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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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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Hipster Scene, my house the trading post

DonaldQuack

Hipsters are associated with places like Chicago, New York, and San Fransisco. WordPress.com is my hipster scene. Here the talented writers are artist, illustrators, and photographers. They have interests in farming, fashion, history, language, poetry, and an array of art.

WordPress.com is my favorite place on the web. I can get lost for hours. I am mad for followers. I try harder and harder each day to find meaningful words to share and sigh that my photo album only has a handful of pictures.

Linked to my Facebook page, a more private site, where 355 of my friends view my WordPress posts. I am dedicated to providing my Facebook readers one good photo with the first dozen or more words the most meaningful or most interesting statement. Because that’s about all my Facebook friends will read. They don’t take advantage of the full story and they are quick to ‘like’ the photos more than the content. I don’t believe my Facebook friends follow the WordPress link. In return, I read their posts of fluffy kittens, family illness, naughty rants, and birthday gifts.

I receive meaningful and thoughtful comments from my WordPress followers. A hipster scene, although not limited to the men and women in their 20s and 30s, WordPress.com bloggers value independent thinking. Among their thoughts are the counter-culture, and progressive politics. They appreciate art, all types of music, creativity, intelligence, and they are witty.

Go, Go, WordPress.com!

I now want to share my dream to publish the following Children’s Book, Squeaky The Duck.Sq-cover

chick-pg-1Bigger-RevRow-pg-3Under-a-tree-color-5He-quaked-and-he-quaked-colorSQ-qnd-EddieDaffyduck  Daffy and Donald move over, Squeaky is taking over. http://petduck.wordpress.com

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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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Tuesday, my house the trading post

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Do reality shows make you angry? In the evening, I watch my favorite housewives reality shows. From a cultural anthropologist view the whole range of reality shows from the fab, catty, vastly over privileged to the most low rent and crude have the combined effect of reconstructing and reinforcing a system of class awareness, distinction and perhaps resentment that society had tried to banish through the twentieth century.

Sigh.

“But if someone who suppose to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” 1John 3:17-18

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I have a picture of a Picasso and a wine collection. Sounds like I’m rich? (Not) My daughter wrote me a troubling text message earlier today.

“Lol when you die you can’t take nothing with you. Money is worthless and all your fancy stuff. I am done talking. I shouldn’t have to explain myself to a 50 year old mom. You should already know this. Don’t tell me you are happy, tell God, because you will face him on judgement day. He knows the truth. “Forgive and repent, and move on in life.” Stop living in the past. You should cherish what years you got left instead of staying away from your family. Eddie and I might see you twice in two months. You and Bob can’t ever just come to our house and hang out for hours. Somebody is gonna have to die before you start to see things clear again. Mom you do have family that loves you, and Bob is just someone that blows money on you. When he’s gone you will see.”

Later she wrote, “Mom, I’m short $112 for light bill.”

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Water, My House The Trading Post

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The water has always concerned me. U.S Congressman Sam Graves has made inquiries with the Environmental Protection Agency for an explanation of communities in violation of new ozone standards. Graves noted that the EPA included Clinton and Clay Counties on the list in 2008, because they had dropped the 80 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion on the ozone threshold. His concern was not for the safety of the community but that a smaller community could not afford to comply. This is unfortunate because the smaller community has experienced strange health concerns. However, no two health events were the same or repeatable in another.

As a mother, and a child that grew up in the Missouri town with the “suspected” tainted water, I can tell you I have always thought that there was something wrong with the Cameron water. And have spent most of my life not drinking water because of it. The town is divided, nearly down the middle, as to the safety of the water. I, for instance, feel it is not safe. My background, clinical laboratory scientist and my first husband the city water tester for Elwood, Kansas. The water was frequently tainted, and a boil order issued.

