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

Streets Covered In Snow

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I think the Kansas City Mayor follows my blog. Several weeks ago I wrote a blog story about the three snow trucks in a row. The snowplows were barely skimming the pavement. It appeared that the Kansas City snowplows were traveling too fast and the shovel wasn’t engaged low enough to move any snow off the street. I also twittered their technique didn’t look right and that the ‘Kansas’ side was clear.

This morning the snow laid on the ground, all the neighborhood covered in white. The Kansas City snow plow trucks are out and working. They just did my neighborhood. I didn’t expect the street to be clear’d so soon. In fact, I had cancelled my doctor appointment because of the snow.

In Westport Missouri, an icy snow is several inches thick on the roads, and unlike the last time the snowplows are doing a much better job. I love the snow. I don’t like the cold.

Snow-angel

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

Streets Covered In Snow

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In Kansas City there is a natural road, the old Indian trail, provides the easiest route for me to drive about the city. There are two nice highways, constructed, in the Twentieth Century. Interstate-35, North and South, zips through the city. Interstate-70 takes drivers East and West.  However, the Indian trail, now paved, consist of a variety of inner city streets that are often S-shaped or at an angle to the block streets that dip and rise throughout the city.

During the cow town years, the clay roads became impassable when wet. In 2014, the streets in the “bottoms” still flood. The city around Westport floods. The cement city cannot absorb the rainwater fast enough on most rainy days. Many drivers have lost their cars and lives in Kansas City due to high water. I have been caught in such a scary situation before.

Your heart is racing, the streetlights providing the only light to guide you. Unless the transformers have blown up, lighting strikes out the streetlights. The darkness hides the dips in the road that are under water; if you drive into a street under water there is a chance your car will float away into a deep ditch and sink. I’ve seen it happen before my very eyes. With the children still young, screaming at the top of their lungs in the back seat, out of fear for their life.

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This morning the snow laid on the ground, all the neighborhood covered in white. I love the snow. I also love to drive in the snow, or at least I don’t mind it. My husband and son were not as thrilled that I drive at all. I drive a Mustang. I am an old’ fashioned girl; every woman in 1850 owned her own pony. I own a modern pony.

My son was late for work; he needs to get up an hour early to be able to ride the bus to work. He rightfully lost his drivers license (years ago), and walks to most of his destinations. The metro bus driver zoomed past his stop, earlier in the morning at 1:00 am.

E-mo had just gotten off work. Pappa John’s is right in front of the Metro Bus stop, so E-mo knows the bus had not stopped yet. He stood in the dark of the night, the snow falling, and the streets becoming harder to maneuver. The metro bus came roaring down the street. E-mo was the only person standing on the sidewalk, among the white snow, his black and red Pappa Johns hat obvious below the streetlight. The bus drove past him, never stopping.

Behind the bus traveled three cars. The first car passed by. E-mo put out his thumb to hitch a ride. The second car had three men swerving in the snow, laughed and flipped E-MO off. The third car was a Jimmy John’s delivery car. All appeared to pass E-mo by in the snow, so early in the morning. E-mo looked up, and saw that the first car that drove behind the bus had stopped. The car was backing up, he was coming back to pick him up. E-mo had a ride.

The driver was an out of town man, driving a rental. He was Asian and had a bit of an accent. E-mo thanked the man for picking him up. Promised to give the man a free pizza if he’d like to visit Pappa John’s and buy a pizza.  The man appreciated the offer, however, he was just in town for a business meeting and wouldn’t be staying long. The stranger seemed to know the streets, like he’d been to Kansas City before. I prayed for the stranger after he dropped Emo off at the house.

The stranger was now in the oldest part of town. The streets dip and rise to an elevation that is impossible to drive up. In the distance I can hear the tires of a car stuck in the snow. The city plow trucks will not be done with the streets for many hours.

The morning comes too soon, when it snows; E-mo overslept, and needed a ride to work. His only option was for me to drive him in the snow with my Mustang. I was up, dressed, and warming up my car. My husband shaking his head “no.” My son dragging his feet in the snow wishing I didn’t have to drive him. He was scared. Bad memories from the days of the flash floods. Snow is different.

I learned how to drive, growing up in Chicago, my birthday, is December 21. Do I have to give any more references to my snow driving qualifications? I can out drive any Missouri driven SUV or 4WD, on a snow day. Do not get in the car with me on a bright, clear, warm, sunny day; then my mind wanders and I drive like an idiot.

