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Daily Life During World War II: The Home Front

My great grandfather, Mr. Jordan, agreed to speak about his daily life during World War II. He sat and had a hard time figuring out how old he was in 1939. “Well, More »

FarmLife

Farm-Life In Action

Eileen is a very family-oriented women. She has lived in Joplin as long as she can remember. Not only does Eileen have seven other siblings, but she also has a twin. For More »

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Peggy Gets Schooled

When Peggy remembers her time at Memorial High School, the thing that stands out the most is her graduation in 1954. “My graduating class was so large, we lined up at the More »

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From the Great Depression to Civil Rights: Life in Southwest Missouri

Ms. Ritter moved to the 4-State area in 1937 after living in Colorado for nine years. “Life was much easier in Colorado compared to McDonald County. The communities were closer and everyone More »

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The Story Behind Twin Hills Golf and Country Club

Twin Hills Golf and Country Club in Joplin, MO was founded by Howard Gray in 1911, following a conversation about golf among friends while visiting the area’s only country club at the More »

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A Single Light

My grandmother Myrna was born in 1937 in Joplin, Missouri, and as she was growing up, there were quite a few superstitions around Joplin. The most interesting was the Hornet Spook Light, More »

kroger

Life in the 60′s

Life for Mrs. Minnie has been interesting as well challenging. Born in 1929 in Steelville, Missouri, Minnie moved to Joplin sometime in the 1960. At that time, there were two high schools, More »

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A Stitch In Time

“When I was a child, my mother taught me to knit, and the first thing she taught me was how to knit a dishcloth,” said Mrs. McAllister, who has lived in Joplin More »

Growing up in Carl Junction

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      Ninety-year-old Margaret was born in January of 1923. Today she lives in a residential home in Missouri. Living in Missouri her whole life, Margaret can still remember the days when she was young, running and playing by Buffalo Creek on the weekends, and on school days, crossing the bridge to reach her first grade schoolhouse, Orange School. When she was released from school, she would make the five-mile walk down and around the woods, then walk through the field and around the timber to avoid the gypsies.

        In the 1920s people thought of the gypsies as being drunken men and women looking to stir up trouble. Margaret can still hear the strange noises coming from the woods as she passed by them everyday after school. She would walk fast in order to avoid any contact with the gypsies. Meanwhile, at her home, her younger sister, Ola May, and occasionally her older brother, William, would be doing their best to help their mother around the house. Her father wasn’t around very much because he was working most of the time as a bricklayer.

In the town where Margaret lived there were gatherings on Fridays, called Farmer Day Fridays. It was a party. Margaret said that most people just got drunk and rowdy, so she decided never to attend those parties. Instead, she would sit outside the building waiting for her friends so she could be their “designated driver.”

One night when she was sitting outside, a young man, who the people around town called Junior, started talking to Margaret. He asked, “Would you like to go inside with me?” She replied, “No, thank you.” Junior went inside by himself, but every Friday he would ask her the same question. Finally, she said “yes.” In Margaret’s eyes, this was the best night of her life. It was as if she was Cinderella and Junior was Prince Charming. They danced the night away, talking and laughing as if they were all alone.  Come Monday, Margaret returned to high school and Junior went back to work. They continued their meetings on Farmer Day Fridays.

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The summer of 1940 was approaching when Junior asked Margaret to run away with him. She was ecstatic but wanted to finish her high school education first. Once she graduated, Junior took her hand in marriage and would spend the rest of his life with her. Together they raised six children: James, Katherine, Steven, Margaret, Grace, and Ann. Junior passed away from cancer in 2006. In her last few years Margaret has also lost a brother and a sister to cancer.

In 2011, Ola May, Margaret’s sister, passed away suddenly in the same residential home in which Margaret resides. They were together when Ola May left this life. Margaret states that she herself is just living out the rest of her days until the good Lord takes her to her home sweet home, home to her family and friends.

Coco Solo to Joplin

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“I married a gringo and then somehow ended up in Joplin,” were the very first words Mrs. Stokes shared regarding her transition from Panama to Joplin, MO.

Mrs. Stokes was born in 1930 and raised in Coco Solo, Panama, until her fifties when her husband retired from his job and wanted to come back to his hometown. It was June of 1984 when they arrived with their youngest daughter, Brenda, who was entering her last year of high school. Brenda was a part of the very last graduating class at Memorial High School before the Joplin School District decided to combine Parkwood High School and Memorial High School into Joplin High School.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 8.03.26 AMMr. Stokes had lived in Joplin his whole life until he joined the Navy in his late teens. He previously lived on the corner of 4th and Florida, though it is now just an empty lot. The original steps from his home are still there to this day.

