(This is the front of the house were President Truman was born.)
As I was traveling to Pittsburg a couple of weeks ago I had a specific plan in mind. I was going to be traveling down highway 60 going west and on the way I was going to be stopping in a town or two to look at a couple of historic sites that had caught my eye while I was looking over my atlas the other day. I have currently set myself a two hour radius that I have to stay inside for my travels since my van is not the most reliable of vehicles right now. I also thought to myself that a lot of times we tend to think that the most amazing things are far away from our homes. There are plenty of amazing things that take a long time and a lot of preparation to travel to, but there are a lot of places close by to our homes that are just as interesting. I set this two hour radius so that I could better explore my own little part of this world, and I have enjoyed it so far.
Lamar is one of those towns within this zone. I stopped in this town for a very specific reason: to visit the birthplace of Harry S. Truman. Now I was originally thinking about telling a huge long story about President Truman and what he did and how awesome he was. All that is true, but in the end I decided to focus less on the history and more on the places that I saw while in Lamar. I wasn’t too overly excited by the birthplace of Harry S Truman, but I did make a couple of surprise discoveries that I will talk about.
(The tours were not going on when I got there so I had to take a couple of pictures through the window…)
President Truman was an amazing person and accomplished a lot during his lifetime. I suppose that the same can be said of most US Presidents, but I have a special place in my heart for President Truman because he was born in Missouri and that is were I live currently. He was thrown into the Presidency after the death of Franklin D Roosevelt and had to make many hard decisions concerning war and social issues, and I respect the decisions that he made.
President Truman didn’t live in Lamar for too long, he was actually raised more in the Kansas City area (which for those of you who don’t know Missouri that is about 2.5 hours from Lamar). During his live he was a Captain in WWI for an artillery unit eventually going on to be colonel. He was a farmer for 10 years after the war before going into several Judgeships, then a Senator, Vice President and finally President of the USA. I could probably go on about him for a lot longer, but that isn’t the point of this article, this is more focused on Lamar. Though if you want to know more about Harry S. Truman, here is a link to explore: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/harrystruman
(A monument to Harry S. Truman at his birthplace. President Truman himself attended the dedication of this place as a historic site.)
Lamar itself was a small town, and I was not too impressed by it. It might have been the fact that I had already been driving for several hours, or perhaps because I had build up the town as being some sort of amazing place that had this monument to a President that I admired, or maybe it was only because I needed to go to the bathroom and when I got to the Historic site it was all closed down. Either way, and this is true of a lot of small towns, the place I went too was very discreet. The only way I knew to get to where I was going was by following tiny brown signs that were posted at what seemed like random along the side of the road. Even though I have fairly good eyesight it was still hard for me to see what the signs said and I almost missed my turn.
The site itself was good for a walk around and I did enjoy the small town feel that I experienced as I went through the city. It is one thing I liked about traveling along hwy 60, you always had another small town to go through every 15 min or so. Nothing was every big or well laid out like you would see in a larger city, but they were big enough to have distinct personalities that were interesting to observe and take pictures of.
As I got in the van after looking around the birthplace of President Truman to continue my drive, I felt a wave of disappointment at not having my expectations of Lamar live up to what they had been. As I drove down the street I decided to be a bit adventurous and go a different way than the way that I came in. I always try to just go with the flow when I am traveling like this and I am glad that I was. I made an interesting discovery just a little way down the street. A small theater was located on the square in the city of Lamar and it was cool enough to make me stop and take some pictures.
(Not the grandest of buildings but I liked the architecture of it. There is also a drive-in theater attached to this building.)
The Plaza theater of Lamar is small, but it is rich with history. Okay, well, that is how I wanted to start this section of the blog but unfortunately I haven’t gotten any responses back to my emails that I sent to the theater that I sent asking about the history of the place. I mainly stopped because I saw the outside of the building being outlined by the setting sun and I had to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the situation. I enjoy looking at old buildings that have been well maintained. There is a photo essay that I looked over once about abandoned buildings in Detroit and it pained me to see some of those magnificent old buildings with there meticulously well laid detail go to rot. I always try to take time to appreciate what has been built before me and keep a sense of the sacrifice and changes that people made to keep a building the way that it looks. There are many ways to tell a story and not all of them are through words.
I left Lamar after snapping the above picture, probably never to stop in that town again. I might, one of these days, go back to take the tour of the house with my family. But the city itself was a let down for me in many ways, though I suppose that first impressions are not always right with people and with towns. Nevertheless I continued on to my destination of Pittsburg without so much as a glance back or a thought of what I might have missed.