TLC logo TLC #124  April 25, 2010

Dear Hearts & Gentle People:
I'm SORRY!  It's been a very long time between issues, I know. And if I didn't know, your nice notes would quickly remind me. As some of you know, I have a small Income Tax preparation business. And as fewer of you know, shortly after Christmas I received a brand new knee to go with my brand new hip, and that kept me occupied until tax season. My husband and I enjoyed a brief vacation after tax season, and now I am ready to resume my life. And part of that life is TLC. I cannot promise uninterrupted service, but I can promise to try to do better. I do appreciate your inquiries.
One of the consequences of a lapse between issues is the accumulation of mail. That means this will be a very long issue, so get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in.
First, I will tell you that Lexington has a new mayor. Col. Jerry Brown (ret), former Superintendent/COO at Wentworth was elected on April 6. His wife Georgia (yes, that's her real name!) owns and operates two shops in Lexington. Both have been very active in the community since moving here.
Second, there is local turmoil over what to do about the Municipal Auditorium. Due to a complaint about the Auditorium not being ADA compliant, the building has been closed for months. As you may know, the city owns the building and the county owns the land it rests on. If the building is removed, the property will revert to the county.
I always try to present "news" in an objective fashion, but we have lost our railroad depot building and our beloved Jr-Sr High School building. The building (housing the Mexican Restaurant) that had once been raided by the "feds" during Prohibition has burned. The Auditorium is threatened, and now we have another of our important buildings endangered. Due to the economy and many cuts in education financing, the Board of Education is moving to offices at the Vo-Tech complex. That means our old post office building will be vacant.
As you will read later in this missive, the Historical Association has made an attempt to purchase that building to save it. Those of you who have been gone for some time may not realize that our former library building, next to our former post office, is our Historical Museum. A large group of very hard-working volunteers keep the museum afloat. That organization cannot afford to pay much for the post office building and, of course, the school board needs as much money as they can get for it. It's just the times, Folks, it's not the city administration or anyone "out to get" our old buildings. But it's happening. I'm fond of saying our buildings/architecture are what distinguish us from other small towns. We have something remarkable here, and it's my humble opinion that we should preserve it.
If you would like to have your opinions published here, I'll be glad to do that. If you are asking yourself what you can do to help, stay tuned. We'll address that later.
I hope you are not totally depressed by the tone of this introduction, and I'll lighten up now. So much great mail has arrived that we should get right to it.
Often all it takes is for someone to mention a building (ahem) and memories begin to flow. One of them is the Peckerwood Club (or Mittieville, if you prefer). Another of recent mention is the building (now gone!) next to the railroad tracks (and Machpelah) on the west side of 20th St., south of Poplar.
I believe it was always a grocery store until its final days as a liquor store. We dealt with that subject in the last issue. But here are some more comments regarding that building:
Frequent correspondent Wayne Tabb said this:
The store that everyone remembers as Bookasta's went through many hands over the years.  I believe the last business in the building was a liquor store.  Before that it was a small grocery store owned by Chick Johnson.  When I was running loose in Lexington, Johnny Stompoly's father owned it as a grocery store. I haven't been around much over the last forty years so whatever else was there, others can add to the ownership/operator list.   
Jan Jiovenale '57 Tubiolo chimed in: 
I too looked at the demolition pix of the old building on 20th street and can't be sure if it's the same building I remember, but if so, when I was in high school, it was Al's Market, owned by Al and Ethel Stompoly.  I used to stop in often when walking home to buy one of their huge dill pickles (never was a sweet-lover!).  The location looks right...
I love to get the TLCs; you've created such a rich memory bank for so many of us and do such an excellent job of it.  It's happy-poignant to go down that road.  How could so much time have passed when you can step right back into that memory as if it just happened?
John '47 Rostine wrote:
Thanks for the TLC. I remember when I was 12  years old I worked for a man by the name of George Gordon who delivered milk. I carried the bottles to the doors and picked up the empty bottles with the money in them, Now, about the grocery store: in the late 40's and early 50's I traded there at that store north across the tracks from Ceno's grocery store on the west side of 20th street. It was Al Stompoly's grocery store. At the time that I helped with the milk, the bottles had paper caps,       
Oh yes, John, we remember. If you didn't get outside soon after the milk was delivered in the winter, the cream (which rose to the top, like all good things in Lexington) would freeze and lift that cap about two inches above the bottle.
Carl '56 Ghisalberti remembers:
In answer to Shirley Collobert's comment about the market on 20th St.-After Bookasta, it was Jackson's market. Later it was Chic Johnson's market...if my memory serves me right.

Hmmmm....just when I think I have it straight in my mind, more mail comes in!  

