I think we’ve all got at least one home away from home — one place that is not essentially close to home but definitely close to our hearts. These places are full of fond memories. They are temples of the religion of life and we would take it personally if we were to ever lose them.
For many Sedalians, one of their special places is Jennie Jaynes Stadium. And it was just reported here in the pages of The Sedalia Democrat that they’re finally going to be tearing it down. Yes, it has been the faithful home of the Smith-Cotton Football Tigers, and the Sacred Heart Football Gremlins, and one of the most notable landmarks on the stretch of road that they like to call “The Strip.” For some people, it’s just Limit Avenue, but for those special few that used to cruise it they’d never dare call it by its technical designation.
On old Sedalia Friday nights it was standard procedure to drive up and down the strip, before and after the football game. Clearly the ancient football power battery deep in the underground passages of the stadium runs on a steady diet of street friction.
Maybe you remember grabbing some root beer floats from the old A&W across the street, or getting drunk in the parking lot — or doing more than that in the parking lot. Maybe you remember cheering for your Tigers until you lost your voice, or you remember battling on that field and being invigorated by the roar of the crowd.
There’s no doubt there are many Sedalians and Pettis County residents who have many fond memories at Jennie Jaynes Stadium. But there’s also something that we all need to realize — the memories don’t live there exclusively or just in any other physical location. The memories will live just as long as we do, in our minds and in our hearts. The memories will live just about forever in the form of the words we’ve written and the pictures we’ve taken.
We get to decide when and how those memories are triggered — it doesn’t require the space in which they occurred to be exactly like it was any more than it requires the retention of the pile of beer cans that helped make that memory so special. It’s not like they’re going to take a giant planet saw and make that part of Sedalia go away forever, anyhow.
How much of the stadium do you need in order to feel the right amount of nostalgia — The Smith-Cotton Alumni Association, or Sedalia Parks and Rec or the City of Sedalia or whoever could probably make good money selling literal pieces of the stadium and maybe with those proceeds they could build a monument to the structure that once was.
Nothing gold or even tiger-striped can stay. We’re all probably going to lose a location that is special to us at some point during our lifetime, be it by progress, natural disasters or rising sea levels.
I just found out a few months ago we’re losing the 24-year home of Midwest Hemophilia Association summer camp, Wilderness Retreat and Development Center. The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church decided to stop operations at Wilderness and three other campuses and sell them off.
Sure, it’s not being torn down yet, but the timing made it so that while we were experiencing our last year at Camp Wilderness we didn’t even know it. At least the Jennie Jaynes faithful are getting a chance to say their goodbyes and know that both the land and the program that used to call it home have a bright future.
And it made me understand a little better just how people felt about losing their beloved football stadium. But it also made me realize that it doesn’t do much good to be obsessively nostalgic about a place or a building — summer camp, football and Sedalia nightlife will all go on, even if they go in a new place.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.