Friday, August 6, 2010

Kansas City Here I Come

We drove to Lake Jacoma Campground in Jackson County, Missouri, southwest of Kansas City on Sunday. When I called from Columbia to make a reservation the gal told me Site 30 was available and it’s the best site in the park. She is right! We have a huge, huge “yard” overlooking the lake with big old oak trees providing shade all day. Since we’re here Monday-Thursday the park is sparsely populated. We’ve had deer, raccoons and wild turkeys in our “yard” in the evening. Brian and Lisa came for dinner Sunday and we had a really good visit. We’ve had people for dinner a fair amount this trip.

Monday we drove to the Jesse James Family Farm in Kearney, MO. I learned a lot about the guerilla warfare that went on in Missouri as much as 10 years before the Civil War. The Kansas-Nebraska Act opened the territory for settlement. The decision on slavery was left to popular sovereignty. If Kansas became a free state, slavery in Missouri was doomed. Northern Abolitionists attempted to populate the area and control the vote. This brought savage violence to the region. This sign tells a lot about the bitterness and resentment that built up in Jesse James as a youngster. His stepfather survived the hanging.

Later on during Jesse and Frank’s crime spree, Pinkerton Security personnel threw a bomb into the James’ home in the middle of the night. His mother lost half of her arm and his 9 year old half-brother Arthur was killed and neither James son was at home.

This is the original James home and the second picture is a “kit” of two rooms that was added on after Jesse James’ death. He was shot in the back of the head while hanging a picture in his home by acquaintances that he trusted. They thought they would be hailed as heroes but instead within 10 years they were both dead - one from suicide and one was killed by a fellow “who wanted to kill the man who killed Jesse James!” The third picture shows the original logs that are under the renovation done in recent years.

This is a duplicate of Jesse’s original tombstone in the yard. It says he was “murdered by a traitor and coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.” The original was chipped at by souvenir hunters until it is in 3 pieces and is in the museum on site. He was moved to the family plot in Mt. Olivet cemetery to be by his wife, mother, stepfather and half-brother. If you look closely you can see where the A M and S in JAMES have been chipped by souvenir hunters.

On Tuesday we went downtown to the Hallmark Visitors Center. We didn’t know exactly what to expect but ended up very pleased. Hallmark is 100 years old this year. There was a timeline by decade of Hallmark items displayed against a backdrop of world events and social trends including newspaper clippings and period toys. Many Presidential Christmas cards, beginning with Ike in 1953, have been produced by Hallmark and are also displayed.

Mr. J. C. Hall received a Christmas tree from employees for the last 17 years of his life. Each tree has been saved and is on display.

To celebrate their centennial, 250 creative employees accepted the challenge to take a plain white resin crown and decorate it.

And everyone will recognize Maxine!

We saw a movie featuring the creative writers, sculptors, artists, etc. A small area demonstrated die cut, foil imprinting, etc. Hallmark Hall of Fame TV programs and television ads were featured as well. It was all exceptionally well done. We were able to make a couple bows and were given greeting cards and postcards on our departure.

I learned there is still a Hall’s Department store; that the name Hallmark was adopted to include Mr. Hall’s name and the word “mark” as used by silversmiths to mark their work; wrapping paper was “discovered” when the Hall’s store ran out of plain brown wrapping paper and they used the printed sheets normally cut up to line the inside of greeting card envelopes. Also, Winston Churchill was an artist and several of his paintings have been used on Hallmark cards. An original given to Mr. Hall by Mr. Churchill hung in Hall’s office above the mantel and is on display in the Visitor’s Center.

From there we went to the Money Museum in the Federal Reserve Bank. We had to give them our driver’s license and walk through a metal detector. We watched them count and wrap money to be sent to the vault. Robotic fork trucks move the pallets of money. Ted took this picture of $101 million. It costs almost $25,000 to produce this many $100 bills.

There was a gallery of presidents displayed with each coin that was used during their administration. There were sets of the state quarters, the presidential quarters and you could buy a Yellowstone National Park quarter. I’m not familiar with that set but perhaps they are being minted now too. We saw a movie on the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank and how it works. There were many displays of money and explanation of the banking system. On our way out we were both given bags of chopped up money that would be worth $165 if not in a zillion pieces!

We are under a heat advisory here in Kansas City and our truck said 106 while we drove back to the campground. We sure are happy we have two air conditions on the new RV. We’ve been comfortable and I’m sure the shade from the trees has certainly helped.

For our last day in Kansas City we chose to visit the Steamboat Arabia. In September 1856, this medium-sized steamboat hit a snag (a tree trunk buried in mud at an angle) about five miles outside Kansas City. She sunk in minutes with 200 tons of frontier supplies in her hold. The only fatality was a mule whose remains are on exhibit.

In 1988, five men located the ship 45 feet under the ground of a farm about a half mile from the river. It had changed course over the years. Buried for 132 years, the excavation uncovered a time capsule of remarkably preserved 1856 items of every description. We had a historic talk first and then saw a movie giving us the background and then the story of the excavation.

This is a picture of the Arabia and the second is a picture of the excavation.

The original paddlewheel with new wooden planks installed.

The Arabia’s anchor.

The boilers that were recovered intact.

The “snag” pulled from the hull. Hitting this caused the sinking.

Tools on display. Most have not changed – saws, hammers, planes, knives, scissors, etc.

Dishes, kitchen gadgets, bottles (some with food that is still preserved), keys

Thimbles, hat pins, perfume, buttons, beads.

Very little gold and jewelry was recovered.

It was mind boggling and our docent was excellent. Her enthusiasm was contagious. We were glad we chose to visit this museum.

We came home to have dinner then took a ride to Panera Bread to check e-mail. I sure like my I-Pod Touch for such situations.

We leave tomorrow for Chanute. We’ll spend Thursday night at the Santa Fe campground in Chanute so we can be at the factory at 7 a.m. Friday morning. We’ll decide about our departure from there once we know the time the RV will be done.

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