Congressman Sam Graves gave the EPA a tour of the County. That lady, Erin Brockovick, came to town and told every one that the Chromium 6 concentrations were high and caused from a nearby tannery that sold farmers sludge as fertilizer. I do not know what more was done. Only 776 health cases were identified in 2008. My daughter, suffers from a health concern that doctors have not been able to help with. And no one has taken my daughter’s issue as a concern of the water, but they should have, or I should have.

Does history repeat itself? Are selfishness and negativity put aside for the good of all the people?

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Call The Doctor, my house the trading post

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The physicians were dispersed among the first pioneers of Westport. Some were college educated; others acquired their skills while working for an established practitioner. In 1881, twelve of the Kansas City physicians were women. Physicians served as specialist, surgeon, oculist, and dentist; treating every phase of bodily ailment. Most practiced medicine until their death. Westport physicians were well-known for their ability to patch up a man after a gun fight. The territory was continually harassed by predatory bandits before the civil war.

The first hospital wasn’t a great structure of lavish and remarkable architectural beauty.  The first hospital was nothing more than an old Westport trading post. The two-story wood structure was converted by the Catholic nuns as an infirmary accommodating twenty patients.

The old Kansas City Hospital, founded in 1870, was located at Twenty-Second street and McCoy streets. In 1884, a new brick edifice was erected. The city council approved funds to build a two-story brick building in 1895. The building housed the surgical department and women’s ward. At the time, the city physician managed the city hospital. His subordinates were the in-house surgeons, and medical graduates and their assistants and stewards. The supervisory management rests with the board of health.

The board of health, in 1895, consisted of the heads of the municipal departments. The mayor was the ex officio president of the board, with the city physician as executive officer. The subordinate officers were a city chemist, a health officer, a milk and food inspector and a meat inspector. Those officers reported to the city physician.

getimage.exeBy 1908, the new City hospital was a six-story brick fortress-like building. Built of gray brick laid in white mortar, the fireproof structure is pictured on 23rd street, facing north. McCoy street is on the east.

St. Joseph’s hospital was founded in 1875, by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. The building was completed in 1886 and was situated at 710 Penn street. It was modern for its time, having a an x-ray machine, and equipment of those in other metropolitan hospital. Much of the equipment was a gift by Dr. Griffith. The St. Joseph hospital was able to hold 100 patients. by the 1900’s. Abundant provisions were made to charity cases and accommodation of any patient or persons of all religions, all were admitted without question.

Signing up for healthcare was disappointing. I still can’t go to the doctor, and my headaches and nausea are getting worse. I enrolled in the healthcare.gov, after several attempts, finally got recognized by the system.  I qualify for free coverage with a $6500 deductible. I think that means I have to pay $6500 out-of-pocket expenses first, before the insurance company will kick in their share. I will not be going to the doctor, because I have empty pockets.

While I am not willing to spend money on my healthcare, I just took my pet duck to the vet. The duck needed surgery, she ate a lot of pennies. I couldn’t bare to see the poor bird suffer. I am looking forward to having Squeaky the Duck home for dinner, but not as the entree.

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A fan, and previous resident of the property, provided the following picture of the house in the 1970’s. He set up the old home movie projector and then took this on his cell phone. myhousethetradingpost.wordpress.com

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Poison History, My House The Trading Post

The Chemist reported the water was poisoned. The Internet can bring poison into the home. The first water lines that ran to the homes carried tainted water. In time communities developed a means for filtering the water. The city was also responsible for building better roads and providing street lights for safe passage. In time the Internet community will become safer for all. Eventually it will be offered to the whole community, and to every citizen.  I hope my adult children will be able to have Internet service. Currently, such service is a luxury that many American still cannot afford.

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The rules are changing. The technology is evolving quickly. The folks of 1850 accepted all their new technologies; trains, phone, house water, electric, and cars. They kept disputes to a minimum. The individuals within each family of the community helped their city grow. Growth that made some wealthy and others lose it all.

