TLC logo TLC #136  July 23, 2012

Dear Hearts and Gentle People:

As I was saying just last November…..

Sorry, folks, my life has been in an uproar. I do appreciate notes of inquiry and concern. I try to avoid talking about myself, but you do deserve a bit of explanation. This is not to say there wasn’t one hour in the past eight months that I could have written. It just didn’t happen.

Many of you know that my husband Ken is battling cancer. He had surgery for colon cancer, which spread to the liver, and has been undergoing chemo for the past 18 months. There have been many ups and downs, of course, and the procedures and appointments do take up a lot of time. As for me, I had my third joint replacement (one hip, two knees) in January. I prepare income tax returns, so that season descended on me after that.

But the big reason is that I got a new computer in December. The transition was painful AND my address book was corrupted. That’s where you come in. Your assignment, if you decide to accept it, is to check with your correspondents to see if they receive this mailing. Send me e-addresses and names (and LHS year if there is one) of anyone I missed, and I will try to finish restoring my contact list. And please add my apologies when you do.

The olde home towne: Had a big fire on Franklin the other night. An establishment named The Franklin Hole (north side of street, between 12th and 11th, facing what used to be called TFH) was destroyed, along with an apartment upstairs and one next door. Same group of buildings with Walker’s Drugs, for you old timers. It may have been the location of veterinarian Dr. Watson (yes, really) in the 50s. That was a wonderful building, and I hope some of it can be saved, but it doesn’t look likely.

Progress is being made on many fronts. The auditorium has been rented for 99 years by the city to a group of citizens who are organizing the restoration. A new hospital will be built on the east end of town next to the Hwy 13 approach to the new Ike Skelton Bridge, which replaced our old bridge. The beleaguered economy is delaying both projects, but they are approved and ready to proceed as soon as possible.

Local schools are going to a 4-day week beginning this term, fewer days but longer hours, and most people think it will be beneficial. The census at our schools is down, and this is a cost-cutting measure.

The water company now belongs to the city. The transition was not without complications, but most agree that the arrangement will be very beneficial to Lex when the dust settles.

Plans are being made for the annual Community Fair 8/20-8/25. It’s very similar to the old Fall Festival. TONS of activities planned. Pray for the judges of the Baby Contest. I did that once in Louisiana and barely escaped with my scalp.

Even those of you who live a great distance away know that we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in our history. All of our lawns are brown, and we struggle to keep our flowers alive and our tomatoes producing. But guess what is thriving: poison ivy. I got into some somewhere in our own yard. And I hope now I have a lot of sympathy wending my way.

The heat is unbelievable. It’s a balmy 99 degrees as I write this, and the next two days are expected to be over 100. For the next 10 days it is expected to be in the upper 90s at least, and the best chance of rain is 30% one day.

The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Summer Block Party in Downtown Lexington during one of the hottest days of the year. The event featured music, sidewalk sales, Farmers’ Market, Meet the Candidates on the Courthouse steps, and a game of Town Ball that pitted the Lexington Police Department and Fire Department against a local team of sluggers at the Goosepond.

Town Ball, which was played in the 1850s and 1860’s, is the predecessor to baseball. Although much like baseball, there are some subtle differences. Among them are: a softer ball, ax-handles or stripped staves for bats, runner can be out if hit below the head (apparently hitting on the head is fine), no stolen bases as it is considered ungentlemanly, and the umpire is the only one on the field allowed to carry a firearm. Fortunately the firearm wasn’t needed this time. The heat was just awful, and I understand our local first responders took a beating.

I hope I have included most of the local news of note, and now to the part I always dread, recent deaths. We lost both Norman Vialle and his darling wife Sophie, during this past year. They were Maid-Rite, and those of us who grew up here still have Maid-Rites in our veins. Another revered Lexingtonian we lost was John (Mooney) Rostine, Jr. at 77. I believe he was LHS ’53? Also this note arrived from the children of Howard Hoffman, aka Handehoff:

