Archive for the ‘Missouri’ Tag

Things I Learned At The Street Fair, 2015   7 comments

I returned to the Graham Street Fair after a 38 year absence. While I was in Missouri for a delightful weekend, I learned a few things….

  1. My biggest fear in returning to Graham after such a long absence was that I wouldn’t recognize anyone.
  2. I recognized some people. Honest.
  3. I didn’t recognize a LOT of people. Sorry.
  4. I grew up in the Graham Methodist Church. I haven’t been in that church since … 1972? It’s been a while. They have a new kitchen/fellowship room/annex. I’m not sure what they call it, but it’s handicap accessible, has a full kitchen, and seats … well, everybody. That’s how it seemed, anyway. Lovely place. We went to the church for a pot luck lunch that they offered, and we saw many, many people there. Met the new pastor. Ran into a lot of friends, family, classmates, families of classmates … friends. Fabulous time, all in all. Great lunch, before the parade. And since there’s no restaurant in town, this was the only sit-down meal option.
  5. Do they still ring the bell for Sunday morning services, even though it’s no longer in the steeple? I loved ringing that bell.
  6. The sanctuary got smaller. At least, it used to be a lot bigger in my mind. Like everything except my waistline, apparently.
  7. Vehicles in the parking lot for the church included 2 UTVs. Do people actually drive these around town? When did that become a thing?
  8. There’s a new business in town: Graham Feed & Seed. I’m told they employ as many as 18 or 20 people, in season. They had 4 trucks in the parade, I believe. That’s incredible, and speaks to new hope for employment in the area. And, they have a Facebook page, so I know they’re legit.
  9. Overheard, on health care: “After you’re 40, it’s all maintenance.”
  10. Brought my longest telephoto lens to shoot the parade. Didn’t need it, of course. I forgot that I could sit right on the parade route. And switch sides as needed. To shoot the parade photos, I used the shortest lens I own. I could have used a fisheye lens. I was close to the action. Thisclose.
  11. One of the kids’ entries into the parade included a cat that was to ride along in the owners’ kids’ vehicle. I’m told the cat took exception to being drafted into the parade, and took off for parts unknown before the parade began. I never heard if the cat was found.
  12. What happened to the marching band uniforms? No excuse for the look of the band. IMHO. But then, I’m old.
  13. I’m told that 50 kids are in the band this year, which is truly an incredible accomplishment. Congrats to the band teacher, whoever you are. You’ve clearly got it going on. But, if you’d like a consultation on uniforms….
  14. The Nodaway Holt Trojans of Graham/Maitland/Skidmore did not have enough students enrolled that wanted to play football to field a team this year. And, come to find out, neither did the South Holt Knights of Oregon. They decided to merge, and have created the SH/NH Spartans. The team is currently 1-1, come to find out.
  15. South Holt has embraced the concept, and has the Spartan logo incorporated into the header of their website. Nodaway Holt? Not so much. Mergers are difficult.
  16. The most fun in the parade, though, was when the Spartan cheerleaders launched a seemingly unprovoked water balloon attack on the Spartan football team (which had 28 members in the team photo that published in the Maryville Daily Forum, by the way). In any event, I took this bit of fun as a good sign that there was team spirit, in spite of the new 2-school merger. Further, I took the fact that the football team jumped off of a moving vehicle and ran away from the liquid assault without a single injury to be a good sign as well. Ah, youth.
  17. Kudos to the football players who marched with the marching band, and then circled back to get back into the parade on the Spartan football team float. Good for you.
  18. I’m told there are 102 students in the Graham high school building this year, down significantly from when I was in the class of ’74. This year’s senior class numbers 20 … my class, 41 years ago, was 36 as I recall. The school is shrinking.
  19. Graham’s population in 1970: 213. Population in 2010: 171. That’s a loss of 20%. The loss in the senior class from 1974 – 2015, though, was 44%. Young families have left town, clearly.
  20. There’s no way to feel good about the viability of Nodaway-Holt – and South Holt – in the long term. The population shrinkage – that I was a part of – indicates more school mergers are needed, I fear.
  21. Did anyone know why those young men were walking in the parade in faux Indian costumes? They are Boy Scouts, and represent the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. A little signage wouldn’t hurt…. And yours truly, Tom Tom Beater Twisted Grass, was surprised that costumes were not as intricate as I remembered.
  22. Graham has truly lost its center. All of the businesses on “Main Street” east of the hardware are gone. The post office building is condemned. Speck’s grocery store has fallen in. The A&A has trees growing up through the floor. There is no downtown.
  23. Since when are there vendors at the Street Fair? Made me feel like I was at … well, like at a Street Fair. In California, with Mrs. M’s Handmade. Just sayin’!
  24. I got to the Fire Station after the parade, hoping to see who won the blue ribbons for all of the arts, crafts & produce. Either I was late, and many of the entries has already been removed … or this is no longer the big deal that it was in the old bank building. SHOCKING. I wish I would have brought cutting boards to enter.
  25. Congrats to Kirby Hanson who won a Grand Prize for a sweet corn entry. As he said on Facebook, “Finally!”
  26. This little town of Graham, MO, population 171, had at least 500 people watching the parade, and then had … 200? … actually appearing in the parade.
  27. It was very nice having adult conversations with classmates – perhaps my first adult conversations with them, ever. I believe I saw 4 classmates. Great to catch up, Michelle, Susan, Becky & Teresa!
  28. Where was everybody else? I know others had to be here … somewhere. Sorry I missed you.
  29. Great to see my Shull family at the parade, and my Mowry family at our family reunion after the parade. Family is a wonderful thing.