There are two social classes of students that I have met. The first is the public school student; where in the public school less emphasis is given to history and more time is spent on teaching reading and basic arithmetic skills. The second is the private school student; where teachers don’t overlook the grammar issues, and move students forward with information. Administrative concerns in both environments pay attention to scales that measure performance. Kansas City was established by many people with varied backgrounds. Many of the pioneer citizens were educated (lawyers, doctors, nurses, chemists, interpreters, ministers, and teachers…) Kansas City currently has an unaccredited public school district. I wish, concerned more citizens.

In the history books the word monopoly is mentioned. A monopoly is the advantage of one supplier or producer over the commercial market. In America a monopoly exists when all, or nearly all of an article of trade within a community is in the hands of one person or corporation’s control and excludes competition. Monopolies have formed whenever new technology was created. Shortly after the technology was made accessible for the start-up businessman. Many small operators of the same technology sprung up. Corporations were able to meet the demand of the citizens better by buying up all the competing businesses.   However, their product could only be afforded by a few. The monopoly created a power to control prices, to the harm of the public.

It has been an offense of law to possess or create a monopoly power, and fix prices and exclude competitors from the market. For example once the railroads were laid, and a railroad company established; other railroad companies  formed, but there wasn’t enough commercial traffic to continue to lay multiple rails along passages. Soon there would be no room for the additional tracks and you may only end up with only a few riders per train. The formation of the railroad monopolies formed. They established a bigger company and bought up the smaller train companies. Government intervention created a system to limit the monopoly and balance control over the number of tracks and routes.

antique_oldsantafetrailantiqueshop(The two pictures represent the same building; East side, after the civil war, and the West side in 2013)

When the electric companies formed. The light company was the largest public utility corporation in Kansas City. However, first there were several little companies operating that struggled to make a profit. Then the power company formed a monopoly that threatened the price of services, until Kansas City called the service a public good.

When the telephone was installed in the city, four miles of wire and poles were set across town. Two phone companies were in operation until 1908.  When a new phone franchise bought out the original phone companies, the city was able to impose additional taxes, not previously considered, on the companies, their poles and wires, along with a percentage of the phone company’s profits.

Today, a similar situation is being expressed in the healthcare system. Insurance companies, were plentiful, but only a few citizens could afford the service. For years, most doctors wouldn’t even accept a new patient without insurance. Now the US Government is trying to break down the healthcare monopoly and make health insurance an essential service of public good.

Main Street

History repeats itself. Monopolies form in every generation. Then municipalities make efforts to bring the essential good to all the people.  Selfishness and negativity is put aside, otherwise, earthly humanity would die by its own poison.

The first settlers sat on a log in the woods marking a map in the dirt that divided out the land for settlements. McCoy, the founding father of Westport, wrote the following information regarding the towns early history.  “In 1825, there was only one point west of Big Blue where white people lived. It was the trading post of Colonel Chouteau. An Indian trail marked the path to follow from the river bluffs to the high prairie. Several homesteads were settled. Robert Pattison, in 1825, settled at the Vogel place. The first Justice of the peace for the settlements of Westport was located near Westport Avenue and the State line.”

My House The Trading Post is located at the Kansas State line and Bell; or in the general vicinity of State line road and Westport Road. The Patterson Plat. The land was owned by the first Justice of the Peace of the frontier town of Westport. The streets have been renamed. Plats did not conform to other surveys of the town. Several land owners named the streets and determined their length and width in anticipation of a main road to Westport and the Santa Fe Trail Beyond. Westport Road has had several name changes over the years. First it started out as an Indian trail. They called it the Santa Fe Trail, for a while. For a short time, the founders referred to it as Westport Avenue.

Parks and Boulevards, 1908
Parks and Boulevards, 1908

The map only retains a short passage visible, of an angular street that traveled from Independence through Westport to the Kansas state line. The angle of the street was straightened out after the civil war. When the land was divided into lots for new homes. The woods around my house remained until 1900.  The mud rutted trail that once led from my house, the trading post, to main street downtown was destroyed by the progress of time.

