It doesn’t seem possible, but here we are with another Missouri Day having come and gone. Celebrated on the third Wednesday of October for around 103 years (since 1915 for those of you less math inclined), the day has been a happy occasion for Missourians to join hands and sing their state song in the streets, dress up like the famous Missouri figures of General Sterling Price, William Quantrill or Governor David Francis, and stuff themselves silly with Missouri Compromise Cupcakes, Confederate Cookies, and Tom Pendergast Concrete Cakes. Not to mention those delicious peanut recipes of George Washington Carver.
But wait a minute. You say you haven’t heard about Missouri Day? Well don’t feel bad. Whether a failure of the Missouri Public School system, or the Governor in utilizing the occasion to float across the state in a giant Missouri-shaped hot-air balloon, the day has largely become forgotten.
Still, the way I figure it, it’s never too late to celebrate some of the many things that makes being from Missouri way better than being from a place like…uh….Kansas. And while the Missouri Tigers are certainly one of those things, which is a nod to all you sports fans out there, there’s a lot of other great things that we either weren’t taught – or just don’t plain remember cause we were paying more attention to our crush in 7th grade history class.
For instance, before Missouri became the Show Me State, or the Cave State (for having about 5,600 caves), did you know it once almost became known as the Puke State? Evidently this was due to an 1827 gathering at the Galena Lead Mines where George Earlie Shankle (Author of the 1938 book entitled, State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and Other Symbols) said that “…so many Missourians had assembled, that those already there declared the State of Missouri had taken a puke.”
Missouri’s state animal is of course the Mule. But did you know that Lathrop, Missouri, was once known as the mule capital of the world – thus helping cement Missouri’s place amongst Donkeydom? Lathrop not only supplied mules to the British Government during the Boer War from 1898 to 1901, but also supplied around 350,000 horses and mules during World War 1.
As for famous Missouri Presidents, certainly you’ve heard about Harry S. Truman, that famous Missourian who had political ties to Kansas City King-Pin Tom Pendergast. But did you know that David Rice Atchison, once well known around these parts, was a U.S. Senator who was reported to have been President of the United States for one day on March 4, 1849? Atchison, who is buried in Plattesburg, said that he slept most of the day and “made no pretense to the office, but if I was entitled in it I had one boast to make, that not a woman or a child shed a tear on account of my removing any one from office during my incumbency of the place.”
Of course there’s no shortage of other Missourians who did great things too. Take for instance, Governor Jackson of Arrowrock and General Sterling Price of Keytesville (also a former governor), who sacrificed everything in fighting for their beloved Missouri during the War for Southern Independence. Or George Washington Carver, a scientist, educator and inventor who utilized peanuts for cosmetics, paints, plastics, gasoline…and nitroglycerin. And then there’s Governor David Francis, who in 1889 would be one of the few Missouri leaders who believed that a healthy society lay in limited governmental interference.
So if you forgot to celebrate Missouri Day, don’t feel like you have to turn in your Missouri citizen card and hang your head in shame. Just crank up Johnny Cash singing the Missouri Waltz (our state song) on your radio next time you have the chance to drive around town with your windows down, and get busy building that popsicle stick model of the Missouri Capital you’ve always wanted to build. Because my friends, there’s always next year!
(Posted with permission from the author)