So, what did I learn by going back to the Street Fair after being gone for so long?

There’s no place like home.


My Mother, Who Is Grand

Graham Street Fair Parade, 2015, Part 1

Graham Street Fair Parade, Part 2

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (3/25/2014)




Posted September 3, 2015 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Graham Street Fair Parade, Part 2   1 comment

Cruzn To The Street FairHere are the rest of my picture of the Graham Street Fair Parade. I tried to shoot every entry into the parade, but I know I missed a few.

I was distracted at one point by a thundering herd of Nodaway/Holt County teenaged beef running past. It seems that the Spartan cheerleaders had launched a sneak water balloon attack against the Spartan football team (more on that tomorrow), and the boys sought refuge further down the street.

Come back tomorrow for my final installment about the Street Fair … you’ll read what I learned at my first visit to the Graham Street Fair in 38 years.


Graham Street Fair Parade, 2015, Part 1

My Mother, Who Is Grand

Posted September 2, 2015 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Graham Street Fair Parade, 2015, Part 1   3 comments

This is part 1 of my pictures of this year’s Graham Street Fair parade.

The event took place on Saturday, 8/29/15, with my mother, Letha Shull Mowry, as the Grand Marshall. She led the parade, of course, so let’s get started!


My Mother, Who Is Grand

Posted September 1, 2015 by henrymowry in Living Life

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My Mother, Who Is Grand   9 comments

Cruzn To The Street FairMy mother was selected to be the 2015 Grand Marshall of our hometown parade at the Graham Street Fair. It seems only fitting, as you will learn, since she helped plan the first Street Fair 64 years ago.

Here is her story, as told by her in the “Cruz’n To The Fair” program book for the 2015 Graham Street Fair:

Letha Maria Mowry, preschool RTLetha (Shull) Mowry was born southeast of Graham on the 2 March 1930 to Lee Edison & Ruth Mary (Decker) Shull. Dad was a renter so we moved from my birthplace to northeast of Graham, then moved west of Maryville and then southwest of Maitland. It was from there I started school, in a rural school at the ripe old age of 5 years.

I later went to Maitland Elementary School for a couple of years, and then moved to the farm the folks bought northwest of Graham. I attended Elkhorn rural school until it closed and we went to Graham for my eighth grade year.

James Woods Decker. Graham High School teacher, principal and Grandfather.

James Woods Decker. Graham High School teacher, principal and Grandfather.

