Saturday, October 24, 2020

Zela Trip: day 5 Joplin

Zela Trip Day 5:  Joplin Missouri

(Previous) Day ZeroDay 1Day 2, Day 3Day 4

Wenonah and Donna drove us around Joplin today. I saw parts of the beautiful old city lying under a fairly ugly, smallish town. I took pictures of some great places. The railroad station and the old truck terminal.

Wenonah also show us every place where someone had been mugged, raped or killed in the city. She seemed preoccupied with death. The worst came when she drove us all out to the cemetery and showed us her plot.  That wasn’t so bad except where she had her headstone put down with the name and year of her birth. She said all Donna would have to do is put on the date she died and put her in the ground.
Image 13: The Old Train Station in Joplin

In retrospect, it does seem I found the death fixation a little off-putting. I did love the buildings in Joplin, particularly the old Art Deco train station. 

As a preview of things to come, you will see two examples of things I thought were cool in these Joplin pictures. The first is interesting buildings.  I was putting Greg through Architecture Grad School and was pretty interested in building types. I am still very interested in buildings and Architecture – so all that time and money wasn’t completely wasted. 

Image 14: An old Art Deco Store (now closed)

The second was a rather unhealthy obsession with multi-part pictures. Maybe you will give me credit, assuming couldn’t back up far enough to get everything into the shot. I wish I could use that excuse, but no. I thought it was interesting and cool in 1984. PS – it wasn’t.

I drove around in the morning, looking at various buildings, and taking pictures. When I got back to the house, I loved the city. When I got back, I proclaimed how cool it was and Wee Nona took us all out for a drive. On this drive is when we had each and every place where someone was murdered or raped pointed out to us. Wee Nona had an unhealthy obsession with death. I suppose part of that is because Joplin was famous for being where Bonny and Clyde were killed in a shoot-out. Since then, Joplin has become much more famous for a terrible tornado, but that was decades after our visit.
Image 15: Wee Nona with Martha and Zela

My guess is Wee Nona was trying to appease me, for the cool old buildings were downtown, but that is where the violent crime mainly was too. And she was tuned into the crime. The penultimate stop on the tour was the actual shoot-out spot where Bonny and Clyde had met their end. One interesting thing, we have playful pictures of Bonny and Clyde because of Joplin. While they were staying in Joplin, a neighbor tipped off the police. The pair escaped the raid, but the pair left a camera. It was the Joplin Globe that obtained it and published the pictures that would later be famous (and the real-life counterpoint to the movie).

Our final stop was indeed the Cemetery where we viewed Wee Nona and her husband’s tombstone. This was a first for me. But there was a big headstone with their last name. And then there were two plaques with her and her husband’s name. At the time I thought she seemed remarkably happy to show it to us and added, “That’s my name right there. All they have to do in put me in the ground and put the year of my death.” Looking back, either time or nostalgia has convinced me she was just content and ready to go. She died two years later.

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