Chapter Twenty Seven
MOBERLY & MEXICO
Updated 06 July 2020 by the author Lawrence E Vaughn Jr
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Moberly MO
- Mexico MO
- Federated Insurance
- Civil Air Patrol
- Holts Summit MO
- Volunteer Firefighter
- Boy Scouts
- Gideon’s Island
- Chillicothe MO
- Leesburg, Evilrock & Vulgarity Railroad
- Grand River Valley Railroad
- Bedford & Medicine Creek Railroad
- Whizbang Duflingus
- KCHI RADIO
- North Missouri Armed Forces Day
- Boeing CH-47
- Helicopter Departures
- Lt General Light
- Patriotism Award
- Boy Scouts of America
- Chillicothe BSA
- The Asher Walton House
- The Story of the Front Door Glass, by Larry
- Lions Club
While in Moberly those months of summer and fall 1974, I worked as a commercial salesman for KRCG-TV, channel 13, a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Jefferson City, Missouri. Columbia, where the station offices were located, was only a short drive from Moberly, and I was able to serve businesses between the three communities coordinate their television advertising as I had extensive knowledge of advertising, so I was able to get clients commercials placed in the best positions for maximum effect.
Arthur Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. In a day when most announcers used a formal presentation style, his was laid back, easy going and friendly, which endeared him to viewers who tuned in to his daily 90-minute mid-morning television show. It was a perfect spot for local advertisers, and it was my primary pet project to fill up all the available premium commercial slots.
One of the sales calls I made for the TV station was to the regional manager of Federated Insurance to solicit advertising business from them. The regional manager listened to my sales pitch, and then asked if I was interested in making a career move that would provide higher income for my family. As he detailed the business insurance industry, he pointed out that you only have to sell the service one time to each client, and then the policy usually renews for the rest of your career. That sounded good to me, so I agreed to accept a six month salary plus commission assignment to the territory in Mexico, Missouri. I was soon flown to Federated’s training facility in Owatonna, Minnesota and spent three weeks in training, then flew back to Missouri where I took the written exam to obtain my Commercial Insurance and Life insurance licenses.
Mexico Composite Squadron CAP
From the newspaper article: The Civil Air Patrol’s Mexico Composite Squadron went through a two-day long training session this week end, capped off by a “successful” simulated search and rescue.
Headquarters Command, Civil Air Patrol Eastern Sector, St. Louis, commanded by Col. Joe Seper, conducted an eight-hour training session Saturday, dealing with orientation and familiarization for new members, and training in specialized fields of Civil Air Patrol study. Fourteen members from the Mexico Squadron were in attendance, as well as members from Jefferson City and Kansas City Squadrons.
That previous Sunday, eight members of the local squadron put their new skills to test during a search and rescue practice, in the first field test for the newly formed squadron. The test involved a simulated air crash, fabricated by 1st. Lt. Larry Vaughn, deputy commander of the Jefferson City C.A.P. squadron, and 2nd Lt. Billy Bob Workes, squadron commander of the Mexico unit.
The simulated crash site was located in a wooded area north of Mexico, and signal panels were arranged on the site to s immolate a wrecked aircraft. The aircrew received orders from Lt. Vaughn, who served as mission coordinator, and began flying a search pattern north of Mexico, using data which would be normally available on an actual search. Using Civil Air Patrol’s search patterns, 2nd Lt. Cliff Hampton’s flight team scored a “find” within 75 minutes of the time they were airborne. As in an actual mission, the flight crew then guided the ground units to the scene.
Information given to the CAP searchers was entirely fictional, but realistic. The aircraft was alleged to have been a bright pink home built model, carrying only the pilot, en route from Des Moines, Iowa, to Jefferson City Saturday night. The pilot contacted Moberly airport, reporting that he was low on fuel, disoriented, but attempting to make it to the Mexico airport. He was not heard of after that report.
In the test, searchers were told that a low flying aircraft had been heard over the northern Mexico area at about 9:45 p.m. that night, but no one had actually seen the airplane. From this information, the search was conducted. Lt Vaughn termed the test mission a great success.
Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives
After working the agreed upon territory in Mexico for several months, there was very little new insurance coverage developed, since Audrain County is very rural, with few new business startups, so I expanded sales into surrounding counties. On one of the sales calls in Jefferson City, I with met A.C. Burrows, General Manager of the Missouri Association of Electric Cooperatives. He was a very laid back gentleman, who was very good at probing for detail.
He moved from behind his desk to the guest chair next to mine, where he inquired about my background. When I mentioned by radio and television experience, he began asking about the broadcast industry practices for publicity and promotion. He explained how the Association of Electric Cooperatives was structured and operated, and what his needs were in trying to improve those operations. I made a few comments about public service announcements, guest appearances on local radio and TV programs, and other thoughts on how to get exposure through media.
I mentioned that the goal of advertising is to inform, persuade, and remind. Informative advertising creates awareness of brands, products, services, and ideas. Working hand in hand, the goal of publicity is to shape or change public perception of an organization or product. Much of this type effort could involve personal appearances on talk shows on local radio and TV stations. A.C. was very interested in my thoughts, and asked if I would be willing to reduce our discussion to writing and bring it back to him the following week.
Next week when I returned to meet with A.C. I discovered that I was actually making a presentation to the Executive Board comprising General Managers of several of the electric cooperatives in Missouri. Fortunately, I had typed up a high level outline of my thoughts, and A.C. borrowed it, had copies made and distributed to each person. As we went through each item several of the managers made notes, while most just listened intently.
At the conclusion of my presentation, A.C. asked if I would be interested in working for the Association, and creating an effort to put these ideas into action. When I answered affirmatively, he asked what would be required as far as office space, personnel and equipment. As we discussed these things in very broad terms, he asked for an unofficial vote of the Executive Board members on whether they felt we should proceed. They did. And, soon I was managing their new in-house media agency.
American Freedom Foundation
1976 Youth Tour
Holts Summit MO
I left the Association of Electric Cooperatives, where I was managing their in-house advertising agency, to move across Missouri to help with the family business. My father was the manager of a radio station in Chillicothe, Missouri, and had just suffered a severe heart attack. The damage to his heart was going to keep him on a reduced work schedule for an extended time, as he refused to have open heart surgery.
I had the radio & television background to help bridge the station operations gap until his health returned, and Lea was operating a home based day care, which we were able to close down after finding spots for the children. Lea took on the program director role at the radio station, while I became the assistant station manager, and managed sales of commercials and sponsorships.
In subsequent months Lea also had a live daily radio show on weekdays, recorded commercials, and emceed live events such as parades. We enjoyed being part of the Chillicothe community, and were active in the local Lions Club, church, and social activities. We sponsored the largest annual Armed Forces Day celebration in the region for several years, and were heavily involved in the coordination of the event year around.
- Civic Center
- Little League
- Volunteer Fire Department
- Forest Fire
- Office of Mayor
- Police Department
- Lions Club
North Missouri Armed Forces Day
Beginning in 1979, KCHI radio sponsored the annual North Missouri Armed Forces Day celebration, which included aircraft displays, flyovers, and military dignitaries, including 3-star General (Lt. General) James Light, Jr., commander of the Fifteenth Air Force. General Light presented Gene with a patriotism award. The radio station broadcast the parade as it coursed down Washington Street, and did special reports throughout the day.
In its fifth year, the 1984 broadcast had expanded to three display locations . . . a large lot on the south edge of town, in Simpson Park, and at the National Guard Armory. A high level flyover by a B52 bomber started the day, with a flight of F4C Phantom jets making two passes, and later, a flight of A10 Thunderbolts made treetop level passes over the display area, and during the parade, a C130 made a dust-raising pass down Washington Street, over the parade and reviewing stand.
One of the favorite stories of that year came from the end of the celebration when the helicopters that had been on display were leaving and returning to base. There were a pair of Army Reserve Apache helicopters, a National Guard armed Huey (UH-1) helicopter, a Kiowa, and a Cobra Attack helicopter, and the Air National Guard sent two Light Observation Helicopters that appeared to be more bubble glass flight decks than anything else.