Then this from Lucia Cope '59 Hulston:  

I can hardly stand to drive on old 24 Highway past the Peckerwood Club, as I miss it SO much!  Mother had two stories about the place:   once when she entered, Ma Mittie, or whoever was there at that time,  said, "Oh, you just missed Harry Truman!"

After high school, Mother lived with her aunt and uncle in Los Angeles, attending junior college  there.  On the train headed West one time, and in conversation with  her seat mate, she mentioned she was from Lexington.  The response of  the seat mate was, "Is that anywhere near Mittieville?" 

I was in a  high chair the first time I ate there.  The second time I was there was in the summer of 1960, when our ever-close Class of '59 had a spontaneous gathering there, unofficially our first reunion, I guess.   One of the last times I was there, when it was packed to the gills,  there was a big group at one of those tables by the bathrooms.   Several of their people were "dressed to the 9's" in vintage evening  wear, accessorized by marvelous hats and tons of jewelry.  They were  from Chicago, had heard about the Peckerwood Club for years and had  spent weeks gathering their outfits for that first visit.  Memories of  the Peckerwood Club would fill scrapbooks, highlighted mostly by the  juke box and dancing.  I knew it was doomed when tables and chairs  covered the dance floor.

A wonderful note arrived from Mrs. Frank (Angel) Shelby:

Dearest Susan, Frank and I savor every word included in your letters and memories of Lexington, MO. Frank graduated from Lexington HS, class of 1947 and has great memories of his growing up a Shelby and having a large family in the area. Both Frank and his brother Jim joined the US Army each with almost 30 years of active service; Jim returned to Lexington and is still living there. When we visit, Jim, wife Judy and Frank rehash so many stories of their family, friends and the town, while I sit, listen and try to record.

Even though I have no roots in Lexington, the magic of their memories helps me imagine your incredible hometown.
Shirley Collobert Guevel wrote of the loss of another LHS grad:
I was looking at the old class pictures and noticed in the 6th grade class in 1952, Joanne Coates.  I don't know if you are aware that she passed away last Saturday.  She had married Norman Hughes from Richmond.  I don't know her graduation year but I'm guessing 1959 since school pictures were taken in the fall, which would have the school year of 52-53 for that group.

I got to know her when we started square dancing with the Moose Promenaders in 1983 and we became pretty good friends.  She had been ill for quite a while before she died. 

You do such a good job with this...and I know what kind of time it takes to do something like this!

Kenny Nadler, a walking history book, finally wrote to us:
I was interested in reading about Mittieville.  This is some of the remembering I had of  Peckerwood.  My Dad, who worked for Mr. Zeysing before going into business for himself, said that he hauled many quart and pint bottles to Mittieville.  It may have been for selling spring water or maybe something else.  I had heard that the law had raided Mittieville and took Mr. Mittie to jail and Ma kept on selling.  I don't recall having heard Mr. Mittie's name but Mrs. Mittie's  name was Bertie (Ma).  She died in 1949.
The Mittie's had four children Roy, Minnie, Maggie and Evelyn.  Evelyn was married to Stanley Schaberg.  Stanley was the bartender.  The two sisters that managed Mittieville were Minnie and Evelyn.  The little lady that sat in the corner was  Lizzie McCordle, the Mother of Ma.  Some of this information I got from Doris Sims who worked at Mittieville.
I know the food was good but my favorite was lamb fries. When I would leave Lexington to go home, if the lights were on and the front door was locked, I would walk up the driveway and go down the steps.  When Evelyn saw me she would put on the lamb fries. A year or so after Mittieville was closed,  I was at the funeral home and the door bell rang. There was Minnie and Evelyn with my lamb fries and green tomatoes. 
P.S.  I had heard the name Peckerwood came from the word "poor folk" down South.  
Once in a while I hear from someone not from Lexington but whose interest had been stirred by stumbling upon TLC. And Mittieville spurred that research. In this case the name is Steve Leek from Burlington, IA. He has written a number of times, and these notes are combined below, then edited to retain common interest:
Dear Faithful Scribe! Thanks for putting me on the TLC mailing list. I've passed through Lexington 8 times, coming and going, in 2009. I always pull over and park across from the Peckerwood Club, feeling, as the result of TLC comments, that I know the place a little better each time.
Lexington is a peach (of a town), and I mean that! I have some contacts at an outfit called "Society for Commercial Archeology," and they were happy to receive pictures I forwarded of both the Peckerwood Club, and the downtown "Maid-Rite." The SCA is mainly interested in mid-century architecture, but I thought I'd mention it!
I am attempting to sound slightly Southern. Lexington impressed me with that sensibility as soon as I had my first conversations there. I would certainly enjoy meeting some Lexingtonians on my next trip, even if my only role is to be the fond outsider, observer and correspondent. My job, as I've indicated, takes me West to Colorado frequently, where I have found, over the years, several worthy old houses that I've caused to be restored. I do as much of the work as I can. These are never typical dwellings, and include a railroad depot, and several early 20th century seasonal cabins in Manitou Springs. I think that anyone on the road that covers distances such as I do, has some favorite places to stop and Lexington is that for me. However, there is much to consider when it comes to Lexington, and consider I do!

