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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »

A Stitch In Time

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“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 her entire life. McAllister always watched her mother knit clothes for her and, eventually, she learned how to master the art of knitting herself. “I didn’t knit very much in college or when I was younger. I just knew the basics. When I got married and had kids, that’s when I started knitting sweaters and caps for them.” She had a close friend who taught her how to knit socks and hats at the friend’s shop.

There are many details that go into knitting for whichever kind of knitting someone wants to try. When asked if there are different kinds of knitting, Mrs. McAllister explained, “Yes. Sweaters have a different style of yarn; socks have thin types of yarn. Scarves, hats, and mittens all take different techniques.” But when asked what kind of knitting she liked the most, Mrs. Allister’s eyes lit up and she said, “My favorite type would have to be knitting little white baby caps with a red fluff at the top. I used to knit for the babies at Freeman hospital.” She then went on to say, “I did that all out of love and devotion. Freeman bought the yarn and I’d knit and knit forever, until I couldn’t anymore.” Everyone could tell that Mrs. McAllister was the one who knitted the object because she never had seams when she knitted. “It’s like my very own signature,” she added happily.Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 9.47.11 PM

“Knitting is almost a lost art. There aren’t very many young people that like to knit anymore,” she mentioned. Mrs. McAllister used to host knitting classes for anyone who wanted to come. She would have her kids hold the yarn for her so the yarn ball was nice and tight during class. “I’ve always knitted for people. I didn’t know, it gives you a warm feeling inside. People should continue to knit. It’s a very good skill to know.” She has also shared her knitting skills with individuals at Cecil Floyd Elementary School here in Joplin.

Mrs. McAllister knits to this very day. “My mother once told me that whatever I feel like knitting, that’s what I should do.” Whether it be knitting for babies at Freeman, random people at Cecil Floyd, or knitting for fun, Mrs. McAllister says she will always knit.

From Pecan Farming to Healthcare

Four women sort pecans in a small facility in Southeast Kansas

Four women sort pecans in a small facility in Southeast Kansas

Growing up on a pecan farm was just part of life for Pearl. Born and raised in the Ozarks, Pearl probably knows everything there is to know about pecans. From the planting, to the raising, to the harvesting, and to the packaging, she has done it all. Recently we sat down with Pearl, our former neighbor, to gain insight to the story of her life. We found that insight, but we also gained insight into raising pecans.

Pecan trees come in several sizes and shapes. The largest can grow to be seventy feet tall! To be healthy, a pecan tree needs three things: good soil, adequate water, and, a farmer who tends to them daily. Pecan seedlings can be purchased from the Missouri Department of Conservation, but seedlings need to be grafted before they will produce nuts and grow to their full potential. Grafting is the process of taking a limb, stem or root from one tree and attaching it to another in the place where this tree’s limb, stem or root has been cut away. Like most trees, pecan trees come in many breeds. Different breeds of trees grow better in different conditions. To grow to full potential, these trees need as much space as possible. Trees can begin to produce nuts four to six years after grafting.

Pearl was young when she worked on the farm. For her, most of the work was easy. Planting trees and packing nuts was what her typical day consisted of. Even seventy years ago, there were machines used to harvest the nuts, so the hard work was mostly taken care of. Pearl had packaging duty. She would measure out a certain weight in nuts and dump them into a plastic bag. The bag was then sealed and sold.

Four women sort pecans in a small packaging facility in Southeast Kansas.
Pearl’s family’s pecan farm was locally loved. During the Christmas season, her family would go around town and give away nuts as Christmas gifts to everyone in Neosho who wanted pecans. She and her brothers did this so that the Neosho residents could make pecan pies. Pearl and her two brothers would take three bags of pecans, enough for a few pecan pies and wrap the bags together with a red ribbon. Then, the trio would walk around and give pecans away until none were left. The pecan farm is still in operation.

Working on the farm was not Pearl’s favorite way to spend her time. As a child, she hoped for more. She worked hard and often helped her mother tend to the injured. It was a childhood full of broken bones and minor infections that drove Pearl to her lifelong career in healthcare, as well as her fascination of all things medical. After graduating high school, Pearl left the farm to go to nursing school. She never looked back.
When Pearl started her nursing career at a local hospital, patients afflicted with conditions of the mind were often considered “lost causes” by the mainstream medical community. According to Pearl, “It was commonplace for doctors to send patients whom they didn’t completely understand to our facilities. Little did they know that conditions of the mind were just as real, just as serious, and just as treatable as physical ailments.” By the time Pearl ended her career over 40 years later, the world’s attitude towards the mental health industry had changed entirely. This is thanks to doctors and nurses, like Pearl, who helped lead the way in research and treatment of psychiatric patients.

