To say Sedalia is growing by leaps and bounds may be a cliché, but it is also true. As I drove around town, I could see a lot of construction going on that wasn’t happening just the week before. I know these are improvements to the community, but with each shovel full of dirt the familiar landscape my friends and I grew up with is disappearing. Some of the things that are being covered up or replaced may not be considered landmarks to some people, but to those of us who were so used to them. They are our links to the past, and we will miss them.
I enjoy the movies at the shiny new theater on west U.S. Highway 50, but the memories of the old drive-in-theater that stood there during my childhood and into my courting days come to me every time I drive by that spot. It was the place I took my wife on our first date. I am sure a lot of people my age can say the same thing.
Not far from the theater back then stood the old gasoline alley café and gas station. It was not fancy, but the pop was cold and the burgers were good. It was also a step up the growing-up ladder for us teenage boys, because getting there required a car. Boys liked to take girls there whenever they had access to a car to show them they were higher on the dating scale than those guys standing in front of the Crown Drug Store waving at the cars going by. I spent many a nickel in the jukebox at that cafe, as I drank Cokes with my friends, and the girls we were trying to impress.
There was a pastoral beauty around Sedalia in the days when cattle grazed where Walmart sits today. I miss the trees, the ponds, and the pastures full of cattle lining 50 Highway, instead of the fast food places and furniture stores we see now.
On the south side of Sedalia I still remember the beautiful golf course that sat on U.S. Highway 65 in those days. I worked there as a caddy along with several friends, and I have some great memories of its long fairways, beautiful trees and smooth greens. I guess that’s why I took it personal when a tornado blew it away May 5, 1977.
Across the highway from the golf course where car and motorcycle lots sit today, there was another landmark for my friends and I. It was a mom-and-pop grocery store and gas station where my friends and I would go for soda pop and sandwiches when we worked at the golf course. My mouth still waters when I think about those sandwiches the woman behind the meat counter made fresh for us. She would slice the meat and cheese extra thick, and spread the mayonnaise as generously as we wanted. The main thing I remember is the sandwich only cost a dime, and a pop was just a nickel.
Any direction I take out of town now, I find there is something to miss.
I know progress has to happen, and old must give way to new, but fortunately no amount of new construction can wipe the Sedalia that used to be from my memories of how it used to be.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column will run in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.