First, of course, is the cohesiveness of the community, as witnessed through your TLC. Then, there is the curious fact that unlike many other places, Lexington has figured in most of the major historic developments that have contributed to America as it is today.
Starting with the Westward Expansion and the trail system that eventually became our first National Roads, then followed the first infrastructure development of Rails and River Systems. The Civil War, of course, and then the continued Westward Expansion. The "Golden Age of Agriculture" followed, and is well represented in the architecture that was built in Lexington at that time.  Following WWI, the coordination of highways by the Federal Government resulted in U.S. 24 as a reincarnation of what the trail systems began a century earlier.

Traces of all this can be found in Lexington, so it's not easy to designate it as merely a rest stop. Of all these epochs, my favorite interest is anything having to do with early automobile travel. Old roads, gas stations, eateries, etc. Because these are the most recent, they often do not fare well. The designation of Route 224 as a historic Auto Tour Route, is an important event, to me, for that reason. U.S. 24, and its earlier alignment 224, is a fascinating road which I rank as second, in the Midwest, only to Route 66. It has one of the highest concentration of vintage roadside structures.  It  links some architecturally rich cities, like Kansas City and Colorado Springs, and without leaving 24, I can drive all the way from Hannibal, Mo. to my destination in Manitou Springs. As you probably know, 24 was once called the "Ocean to Ocean / Pikes Peak" highway. Along with the cities mentioned, it also links our major rivers and our major mountains!  I don't think it's far-fetched to think of Lexington as a historic Crossroad in American History. You were at the center of both the North-South conflict, as well as the East-West migration. There can only be a steady increase of interest in Lexington and the road that goes through it as time goes on.

This is a long-winded letter, I know. However, if you've picked up on my enthusiasm, it has much to do with the humble Peckerwood Club that so caught my attention, followed by your wonderful TLC. The several conversations I've had with locals as I began my investigation cinched the deal. I tell my friends and relatives that Lexington is an honest town with fine people and loads of history. I tell them they will be pleased if they stop and look around. I'll be holed up for the Winter in Burlington, but, will be back on the road in the Springtime to complete the work in Colorado.
Hi again from your Yankee friend in Burlington, Iowa, who gazes with affection upon Lexington, the sweetest little town in Missouri! It's been a little while. I'm busy, as always, trying to keep my enterprise afloat in Colorado. (My interest in the Peckerwood Club) stems from the fact that I feel it is a historically significant property, and a definite asset to 224's historic designation. 
Buildings like the P.C. are both historic and vulnerable. The P.C. is a classic roadhouse and would be significant to the overall success of 224 as a tourist draw. For that matter, the poor, little, old gas station with the falling in roof would also be an asset. I have learned the bitter truth that money, or the lack of it, will determine what gets saved. I hear money is in short supply these days, so, it's ironic that these two--veterans of the last depression, might not survive this one!
Ultimately the viability of 224 as a historic road, will rest heavily on all of its veteran structures. The loss of any of those one-lane bridges, the older homes, the P.C. and yes, that little gas station right outside Lexington, together create the magic of that road. Oh where is that winning lottery ticket when we need it?

This is "Burlingtonzian Steve" again, an admirer of all things Lexington. This is enhanced by the change of status of 224 from little used, little known, access road to full historic designation. I'm about ready to resume my rebuilding of a 1914 structure in Manitou Springs CO, and will be on the road soon. I often take pictures of historic, commercial structures on my trips and plan to take a more northern Route this time. (I've already photographed everything on Rt 24 and it remains a preferred route.)
In addition, and also of great interest, is the following exchange:

Dear Ma'am - I just bought a Post Card on eBay, in which a fellow by the name of Raymond Mischon was going through flight training at Graham Air Base in May of 1955. His Post Card was sent to Mischon's Food Market, 1119 Main Street, Lexington, Missouri.

Is/Was there such a place?

It is just interesting to me. I collect information on old WWII training bases, and Graham AB was Marianna AB during the war. This note to his parents is just a by-product which gives a personal touch to the Post Card. Thanks for any blanks that you can fill in on this.

I don't mean to pry, and I hope Mr. Mischon has had a happy life.

