Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kansas City to Memphis

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” — Gustave Flaubert

PAUL AND I like taking long driving trips together. Rather than finding them tedious, we never seem to run out of enjoyable ways to pass the time in the car; we talk, play games, sometimes we listen to music, sometimes I read newspaper or magazine articles to him. Once I read an entire Harry Potter book to Paul on a long drive home.

We've been known to take some lengthy road trips. We drove from Key West straight home to Ankeny, IA in one long marathon of a drive, so by previous measures the drive from Kansas City to Memphis wasn't remarkable, although some of the curiosities we encountered along the way were.

In Clay County we drove past a sign pointing to Peculiar, MO, population 4797. I wanted to drive there so I could get a picture of a visit to what surely must be my home planet, but Paul said we'd been there before. Well, maybe, but . . . picture, or it didn't happen.

We were continuing on our journey through Henry County 
on Missouri Route 7 when we looked out the window and saw a sign for Tightwad Bank. I am not making this up. But even funnier is that the bank was closed, and I don't mean just because it was Sunday. It was defunct, kaput, dead as a doornail . . . so completely so that there was a for-sale sign on it. Paul said, as he pointed out that the time on the big digital sign was 00, "I guess time has run out for Tightwad Bank."

We had to know more. (Isn't it amazing that we have an encyclopedia of information on our phones, for goodness sakes!!)

The bank was named for the unincorporated village in which it stands — although we didn't exactly see a town. Not too surprising. As of  2010, Tightwad had 18 families yielding a total of 69 people. According to Wikipedia, the town's unusual name "is said to stem from an episode in which a store owner cheated a customer by charging him an extra fifty cents for a better watermelon. Some sources claim the transaction involved a rooster rather than a watermelon."

One of the founding bankers said that because of its name, people from across the country used to mail checks — up to a dozen arrived daily — addressed to Tightwad Bank, Tightwad, Missouri, sometimes without a ZIP code. Each contained a note asking for an account and an order of Tightwad Bank checks (who wouldn't want
pay bills with checks that say Tightwad on them?!), and at one point the bank had $2.2 million in deposits.

And then the bank tanked.

In Texas County we came across Cabool, Licking and Plato and . . . wait for it . . . Sargent, MO. Had to go there! Paul did a U-turn and took the road to Sargent that 
dead-ended after about four miles into a dirt driveway and . . . one house. That was it! That was Sargent, MO, except there was a Sargent Cemetery, and there were some old, old graves.

Many of the graves just had rocks as markers.
May the souls and mortal remains of those in Sargent Cemetery rest in eternal peace.
As we drove through Arkansas we saw fields we've never seen in Iowa. Paul and I each independently guessed rice from the look of them, and we were right, but if we'd taken a quiz and been asked to name agricultural crops grown in Arkansas, neither one of would have ever put rice on the list.

I had to know. Does Arkansas produce a lot of rice? Which other states grow rice? What else does Arkansas grow?

As it happens, Arkansas is the #1 rice producing state in the country.

Top rice producing U.S. states in 2014 and 2015 (in 1,000 cwt) compiled by

This second chart is from NORML, the organization working to legalize marijuana.

So there ya' go . . . a little info about Missouri and Arkansas. Next up cotton.

1 comment:

  1. I love that you found a town named the same as you. And that graveyard is touching! For some reason the broken stone made me sad. Cool trip.