While traveling I make it a point to read local newspapers, looking for kooky things to report back in this space.
Missouri has not disappointed.
In Sedalia, for example, two enterprising young men were arrested for augmenting their ice cream truck income by selling marijuana at the same time. They made the mistake of offering a parent some reefer to go with a push-up popsicle and got busted.
Another story that made me chuckle was about a guy who went to the Target store in Clinton to pick up a Hot Wheel. Apparently, Hot Wheel collecting is big in Missouri. What made the event newsworthy – it ran on the front page – was that he discovered a model that was an exact replica of a hot rod he built a couple years ago for the Rat Reborn competition sponsored by the maker of Hot Wheels.
The man’s entry finished second, so he never expected to see his creation reproduced and mass marketed in little boxes. But low and behold there it was. I thought the man might be upset, mad that he was not compensated for his design. Nothing of the like was mentioned, and the story was pretty much about the rapture the man experienced now that he had achieved his ultimate life goal.
While Missourians might not be the brightest bulbs in the box, they are positive.
Another story I really enjoyed didn’t appear in a newspaper but on one of the informational kiosks set up along the Katy Trail. The Katy, by the way, is fantastic: 225 miles of trail, most of it under the bluffs of the Missouri River.
The story that made me chuckle appeared on the sign on the edge of Boonville. Because the old railroad line left the river at this point, there actually is a small incline spread out over 10 miles as it leaves the valley.
The incline is called Lard Hill.
It got its name because in the early days of the railway, a train killed a woman’s pig on the slope and refused to compensate her for her loss. To fight back, the woman rendered the pig and smeared grease on the tracks every morning. After a couple of days of having trains fail to make the summit, the railroad company relented and paid the five bucks for the swine.
For once the little guy won.
My favorite story, however, is a little involved and comes from the city of Windsor, population about 900.
The story caught my eye because the front page story featured a headline saying there was standing room only at the recent city alderman meeting.
Having published a newspaper in a small town, I know that years go by with little or no interest in such meetings but then suddenly something will grab everyone’s attention and the meetings take center stage.
The controversy in this particular burg began when the grocery store applied for a permit to sell beer, and a sharp-eyed official noticed that a city ordinance forbids sale of liquor within 300 ft. of a school, church or hospital. The grocery store was too close to the junior high and the permit denied.
The owner of the grocery store asked the alderman to change the distance to 100 ft., which is what the state of Missouri dictates, and the brouhaha began. Half the town thought it would be great if they could buy beer at their local store; the other half saw the move as more fraying of the moral fiber.
During the deliberation it was revealed that no record of the original ordinance setting the 300-ft. limit could be found, so they weren’t sure how to repeal it even if they wanted. Discussion ended on a 3-2 vote to table the issue. After the vote the mayor complained that he thought he was actually voting against changing the ordinance instead of ending discussion.
Afterward, they all drove to Sedalia for popsicles.