Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Trip to KC

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My mom wanted to attend the holiday luncheon of her high school classmates down in Kansas City, and asked if Millie and I would like to come along for the ride.  What better town to get into the holiday spirit?!!  So, of course, I said “yes.” 

Normally, I would have packed up the View & toad, but since this would only be a short trip (and it’s winter in the Midwest!), we decided to just take my mom’s car and stay in a dog-friendly hotel.

We only had one full “non-travel” day in KC, but we made the most of it.  After dropping Mom off to her reunion luncheon in Independence, I decided to check out the town’s Harry S. Truman tourist attractions.  But first, I wanted to find one of my grandfather’s old churches that he preached at in the 1970’s.

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Happy to see that the First Christian Church is still looking good and apparently thriving!

Next, I saw a massive church steeple that I had to go check out.  This church was not around during my grandfather’s day.  It turned out to be the main temple & world headquarters for the Community of Christ denomination (the “reorganized” branch-off from the Mormon church).  Quite an impressive-looking place!

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Finally, I made my way over to the Truman attractions.  I had wanted to visit his home (an NPS Historic Site), but there didn’t appear to be anyone home!  The gates looked locked and parking looked difficult, so I had to settle for a quick drive-by pic.  Sure looked like a pretty house, though!

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Next, it was on to the Truman Presidential Library and Museum.  It sits impressively on a hilltop overlooking a large lawn:

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The museum was on the small side but extremely interesting. Besides FDR’s tenure, I think Truman might have presided over the second-most eventful period of the 20th century—the end of WWII, post-war rebuilding, and start of the Korean War.

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The museum started with the most famous thing that ever sat on his desk:
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Next, was a full-sized replica of Truman’s Oval Office (circa 1945-52):

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Quite some high-tech there too with his radio and television (I think he may have been the first president to have a television).

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It’s amazing to think of the impact the year 1945 had on Truman’s life.  Previously, he had just been a modest senator from Missouri until being sworn in as Roosevelt’s VP at the start of 1945.  Within 100 days, he would assume the presidency after FDR’s death in April.

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If that wasn’t hard enough to be thrown into the presidency that quickly, consider that he also had World War 2 raging on multiple continents, and massive shortages and sacrifice occurring domestically.

Within his first 4 months in office, Truman presided over the end of WW2 in Europe, and had to make the difficult decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan (which led to Japan’s surrender a few days later in August).

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In the next few years, he focused on things like the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, addressing housing shortages and inflation at home in the booming post-war economy, and navigating the tumultuous early days of the “Cold War” with Russia. 

Still, by the Presidential elections in the Fall of 1948, the country was closely divided in it’s opinion of this unlikely president.  Remember this famous headline?

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The lobby of the museum is dominated by a massive floor-to-ceiling mural from Kansas City’s other famous son, painter Thomas Hart Benton. 

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My photo does not do justice to how vivid the colors are in this very lively depiction of the early pioneers (who’s journeys on the famous trails across the Plains such as the Oregon Trail and the Sante Fe Trail all began in the Independence area).  The mural is absolutely stunning!

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After picking mom up and a quick rest back at the hotel, we headed down to Country Club Plaza to enjoy the lights and grab some dinner.

My mom, brother and I were all born in Kansas City and there is no prettier place to get into the Christmas spirit than visiting Country Club Plaza during the holidays. While the biggest hoopla (and biggest crowds) happen on Thanksgiving night when all of the plaza lights are first turned on in unison, truly any evening during December will provide a visit full of Christmas magic.

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On our drive back home to Chicago the next day, we stopped for dinner in the Quad Cities to see my friend Judi’s Sportsmobile van that she had just bought earlier in the week.

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After realizing that trailer camping in her T@B was becoming too difficult for her to do on her own, she reluctantly announced this past summer that her camping days were likely over for good and that she’d no longer be able to attend our annual rallies.  

She used to have VW camper vans in the 1970s and would often fantasize about getting another van someday.  Perhaps even using it as her “daily driver”.  But any used van she might happen to see would either be too expensive, too old, too “un-stealth”, or too run down to seriously consider.  That is, until this very-pampered, very-stealthy Dodge Sportsmobile van came along!  So thrilled that Judi will be able to camp again!!!  What a great Christmas gift!

13 comments:

  1. It's been a long time since I've seen anyone wear earmuffs! Happy holidays to you.

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    1. Ha! I swear, my mom wears them almost year-round! She can't stand to have her ears cold. Who knows, after spending the winter in Chicago again, I just might start being the same way...it's darn COLD here today!

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  2. You're right - Kansas City looks like a wonderful place to see during the Christmas season. Merry Christmas!

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    1. I didn't post pics, but they also have really neat horse-drawn carriages trotting around the Plaza where the carriages are lit up as a giant white sphere (like Cinderella's). Would love to take a ride in one someday!

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  3. Great photos. The HST sites are on my list too. I saw a documentary about Thomas Hart Benton recently - fascinating! Glad you are having fun.

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    1. Yes, I love his work. According to the docent I chatted with, THB used acrylic paints on the mural to get the colors so vivid, and it has yet to fade or need any restoration after 50 years. You'll enjoy your visit!

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  4. I was born and raised in Kansas City and still call it home - glad you enjoyed your visit!

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    1. thanks! A visit to Kansas City is always special.

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  5. What a great place to visit, but except all the lights it isn't looking much like they have winter. I mean I see no snow there.

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    1. Ha! I think we lucked out. We were there last week when it was 50 degrees and sunny. Yesterday, the big blizzard tore thru the Midwest. Sure glad we didn't have to battle ice, snow, winds, or cold!

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  6. Enjoyed the Plaza lights soooooooo much ......thanks for the photos...... I grew up in Kansas City from the third grade through high school.... Born in Chicago and left there after second grade because of my Dad's work ..... Most of my relatives on both sides of the family are in Chicago so spent lots of time there in the summers....also in Door County.... Enjoy your blog very much probably your Midwest roots !!!!! Thanks too for the walk through Independence ....... The Plaza light photos are terrific !!!!! Glad your Mom went to the reunion so we could enjoy the trip too !!!!!!

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    1. Isn't that wild Sally! I was born in KC and got moved to Chicago when I was 6 due to my dad's job (after spending my toddler years in Oklahoma). Most of our relatives were from the KS/MO area so we spent many summers down there as kids, and I visited KC often when I went to college in Columbia. Hope you get to visit KC (or Chicago) again someday soon!

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  7. Great pix, Lynne. I toured the Truman home this past March. It's by appointment from the visitor center (downtown Independence). No cameras! (pout) Still a fun visit. Merry Christmas! :)

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