Ah, but the star of the show was an Air Force Chinook, the Boeing CH-47! It is a large, twin turbine engine, double-rotor, heavy lift helicopter with nearly 10,000 horsepower. The Chinook arrived first, and was parked in the center of a large field at the junction of Highways 63 and 36. It was watched closely by the crew throughout the day, but was opened up so the public could peer inside to see how massive it is. And, when it came time to leave, it was the last to go. Other, smaller, helicopters were parked around the outside edges of the grassy lot as they arrived.
All of the helicopters took off, one or two at a time, and made a treetop flyover before departing. We later learned that the light observation aircraft, the “bubble” helicopters, had to land in a field short of their destination to wait out a sudden gale that formed in their path. Meanwhile, the crowd of onlookers pressed in toward the Chinook as the flight crew did the final walk around inspection.
The turbine engines were started, their high pitched whine piercing the air. After three or four minutes, the props seemed to flop up and down once as though someone had accidently bumped a control. But, it was evidence that something might happen soon. We waited patiently, knowing that all we were going to see was another helicopter lifting off, and flying off into the distance.
The rear blades started to spin very slowly, followed by the front blades. As they began to increase speed, the noise the blade tips made seemed to drown out the engine noise. The flight crew eventually boarded through the ramp in the rear, after a final check, and closed it up. Soon, the front wheels lifted about two feet off the ground, while the rear ones seemed to struggle to leave terra firma. We wondered if the pilot thought he was completely off the ground.
Soon the rear wheels came off the ground, the front end dropped about a foot, and then bobbed back up like a cork, the whole huge helicopter slowing rocking front to rear. The blades were now spinning faster, emitting that familiar helicopter chop-chop sound as they sliced through the air, with little effect, as the helicopter slowly teetered up and down front-to-back, it then began to also slowly rotate to the right. Still only a few inches off the ground, the blades hurled a windstorm over the crowd, now standing back and shielding themselves from the flying debris washed up by the big cumbersome beast.
This departure was not even close to being as graceful as the others, each of which gave us a sense of pride in our military might, while this one seemed like an ugly duckling, ungainly and hard to handle! The helicopter continued to teeter and slowly rotate to the right, until it had turned 180 degrees so that now we could clearly see the crew in the cockpit.
We muttered among ourselves, wondering why they were having so much trouble getting the ungainly machine under control, when, all of a sudden SWOOSH! it hurled up into the sky, above the clouds, and out of sight, as though fired from a slingshot! It vanished before any of us even realized what had happened! We couldn’t look up fast enough to see it disappear! It was just gone!
To say that we were amazed would be an understatement! No one saw that coming, but it certainly changed our opinion of that awesome craft! A photo of our collective faces in that moment would be priceless! Our thanks to the pilot and crew for giving us such an awesome experience!
Lt General Light
Lt. General James E. Light, Jr., Commander of the Fifteenth Air Force, was the guest of honor at the fifth annual North Missouri Armed Forces Day Observance in Chillicothe, MO in 1984. Organized in its first year as merely an Armed Forces Day parade, by the fifth year it had expanded into helicopter displays at the junction of highways 36 and 63 on the south edge of town, multiple flyovers by a variety of fixed wing aircraft including a B-52 bomber, demonstrations of rappelling, hand to hand combat, and a patriotism program featuring the “Pageant of Flags” organized by the Chillicothe American Legion, Vern R. Glick post, followed by a performance by the band “Festival.”
The General was a Command Pilot with more than 9,000 flying hours in over fifteen types of aircraft. He had 220 combat missions with more than 500 combat hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with six oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Medal with 18 oak leaf clusters.
General Light was the highest ranking officer to attend one of Chillicothe’s Armed Forces Day Observances, and participated in many of the day’s activities, as well as reviewing the parade. In a special radio ceremony he presented Gene Vaughn, KCHI Station Manager with a large plaque honoring him with a Patriot Award from the Fifteenth Air Force. Dad had never met such a high ranking officer, and was quite honored.
One of my proudest moments was seeing my father awarded a patriotism award by an Air Force general for the radio station’s sponsorship of the annual Armed Forces Day event. He had served many years in military organizations from the Marine Corps Reserve, Missouri State Guard, and the National Guard. He had worked his way up to Chief Warrant Officer in Criminal Investigation before leaving the service. He was quite honored to be given an award by a three-star general.
