The Woman Who Toppled Madmen

I left grad school to take a job with Gardner Advertising, Saint Louis’ second-largest ad agency. Clients ranged from Busch Beer and the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals to Puppy Chow and Chuck Wagon dog food, to Jack Daniels whiskey. Even … Read More

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

Sunrise with Coast Guard Cutter

Our sloop sailed all night across the Bermuda Triangle. At dawn we crossed the Gulf Stream. We had maneuvered into position to enter the Lake Worth cut into West Palm when a voice crackled over our ship-to-shore radio: “Westbound sloop … Read More

The Day The Capitol Burned

Sunday evening, February 5, 1911. Unusually warm. A thunderstorm approached the state capitol from the west and lightning struck the dome around suppertime. Monsignor Joseph Selinger remembers, “I was standing on the front steps of the hospital [Saint Mary’s] about … Read More

Winter Water

The air was cold, a few degrees above freezing. Three of us pushed one long canoe away from shore and paddled out of a swirling eddy into the main stream, thus surviving the most dangerous phase of the trip: the … Read More

Dakota Impressionist

Always wanted to drive through a Van Gogh painting. South Dakota may be as close as I get. Endless acres of sunflowers, blooms big as your head. Along a roadside papered with Wall Drug signs, two museum billboards stood close … Read More

Fighting, healing and music.

We passed Cedar Springs and stopped in El Dorado Springs, where the Osage Tribe used to bring their sick to heal in the mineral springs. When Europeans settled the area, the Osage left for their own safety, and the springs … Read More

Return to the scene of the crime

This is a peek at a Missouri Life Magazine cover coming together. I’m at the helm of the second boat. The day before, that boat was damn near sideways in a thirty-knot wind. The story was fun, sanitized a bit … Read More

Tighten Up

It’s tough when everybody wants a piece of you. It might be because you’re pretty, or rich. It might be because you’ve left a trail of bad deeds. But it’s especially tough when people want you just because of your … Read More

Spinal Flap.

Two agonizing pages into The House of the Seven Gables, the spine on my book fell off. Should I keep reading? The book itself was old and brittle, stiff as its author’s language. But I kept reading, whereupon from the … Read More