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The first route I took the tires on the Mustang spun and spun; however I was proud to have gotten up the hill further than the Camaro that I passed.  I turned the Mustang into a driveway, backed up into the street and headed down hill. The car picked up speed and I used the slippery snow to make the turn at the bottom of the hill. My son holding on to the dashboard and the side handle of the door. Taking a one-lane, Side Street that is rotted with potholes, now smooth in the snow. I ride the car through the stop sign so that it will pick up speed and make it up to Rainbow Boulevard. I’m in Kansas now. In Kansas, they have all their streets cleared of the snow. I have to get back over to Missouri, and up to 20th street.

I turned onto Westport Road, merging back into Missouri, the snow is several inches thick on the roads, and the plows are in front of us; three trucks in a row. The snowplows were barely skimming the pavement. It appears that the Kansas City snowplows are traveling too fast and the shovel isn’t engaged low enough to move any snow off the street. I’m driving and thinking their technique doesn’t look right. Then I turn onto McGee, and 20th, and drop Emo off in front of Pappa John’s Pizza.

The return trip was uneventful, except I followed three more snowplow trucks that were driving in a row without the shovels low enough to move snow off the street.

Sunday, in Kansas City, is like a ghost town. The buildings look empty. The streets are lacking of people. The lonely cars parked along the streets, the only indication people are near by.

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

The Train Era-My House The Trading Post-Hemingway Visit

My House the Trading Post, The Train Era

Union Station

Union Station

On the Fourth of July, 1863, Kansas City celebrated the opening of the first railroad bridge over the Missouri River. In fact, it was the only bridge across the Missouri River. The owner of the Union Pacific Eastern Railway, made a successful ascension in his Balloon from the public square, now known as the present City Hall location. A crowd from Missouri and Kansas cheered amid the firing of a cannon. The Coates House or Broadway Hotel hosted a grand banquet in honor of the railroad.

The first passenger train, in 1864, ran between Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas. The Topeka stop was added next. By 1909, a trip to Topeka from Kansas City, took two hours with many passenger trains on three different rails. The rails were extended 385 miles West, by the year 1868, and allowed excursions from Kansas City to Denver. The ride required two nights and one day for the trip. At this time, buffalo still roamed in herds, that often delayed the trains which had to wait for the buffalo to cross the tracks. A trip from Kansas City to Denver, cost $45.00. Today, Amtrak will get you there in eleven hours, for $166.

It was a round about journey from Kansas City to the East before the Missouri Pacific railroad. Travelers would leave Kansas City by Steam boat and arrive in Weston, Missouri. At Weston a connection was made with the Platte Valley railroad that went to St. Joseph, Missouri. The St. Joseph railroad would take passengers to Hannibal, Missouri. Passengers bound for Chicago, would board a Steam boat from Hannibal to Quincy, Illinois. Connecting with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railway of Illinois. The trip from Kansas City to Chicago was made in forty hours. There was only one train a day, and no choice of route.

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The train was established in 1854; Kansas City broke ground for the first rail lines in 1860. Soon afterwards, parents of unwanted children started to use the train to dispose of children. “The Childrens Aid Society of New York Orphan Trains,” ran in the years 1854 to 1929. My grandmother, was one of those children. A note was pinned to a little girl’s jacket by her mother, when she was five years old, most likely announcing her availability to be adopted. The train traveled from junction to junction until at last it stopped for a long time.  All the little boys were chosen first.  She was an overlooked little girl, she traveled on the train until it ran out of tracks. She was placed on a returning train back to New York. When the train stopped at the train station, a couple decided to adopt her.

The older couple had no children of their own. They had come to the train station to adopt a little boy, but they had been running late. Her name, Dorthy, was the only child left to pick from. It isn’t clear if their intent was to make her their scullery maid, but she spent the next ten years cleaning their house. Soon after Dorthy was adopted, Mrs. Brandt had a child of her own, a son.  A year later, the Brandt’s had a daughter. Dorthy’s chores increased with her new bother and sister.

The Brandt’s were a wealthy German family, at the turn of the Century. Mr. Brandt, is known for his architecture. There are several historic homes and apartment buildings that give credit to him in the Chicagoland area. However, the Will that he and his wife bequeathed, left out their adopted daughter, Dorthy. All their wealth, went to her brother and sister, natural-born heirs.