Pearl said that the Ozark’s hospitals performed very well in comparison to other hospitals in the country. It was commonplace for patients from around the nation to be sent to the four states for treatment. Pearl would often strike up conversations with these patients to learn about where they were from and how their treatment differed from hospital to hospital. According to Pearl, “The people who were transferred to our facilities were impressed with our kindness and hospitality. It shocked us to learn how they were treated in other hospitals, and we did everything in our power to make their stay as comfortable as possible.”

Pearl retired from the medical field after a very long and very successful career. She had worked in four hospitals with dozens of doctors and hundreds of other nurses. Pearl did not regret leaving her farm to pursue a medical career, because, according to Pearl, a life helping others in need is a life well spent.

Raising Livestock

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My grandfather Robert was born in March of 1933 in Joplin, Missouri. When he was around five years old, he and his family moved to Kinser Road, which was four and a half miles from Main Street. Grandpa and his family rented a house that was on some acreage. He, his mother, his father, his three younger sisters, and his one younger brother lived in this house. Across the street they had a few more acres with a barn and a pasture that they had rented from the same man that they had rented their house from. Altogether, they had around nine to ten acres.

On this land, my grandfather and his family owned and raised cows. He said that they would usually raise three to five cows at a time and about a hundred chickens every year. He and his father were always in charge of taking care of the cows, and his little brother was in charge of the chickens.

“Every morning I would get up early and go to milk the cows. Then I would feed them and make sure that they had plenty of water. Every evening, I would do the same routine as I did in the morning. In the morning, after we were done milking, I would strain the milk, put it in a can, and then put the can in some cold water so it would chill. We then sold the milk to a truck that came by every morning.” When asked how much he sold it for he said, “It varied, because, the man who drove the truck would figure out how much butter fat was in each ten-gallon can of milk. That amount would determine how much it would be sold for per pound. Then, the truck would take it to the Gateway Creamery that was located at 7th and Virginia in Joplin.”

Grandpa Robert said he never really enjoyed raising the livestock and taking care of them, and he had no favorite task or anything that he specifically enjoyed. “It was tedious work,” he said. He then went on to say that his least favorite part of his job was probably getting up at seven every day to milk and feed the cows, no matter what the weather or the day. “I also hated getting water to water them and to chill the milk because I had to get it from a well. We didn’t have a water pump, just a well out by the barn. I had to throw the bucket down into the water and pull the crank so it would come back up to me.”

Grandpa says that he did learn quite a bit from living on Kinser Road and from the experiences that came with raising the livestock. “I, of course, learned how to take care of the cows, how to feed them, how to water them, and how to milk them. However, I also learned responsibility, because the cows needed to be taken care of by me every day, no matter what. I also learned how to discipline myself. Once in awhile my parents were gone for one reason or another and they weren’t there to help remind me or warn me not to procrastinate with my chores. I’m sure that the lessons I learned helped me sometime later in my life, and I’m grateful for them.”

Grandpa and his family moved away from Kinser Road and from the house they rented in 1950, when he was around seventeen years old. However, he said he gained life lessons and memories he would never forget, abilities that would help him later in life and recollections he could always think of fondly.

Brown, Robert. Personal interview. 25 Nov. 2012

The Life of a Child on the Farm

My grandma Patsy grew up on a farm near Joplin, Missouri. She said the most amount of work was working with the animals. Caring for the Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 2.59.18 PManimals gave Patsy a deeper sense of responsibility and an appreciation for life, because she had to care for an animal that would later provide food them. She and her family lived on the farm and were as self-sufficient as possible. They raised their own animals such as pigs, cows, chickens, and goats. Raising the animals themselves helped her to have a deeper connection to nature.

An upside to raising animals was that Patsy and her family could have access to food, even in hard times, and back then, most everyone was having a hard time. The cows would provide them with milk and meat, the chickens with eggs, food and feathers. The pigs would give them food when they needed. They didn’t have pigs very often. The goats, on the other hand, served a different propose. “We never had a lawn mower; instead we had goats,” said Patsy as she laughed.

One might think that over time they would have a shortage of animals on the farm, but not in this situation. They kept the animals and produce for themselves; therefore, they never sold the goods from the farm. Her role on the farm was that she fed the chickens, milked the cows, and watered the pigs, but Patsy’s favorite thing about living on the farm was that she got to spend a lot of time with the family.