It was quite an experience to have science taught by my Grandpa Decker – and to be scolded by a Senior girl for not paying respect to Mr. Decker! He then announced in each class that I was his granddaughter and could call him Grandpa!

The Pipeline Booster Station was being built near our house northwest of Graham, and a better road was needed. In the fall of 1943, the hedge on either side of the road was bulldozed out into the road in preparation … October came and it rained and rained and rained. No school bus could go up that road, and we were 3.5 miles from the blacktop. My third grade little sister, Mary Nelle and I couldn’t make that walk twice a day, so it was determined Mom, Mary Nelle, James Leroy and I would go to Maryville to live with Grandma (Cora Baugher) Shull. I enrolled in Horace Mann High School, and Leroy was enrolled in Kindergarten there. Mary Nelle couldn’t go there (they had limited enrollment and the third grade was full), so she had to go to Eugene Field Elementary School.

The Shull Kids, 1940

The Shull Kids, 1940

Mom and the kids went home for the summer, but I had to work, so I stayed on with Grandma. I baby-sat and cleaned houses for the hefty sum of a quarter an hour! I chose to stay on to graduate from HMHS as there was work available – and I thought the opportunity for college was here, too.

Letha Shull, Senior Picture, 1947 Horace Mann High School, Maryville, MO

Letha Shull, Senior Picture, 1947 Horace Mann High School, Maryville, MO

My senior year in High School I went to college in the morning and high school in the afternoon. I went to college that summer and ended with 29.5 college credits. That fall (1947), I taught at Lincoln rural school north of Oregon, MO.

I was offered a contract for the next year, but declined as Bob Mowry and I were married 16 June 1948 in the Methodist parsonage at Maitland, MO and I became a farm wife.

I was active in the Good Luck Club and joined Decker Rebekah Lodge # 843 in 1952.

In 1951, when the Graham Street Fair was started, I helped with that also. I was the Good Luck Club representative. The Lyle Club was responsible for the planning. We met at Cora Lyle’s home to begin the planning for that first fair.

Robert & Letha Mowry, 1948

Robert & Letha Mowry, 1948

Bob and I remained living southeast of Graham where our children Mary Elizabeth (16 Oct 1951) and Henry Lee (15 July 1956) were born and grew up. Both are graduates of Nodaway Holt R-VII. In 1971, Bob and I bought a home in Graham and lived there until Bob’s death 28 Oct 1985. By then, both kids were gone from home and married.

While living in Graham, I became active in the Graham Historical Society. In fact, when the first history On The Banks Of The Elkhorn was put together, it was assembled around our dining room table by Earnest & Ardith Kneale and Bob and I. It was about that time that both Earnest and Bob threatened us with divorce if we did another book.

The next volume came out a year later but no divorces – nor was it assembled around a dining room table.

After Bob’s death, I needed to go to work so I was determined that I needed more education. I enrolled in the NWMO Technical School in Maryville, MO under the Displaced Housewives program. I was enrolled in the secretarial education class to learn computers. My education cycle had come full circle – my teacher was Elizabeth! I DID earn my grades!

1 Jan 1987 I began work as Deputy Recorder of Deeds working under Donna Carmichael, Recorder. Commuting from Graham to Maryville each day was not easy for a widow woman, so in the spring I purchased a home in Maryville and moved there in April.

Graham is still “down home” in my heart and will remain so!

Letha, with Henry & Elizabeth. 2006.

Letha, with Henry & Elizabeth. 2006. This is the photo that will forever be known as Mom’s attitude photo! It was Sis’ fault, honest.


Things I Learned At The Street Fair

Things I Learned At The Street Fair   12 comments

Here's the Graham Street Fair, circa 1958. I don't know the kid on the bicycle. I'm the one relaxing on the counter of the booth. Don't you love my cowboy shirt with the pearl buttons? When I went to the Street Fair, I was styling. The lady to my left is my Grandmother, Juanita Boring Mowry.

