. There was a general store, pharmacy, bank, post office, barbershop, school, church, and black smith. Each exhibit had artifacts that pertained to that particular display down to the last detail.

Our docent, Alta D. (Irish), lived in Clinton all of her life, and is the Museum curator. Being an expert local historian, she brought the past alive with her facts and stories. For example: At one time, before World War II, Clinton was the baby chicken capital of the nation. The locals raised and shipped baby chicks in boxes to the rest of the country; in peak years over 110 million baby chicks were shipped.

We walked past a long hand woven reed basket that appeared to be a coffin, Alta pointed out that the basket was used to carry the body to the funeral home to be embalmed. She said that is where the phrase "gone to hell in a hand basket" originated. The other was "pop-goes-the-weasel" from the weasel (a wheel) used in spinning yarn. It would pop at certain points as the yarn came off the wheel. Spending the two hours with her was a delight.

After the Museum we strolled the Square, the largest in the state, stopping at the Ben Franklin Coffee Shop, for a late lunch. Once an old Ben Franklin 5 &10 store, it had been converted into a gourmet coffee shop and lunchroom with antiques everywhere...sort of a "girl-ly" place. After lunch, Peg spent some time in a knitting shop next door, and then we inspected the newly refinished oak paneled walls, staircases and courtrooms in the Court House. As we left the Court House, farmers were setting up their produce for the weekly Farmers Market sale right there on the lawn.

Before returning to the Harry S. Truman Reservoir, we stopped at the Visitors Center, which is high on a hill overlooking the lake. From there we had a 180-degree panoramic view of the Osage and Grand Rivers, with their white cliffs, coming together to form the Reservoir. Also, it was the time and place to buy our free access Golden Age Passport to all the National Parks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

"The Buck Stops Here." Harry S. Truman the 33rd President of the United States said these immortal words. A Missouri prison inmate carved these powerful words in wood and the small plaque had a prominent place on the President's desk in the Oval Office…. The Truman Presidential Museum & Library in Independence, Missouri, was our destination today.

President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress in 1940 to hold his papers, but Truman was the first President to set up a Presidential Library. All succeeding Presidents have followed Truman's lead.

On entering the Museum, the first thing you see is a gigantic mural painted by Thomas Hart Benton called "Independence Opening the West". Independence was the beginning and end of three major trails that opened the west, the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails.

We started our tour with a documentary film tracing Truman's life from boyhood on the farm to the Senate and selection as Vice President. We then joined a group tour that covered the complex and all the details that went with it. There is much to see; our docent said that if you stopped to read everything it would take over 6 hours.

We learned that after the election, Roosevelt had nothing to do with Truman, as Vice-President and he died 5 months into the new term. Truman was sworn in as President and faced immense decisions with the war in Europe and the Pacific, and the use of the atomic bomb on Japan. We're talking about a guy from a farm in the Midwest who sold men's clothes and hats, and had no college education.

On the tour several particular events struck me regarding the magnitude of his Presidency.

He was the first modern day President to address Civil Rights. The triggering event was when a Negro veteran from the south, 5 months after returning from the War, had his eyes poked out. With this as the catalyst, Truman issued an order to desegregate the armed forces and the government in 1948.

During his tenure, the Cold War began and the Iron Curtain dropped over Eastern Europe. Truman chose the Berlin Airlift as a method to feed the starving people rather than risking another major land conflict. He enacted the Marshall Plan for reconstruction of Europe and today we are talking about the same type of plan for Iraq.

The United Nations established the State of Israel on May 15, 1948 and President Truman, within 14 minutes, officially recognized the new nation, with Stalin doing the same shortly thereafter.

The firing of General Douglass McArthur as U.S./U.N. commander in Korea in 1951 was a decision that had huge repercussions. I remember, as a kid, going to the Saturday Kid's Show and when the Movie Tone Newsreel came on, showing the firing of McArthur, we all booed the President's decision.

The Library had one wall of current clippings from daily newspapers around the country depicting events happening today as a result of decisions and policies passed during the Truman years. President Truman was a small man in stature but he could make decisions and he left big footprints that still are seen today.


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