The Marshfield Tornado

One catastrophic event affected 16-year-old John Boone so deeply he recounted the vivid story in nearly every concert until he died. Around suppertime on Sunday, April 18, 1880, a tornado with winds topping 200 miles per hour leveled much of … Read More

Ava is a palindrome. It looks the same coming from any direction. The water tower sits atop a hill off the center of town, shouting “Ava Bears” from its steel sides. This garden spot in the middle of the Mark … Read More

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Along Highway 13, I found The Shrine of Our Lady of the Two Ugly Utility Poles Standing Side by Side in Our Front Yard. That’s my name for it anyway. It’s the world’s best attempt to divert your attention from … Read More

Race Car Circus on I-70

Sunday night. 7:40 pm. I-70 eastbound. Darkness had set in as we approached the Boonville exits. Two giant 18-wheelers grew rapidly in my rearview mirror. They looked like prairie cruise ships, each outlined in ten thousand tiny amber lighbulbs. Even … Read More

Devils and Elbows

I found a hideaway. When I rolled to its door, a thundershower was beating down on the low slung structure made mostly of logs with mud chinks, its back wall standing just a couple of feet above the swollen Big … Read More

If E Could Talk

I climbed up and took a nap beneath the T on this sign, sharing space with the ghosts of travelers who stopped here long ago to add a sticky chapter to their Route 66 journey. Locals too. And Spring breakers … Read More

Sunset on the Family Farm

During the 1980s family farms could not endure a deadly one-two punch. The first punch by itself was devastating for a small family farm. American farm policy changed from Depression Era price protections to wide open full-tilt production, a “get … Read More

Turkey. Squirrel. Me.

Deep in the woods, Turkey Camp is the perfect venue to hunt turkey. But the turkeys are safe, mostly. The closest most camper-hunters get to birds happens when folks take a pull on the fifth of Wild Turkey that passes … Read More

Rising Above It All

Dunklin is Missouri’s tallest county, standing almost 44 miles from its sole to its crown, and shaped like the left side of an hourglass, seemingly stuffed with cotton, mostly, until I scratched a little deeper. Down near the border, just … Read More

Baby Chicks & Cheerios, Chia Books & Buds

It felt good to be back in the baby chick capital of the world. But nowadays, Clinton doesn’t trade much in the little peeps. No matter. The town is still a dynamic trade center, especially when it comes to trading … Read More