Here’s the Graham Street Fair, circa 1958. I’m the one relaxing on the counter of the booth. Relaxing is something I did at the Street Fair. Don’t you love my cowboy shirt? When I went to the Street Fair, I was styling. The three ladies were running a game booth … a ball toss … as a fund raiser for the Good Luck Club. They are, from left, my Grandmother, Juanita Boring Mowry, Blanche Holaday Miller, and finally Thelma Wade Rowlett – now over 100 years old – who lives today in Savannah, MO. The little lady on the right is my sister, Mary Elizabeth Mowry. The boy on the bike is unidentified.

The past weekend was Mrs. M’s Handmade’s first retail event … a parking lot pop-up in Santa Clarita called the Street Fair.

I grew up in rural northwestern Missouri, near Graham, MO. Graham had an annual event called the Street Fair, and I thought that was the height of entertainment in the early 60’s. There was a parade with the high school marching band (the best band EVER). There were contests for the best quilt. A greased pig contest. A cake walk.

The Graham Street Fair didn’t take over a parking lot … it took over Main Street.

When I was a baby, I won for being the kid with the reddest hair. Well, actually, I would say that Mom won (HA). But she gave me the ribbon.

The Street Fair was a wonderful thing.

Flash forward, uh, 50ish years, and I went to a whole different kind of Street Fair last weekend.

This time, I didn’t win any prizes. And I definitely didn’t have the reddest hair at this Fair. It was the inaugural retail event for Mrs. Mr’s Handmade, though, and I did learn a few things:

1. In Santa Clarita, there are no marching bands at the Street Fair.

2. Food is not served by the nice ladies that are your neighbors. Rather, it’s served from gourmet food trucks.

3. In LA, “gourmet food truck” is not considered an oxymoron. The trucks have websites. They have fans. They have Truffle Mac & Cheese (yum).

4. You won’t see all of your neighbors at the Santa Clarita Street Fair. We only saw two people from our neighborhood. It’s a big world out there.

5. People don’t dress up to go to the Santa Clarita Street Fair. I didn’t see one cowboy shirt, and I didn’t see one kid laying down on a counter. Come to think of it, I didn’t see a counter, either.

6. No bicycles. I did see 3 skate boards … Penny boards, actually.

Logo-300x7. Mrs. M’s wasn’t the only store there offering handmade products, but we were on the more uncommon side. The sweet young ladies running the booth next to us sold unique handmade jewelry that they make for ankles & feet. They were good neighbors, and Little Girl even approves. Check out their website, here.

8. The lady across the way started her business because she was tired of buying cat clothing for her dogs. Doggie Custom Couture was born. I’m pretty sure that back in Graham, I never heard a complaint about not having suitable clothing available for dogs. Or cats, for that matter. Maybe that’s a Missouri benefit that I never knew: pets are properly (un)clothed in Missouri. Always. It’s only in California that there’s a problem (insert rim shot or snappy comeback of your choice, here).

9. Is this a good thing to hear when someone tries a lotion? “I might want to gnaw off my arm that smells so good.” When people start talking about eating body parts, I’m not on board. Self-cannibalism was never an issue at the Graham Street Fair.

10. The Santa Clarita Street Fair required each shade canopy to be weighted down with 100 pounds. Note the Graham booth in the picture, above: all wood construction, and no extra weights on board. (On board. HA. I kill me.) The result of our new fangled shade structures in Santa Clarita: an unweighted shade structure took flight. It was pretty, in the wind. I didn’t see it land; that would not have been pretty.

11. Our south side neighbor was a little odd on Sunday. Best dialogue we heard: “Are these dresses for little girls?” “No, they’re towels.” Remember, we’re in Southern California, 5 years ahead of fashion in the midwest. Just sayin’.

12. Heard from a vendor: “We’ve been doing this Fair for so long together, she’s going on vacation next month and I’m going to man her booth.” Now, that’s neighborly, and that’s a kind thing … in Santa Clarita.

13. Almost everyone walked by my cheese boards, and said “Ooo, pretty!” They touched them … and then they walked away. And so I learned, it’s not fun being the prettiest one at the dance if no one wants to take you for a spin.

At the end of the day, we had patrons ask if some people had gone home early. They expected more, you see. I guess this Street Fair was not the height of entertainment for them.