Dorthy, passed away years ago, during the Thanksgiving holidays, in a nursing home north of Kansas City. She had just moved into the nursing home due to a colon problem. She got the opportunity to meet her real mother in the 1960’s. It was a surprise to find out that her mother was a Pennsylvania Amish woman, who had gotten pregnant by an ‘English’ man. Apparently, the young Amish woman and the ‘English’ man, did not stay together. The Amish woman tried to care for her twin children for as long as she could. She had placed the children on the train, in about the year 1910, when they were just five years-old. As the old Amish woman spoke to Dorthy, she remembered she had a twin brother. Her twin later contacted her, after their mother who abandoned him, located him living on a farm in Illinois. He’d been adopted by an Iowa farm family, who were very kind to him. After he inherited the family farm, he bought a bigger farm in Illinois, where he retired and passed away in the same year Dorthy passed.

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By 1870, the railroad industry had become a monopoly, as it was the life blood of American commerce. After, competing railroad companies layed duplicate tracks to do business in the popular cities, the railroad companies realized merging operations would increase profits. The railroads were allowed to exist as a “natural monopoly” because multiple companies would be a waste of financial and material resources. The train slowed the amount of business Westport once saw. Hunters no longer needed trading posts. Wagon trains were obsolete like the need for a place to quench your thirst after traveling the dusty trail. Union Station became the hub for business travel and pleasure adventures.

In Ernst Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls he writes about the angst of farewells at the train station. ” He had taken the train… to go away to school for the first time. He had been afraid to go and did not want any one to know it.”   He also wrote, “the Kansas City train stopped…There was nothing in sight but the road and few dust-grayed trees. A wagon lurched along through the ruts, the driver slouching with the jolts of his spring seat and letting the reins hang slack on the horses’ back…”

Ernst Hemingway arrived in Kansas City by train. Hemingway came to Kansas City when he was 17 years old. It was in October of 1917. Ernst’s brother had gotten him a job at the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. His brother Tyler Hemingway was living in Kansas City and had a friend who was the Star’s chief editorial writer. Although, Hemingway only stayed in town for six months, Kansas City likes to take credit for being mentioned in 5 of his novels, 4 published sketches, and dozens of short stories. He reported on the activities at Union Station. The train station had people coming and going. This is where he got introduced to ‘shady characters’ and celebrities.

His story, In Our Time,  resembles the work he did for the Star. Another one of his passages describing Kansas City is found in, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

“In those days the distances were all different, the dirt blew off the hills that now have been cut down, and Kansas City was very like Constantinople. I was walking from the Woolfe Brother’s Saloon where, on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, a free turkey dinner was served,”

The fact that he writes about the Woolfe Brother’s Saloon has never been related to my house, a Westport Saloon, but it should. The owner of my house in 1917, had a nephew staying here who was friends with Hemingway. The two of them got drunk frequently, it was his secret hide away from the adults and associates of the Kansas City Star. Westport has always been the part of town that would have attracted a young man who wanted to hang out with creative individuals, drink, and party.

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It is interesting to consider which characters that may have passed through the doors of this Westport saloon, or inhabited an apartment upstairs.  I truly believe that Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, and Daniel Boone have been here.

I am also convinced that Ernst Hemingway had a friend who lived here (The boy shown in the B&W picture of the tavern in 1909). The boy in the picture continued to live in this neighborhood until the age of 98. I share many of his stories in this blog.  I do not remember the fellow’s name and I am not aware of his exact death (sometime in late 1990’s). If the man says he was friends with Ernst Hemingway, I see no reason why he should lie. There were lots of authors that have lived in Kansas City, he only mentioned being friends with Ernst. It is that old man’s recollection of frontiersman like Doc Holliday, Boone, and Hemingway that I write about.

Kansas City is mentioned in many of Hemingway’s writings. He continued to visit Kansas City over his life. He even had several children born in the hospital in Kansas City. Most likely Truman Medical Center, he describes it in his writings as the hospital on the hill down from Union Station.

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

My House The Trading Post, The Train Era

My House the Trading Post, The Train Era

Westport Kratz Drug Store
Westport Kratz Drug Store

The train was established in 1854, soon afterwards, parents of unwanted children started to use the train to dispose of children. “The Childrens Aid Society of New York Orphan Trains,” ran in the years 1854 to 1929. My grandmother, was one of those children.

