Glasgow Greetings

I’ve mentioned before that small towns creep me out and/or sadden me. This is still largely true, but small towns such as Glasgow threaten that notion of mine.

The town story for the October issue of Missouri Life is about Glasgow, Missouri. It’s a town of just over one thousand people along the Missouri River that Missouri Life editor Jonas Weir and myself literally passed by in a matter of minutes. But we would have been the ones missing out if we had truly passed this gem by.

A somewhat sudden turn on the right and we were on the main street, aptly named First Street. It was morning and neither Jonas nor myself had eaten breakfast, so the first necessary stop was at Riverbend Cafe, conveniently owned by the town’s mayor. When one hears the word “mayor”, the image of a staunch businessman with a crisp suit comes to mind. He would have a solemn voice and serious demeanor, and use words such as “ordinance.” But the diner owner that came from behind the counter seemed just that, a diner owner. His t-shirt and jeans more than suggested a casual air, and he greeted us with a friendly and easy-going voice that said he was more our equal than a political official.

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After a conversation with the mayor, we made our way to all of the local sites. Perry’s for a quick ice cream, the Glasgow museum, the library, the Rolling Pin bakery, Glasgow Trading Post, and Henderson’s Drug Store. Each place seemed more historic than the last, but there were renovated buildings with newer businesses that suggested a recent revival in the town.

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A few different townsfolk said that Glasgow was in a state of disrepair not too long ago. The First Street shop windows were vacant and boarded up and the life seemed to be draining from the struggling town. But somehow the people rallied and Glasgow was the better for it.

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Each citizen we spoke to say their reason for staying in Glasgow was because of the people. No one is a stranger in Glasgow. Small town courtesy and friendliness seems to be true in this case; it’s not so uncommon to ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar. I find that refreshing. Business owners spoke of the people not as customers, but as supporters of their livelihood. The townspeople want to help out the local businesses, which is probably why there are hardly any chains in Glasgow. The nearest Wal Mart is in Boonville, and you’ll find no golden arches even on the outskirts of town.

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The camaraderie is striking; even compared to a very small city such as the one I grew up in, Columbia, Missouri. I don’t know my neighbors, and there isn’t a cashier at the grocery store that I could name. I can’t help but think the whole world would be a bit better off with some small town loving. It reminds you that the people who serve you, who live next to you, and who are the bosses above you are all humans, and they all have stories to tell and secrets to keep.

It was a humbling experience. Despite my “city girl” upbringing, great education, and travel experience, I in fact had not seen it all. I had not seen pure contentedness before I went to Glasgow. I certainly had not seen it over an entire town. Small towns need not breed morose emotions. They have great potential to connect us to others, and can inspire passion in your livelihood and home. There’s a general feeling around Glasgow, which makes the people refreshed and the air easier to breathe. It keeps the local businesses open and the franchises at bay. It’s called respect, and we could all use a bit more of it.

Traveling and Being a Miser

So as you’re probably aware of by now, I’m an intern at Missouri Life Magazine in Boonville, MO. Since it’s a statewide magazine that covers every corner of the state, a certain amount of travel is involved. Now it’s not the size of Alaska, but Missouri is no pipsqueak either. Luckily most of my drives have been in the two to three hour range, although I do have at least one coming up that will be more along the lines of four hours, but I don’t have to think about that just yet.

On my last excursion I compiled three different assignments into one trip, so as to save on gas monies that I desperately lack. I went to Lexington for a house story and took pictures of their courthouse, and then I went all the way to Kansas City, which is about 40 minutes from Lexington, to do a wine tasting and snap some quick photos of the Amigoni Urban Winery.

The Amigoni Urban Winery is located in downtown Kansas City. It occupies the old Daily Drover Telegram building which was built in 1909.

The Amigoni Urban Winery is located in downtown Kansas City. It occupies the old Daily Drover Telegram building which was built in 1909.

This home was constructed on top of the foundation of another home that was destroyed in the Civil War. The King family occupied the house from the time it was built in 1866 to 1949.

