Sunday, July 25, 2010

Carthage, Missouri

© T M Bierhalter
     Carthage is a historic town in southwest Missouri and is a prime example of crumbling history. Only when a community comes together to restore, retain and remember its history will it thrive. This once Victorian village is now a warehouse for decay, rubble and the forgotten. The town square would be lovely if the buildings were not in disrepair and needing some TLC. Of the few buildings occupied only a few were restored or retained their former glory. Many housed modern service type businesses and just didn’t fit the aura of the building itself. Towering over the square is Jasper county courthouse. All other buildings on the square fall short in comparison.

     Many of the town’s historic Victorian homes have been restored to their former glory and make for an enlightening driving tour. Also the many churches in the area retain the historic look and feel of when built originally.

     Further on down the road was the historic marker retained by the department of natural resources. This place of bloodshed and of lives given to a cause greater than they is simply marked by a sign at the road, a simple covered signage with information on the battle and its significance to the town and surrounding area. The parking lot takes up approximately a fourth of the total area allocated to the memorial. What would the men who fought and died here think of such a memorial?

     There are two other war memorials in Carthage, a Vietnam memorial park and the Memorial Hall built as a tribute to World War I soldiers. There is also a Civil War Museum just off the town square. A small tribute to the War among the States and the information within is not withstanding.

     The first interstate highway route 66 passes right through Carthage, a museum to the highway is located in the Jasper County Courthouse. There is a Rt. 66 Drive In still in operation during the summer weekends.

     Just outside the city is the world famous Precious Moments Chapel and museum. A loving tribute to the Almighty by artist Samuel J. Butcher where one can receive a guided tour of the chapel and view the massive fountains.

     During my visit to Carthage I happened on Cedar Hill Cemetery, a historic cemetery just outside of town. One in three grave markers was damaged in some way. Many were off the ground stones or had sections missing or simply lying on the ground. All of the family plots were overrun by weeds and flowers in need of dividing. Although the cemetery had been mowed it desperately needed a weed whacker taken to it. Showing how little remembrance the descendants of pioneer families actually have. The cemetery is maintained by a nonprofit organization and there is a charge to be buried here. Many military personnel have been laid to rest within its grounds.

     What Carthage shows historians, preservationists and the community within is that a society needs to remember the past in order to move forward into the future. The city would greatly benefit from a little more love and care on behalf of its citizens both present and past. In terms of economic revival and survival taking a little initiative would result in more tourism, more families relocating to the area and a boost to history itself.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

State Fair

     When someone says "I'm going to the state fair" what kind of images come to mind? Visions of cotton candy and funnel cakes (elephant ears) or twirling, spinning rides. How about excessively long lines and concerts of favorite performers. Or is it the animal exhibits, 4-H projects or the fine arts exhibits? What about business vendors harking their wares?

     Personally all of the above occur in my mind's eye. But also are the fond memories of childhood - my own and my children. Of prizes and ribbons won. Getting heat sickness or ill from too much junk food. Camping out at the fair grounds and loads of good times with friends and family.

     The state fair has a long and endearing history. In the days before automobiles families would make the journey by horse and buggy, stagecoach and wagons. These families would bring homemade goods for judging in the hopes of becoming "Best of Show" and being known across the county or countryside as the one to beat. Men would bring livestock; women sewing, cooking, canning and needlework. The children would sometimes show a favorite pet but more than likely would simple look forward to candy, treats, meeting friends and of course fireworks.

     Even though the fair has evolved the roots are the same. Good food, good friends, good events and a good time had for all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Do you Remember?

What is it you remember most from your childhood? A favorite toy, a favorite relative, a favorite story or a favorite animal? Isn't it amazing how different things from one's childhood and youth will eventually come back during one's lifetime?

Such as sling dog that was a favorite toy of thousands of children during the 60's and 70's is now popular thanks to the Toy Story movies. Only now the dog's body is made of plastic and not wood like the original. How about the mini skirt that was all the rage in late 60's and through out the 70's came back in the late 90's and is still a favorite for fashion designers. The popular television series Hawaii 5-0 is even being reformatted to today's audience.

What does all this say about society? That one's past or history will always return to haunt oneself. So if the individual can learn from the past then why can't a society? How can a society move forward when it does not address the issues, crimes and political turmoil of it's past. This teaches that as a whole society needs to reflect and honor its past. In so doing it will not commit the same old mistakes. The sins of the one afflicts the many and vise verse.

So remember, reflect and honor the past. Study it and retain its lessons. For karma can be a real big pain in the rear.