True to our expectations our rain gear was needed on the morning of May 29th. The air was also thick with adrenaline driven excitement and anxiety. Our bikes and gear were loaded for the 26 mile drive to the Makah Indian Reservation and Cape Flattery.

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We had with us a large banner that would be prominently displayed at the events we attended over the summer across the county.

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The sixteen of us assembled for a group picture before we walked the half mile trail that would lead us to the platform overlooking the Cape.

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The view, enhanced by the sound of waves crashing upon the rocks, was exhilarating. More pictures and it was time to return to the vans, unload the bikes, and ride.

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The ride across northwest Washington featured narrow roads and no shoulders. Huge logging trucks often blasted past us at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour.

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The margin between us and a disastrous encounter with one of those trucks measured in inches. We got used to it. Our Guardian Angeles developed ulcers.

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26 miles qualified as a very short day, but no one was complaining. We regrouped at the trailer park in Clallam Bay where a shed had been made available to us for overnight storage of the bikes.

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Whether the ride of the day was a short couple of hours or a butt numbing 100 miles, the afternoon always included Mass. We would gather in whatever space was convenient and Father Matt would unpack his mobile alter “kit”.

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He would spend some quiet time pondering the events of the day and craft a 5 minute homily that was relevant to our mission and our experiences. These were among the most treasured of moments.

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Day one was in the books with everyone safe. It was a good start.

Next: Part 7, Back to Seattle.

Peace Everyone. Pete

-The message of our mission was always on our minds. In my own effort to quantify poverty in America I drew an analogy from the bicycling that lay ahead of us:

May, 2010. “The Circle of Lives”

A bicycle wheel is 700 millimeters in diameter. That works out to 27.56 inches. The circumference of that wheel is 86.58 inches, or in other words, approximately 7.25 feet. There are 5,280 feet in a mile, so a bicycle wheel rotates 728 times each mile. Our across the United States journey to raise funds and awareness for the cause of ending poverty is 5,000 miles. Therefore, the wheels on each bicycle will rotate 3,640,000 times over the course of this mission. As there are 12 of us riders intending to complete the entire crossing… our combined effort is approximately 43,680,000 revolutions. That is approximately how many people in the United States now live below the “poverty line”. If the thought of the number of times these bicycle wheels will spin as we cross the North American Continent is mind-boggling, then imagine that every one of those revolutions is a hungry child, a homeless father, a destitute mother… a life on the margins of despair.

May 27, 2010. Read on a wall at the bus depot in Seattle:   “A man in the station, old or young, or maybe a woman, sitting on cold ground, scared, with hungry eyes, and worn shoes. Don’t worry, you are still loved. We wait together. You asked for change, I offered you my heart and my soul. You just wanted change.”

We only had the day of the 27th to take in a few of the sights of Seattle.

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On the 28th we drove 135 miles northwest to Clallam Bay Washington, located about 26 miles from the C4C starting point of Cape Flattery, the farthest northwest point in the 48 contiguous States.

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It was damp and bone chilling cold. The skies were foreboding. It seemed certain that our foul-weather riding gear would get immediate use on the 29th, the day of our “launch”.

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As concerning as that might have been it paled in comparison to what we beheld as our first two night’s “accommodations”. We were to be lodged in a mostly vacant logging camp comprised of 60’s era mobile homes. Christine and I shared our “home” with 4 other C4C members.

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Level? Like a carnival fun-house. Water? Cold but running. Bathroom? Well it did flush. Heat? None. Mattress? Lumpy and with the faint odor of blue cheese. Under the bed, I dared not look.

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Suzanne and Kathy at Kansas City Catholic Charities were in charge of arranging accommodations. They did their best. Our route would take us to many places less-traveled, and Cape Flattery was one of them. To their credit we never had to camp. Their resourcefulness guaranteed us 3 meals and a bed. The variety of accommodations made every day a bit like opening the “surprise” in a box of Cracker Jacks.