This home was constructed on top of the foundation of another home that was destroyed in the Civil War. The King family occupied the house from the time it was built in 1866 to 1949.

I’ve always been a thrifty, if not miserly so I’m all about consolidation and use as few of resources as possible to get a job done. So when my mumsy said I was crazy to do three assignments in one day I just said, “psssh, mama please.” Granted the next day I was slated to photograph an outdoor wedding all day. It proved to be a tiring, if not emotionally reassuring weekend. I was doing what I loved (and getting paid for part of it!) which was a great reassurance that I was going into the right line of work.

The Lafayette County courthouse in Lexington, MO is the oldest courthouse in Missouri still being used as a courthouse. A cannonball from the Battle of Lexington in the Civil War remains in one of the front columns.

The Lafayette County courthouse in Lexington, MO is the oldest courthouse in Missouri still being used as a courthouse. A cannonball from the Battle of Lexington in the Civil War remains in one of the front columns.

Traveling itself is tiresome, but it is also exciting. I love seeing new places, no matter how small or outdated the locale may be. Just seeing the world from a different perspective is enough to draw me away from home. Since I’ve lived in the same place for most of my years, it’s refreshing to go to a small town, or a big city, and ask them why they do what they do. People’s motivations are one of my biggest interests. It’s great to know who’s doing what, but it’s even better to know why. You learn much more about them and the world we all live in. It helps you form your own opinions on life, and may even sway you in the future when deciding where (or if) you hunker down.

For instance, I would live in Oregon in a heartbeat. I’ve been there a couple times, visiting family that lives in the center of the state. Everyone that I came across was just happy. A funny notion, isn’t it? There were all the large trees everywhere, the average person seemed to have a canoe or kayak on the top of their car, and despite the rainy weather in Portland, everyone had a smile on their face. I heard no complaints and saw no one experiencing road rage. I’m sure these things do happen, but at a much lower frequency.

When I commented on this to a family friend, she said, “Of course we’re happy to be here, we’re surrounded by the majesty that is nature! It’s no wonder we have an appreciation for the planet with evidence of its greatness everywhere we go.” I thought that summed it up perfectly. I feel my happiest in Missouri whenever I’m out on a trail hiking, overlooking vistas or when I’m dipping an oar into a flowing river, wildlife enveloping me from all sides. It really does make you consider Earth more carefully whenever you’re, well, surrounded by earth.

So I encourage everyone to travel. Even if it’s just around your home state. I’ve lived in Columbia, Missouri for 15 years, and I haven’t seen even a fourth of this state. I’m surprised every time I take off in a new direction. You don’t have to go to Paris or The Great Wall to see how truly amazing the world is, it’s just outside your door, waiting to be explored.

In All Its Majesty

The Gasconade County Seat is perched above the  Missouri River in Hermann, MO.

The Gasconade County Seat is perched above the Missouri River in Hermann, MO.

When looking for courthouses I wanted to find some that had intriguing stories, and others that just commanded double takes because of their appearance. The Gasconade County courthouse is definitely of the latter class. High above the Missouri River, it looms regally, demanding everyone’s attention as they enter and leave the German town of Hermann, Missouri. While crossing the bridge over the river into Hermann, it’s hard to look at anything else, it’s almost as if you’re asking permission to enter. My permission was granted.

There are no freaky or super interesting stories I could tie to this beauty, but it hardly needs it. It’s one of the only courthouses in Missouri with a view of the Missouri River, and we all know that the river is the lifeblood of this state. It pumps by at a seemingly slow rate while people’s fates are decided, undeterred by the laws that surround it. I would find it oddly comforting, to be sentenced at such a site. At least I could gaze out the window while my life was being judged and written away. I’d like to think that’s what the builders had in mind when crafting the courthouse in 1896. Truth is there probably wasn’t much thought other than, “that would be a nice view,” and maybe simple thinking like that is all this world needs to be successful.

The view of the Gasconade County courthouse from the bridge over the Missouri River is undeniable. The structure sits over the town like a gate.

The view of the Gasconade County courthouse from the bridge over the Missouri River is undeniable. The structure sits over the town like a gate.

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