Note: This is the sequel to yesterday’s post, The DrHGuy Alternative Southwest Missouri Tour – Part I. After reading the account by fellow blogger and McHenry County co-inhabitant, Cal Skinner, of his family’s vacation in Southwest Missouri, the region where I spent my childhood and adolescence, I was moved to proffer my observations on some glaring omissions from the Skinner family itinerary. Yesterday’s Heck of a Guy discourse featured historical and spiritual sites – The George Washington Carver Monument and The Spooklight, respectively. Today, however, the focus is on the primo attraction overlooked by Cal’s clan: my Mom’s collection of – well, collectibles.
If She Finds Out, This Will Break My Mother’s Heart
Missing the George Washington Carver Monument and The Spooklight, inexplicable as those omissions may seem, is nonetheless small potatoes compared to Cal’s failure to pay a call on my mother, who lives within an hour of Branson in the real Ozarks. As I’ve previously noted in this blog,
I grew up in, and, more pertinently, my mother still lives in the Ozarks, where the only gated communities are inhabited exclusively by cattle, and upper-class is spelled “d-o-u-b-l-e-w-i-d-e.” In these parts, the citizenry is allied in the conviction that the guy who wants his neighbors to cease using their lawns as sites for burning is at best an uppity snob and may well be a proponent of socialism, communism, or even vegetarianism. That he is seeking to ban the burning of tires, not leaves, cuts no mustard (or, alternatively, makes no nevermind). There is also a consensus that the other political radical, the one who proposes zoning regulations that would, for example, limit clotheslines to a length of 30 feet and restrict them from front yards, should either keep his nose out of others folks’ business or find happiness elsewhere. … And, the scenery … is striking with rugged hills setting off man-made Table Rock Lake. The view in the photo below is from the deck of my mother’s home [in winter].
It is, one supposes, theoretically possible that Cal didn’t realize that instead of fighting the Branson traffic to reach the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Waltzing Waters Theatre, and the numerous miniature golf, go-kart, and bump’em car establishments that are the warp and woof of that municipality’s cultural milieu, he could have jogged south a bit and navigated his way, en route to Mom’s cabin on Turkey Mountain Road, through and past Roaring River Road, Trout Street, Song Bird Drive, Whippoorwill Drive, Dove Lane, and still other byways named after local critters such as Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Quail, and Mockingbird …
to finally experience the thrill of arriving, less than 1/2 mile from Mom’s, at the corner of Sonny & Cher Avenues.1
But instead, Cal took his family to see one Righteous Brother and Paul Revere and the Raiders perform with Andy Williams, Ann Margaret and her husband Roger Smith in the audience. I bet someone feels pretty foolish now. 2
The Tour’s Epicenter
It will come as no surprise to those familiar with this blog that the highlight of the DrHGuy Alternative Southwest Missouri Tour is the exhibit described in this excerpt from In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes:
For you fans of geosociological phenomena, my mother’s home is officially recognized as the site of the nexus of Ozark kitsch and that principle of Newtonian physics that declares “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Every horizontal space and a significant percentage of the vertical planes are packed with multiple layers of magazines, books, toys, food, plants, ceramics, linens, doodads, gadgets, widgets, and on and on – and on and on and on and on … .
One consequence of this accumulating mass is that my parents’ retirement cabin has achieved a profound, astronomical scale density, which, at the current rate of increase, will, sometime in June or July 2019, result in the transformation of the southwest corner of the basement into what is anticipated to be the first documented home-grown specimen of antimatter.
… my mother’s decorating scheme … is variously labeled as The Glass Is 110% Full, More Is More, or Nothing Succeeds Like Excess.
The walls are sufficiently weighted with displays of 35-45 meat grinders (a small portion pictured below), angels, awls, & augers; and so incredibly much more that I suspect they could withstand tornado-force winds. … Nor are the fine arts ignored. Saw-blade paintings (i.e., paintings on saw-blades, not paintings of saw blades) abound.
My mother also owns beaucoup boxes of buttons; coping saws, two-man saws, & see-saws; bolts of material with the John Deere logo (three versions); cabinets full of miniature oil lamps; more cabinets filled with shaving gear, including a display of straight razors; and … well, you get the idea.
It’s one of those “you have to see it to believe it” sort of things.
And, thank goodness, one can see – and believe. Photos of some of the items Mom has mounted on her walls can be viewed at Mom’s Collectibles – Index & Description Page
I’ve included some examples here to give a flavor of the entire collection.
And even within special collections there are very special items – such as My Mother’s Incredibly Christian Clock.
As pictured above, the piece consists of a round clock face, perhaps three inches in diameter, flanked by kneeling prepubescent figures: a girl on the right and a boy on the left, each with hands clasped in fervent prayer, and each wearing pastel blue facsimiles of school uniforms, a pinafore for the young lady and shirt & short pants for the young gentleman.
... The outstanding feature of this item, however, is its audio capacity. My introduction to this treasured appliance, in fact, was its annunciation, launched without provocation or prior warning at precisely 6 PM, Thanksgiving Day, of “Our Father, which art in heaven, … ” or, more accurately, “OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN, … ,” and then going on to recite the entire Lord’s Prayer3 in the resonant, fortissimo voice of an stupefyingly strident, incessantly insistent, and perpetually perky teenage girl.
As we were to discover, in fact, The Clock declaims the Pater Noster at exactly 6 & 7 AM and again at 6 &7 PM – every
damn day. Curious about the rationale underlying the unusual 6 AM – 7 AM – 6 PM – 7 PM schedule, I queried the curator (AKA Mom). Displaying incredulity that the news hadn’t already reached the Greater Chicagoland Area, she informed me that this model was advertised to commence the familiar prayer only at 6 AM and 6 PM, but, she went on to explain with evident pride and gratitude, the specimen that found its way to her living room also holds forth at 7 AM and 7 PM as well – a happenstance that she clearly accounts a bonus and that she implies falls only a step below raising the dead and healing the sick in the hierarchy of miracles.
