Lyndon Moore of Bloomfield

Lyndon Moore Altenburg 07-30-2014Last year about this time, I met Lyndon Moore at his exhibit of tools at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum. Not only did he have a fabulous collection of vintage tools, he could tell you in minute detail every factoid related to them. The guy is also a natural storyteller.

Dropped in on him

Lyndon Moore 08-24-2015He made the mistake of saying, “If you’re ever down in Bloomfield, stop by.” I was IN Bloomfield on Monday and decided to take him up on his offer. With careful turn-by-turn directions over the cell phone by his wife, Margaret, I managed to find his shop on the outskirts of town.

As soon as he sat down, a dog the size of a small pony hopped up on top of him. Lyndon said the 7-year-old got accustomed to being a lapdog when he was a puppy and never gave up the habit when his paws got almost as big as my hands.

Travel all over the country

Margaret and Lyndon Moore 08-24-2015The couple are on the road all the time (along with their dogs) looking for more tools to add to their collection.They’re headed off to Indiana next.

They are leaning on their drivable 1915 Model T. It’s not a restoration, Lyndon said. Most of the parts are original.

Driving was an art

Lyndon Moore 08-24-2015Looking down at the floorboard, I noted three pedals: “Gas, brake and clutch?” I hazarded?

Not even close. The throttle was a lever on the steering column that looked like a turn signal. The pedals, in conjunction with the emergency brake handle and used in a mystifying combination would allow you to start, stop, go forward in two speeds, and back up. They could do 30 to 40 mph if the roads permitted, but few were that good.

Lefthanders had fewer broken arms

Lefthanders like Lyndon had an advantage. They were less likely to wind up with a broken arm if the engine kicked back when it was being hand-cranked.

The 1915 model had some major advances, like electric lights and an electric horn. Just to be safe, though, they kept the kerosene lights for backup.

I could have spent all afternoon with the Moores, but I had other folks to annoy.

Lyndon Moore Tool Exhibit

Lyndon Moore Altenburg 07-30-2014Lyndon Moore and his wife, Margaret, travel all over the country in a truck with six dogs collecting vintage tools and hauling them back home to Bloomfield. The have an exhibit at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum August 1 through September 25.

Official press release

Lyndon Moore Tool Exhibit 08-06-2014Here’s the official press release: The Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum, 75 Church Street, in Altenburg, MO is proud to announce an exhibit opening.  The L&M Tool Collection of Lyndon and Margaret Moore, of Bloomfield, MO, is one of the premiere American tool collections in the country.  This exhibit is a special selection of the L&M Collection featuring tools manufactured in Missouri, rare tools, tools with broad public appeal, and tools used in the early settlement of Missouri.  Also included in the exhibit are rare regional hardware photographs and historic hardware store exhibit cases.  The exhibit will be open every day from Friday, August 1 through September 25 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Admission is free.

Pictures and press release can’t do it justice

Lyndon Moore Tool Exhibit 08-06-2014Snapshots and a press release don’t do the exhibit justice. Friend Terry Hopkins and I stopped by there Wednesday. I told him to open this saw display case and take a sniff inside.

He reeled back and, with a strange expression on his face, said, “That’s Grandpa Hopkins’ workshop.”

He was right. Some combination of oil and linseed oil or something brought back memories of old-time hardware stores and workshops. I’d love to have a bottle of that fragrance. It’s as much a part of my olfactory memories as the smell of diesel fumes and freshly pushed dirt on one of Dad’s construction sites.

Lyndon is the real treasure

Lyndon Moore Altenburg 07-30-2014Friend Shari and I happened to be there when Lyndon was in the museum. Director Carla Jordan, staffer Gerard Fiehler, Lyndon, Shari and a couple of other folks sat around eating an excellent carryout lunch from Nickie’s Cafe and Sweets. Carla has a way of making strangers instantly feel comfortable with each other.

Lyndon regaled us with a funny tale of scandal in downtown Bloomfield, then switched gears and told us a poignant story of a “pedal car” that got away from him when he was five years old. Forty-some years later he saw that same car, in mint condition, hanging from the rafters in a fellow collector’s “piddle shop,” and finally acquired it. He said it was a good thing his father couldn’t get it for him when he was 5, because he’d have torn it up playing with it.

Carla said Lyndon will be spending a lot of time in the museum. You might be able call ahead to see if he’s there. The number is 573-824-6070.

Be prepared to hear story after story about the history of every item in the exhibit, how he acquired it and how it works.

This is not your usual exhibit, trust me.

Gallery of the tool exhibit

The glass cases that house some of the exhibits are as interesting as their contents. You can appreciate the tools for their utility, their artistry or their history. Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery.

The Last Words of Pvt. Ladd

Stoddard County Confederate Memorial Cemetery 01-27-2013Whenever visitors come to town, I drag them down to the Stoddard County Confederate Memorial in Bloomfield. The unique thing about this memorial is each stone tells how the soldier died.

Veterans Day is be a good time to examine the plight of a Stoddard county soldier who came to a sad end. In a way, it tells a lot about how the Civil War was fought in Missouri. For more detail, go to The Asa Ladd Story. It’s worth a read.

Asa Valentine Ladd

Stoddard County Confederate Memorial Cemetery 06-29-2013Asa Valentine Ladd, a farmer, enlisted in the Confederate army March 10, 1861, in Stoddard County. He took with him two horses and left behind a wife, Amy, and seven children. He served a mostly undistinguished military career and was involved in no general engagements. He was captured in Sedalia Oct. 16, 1864.