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!


Mrs. M’s Handmade Products


Posted March 25, 2014 by henrymowry in California, Living Life

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What Are You?   13 comments

I’ve been told that I can be culturally insensitive.

It’s not a goal, I assure you. However, as an old white guy, there are many things that I will never experience. I’ll never be arrested for Driving While Black … though, come to find out, there is a Henry Mowry that’s been arrested for driving while drunk. He skipped on his bail … and I was once briefly detained while a friendly policeman proved to his own satisfaction that I was not a drunkard from Tennessee. That was black.

Thank you, Officer.

I will observe that if I’m occasionally culturally insensitive, it’s probably because of my extremely cloistered upbringing. I grew up in a rural area of Missouri that was pure WASP … even Catholics were an extreme minority. I never met a Jew until I went to college. It’s not that I avoided contact with non-white, non-Protestant people … they simply weren’t around for the first 18 years of my life.

Here I am in blackface, with a black actor, Greg MacDonald, in whiteface. It was in a one act play festival ... and a comment on racism. I submit this as an example of my cultural, uh, expansion.

Here I am in blackface, with a black actor, Greg MacDonald, in whiteface. We appeared in a one act play, presented as a part of a MIzzou festival for amateur writers. The play, with a name I’ve forgotten, was a comment on racism. I submit this as an example of my cultural, uh, expansion. Circa 1975.

I am happy to report that when I went to Mizzou, I broadened my cultural horizons immensely.

I had a Jew for a roommate … and witnessed the making of homemade bagels. I went to a Jewish wedding. I worked closely with people of many heritages at the Mizzou theatre. My horizons were broadened at the land grant state university that was founded in 1839.

Thank you, Mizzou.

35+ years later, I’ve been in the cultural melting pot that is Los Angeles for … 35+ years. Though it was not a specific goal to widen my cultural horizons, that has happened.

This week, a former co-worker posted a Facebook link to a very interesting article from the Huffington Post … that uber-culturally sensitive news site.

My friend linked to an article by a multi-cultural, self-proclaimed “blendiva.” My friend also has a multi-cultural heritage, and she related completely with the Huffington Post author who was tired of strangers questioning her genetic heritage. My friend has been there, too: here’s a typical dialogue with a stranger that my friend remembers:

He: Where are you from?

She: The Bay Area.

He: No, where are your FROM?

She: Oh, you mean what nationality am I? I’m Japanese.

He: You speak English really well.

She: Good thing, ‘cuz it’s the ONLY language I speak.

And here’s another one she remembers:

He (in front of her older daughters): What are they?

She: Half Japanese and half German

He: Well, how the hell did that happen?

Andromeda Turre, from her Facebook page. She's the author of the provocative Huntington Post article ... and she's tired of people asking "What Are You?"

Andromeda Turre, from her Facebook page. She’s the author of the provocative Huffington Post article … and she’s tired of people asking “What Are You?”

I may be culturally insensitive … on rare occasion … but I would NEVER make that kind of comment to another human. I mean, c’mon, who would say something like that?

Back to the inspiration for this post, and my friend’s comments … a post on Huffington Post by a singer named Adromeda Turre. She’s a New York resident, and got tired of the online dating scene when she was consistently asked, “What Are You?”

OK. As I stated in the beginning, I have been accused of being culturally insensitive. But would I EVER ask another human that I didn’t know well … “What Are You?”


Please read Andromeda’s article. The post is here.

Now, I will observe that I am interested in genealogy, and that makes me interested in where I’m from. Yes, I have investigated the heritage of my family, and the heritage of my wife’s family. I’ll fully disclose “What I Am” in an upcoming post.

For now, just know that I’m English, Irish, German, Dutch & Swiss. And I’m just getting started. My wife, on the other hand, is Serbian, German … and some other country that’s changed its name a few times. Slovack, Polish, Austria-Hungarian … something like that.

So, YES, I am interested in my family heritage. But as to what I am … that’s a little tougher. I’m from Missouri, and I definitely worked hard to become a Missouri Tiger. But as much as I identify myself as a guy from the Show Me state, I’ve lived on the Left Coast longer than I lived in the Midwest.