Internet Endorsement Of Mom’s Stuff
While the wonder of Mom’s collectibles seems unmistakably obvious to me, it is, in theory, not impossible that my judgment is swayed by a maternally-directed bias. That friends, neighbors, and other family members have all reacted in the same manner to Mom’s wall mounted displays is supportive but ultimately anecdotal evidence.
Happily, I can offer a statistical indicator. As I originally noted in Maternal Tchotchke Inventory Hits The Charts, on a single day in October of last year, 2,000 folks tuned in just to see what Mom had wrought.
Viewers might note the blip in number of visits on October 18, 2007 – especially since I’ve circled it in red and labeled it with the date. The graph shows that each day of the period from September 20 to October 20, 2007, the Heck of a Guy blog received just under 1,000 visits4 with the exception of October 18th, when the site registered over 3,000 visits.5
A few investigative clicks deeper into Google Analytics revealed that this past Thursday about 2,000 different folks6 dropped by 1heckofaguy.com to take a look at the Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory.
It was not a coincidence that those 2,000 visitors happened onto the photos of Mom’s rustic tchotchkes on the same day with another 500 stragglers showing up to gawk the next day. Again delving into Google Analytics, I discovered that, while at least 16 sites accounted for the referrals to Gallery Of My Mother’s Inventory, the original and primary source was StumbleUpon, a web site recommendation system based on social networking and peer review.7
In oversimplified form, folks belonging to StumbleUpon rate and recommend web pages that their fellow members may enjoy. One finds potentially interesting sites by looking in StumbleUpon categories such as “collecting” or by finding members with tastes similar to ones own and checking the web pages they rank highly.8
… I also checked the comments from the viewers, albeit with some trepidation. Although StumbleUpon is, in my experience, less given to harsh, scathing critiques than, say, Digg or Technorati,9 traffic of this sort can nonetheless be generated by a site being described, in effect, as “so incredibly, unbelievably, excessively screwed-up that you must see it.” Happily, the comments on the half-dozen or so sites I sampled were overwhelmingly complimentary with the most derogatory notation simply referring to a certain tendency toward pack-rattedness my mother exhibits, which neither she or I would bother to deny.
The Best of the Rest
Southwest Missouri, in fact, is home to an overwhelming number of attractions, including CYOKAMO, the church camp I attended every summer and the source of the best Christian Camp Song ever written by a nine-fingered gospel preacher, Missouri Southern College, the alma mater of DrHGuy and Dennis Weaver,10 and the Springfield, Missouri home of Julie’s11 mother, who is a wonderful person although she doesn’t have a single meat grinder or two-man saw mounted on her walls.
So there you have it. This ends DrHGuy’s Southwest Missouri Tour and Travel Tips. I hope it’s been entertaining and even a tad – aargh – informative.
Y’all come back real soon.
- Careful observers will note that on the Google generated map shown, Sonny and Cher Avenues do not intersect. I can, however, personally vouch that there is, indeed, a point at which those two roads do cross. The only possible reason that said point is not displayed on Google Maps is that this is yet another Dick Cheney hideout that Google is mandated to pixelate into obscurity. [↩]
- To be fair, the Branson music shows, such as the one Cal and his family attended, may well be, dollar for dollar, the most value-enhanced entertainments routinely available to folks who insist on wearing clothes. Julie (See footnote #11) and I, however, attended a show only 15-18 years ago so I don’t plan on returning to that scene until the Leonard Cohen and Anjani Buckskin Boys Polka Hoedown and Luau joins the current lineup which features the likes of the Baldknobbers Jamboree Show, Yakov Smirnoff, Mickey Gilley, the Sunday Gospel Jubilee, Roy Rogers Jr. & The High Riders, Tony Roi’s Elvis Experience, the John Denver Tribute, and the Circle B Chuckwagon Dinner Show. [↩]
- I believe the clock’s allocution adds several phrases and sentiments not found in the original versions set forth in Matthew and Luke. Or perhaps the clock’s performance includes a number of repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer in various languages. Or, I may have lost consciousness at some point. In any case, it does seem to go on for approximately all eternity [↩]
- In this case, 93.5% of those visitors were unique visitors for the thirty day period shown; i.e., only 6.5% of those daily visits were from computers repeatedly visiting the site. (Bots, spiders, and my own visits are excluded.) For the 30 day period shown, about 29,200 different people/computers visited at least one Heck of a Guy web page. [↩]
- OK, there were also a few stragglers who didn’t reach this destination until the 19th; it’s simpler to report and read the story as a one-day phenomenon. [↩]
- And by “different folks,” Google Analytics means, of course, “different computers, not counting bots and spiders and the site’s owner’s visits” [↩]
- StumbleUpon has similarities to services such as Digg, Slashdot, Reddit, Fark, and del.icio.us. [↩]
- In the spirit of full disclosure, I should let readers know that am a member of StumbleUpon although I am embarrassingly lax about contributing or even checking on other sites. [↩]
- Technorati is technically a search engine, but it supports ratings and comments much like the recommendation services [↩]
- Star of McCloud, creator of the Chester character on Gunsmoke, and purveyor of the surprisingly useful all purpose phrase, “There you go.” [↩]
- Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, wickedly sexy, and loving woman and prize-winning author, with whom I had a outrageously wonderful 20 year marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. Many posts on this blog are about her, our unlikely romance, and our life together, and still others consist of her writings. Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ. [↩]