And, our eternal gratitude to all those who give service to their country, and for defending our freedom. Thank you for serving!
Boy Scouts of America
By Larry E Vaughn
There’s something a little frightening about your twelve year old son achieving manhood. First he’s childishly mischievous, kicking pea gravel at his buddy, and then he’s using proper logic to make a decision that will affect his entire adult life. He’s gaining self confidence, becoming self-sufficient, and learning independence by conquering the elements of nature with his fellow Boy Scouts.
It was with great excitement the twenty-four scouts from Holts Summit, Missouri climbed aboard the 28-foot cabin cruiser, Gidoris, for a forty five minute cruise to the Lake of the Ozarks island where they would camp for the weekend. The skipper, Gideon Houser, gave the scouts a tour of his well-appointed boat, briefed them on water safety, then issued and fitted life jackets.
Scoutmaster Dwight Gates, who had driven the scout troop‘s bus, had overseen the packing of tents and supplies into a small fishing boat towed behind. “The boys have been preparing for this trip for several weeks,” Gates remarked, “and, I am very grateful to Mr. Houser for making this special opportunity available to us.” The scouts’ boat was launched, and tied on behind the big cabin cruiser.
Houser, a skilled and courteous ship’s captain, eased the big boat from the dock into the main channel. After setting his course and stabilizing the gentle throb of the engines, he stepped aside, allowing each of the scouts to take his turn at the wheel. Keeping an ever watchful eye on other lake traffic, the skipper answered a continuous barrage of questions from the admiring boys. “One of life’s greatest pleasures,” Houser chuckled, “is being able to share a new experience with someone. I’ve been looking forward to this weekend, myself.”
Excitement reached new levels as our destination came into view. The scouts began scanning the wilderness along the shoreline for campsites, likely fishing spots and interesting areas to explore. The Gidoris was quickly anchored thirty feet offshore, and scoutmaster Gates untethered the fishing boat loaded with gear, and headed for the beach.
After unloading the boat on a graveled beach with secluded coves on either side, Gates began shuttling the scouts and adult leaders ashore. Tending to business first, the scouts quickly erected the six tents that would house the troop that night, and gathered firewood for campfires.
Then there was free time for fishing, swimming and exploring. Gates, now in swimming trunks, selected an area to be set aside for swimming. After checking the lake bottom for hazards, he established boundaries by anchoring lifejackets on the perimeters to serve as markers. Then appointing lifeguards, testing each boy’s swimming skill, and pairing the boys into a buddy system, he let them swim freely, while maintaining a constant vigil.
While some scouts were exploring the island’s wooded and beach areas, searching for new discoveries, collecting shells, or just admiring nature’s wonders, others had broken out fishing rods.
Uniformed scouts could be seen on almost every point, trying to catch a trophy fish. It didn’t matter to them what kind of fish it was they caught, just so it was big enough to brag about. And, sooner or later that night, where you saw a scout, you saw an adult leader untangling fishing line, working lures loose from obstructions on the bottom, tying new knots in the line, and putting fish on stringers. It was a new experience for many of the youngsters, and a rewarding afternoon for the adults.
The sky had become cloudy during the afternoon, and now as dusk approached, a solid overcast hid the sunset. It was time for supper. The boys chose spots for their cook fires, downwind from the tents. They brushed debris away from their chosen spot, then assembled kindling and firewood. Soon there was chatter from all around the campsite as each group busied themselves with preparing their meals. The variety of foods ranged from simple canned stews to steak and potatoes. Some had even brought a dessert.
As each scout finished his evening meal, he collected any trash he had created and placed it in the troop trash container. Then he scoured, washed and rinsed his mess kit before packing it away for the night. Some scouts, on their first overnight camping trip that required them to plan and prepare their own meals, received helpful advice and instruction from more experienced scouts to help them make cooking and cleanup quicker and easier.
Night had already fallen by the time everyone had finished their supper and cleanup. Now it was time to unpack bedrolls, lay ground cloths, and make the tents ready for the night. The evening’s cloudy skies threatened rain, so trenches were dug around the tents to carry off any rainwater that might fall that night. Tent bracing was double checked in case there should be any wind. Some scouts double braced their tents and placed large rocks around the bottom walls to hold them securely in place. Others were not so cautious.
