Thursday, May 22, 2014

Webb City Sentinel column - 5-23-14

It’s hard to be grumpy when we finally have lovely weather but I’ve managed to be a bear this week – just ask my husband, Phil. Small problems and challenges had gotten me down, not the least of which was getting no produce at the Tuesday market because before I’d done my buying the fire alarms went off at the Middlewest Building where I live and which I manage. I rushed off to find the fire department on site and water dripping through the lobby ceiling. An air conditioner had a broken joint and condensate was leaking into a smoke alarm. No fire or smoke, but lots of damage to a ceiling that is a good 25 feet off the floor. It made me thankful for our wonderful fire department – they got there before I did and even though they’d figured out the problem they still checked every apartment just in case there really was a fire. But I was still pretty grumpy. I’m not looking forward to getting that ceiling repaired and I really missed my market produce this week.

But a friend has just brightened my day. Jan Waldie is with the American Legion Post 322 Auxiliary here in Webb City and she asked to bring “poppies” to the market today and tomorrow so folks could wear them in honor of our veterans. Before I could give the OK I had to do a little research. Of course, the poppy program has been around for decades, in fact since 1921, but I didn’t know much about it. The more I learned, the happier I was that Jan asked to come to the market. Here is the back story from the American Legion Auxiliary web site:

From the battlefields of World War I, weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil. By that miracle of nature, the spirit of their lost comrades lived on.

The poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Moina Michael. She was so moved by Lt. Col. McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Fields,” that ... on impulse she bought a bouquet of poppies – all that New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had – and handed them to businessmen meeting at the New York YMC where she worked. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen. That was November 1918. World War I was over, but many of America’s sons would rest forever “in Flanders’ Fields.”  
A portion of the poem reads – 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below…

Connecting the visual image of the poppy with the sacrifice of service made by our veterans has been an important goal of the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program since its inception in 1921. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies—all handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation—are distributed across the country .. .. donations go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities.
Jan said the poppies are free and, while there will be a donation jar, people may have a poppy without making a donation. Look for her at the market both today and tomorrow.

All of which is to say, how small is a damaged ceiling and how deep and broad is the generosity and courage of those who gave everything for our country and of those who risked everything. During World War II alone, Webb City lost 50 young men. I will be wearing a poppy today to honor them.

Today at the market the Sours are playing traditional music. Granny Shaffers at the Market serves chicken salad sandwiches and spinach/strawberry salad and a surprise entrée. Last week it was spaghetti and meat sauce.

Tomorrow Joplin Globe columnist Cheryle Finely is our Market Lady. She will demonstrate Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar. She’ll also have her cookbook, The Best of Cheryle, available for sale.
Cooking for a Cause benefits the Choir Boosters of Webb City High School. They’ll be serving biscuits and gravy, sausage, and cooked to order eggs from 9 to 11. William Adkins will play popular hits from the 60’s and 70’s.

The Tuesday market has finally taken off. We have lots of vendors on Tuesday and are beginning to have enough customers to make it worth the vendors’ while to come. That balance is important to the market’s success. The Pommerts are playing their soft rock as well as classical and jazz guitar – another reason to be happy. The budget looked a bit tight at the market this year and reducing the Tuesday music was a serious possibility but, lo and behold, we received an anonymous donation last week that allows us to keep our music program complete. So to that kind donor – you know who you are – thank you!  When music fills the pavilion I will think of you.

Meet me at the market this weekend – I’ll be wearing a poppy - and I hope you will be too!