TLC logo TLC #86:  April 18, 2006

Dear Hearts & Gentle People:
Spring came early in Lexington this year, and even the dogwoods have almost finished blooming. Lilacs are out in full and, if my memory is correct, that's usually in May! The mild winter may account for this phenomenon, but it's been lovely, and soon we'll have peonies and iris and lilies and...well, you know the list.
The Tall Tales & Short Stories of Lexington is a fun and successful endeavor. Tonight's meeting will include reports from those individuals who taught in or attended a one-room school. Should be very interesting to us city kids who went to Arnold and Central, those urban bastions of learning.
Next month's topic: TABO! The beloved institution will be immortalized in audio tape and then in some written form. No one is safe. Bosh Bruening, native of Higginsville and now resident of Richmond, is facilitating the program. Can you imagine - the social history of Lexington is interesting enough that we draw people from neighboring communities. A couple of months ago we had most of the Grain Valley Chamber of Commerce in attendance. They are considering a similar project.
The 4-Life Center is in full swing, a huge success, and it will be officially dedicated on April 29. They have exercise classes and watercolor painting classes and computer lessons, plus many other things, including a terrific meal at noon with soup and salad bar plus entrees and sides and desserts. I know I always say this, but the old hometown is jumpin.'
The mail brought comments from Barbara Lee '57 Fay , regarding a recent edition of the local newspaper:
My Mother, Betty Lee, who lives in Kansas City, subscribes to The Lexington News, and I especially enjoy reading the Glance At The Past column, news items from the past 6 decades that were printed in The Lexington Advertiser-News.  We all remember that paper as being published and edited by our dear Scribe's father, John Shea.  A recent compilation from 1956 stirred some memories for me. 
Monday, Feb. 20 - Gwen Schenck (now Trumbo), LHS senior, has been named the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow.  Gwen is a student of Betty Cagna.  Isn't it interesting how recognition for achievement in our early years directs us on certain courses throughout life?  Indeed, Gwen today exemplifies a model homemaker.
Tuesday, Feb. 21 - Maib's Restaurant was advertising Barbecued ribs, French fries, salad, roll and choice of drink for 85 cents for a Wednesday night special.  And that wasn't even a fast-food place!
Friday, Feb. 24 - The 18th Street Eagles downed the Bloom Street Bums in a recent basketball game 20-15.  Kenny Kopp was high scorer for the Bloom Street team and Louis Wexler was top scorer for the Eagles.  I don't know where this game was played, but maybe it was in the alley behind the Shea residence. 
It is always a walk down memory lane and occasionally a jolt to see "kids" from high school celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
And it's always good to hear from the creative Barbara Tabb '55 Jarman. We were discussing the curse of being a pack-rat:
I've always thought it probably had to do with how tough a time people had during the Great Depression, and how it affected their thinking.  Thus, the old 'waste not, want not' mentality that my folks and lots of others seemed to have - you just didn't go throwing away something that you might be able to use later, and would have to buy.  It was more a matter of economics than anything; at least, in that generation.  We can't even begin to imagine what those days were like for them, and especially for my grandparents' generation.  So, they had a good excuse.  I don't - and that's why I'm getting more liberal about tossing. haha.  I mostly keep things that have a 'memory' attached, and it's the other things that are going in the trash bin - things that can be replaced and aren't being used.  And, that thinking came from the experience of getting rid of the contents of Mom's house - kept the memory stuff and disposed of the rest in various ways.  She advised me then to start working on mine, so nobody else will have to do it. LOL  Just for fun now, I'll share the poem that I wrote about 'why' I do hang onto things with a memory attached.  As with most such things, there is a story involved.  I just wrote it for myself about ten years after my father died.  Hope you enjoy it.
                The Old Carbide Lamp
                    Barbara Jarman
On a shelf sits an old battered brass carbide lamp -
    the kind used by coal miners down in pits black and damp.
It is there to remind me of the solidarity of my dad,
    who used it in that job, as a thirteen-year-old lad.
In his quiet docile ways, finer man ne'er trod the earth.
    No man could surpass him for moral strength from humble birth.
He came into a harsh world, truly poor as a church mouse;
    And he left without debt, without enemy to his house.
There is something in that lamp that brings memories of him.
    He was much like his own dad; I was blessed to have them.
The lamp shows his poor start, he didn't get many breaks.
    Those he got, he created - 'man his own fortune makes'.
When he died, I asked Mom if she still had that lamp -
    I remembered it from my youth, when we'd used it to camp,
It had sound, it had smell, it seemed something quite unique.
    It would hiss, it would sputter, then become steady streak.
Though he hated that coal mine, and 'the lamp' brought that back,
    he was glad he could use it in such places - far less black.
But - there's more to the story than what I have just told -
    of his humor, of his pranks, of his inventiveness bold!
He once told, with a snicker, of one day in the mine
    when he'd 'had it', up to here, when the mule gave the sign.
He was working alone, beside the mule with its cart -
    and when it lifted its tail, he was prepared for the fart.
He took lamp off of helmet, aimed it under that raised tail -
    and from the methane emission blazed a blue flaming trail.
The mule clamped down his tail, took off running down the track.
    He didn't know what had happened, but he never looked back!
Every man down the line asked why the mule took such flight,
    So the kid 'wondered' along with them; but, he'd learned farts do light!
He had not ever known that, but he'd surmised from the smell
    that it just might be so; so he figured - trial will tell!
Always thinking, that is how he learned things all his life.
    With common sense, simple logic, and raw talent he was rife.
He and Mom worked and grew, they made me feel secure.
    That's the way that it worked when hearts sought to be pure. 
There were many lean years between the worst and the best.
    But, he was grateful for his good life when he laid down to rest.
He and Mom were a great team, always thoughtful of one another.
    I thank her for choosing him, and I thanked him for my mother!
So, I keep that old lamp on a shelf within sight.
    It, like he - sure and steady - had a glow of warm light.
He would laugh, if he knew where it's sitting right now,
    but be pleased with the thoughts that old thing brings - somehow.
Thanks for sharing, Barb.
When you get to the information on the website about the Madonna plaque dedication, LaVeda Cross want you to know that on Saturday, May 6, there will 1-hour trolley rides for $2.50 each available on that day.  The first ride will be at 10:00 a.m. and then 11:30 a.m. and then 3:00 p.m. and if enough still want a ride, there will be one at 4:30 p.m.  The trolley will be in front of the court house. The trolley ride will include a guided tour of the town.
And last, but certainly not least, Jim O'Malley's "Sounds of Lexington" - which I promised last time. Feel free to add your own sound (or scent!) memories. We'd love to hear them.
I've been remembering the sounds of Lexington.  The sounds of my  childhood and teen years.   I've come up with a list of ten wonderful  sounds.....bells, whistles, music, laughter, foreign languages....all  kinds of sounds that bring warm fuzzies to me.   Maybe your readers can also remember them and even add some of their own.   They're not  rank ordered from first to last, but rather just as they come forth  from my memory.   Here they are:

