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Friday, July 25, 2014
Duke the Wonder Horse (07/09/14)
Duke was a five-gated pinto. A pinto is a horse that has a coat color of white and any other color. For those of us who are not horse experts, many different breeds of horses have pinto colors. Anyway, when I was a young boy, Duke lived just up the street on Kingshighway in an attractive red barn trimmed out in white. It was surrounded by a dirt yard and a high, wire fence...
Moved to Justice (01/21/14)
New Madrid has had three courthouses--that we know of. Early days in the county's history, being what they were, it didn't need a courthouse. When the Spanish were here in the 1790s they conducted government business in New Orleans. The only local public official was the Commandant and he conducted business in a local fort or from his home. ...
A Pitch in Time (10/02/13)
Baseball has always been a popular sport in our area with several area players having successful careers in college, and the minor and major baseball leagues. But have you ever heard of the remarkable baseball career of Sam Hunter of New Madrid? The first name "Samuel" is a popular name in the Hunter family, so to clarify, the "Sam Hunter" I am writing about was born in 1864 to Samuel and Mary Anna Lewis Hunter. ...
Rough Landings (08/09/13)
Albert Ransburgh served as sheriff of New Madrid County from 1941 through 1944. He was a big man, well respected, and patient -- to a point. His sister, Virginia Recker, recalls one time when a magazine salesman visited her mother at their home. The salesman was working very hard to sell Mrs. ...
When the Levee Breaks (06/10/13)
Recent high waters on the Mississippi at New Madrid have reminded many residents of the great flood of 2011. However, the worst flood in the town's history was 1927 when the levee broke upriver and the water came into town with little notice for the residents to prepare for it...
To Tell the Truth (05/13/13)
Back in the 1950s and '60s there were several popular game shows revolving around telling the truth or telling a lie. "To Tell the Truth" with Bud Cullyer and the panel of Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean and Kitty Carlisle was my favorite, but we also watched "I've Got a Secret" and "What's My Line."...
Guarantees Hap-Pen (04/19/13)
Product guarantees aren't what they used to be. Today, nearly everything comes with some sort of written guarantee, or warranty, no matter how big or small the product. It's usually printed in type so small a magnifying glass is needed to decipher it, runs on for pages and pages, and generally excludes whatever problem you're having with the product anyway...
I'll Go if the Whiskey's Good (04/08/13)
The Jesuit order has always had its own way of looking at things. The new Pope Francis is a Jesuit; and he certainly confirms that his order sees things just a bit differently. Catholic men, especially older ones, go on retreats. There is a retreat center operated by the Jesuits south of St. Louis named the White House...
In Hot Water (03/14/13)
Clay Broughton was a gentleman of habit. He was a farmer and postmaster. Active in the community and his church, his opinion carried local weight and he was respected. He lived an organized life, for the most part, in the home he shared with his wife, Hallie, at the north end of Main Street in New Madrid. There their nine children carried on their daily lives of excitement, exploration, and childish mischief...
Stuck at School (02/26/13)
In the 1940s, teaching in a rural school didn't pay much, only about $200 per month. Jackie Hayes took a job teaching at Higgerson School near New Madrid for the fall semester of 1952. Besides the low pay, there were the children. The one-room school had 20 students that year in grades one through eight. ...
Tents, Fishing Poles and Goat Diving (02/12/13)
Campfires are special. The smoke and burning embers invite us to draw near. They insulate us from the dark night that surrounds a campsite. A group of young boys around a campfire always find plenty to talk and laugh about long into the early morning hours. Campfires are great memories...
Heads or tails? (01/30/13)
The value of farm land in Southeast Missouri has always fluctuated; usually the price moves along with the financial health of the national economy. That was certainly the case beginning in the late 1920s. For Southeast Missouri, and especially New Madrid County the bad times began with the flood of 1927. ...
Borrowed Help (01/11/13)
Amos Riley and Bob Hill were known for helping poor folks out--often, not with their money, but with their knowledge about business. A New Madrid entrepreneur, Amos Riley was known to lend money. Amos was careful about whom he lent money to, and that is one of the reasons he was successful. He had a reputation for honesty and being a wise businessman. He also helped people...
Wardell, BBQ, MFA, and LBJ (12/27/12)
There is a story behind this photo taken in Wardell, Missouri, in the 1950s. Most readers will recognize the central figure in the dark suit holding a Stetson hat in his right hand as Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States. Popularly known as LBJ, Johnson at the time of the photo was the Senate majority leader...
You Reap What You S(n)ow (12/14/12)
John Alfred Hunter had two jobs he worked daily in New Madrid. He was the owner and operator of Hunter's Service Station at the corner of Main and Virginia Streets. You could usually find him working in one of the two large service bays fixing a flat or working under a pickup truck or car raised high in the air on the lift in the right side bay...