Over the next 100 days we found ourselves lodged in:

Cabins…

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Convents…

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College Dorms…

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A Retreat House…

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Motels (some of which appeared more accustomed to charging by the hour than by the day)…

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Home stays…

Our host "mother", Rose Anna, in her home with Christine at Walla Walla, WA

Resorts…

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…and even an incredibly palatial hotel in Miami Florida.

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We celebrated our arrival at Clallam Bay with the first of many group meals to come. Forget organic… forget vegan… just “comfort food” shared with friends. Tomorrow the real work would begin.

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Next: Part 6. We Have Lift-Off!!!

Peace Everyone. Pete

On Sunday May 23 2010 the St. Francis Xavier parish came together to offer blessings to the C4C members.

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It was a somber moment as we contemplated leaving our homes and families. We were mindful of the dangers that lay ahead for each of us.

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After Mass Catholic Charities of Kansas City hosted a sendoff luncheon. This would be the last pre-departure event.

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Most of the members flew to Seattle later that week. We were to assemble there prior to driving to Cape Flattery, our Memorial Day weekend departure point.

5 of us were tasked with driving the vehicles and equipment from Kansas City to Seattle, a journey of over 1,800 miles. Bethany Paul and Jeremy Ruzich drove one of the vans, while Stephen Belt and Carol Beckel drove the other van with trailer in tow. Christine and I drove the SUV which would be our “chase car” during the rides.

Christine and I passed through South Dakota where we made the obligatory stop at Wall Drugs.

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We passed through Butte Montana where long deceased members of my family had been employed in the copper mines.

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Onward we drove through Idaho and into Washington where the majesty of the northwest was on full display.

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We arrived in Seattle on May 27th where we joined other members of the group.

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The day before leaving for Seattle I was given to contemplation and I began journaling my thoughts… tapped out over the course of the next 3 months one finger at a time on my early generation palm sized iPod:

May 23, 2010, Unanticipated Sacrifices

Tomorrow my wife and I drive to Seattle, Washington. We are transporting one of the three vehicles that will provide support for me and the other C4C bicyclists. My professional life will be “on hold” until September 13th. We will miss the near daily contact with our children and grandchildren. Our clothing and personal effects for nearly 4 months have been packed into two “carry-on” sized bags. Space is at such a premium that we have focused on carrying the minimum of such things as socks (4 pair), shoes (one pair), long pants (two), shorts (one), and enough “unmentionables” to get us from one wash day to the next. These items are separate from our bicycle specific clothing. Except for 3 nights in July when we pass through Kansas City, we will not enjoy the comfort of our own bed for nearly 110 days.

We have been mentally and emotionally prepared for the anticipated sacrifices. Sacrifices of comfort… sacrifices of family… sacrifices of finances… sacrifices of privacy…. But, as tomorrow has drawn near I have been troubled by an annoying disquiet. I have pondered this to the point of distraction because it has caused me to be more critical, a bit less adaptable, and according to my wife, a bit more annoying (than usual). I have come to the conclusion that my reactions are the product of some unanticipated sacrifice.

For most of us, childhood was punctuated by the litany of “When I grow up, I won’t have to …”, “When I grow up, I can … whenever I want to.” The light at the end of the tunnel of childhood was self-determination and control. As adults we continue to embrace the illusion of achieved mastery of the management of our personal kingdoms. Such “mastery” is an illusion, since most of us have schedules, employers, responsibilities, duties… but these are shrouded in the trappings of our “rights”, and our “command” over our homes, persons, and property. We are comfortable in the illusions of our personal security and control.

Tomorrow, I leave the camouflage of my “grown-up” security. I again must accept being told when to rise, when to sleep… when to eat, and even what to eat. I will be a nearly anonymous servant. In some respects I have accepted a vow of 110 days of poverty and obedience. Since I will travel with my wife I hope to avoid the vow of chastity. The loss of the illusion of control over my life is a sacrifice that I had not anticipated. It will take some getting used to, now that I am a “grown-up”.

Next: Part 5. Cape Flattery Washington.