We wanted to let you know of dad's passing on Sunday [Easter] morning.  He had not been feeling well for several months and was recently diagnosed with cancer in the kidney.  Unfortunately a surgery to remove the impacted kidney was not enough and the cancer spread.  He was not in pain and was surrounded by his family during the last several weeks and days. Dad enjoyed all of the correspondence with all of you immensely.   Every day he looked forward to sending and receiving your updates, thoughts, prayers, pictures, cartoons and jokes. He really cared for all of you and your families. His obituary was carried in the Columbia Tribune and Jefferson City News Tribune. All of us would like to keep in touch with you as well.  Our emails and home addresses are: Jim Hoffman, 7805 Rollingwood West Dr. Columbia, MO 65202,; Janelle Patterson, 1917 Vassar, Columbia, MO 65203,; John Hoffman, 2403 Watercrest Dr. Austin, TX 78738, Please feel free to reach out to us.

His son Howard sent the note, but I don’t have his address now.

From Barbara Tabb ’55 Jarman:

I keep looking for a TLC since I haven't received a copy since last November.  But I did look at the most recent pictures, and saw the one of the Madonna Of the Trail monument, which is right across the street from where I grew up.  Trust me - it is very old.  It looked much like it did when we moved to that house, which does make it an antique. LOL. The trees were small enough that you could see the Missouri River from our back yard, and now they are all so very tall that you can only see the river from a couple of places. The trees on the bluff later hid most of the river, and the trees right along the river also hid the view. Someone up the street had some of those along the river cut down (to afford a better view), and got into bad trouble for it.  They had been planted on purpose, to cut down on erosion, so they were replanted after that, and were grown when I left. I have an old picture that was taken down by the river, and will try to send it later.  I will need to go through some old albums.

I also re-read the last issue, and will add my story to the stinky smell along Hwy 24, which went to Wellington & Napoleon, etc.  There was this post in that issue: Gary '63 Miller wrote about the coal mines:

In regards to the mention of abandoned coal mines in TLC #134, I remember that on 24 Hwy, about 2 miles of so east of Wellington, there was an area that smelled very bad, that was right next to the highway.  My father told me that it was an abandoned coal mine that was burning. I do remember seeing some smoke at times when driving by.  I don't know how accurate this is, but it was in a time frame of pre-1960 that my dad told me this. 

Barbara continues:

That bad smell was much closer to Lexington than that, or perhaps Gary was talking about another one.  But the stinky smell I remember was right at the bottom of Irish Town Hill - just before it made a Y intersection there.  And, my Dad told me that it was an old sulfur pit, and every once in a while it would catch on fire and burn for days - he called it 'spontaneous combustion' and explained why it smelled so bad.  It made sense to me - lots of 'stink' comes from burning sulfur, and it smelled like rotten eggs.  I could make other remarks about that smell, but it also smelled like a 'methane emission', which I won't bother to explain.  LOL.  That is what burning sulfur produces. 

This was long before they built a new Hwy 24 that by-passed Lexington, Wellington and Napoleon, and we always went to K.C. that way.  I'm sure I heard this tale about it as a child, and it was probably when I was about 8 years old.  It was down close to Myrick.  But I'd learned two new words - spontaneous and combustion - and he had to explain that too.  LOL.  I think he did a pretty good job, so I always accepted it as 'the truth' about that area of the road.  Who knows - it might still catch fire now and then.  Does anyone know?

A great resource for the historians among us is Jim O’Malley ‘49 tells this memory.

When I attended Lexington High School from 1945 to 1949 I was blessed to have the Todhunter sisters as my teachers.  Miss Katherine taught World History and Miss Emory taught Algebra and Plane Geometry.  It was rumored that their father had been an officer in the Confederate Army in the Civil War.  I asked my cousin's husband, Bob Thomas, to do an online search for him on the web.  Bob is married to my cousin, Bette Phipps ’58 Thomas, and they live in Pacifica, California.  He was able to find their dad and what a life he had!  His bio is in the link above and I'm sure you'll be amazed at his exploits as you read it.  

I’ll bet many people who read this newsletter had the Todhunter sisters for teachers. They and Miss Mautino, among others, were Old School Ladies we learned a lot from, in addition to the Three R’s. Send your memories of them!