So, what am I? Well, it’s complicated. I can only imagine how that question might frustrate people with a heritage that’s viewed by some as “unusual.”


Huffington Post: What Are You Is Not An Icebreaker

Missouri Land Patents   3 comments

A database of Missouri’s original land purchasers is now available online. Land purchases are shown from 1831 – 1969. This land was originally donated to the state by the federal government, with the proviso that it be sold to settlers for $1.25 per acre. Profits from the sales went to the state.

Noah Mast, my Great Great Great Grand Uncle (!) was one of those purchasers … in 1850 he bought 195 acres in Nodaway County for the princely sum of $244. This easy to use database is available here. You can order a copy of any land patents for a dollar and a self-addressed envelope with each request.

This picture of Noah is one of the oldest in our family collection; it's from a tintype. Tintypes were commonly used circa 1860-1880.

This picture of Noah is one of the oldest in our family collection; it’s from a tintype. Tintypes were commonly used circa 1860-1880.

Noah Mast, 1812 - 1897

Noah Mast, 1812 – 1897, gentleman farmer and owner of a comb later in life.


A Drive Through Iowa   1 comment

Posted February 1, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Hunting Mushrooms with Grandpa   10 comments

Grandpa & me

Grandpa & I, 1968. Wrong vegetable, but that’s what a hunting expedition looked like (Though the ’59 Olds didn’t go to the ditches! Grandpa drove the tractor, or we walked.)

I really had no clue.

It’s just what we did.  Spring rains would come, and then Grandpa Mowry and I would go tromp through the undergrowth.  We had a small family farm that was riddled with ditches between the fields of corn, soy beans and clover.  The clover field was right by the potato patch, and the ditch that was between them is where I remember the hunting was good.

That’s also where the wild blackberry bushes were.

And thus began my love of two wild & wonderful treats: blackberries and morel mushrooms.

Blackberries are relatively common, of course, and I enjoy them year-round.  About once a decade, I can convince Velda to make a blackberry pie.  I think I’m due again in 2017.

Morel 3Mushrooms are also common, and we’ve enjoyed them in all manner of dishes.  Morel mushrooms were missing, though.  How come?

When I was walking by Grandpa’s side, it was really easy.  In the bushy undergrowth of the ditch, we would look for bumps in the leafy mulch.  Once in a while, the mushrooms were already revealed, poking their caps through the detritus of the ditch.  Most of the time, however, our search was for an unexpected mound of leaves.  We would brush the top aside, and occasionally be rewarded with a lovely pale, spongy-looking mushroom cap poking out.  We had found a Morchella esculenta, the yellow morel.

And I had no idea what we had found.  I just knew they tasted great!  On a good day we’d gather a mess of mushrooms for our family of six.  Mom, Dad, Sis and I would get to have a great dinner at Grandma & Grandpa’s house.  The mushrooms, as I recall, were always fried.  For you doubters … don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Come to find out, those morels would be the last I would have for many, many years.  Generally, you can’t buy fresh morels.  No one — NO ONE — knows how to grow them, so the only morels offered for sale are gathered in the wild, just as I did with Grandpa.

Last May, we found dried morels for sale in an old bean store. Great store, Rancho Gordo, in Napa, CA.  They had dried morels for sale:  one ounce for $16.

And so we bought what I think is the most expensive ingredient Velda’s ever used.  She found a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa for Chicken & Morels that was utterly scrumptious.  She did the Velda tweaks, of course: more wine, less fat, etc.  The whole family was there for a great dinner.  It just doesn’t get any better.

More information about morels:Morel 2

The Great Morel

Wikipedia: Morchella

Hunting in the Ozarks

More recipes:

Mushroom Appreciation

Chicken Scallopine with Morels

Kitchen Confidante

Mycological Society of San Francisco


The Hay Barn   8 comments

It was where we stored hay and the corn picker. Today, 40 years later, it’s barely standing. And the hay is gone.

Posted October 19, 2012 by henrymowry in Photography

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