A large, cheerful, bon fire ringed with driftwood seats crackled at the edge of the campsite, and the scouts were assembled for a campfire discussion before retiring for the night. The stillness of the lake echoed the sounds of laughter and singing as the scouts and leaders recounted the activities of the day, shared jokes, and closed with singing in unison.
It wasn’t even a half hour later that the first sprinkles of rain fell on the campsite. It was a gentle rain at first, with only a few small gusts of wind. Occasional bursts of quiet laughter and the rumbling of voices telling stories still seeped from the tents. They diminished only when the lightning and thunder worsened, rain pummeling the tents became a constant dull thudding. Gusting wind shook the tents like tissue paper.
Scoutmaster Gates was concerned. “My boys are going to get soaked in this rain,” he worried out loud. “Those darned tents aren’t as good as I would like for them to be, but they’re all we could afford. Maybe someday when we get our bills paid . . .” He donned his rain suit and stepped into the storm. He headed for the campsite to check tent staking and tie downs, to secure flaps and place rocks around those tents that needed them.
It was shortly after he left the campsite one tent’s bracing gave in to the wind and collapsed onto the boys inside. It fell twice more that night. After he returned from the first of many trips to check the campsite, as we were discussing whether to move the boys to a sheltered dock somewhere, I felt the hurt all parents feel sooner or later. I realized, all of a sudden, that my son had been able to plan, prepare, and take care of himself all day, without any help from daddy.
Now, he was out there, in a tent during a severe thunderstorm, dependant on his own resourcefulness for comfort and safety. What a strange mixture of hurt, dismay and pride I felt that stormy night!
The violence of the storm abated in the early morning hours, and turned into light, but persistent, drizzle that continued until near noon. As dawn broke, a few of the scouts donned their raingear, rounded up fishing tackle, and headed for the favored fishing spots. Others slept in, weary from the busyness of the previous day and sleeplessness during the storm. But, by seven o’clock everyone was up, in rain gear, preparing for another day.
The problem of getting a cook fire started was uppermost in everyone’s mind. Pine needles and Cedar bark were gathered from the woods to serve as kindling. Small twigs and sticks were gathered from under trees where they were somewhat sheltered from the previous night’s downpour. The scouts stretched out a large plastic drop cloth and lifted it shoulder high over the selected cook fire site. Scoutmaster Gates climbed under it, assembled the necessary materials, and soon had a warm bristling fire burning.
The boys fried and scrambled eggs, baked biscuits, stirred up hot chocolate, and one even fried the fish he had caught the evening before . . . . all in the rain, water dripping off their rain suits! Breakfast took a little longer than planned, because the boys had to take turns using the campfire. After most of the scouts had finished eating, and were cleaning their mess kits, I unpacked my food and cooking gear. It was during this time that my son came over and sat beside me. “I’m still kind of hungry, Dad,” he said. What music to my ears! It sounded sort of like he said he still needed me! It was with great joy that we mixed up some pancake batter, fried potatoes, heated hot chocolate, and shared a rain soaked breakfast.
Before breaking camp and boarding the Gidoris for the return trip to our waiting bus, the scouts were assembled again for a Sunday morning services of thanksgiving. The scouts themselves provided the opening and closing prayers, and related the things that they had learned from the campout. They spoke of such things as fellowship, sharing, caring, and helping others. They related the times that they had needed help that weekend, and the times that there were able to help someone else. They spoke of God, of gratefulness, and appreciation.
Later, as they folded their tents and packed their gear, they kicked pea gravel on their buddy, and played practical jokes on each other. Soon, they were on their way home to their parents, who are just a little bit saddened as they watch their twelve year old sons growing into young men.
While we lived in Chillicothe, our sons participated in the Boy Scout troop sponsored by the Methodist Church. Troop Leader was Vince Moore, owner of Moore Monument. He had led the troop when his own son went through the Scouting program, and remained for many years afterwards to inspire many young boys to make good ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
My boys attended the annual weeklong scout program at Camp Geiger, located on the bluffs over the Missouri River near St. Joseph, Missouri. Camp Geiger is operated by the Pony Express Council, and was accredited by the Central Region, Boy Scouts of America. As a part of the scouting experience, the boys both went through initiation into the Tribe of Mic-O-Say, the Pony Express Council’s alternative honors program similar to the BSA Order of the Arrow.