Jim continued:

Susan, I'm sure you're too young to remember Dr. George Fredendall.  He was a Lexington medical doctor for many, many years and delivered my sister, Mary Pat, and me.  He was a contracted doctor for the coal miners, and my grandfather and father paid one dollar a month for health care services from him.  My grandmother, Bridget Boyle O'Malley, worked for him as a medical assistant at one time.  He and his family lived in what became the George Stier home on Franklin Ave.  His daughter, Nettie, married General William Hoge of Lexington who gained fame by building the Alaskan Highway and capturing the Remagen Bridge across the Rhine during WWII. His story is on that web site.    

My aunt Pauline Terrell Phipps Arth married Louis Arth after her first husband, James "Piggy" Phipps died.  Piggy was the father of Bette Phipps ’59 Thomas of Pacific, CA and Mary Lou Phipps-Winfrey of Wichita, KS.  Piggy and/or Pauline told me about a time before they married when Piggy owned the Rockless Farm on the Dover Road (Hwy 24), east of Lexington.  The Rockless Farm was a night club, with food and drink, that often featured visiting bands.  One night, probably after the Union Station Massacre in KC (June 17, 1933), two men entered the RF and Piggy identified them as Pretty Boy Floyd and Adam Richetti.  He told his servers to take their orders, keep a tab, and if they chose not to pay, to let them leave.  Piggy said they stayed a while, paid their tab, and left peacefully.

A few years before he died, Judge John Pollard of Lexington told me that when he was a deputy Sheriff in the '30s he and another deputy stopped in the RC for a drink and were told that Pretty Boy Floyd and another man were upstairs.  Not looking for trouble, they finished their drinks and left.  Knowing that PBF and Richetti were armed and dangerous probably influenced their swift departure.  I believe that John's story corroborates Piggy's. I'm adding a link from the FBI about the US Massacre.

Do you remember Barney Bernard's Ford dealership on Franklin, in the block just east of the "Hole?" (South side, Between 13th & 12th) This was either in that building or one just west of it. When I was 7 or 8, Bonnie and Clyde's death car was on display at the Ford dealership in Lexington, MO.  Dad took me to see it.  Of course I didn't know who B and C were, but the machine gun holes in the car sure let me know that someone felt they needed to be put out of action.   People lined up and paid a small fee to see it.  I remember people paying with coins, so the charge was minimal.   When was it?  We're talking about anywhere from '36 to '38.  I remember the blood soaked seats in the '34 Ford.  What a grisly mess!  The car was roped off and viewers paraded by.  So olde Lexington has been touched by many of the gangster era.

Bette Phipps ’59 Thomas, above-mentioned cousin of Jim, corroborated the story.

Yes, I remember it as you did. Dad waited on them and they ate, paid and left peaceably. I didn't know about the car being on display in Lexington.  I believe Lexington was quite a wild town back in the 30's. 

And speaking of Mittieville, the following arrived from Lon Ellis:

I saw your website....very interesting.  You can certainly put me on the mailing list. I am sending you a bad photo of a pinback button that I have in my collection.  I can send you a better photo in a week or so.  I live in NC now but am originally from MO. I love this pin.  I would love to know more about it.  Who is the lady?

Well, of course I got excited and wrote: This is a treasure. That must be Ma Mittie, the original proprietor. With your permission, I will print it in my TLC (The Lexington Connection) newsletter. I know someone will write all about that (or her). Thanks for sending.

He replied: You can definitely use the image.  I just love that this pin says "Frog Legs" and "Lamb Frys" and "Beer."  What a great combination!  Do you think this pin would be from the 1940's/1950's maybe?  That's what it appears to me based on other pinback buttons in my collection, but it could be more recent than that. I think I have some other stuff from Lexington in my collections...I will look around. 

That pin photo is attached to this email. Check it out. And comment. And hope he sends more.

Possibly some of you know Todd Good. We’d all love to hear your stories too, Todd.

I am writing this email to inform you that I would like to be added on to the newsletter list as I know a few things about Mittieville/The Peckerwood Club I want to add to the newsletter.

Wally Hulver ’55 is another favored contributor:

Found these old pics on FB that were posted by Todd good and Gary Viles. Thought you might want to use then in a TLC.

I believe webmaster Bob Ball ’58 has posted them on our website.


Folks, I hope this hasn’t worn you out, and I also hope you won’t have to wait so long for issue #137. Write to me, and we’ll all have some fun.

Your devoted scribe,


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