A Tale of Two Stacked Ladies

Jack Dawson, I’m calling you out. 1961. The first photo I ever took, long before the selfie craze. My photo op was dramatic only to me. Steaming across the Atlantic,  the Queen Mary’s three smokestacks poured a layer of smoke … Read More

Silver Wings

I left Route 66 and motored north from Rolla. At Vichy, a tiny fork in the road, I passed three familiar friends, three old birds that stood in the darkness a mile away. Even though I couldn’t see them, I … Read More

On Seeds

There are seeds in every abandoned house, in the dry rotted floorboards and the mildewy walls, in the moss on the roof where sunlight doesn’t reach. The seeds are in the windowsills, in the clawfoot tub with as many rings … Read More

One of the last little hardware stores in America

Under the only neon sign in downtown Weston, Missouri, is the venerable Sebus Hardware. Your parents remember hardware stores, before the advent of corporate chains. The Sebus claim that “if we don’t have it, you don’t need it” may not … Read More

Raising Money for Highways

Breakfast of Champions

State highway departments are running out of money. One potential source of funding borrows from a local government trick that’s been paying big dividends for decades: Naming rights for sports stadiums and bowl games. You know, the Edward D. Jones … Read More

Our Raft Encounters a Queen

Around a sweeping bend we noticed thick black smoke that signaled one of the rarest sights on the river, at least nowadays. Sure enough, a paddlewheel steamer appeared, churning toward us. As the distance closed between our two craft, the … Read More

Outlaws need pants.

Just south of Lawson, in the pastoral countryside, a huge factory, built more than 150 years ago, made pants and sweaters. The factory may have sold pants and sweaters to Harry Truman, who sold pants and sweaters when he was … Read More

Ignored the Signs. Went In.

Johnnie’s Bar has been serving whiskey in downtown St. James since the Irish laborers built the railroad through here. Even from the outside, Johnnie’s looks foreboding, with its big neon Stag Beer sign over a doorway into cold, smoky darkness. … Read More