Out with the old; in with the new!

Back in the Day Cafe Cuba, Missouri

As the sign says, there will soon be an auction at the cafe part of the Back in the Day Cafe building.

There are some changes coming to 615 SW Main Street, which is located about a block south of Route 66 or Washington Street. Business cycles come and go and bring new ventures with them. The building was recently used as a restaurant, but with the departure of that tenant, owner of the building Andy Sanazaro, Jr. is holding an auction to sell some of the restaurant equipment that the new tenants don’t need.

The new tenants are Matt and Ruth Coblentz who will be opening the Cuba Bakery & Deli. At the last Chamber of Commerce Meeting, Matt said that they hoped to be open by March 15. Recently, we ran into Dave Schroyer who was painting some new signs on the windows. New signage signals some new offerings on the eating scene in Cuba.

It will be nice to have Julie Nixon Krovicka’s interior vintage bakery mural once again on display over filled bakery cases.

We’ll be there to try it out when the doors open and will give you more details and photos of the Cuba Bakery & Deli.

To fully appreciate the history of this building read a previous blog with before and after photos: “Cuba citizen commits to preservation with Cox Complex restoration.”

Dave Schroyer painting at the Cuba Deli & Bakery.

Dave Schroyer painting at the Cuba Deli & Bakery.

Cuba, Missouri Bakery & Deli Sign

This handsome new sign heralds some tasty food offerings in Cuba.

He loves Route 66, and he’s a traveling man

Love 66 license plate in Cuba, Missouri

This eye-catching Love66 license plate from Texas and the Route 66 decals signaled that this was a real roadie, as Route 66 lovers are called.

On a recent day, I pulled up outside the Fanning Outpost 66 General Store and the Texas Route 66 license plate and decals of the car above caught my eye. I thought I would see some enthusiastic Route 66 tourists inside shopping for souvenirs. However, I didn’t see them when I went inside the Outpost, one of Cuba, Missouri’s Route 66 attractions. You may have noticed that large rocker in the background of the photo.

I checked the supply of Viva Cuba brochures and looked around the store as I always do because there is always something new.

There was the wooden Indian that Dan Sanazaro bought at an auction…

Fanning Outpost Wooden Indian

Dan bought the wooden carving at an auction, and he guards the entrance now.

There were custom made Route 66 Baby Cakes from the Route 66 Fudge Shop

Route 66 Fudge Shop Route 66 Baby Cakes

There's locally made products like these Route 66 Baby Cakes from the Route 66 Fudge Shop in the historic district of Cuba.

But much of the store’s interior is given over to Route 66 merchandise to satisfy the Outpost’s US and international customers’ desire for Route 66 mementoes. Much of that inventory is provided by a company  wholesale company Real Time Products. I found out that the Route 66 plates out front belonged to Don Larker, a long time roadie and Real Time Products sales representative. Jackie, the store manager, told me that Don was back in the archery center at the picnic table filling out his order.

Many times when I am in stores with Route 66 merchandise, I flip over an item to see where it came from, and it often says Real Time Products. I thought that I wanted to meet this guy. I went back to the archery center and found Don Larker surrounded by paperwork.

After I introduced my self, we chatted for a bit. He used to be in the souvenir business for himself until he sold out and went to work for Real Time distributing souvenirs, jewelry, gifts, and novelties. He used to actually drive cargo around and unload merchandise himself. Now, he just takes orders, and they ship the items out.

“I think that I am going to live 10 years longer since I don’t have to load and unload souvenirs up and down the road,” he stated. He also stated that vendors always ask “What do you have new?”

We chatted for awhile about Cuba’s murals and other towns along the road. Don lives in Amarillo, Texas, and we chatted about other Route 66ers that we know in common such Croc Lile in Texas and Jim Hinckley in Arizona. We talked about Jim’s new Route 66 Atlas and Encyclopedia that he will debut at Cuba Fest in October.  Then I took my leave and left Don to finish his orders and get back on Route 66 to his next stop.

I was glad that I had met Mr. Larker who is another slice of the living Route 66 history.

Don Larker Sales Rep Teal Time Products

Don Larker, a sales rep with Real Time Products, was surrounded with orders and his Real Time listing of products when I found him at the Fanning Outpost.


Trees and landscaping make economic and visual impact

Hwy. 19 South trees in Cuba, MIssouri

This row of trees on South Hwy. 19 displays fall colors and offers an attractive entrance to Cuba.

In the words of Mark Grueber of the Missouri Department of Conservation in his paper Tree Planting in Missouri:

Planting a tree has been described as the ultimate act of optimism and sharing — a meaningful opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment.

Trees dramatically improve the quality of our lives. They help make our communities more livable and more attractive. They provide us with a cleaner and cooler environment. They make an economic difference, saving us money in energy consumption, increasing property value and boosting business and tourism.

While the benefits of trees may be important, so is the act
of planting them. Planting requires forethought, planning and responsibility. …

With the above points in mind, this past Thursday Bob Baldwin of Public Works and other city workers, along with representatives of Viva Cuba, met with Mark Grueber of the Missouri Department of Conservation  to discuss the future of Cuba’s trees and other plantings.