Patsy said the worst part about raising animals was having to wake up early every day, having the cow spill the milk, and seeing the animals die, but it had to be done in order for the family to have food. Everyone had a job or role to be done on the farm. It was expected that you would get it done, because the family was relying on you. Patsy said that her favorite part about raising the animals was getting to see and play with the baby animals. Her family had raised animals since before she was even born; she said that her father and mother decided to raise livestock after he got out of the service.

Patsy thinks that a lot of things about raising animals have changed mostly because a lot of it is done by machines. Now even the cows are milked by machines. Also, she thinks that now people look at more of it as a job, but back when she was younger, it was a way of life and support.

Patsy said that being able to have had the chance to raise animals on the farm was one of the greatest experiences she had ever had. “If you ever have the chance to do something like raise an animal, you should do it,” she said. It has made her responsible, caring, close to nature, and appreciative of where things really come from. To this day, she wastes very little, and what she does discard, she recycles.

Patsy L. Personal Interview. 24 November 2012.


One of Fourteen

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Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 2.30.53 PMWhen my grandmother Norma K. was growing up, she was one of fourteen children. This meant that they had almost enough people for two sports teams, but as much fun as it was, it also brought along some challenges. Going to school, getting on the bus, and even going to church, they were ridiculed for having such a large family. Nonetheless, this was the highlight of Norma’s childhood. “Having a big family was such a blessing.” However, finding a way to feed all of those mouths was quite the struggle sometimes.

 Since the family was so substantial in size, they always needed everything in abundance, including food. They would usually go through a gallon of milk–if not more–in one sitting. Fourteen mouths were sometimes hard to keep fed. They found it much more cost effective to grow and produce much of their food, and their garden was the focal point of their summers.

Helping with weeding and planting was a big task, but finding enough helping hands was never a problem. Always willing to help, the kids would plant and pick the corn, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, and any apples that grew on their land or in the back yard. In the fall came the big challenge of canning and harvesting all the fruits and vegetables. All of the older children in the family had the tedious task of helping can.

“The main way we got our food was from our farm,” said Norma. “Raising chickens for the eggs and cows for the meat and dairy was a big part of our life.”

“The food the other girls and I canned was usually frozen and saved for the winter when we couldn’t harvest.” She said that canning was a cost effective way to preserve the food they enjoyed in the summer time and have it for the harsh Missouri winters.

“All the older boys and my dad were assigned to take care of the animals we had, which was a big task in of itself, let alone to process the dairy so we could have milk. Having hard working brothers and a diligent father was such a blessing,” said Norma.

With the boys working out in the pastures and in the chicken coops, the girls of the family would be sewing or helping out with the ever-growing pile of laundry that accumulated, if not helping out in the kitchen. Ninety-five percent of the things they wore were home-made. Dresses from feed sacks and pants made from bolts of material were traded among neighbors.

“We were always taught to use our resources and never throw anything away. It always had a purpose in our house,” concludes Norma K. It was their way of life.

Koon, Norma. Personal interview. 21 Nov. 2012

Growing Up in Joplin in the ’40s and ’50s

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Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 10.48.41 AM   When someone says 1940 or 1950, what do you think of?  Whatever it is, hold it in your mind and think of how those ideas differs from today? A lot has changed: prices, integration, attitudes, school, rules, what is expected of you, and what is culturally acceptable are just some of the things that have drastically changed over the years. City life was different then than it is now. Mrs. Shirley Hunter, who has lived in Joplin all her life, shared her story with us.

When Mrs. Shirley was a little girl, she lived on 16th and Missouri in the central part of town. Her home, like most in the area, was simple. They were, in her own words “just little bungalows, like a living room, kitchen, two beds, a bath. That was the extent of most of the homes…” They lived very simply as well. By today’s standards they would have been poor. But you see, they did not really see that. Sure Mrs. Shirley didn’t get everything that she wanted, but she was alright with that. She had an uncle and aunt who bought her things, but not all the time, and it was fine. The attitude of needing all this stuff just wasn’t there.

Mrs. Shirley’s family did all their laundry by hand. She and her mother did laundry in a tub with a wringer on the side. They would put the laundry in the hot, soapy water and wring it. She  would rinse i

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t and run it  through the wringer again before hanging it out to dry. Laughing, Mrs. Shirley shared, “It was almost an art.” Hot water wasn’t always running. The heater had to be turned on and off whenever they needed it, because if it wasn’t turned off it could have gotten too hot and exploded.