Very respectfully,

Kyle Ray

Of course I couldn't let that go unanswered. I told him, yes indeedy, there was, and included as much as I could about the building. I was curious as to how he knew to write to me.
It was pretty easy to figure out most of the pieces of the puzzle, (even a street-level view of Main Street in Lexington).... and how I found your name was from the TLC newsletter, which popped up when I "googled" the keywords like "Mischon's" + "Lexington, Missouri." It really is amazing what you can find, if you know how to "ask" the right questions on the Internet!
I think the TLC newsletter is great. I too come from a small town (Chipley, FL) growing up there until I left to join the Army. As an aside, I did get a scholarship to Wentworth, so this is only the second time I have ever heard of Lexington, MO. (I chose West Point instead.) Your Newsletter is nice in that it keeps a part of Lexington's past alive.
Small world, huh?  
I'll say, and when our webmaster can do it, we'll have the post card on our website.
Next up, a note from Jim O'Malley:
Susan,  Our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph newspaper (The Catholic Key) has an article about the rededication and renovation of the Catholic Church in Lexington.  The article is well written and has a lot of Lexington history in it.   I thought you'd find it interesting and enjoy reading it.
He also found this wonderful Lexington treasure:
I was looking up "Central Women's College/Lexington, MO" and I found a treasure trove of stuff on the old college.  Here's a site for a cookbook celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school in 1919.,+mo&source=bl&ots=e3FFVJoNK&sig=C04rkf2DJHO2VzhMeeo4Yoi3ANQ&hl=en&ei=e86sS9qSBYTcNZOryZkF&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CAwQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=&f=false

The following is a letter from Roger Slusher, another LHS grad, who serves as the Historical Museum director. It is outdated regarding the dates of meetings (results mentioned above), but it should still be of interest to those who love Lexington. Several people who received the letter asked me to print it so that you would understand better what is happening here.

The Lexington Historical Association has a great opportunity and a great challenge. As you may have heard, the Lexington R-V School Board Building (the old post office) is for sale.

If we were to get it, with our present Museum building next door, there would be much more room for exhibits, archives, storage, and other activities. Space is limited now. However, there would also be considerable expenses and volunteer labor required to refit, maintain, and keep it open for the use of our members and visitors. A major fundraising effort might be required since we are a private 501(c)(3) organization with limited income.

The Historical Association Board will be meeting on Wednesday, April 7, at the Museum to decide, among other things, whether to bid on the building and, if so, how much to bid.  The School Board is requiring that the building be preserved.

Our president, Mike Kramer, has asked me to invite all members to a meeting at the Museum on Tuesday, March 30, at 7 to discuss various ideas about how we might manage to take on such a challenge, and various reasons why it might not be a good idea. Please try to come.

While I have your attention, I've attached our current membership list and sent this email to everyone on it with an email address, plus to some prospective members. Please check the list carefully. If you're on it, please check for accuracy. If you're not, but you are a life member or have paid for 2010, please let me know and include your information. If you're not a member or haven't renewed, please consider joining for $15 individual, $25 family, $100 business/sponsor; you may send the check (made out to Lexington Historical Association) and info to me and I'll get them to the proper persons, or bring it to one of the meetings. Whatever we do about the old post office building, we need as many members as possible for us to succeed in preserving the history of Lexington and making it available to the public.

Please try to attend the member meeting on March 30th and/or the Board meeting on April 7. Also, please become an active member. Finally, if you haven't been a docent at the Museum or helped with the archives before, and would be able to help, please let me know. Thank you.

Roger Slusher, Museum Chairman and Director
1421 South St.
Lexington, MO 64067
Home Phone: 660-259-2900

As for the Auditorium, there is a committee in place which has studied the building, determined costs and devised plans for renovation. In the June election there will be a referendum on the ballot to assess how much interest the public has in saving the Auditorium. One suggestion is to add a very small tax to our annual city property tax to cover the proposed cost of restoration and maintenance. No decision on its future will be made by that vote, but public sentiment should be garnered from the outcome.

I have had a request from the Committee to ask for your memories of the Auditorium, special moments in your lives that took place there, and your feeling toward our Municipal building. They would like to use some of these memories in their campaign to save the building, so if  you would rather share them just with me, that's fine. Please tell me whether we may use them in publicity.

A final note: it is with great personal regret that I inform you of the passing of Mary Elizabeth White. She embodied the best of Lexington, and her devotion to the town was exceptional. Although 91 at the time of her death on April 7, she had gone out to lunch the day before and had attended a concert that night. Many of us visited with her then, and she had a wonderful time. She was the wife of Clifton "Whitey" White, who died in January of 2005 and the mother of Elizabeth Anne White '57 Kramer who died in December of 2004. The passing of Mary Liz was a huge loss for Lexington.

As always I remain Your Devoted Scribe,


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