“I think the change was the hardest for Brenda. It’s one thing to move schools. It was another to move countries,” Mrs. Stokes continued. “I remember us always thinking how weird it was that it didn’t get dark until late at night. In Panama, it was always dark by 6 p.m., 365 days a year!”

The ladies was put in a sticky situation. Mrs. Stokes’s English had never been the best, and Brenda was at a new school in an entirely different country.

“It was kind of like a whole new world for Brenda and me. I mean we had cars and stores in Panama; it wasn’t like we were in the middle of nowhere! It was just like all the little things were different,” she elaborated. “I loved and supported my husband so I wanted to do what was best for him.”

After about two years, life in Joplin was becoming the new “normal” for the family. Then in 1986, Mr. Stokes was diagnosed with Alzheimers. With Brenda now out of the house, Mrs. Stokes had more on her plate than she would have ever thought.

“It was hard being away from home and people that you’ve known your whole life, then being thrown with a situation like this.”

Mrs. Stokes managed to do her very best for her and her husband. Her middle daughter, Jennefer, was stationed at St. Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, so that made it a bit easier to visit. It wasn’t until 1995 that Jennefer and her husband left Illinois and moved to Joplin to really give a helping hand to Mrs. Stokes when her husband started to get sick. In October of 1997, Mr. Stokes passed away from pneumonia. He was still battling Alzheimer’s at the time.

“I know moving here wasn’t for nothing. I miss my home always; I’ll always love it dearly. But now I get to see my beautiful daughter and the wonderful family that she’s brought into my life. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

 

Daily Life During World War II: The Home Front

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My great grandfather, Mr. Jordan, agreed to speak about his daily life during World War II. He sat and had a hard time figuring out how old he was in 1939. “Well, I was eleven when the war started. I must’ve just started middle school.” Jordan started laughing and saying he barely remembers who his teacher was, let alone what his opinion of the war was at the time. Although he wasn’t directly affected by the war, plenty of other Americans were. The sense of patriotism took over the nation as every man, woman, and child tried to help with the war effort.

The U.S. wanted their economic output maximized and put rations on all durable goods such as clothing, gasoline, and meat. The rations guaranteed that everyone, even the poor, would get the necessities needed and prevent the products’ prices from inflating. Typewriters, coffee, sugar, gasoline, bicycles, clothing, fuel oil, silk, nylon, stoves, shoes, meat, cheese, butter, lard, margarine, canned foods, dried fruits, and jam all needed government rationed coupons by 1943. This caused Americans to save their money instead of blowing it after the war, preventing a second Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt placed heavy taxes on the American people to try to pay for the war as it was going on.

The government also recruited celebrities to help push the American people to buy war bonds to finance the war. They pushed Americans to put 10% of their paycheck into buying war bonds.

“I remember the war bonds being $18.75, and when you turned one in ten years later, it was worth $25.00,” said Mr. Jordan.IMG_5796

“My mom did everything she could to try and help!” chimed in Mrs. Jordan.

Now this fits with most women in America. They stormed the workplace to replace the men who had gone to the war front. “Rosie the Riveter” is the famous figure for women in the manufacturing business during the time. This helped change the view of women in society.

Women were now useful in the work force, and the girls that were growing up learned to work for themselves as well. They didn’t need to rely on the men coming back, women had learned to grab their independence.

“When the war ended, we were… sixteen and had just met,” said Mrs. Jordan with a smile as she looked at Mr. Jordan. “There were parties in the street for a week afterward. Men drinking and hollering, the women talking and dancing with the children, and the teenagers with stars in their eyes. I’ve never seen so many happy people in one place.”

All of America was the same way. Cities celebrated with fireworks and picnics, the news on every radio and every television, and even some shouting from rooftops. There is no doubt that World War II not only affected the soldiers, but also the citizens back at home.

Farm-Life In Action

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Eileen is a very family-oriented women. She has lived in Joplin as long as she can remember. Not only does Eileen have seven other siblings, but she also has a twin. For the last fourty years she has raised two kids of her own, and she enjoys nothing more than spending time with her four precious grandchildren.