Mrs. Shirley shared the story of the first time she and her husband went shopping. They filled up their car so full of groceries, they almost couldn’t get them all in there. The total cost for all of those groceries was around thirty dollars. Gas was nineteen cents a gallon. Her job as a teller at the bank paid thirty-five dollars a week. This shows how much time has changed things.

Emerson Elementary was close to her home, so that’s where Mrs. Shirley went for elementary school. They  haven’t always bussed kids across town to go to school. “If you lived in a certain neighborhood, that’s where you went to school,” Mrs. Shirley stated. There were around sixteen elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school.

Mrs. Shirley went to the old South Middle School. In middle school the division of the social classes became a little more evident. At this point in her life, she did not really see that she was poor because everyone around her lived the same way she did. In middle school there were kids from different parts of town. She said, “Some of their dads, maybe some of their dads owned businesses. Maybe they worked at the bank or something like that.  It was a little higher up in the level of the standard of living.”

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Following middle school, Mrs. Shirley attended Memorial High School. High school was very different than it is today, not in the way it was set up, but in the cultural aspect. Mrs. Shirley explains it like this: “Well to begin with, if we behaved the way kids behaved today we all would have been expelled.” Loving on your significant other would not have been tolerated, because according to Mrs. Shirley, you couldn’t even hold hands. If you tried, you would get chewed out by this lady that patrolled the halls whom they called Cowboy Reed.

School was very teacher-oriented and there was not a lot of student interaction. Students learned a great deal of history and they had a class on writing. In this class they learned how to properly write cursive letters. “Back then history had not been altered, and Christopher Columbus still discovered the new world,” said Mrs. Shirley

The schools integrated in the early 50s, but integration really wasn’t that big of a deal in Joplin. In the words of Mrs. Shirley,  “One day they weren’t [integrated] and the next day they were. There was no protesting or anything like that. We only had 4 or 5 black students.” There was a school for the African Americans on 7th Street, halfway between Main and Rangeline.

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For fun, teens would “drag” Main. “The nightly routine was that somehow you got to 1st and Main, and then drove all the way down Main to 32nd street. Then you turned around and you came back. Next you drove through El Rancho and saw who was there, and then you went across the street to CNA and drove through there. Then you went down to 7th street, turned on 7th, went out West 7th and drove to Keller’s and found out where everybody was. Finally, you decided where you wanted to go. If the right boy (or friend) was at the right place, well, that’s where you wanted to go, you know. So it was kind of a routine…” The CNA was on 26th and Main and El Rancho was just across the street. Keller’s was on west 7th Street. These places were all drive-in’s, kind of like Sonic, only they all had a place you could go in if you wanted to.

  The big thing to wear when Mrs. Shirley was a teen was saddle oxfords. “They had a leather sole. They were white on the toe and white on the sides and the back. And across the middle there was a black, sometimes brown, shape, and it looked like a saddle.” Mrs. Shirley gestured towards her shoe. They wore bobby sox with these shoes, which are similar to ankle socks, and they wore skirts all the time. Dresses and cardigans were also a part of their attire. When it was really cold, they might have worn a pair of jeans or slacks up underneath their skirts, but they never just wore slacks.

           Mrs. Shirley and her friend used to go to the movies very often and pay anywhere between ten and fifteen cents to get in. For a quarter they could go the movies, get popcorn, a drink and something else. The movies were typically westerns. The stars were Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Lone Ranger. Then there were biographies. “One of my favorites was … I loved Glen Miller, and there was a movie called The Glen Miller Story. Of course one of my very favorites, Jimmy Stewart, played the part of Glen Miller. And there was a Benny Goodman story. He was a famous, … clarinetist; he played clarinet,“ Mrs. Shirley recalled. The movies had no swearing and were very clean. There was no profanity, because that just wasn’t accepted by society.

There were two movie places in south Joplin and there were three downtown. The three downtown were the Orpheum, the Fox, and the Paramount. Movies would first show in the Fox and the Paramount for two or three weeks before moving to the Orpheum. The places down south were the last stops the movies made before leaving. They would show three movies, two cartoons, and a serial everyday. Moviegoers could get in for the whole afternoon for a dime. A serial was like a TV show that only showed one episode, and people would have to come back to see the next part. The Fox theater is still there. It is the Central Christian sanctuary now, however. Paramount was on the east side of Main between 5th and 6th streets.  The Orpheum was on the corner of 6th and Main.Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 10.49.46 AM

Mrs. Shirley and her friend would walk to and from the theater no matter what time it was, as the streets were safe. Even when they were twelve, it was no big deal. People hardly ever locked their doors, because most everyone was honest and kind. Mrs. Shirley said she felt very safe in her environment and was usually fairly happy.

