Friday, November 27, 2015

Unknown Buildings

Here's a dismal, highly forgettable structure that probably didn't make the cover of Stunning Architecture magazine. Still, it was, at one time, important enough to somebody to ask a professional photographer to come out and take a picture of it.

And here's a bunch of junk piled on a table in a basement somewhere:

Still, these pictures are part of the Simmon's studio collection and they're older than I am - so they're history.  If anyone knows anything about either of these pictures please leave a message.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Baker Family

Here's an unusual picture.  Unusual because, for the first time in Simmons Studio Collection history, I pulled out a picture of a large family and I can tell you who they all are:

Front row from left to right:

William Carl Baker, Jr., the oldest child, was called J.R. by his family.  He was a World War II vet wounded in the Phillipines. Through the 50s and 60s he was a member of the Missouri Army National Guard commanding the local unit as a Lieutenant Colonel.  He was the founder of Bill Baker Insurance and was for a time the mayor of Warrensburg.

Leona Baker, was the the mother of six. She was born in Oklahoma Territory to the Narron family. According to Buddy she was a wonderful woman and a great cook.  She could take nothing and make a fine meal for eight.

William Carl Baker (called Carl), was the town's iceman.  Although he lived into the 1960s, he never learned to operate a car.  He drove a horse and wagon for his ice delivery business and for the Daily Star Journal when they needed someone to drive their team in parades.

Back row left to right:

Robert L. (Buddy) Baker worked most of his life as a printer for the Daily Star Journal and Central Missouri State.  He's currently the volunteer groundskeeper at the Historical Society.

Neomia May (May May) Baker married George Taraba.  Together they ran the Western Auto store in Knob Noster.  Mae Mae currently lives in Harmony Gardents in Warrensburg.

Blanche Joan (Jo Ann), the baby of the family, was named after Blanch Russell, co-owner of the Russell Brother's clothing stores.  She married Joe Scalf and moved to Kansas City where, along with her daughter, she ran several restaurants.

Alberta Baker married Joe Hensley and moved to Grain Valley.

Albert Baker, twin brother of Alberta, was a Korean War veteran.  He was the First Sergeant of the 635th Aviation Batallion, Missouri Army National Guard for many years.  Most people knew him as the sextant of Sunset Hills Cemetery.

Joan and Alberta died within weeks of each other in 2010.  Albert followed them in 2011.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The True Story of Norman Little

I found a negative from the Simmons Studio collection that was stuck in an envelope with the words "Private Little" written on the back.

When I searched the family files, I found this interesting story published December 4 & 5, 1967 of the life and death of one Norman Maurice Little who seemed to fit the description (I've combined several articles):

"A fire of unknown origin early Sunday morning at 121 North Water Street resulted in the death of Norman Maurice Little, 36, who was visiting in the home.
Little was apparenty alone in the house at the time.
He was found by firemen, unconscious on the kitchen floor, and immediate efforts to revive him with heart massage and resuscitator were begun and continued until the ambulance arrived.
Efforts were continued at the Jonson County Memorial Hospital until 2:30 a.m., at which time he was pronounced dead of asphyxiation.

Survivors include his wife Neomi (Collins), 416 West Market Street and three daughters Aurelia, Norma Jean and Connie Jo of that address; two sons, Kelvin and Anthony, Kansas City, his mother, Hannah Brown, 3419 Mersington, Kansas City; grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Clarance Harvey, 108 South Washington Street; a brother Herbie Lee Nelson 215 Polk Street.  Additional survivors include two step-children, Sheila Fae Little and Louise Ann Collins, both of Warrensburg, and his uncle, Leo Brown and Mrs. Brown with whom he made his home."

He had served in the Armed Forces from 10/28/48 to 3/29/50."

Thanks to Shirley Briscoe for confirming that the Private Little pictured above is the same Norman Maurice Little who met his untimely fate so early in life. Now I am sure that I'm telling the true story of Norman Little.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ernest Collins

After publishing so many pictures of Johnson County residents who have been long gone and forgotten, it's refreshing to find some negatives in the Simmon's Studio collection of a man who is still in the area and can tell me about the pictures.

Ernest Collins, a life-long resident of Warrensburg is the son of Laura Frances and William Collins.  He graduated from Howard School in 1947.