Mark Grueber of the Missouri Department of Conservation meets with city staff

In the 70s and 80s, before the plantings took place, the entrance to Cuba on Hwy. 19 in Cuba was pretty dismal. Take a look at some of those previous scenes in this earlier blog. But community organizations and the city came together in cooperation with the Missouri Department of  Transportation to raise money for planting and landscaping. Now those plantings have matured, and it is time to take inventory of what the city has and make plans going forward.

Mr. Grueber will work with the city and thinks there may be grants available for management of Cuba’s trees. Management might include trimming or replacement of some trees or plantings if they are impeding power lines or have other problems.

The goal is to keep Cuba attractive and manage the community’s trees as an asset that contributes to the character and beauty of our town.



Is it Harry S. Truman or Harry S Truman?

Harry Truman, Bess & Maragaret, 1940 Senate Campaign

Harry Truman and his wife Bess and daughter Margaret share some time together during his 1940 senate campaign. It was in 1940, that Truman visited Cuba. Notice the punctuation on the poster in the background.

While Presidents Day, was originally designated to commemorate our first President George Washington’s birthday, it is has become a combination observance of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays and, in some states, other local heroes as well.

On Presidents Day in Missouri we might think of “our” President Harry Truman of Independence, Missouri whose birthday is May 8. Whatever your politics, Truman was known as a feisty, outspoken man, who most citizens of the Show-Me State think of with some pride.

One of his quotes gives an example of how his forthrightness was often perceived.

I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell. –Harry Truman

In 1940,Truman came to Cuba when he was campaigning in the state to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. David McCullough’s book Truman states that in late July, 1940 Truman wrote to his wife Bess about visiting Cuba when he was on the campaign trail.

Harry Truman couldn’t figure out why people wouldn’t stop to listen to his speech when he stood on a Coca-Cola box on the steps of the Methodist Church along Rt. 66. They just kept passing him by while he was electioneering for a senate seat.

He was told by local officials that they were passing him to attend the “Homecoming,” which was what the County Fair was called then. He said that he would attend the fair as well and went to the fair and made his speech. Legend has it that he had to pass the hat for money to continue to the next town.

Viva Cuba chose the wall adjacent to the building that used to be the Methodist Church to paint this scene in a mural. The building has reverted back to its original name of Wallace House, a historical Cuba home. Four-H symbols are used in the mural because the 4-H organization was 100 years old when the mural was painted, and the 4-H organization is important to Crawford County kids.

Today, and every day in Cuba, we honor our Missouri President Harry Truman.  And as for the question Is it Harry S. Truman or Harry S Truman, read the answer here.

Harry Truman and Fair mural Cuba, Missouri

Viva Cuba placed its Truman mural on the wall next to the one-time Methodist Church, where Truman initially tried to speak to the citizens of Cuba.

For more information on Harry Truman visit the Truman Museum & Library site.

To see more historical photos of Wallace House read “125 years old and still beautiful then and now.”

Read these other Truman quotes.

If you would like to take a quick look at the other Presidents, try this You Tube video. We have reduced the sound, but you may want to mute it.





Cuba High School Alumni Band 2012: The beat goes on…

Cuba, Missouri Alumni Band 2012

Cuba High School Alumni Band

Last night was the Basketball Homecoming in our small town of Cuba, Missouri. I usually don’t attend these any more, but because many of my ex-students had been writing for weeks on Facebook about their getting together, practicing, and anticipating the performance of their old Pep Band under the direction of retired band director Stan Moore, I decided to go to see them perform. Cuba has a tradition of good music.

Vintage Cuba High School Band

There is a musical tradition in Cuba, Missouri.

Home coming was great, the kids were excited about the game, the coronation of Homecoming King & Queen, and the dance later. Having taught in the district for 30 years, before retiring, I noticed a few things that point to the health and well-being of our town of 3200+.

1. Some of the students went away to get an education and have returned to teach in the district. I noticed at least three of them on the floor between games setting up for the coronation. All three had lived in larger cities or worked elsewhere in bigger schools or worked in the corporate world. But they came home to teach. They aren’t the only ones who have returned and have roots in the community. One of the alumni players is the current director of the band. She is Stan Moore’s daughter. The tradition continues. That’s a good thing.

2. Other young people have returned to work in the area and raise their families in Cuba. Some of the same last names were on the programs that were on their 20 years ago. Some moved away for education or jobs, but they have returned. That’s a good thing too. It says that there are opportunities for them, and they want to raise their families here.

3. The Alumni band members are from all walks of life: moms, dads, doctors, law enforcement, sales, teachers, a principal, jobs of all descriptions. But they have been taking their time (some traveling from a distance) to come to Cuba to practice for last night’s performance. They have been practicing at home and with the group. Some have been out of school since the 70s and 80s. But their memories of Cuba and their band director Stan Moore brought them to last night’s performance. They are still good. They still have pride in what their group can do. That’s a good thing.

Last night was just a small slice of our small town pie. But it shows that even tough economic times, good things are still happening in our country even it’s one small town at a time.

The alumni who returned for last night’s performance are talking about keeping their group together, maybe playing at other community events, such as Cuba Fest in October. I hope they do and keep that beat going. It makes a better town.

Here are few slides of the group last night. I wish I had recorded some of their own music to go with them, but this is a long time favorite song of Cuba’s Pep Band. It’s “Hey Baby” by Buckwheat Zydeco.

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