The Water Works was purchase by the city from a private owner in 1895. A new Westport water-pipe was put in. Service was able to be extended to more residents. The original storage basins had no filtration system. Pipes were placed beneath the ground leading from the river, to river, to streams. A storage basin was capable of holding nine million gallons of water and was constructed with pumps to force the water to the street reservoirs.

The city took over the water works system in 1908.  The city council made plans to establish other reservoirs throughout the city. At this time the city knew it didn’t have a good fresh water filtering system. The original estimate to provide adequate filtering beds was three million dollars. Records from the city chemist regarding the purity of the water indicated that there were as many as three hundred germs per cubic centimeter in the city water samples tested. Water containing less than five hundred germs per cubic centimeter was considered wholesome. The chemist did not detect any specific pathogens or disease-producing germs in his research.

At the time, some of the wells from the local springs were determined to be contaminated with typhoid fever which were attributed to several deaths. Although the findings were not unusual, the city chemist fought for improving the water. He concluded that the few deaths from tainted water was too high and could be prevented. A problem for which the city office would have to approve in order to make changes and obtain support for the financial projects of the water works department. The city evolved, adopting several new civil service jobs and municipal departments.

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The Internet has brought Google fiber to the neighborhood and a new age of technology should be documented. What is the cost of this service? It goes up each year. As a college professor, I am amazed at the number of students who do not have computers. The number of young ladies with children, working full-time; they do not have Internet. They do not have a budget for Internet service. Internet service is being offered for free in some neighborhoods, through a type of neighborhood coalition or association or contractors promotion. Internet is becoming a necessity like having access to clean water.

2013 Google Fiber Arrives
2013 Google Fiber Arrives

The newest technology of all, invites the world into your world.  The Internet can be as intimate a community as the Santa Fe Trail was in 1850. A citizen could sit on the porch of their farmhouse watching the travelers go by on the main route to adventure. I can sit in my house the trading post meeting those traveling the Internet.  In 1850, a trading post owner could set his building beside the road for traveling folks to purchase provisions. I’d like to set up a trading post online and sell books, poems, music, and artwork.

Essential services have improved the quality of life for everyone. We will still have poor folks, and still have capitalism. Sometimes many inventions and new technologies are developed so quickly, that it takes the city, state, and governments time to catch up. Local and Federal Governments have a little trouble reorganizing departments to handle the social need. Occasionally a political vote is needed to determine which, and if any, decisions to move forward. (But, only when race or prejudice is involved, does war break out).

 

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My House The Trading Post A Gift

horse-varnish

A Mexican man, who could not speak English, was a familiar figure in Westport, because he traveled back and forth over the Santa Fe Trail. On his stay in Westport, he fell in love with a woman named Mamie, who couldn’t speak Spanish. With the help of Mr. Polk, an interpreter, the Senor, offered Miss Mamie a gift of a beautiful lady’s riding horse with white satin bridle and a magnificent silver studded Mexican saddle. Along with the saddle, twenty-six loaded wagons with every yoke of the oxen decorated with a white satin rosette. This gift was offered if she would accompany him to Mexico. Mamie was only 16 years old. She turned him down. Mexico was a long way from Westport, Missouri, and her friends. She did not want to be in a strange country, unable to converse with her husband.

This daughter of a pioneer, cried so bitterly, and was so unhappy. Because she loved the foreigner. The Senor knew this, so he arranged for her childhood friend, Stevie, (future Senator of Missouri) to go to Mexico with them. Together, Stevie and the Senor helped Mamie learn Spanish. Stevie Polk was promised a position of wealth.  During his time there he was able to defend a client in Spanish before a Mexican judge. Mamie, however, grew lonely and wanted a companion of her own race and language and wanted to leave the strange country.

The Senor and Mamie had three sons. The boys were sent back to Westport to be educated. This gave Mamie the opportunity to make many travels to Westport over her lifetime. Mamie returned to Westport, years later, and worked as a cook for McCoy’s Tavern. McCoy’s Bar and Grill is still located at the corner of Westport road and Pennsylvania.