1.  Our wonderful "Town Clock" ringing on the hour, year after  year.  Maybe we should call it the "County Clock" because it's in the  Court House, but anyway, we've been able to enjoy it as if if was exclusively ours.   I always marveled at how my friends and relatives could look up at it and easily read the time.   It's only been in my  adulthood that I was able to see that well!

2. The noon whistle of the Lexington Steam Laundry.  The laundry was  located on Broadway, next to the Mason Chevrolet Co.  When it sounded, everyone downtown could check their watches and know it was time for  lunch.
3. Church bells on Sunday morning.  What a gorgeous sound to hear all  of them ringing and calling us to worship.  I particularly remember  the sounds of The Angelus being rung at 12 noon and at 6pm at the  Catholic Church.  In many Catholic communities when the Angelus was  rung all work would stop briefly and people would say the Angelus .

4.  The Wentworth cannon being fired at the start of Dress Parade  each Sunday. During the early 1940s I would sometimes be at my buddy  Billy Adam's house on 16th Street around 2pm when the weekly Dress  Parade would begin.  He lived next to the AME church.  It was during  WWII and the sound of that cannon really caught our attention.
5. Steam locomotives coming and going from Myrick station shouting  their presence with their marvelous steam whistles.  They used to  sing me to sleep on summer nights when we lived on north 10th  street.  One train came by every night at 9pm and I drifted off to a  beautiful series of whistles.  Man, could that engineer play that thing!
6. The sound of excited shoppers and "Window Shoppers" strolling up  and down Main Street on Saturdays and on practically every evening in  the summers.  Sometimes you'd hear folks speaking in their native  languages.  Italian, French, and German were common in my day.  In my dad's time he would have also heard the Irish Gaelic being spoken.

7. The juke box playing at the Maid-Rite drive-in.  Before I was in  my teens the place for dancing and good juke box music was at Cue's  Cafe on Main, next to Ford and Rush Drug Store.  The juke box was in  the basement and the teens flocked there.
8. Live stage shows at the Main Street and Eagle Theaters.   In the  early '40s the Main Street had a children's matinee club on Saturdays  that featured a movie double header with a stage show with group singing and with local kids singing and dancing.   I remember seeing a  terrific tap dancer named Beatrice Jean Glick and a beautiful singer named Phyllis Jean Wylie.  When I was 10 they must have been 15 or  16.  I Hope I got their names right.  The manager of the theatre (I think he might have been Jack Goladay) acted as the emcee and kids could attend free on their birthdays.

9. The hustle and bustle of Block 42 in the '30s, '40s, and the  '50s.   It wasn't just the bars that were booming.  The Bus Station was located at the Palace of Sweets and you could catch a bus to  Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City or wherever from there.  Several Taxi  stands were on the Block, too. Rides were cheap and the competition  fierce.  Many people came from out of town to shop at Entine's  Department Store, Gillan's Hardware, the Modern Cafe, or to get  haircuts from Lucien's Vocate's or Joe Bales barber shops.  Others came to play Billiards at the pool hall.

10. I have to add one last "Sound of Lexington" that I remember  fondly.  That would be the sound of the juke box at Maud's Tavern  playing the Platters, Artie Shaw's "Stardust," and the sultry voice  of singer Dinah Washington.   Along with the music was the sound of  owner Len Kelly standing next to the juke box announcing closing time  by intoning "Gotta do it!"

I hope these favorite memories of mine bring back many happy memories of your own.  Maybe some of you will share them with us.   Best regards to all.
I'll bet at this very moment you are all thinking of sweet memories of your own. Enjoy them and, if you will, share them. And don't forget to visit our web pages!
Your devoted scribe,

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