Though she lived in the city, Mrs. Shirley had some cousins who lived on a farm. They called her the “city cousin.” When they would come visit, or she would go visit them, the cousins would run around together. At times, they would go into department stores and try on hats, even though they weren’t going to buy them. She said it was just to bother the people that were.

While she visited there occasionally, Mrs. Shirley never really learned the ways of the farm. She was a city girl and Joplin was her home. One of the last things she said was, “Have I given you a good picture? You know as I’m telling you all this, I’m seeing this in my mind.” We, too, can only wish that there was a way for her to actually show us her memories of growing up in Joplin in the ‘40s and the ‘50s.

Electronics of the 1920s

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By: Madison

“Beep, Beep, Beep!” I open my eyes and realize that the day has begun. I start to get up and I turn on my iPod and listen to my favorite music to start the day. The sound is blaring in my ears while I am fixing my hair with my hot straightener. I continue to listen to my favorite song as I run downstScreen Shot 2013-05-10 at 4.07.46 PMairs for breakfast. I stick a bagel in the toaster and can feel the warmth on my face as I lean over it, waiting for the bagel to jump out. I grab everything I need for school and run out the door. I get to the car and turn my iPod back on and listen to it all the way to school. That’s how my morning is. Ever think how it was back in the 1920s? Well, they did not have music that they could listen to every morning and they couldn’t be awakened by that irritating sound everyone wants to ignore.

The electronics of the 1920s were not at all like the ones we have today. They had appliances like vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, and limited radio access. Today there is

a larger variety and different quality of electronics than there was earlier. For example, our refrigerators are of a much higher quality, and we can keep things colder and fresher for a longer period of time. We can hold more products in our refrigerators, too. Our washing machines are more high tech. We have buttons that will start the machine for us, making them easier to use. Back then, they didn’t have a self-spinning machine. They had to scrub their own clothes and try to get all the dirt out of them to make them fresh-smelling.

The way electronics affect the way we entertain today has also changed greatly. While talking to Johnnie H. Goodrich, 84, of Joplin, he described what the electronics were like in his early years of life. Explaining what the kids did for entertaining in the 1920s, he said with a laugh, “Back then we didn’t have TV or anything like that. We only had a radio that was a big old console like that, with one of them big long batteries in it. When the battery went dead, it went dead, and you couldn’t recharge them so you ain’t going to get to listen to the radio for very long.”

Growing up having little entertainment, and not many electronics the average day of someone who lived in the 1920s wouldn’t be as easy as today. “They don’t know what tough times was,” declared Johnnie. He pointed out that they didn’t use a lot of the same electronics that we use today.  When I asked him how they stored their food items, he said that sometimes they would make things called “hot houses.” Johnnie explained, “We used to build a pit about two or three feet deep and fill it with straw and stuff like that, and then you would build a hot house but you would take a whole bunch of old wooden windows with the rectangular panes in them and make a frame work… covering the pit. That way it would have glass and the sun would shine in there in the winter time, and we called that a hot house…” What Johnnie explained sounds a lot like today’s greenhouse.

Johnnie taught me how the electronics and storing food has changed from then to now. He taught me about how he lived. He taught me about the differences from when he was a kid, to when he was older. He taught me a lot. And now he has taught you.

Works Cited:

Goodrich, Johnnie. Personal interview. 24 Nov. 2012.

“1920′s Appliances including Prices.” Electrical Goods and Appliances in the 1920s Prices Examples from The People History Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. <http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/20selectrical.html>.

Technology Through the Years

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Have you ever wondered how people acquired information before computers and televisions? Things haven’t always been as they are today. Dependence upon technology continues to increase daily, but one can’t count on technology for all the answers; sometimes the most accurate information one can find is within something that has always been right there, the people around you.

