Mother always asked, ” “Who will put flowers on the graves after I’m gone?” Her flowers were celebrating spring in fine fashion, so I dropped off flowers at four sites on Friday.
My journey took me to the beautiful Pleasant Hill Cemetery near Tillman, just outside Advance, Mo., where my grandmother’s father and mother are buried.
Mother and her grandmother
Here is Mother and her grandmother on the farm near Tillman. After this, the Adkins moved to the big metropolis of Advance, where they opened a general store near what is now Oak Street and East South Street. Mother remembered the store had a parrot that would occasionally use inappropriate language.
Mary Adkins’ Obituary
Mary Adkins’ death certificate attributed her death to acute bronchitis, with a secondary cause of senility. Dr. Reynolds of Advance was the attending physician. I never paid much attention to the family tree, but this obit helps me figure out who some of the names were that I heard in passing.
Kid Adam took his oldest son, Graham, on a business trip to Washington, D.C., recently. He thought he owed middle son Elliot a trip, so they hopped on a jet for a weekend in St. Louis. Graham, is 7; Elliot is 5, and Kid 3, Finn, is 3.
Being a born and bred Florida boy, he wasn’t quite sure if he liked cold Missouri weather. (You can click on the photos to make them larger. Once clicked, you can use your arrow keys to step through them)
First stop: City Museum
I don’t have many photos from the City Museum because Elliot could go through places the fire department would have to cut me out of. Even his skinny dad contorted his body into shapes I didn’t think possible.
There’s a saying that there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. I was perfectly content to let Elliot be bold while I played old.
When we got to the gift shop, I told him to pick something out. He found a stack of shiny stones that WERE quite attractive. When he went to check out, the cashier said, “Four dollars.” She must have seen my face, because she quickly said that the four bucks would buy a tiny pouch that he could fill with as many stones as would fit.
He managed to cram four stones in it, and he played with it the whole time he was in town. Money well spent. His Uncle Mark (actually, I guess he’s his GREAT-uncle) kept scheming to try to entice the rocks from him for some sundry good or service, but he resisted.
Earlier visits to City Museum
The rooftop was closed for the winter when Adam and Elliot were there, but I DID manage to convince Curator Jessica to ride the Ferris wheel in 2014. (Despite hearing her mutter, “You’re standing on a banana peel on the steps to eternity, but I’ve got a lot of life left, and I don’t intend to die on a Ferris wheel in St. Louis.”)
Elliot was afraid his tongue would stick to the stainless steel arch since it was a cold day, so I told him that he only had to stick it out for the photo.
I’ve had various results convincing first-timers that it’s customary to lick the arch. See the results.
The scale of the Arch was lost on a 5-year-old who was getting cold and tired.
He thought the tram ride to the top was kind of interesting, but it didn’t take long before he said, “I’m bored.”
Pulitzer Arts Museum
Our first stop the second day was the Pulitzer Arts Museum. He and I weren’t all that impressed by the “art” that was displayed inside.
We liked “Joe” a lot better. Here’s the official description of it. It reminds me of why I often wish I was wearing high boots in art museums.
Commissioned by Emily Rauh Pulitzer as a permanent feature of the courtyard, Richard Serra’s Joe articulates a space that reframes perceptions of scale and movement through its subtle, shifting contours. As a counterpoint to Tadao Ando’s angular forms and immutable concrete, Joe conveys an evolving sense of the organic; the walls of the sculpture’s spiral path expand and contract, conveying you to its center—a vast expanse of sky, framed by a ribbon of weathering steel. Named in homage to the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., who commissioned the artist’s first site-specific sculpture in 1970, Richard Serra’s Joe stands as a testament to the forces of life that influence and shape us.
At the top of the stairs in the museum was a phonographic turntable with some vinyl records. Elliot, a child of the digital age, was fascinated. He suggested that we chill and listen to some music.
Before long, he and his dad were dancing.
National Memorial Family Church of God in Christ
While we were driving around looking for a place to eat, we ran across the ruins of the National Memorial Family Church of God in Christ. The remaining walls of the church had been reinforced, so it was safe to walk in.
Elliot found a small piece of stone inside, and wanted to take it with him to remember the visit. I felt a strong generational bond. I have bricks from Athens, Cape, my grandfather’s liquor store in Advance, and a “convict brick” made by Ohio prisoners and used to build a school. We weren’t sure the TSA would be happy with it in his carry-on, so I mailed it to him later.
St. Louis Science Center
Uncle Mark, who lives in St. Louis, knows all the tricks, so we saved $10 by parking for free at the McDonnell Planetarium, which is connected to the Oakland Building by a walkable Skybridge over Interstate 64/Highway 40. The skybridge is neat because it has holes where you can look down on the traffic below. It also has radar guns and speed displays. In the days when radar detectors were more common in cars, it was fun to watch drivers lock down when their warnings lit up.
He got to check out dinosaurs and see how he’d fit in one of their footprints.
He got to feel wild winds, build a an arch out of foam blocks, and learn all about electricity.
One of the coolest things was a board where you placed elements to show the flow of electricity from the power plant to the substations to transformers to neighborhoods of houses.
