Art, History, Kansas City, Uncategorized

Bob’s Perspective


I first fell in love with the Trading Post when I became friends with the previous owner. He and his roommate were pattern makers, prototypers, mold-makers, and inventors. They were living in the building, using the first floor for business and rehabbing the building at the same time.
When my predecessors acquired the building it had no foundation, the first floor was open, undivided, unfinished, with a cracked and deteriorated concrete floor, giving way here and there to native soil. The second floor contained two small, shabby apartments.

In a fashion I would later learn to be typical of their cleverness, they first jacked up the building and poured a foundation UNDER it! (Originally the Trading Post had been built up the hill. When a new road was put in on the other side of a small pond separating it from the building, the owner drained the pond, hitched the building to mules, and dragged it down the hill to rest on a shale outcropping back-filled with dirt. And so it settled for more than a hundred years.)

Then they stripped the inside of the building and restuded it in its new configuration. After applying interior wall surfaces, they stripped the outside and resurfaced it as well.

Midway in the project, in 1982 they moved their business to a large, downtown commercial building and decided to part with the trading post. Years before, after dreaming someday it would be my home, I told them if it was ever for sale- I wanted it at whatever price they deemed reasonable.

You see, I am an attorney by profession, but I have been an artist showing in galleries since childhood, and a musician who has played in public almost that long. It was my dream, locked away in my law office on the 18th floor of a bank building downtown that someday I would live, work, and maintain music and art studios all in the same place.

One glorious day I received a call from Drake, the remaining partner/owner- “make me an offer!” I secured open-ended financing and met with him to learn his price. He stated a desired sale price and I unhesitatingly agreed! Two days later Drake called and requested a meeting. After a lengthy preamble about all the things wrong with the building, the failing water heater, the 5 roofs dating in part to the Civil War era, the unfinished 2/3 of the interior, Drake lowered the price by $5,000 and gave me a stern lecture on never accepting the first offer!!!

Well, after this magnificent display of compulsive honesty we became friends for life, in early 1983 I became the glowingly proud owner of the Trading Post. The first day as I sat delighted in my huge empty building the doorbell rang. A little old man from up the block came to welcome me to the neighborhood. He told me about the long history of the building- trading post, saloon where it is said Doc Holliday ran the card game, grocery store, plumbing contractor, junk shop, design studio, and finally to me. He gave me a wonderful old picture of himself as a boy standing his uncles in front of the building with wood-spoked wheel delivery trucks and handlebar moustaches when he worked in the grocery store.

Despite all the work they had put into the restoration I was still left with a daunting task. The first floor was an undeveloped disaster. I had to stud in and build walls, pour a 2000 square foot floor, build a law office and studios, a darkroom for photography, and so forth. The second floor living space of 2500 square feet could only be entered by a 45-degree ladder from downstairs, or by climbing pile of wooden peach crates to reach the two doors, unaccountably hanging 4 feet above the ground! (The building was on a slope so that both floors were theoretically ground accessible.)

The living space was partially beautifully finished in oak truck bedding, doors, window treatments, and trim. Drake had purchased a freight car load of oak left unpaid in a bankruptcy and the whole interior shoe with luscious red oak, but there was a looooong way to go!

At first the building was wonderfully empty which suited my “Italian Industrial” style taste. The problem was that decades upon decades of settling and decay had warped and tilted every floor and angle in the place! Without adding optical illusion furniture and wall hanging placements one quickly felt like a drunk in a fun house walking about the building!

Of course the spare gallery look was not to last. As the work progressed, the artwork and guitars accumulated, and the junking expedition prizes were turned into furniture and light fixtures it took on a different look. In truth it was a full 12 years before I declared the job “done.” But of course it was not. A new roof, the yard cleared of anything that had to be mown for rock garden, hot tub, an 8’x30’ herb garden, and an outside home for our duck, many revisions, new bathroom, this and that, and here we are today.

Somehow 30+ years has filled the building with art work, one of a kind furnishings, odd antiques, musical instruments, and my new art hobby 1:12 scale miniature buildings, 10 of which now crowd the living room display space along with an enclosure for our two bunnies. Hardly room for another drawing!

Today it is a quirky but wonderful home for my wife, a scientist and talented artist, and I. What will it become next? Who is to say? Check with Terrie regularly on her blog Myhouse thetradingpost.com to find out!

