Tag Archives: history

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, 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.


“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


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.


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.


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>.

Gardening: More than just a Pastime


At the time of my grandfather Dennis Gilbert’s childhood, World War II was just beginning, and sacrifices had to be made by civilians like him in order to support America’s troops. On top of various materials and tools, such as tires and gasoline, food had to be rationed so that sufficient supplies could be sent to soldiers who were fighting overseas. Although these rations were not debilitating, families usually had little, if any, extra food. Small family gardens were perfect solutions to this food problem. My grandfather assured me that his family would have been fine even if they had not planted a garden each year. Their gardens were rationing-postersimply used to supplement their stores of food. He went on to tell me that their garden produced delicious fresh vegetables that were difficult to obtain in any other way. Because they were such wise investments, family gardens were fairly common during this time. They were small and could be managed by a small team, yet they still produced a fair harvest each year.


Gardens, profitable as they were, required much effort to maintain. Pests, weeds, and disease had to be combated constantly. In addition, the ground had to be marked out, tilled, cultivated, and fertilized on a regular basis. To make matters worse, this work had to be done manually unless expensive farm equipment was available. As a child, my grandfather had to turn the dirt of his family’s garden with a pitchfork, and he and his mom had to cultivate the ground with a hoe before planting. His father was unable to help them, as he worked twelve hour days, six days a week.

Victory Garden

These struggles didn’t stop families from gardening, however! In fact, according to my grandfather, the ratio of agriculture- related professions to more urban, technology- focused professions was 50-50. As my grandfather said, “I enjoyed getting out there in the garden and working.” He also told me that his ancestors were farmers, and that “farming was in our blood. … I inherited that.”Part of small time gardening’s success came from the efforts of the national government, which helped convince people to garden. It glorified these gardens, deeming them “Victory Gardens” because they allowed for a greater amount of supplies to be shipped to soldiers fighting in WWII. In my grandfather’s family, young children did not work on the gardens. As he grew up, however, he began to take on most of the gardening responsibility, and all of the hard labor went to him, while his mother helped out in other areas. Fortunately for him, his family moved to Connecticut when he was in high school, and a neighbor named Mr. Knapp helped plow the garden with his tractor. In addition, my grandfather’s dad got a machine called a rototiller, which dramatically helped him till the ground. These machines made work much easier, and they increased the size and productivity of his family’s garden.


Such help as that which my grandfather’s family received was not uncommon. In fact, families in the same neighborhood usually helped each other out when another was going through a tough time. For example, if a family was too sick to work, or if someone in that family was injured, their neighbors would work the garden until they recovered. Families also shared their harvests, and the elderly, especially, were given produce often. Only a few varieties of crops were planted by each family in my grandfather’s neighborhood, so families would trade surplus produce. My grandfather’s neighbors were very fond of growing zucchini, and they gave their extra stores of it to his family. There were a few staple crops that almost everyone grew. These included tomatoes, squash, green beans, corn, cucumbers, beets, bell peppers, and radishes.


After considering common issues in today’s society, my grandfather told me that he feels every family should have a garden. He then continued to tell me that if family members worked together on such a project, they would develop a closer bond with each Gardens have greatly affected Missouri. Cities, communities, and even individuals are different as a result of it.  This lifestyle has become a part of our heritage, and as long as there is a single gardener in Missouri, it will always be important.  Regardless of how it is conducted, gardening will always play a role in shaping our culture.other. He also explained that young children would come to develop an understanding and appreciation for gardening and hoped that they would eventually begin a similar project with their own families, continuing the cycle.  He concluded, “There’s just something about going out and picking garden-fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, or green beans. There’s a sense of accomplishment. It would help teach responsibility to children.” He told me that it is easy to get into gardening, and that there is a variety of gardens that can be grown, such as flower and vegetable gardens.




Gilbert, Dennis.  Personal interview.  24 Nov. 2012

“Victory Garden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

Berger, David. “Country Lore: Homemade Rototiller.” Mother Earth News. N.p., Apr.-May 2007. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.

“Retired Man Cultivating Plants.” 123RF Stock Photos. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.

Stambaugh, Liz. “How Personal Recycling Can Help Your Garden And Wallet.”Examiner.com. N.p., 10 Mar. 2009. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.

Selasa. “Guide Food Travel.” : WWII Rationing: Golden Barley Soup and Mock Duck. N.p., 1 Nov. 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

Southwest Missouri Mines


Joplin, Missouri and the surrounding towns were founded on mining. Don Hunter grew up on the outskirts of Joplin, where he still resides today. Mr. Hunter visited the mines often as a child because both his father and uncle were miners.

The mines were very dangerous places shared Hunter. “My uncle died in the mines. He was drunk when he got off of his shift one night. When he got off of the shaft elevator, he tripped and fell back down the shaft. Somebody caught him by his boots, but he fell out of them.”

Not only was mining dangerous, the process was also very extensive and labor intensive. Holes for dynamite were drilled with spud bars. One miner would hold the spud bar while the other forced it deeper into the wall. Then dynamite would be stuck in the hole, and ignited. The dynamite blew the rocks and minerals into pieces. The rocks and dirt were separated by sludge tables. Sludge tables consisted of a wooden table with pegs that progressively became closer and closer. Flowing water would carry the dirt and mineral mixture through the pegs, which would separate the minerals from the dirt. There were usually fifteen or more sludge tables working at a time in one mine. Mr. Hunter’s father was the ground boss at one of the mines. His job was to run the cables that moved the dirt and minerals out of the shafts.The machine consisted of a pulley with cups attached to it. The cups would scoop up the dirt or minerals and then take it to the exterior of the shaft, where it would be dumped on the ground through a funnel. This is how all the tailing piles around here were made.

Once the minerals such as zinc, lead, and ore were mined, they would be taken to factories in ore trucks. Mr. Hunter recalls wanting to be an ore truck driver when he was younger. According to him, there was a man at Wilder’s restaurant in downtown Joplin who actually bought ore. Ore dust would slip through the cracks in the office floorboards. After awhile he would lift the floorboards up and gather all the loose ore dust. The mines in the area were so extensive that miners were able to drive from Webb City, Missouri all the way to Quapaw, Oklahoma underground. There are roads in Joplin that are built over the old mines. Special mine cars were used to get from shaft to shaft underground. The cars were miniature size with special water filters to extract the exhaust.

Mr. Hunter provided great insight into our past mining world. The mines played a large role in the history of Joplin and its surrounding areas. Our ancestors worked hard  to create the place we live in now, and we can still see the effects of their hard work today.

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