The people of Westport haven’t changed, we’re very much alike, and what was true of one neighbor, neighborhood, or family was true of all. The people of Westport, in 1853, would travel three to five miles to visit another family. One entire family would make arrangements to stay for several days or a week. They contented themselves with visiting each other. In the Twenty-First Century, Westport families, still come together during the holidays, like 4th of July, my birthday, and Christmas. And giving pretty gifts is still a tradition.

Mamie was offered a wonderful gift from the man who loved her. Her acceptance took her on an adventure she didn’t really know she wanted to be a part of. I can relate.

wine glasses

I met my husband Bob, a long time ago, when I was 11. He was a grown man, in his late twenty’s, driving an expensive sports car, an Austin Martin with Missouri plates. He laughs when I tell the story. He barely remembered the insignificant little girl he almost ran over, until the day, I came to his law office, thirty-two years after our first encounter.  “I’ve Always Loved You.”

I sat in his law office, flipping through his photography portfolio; he had on the side table. He typed my divorce information into his computer. He was a very good photographer. One photo, the very first picture I opened the page on, was of the little blue sports car. Which brought back the memories of when he nearly ran over me, back in 1974. An incident, where a well-dressed business man nearly took my life. He grabbed my arm and said, “Little girl, you shouldn’t run out into the street!”

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The morning came slowly. Outside, all was wet from the early morning rainstorm. I always sleep better during the rain. Not wanting to get out of bed, I reached for my husband, and he kissed my hand. We snuggled closer and I fell back to sleep.

Bob had gotten up several times in the night, he’d been a little restless lately, and suffering from a sore back. A few days back, he went outside to clean up the garden and somehow managed to slip and fall on the old wet decking. He didn’t feel injured at the time, now he’s in pain. He is not interested in seeing a doctor, which is the only advice I can offer.

Bob continued to lie in the bed for the rest of the morning. With a muscle relaxer and pain pill. I can only hope that he gets better soon. I know it must have been a nasty fall. It left a yellow and gray bruise along the side of his back. I realized it was another episode of nothing really works out very smoothly.

My house once served as a trading post on the Santa Fe Trail and popular spot for old gamblers. Like Doc Holiday, a true gambler that was known to play in this particular saloon. Some of the best poker games were won here. Bob took a gamble on love; we both did, when we got married. He had been a bachelor, with an impressive history himself. He had traveled, played music professionally, his artwork was displayed everywhere in the house, and his Ivy League law degree made him one of the most interesting men I had ever met.

Anniversary-Portrait

I’ve Always Loved You

by Robert A. Simons

So much emotion.
Such a long, long time,
So many nights alone,
Till your eyes met mine.
And now when dark days come,
Your love keeps them away.
Now that your love, 
Is here to stay.
So much emotion.
Such a long, long time.

So much confusion.
Lifetime for a dime.
I waited here for you,
Till my twilight time.
I wish we cold both be young,
And never let love slip away,
Now that your love
Is here to stay.
So much emotion,
Such a long, long time.

I've always loved you.

I've always loved you.
Always loved you,
And I do.
So much emotion.

Such a long, long time.

Enjoy this song on SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/blue-tattoo/ive-always-loved-you-broadcast


					
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The Belles of Westport My House The Trading Post

Fashions in Kansas City
Fashions in Kansas City

The room lite with candles “shone brightly upon the fair maidens with glossy water-falls, delaine or tissue dresses, hoop skirts and family jewels.” Young men and women, alternated standing in a circle. They moved left, holding a partner’s hand, in a game called, “Marching down to old Quebec.” 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 older 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.

Dancing became fashionable among the married sect of society women and their husbands, (the business men of Independence, Westport, and Kansas City). The two favorite events were the Pallas Ball and the Charity Ball. These events were given by the young ladies, who were teachers at the local schools and day nursery.

kitchen convo4 girls kitchen

My house the trading post, in Westport, was refered to as a dance hall. It catered to the other type of family. The families of sturdy, good people, whose life was that of the frontier. From which they endured many hardships moving westward. The rules and manners of the parties attended, were at the discretion of the host. A party at the old Westport saloon would involve 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.

