By Linda Emley
History was made in Richmond last Saturday night. History does not have to be some big event that happened 100 years ago, because history is any moment in time that has already happened. The great historian, Carl Becker once said,” History is the memory of things said and done.” Some days are more memorable than others, but history is made every day of our lives.
So what happened last Saturday night? people of all ages gathered together and enjoy a night of jamming to live country music. The Thomas F. Eagleton Center was rocking, and this girl actually listened to seven hours of country music and liked it. I grew up in the days of rock and roll and never listened to country music, but it does grow on you when you hear it live and feel the emotions that make country music songs so popular. People of all ages were dancing in the aisles. We heard a great version of Johnny Cash’s song “Ring of Fire” and many other songs that pleased the crowd. It was fun when a song started and members of the crowd cheered because it was one of their favorite songs.
There’s a “music jam” on the fourth Saturday of every month at the Eagleton Center. On July 28, the Ray County Historical Society was the guest sponsor of the concession stand, so we got to be a part of the music jam session. David Blythe, our president, and his wife, DaVona, have attended many such musical events in Ray County, but they were on kitchen duty for this event. They were assisted in the kitchen by fellow board member Steve Rouch and his wife, Donna. Jan Jackson, also a historical society board member, was our concession stand cashier. I got to do the shopping and fill in as needed for our tour of duty.
Others who helped were Bonnie Fields, Florence Williams, Kathy Wilson, Pat Mills, Shirley Odell and Allen Dale, who always keep things rolling. Allen and historical society board member Bruce Taylor grilled the brisket and polish sausage like they do for many Ray County events.
After this adventure, I decided I needed to learn a little more about what makes country music so popular. The County Music Hall of Fame is in Nashville, Tenn. Since 1961, there have been 115 people or groups inducted to the hall. Only 15 have been women. James Rodgers was the first performer inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s known as the Father of Country Music, “the man who started it all.” I was pleased to see that one of all time favorite singers, Elvis, made the list in 1998. I was a little confused why he was there until I read what they had to say about the King. “The consensus around Nashville in the mid-to-late 1950s was that Elvis was bad for country music, that he had in fact almost killed it; in truth, he was very good for a younger generation of country musicians, giving them potential access to broader media exposure than their predecessors had enjoyed.” Since I like Elvis and Johnny Cash, I guess I’ve always been a country fan and did not know it.
The next music jam is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25. You will not be disappointed if you join in and share the fun with this group of musicians. There is no charge to attend or perform, but they do pass the hat for free will donations that help support the Ray County Senior Center.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “ History is not history unless it is the truth.” The truth is you will be surprised how much fun you can have at the Ray County Senior Center’s music jam. Come on down and see for yourself . You can call Florence Williams at 816-776-2998 for additional details.
Now for a little bit of older history. On Aug. 7, we all need to get out and exercise our right to vote because this freedom is one of the things that makes America great. The following article was in the Richmond Missourian on July 29, 1926. It’s a small piece of Ray County history that was a big deal 86 years ago.
“A CHANGE IN BOOTH. Voting booths Will Be Placed in the Courthouse Lobby Tuesday. Since the addition of shrubbery and plants to the courthouse lawn, election officials have found it inadvisable to place the voting booths there this year, and they will be moved inside the courthouse, and placed on the first floor lobby. With the four Richmond precincts, and four or five booths to each precinct, this will mean from 16 to 20 booths inside, and will necessitate voters leaving the first floor lobby immediately after casting their ballot. Elmer Odell and Constable J.W. Hutchison will be in charge of the crowds and responsible for orderly conduct. No soliciting or distributing of poll cards will be allowed on the first floor lobby. The polls will open at 6 o’clock in the morning, and close at sunset, which will be around 7:28 o’clock p.m.”
The election of 1926 wasn’t an earth-shattering event, but it is a interesting piece of history. When you go to vote on Aug 7, think about our fellow Ray Countains that were voting for the first time inside in courthouse. It’s still the same building that many of us vote in today.
You will find a new item in the courthouse when you go to vote this year. There’s a new showcase that will be filled with treasures from our Ray County Museum. We will be changing the exhibit every few months. The first exhibit will be items related to elections. Please stop by and check it out when you have a little extra time.