Eileen and her family lived on a farm. She had many responsibilities while growing up and believed that life on the farm was very different from life in the city because the long list of daily chores that she and her siblings had. Chores on her family’s farm included mowing the lawn, watering their garden, and putting up the produce they grew. She and her family picked and snapped green beans, as well as canned a variety of other fruits and vegetables such as apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and berries. In order to prepare for the cold winter, they had to be willing to finish all these time consuming tasks. They were beyond ready when that time of year came along.

CowPictureEileen mentioned that she felt her generation was more hardworking because they did not have as advanced technology compared to our generation today. The boys and men in the family mainly spent long hours tending to the field, while the women mostly did house labor. When doing laundry, they had to use a broomstick to get the clothes out. The soapy water was excruciatingly hot, therefore, they couldn’t stick their bare hands in the wringer washer. That wasn’t the only thing that caused problems. The only clean drinkable water they had in the house was from the kitchen sink. Things may have been a little different back then, but Eileen said, “Every child had their responsibilities, and were meant to help their family make a living somehow.”

Growing up on a farm helped develop and shape Eileen into the accomplished lady she is today. She is a very wise woman who was extremely willing, and excited about telling about her life. She wanted everyone to take from this that no matter how you were raised, there were special memories and lessons that were meant to be remembered from your timeline of life. Eileen said, that for her living on the farm, “surely wasn’t that bad. I think everyone needs to experience it. You learn responsibility and respect real quick, and being able to observe the beauty of nature and animal life was very life-changing.”

Peggy Gets Schooled

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When Peggy remembers her time at Memorial High School, the thing that stands out the most is her graduation in 1954. “My graduating class was so large, we lined up at the school and walked all the way over to Memorial Hall. Oh, it was so hot that summer!” she reminisces. When she learns that we now use the whole MSSU gymnasium for graduation, she laughs. “I guess there’s a lot more high schoolers and a lot less farm boys. Back in my day, a lot of kids didn’t go [to school] past 8th grade or so. Went to work on the farms.”

After that discussion, Peggy talked about cultural happenings while she was in school, beginning with television, of all things. “It was just showing up. My mom and dad wouldn’t get one for us, but that was fine. There was always something to do. I lived on a farm. When there wasn’t work, there was something else. ‘Take a walk and find yourself.’ That’s what my mom always said. And then there was rock and roll. Everyone loved it, [my husband] especially.” When asked about political issues, she waves the question away, laughing. “What teenager pays attention to politics? I know you do, hon. that’s why I like you so much. Now go eat something. You look like you’re going to blow away with the next windy day!”

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From the Great Depression to Civil Rights: Life in Southwest Missouri

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Ms. Ritter moved to the 4-State area in 1937 after living in Colorado for nine years. “Life was much easier in Colorado compared to McDonald County. The communities were closer and everyone looked out for each other. After living in this area for much of my life, I am very glad to have moved to Missouri.” Growing up with three siblings–one sister and two brothers– she learned family was the most important thing in life. To this day she still lives by that principle.

By the time Ms. Ritter moved to the Midwest, she had already lived through most of the Great Depression. “It was the happiest time in my life. I’mnot making that up; I honestly didn’t have anything to compare the event to, so I didn’t know any different way of growing up,” she recalled. It meant being able to spend more time with her relatives. When she first moved to Noel, Ms. Ritter lived in a log cabin with no electricity or running water. She and her siblings would go down to a spring in the woods close to their house to fetch water for drinking and other purposes. “There are so many good memories from that spring. We were blessed to have our neighbors share their produce from the garden they tended by the water.”

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Both of Ms. Ritter’s brothers were shipped overseas for WWII. “By that time in their lives they were old enough and smart enough for me to know they would be just fine.” She always wanted to go to college to become a nurse, but not wanting to be burden to her family, she decided to work in multiple diners and at the local drugstore in town.

Civil Rights were no different in McDonald County than in other places, but in Ms. Ritter’s family, things were different. “I wasn’t brought up the way most people were in this area. Just because they had another color of skin, it didn’t make them any worse than myself! I taught my children the same thing I was taught, and that’s if God loves them, then you love them, too.” Ms. Ritter recalls one holiday season where her brother contacted them. “He had called to ask if it would be alright with everyone if he could bring home one of his colored friends for the season. Heaven only knows why, but he knew we would treat him like our own!” Her brother’s friend was only allowed to hang around them in the comfort of their home. “I can remember out of all the silly laws they made, one really made me angry; the colored people weren’t allowed to even stay in the county overnight.”