Peace Everyone. Pete

 

 

This is the final post in my “Armchair Tour of Kansas City” series. For context you may click on this link to be redirected to the series Introduction: Armchair Tour Intro

Pleasant Day Outings:

Watkins Woolen Mill

25 miles to the north is the remarkably well preserved Watkins Estate and Woolen Mill. Waltus Watkins, a resourceful polymath, was born in 1806.

He moved to Liberty Missouri (north of Kansas City) in 1830. In 1839 he purchased his first 580 acres and by 1880 his holdings had grown to over 3,600 acres.

With rolling hills and forest this has become a well-managed Missouri State Park. The Watkins 1850 mansion and 1860 steam operated Woolen Mill are a treat for young and old visitors alike.

Bike and Hike Trails

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Kansas City has done much in the last few years to become more bike friendly. According to Trail Link, the metro area features nearly 500 miles of dedicated trails and bike lanes. Among the many are the “Trolley Trail” which follows the old central trolley line right-of-way from near the Plaza south 7 miles through the heart of Kansas City.

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Another is Cliffside Drive, which serpentines along the south bluffs of the Missouri River east of downtown.

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Swope Park has miles of wooded single-track mountain bike trails. For the truly adventurous, Missouri’s Katy Trail, a “Rails to Trails” State Park and the longest recreational rail trail in the United States, links Kansas City to St. Louis via 240 miles of groomed limestone chat. (An experience I enjoyed in 2010)

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Powell Gardens

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This 970 acre botanical garden is located 30 miles east of Kansas City. It features nearly a quarter of a million plants from over 6,000 varieties.

Cemeteries

Kansas City has many cemeteries located throughout the metro area. A few are particularly noteworthy for a visit:

In nearby Fairway Kansas is the Shawnee Indian Mission Historical Site and Cemetery.

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The Mission’s 3 existing buildings sit upon 12 acres. The Mission buildings are open to the public as a museum.

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The Mission was founded in 1830 by Methodist minister Thomas Johnson who sought to educate and convert to Christianity the Kansa and Shawnee Indian tribes. The Shawnees, led by Chief Fish, had been forcefully relocated to the unorganized territory (that later became Kansas) from their traditional home in Ohio.

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A few blocks from the Mission is a small cemetery (1839-1930) that was the final resting place for Johnson and members of his family.

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About 5 miles west is another cemetery. This small, sad, nearly vacant patch of ground is all that remains of the Shawnee Indian Cemetery, once known as the Blue Jacket Cemetery, named after the family of Chief Bluejacket, whose members were buried here between 1837 and 1870.

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The graves are mostly unmarked. A grouping of broken markers have been mounted in a single flat of concrete in an apparent effort to preserve them from further damage or theft. 01d1033c880ce95650f062c5f91b75f99a1c251c7f

Union Cemetery was founded of necessity in 1857.

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The nearby towns of Westport and Kansas had suffered a devastating Cholera Epidemic and were in need of burial space. 49 acres located between the two towns were secured for that purpose (27 acres remaining today) and the cemetery, a “Union” of the two communities, was established.

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It was believed that it would serve the needs of the communities forever. Although Civil War era graves are located within the cemetery, its name is not derived from that conflict. The cemetery is located on Union Hill, near downtown Kansas City.

A few miles east of Downtown Kansas City is 43-acre Elmwood Cemetery.

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Formally established in 1872 (although the earliest grave dates to 1840) this is the final resting place for many of Kansas City’s elite and powerful, including mayors, politicians, Civil War generals, business executives, and even Sarah Barret who was sweetheart to Abraham Lincoln.

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Over 36,000 people are buried here. Ella, an orphaned deer born in the cemetery in 2011, was a tame and popular “resident” until she was shot for fun by a 19 year old miscreant in 2013. She was known to follow mourners and stand watch at burials. Her remains were cremated and returned to the cemetery.

By the way, for those who have been looking… we found Waldo.