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, music, Story, Uncategorized

The Belles of Westport My House The Trading Post

IMG_2899In 1909, Mrs. Carrie Westlake Whitney, the librarian, wrote of her account of her first visit to Westport (1881), “there was incessant hammering and banging from a dozen blacksmith’s sheds, where the heavy wagons were being repaired, and the horses and oxen shod. The streets were thronged with men, horses, and mules. While I was in town, a train of emigrant wagons from Illinois passed through to join the camp on the prairie. A multitude of healthy children’s faces were peeping out from under the covers of the wagons. Here and there a buxom damsel was seated on horseback, holding over her sunburnt face an umbrella or a parasol, once gaudy enough, but now miserably faded.”

My house the trading post, in Westport (Kansas City, Missouri), once catered to the families of sturdy, good people, whose life was that of the frontier. The rules and manners of the parties attended, were at the discretion of the host. A party at the old Westport saloon would have involved dancing and a “kissing” game. This would be followed by a “supper” that included pumpkin pie, peach pie, and buttermilk. Afterwards, the fun would continue with a run through the backwoods with candles.

With the room lite with candles that “shone brightly upon the fair maidens with glossy water-falls, delaine tissue dresses, hoop skirts and family jewels.” In 1850, dancing in Kansas City, was forbidden by the churches. The young folks were allowed to have large parties, accompanied by some older persons, but the kids refused to call them “chaperons.” For fun, packs of teens, would take a passage on one of the Missouri River Boats, and dance on deck to the fiddler music. A jolly captain, with a crew that supplied the teens with good southern cooking, made this excursion highly enjoyable.

Fashion in KC-Westlake

The most desired and eligible young men were from Westport. The prettiest and wealthiest girls were from Kansas City or Independence. The finest parties were hosted by the sons and daughters of the first trading post merchants, saloon owners, and farmers. The Santa Fe trade made these families wealthy. Their parties were legendary and drew in all the prettiest girls.

Before bridge parties and book clubs were popular, quilting parties were the social occasion for the mothers and daughters.  Some girls would travel ten miles to arrive as early a nine o’clock in the morning, to quilt. The ladies arrived by carriage, pulled by one of the girl’s own personal riding horses.  The women sat on rush bottom chairs around a quilting frame while stitching in different areas. In the company of the other quilters, pioneer women, brought up with cortly manners and elegances, kept their words polite.

Belles

The Belles of Kansas City, Missouri in 2014, are beautiful, well-mannered ladies, with charisma and a flair for taking pictures. Among the popular activities in Kansas City for kids to do include, playing soccer, hanging out at the Plaza and Union Station, and joining a modeling class. Here are a few more photos:

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Uncategorized

Jade, my house the trading post

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Jade is the color of Spring. March is the color of green. Shades of green jade are peaking out from the gray winter. It brings a smile and thoughts of being young.

Remember high school? A Friday party in class. The classroom windows open for the fresh air. There is a knock at the door.  A tray of icecream cups arrive. Oh joy!

 

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Art, blog, Event, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

Back to History, my house the trading post

IMG_2297IMG_22951900-studio

 

Westport property values rose during the Depression. The area south of my house the trading post, between State line and Homes Street, where the Civil War Battle of Westport took place, was bought by J.C. Nichols. Mr. Nichols designed streets with running streams, lush plantings, and stone walls and bridges. The Country Club Plaza District was born.

The land around my house the trading post was still farmland. Between 1910 and 1920 the neighborhood had been bought and small depression era family homes were built. My house the trading post became a small neighborhood grocery store.

The Country Club Plaza district offered modern houses and a sophisticated shopping village. In fact, the Plaza shopping center was the most imaginative shopping center of the world. There were luxurious specialty shops and department stores set in Spanish tiled, stucco buildings, with outdoor fountains, statuary, and flowering trees.

The Plaza drew in clients from the surrounding areas, of new homes in Westport, and the new Plaza apartments and from the entire region of Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. The luxury of the Plaza exists today. Over the years, employees from Kansas and Nebraska enjoy annual meetings and business trips at the Country Club Plaza. A trip to Kansas City is jammed packed with entertainment, shopping, and good food, all in walking distance.

Westport has always been the more urban entertainment area, but in the 1920s it became even flashier. Going to the movies and dancing were the favorite activities. One young flapper girl, named Lucille LeSeuer won a Charleston Dance Contest that sent her to Hollywood. That young girl was Joan Crawford.