Catherine Ann Iles tell us about how life used to be before having advanced technology. “When I was very young, the only technology we had was a switchboard phone,” Iles states. They had to call the operator that lived in a nearby town and tell them the name of the person they wanted to reach “Although that may sound complex, we didn’t mind, because it made life so much easier, and we were glad we had one,”   Iles also states, “Although growing up on a farm and being the oldest sibling was a lot of work, we made the best of the things we had. ”For fun, Iles and her siblings would play Monopoly, Checkers, dress their dog up for parades and ride horses. “We didn’t have cell phones and computers to waste our days on. You would find us playing outside and making up our own games.” Iles tells us that on Saturday nights, one would find her and her family eating fried shrimp at a local restaurant.  “It was simple, but it was something we looked forward to each week.”

When Iles was six, her family purchased their first TV, which was black and white. They later got a green film to place over the screen to make the TV appear color, but really it was just black and green. Today it is rare to come across someone without a TV; back then, you were very fortunate to have one in your house.

Life has obviously changed a lot since Iles was young. We have so many resources compared to previous generations. Although the things we have today are plentiful, Iles proclaims life was much more simple and peaceful when she was younger. She said they didn’t have to worry about the things we do today. She also said we take things for granted that they didn’t have thirty years ago.

Through the words of Catherine Ann Iles, we can understand more thoroughly how things used to be and how much we have to be thankful for today.

Iles, Catherine. Phone interview. November 18. 2012

The Importance of Cows


By Casera

When people first moved to Joplin to mine, they brought with them animals. Many of these animals were cows. The cows were used for milk and meat. The farmers were in charge of keeping track of the animals and getting meat and dairy products to the miners. The farmers  would have to find a water source, a barn, and a field for their cows.

The average day for a Joplin farmer would begin bright and early when he would milk the cow. He had to sit on a stool and place a pail under the cow to catch the milk. Then he would grab and pull the cow’s udder. The milk would squirt out, and once he had emptied out the cow’s milk sac, he would move on to the next cow. The milk would then be taken back to his house and used for making cheese, making butter, cooking, and for drinking.

Next, the farmer had to take the cows down to the water. Sometimes they would drink out of a trough and sometimes from a spring or another body of water. “My job was to lead all the cows down to the spring after school,” said Delores Johnson, a longtime area resident who grew up on a Joplin farm.  She explained her daily chores to me. “After I did that, my parents would take them to the field and let them graze. The cows would stay there for the whole day. At night my parents would take the cows back to their barn.” This process was repeated daily.

Cows were an important part of a Joplin resident’s life. They were vital for milk and meat. Even though Joplin started as a mining town, the city may not have been as successful without cows and farmers. They provided the necessary food to the miners and their families helping Joplin to become the boom town it was and the city it is.

Myths and Tales of the Spooklight

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                                    Myths and Tales of the Spooklight
On November 23, 2012, Charles Gilstrap of Joplin, shared his thoughts and other information about the Spooklight.
The Spooklight is a myth about an Indian who was carrying a torch searching for his lost love. Nobody knows what it really is, but scientists have studied it and can’t seem to figure it out. Charles was not sure of the exact location, but he said it was close to the Oklahoma border, west of the village of Hornet. There is a bar named Spookies that is near the Spooklight. This bar was actually named after it.

Charles himself has not seen the Spooklight, but he recalls his father telling him that he did around the 1930’s while he was on his horse and buggie. His father told him that the Spooklight is normally the size of a basketball, but can get bigger than the size of a bushel basket. His father had also explained how when you first see the Spooklight, it begins in a field and moves toward the road coming from left or right. You can also see the light anytime of the year. Neither the weather nor anything else has an affect on it. It has a mind of its own.

The Spook Light becomes very popular around Halloween. People from many generations have gone to see it, and over the years it’s almost as if it has become a tradition. Charles shares how disappointed he is because he never got to see the light but heard of many who did. However, he enjoyed spending time with other Spooklight seekers and enjoyed the conversations that came with it.

Mr. Gilstrap was kind enough to leave all of us with his father’s experiences with the Spooklight. “My father was riding in the area of the light on his horse and buggie during the early spring after dusk. He noticed it and was aware of it, so he stopped and watched it approach. Quickly after that he got scared and tried to head home. He looked over and then he saw it. It was hovering over the seat next to him. The light had stayed like that for nearly a mile. Then all of a sudden, it was gone quicker than it appeared.” Later in time when cars were invented, his father decided he was going to drive down to it and see if he would be able to see it again. “My dad mentioned that throughout many times of driving down there, the light would either sit on the hood of the car or inside the car itself.”

Not everybody can get lucky enough to actually see the Spooklight or even get close to it like he did. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try and experience some of these things yourself. Most likely It will continue on for years, just as it has years before.

Gilstrap, Charles. Personal interview. 23 November 2012.

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