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Finally, Memorial Park Cemetery (also known as Park Lawn Cemetery) adjoins the southern perimeter of Kansas City’s Swope Park. It is the largest privately owned cemetery in the State of Missouri. I mention it only because it’s rolling wooded acres are quite beautiful and it will likely be our final “travel destination” at Fate’s calling.

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Wants, Needs, Purpose, and CPR for the Spirit:

Including the Introduction, the “Armchair Tour of Kansas City” consisted of 10 posts. The entire effort, from driving around the metro area, taking pictures, assembling information, and writing copy… through the publication of the last post on May 9th covered about a month. There is so much more to Kansas City than I can hope to have covered. Perhaps I have encouraged readers to better appreciate and someday explore this hidden gem.

I have been much the beneficiary of my own efforts; enjoying the outdoors, visiting the sites, learning, and connecting with readers who have followed along. Most of all, I enjoyed having a “purpose”. Loss of purpose is one of the underappreciated consequences of the pandemic shutdown. Confined to our homes and insulated from our friends and family, many of us have suffered the suspension of purpose.

The grocery story workers, health care professionals, first responders, postal workers, and others who continue the pursuit of their regular “purpose”, do so under a shadow of very real danger. Through their efforts the disruption of our lives has been reduced. We may find that we can not always satisfy our wants, but they are the reason that we can still satisfy most of our needs. To them we own gratitude and thanks.

The quality of life is not defined solely by our wants and needs. There are things that momentarily transport us from our anxieties… experiences that cause us to reflexively smile, to taste a minute of youthful joy: The carefree children riding their bicycles on a weekday afternoon… families walking and playing together… the fragrance of the first blossoms of spring… feeling the kiss of a rain-born breeze fresh upon the cheek. The peace that we derive from moments such as these is subtle, casual, and not the product of intention. There are exceptions…

Recently, at random intersections in the surrounding neighborhoods one might observe an ordinary silver SUV draw to a stop and park at the curb. There is nothing to catch one’s eye until the driver emerges from the vehicle attired in full Scottish Highland regalia.

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He reaches into the back seat of his car and tucks a dark bundle under his arm. Striding to the intersection he assumes a rigid posture and unfolds the bundle. Bagpipes. He begins to play.

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Children cease their recreation. Families emerge from their homes. Cars stop and park. All face this man, their cares momentarily forgotten. Some in the audience record the performance with their phones, intent on sharing with others not fortunate enough to have been there in person.

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For 30 minutes the songs follow one upon the other, concluding with “Amazing Grace”. There is applause and then John Tootle, retired EMT and Kansas City firefighter, returns to his car quietly bound for the next random intersection where he will resuscitate the spirit of another neighborhood.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. Next week I begin a new series, “Across America by Bicycle”.

This post is one in a series from my “Armchair Tour of Kansas City”. For context you may click on this link to be redirected to the series Introduction: Armchair Tour Intro

Robert Long (1850-1934)

Robert Alexander Long was a lumber baron who established the Long- Bell Lumber Company which was the largest lumber company in the world in the early 20th Century. His holdings included 61 lumber mills and over 500,000 acres of forestland across the United States. He spent most of his life in Kansas City.

Scarritt Point

Named for Nathan Scarritt (1821-1890), a Methodist minister who taught the Native Americans for many years, this historic district is located high on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River east of downtown. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City, and in it’s day was the most affluent.

Today over 6,000 Kansas Citians reside in this neighborhood. The area includes hundreds of acres of parkland, wooded hiking trails, and stately mansions from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Scarritt Point stands above and in stark contrast to the poor and industrial lower east bottoms.

It was on 3 acres located upon Scarritt Point that Robert A. Long built his monumental “city mansion” in 1911.

It was named “Corinthian Hall” due to the mansion’s large Corinthian columns. Construction required the relocation of two other mansions that were on the site.

Those mansions remain in the vicinity as private homes. The acquisition of the grounds, relocation of the 2 pre-existing mansions, construction of the home, 2 story carriage house and stables (the largest within the city),

reportedly cost over 25 million dollars (2020 equivalent). The 35,000 square foot 72 room French Renaissance structure has been the home of the Kansas City Museum and its collection of over 100,000 artifacts of local and regional history since 1940.