Job hunting, what a drag (11/19/12)
Anyone who has ever been job hunting will tell you that it is "experience" that often makes the difference between being hired or told "we'll call you." Of course, the great conundrum is how to get the first job when you have no real experience. That is exactly what Billy Joe "B. J." Schaffer faced as a young man looking for his first job...
A long, strange trip (11/01/12)
Eddye Phillips was widowed when she was 40. Her husband, Murray Phillips Jr., died during the great flu pandemic in 1919. At the time they had five children, ages 2 to 17, four boys and, the youngest, a girl. Their home was just two blocks from the New Madrid Main Street. The Phillips' were Catholic and the school and church were just a block away. Years after the home was demolished, Dub and Edna Riley acquired the lot and built a nice home there...
Transporter (10/18/12)
Our connection to the Mississippi River in New Madrid is not what it used to be. Until the arrival of the railroad in the 1890s and then the automobile and improved roads after the turn of the century, all commerce and travel was on the great river...
The Kiwi Connection (10/01/12)
Americans and New Zealanders have much common history. When the American Queen docked at New Madrid in September I met a couple on tour from New Zealand. They were in the United States to see some of the country that saved New Zealand from the Japanese during WWII, and here they were in New Madrid...
Ice Fishing (09/10/12)
Bill Ice served as county surveyor for 27 years in New Madrid County. In the 1960s he was surveying south of New Madrid in preparation of the St. Jude Industrial Park. The survey was along the banks of the Mississippi River, and he ran into a common problem in his business: the river had moved and all the old survey markers had fallen into the river. The line he was trying to establish ran along an old creek that appeared on early maps. The creek was also nowhere to be found...
Sharecropping Sacrifices (08/25/12)
A sharecropper's life was a hard one. The practice of sharecropping began in the South after the Civil War and was common in the Missouri Bootheel as late as the 1950s. Usually, a family lived on and worked a small farm, 40 or 50 acres, with mules. The house the family lived in and the money needed to put in the crop was furnished by the landlord. The family did the work, receiving a portion of the crop after the expenses and rent were paid. There usually wasn't much left...
Sledgehammer (08/09/12)
Alvin "Bo" DuBois grew up in Risco during the Great Depression in a family that numbered 12 children. He and his twin brother were near the youngest of the large brood, which also included an older brother who had been born without a left arm. Recently, Bo spoke about his older brother with the missing arm...
Hap's (07/24/12)
With the arrival of the London Olympics and the recent Golden Jubilee Celebration of Queen Elizabeth we are all reminded of our British heritage and its traditions. One of these traditions became the subject of an argument and ensuing bet in Hap's Bar that once operated at the corner of Mott and Powell streets in New Madrid. The New Madrid Chamber of Commerce now occupies the portion of the building that was Hap's...
Pork-n-Guns (07/11/12)
A recent visitor to our town's Main Street recalled his participation as a boy in the 4-H Fat Barrow Show held for many years each spring in New Madrid. Begun in 1946 and sponsored by the local Rotary Club, the show included a parade down Main Street, a hog show and finally a sale. Children in 4-H clubs across the county raised the hogs as a learning experience and a money-making project. The visitor said he always won a White Ribbon for his hog...
4th of July (06/28/12)
Harl "DoRight" Johnson remembered his best 4th of July ever. The custodian at the New Madrid County Courthouse for many years, DoRight had a long and colorful life in New Madrid. Even after he died at age 80 in 2001, there are many stories recalled about him. His widow, Sidney, now lives with their son Nate...
Justice Served (06/13/12)
James R. "Flat-top" Howard had seen a lot of things by the time he and Sheriff Cowboy Ramsey operated the Cabana Court Motel on Highway 61 in New Madrid in the 1960s. Flat-top was the night clerk. One evening, sitting at the front desk, he noticed the lights of a car pull on the lot and drive up just short of the door. A man came in and wanted to rent a room for the night. Flat-top collected the money and the fellow left with the room key...
Tuf-Nut (05/23/12)
The Shainberg Store operated for many years at the corner of Main and Mill Streets in New Madrid. Wagley Furniture now occupies the building. What I remember best about Shainberg's is when you purchased a pair of Tuf-Nut jeans you received a Tuf-Nut pocket knife. ...
Higgerson's Food Grater (05/10/12)
Andrew Higgerson made things. Andrew's family lived in the isolated river bottoms along the Mississippi River 12 miles east of New Madrid. When Andrew was growing up, coming to New Madrid from Higgerson Landing was a difficult trip of several hours--each way in a wagon drawn by mules. Back then, if someone needed some tool or other device, it was usually needed right then. It was easier, faster, and cheaper just to make it...
H. Riley Bock
Reflections