A note was pinned to a little girl’s jacket by her mother, when she was five years old, most likely anouncing her availablility to be adopted. The train traveled from junction to junction until at last it stopped for a long time.  All the little boys were chosen first.  She was an overlooked little girl, she traveled on the train until it ran out of tracks. She was placed on a returning train back to New York. When the train stopped at the train station, a couple decided to adopt her.

The older couple had no children of their own. They had come to the train station to adopt a little boy, but they had been runnig late. Her name, Dorthy, was the only child left to pick from. It isn’t clear if their intent was to make her their scullery maid, but she spent the next ten years cleaning their house. Soon after Dorthy was adopted, Mrs. Brandt had a child of her own, a son.  A year later, the Brandt’s had a daughter. Dorthy’s chores increased with her new bother and sister.

The Brandt’s were a wealthy German family, at the turn of the Century. Mr. Brandt, is known for his architechture. There are several historic homes and apartment buildings that give credit to him in the Chicagoland area. However, the Will that he and his wife bequeathed, left out their adopted daughter, Dorthy. All their wealth, went to her brother and sister, natural born heirs.

Dorthy, passed away years ago, during the Thanksgiving holidays, in a nursing home north of Kansas City. She had just moved into the nursing home due to a colon problem. She got the opportunity to meet her real mother in the 1960’s. It was a surprise to find out that her mother was a Pennsylvania Amish woman, who had gotten pregnant by an ‘English’ man. Apparently, the young Amish woman and the ‘English’ man, did not stay together. The Amish woman tried to care for her twin children for as long as she could. She had placed the children on the train, in about the year 1910, when they were just five years-old. As the old Amish woman spoke to Dorthy, she remembered she had a twin brother. Her twin later contacted her, after their mother who abandoned him, located him living on a farm in Illinois. He’d been adopted by an Iowa farm family, who were very kind to him. After he inherited the family farm, he bought a bigger farm in Illinois, where he retired and passed away in the same year Dorthy passed.

By 1870, the railroad industry had become a monopoly as it was the life blood of American commerce. After, competing railroad companies layed duplicate tracks to do business in the popular cities, the railroad companies realized merging operations would increase profits. The railroads were allowed to exist as a “natural monoply” because multiple companies would be a waste of financial and material resources. The train slowed the amount of business Westport once saw. Hunters no longer needed trading posts. Wagon trains were obsolete like the need for a place to quinch your thirst after traveling the dusty trail. Union Station became the hub for business travel and pleasure adventures.

In Ernst Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls he writes about the angst of farewells at the train station. ” He had taken the train… to go away to school for the first time. He had been afraid to go and did not want any one to know it.”   He also wrote, “the Kansas City train stopped…There was nothing in sight but the road and few dust-grayed trees. A wagon lurched along through the ruts, the driver slouching with the jolts of his spring seat and letting the reins hang slack on the horses’s back…”

Ernst Hemingway arrived in Kansas City by train. Hemingway came to Kansas City when he was 17 years old. It was in October of 1917. Ernst’s brother had gotten him a job at the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter. His brother Tyler Hemingway was living in Kansas City and had a friend who was the Star’s chief editorial writer. Although, Hemingway only stayed in town for six months, Kansas City likes to take credit for being mentioned in 5 of his novels, 4 published sketches, and dozens of short stories. He reported on the activities at Union Station. The train station had people coming and going. This is where he got introduced to ‘shady characters’ and celebrities.

His story, In Our Time,  resembles the work he did for the Star. Another one of his passages describing Kansas City is found in, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

“In those days the distances were all different, the dirt blew off the hills that now have been cut down, and Kansas City was very like Constantinople. I was walking from the Woolfe Brother’s Saloon where, on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day, a free turkey dinner was served,”

The fact that he writes about the Woolfe Brother’s Saloon has never been related to my house, a Westport Saloon, but it should. The owner of my house in 1917, had a nephew staying here who was friends with Hemingway. The two of them got drunk frequently, it was his secret hide away from the adults and associates of the Kansas City Star. Westport has always been the part of town that would have attracted a young man who wanted to hang out with creative individuals, drink, and party.

Kansas City is mentioned in many of Hemingway’s writings. He continued to visit Kansas City over his life. He even had several children born in the hospital in Kansas City. Most likely Truman Medical Center, he describes it in his writings as the hospital on the hill down from Union Station.

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