Main Street

Main Street 1853

Parks and Boulevards, 1908
Parks and Boulevards, 1908

 

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

What Boys Like, my house the trading post

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Kansas City pecans are some of the tastiest nuts around. The nuts are sweet and oil rich compared to southern states. Missouri river towns, like Kansas City, offer fertile soil and sunny conditions for pecan trees. Many pecan trees were planted in the 1800s.

We have a friend who has a pecan tree; he gathers up a bag full that have fallen to the ground. The shucks starting to split open. It is easy to remove the shells. The price of pecans at the local grocery store is about $18 a pound. I wouldn’t pay that much. I enjoy my nuts fresh and free from the ground. Making pecan pie from scratch is often cheaper and tastier.

Since our friend dropped off a bag of pecans and our pet duck (Squeaky) has started laying eggs again, I needed to do something with these God given gifts. As a food ‘snob’ I prefer store bought chicken eggs for breakfast. However, anything with enough sugar in it, I’ll eat. My husband never objects to anything I serve.

I know what boys like. They like my pecan pie. So here’s my recipe for Pecan Pie. Enjoy!

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PECAN PIE
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Corn Syrup
2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/4 cups pecans

Pie Crust
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fake butter/ shortening
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
4 tablespoon cold water

Make the pie crust first (or use a prepared pie crust). 
In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt. 
Next, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until pieces are the size of a small pea. 
Combine the vinegar and water and slowly sprinkle into the flour. 
Gather the moistened  dough into a ball, refrigerate for ten minutes or more.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. 
Place all the pecans on a greased cookie sheet/baking sheet. 
Roast pecans for a few minutes, carefull not to burn. Cool.

Beat the 3 eggs in a medium bowl. 
Add brown sugar, corn syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and nutmeg. 
Stir in pecans. 

Roll out pie crust and line a pie pan. 
Pour pecan mixture into pie crust. 
Bake 50 minutes. 
A knife inserted into the edge should come out clean.

Serve warm, cold, with ice-cream, or just on plate. 
Yummy!

SQ-qnd-Eddie
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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, photography, Story, Uncategorized

Job Search, my house…

Why-Lie

 

Are there more job search sites than there are jobs? The online job sites include Monster, and Career builder. And more like, Career Experteer, USA Staffing, Jobs.com, Hire America, Jobungo, Snagajob, and once you go to any of those sites there are a number of employment agencies advertising openings.

However, they all have the some job. I have given my identification to so many hiring sources with no response. I have applied for the same position through a dozen employment agencies. I still can’t find a job. (I had my identity stolen and have to monitor everything now.)

There may be 6% unemployment recorded and the news media spouting long term unemployed are lazy and have too many government services available to them that they have no incentive to work. Well, that’s bull.

Many members of my extended family have experienced a strange change in society and the economy that has left a once proud middle class family to fend for themselves and muddle in poverty. Some family live on only $200-400 a month with children under five. Other like myself are older and the job market has squeezed us out. The only thing saving the over 50 group of unemployed from jumping off the bridge is the blessings of family and a home that is paid or nearly paid for.

Unemployment is hard work. It may mean waking up early to walk the neighborhood collecting aluminum cans. Or spending the afternoon counting pennies to cash in for a gallon of milk. I have ambition, talent, and skills that go to waste because of the computer human resource trends.

As for the guy in the photo, Bob and I saw him sitting along one of the popular beaches in California, during one of my business trips (a few years ago when I had a job). We thought it was really funny. The guy didn’t appreciate that we took his picture; I can’t repeat what he said to us after the shot was taken. What is not funny, is homelessness. I feel that we are closer to losing everything despite all the good work  we put into our lives.

Times are getting rough for some, others remain gainfully employed. If you have a job, you are one of the lucky ones.

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, music, photography, Story, Uncategorized

Slowly, my house

Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…

Something new is coming. My blog, My House The Trading Post, is slowly gaining followers. Wow!

The type of stories that I enjoy sharing are about the Belles of Westport, stories about Westport fashions then and now, stories of the Civil War, and Love Stories then and now. The posts that were least viewed were the stories of music and art that we make here at the house.

What I have learned about blogging is shorter posts are often viewed more than longer posts. Inspirational messages are also favored by more views. I have also learned that one post a day is preferred over multiple posts a day.

Thank you for viewing my post.