Ms. Ritter’s husband had strong Indian ties. Living in the area, Indian heritage wasn’t something to be proud of at the time. “People didn’t want to embrace their roots, because of the terrible thing our country did to them. That didn’t bother me though; I wanted my children to be proud of their heritage, so that’s how I raised them.”

Throughout all the milestones in history, Ms. Ritter says McDonald County has changed greatly. It went from being the hotspot of the summer to a small, tight knit community. She is glad that she ended up there.

The Story Behind Twin Hills Golf and Country Club

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Twin Hills Golf and Country Club in Joplin, MO was founded by Howard Gray in 1911, following a conversation about golf among friends while visiting the area’s only country club at the time, which was located in Riverton, KS.  The land was donated by Howard’s friend Gus Mattes and his brother Frank Mattes. The original course was designed by John Rodd from England, and its name at that time was Oak Hill Golf and Country Club. Howard Gray, Gus Mattes, Frank Mattes, Will Parker, Newell Holbrook, Ed Hall, Mitchell Gregg, John Parks, Norman Rood, and Harold Rood are the founding members of Twin Hills Golf and Country Club, formerly the Oak Hill Golf and Country Club. The current clubhouse was constructed in 1947.

Early golf professionals such as Jimmy Ferrell, Walter Hagen, Horton Smith, Ky Laffoon, Patty Berg, and Ben Hogan hosted exhibitions, often as many as one hundred a year. These were some of the bigger events that Twin Hills has hosted. Low purse structures for these early tournaments enabled the Club to host a variety of golf professionals.

Some major events that have been hosted over the years at Twin Hills include the Missouri Amature Championship, the Missouri Senior Golf Championship, the Missouri Women’s Senior Golf Championship, the Boys and Girls State Championships, the Nike Qualifier, and the NCAA II Super Regional. Twin Hills has several unique golf tournament traditions which include the longest running amatuer invitional west of the Mississippi, the Twin Hills Invitational, and the Pro-Am.

Local golf historian, Doug Adams, has been the Head Golf Professional at Twin Hills for 20 years, as well as wearing the hat of General Manager for the past 17 years. Adams was attracted to Joplin because of its small town feel, its great school system, the outstanding history behind Twin Hills, and the close-knit golf community of the Club.

The original designation of land to form a golf course that eventually became Twin Hills has evolved into a popular site for entertainment and recreation. Not only do members have a golf course but also a swimming pool, outstanding tennis courts, and diverse dining options. Several dining areas provide convenient opportunities for members to enjoy delicious food. Twin Hills Golf and Country Club continues to grow and provide recreational and entertainment opportunities for members and guests.

 

A Single Light

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My grandmother Myrna was born in 1937 in Joplin, Missouri, and as she was growing up, there were quite a few superstitions around Joplin. The most interesting was the Hornet Spook Light, a very mysterious light that just… floats there. That’s it – there’s not a lot to it. “There’s so much more to uncover once you start looking deeper,” my grandmother told me. “It’s interesting by itself, but once you learn about the legends, it really starts getting interesting.”

Whenever she was younger, my grandmother went to visit this mysterious legend, wanting to see it for herself. She sat in the car anxiously, hoping to see something; she was with her father who didn’t believe any of it was actually true. They remained silent. The legend says if you’re too loud or move too much it won’t come near. “The anxiety was incredible,” grandmother said regarding waiting. “Seconds felt like minutes.”

Her father was getting impatient. Suddenly, though, the light was right next to him, right in the passenger seat. They both remained very still. My grandmother slowly leaned forward in an attempt to touch it, but it fled, moving so fast it was barely believable. “It was scary but so interesting!” my grandmother exclaimed.

She couldn’t find it again that night, but that didn’t stop her from searching for more information. She spoke to her friends, asking what they knew about it. Some claimed it was two Indian lovers who were put to death and were attempting to find each other. Another legend says that it’s the lantern of an undead miner, attempting to find his children who were kidnapped by Indians. According to legend, he continues to look for them, using only a lantern to light the way, and that the light is his only hope.

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“I don’t know what it is; all I know is that it’s something. Whether any of the legends are true or can be explained, it’s still there. It may always be. Obviously, all it takes is one light to lead the way,” my grandmother said happily.

Life in the 60′s

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Life for Mrs. Minnie has been interesting as well challenging. Born in 1929 in Steelville, Missouri, Minnie moved to Joplin sometime in the 1960. At that time, there were two high schools, Memorial and Parkwood. There were no interstates, and Rangeline, and all other main roads, were two lanes. There were no Wal-Marts or big name stores, besides Sears and JCPenney. If someone wanted jeans or school clothes, those are the places they would go. When Minnie moved to Joplin there were only five houses and Parkwood High School in her area.