The Museum is currently undergoing an extensive renovation but is scheduled to reopen later this year.

Here are a few historical photos of the mansion’s interior:

Longview Farm

In 1913 Robert Long established his Longview Farm and Mansion on the distant outskirts of Kansas City. The 2,000 acre farm had 50 buildings, 250 acres of manicured lawn, gardens, and 4 greenhouses. Construction of the farm took only 18 months but engaged over 2,000 laborers. Craftsmen included 200 Italian stonemasons. The farmstead mansion measured 22,000 square feet with 48 rooms. Long built the farm in part because the stables located at his Scarritt Point mansion (Corinthian Hall) were suitable only for a few dozen of his nearly 200 prized horses.

One feature of the farm that is dear to my heart is the 1915 Longview Chapel.

It was within that chapel that I married Christine in 1977.

At the end of this post are images from a number of information boards for those who wish to delve deeper. Hopefully the resolution will allow them to be read.

Next: Part 9, “Pleasant Day Outings and CPR for the Spirit”

Peace Everyone. Pete

 

This post is one in a series from my “Armchair Tour of Kansas City”. For context you may click on this link to be redirected to the series Introduction: Armchair Tour Intro

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman

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Ewing Kauffman (1916-1993) was the founder and driving force behind Marion Laboratories which later merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. Kauffman founded the Major League Baseball franchise Kansas City Royals in 1969.

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He is credited with building the 41,000 seat Royals Stadium which opened in 1973. This single purpose baseball stadium is half of the Truman Sports Complex, the other half being Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs.

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As philanthropists, Kauffman and his wife Muriel (1916-1995) established the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 1966. The Foundation has an endowment of over 2 billion dollars, with annual revenues of over 150 million dollars. Its mission remains focused on education, civic development and entrepreneurship. The Foundation has established college preparatory schools and programs for disadvantaged youth, including college scholarships. Near our home is the Kauffman Memorial Gardens.

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Muriel’s separate foundation is responsible for Kansas City’s stunning Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

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The Center is one of the most complex building structures in the world with 40,000 square feet of glass.

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The Kauffman Center is 285,000 square feet enclosing 2 principal performance halls. There are dressing rooms for more than 250 performers and 11 rehearsal rooms. The Center is the performance home for both the Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Ballet Company.

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The organ that towers above the Helzberg Hall has over 5,500 pipes, the largest of which is 3 stories tall and weighs nearly a half-ton.

Harry S. Truman. Home and Library

In nearby Independence Missouri are the Truman Home and Presidential Library. Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) was the 33rd President of the United States, thrust into that role upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. Truman served until 1953, during some of America’s most difficult times… the final days of World War 2, the dropping of the A-Bombs on Japan, the start of the Cold War, and the Korean War.

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He was elected to a second term in 1948 in what was seen as an upset over Thomas Dewey. One of the most iconic political photographs is one in which the victor, Truman, holds up a copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune which erroneously announced his defeat.

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He most famously was quoted as saying, “The Buck Stops Here!”, accepting the ultimate responsibility for the good and bad of his administration.

“As President of the United States, I had the fateful responsibility of deciding whether or not to use this weapon for the first time. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. But the President cannot duck hard problems—he cannot pass the buck. I made the decision after discussions with the ablest men in our Government, and after long and prayerful consideration. I decided that the bomb should be used in order to end the war quickly and save countless lives—Japanese as well as American.” – Harry S. Truman

He was an “ordinary person”, seen by his neighbors in Independence in his later days taking daily strolls from his home to the downtown square.

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He attended Law School at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (my alma mater), then known as the Kansas City Law School. His home, built in 1867, is available for tours administered by the National Park Service.

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His Presidential Library and museum, where Truman maintained an office in his later years, is located a few short blocks away and is currently undergoing a significant renovation. A number of years ago I was involved in a case that took me to the Library to conduct interviews. In the course of my meetings “nature called”. I was offered the rare opportunity to use the “presidential bathroom and toilet”. Naturally, I accepted.

