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Inside an Insane Asylum (reader warning)

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  A few years ago, I drove up to St. Joseph, Missouri to see the Glore Psychiatric Museum .  I sat in the parking lot staring at it.  I couldn't get out of the car.  I was too afraid to go by myself.  I feared I would have nightmares for weeks to come - that I wouldn't be able to get the images out of my mind, and I would be shattered for the patients.   So I drove the long hour back home.  Since then, many people have told me it is one of the best medical museums in the region.   As I was a previous surgical nurse in San Diego, I felt I should go and gain understanding.   So I drove back up to St. Joseph.   I immediately tensed as I entered the historic building.   But the welcoming staff are so perceptively considerate, that they instantly calmed my apprehensions.    Jerrad and Cody were constantly available to readily answer my questions with engaging insights.   I started by watching a video about the Hospital's past.   It was built in 1874 and titled "the State Lu

The TWA museum in Kansas City Missouri

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 I went to the TWA museum because my mother was a "stewardess" for United Airlines.   Her story intersects with TWA, which I will detail in a moment.   And my story intersects with with her TWA story.   But first let me set the stage:   Mom was a stewardess in the day when the women had to be young, single and gorgeous.   She flew for five years, before she met my Dad and fell thoroughly in love with him.   When they married, she was automatically released from her job.   Truly unbelievable  today.  But that was a different era.  Mom and Dad had a fairy tale marriage, and after raising 5 children, they spent the rest of their lives traveling the world round many times over.  So as I prepared for my visit to the TWA museum, I wore Mom's clipped wings badge (for alumni).  I was looking forward to entering that world of the initial years of passenger flight.  This museum did not disappoint.   It is shockingly fascinating.  It is remarkable that those planes, with such antiq

Playing a profoundly meaningful real-life game

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 On a random wall, in a large open room, this small sign hangs, easily unnoticed.  And yet, one day, its picture exploded fireworks of inspiration in my mind.  It depicts internet research as the tip of the iceberg, above water.  Dropping deep below the surface, it shows where most of the antique records are stored -- in any kind of repository where good people decide to save and protect history for us. This story begins shortly after I moved to Kansas.  I heard about the Midwest Genealogy Center nearby, and decided to go research my ancestors on a lazy, unscheduled day.  I drove up to a  modernistic building.    The irony was not lost on me: I smiled at  the contemporary structure housing the past.  It seemed allegorical to watching Millennials developing an enthusiasm for their own personal family chronicle.  It is stirring to witness that which is new and young bridge to that of a bygone era. I began my research on one of their many computers that are loaded with websites that nor

A boutique winery just outside of Kansas City -- Aubrey Vineyards

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  As Winter begrudgingly gives way to Spring in the midwest, wintertide often speaks its final words with bluster.   So, on this gusty, chilly evening I drove down to the Stilwell Kansas area to a winery I had recently discovered - Audrey Vineyards .  As I drove through the tightly-packed residential neighborhoods, I suddenly emerged into the countryside, and I felt the instant release of city tension.  I was soon pulling up the long lazy drive of the farm vineyard.  I was already relaxing as I arrived. Inside the ambiance is warming and cozy.  I ordered a light sweet wine and took a seat on their pillowed couch.  I chatted with the staff, and as my conversations always turn toward history, I was intrigued to hear about the past of Aubry Township, for which the winery is named (with a slight spelling modification).  Tiny Aubry was the first town across the state line when the war broke out.  Missouri was pro-slavery and Kansas supported the freedom for slaves.  Aubry bore the brunt of

Historic winery in Olathe, Kansas

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 On a chilly Spring afternoon, I visited Stone Pillar   Winery to enjoy a warming fire pit, a sweet glass of wine, and the lulling vocals of musician Aaron Lucero .  I was soon eased into a pleasantly relaxed state.    I have been to this winery many times.  It is expansive farm acreage,  in the midst of residential neighborhoods.   They have favored musical bands almost every weekend.   Aaron Lucero is a regular, who knows exactly what type of music to play for each audience.  He has a good sense of what will gladden his listeners. As I was being mesmerized by the flames inside the firepit, I began to overhear a nearby conversation.  They were talking about the history of the land I was sitting on.  My tranquility drained away and I was instantly being charged by the mention of my passion - history.   Tactfully, I inserted myself in the discussion.   I was thrilled to meet the proprietors of the winery, George and Brandi Hoff.   George told me that it is the longest-held property by d

Concordia Kansas is a jewel in the middle of farm fields.

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  Do you know who this is?   Boston Corbett .  Do you recognize his perpetually famous name?  I didn't.  But I learned in Concordia Kansas that he is the soldier who shot and killed John Wilkes Booth (the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln).  And Mr. Corbett lived in Concordia.   There is far more to his life story that this one incident.   And it is quite interesting.   I heard the narrative from Florence, the curator of the Cloud County Museum .  I received a personal tour which makes me extra happy, because I could ask my non-stop questions.  If you visit at a time when a museum is not busy, the docents are usually glad to give you a private tour, and it is delightfully insightful.   The Cloud County Museum is enormous, and exhibits  the region's history in great depth and detail. If your family was from this area, you will get a full sense of what their lives were like in each era.    Florence introduced me to Vicki, the family genealogy researcher for the museum.   Vick

the National Orphan Train museum

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  I sat on the ground in front of this sweet boy, in Concordia Kansas.   His tiny soul touched my heart.  There are sculptured images of the children who rode the orphan train all over town.  As I encountered each one, I paused to see them.   To really see them.   And then I wanted to hear them.   I knew where to go.  The   National Orphan Train museum brings their personal experiences to life for us.  That is what historians do.  They provide us entrance into the past. Do you know anything about the orphan train?  I knew almost nothing.   But the title alone elicited a mild alarm in my senses.  Who were these children and what became of them??  As I entered, I met Sue, one of the founders.   She is compassionately-natured and strong to accomplish  a monumentous undertaking.  One day, she read about the orphan train and determined to build a museum for it.   I was mightily impressed.   I hope you get to meet her and hear the story first-hand.   It is robust with astonishing details.