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Fashion in the 1960s was not much different. Dresses went to the knees or below. Women would wear dresses out in public and to church. Most women were not accustomed to wearing jeans in public, but when they did, they were not fitted. Women would have to roll them up halfway to their knees. Guys wore jeans and plaid shirts or work clothes like today. Both girls and guys wore saddle shoes. The prices of clothes were much cheaper, but most of the time they would make their own clothes. In school, girls were taught women how to sew so they could make their own clothes.

Joplin is different now than in the 1960s. Even if Minnie had the chance to go back, she wouldn’t. She appreciates the times much more now.

 

History in Joplin, Missouri

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Driving down Main Street in Joplin, Missouri, in 2013, it is hard to image a thriving town with the rich history and the bustling local businesses of the 1940’s. Mrs. Earlene Ivy lived in this era and knows first hand what it was like.

Mrs. Ivy lived outside of the Joplin area until the Great Depression hit in the 1930s. Her father decided that taking care of a family in hard times was too difficult for him to handle, so he left them all behind. Young Earlene moved in with her grandparents on some farm land outside of the Joplin city limits. Her mother worked as a school teacher in Joplin. Mrs. Ivy remembers how her mother had difficulty getting a teaching position because she was female. She said that all the local teacher positions were given to the men because, in that day, it was believed that men were to support the family. “Apparently single mothers didn’t need the support as much,” Mrs. Ivy said with a mild bitterness.

Earlene Ivy remembers when she first started attending West Central Elementary in the fourth grade and how strange it was to have more than one room in a school, and how “awful it was to have to change classes.” She recalls one time getting into trouble when she was called on by a teacher who was originally from Massachusetts. She responded to a question with, “Yes, Ma’am.” The teacher was so sure that young Earlene was making a reference to how the slaves used to talk, and that was “just unacceptable.” Poor Earlene said she wanted to just crawl under her little desk and hide while the teacher was reprimanding her for her accidental mistake.

After her grandfather died, little Earlene, her mother, and her grandmother moved into town into a five-room apartment. Earlene went first to West Central Elementary then North Junior High School. She recalls how everything in the school was for the “War Effort.” Students collected scrap metal, clothing, and seemingly anything they could get their hands on.

She was out of school by the time there was racial integration, but she remembers that the teachers were the first to be integrated, followed by the students. Mrs. Ivy believes that the integration was done slowly, so as to not create a culture shock.

When asked about equality, Mrs. Ivy responded with, “Growing up, there was no equality…Women weren’t second class. They were more to be cherished. There was no wait until your father gets home, because if the child was in trouble, the mother took care of the discipline. Don’t get me wrong, even in John Wayne there are references made about having to wait until marriage before you can hit her. The man was always the head of the household, no question about it, but not everyone was dependent on them.” Mrs. Earlene Ivy spoke of how she knew successful women business owners in her time. She believes that great changes have been made for women’s equality, but she’s not sure all of them are for the better.

Even though there were two roller-skating rinks in town, Mrs. Ivy remembers how she would rollerskate with her friends from 8th and Connor all the way to Stone’s Corner, then get a ride back into town. Kids would usually go to the rinks unless there was a football or a basketball game.There were also dances. She laughs as she says, “Apparently it had been decided years and years before that every guy and gal was supposed to take lessons in ballroom dancing.” Different businesses around the town would host the dances for the teenagers.

The majority of the businesses in Joplin were centralized on Main Street or Joplin Avenue. There were clothing stores, hat stores, shoe stores, grocery stores, many of the stores that could now be found in a mall. In fact, Mrs. Ivy stated, “I would say most of the changes happened when the North Park Mall was constructed by Rangeline Road. A lot of the businesses moved to accommodate the road when it was made into a highway.”

Mrs. Ivy’s very first paying job was at McGee’s Drug Store, where she worked at the soda fountain for 35¢ an hour. There was no minimum wage, and the store owners would pay whatever they wanted to. She said that all the businesses were “Mom and Pop” stores along Main Street. The library was behind Memorial High School and was called the Carnegie Hall Public Library, though that building is now in disrepair.

juliapix So much has changed since the early years of Earlene Ivy’s life. New technology has been created. Housing additions have been put up, and old houses torn down. People have moved, both to and from Joplin, but the history still remains in those people old enough to remember, and in the stories they tell to whomever will listen.

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