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Dominating the Independence skyline and a short distance from the Truman Home is the world headquarters and Temple of the Community of Christ Church (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).

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The Temple is open to the public.

Next: Part 8, “Old Money”

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS: A Truman quote from the year of my birth:

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This post is one in a series from my “Armchair Tour of Kansas City”. For context you may click on this link to be redirected to the series Introduction: Armchair Tour Intro” 

Beer, or is it Bier?

Kansas City has long enjoyed a rich brewing tradition.

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A recent issue of Kansas City’s 435 Magazine sought to explore beer culture in the metropolitan area. The editors found that in 2018 there were 51 large, craft, micro, and brew-pub breweries located within a one hour drive of downtown KC. Close to our home they range from the nationally known Boulevard  Brewing Company (12th largest craft brewer in the US)

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to the German themed regional favorite brewer, KC Bier

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on down to smaller neighborhood brewers such as the tiny but highly regarded BKS Artisan Ales

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and then of course there are the avid home brewers.

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Barbeque, Kansas City Style

In Kansas City BBQ is not just food, it is a passion. In 2017 The Kansas City Star counted over 100 BBQ restaurants in the metro area. Per capita this is more than any other city in the world. In the early 1900’s Henry Perry served slow-cooked meats wrapped in newsprint out of a trolley barn located in the African-American jazz district near 18th and Vine.

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Charlie Bryant and later his brother Arthur (1900-1982) worked for Perry. Arthur eventually bought the restaurant and in 1946 renamed it Arthur Bryant’s.

In my opinion Arthur Bryant’s is the holy grail of BBQ, an opinion shared by many Hollywood celebrities, and internationally known dignitaries who have gone out of their way to partake.

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These have included US Presidents Truman, Carter, Clinton, Obama, and presidential candidates McCain and Palin. In 1974 columnist Calvin Trillin declared in Playboy Magazine that Bryant’s is perhaps the “single best restaurant in the world”.

Our other favorites are the National Championship “Q39”,

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and “Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Q” which is run out of a gas station.

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Joe’s was ranked the #3 restaurant in the nation by Food Review, and Chef Anthony Bourdain listed Joe’s as one of “13 Places You Must Eat Before You Die.”

J. Rieger Distillery

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Located in Kansas City’s East Bottoms, J. Rieger’s is a working distillery that crafts excellent American whiskey.

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It traces its roots to the late 19th Century and pre-prohibition America. The brand was reestablished in 2014, just 3 miles from the site of the original distillery. A delightful “speak-easy” themed bar, “The Hey, Hey Club”, is located in the basement.

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A stainless steel adult slide connects a bar on the second to the first floor, popular with those who have had a drink or two.

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Knuckleheads Saloon

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Located just across the railroad tracks from J. Rieger’s is “Knuckleheads Saloon”. It is a most unlikely music venue that attracts nationally and internationally known musicians, primarily of the Blues, Rock and Country genres.

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The club was founded 2001. In 2014 it moved into an enlarged 4 stage garage venue that can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.

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The Roasterie

In 1978 Danny O’Neill was a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. It was there that he developed a passion for coffee. 15 years later he founded The Roasterie and became Kansas City’s premier custom roaster of coffee. The coffee is excellent, the factory tour is worthwhile, but what really catches one’s eye is “Betty”, the retired 50’s era Douglas DC-3 that is frozen in time as it “takes off” over the roof of the factory.

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The Roasterie is also present in the form of a popular sidewalk café located in the Brookside shopping district a short walk from our home.

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Next: Part 7, “Legacies”

Peace Everyone. Pete

 

This post is one in a series from my “Armchair Tour of Kansas City”. For context you may click on this link to be redirected to the series Introduction: Armchair Tour Intro

River Market, River Front Park, and the Steamboat Arabia

6 miles north of our home is the Missouri River and Kansas City’s River Market,

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River Front Park, and the unique Steamboat Arabia Museum.

