Exploring Small Towns
My wife and I enjoy visiting small out-of-the-way towns and discovering what they offer. We just returned from a visit to Eudora, Kansas, home of Quilting Bits and Pieces, which is a quilting store with absolutely gorgeous quilts on display. It is not apparent from the outside but the store has quite a bit of floor space, which allows it to carry just about anything a quilter might need. We ate at the Black Cat restaurant just across the street from Jasmine’s Chinese and Mexican Food, a combination you are unlikely to find in a larger city.
When I lived in Orange County, California we used to search out the original downtowns of cities that have grown into one continuous urban landscape. It was hard to know when one town ended and another began unless we paid close attention to the shapes and colors of street signs, which changed from city to city. It took some detective work, but the cities maintain some flavor of the original settlements.
For example, Orange, California had a town circle (not a town square) with one restaurant used in a Tom Hanks movie to represent 1950s America and another restaurant that had great Cuban food and wonderful breakfasts. I admit I am uncertain how many Cubans were involved in founding the town. The old Fullerton, California downtown had a train station built in the 1950s and a store that specialized in items imported from the United Kingdom.
Some Kansas and Missouri small towns have buildings built in the late 1800s that have not been wiped out in an attempt to modernize and ride the cutting edge of architecture. Like some of the towns in the part of England known as the Cotswolds, one factor favoring the survival of older building is the lack of a booming economy, which raises real estate prices and makes tear-downs and rebuilding attractive.
Lexington, Missouri still shows scars from the three-day battle in September 1861 between federal troops and the state militia. A house that was occupied by both sides at different times during the battle has been restored. The county courthouse has a cannonball fired by Union forces still embedded in one of its columns.
Weston, Missouri houses a flock of antique shops and restaurants where the dim outline of history can still be seen. One of the houses was once owned by Mary Owens, a woman who spurned a decidedly lukewarm marriage proposal from Abraham Lincoln. She probably did them both a favor by declining. Unlike Mary Todd, she was a staunch supporter of slavery.
Are there historical buildings where you live?