He spent 20 years in the Air Force.  Here is a picture of Ernest and his brother, Kenneth, taken in the early 50s after Kenneth joined the Army.

After Ernest retired from the Air Force he worked for another 20 years as a civilian mechanic at Whiteman AFB.  Mr. Collins has been active in community affairs for many years.  In 1977, he was elected to the Warensburg City Council for a three-year term.  He became the first black ever elected to the Warrensburg governing body. He was a leader in the effort to save Howard School and preserve it as a historical structure.  

In the book, "An Informal History of Black Families of the Warrensburg, Missouri Area," by Lucille D. Gress, Collins recalled the days of segregation in Warrensburg.  "I always lived in an integrated neighborhood but I went to a segregaed school.  I was a grown man before I could get into the restaurant; I had to go to the back door in the early 194s.  I had to go to the dentist after 5:00 p.m." 

He is currently on the Historical Society Board but health issues keep him mostly at home these days.  He'll be 86 in December, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Press Release
Warrensburg Fright Nights –October 16 and 17, 2015
 Ready for a haunted tour of the Old Courthouse square on Old Main Street?    If so, then Warrensburg Fright Nights will be a treat!  The Warrensburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and Historic Preservation Commission will team up with the Johnson County Historical Society for a fundraiser that will give visitors a frightfully good time. 

October 16 & 17 Old Town will come to life (or afterlife?) with the ghosts of Warrensburg past.      A play—“Too Long in the Field”-- set six months after the conclusion of the Civil War will be presented in the Old Courthouse on North Main Street.  Written by educator and reenactor Anne Mallinson, the play highlights the troubled post-war era. The bride and groom are from families on opposite sides of the conflict so don't expect a quiet ceremony.

 In addition to the play, audience members are invited outside to look for specters that will haunt the square.   Visitors may take a hayride, or walk, a route around 3 blocks near the Old Town Square to find notable former residents in  ghostly form at different points through the tour.  Seating is limited for the Wedding, so get your tickets now.   Bake Sale items will be available. Included will be a gypsy fortune teller,  the ghost of Marsh Foster, and Paul Landkamer serving Wild Edibles a la the grasshopper dinner of 1875 for anyone so bold.  A true and false quiz on the hayride will reveal real historical facts and a chance for a prize.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Little Families

Sometimes a family consists of only a parent and a child.

And then, for the parent, that one little child is the whole world - their one reason for living.

For years these pictures may have hung on someone's wall.  Now they may be preserved in someone's scrapbook.  Please let me know in the comments if you recognize either member of this little family.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Brown Telephone Company

My sister, Sue Nuckles, was a telephone operator for United Telephone for years. Although this picture was probably taken before she was born, she was very familiar with this old switchboard.

Here's what she had to say about it:

 I worked on that cord board. I think at the time it was nearly 100 years old and it was still working when they took it out. 

 It could do more than the computerized crap they brought in to replace it.  With the old cord board, somebody could call in and say "I can't get Mom's phone to ring.  I'm worried about her."  We could force the phone to ring by dialing the number over and over.  We would tell the customer that he/she would not be able to hear us but we were working on the call, close the key and put up the call over and over until we could get the phone to ring.  It was complicated but it worked.  We might have 20 cords up and we had to keep checking each one to see if the phone was ringing.  Once we got it to ring we would move the waiting customer to that circuit and take down the rest of the cords. When they brought in the computerized boards, we couldn't do that anymore.  The customers were mad. 

Then there was a change at the CEO level.  He was from Ohio.  The Warrensburg office was going to be the call center for the entire US.  This guy moved it to Ohio.  He said the Ohio operators were not going to be laid off. So, the Warrensburg operators were laid off.  

United Telephone started out in the 20's as Brown Telephone Company, founded by Clayson Brown.

Clayson Brown built his company offering service to farmers and little towns that Bell and the other big companies didn't want.  If a farmer wanted a telephone in the middle of a corn field, he would put the phone in the middle of the field.  All the neighbors knew it was there and would use it too.  In those days, they didn't put up poles, they just ran the cable on the farmer's fence posts.  Laws were later passed preventing the use of fence posts.

The name of the company was changed to United Telephone sometime in the '70's I think.  I remember when United Telephone completed the buyout of Sprint.  Because Sprint was a more recognizable name, they started using it.  Everything became United Telephone dba Sprint.

Here is another informative website.