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It was here that riverboats landed, offloading supplies at Westport’s Landing bound for the outfitters in Westport. The “Town of Kansas”, incorporated here in 1850, and later to be known as Kansas City, grew up around the landing.

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The Arabia, a side-wheel riverboat of huge proportions (each paddlewheel stood nearly 3 stories tall) sank near Kansas City in 1856.

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It was rediscovered under 45 feet of mud and river silt in 1988 and excavated. Hundreds of thousands of artifacts have been recovered, many are “like new” having been preserved by the mud that encased them.

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The museum displays thousands of these artifacts and the staff remains engaged in the ongoing process of cleaning and restoration. 30 years later and half of the bounty yet remains to be cleaned, catalogued, and preserved. Imagine the volume and variety of goods found today in a Super Walmart, and that is what the Arabia was to those who lived in 1856.

Nearby, Kansas City’s Riverfront Park is a delightful place to take a stroll or bicycle ride along the south shore of the Missouri River.

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Liberty Memorial

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The “War to End All Wars” was fought from 1914 to 1918. America was a late arrival to the conflict as it had maintained isolationist neutrality until April of 1917. World War I claimed the lives of over 16 million combatants and civilians. As the first modern mechanized war it was one of the deadliest in history. In 1919 an effort was spearheaded in Kansas City to raise funds for a war memorial. Over 2.5 million dollars was collected in less than two weeks. The monument was planned and construction was completed in 1921. The dedication ceremony of The Liberty Memorial drew over 200,000 and featured then Vice President Calvin Coolidge, US General John “Blackjack” Pershing, and other leading generals of the allied forces.
In 1994 the Memorial closed because of deterioration and concerns for visitor safety. Funding efforts at the local and national level secured over 100 million dollars for restoration and the Memorial reopened in 2006. The Memorial was greatly expanded to include a new subterranean 80,000 square foot museum that Congress designated as the Nation’s Official World War I Museum. It stands today as the only such museum in America and is preeminent in the world.

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The Museum’s collection includes tens of thousands of relics and documents, including trench recreations, artillery, and a Renault FT Tank.

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The tower is open to the top and accessed by elevator. It presents an amazing panorama of Kansas City.

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Union Station

The Liberty Memorial overlooks Kansas City’s Union Station.

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Construction was completed in 1914. The 850,000 square foot building features a grand hall with a ceiling that is 85 feet above the floor.

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At its 1945 peak nearly 700,000 travelers passed through the station each year.

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The building fell into decline with the collapse of train passenger travel in the United States and was closed in 1985. It was well on its way to the wrecking ball until in 1996 residents of the metro area approved funds for restoration that ultimately cost over 250 million dollars. The Station is spectacular and includes an I-Max theater, Science City,

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seasonal exhibits and upscale Pierpont’s Restaurant.

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In 1933 this was the site of the “Kansas City Massacre” where gang members tried to free mobster Frank Nash. He and 4 policemen died in a hail of gunfire. Bullet holes are still visible in the stone façade of the Station.

Crown Center

Near Union Station and the Liberty Memorial are the corporate headquarters for Hallmark Cards.

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The complex features upscale shops, restaurants, a theater, and outdoor skating venue in the winter. It is also the location for the 100 foot tall annual display of Kansas City’s “Mayor’s Christmas Tree.”

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18th and Vine Jazz District

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Kansas City has a rich internationally known Jazz music heritage. The 18th and Vine District was home in the 1930’s and 40’s to notables which included Charlie Parker. Today the District is home to the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, along with dining and entertainment venues.

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The District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features at least 35 historic buildings from the era.

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Sprint Center and the Power & Light District

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The Sprint Center is an auditorium which seats nearly 20,000. It hosts major concerts and sporting events. It is located in the heart of Kansas City’s 9 block downtown Power & Light District, a major entertainment venue that features an outdoor concert space, hotels, convention hall, theaters, shops, restaurants and taverns.

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As always, I encourage you to share these posts with your friends and family.

Next: Part 6, Eat Drink and Be Merry

Peace Everyone. Pete