Yesterday we were trying to figure a route for today and Mike said "Do you want to go through Hurricane Deck?" I had been talking about this town for years. I said, "Wouldja wanna?" He said, "Anything with a 'deck' in it sounded good to him." We looked at the Missouri map and it didn't seem too far out of the way. It was the place of my childhood from about age 4 to 7. My mom, her then husband Arnie, and I lived there. My sister L was born in the nearby town called Versailles. Pronounce the last "s" here in Missouri.
CORRECTION: After writing all this, I later found out my sister was actually born in Camdenton (a little bigger town south of HD), not in Versailles (the smaller town we visited on this trip to the north of HD). And she was not born in a hospital, but rather, in mom's doctor's office (things were a little different in the 50s). Either way we wouldn't have been able to find her exact birth place. So I haven't changed the story below because that is how I remembered it as a 5-year told.
Left Fayetteville at 8:40am. Temp was 50 degrees. Elevation was 1,306. That was the highest of the day. Filled up once at $3.61. Got to the hotel in Granite City IL about 7p.
We woke up today with wet pavement, but it only rained about 5 minutes as we packed the car. As a matter of fact we have only had about 15 minutes of rain total on the whole trip. It was cloudy all day, but no more rain. Just saying this will probably jinx us for the tomorrow, our last leg. Anyway, good weather to drive for Mike's eyes.
Entering MO was a very cool Welcome Center. All the picnic table areas were fixed us like a little village--a bank, a store, a gas station, a grocery store, and more facades. It was a kiddy version of Route 66.
The drive to HD was unconsequential. Very hilly, lots of green with some mostly yellow color change with a little red mixed in. Saw much of the ledge rock I remember from Missouri as a kid. It fascinated me then and also did now. You can really see the layers of time in these steep walls on either side of the road. Back in the day, highway engineers decided rather than to pave up and down the hills and dales they would dynamite down into the hills to make a more level surface. Also, less open road for snow drifting. Seems safer.
Along the way we saw many huge mega size churches. Some farms had underground tornado shelters with just flat-to-the-ground roofs sticking out. Very green pastures with all color of happy dairy cows. They do not work very hard for their dinner compared to out west. We continued to criss-crossed Route 66 many times. Saw a Century-Link billboard ad along the road (inside joke for our fellow condo owners). As we got near the Lake of the Ozarks area, where the town of HD is located, my stomach and brain got all riled up. It brought back mostly happy memories, but some not so.
As we traversed the Hurricane Deck bridge over the first bits of the huge Lake of the Ozarks area, I started looking for the ice cream parlor turned bar that my parents had built with their own hands. I knew it was at the top of a hill and there was a market across the street--named Sanders Market. Downstairs from the market was a "bottle club" where you paid to get in and had to bring your own bottle of alcohol. This was 60 years ago, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I did not spot it. As we drove beyond town limits I was disappointed but figured it was torn down over the years. Boo hoo!
Next came the little town of Sunrise Beach. This was also a familiar name. As we topped another hill, I screamed for Mike to turn off the road. It was at an intersection at the top of a hill with a little shopping center across the street, now called Under the Sun Market. The club was now a home decor store. Currently my folks building was a gym (closed for business at the moment), so we peeked in the windows and saw the counter of the old bar and the door to a small hall leading to the bar (and our) kitchen to the left and the two bedrooms we slept in to the right. I could not believe my eyes. The building had several layers of outside surface added over the years, bar area divided into smaller rooms, and an addition on the the right side, but THIS WAS THE PLACE.
I looked down the hill where one day when I was being bratty, I filled my baby buggy with all my favorite things and headed down the highway shoulder to run away. I was going to move in with Grady Tate, my first "boyfriend." I was maybe five and he was at least 10 years older than me. The feeling probably was not mutual. His house was many miles away. My dad raised a construction ladder to the roof so he could watch my every move, til I came to my senses and returned home.
Great feelings of elation that we had found it, but we had to move on. Around a couple of more bends and we spotted Hurricane Deck Elementary School at Lake Road 33. Ah, the name of the school had stuck in my mind over all these years, instead of the name of the town of Sunrise Beach. Again we parked the car, took some photos, and then I decided to go in.