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City

Kansas City vs. Leavenworth

homestead-westlake

A strong rivalry existed between Kansas City and Leavenworth before the Civil War. Leavenworth, Kansas is situated some twenty-five miles up the river from Kansas City. Both cities had begun railroads to Cameron, Missouri before the war. After the civil war both railroad companies sought financial backing to revive them. The railroad to Cameron secured Kansas City’s future.

The city of Leavenworth evolved from Fort Leavenworth and enjoyed a large and prosperous trade during the war. Both Kansas City and Leavenworth undertook to secure aid and connect with the Hannibal and the St. Joseph Railroad. As a consequence each city had to show claims and merits to determine which road would be funded, Kansas City won with C.E. Kearney organizing the venture. The final decision to build the road to Kansas City was made by James Joy of the Chicago, Burlington Railroads. He visited Leavenworth and Kansas City and decided that Kansas City had the best point to also build a bridge and make the road of value.

Cameron, Missouri is the home of the Cameron Dragons. Go Dragons! There is a Train Depot Museum in Cameron that is worth visiting.

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blog, History, Kansas City, Uncategorized

Little Women, my house the trading post

My review…

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On Christmas morning the girls have a bottle of cologne for mommy. Hanna the maid has popovers and sausages for the girls to eat. Mommy comes into the scene with news of a woman with a new-born and six kids huddled in one room for heat. “They have nothing.”

The girls take their lovely breakfast to the family down the road. And when the wealthy old man next door learned of this unselfish act, the neighbor boy’s Grandfather sends over a great feast for the girls and a piano.

The Welfare system in America is very young. In the days before State and Federal programs the poor had little hope. Many small shacks lined the landscape of Kansas City during 1868. These tiny houses were often made of orange crates, wooden shipping crates.

It is said that the wealth trickles down to cover the poor. In modern times I question if the wealthy are providing for the poor. Down the road from me lives a family with cracked windows. The door loose off the hinges. A wide blanket over the doorway and electric heaters on high. The mother and her child huddle in a single room trying to keep warm.

In the kitchen, little if any, food to eat. Especially when the snow falls four inches deep. I pray for the little ones we cannot see and they don’t know any one cares.

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

1868, my house the trading post

Fashion in KC-Westlake

My favorite story, Little Women, is a novel by Louisa May Alcott. She lived between 1832 and 1888. In 1868 she published her book. The black and white movie version, made in 1949, was on T.V. the other night.

Inside the 1860s general store, preserves, sewing material, and winter coats are for sale. The matriarch of the family, working at the store, comforts an elderly customer. The audience is introduced to her four daughters. Jo, Beth, Margarete, and Megan. The girls are getting ready for Christmas.

Jo reads to an elder woman, Aunt Marge. In the background a dog and a parrot. Their father is off at war. Jo shows her disobedience as she tries to slip away when her aunt dozes off to sleep. Suddenly, the Aunt grabs Jo’s arm, and as she scolds, gives Jo a few dollars to spend for x-mas gifts then criticizes her for not cleaning the dusty bannister.

Another sister, Megan stands with a naughty sign in a classroom as school lets out. Ashamed and crying for drawing sketches during her English lesson. The tears convince the school master to  dismiss the incident without telling her mother. As she leaves school she taunts  her peers.

Hanna the maid, sets the table as the school girls are arriving home. As the girls cross their yard, they notice the young man living next door in the old man’s grand house. Once in their own house Beth greets them. Jo shares the money Aunt Marge has given them. Each distants themselves as the discuss what they will buy. The sisters want to buy according to their talents and likes.

Jo is a tom boy and almost a lady. Jo aspires to be a famous author. Her sister, Amy is a girl. Jo directs a play in the family parlor. She instructs her sister Amy to swoon. The girls giggle.

Mother arrives home. “”Mommy!” They greet her with kisses. She reads a letter from Father. He tells them he is proud of them. Each girl is encouraged; they want dearly, to be better, to please father in his absent. Mother leaves to fix tea and dinner. The girls make plans to best use the money from Aunt Marge, to buy mommy a gift.

After dinner mother and girls fold cloths near the fire. Later, Beth, afraid of people, is a gifted musician, plays the piano as the others sing a hymn like song. Mother then sends them off to bed.

In the morning, it is Christmas. Hanna the maid has breakfast ready. The girls have put together their money and bought a large bottle of cologne for mommy. Popovers and sausage delight the girls. The war has caused them poverty and such food was indeed a treat. However, Hanna remembers a time when the family was wealthier and food plentiful. She apologizes for not having more.

 

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