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 posts and saloon owners. The Santa Fe trade made these families wealthy. They built fine mansions within Jackson County. Their parties were legendary and drew in all the prettiest girls.

McCoy’s notes document that the Johnson Homestead, was near the long canon river bluffs, and had been occupied by Judge Bales who turned it over to Doctor Smart. John Johnson, had six children and a wife. The Johnson’s family were Methodist. They held family events south of Westport on the Indian Mission. The purpose was to honor the Indians. It should be noted that the Johnson family was adopted by the Shawnee Mission Indian’s Chief, in 1850, because of their great kindness to the tribe. The Johnson family and Shawnee Indian’s relationship is well documented. My daughter Megan has married into a Johnson family and given us, Eddie Johnson.

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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 (with an old black man as a driver), pulled by one of the girl’s own personal riding horses. In the company of the other quilters, pioneer women, brought up with cortly manners and elegances, kept their words polite.  The women sat on rush bottom chairs around a quilting frame while stitching in different areas.

In the olden days they said that Independence was a town with good breeding, and that Westport was a town of “good fellowship,” and that Kansas City had both, good breeding and fellowship. The belles of Independence went to some of the best schools of the west. The Wyandotte Indian girls traveled to Independence to attend the fine colleges for young women. One historic book described the daughter of a Westport man, who complained her father made fun of her eloquent educated speech; that she often spoke one way, while at home, and another when away at school.

Westport was a natural trading post for the people everywhere, going everywhere, each one carrying with them a story. Men were charming and the women strived for refinement. Many of the girls that made the society pages were called eligible belles. The daughters of the founding families, of the three cities, were described as popular and beautiful. Stories of romances and first tragedies fill the pages of history books. Kansas City, being proud of their citizens, kept many scandals out of the records.

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In the summer of 1850, the local trading posts and general stores received shipments of French and English, joconets, French challies, lace manellas, parasols, fans, kid and filet gloves, cotton and silk hosiery. Special signs called attention to Ladies’ Bonnets and the Millinery department for the latest Paris styles. Most orders from France arrived within thirty days. The fourth of July, brought out all the daughters to town for new purchases.  Everyone was getting ready to attend the celebrations of band music or the various balls hosted by the local hotels and taverns.

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Today, the most common women’s fashion in Westport or Kansas City, Missouri is the skinny jean and the knee-high boots, ankle boot, or cowboy boot.  This is a good look on most ladies, especially if paired with an extra long top or mini-dress. Television shows like, any of the “housewives reality shows” provide a gist of which fashions are popular. However, in little Ol’Westport, we have specialty dress stores, where one of a kind outfits can be found. Everyone else shops at Walmart (or Target). What they end up with, is every other girl, wearing the same thing.

Even as far back as 1909, Mrs. Westlake, a high society lady of Kansas City, noted that the women’s wear was not very stylish. Mrs. Carrie Westlake Whitney was appointed the librarian in March, 1881. In her account of her first visit to Westport, she writes,”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.”

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Kansas City women have been forming new clubs since the pioneer times. The women gathered to provide stimulus of association, the desire to engage in analytical thought and sustained discussions. They realized that as an organization they could broaden and deepen their intellectual work and accomplish more. In that same spirit I have established an organization, called the Professional Business Women’s Club of Kansas City, http://pbwckc.webs.com

The first ladies, who started organizations and clubs in the pioneer day sent letters out to the women they knew and messages delivered by their driver. I am sending out an invitation by blog; to any individual, female or male, that enjoys the History of Kansas City, the town of Westport, or believes children can become brave, creative, leaders from playing group sports, like soccer, to join my club, PBWCKC. http://pbwckc.webs.com/apps/members/

Wishing you many warm moments to share this Christmas. Thank you.

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