No locks on the doors or special security here. I went to the office and advised I had attended first and second grade here and wondered if I could look around and take more photos. The secretary talked with me for a while and I started quietly crying. I saw the old infirmary with the same beds I had laid on when I became sick at school. She showed me some old pictures and asked if my principal was Mr. deArnett (sp?). I said that sounded familiar. She gave me a hall pass (funny feeling) and said I could look around.
When I went to this school there were only 2 classrooms (grades 1-4 in one and grades 5-8 in the other). My old classroom was now a computer lab. It was the room my father called me out of to let me know I had a new baby sister born that morning. Currently there are only grades 1-4 and an addition of 4 classrooms had been added onto the front of the building, one for each grade.
What was most remarkable was that the gymateria or cafenasium (cafeteria at lunch and gymnasium the rest of the day) was exactly the same. The same lunch line counter, raised stage, even the same white with blue trim tile on the floor. This area was most familiar to me. This is where I ate lunch every day on moveable/foldable tables. This is where we tried to master the physical tests like rope-climbing that were the trend of the day. This was the stage where I won third place for a hula girl costume at a Halloween party. Outside the same swing set was placed on a rise that at one time looked down on a valley turned parking lot now. I also remember an old septic tank where underneath a family of scorpions lived. We used to carefully watch them in fascination. I don't think the teachers knew about this.
And across the street was a Forest Ranger Station. When I lived here it was a huge derrick style tower with a room on top that you could look out over 360 degrees of forested land. Tower not there now. All updated to modern equipment. Even though the ranger and his wife were friends of our family I was not allowed to go up the many steps (maybe 3-4 stories high).
At one point my parents were attending my grandfather's funeral (he had committed suicide in the chicken coop with a shotgun). I was too young to go, so they left me with the Ranger's family. I guess he felt sorry for me and took me to the top (against my parent's permission) and I got to see the huge forest around us. Very cool for a 5 year old. When my parents came to pick me up, he told them. I was OK, so they figured no big deal at that point. I was glad I was not in trouble, but it would have been worth it, if I was. That was the one and only time I was allowed.
Lake Road 33 (I think) was also the road to my grandparent's resort. Mom says it was called McCoy's. It was a bare bones place and we lived there for a while in one of the buildings. I remember them calling it a resort, but there were also cows, pigs, chickens, and not many guests. I remember making cream and sweet butter in a churn with my grandmother. There was a dock on the water and I used to swim off of it until one day I saw a black snake swimming nearby with its serpent head sticking out of the water. I never went in again. Anyway we wandered down this mix of paved and dirt roads, but could not recognize any semblance of that place. Not too disappointed though. Did not expect to see this last landmark.
We had to move on. Next stop was Versailles MO. This is the small town where my sister L was born. I recognized the county courthouse but that was about it. After walking around the town square we spotted a restaurant named Blazing Saddles. We decided to eat there in memory of Alex Karras, who died yesterday and played Mongo in the movie of the same name.
As this is a meaty-beefy area I had a salad and baked potato for lunch. Mike had an um-good burger. While I was in the rest room an impeccable dressed man came up to Mike to ask if he was a local or knew about an old mansion that was for sale down the road. Mike could not help, but chatted a bit longer When I returned, Mike asked me to guess what the man's profession was. Fist guess, preacher then doctor then lawyer than I gave up. It was a funeral home directed. We had joked about the old white hearse parked outside. It was his. Just a little spooky.
Anyway, we asked in the restaurant and at the Chamber of Commerce where the hospital was, hoping to get a shot of my sister's birth place. They both advised no hospital in this town. Sorry, sis. We tried.
With no more places to scope out that I could remember, we departed St. Louis way. Traffic had been good all day, but once we got to STL we found construction near the bridge over the Mississippi River. It was rush hour and down to one lane. The one open lane was blocked by a stalled vehicle just as it went from two to one lanes, so cars and big rigs were dancing between lanes trying to figure out how to get though the mess.
Something that might have taken 10 minutes max, now took almost an hour to traverse. I was emotionally drained and Mike road stressed, so we turned off at the first exit after the bridge in Granite City IL. We had Dr. Pepper and pistachios for dinner, not wanting to explore any farther to find a restaurant. And this is where I'll stop for today also.
Per Mikie, best burger of the entire trip at Blazing Saddles.
Best memories brought to life experience in Hurricane Deck and Sunrise Beach.
A date with home.