To be invited into the order was considered an honor, and it was conveyed through a tap on the shoulder by the Sachem during an evening parent’s day ceremony conducted around a huge bonfire. After dinner on Parent’s Night the troop had a variety of activities planned, ending with the Induction ceremony after nightfall. A huge bonfire using long logs arranged to resemble a teepee was lit, and distant drums started beating a steady cadence, signalling that the ritual was about to begin.
The shirtless boys from Tenderfoot, and other ranks that were not yet inducted, made their way to the bonfire and formed a circle completely around, and facing, the bonfire. The adult leaders of the troop, and scouts already inducted into Mic-O-Say, were in costume and had positioned themselves around the outside of the circle of boys. The drummers made their way to the fire while maintaining their cadence, which now began echoing from the surrounding ridges.
The scouts who were already members of the tribe, and in costume, entered the ring of boys and danced around and around with ankle bells jingling and Indian war cries resounding through the night. Then the drums suddenly stopped, and the braves of the tribe moved silently into the dark. The Troop Leader, now in costume of a tribal chief, explained to the audience, and the scouts, that those who had been recognized by the leaders as worthy to join the tribe as braves would be selected that night, and would be given this final test to prove their worthiness.
They would have to build a fire from scratch, in the presence of another member of the tribe, and then carry it up to any point they chose on the ridge, and keep it burning all night long. In the morning the Sachem or Sagamore would come to see their campfire, and if it was still burning, they would be inducted into the tribe. Then the drums started their cadence again.
The costumed Sagamore and Sachem, with a drummer, moved silently around the outside of the circle. When they arrived behind a scout that was to be inducted, the Sachem’s drummer would beat a constant fast paced tempo. The other drums stopped. The silence was broken only by the snap and crackle of the bonfire as it shot flaming embers high into the air. From behind, he Sachem laid the tip of his ceremonial lance on the right shoulder of the inductee and mumbled an indiscernible phrase, which we all presumed was American Indian.
The Sagamore then sharply tapped the inductee’s other shoulder, and the Sachem’s drummer started up the previous cadence. All the other drums joined in until the Sachem stopped behind another inductee. When the ceremony ended with the last tapping, inductees were told to gather what they needed for the night of tending their fire, and to return to the bonfire. All the scouts then departed with no one knowing who had and hadn’t been tapped.
When the boys returned it was obvious most hadn’t planned for sleeping out all night tending a fire. Most were sent back to their cabin to get bedding or snacks and water or rain gear. When they were suitably equipped to spend the night out of doors by themselves, they were assigned a tribe member to observe them starting their fire flint and tinder or with bow sticks until the kindling could be ignited.
As each boy got his fire started, he then moved it by any means he could devise, up to a position on the ridge where many campfires had burned before. There they established a campsite with a nearby source of firewood. The boys usually spent a hour or more getting their campfire going in their selected spot, and then spent another hour collecting firewood. Many built up their fire, got good and warm, and fell asleep.
From down below, the campfires could be seen lining the ridge surrounding the campground. As the fires began to lose their glow, an adult leader or senior scout would go silently to each campsite to watch over the sleeping scout and keep the fire burning until morning. At daybreak the Sachem and Sagamore would loudly approach each campsite to check the campfire. Most of the scouts had no idea they had fallen to sleep, and were awarded the first rank in the tribe, “Fire Builder.”
Link entered the Mic-O-Say program first, and was given the tribal name “Strong Legs.” When I was subsequently inducted as an adult leader, I was given the name “Big Strong Legs,” meaning “father of Strong Legs.” Two years later when Lance was inducted he was given the tribal name “Least Strong Legs,” meaning “younger Strong Legs.” Link advanced through the ranks and conducted his Eagle Scout project by building bird houses and placing them in a nature preserve. Lance discontinued Scouts when we moved from Missouri to Indiana.
Leesburg, Evilrock & Vulgarity Railroad
Grand River Valley Railroad
Bedford & Medicine Creek Railroad
CIVIL AIR PATROL