He was playing with the blocks when a boy of 8 or 10 walked up and patiently explained the whole concept to him. They played for quite a while, learning how eliminating one house wouldn’t make the rest go dark, but losing a substation or a transformer could.
After the old boy wandered off, Elliot stuck around trying different sets of blocks. A little girl about his age showed up, and Elliot took on the role of tutor, passing on what the older boy had told him. Girls, apparently aren’t much interested in electricity, so she didn’t hang around long.
Finally, it was time to rehydrate and head back to Uncle Mark’s house for another treat.
Lime-S Electric Scooter
It seemed like bright lime-green electric scooters were buzzing around all over town. Mark explained how they were rented, and Adam located an unused one about two blocks away.
You can learn how the concept works by going to the Lime website.
He scored it by putting some money in a smartphone app, then he and Elliot went cruising up and down Flora Place. Mark loaned him a helmet and tried to charge his nephew four rocks for it, but the transaction didn’t happen.
I only have the one shot showing him rating the ride two-thumbs-up because I concentrated on video.
Next up will be night shots of the Missouri Botanical Gardens Glow Garden.
We’re coming up another Mother Birthday Season without the guest of honor. One of the things I’ve become almost used to are the sounds of a house that is empty except for me.
It used to startle me when I’d hear a BAM! like someone trying to break into the house. That would be followed by a RUMBLE, RUMBLE, RUMBLE, SPLAT.
After awhile, I learned to identify that as the sound of walnuts hitting the roof, rolling down, then hitting the ground or driveway. In fact, it makes me think of the paraphrased lines of a B.J. Thomas song:
Walnuts keep falling on my head But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red Crying’s not for me ‘Cause, I’m never gonna stop the walnuts by complaining
Because I’m free Nothing’s worrying me
Winning the liability lottery
Warriorette Shari came down from St. Louis for the weekend and griped about the walnuts all over the driveway. I told her it was part of my long-range financial plan to have her slip and fall, collect a huge insurance payout (which she would, of course, split with me), and figure she had won the liability lottery.
She rewarded me with The Look.
While I was sweeping them up, it made me think of past dealings with the green bombs.
Dad got the great idea that we should round up all the the nuts that fell in the yard, crack the shells and spend the winter picking out the goodies.
There’s one big problem
The big problem with that is that the walnuts are encased in a hard, green husk that has to be removed first. That ain’t easy. We tried all kinds of ways.
Putting them out in the street to let cars run over them just meant that you had to chase up the hill, down the hill and in the ditches on either side of the road after they had squirted off in every direction.
Then, he got a great idea: he bored several sized holes in a 2×6 board. We were supposed to select a hole slightly smaller than the husk, then drive it through the hole with a hammer, leaving the husk on one side and the nut on the other.
The nut, unfortunately, was the guy holding the hammer. You’ve heard of walnut stain, haven’t you? Well, there’s a reason for calling it that. I think I was about 42 years old before all of the stain wore off. I tried to convince people it was Dektol developer stain from the making prints in the darkroom because that sounded somewhat professional.
Are you nuts for nuts?
So, here’s the deal. If you have a hankering for walnuts, I have a yard full of them. Some of them have been herded together, but there are probably a bushel or two in the wild scattered all over the yard. Come and get ’em. (If you want me to answer the door with pants on, I suggest you give me a 10-minute warning.)
I just remembered that I had written about walnuts in 2014, and had plowed much the same ground. Nothing much has changed since then. You can click on any of the photos to make them larger, then use your arrow keys to navigate around.
We were a pecan family
Because walnuts were so hard to crack, and it was no fun to pick them out, we were more of a pecan family. Dad’s favorite winter pastime was sitting in the basement picking out pecans while watching TV.
When I walked out the front door the other day, I noticed that the tulips that Mother had planted years and years ago had started to bloom. I snipped off a few, along with some other flowers from the yard, and started looking for something I could put them in at the cemetery.
It was pretty windy, so I thought I’d better get a vase of some kind with a spike on the bottom. After going to three places, I found a small, white plastic one, but it had plastic flowers in it. I hate plastic flowers when real ones are available.
I turned to an elderly woman in front of me (if I call someone elderly, you KNOW they are old), and asked if she’d like some flowers. Her face lit up like she had won the lottery. It was the best thing that happened all day.
By the way, you can click on the photos to make them larger.
Brother David hits Cape
Brother David passed through St. Louis and Cape doing a honk ‘n’ wave on his way back home to Texas. He brought along a wreath to put on Dad and Mother’s stone.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a way to secure the wreath, and the winds were blowing so hard that we were afraid it would end up in Perry county. I promised him I’d come back the next week to rig something up.
My flowers were woebegone
The cheap plastic vase I bought wouldn’t hold water, and the wind had whipped the flowers around, so they were looking a bit ragged when I went back on Monday to rig David’s wreath.
If you look closely, you can see the head of two big spikes I pushed into the ground, and some fine green wires leading upwards from them.
It’s up in time for his birthday
Two similar spikes and wires hold on the front of the stone secure the wreath. When I messaged David that I got the display up in time for Dad’s birthday, April 17, he pointed out that he would have been 101 years old this year.