In a separate fight – The Battle of Pilot Knob, near Bloomfield in September 1864 – and having no connection with Pvt. Ladd, a Union Major, James Wilson and six of his men were captured by the Confederates. They were turned over to CSA Major Tim Reeves, called a guerrilla by the Union Forces. It has never been determined who gave the order, but Major Wilson was taken out and hung and his men were shot. When word of this murder reached Gen. Rosecrans, who was commanding the Department of the Missouri, he issued a retaliatory order to the effect that a Major and six enlisted men of the Rebel captives be shot.

Men were forced to draw lots

Stoddard County Confederate Memorial Cemetery 06-29-2013Prisoners were given the option to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Federal Government. Those who complied were paroled. Those who refused, including Pvt. Ladd, were marched into a room where they drew lots. A container of black and white marbles was held above eye level and the men were told to take a marble. Six black marbles meant death; a white marble won the soldier a parole. Pvt. Ladd drew a black marble.

Letter to his wife

Asa Ladd memorial tombstone 01-27-2013Pvt. Ladd wrote this moving letter in the last hours of his life:

Dear Wife and Children:

 I take my pen with trembling hand to inform you that I will be shot between 2 and 4 o’clock this evening.I have but a few hours to remain in this unfriendly world. There is six of us sentenced to die because of the six Union soldiers that were shot by Reeve’s men. My dear wife, don’t grieve for me.I want you to meet me in Heaven. I want you to teach the children piety, so that they may meet me at the right hand of God.I can’t tell you my feelings but you can form some idea of my feelings when you hear of my fate.I don’t want you to let this bear on your mind anymore than you can help, for you are now left to take care of my dear children. Tell them to remember their dear father. I want you to tell my friends that I have gone home to rest.

I want you to go to Mr. Connor and tell him to assist you in winding up your business. If he is not there, get Mr Cleveland. If you don’t get this letter before St. Francis River gets up, you had better stay there until you can make a crop, and you can go in the dry season. It is now past 4 a.m. I must bring my letter to a close, leaving you in the hands of God. I send you my best love and respects in the hour of death. Kiss all the children for me. You need have no uneasiness about my future state, for my faith is well founded…

Good-by Amy,

 Acey Ladd

 She never got the letter

Stoddard County Confederate Memorial Cemetery 06-29-2013Amy, it is said, never got the letter, particularly the part that warned her to wait out high waters on the St. Francis River. She loaded two wagons, hitched up the oxen to them and hired a man to drive one while she drove the other. One of the wagons tipped over crossing the flooding river and all its cargo, including the family Bible, was washed away. She ended up raising her children in Arkansas without ever seeing her husband’s last words.

A man who deserved killing

Stoddard County Confederate Memorial Cemetery 06-29-2013It’s easy to paint the confederate Major Reeves as the bad guy in this story, but the Major James Wilson he killed, according to some accounts, was “a heartless Union officer with a take no prisoner policy. He and his troops rode into Ripley Co. on Chrismas day of 1863 and killed 35 solders and 62 civilians, some as young as 12 months old, while they were eating Christmas dinner.”

From the book Shelby and His Men: “The execution of Major Wilson at Pilot Knob was an act of eminent justice, for he was a common murderer, and entirely destitute of manly and soldierly feeling.”

Rank has privileges

What happened to Major E.O. Wolf who was supposed to be shot along with the other five soldiers? He received a stay of execution.

John M. Ferguson, who had drawn a fatal black marble, was determined to have been a teamster and had served as a soldier only a short period of time. His name was stricken from the roll of death to be replaced by George F. Bunch. Ferguson, it was said, “was so rejoiced and grateful at this unexpected deliverance, that he shed tears and declared that hereafter he would fight only for the Union.”

Charles W. Minniken asked to say a few words before the sentence was carried out: “Soldiers, and all of you who hear me, take warning from me. I have been a Confederate soldier four years, and I have served my country faithfully. I am now to be shot for what other men have done, that I had no hand in, and know nothing about. I never was a guerilla, and I am sorry to be shot for what I had nothing to do with, and that I am not guilty of. When I took a prisoner I always treated him kindly and never harmed a man after he surrendered. I hope God will take me to his bosom when I am dead. 0, Lord be with me!” While a sergeant was tying his blindfold, Minniken said: “Sergeant, I don’t blame you. I hope we will meet in heaven. Boys, when you kill me, kill me dead.”

And, that was the messy way the Civil War was fought in Missouri. As Jim Denny wrote in The War Within the State, “Missourians did not have to await the arrival of an invading army to begin making war – they just chose sides and began fighting each other.”

Remember EDgewater? Or CIrcle?

Telephone similar to ones in kitchen and basementDo you remember giving out your telephone number as EDgewater 5-7543? Or, if you lived in Jackson, your telephone exchange was CIrcle.

This rotary dial phone was one I picked up used somewhere. It shows a number after area codes were assigned and names phased out. The phone in the basement is one that I talked on when I was a teenager, though. (Mother had been paying a couple of bucks a month to Ma Bell for the phone for 30 or 40 years. I wanted to hang on to it for sentimental reasons, so I paid the phone company a flat fee to own it.)

If you are a phone junkie, there is a site that has pictures of telephone central offices all over the country. Some of the ones in SE Missouri are interesting because they sit on fault lines and have had to be retrofitted for earthquakes.

When I was offered the job of telecommunications manager just before I left for Missouri on vacation in 1991, it dawned on me as I was driving through little towns like Old Appleton that if I took the job, I’d be in charge of more phones than a lot of towns had. I ended up taking the job and doing it until I retired in 2008.

Exchanges for this area

  • Advance – RAmond
  • Benton – KIngsdale
  • Bloomfield = LOcust
  • Cape Girardeau – EDgewater
  • Chaffee – TUlip
  • Jacksopn – CIrcle
  • Sikeston – GRanite