Joplin has changed tremendously in the past 90 years. There are obvious differences in the style of clothes, the type of food,
and the norms of society.
Ninety-one year old Bettye Foust, who now lives at Spring River Christian Village Nursing Home, was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. When she was a kid she lived in a small home with three brothers and sisters. Helping out around the house and with the preparation of food wasn’t mandatory for them, but they did pitch in every once in awhile.
“Back then, kids didn’t really help out too much; we definitely didn’t help out as much as we should have. When we did, though, it was always fun,” said Foust.
Foust attended high school at the old Memorial High School where Joplin High School’s ninth and tenth center is now located. School was very different back then, as everything was done on paper or a black board. Now, Joplin High School students use laptops and Smart Boards.
As was common in the 1920s, Foust’s clothes were made by her mother most of the time. She wore cotton dresses that went down to about mid-calf. Pants were not allowed for women at the time. Although her family did not have a farm, they did have one dairy cow that provided milk for their family, and sometimes for the neighbors. Foust’s daily diet was mainly starches; she had tomatoes and potatoes that her family grew in their garden. Meat, when they had it, was a luxury. Only the richer families could afford to have meat for dinner.
“We only had meat a couple of times, from what I can remember, but when we did, I savored every last bite of it,” said Foust.
Downtown Joplin in the late 20s was the place to be on the weekends. Not only was every business located there, but there were frequent festivals and parades.
“There was always something going on, on a Friday or Saturday. It would be packed with so many people. Sometimes it felt like all
of Joplin was there. It was definitely the place to hangout,” recalled Foust.
Every summer around May, Joplin would have a huge festival that just about everyone would attend. There were tons of food to eat and numerous activities to participate in. The activities brought people from anywhere around Joplin who would come to join in the fun. Foust recalls that one year there was even a ferris wheel that, at the time, was the biggest one in the US.
Joplin sure seemed the place to be in the late 1920s. It has grown in many ways and one can assume it will continue to grow.