West from St. Louis

Day 5 — Friday, September 21 — St. Louis to Springfield, MO

Big icon day.

The morning started with the Shoe of Shoes at the Brown Shoe Company headquarters in West St. Louis.  This enormous woman’s pump consists of hundreds of silver lame cast metal life-size shoes welded together.  The city used to be so well known for its shoes that at one time folks used to describe St. Louis: “first in shoes, first in booze, last in the American League.”  When I peeked inside the pump, it was full of leaves and a few gum wrappers.

Headed due west, we stopped in suburban Kirkwood to see a Frank Lloyd Wright residence, one of the five structures he designed in all of Missouri. It was set on a hill under pines and a long drive back from the main road, another work of art in brick, glass and angles.

On to Bourbon’s Water Tower, with the word Bourbon in huge letters.  There must be thousands who wish it really held a good, stiff bourbon.

The town of Cuba has wonderful murals.  They cover the front or sides of numerous buildings in the main crossroads.  Known as “Mural City”, the murals depict eras of growth in Missouri.  This is a great stop.

West of Cuba, we found Fanning’s World’s Largest Rocker.  The rocker sits in the parking lot of a general store, with inviting rockers on its front porch.  We met three locals enjoying soda and coffee in those rockers who wanted to know what our license tag was.  They’d been looking at it as I pulled in, turned around for a better angle, hopped out for a photo, and finally parked.  Of course we stood and chewed the fat a while.  The store had great 66 memorabilia; several items jumped out and insisted we buy them.  At the rear of the store was a thriving archery supply and  practice range, a seemingly odd combo, but somehow it all seemed to fit.  The locals waved goodbye as we pulled out.

Rolla’s well-known Totem Pole Trading Post was everything you think a trading post might be.  It had 66 souvenirs, antiques, collectibles, art, pottery, guns, quilts, samurai swords, jewelry, rooms chockablock.  It seemed to have everything.  No trading, just one reasonable purchase, a Rt. 66 license tag.

The Rolla to Springfield part of 66 roughly follows the infamous Cherokee Trail of Tears, the forced march of Native Americans from their Georgia lands to Oklahoma.  We searched for a particular site west of Rolla, a stone gateway and art works by one man who felt impelled to create a rock gate and loose stairway for Indian spirits to climb to their creator.  It took forever to find, not well marked, but it was worth the effort.  It stretched up into a hill on private property, a series of terraces, steps, wells, containers, all made of rock dug from the property and stacked.  The site spoke volumes.  It spoke sadly because it needs repair and upkeep.  Crossed fingers that someone saves this special ‘trail of tears’.  It’s a spiritual place that lingers in your mind long after you leave.

The sun was setting as we watched for Frog Rock on the outskirts of Waynesville.  Townfolk decided the rock outcropping looked like a frog, so they painted it green and now it really looks like a frog about to hop off a small mountain.

Night fell and we slept in Springfield.

One Response to “West from St. Louis”

  1. Sarah Timberlake says:

    Hey Donna. Living vicariously thru you. I want to see everything you’ve been talking about. Just catching up now, but will keep following. Drive safely and keep on having FUN!

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