Sunday, November 29, 2009
Getting up early has its drawbacks. If you eat breakfast at 6 AM, very possibly you’re hungry again by 10:30 or 11 AM. So no wonder, when I revealed our Saturday plans to Ed – a trip to the National World War I Museum and a meal at the famous Kansas City Arthur Bryant’s – he wanted to go for BBQ first.
“We just ate,” I whined, amazed that he even thought the place would be open in the morning.
“Use your cell phone to call the BBQ place. If they are open, we’ll eat before visiting the museum,” he persisted.
I called. “Yes, we’re open. Come on over,” I heard over the kitchen noise.
Both of my favorite travel books give Arthur Bryant’s high marks. Road Trip USA calls it a “classic, no-frills rib shack” … “where heavenly BBQ sauces come in plain plastic bottles.” And, 1,000 Place to See Before You Die calls it “the best barbecue joint in town, or maybe anywhere.” This book elaborates and recommends “the signature half-pound of slow cooked brisket slapped on plain old white bread, with a gritty herbs- and spices-flavored barbecue sauce and the best skin-on french fries in America.” – This is what we ordered.
Ed carried the overloaded tray of food to a window seat following behind me. I cut a path through the crowd that gathered in the narrow passageway to the counter. Saturday tailgaters had lined up for to-go boxes behind us. Two busloads of tourists made a line out the door winding out on the sidewalk. They all knew Arthur Bryant’s was open early and the food was great.
Ed and I didn’t have much to say during our meal. It wasn’t because we had an attitude. We were munching, sampling the BBQ sauces, and licking our fingers!
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue
1727 Brooklyn Avenue
Kansas City, MO
October 3, 2009
The Halloween Parade came nearly to the doorstep of the coach. The staging area was in a parking lot just down the hillside near Campus RV Park. With all the commotion, I grabbed my camera and went out the door.
No vehicles cruised the streets of Independence, Missouri. Every throughway been blocked and was patrolled by security for the parade. The sidewalks – well, the sidewalks were jammed with people. Some brought chairs, others just plopped on the curb. The crowd lined the streets of town square and all the surrounding arteries. Downtown was alive and elbow-to-elbow with people.
I found a spot behind a street barrier on O’Sage at the base of a hill. I had a cascading view from the top of the hill to the level boulevard.
When the parade began, a line of headlights crested the hill. The Independence Police Force came forward in an impressive formation. The parade began with the thunder of their Harleys. Bands, show dogs, dance schools, witches, Scout troops, antique cars, John Deer tractors, more Harleys, Red Hatters, and even a Coast Guard boat followed. Ghostly creatures, darling princesses, and a politician or two passed by with waves and hand tosses of candy to the spectators.
The parade went on for over an hour. That’s how the folks in Independence, Missouri celebrate Halloween!
October 31, 2009
The presence of America’s 33rd President Harry S. Truman dominates downtown Independence, Missouri. He lived here, governed from here, and built his presidential library here.
His image is silhouetted on streetlight banners. Plaques embedded in the city sidewalks through the Truman District and neighborhood map a 2.7 mile trail of key places in Harry’s life. It’s called the Truman Walking Trail. Clinton’s Soda Fountain on the corner at 100 W. Maple Street still serves ice cream. It’s the place where Harry had his first job. And, the Victorian house where he lived from 1919 until his death in 1972 remains known as the “Summer White House.”
Our “road trip” brought Ed and me to Independence in early September when I took a job in Kansas City. We thought our two-years of travel experiences had ended. Instead, we became tourists in our new home – Harry’s town. Bit-by-bit, the historic nature of Independence captivated Ed and I. Was it coincidence that when we arrived I had been reading a biography written by David McCullough: Truman? Ed frequently remarks that it is “freaky” to be in Independence since he considers July 4th – “Independence Day” – as his start date for our “road trip.”
Harry’s own road trips are chronicled around Independence. He bought a car to travel from his family’s rural farm to Independence to court Bess Wallace, the woman he married. The town’s train depot is noted for his whistle-stop presidential campaign and trips to Washington, D.C.
For eight years, Harry guided the U.S. as President and a world leader. He made the difficult decision to drop the atomic bomb in World War II. He helped form the United Nations, NATO, and the Marshall Plan. He ordered the Berlin Airlift. The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence contains his presidential papers and a replica of his White House office. His gravesite and that of his wife Bess are in the courtyard.
Every step in Independence, whether in the Presidential Library and Museum or strolling the Truman District. Harry feels like a good neighbor. He’s had such humble beginnings that to call him “Truman” seems cold. He’s Harry and his spirit is everywhere in town.
Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
500 W. U.S. Highway 24
September 26 & 27, 2009