Crawford County community & bikers prep for Relay for Life

Wallis Companies 2012 Poker Run

The 2012 Wallis Companies 4th annual Poker Run was the largest ever. Bikers gathered at Hood Park.

The Relay for Life of Crawford County takes place June 1 from 6:00 pm until 6:00 am June 2 at Hood Park in Cuba, Missouri.  However, the meetings, organizing, and fundraising go on for months before the actual event.

One such event was the Wallis Companies’ 4th Annual Poker run to benefit the American Cancer Society. The riders rumbled into Hood Park in Cuba between 8-10:00 am, where they were served breakfast by Deer Creek Church of Cuba, MO. The group donated the proceeds of the breakfast to the Wallis Companies team total. The group rolled out of Hood Park at 10:30 with 121 bikes and 174 individuals taking part for the biggest turnout ever.

A Poker run involves a pre-arranged route where each rider must stop and pick up a poker chip. Featured stops included the following:

*Salem Mobil where Dean Garber served free hot dogs and visited with the participants. *St. James On the Run, offered riders premium gasoline for the price of unleaded and a free 20 oz coffee or fountain soda. *The Cuba On the Run matched this offer at their store as well.

*The long trail of motorcycles then headed north towards Belle, and cut over to Owensivlle where they stopped a Art’s Sports & Liquor, owned by Mick Doerr, a Mobil dealer.

*The final destination of the day was Fanning US 66 Outpost General Store, the home of the Guinness World’s Largest Rocking Chair.

The Wallis Companies Poker Run for Relay for Life

The Wallis Companies Poker Run on Saturday, May 12 brought out the bikes to raise money for the Relay.

After riding approximately 138 miles and stopping at all the locations, riders traveled back to Hood Park for an afternoon that included a bike show, bike games, and a BBQ ham dinner by Kate’s Kitchen. The poker chips were turned in to draw a 5-card poker hand and receive a door prize ticket. The prizes were #1-a $1400 dollar custom bike paint job by Farris Customs, #2-an iPad donated by Wallis Companies, and #3-2 tickets with prime seats for a St. Louis Cardinals game donated by Bittick Construction.

Terry Guffey, brother of Bill Guffey who each year comes from Florida to participate, won the 1st prize paint job, but since he had no way to get his bike back to Missouri for the paint job, he took the 2nd place iPad and allowed 2nd place winner Greg Smotherman to have the paint job. The 3rd place prize went to Ronnie Pyatt. Many local businesses donated hundreds of dollars worth of door prizes for the event as well. A 50-50 drawing and t-shirt sales provided even more funds for the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life making Wallis Companies team the premier fundraiser for the event on June 1-2. After paying expenses, the Poker Run raised $4560. Wallis Companies has raised other funds for the Relay to contribute to their total and keep them the fundraising front runner.

On June 1-2, the community gathers at Hood Park in Cuba for more fund raising and events. There will be an opening ceremony, a survivors lap, a caregivers lap, and then all the teams are invited to walk together during the opening lap. A Luminara Ceremony is held at night where luminaria are lit to honor and memorialize those who have fought cancer. During the evening members of the walking teams circle the track. Booths of food and activities ring the track, and the Tri-C organization provides a Survivors Dinner.

But the event started months before with tireless volunteers who organized, fundraised, and  made it a goal to fight back against cancer. Show up to lend your support for this battle that continues each day as it touches the lives of those with cancer.

Wallis Companies honors its founder Bill Wallis and continues to fight back…

Bill Wallis mural panel Cuba, Missouri

Bill Wallis, here featured in the Phillips 66 Station mural panel, along with his wife Lynn founded Wallis Companies. After a battle with melanoma, Mr. Wallis passed away in 2001. Today the company is run by Lynn Wallis and her four children. The company and its employees are dedicated to continuing the battle against cancer.

This Cuba Free Press article offers more info on the Relay for Life and contact information.

Aerial views above Cuba, Missouri in 2012

I-44 interchange Cuba,, Missouri

With Midwest Travel Plaza to the left of the strut and the I-44 interchange on the right, this aerial shot shows Cuba's position on the interstate.

As part of its ongoing art projects, Viva Cuba commissioned a Christmas painting of Santa over Route 66 in Cuba. It will be a nostalgic-style of painting, and Viva Cuba offer prints created so that anyone who wants to buy one can share in this piece of art and Cuba history. Ray Harvey, who has painted a number of murals in Cuba, is the artist who will paint the commission. His painting won’t look like these aerials, but as part of his research, he needed to fly over Cuba and orient himself to the Route 66 corridor.

On May 10, 2012, Harvey and local pilot Don McGinnis took off from Mosby Field in Cuba to fly the skies of Cuba. It was a clear day with blue skies. Harvey took the photos, and he is sharing them with us so that we can get a “bird’s eye” view of Cuba.

Midwest Travel Plaza Cuba, Missouri I-44

The Midwest Truck Plaza, just off I-44, is a major employer as it services the many trucks who travel I-44. It also has a full service restaurant Dottie's. The grounds of the truck port are extensive.

McGinnis Wood Products East Rte. 66 Cuba, MO

McGinnis Wood Products manufactures barrels that are shipped to clients all over the US and the world.

Hwy. 19 (Franklin) & Route 66 (Washington) Cuba, Missouri

Find the 4-way intersection the middle of the photo with Wallis Companies, Midway, the Viva Cuba Garden, and the small Phillips 66 station. In the upper left, you can see the industrial park and the school across Hwy. 19.


Route 66 Cuba, Missouri

This is Route 66 (Washington) looking east. The photo also shows the Railroad that runs parallel to Route 66. Both Route 66 and the railroad were important to Cuba's development. You can find the 4-way again, Mid-State Lumber, the Washington Street Peoples Bank, Frisco's, and other local businesses. In the left corner you can see the apple mural and the mural on Hayes Shoe Store.


Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri

This is Route 66 running looking west.

This photos will become part of Cuba’s history and will freeze our development for future generations to see. The prints made from the image of Ray Harvey’s painting will debut at Route Cuba Fest 2012. More details of this offering will be presented when the painting is completed.

To see a previous aerial of the Fanning area go here.

Cuba Airport Mosby Field Cuba MO

Billy Connolly book draws tourists to Cuba (MO) and U.S.

Billy Connolly's Route 66 in Cuba, MO

Billy Connolly's documentary on Route 66 for the British TV, the resulting DVD, and his book have all fueled interest in Route 66 travel.

Rocker sitting and turkey hunting in the Missouri Ozarks

While in Cuba staying at the Wagon Wheel Motel, Connolly made a trip to the Guinness World's Rocking Chair, where he met Danny and Carolyn Sanazaro, owners of the famous rocker. Above, you see Connolly on the rocker and preparing for his turkey hunt with the twins.

Although Scottish actor, comedian, musician Billy Connolly’s book on his trip down Route 66 is not a travel guide as such, it is credited with creating an increase in British tourism on Route 66. According to a May 6 article in the Scottish Daily Record by Toby McDonald, “Travel specialists say bookings have shot up by 30 per cent since Billy’s four-part series was shown on ITV1 earlier this year.” Cuba, Missouri has benefitted from some of that interest.

The book does not say much about hotels, specifics about the roadway, or places to dine as such, but it does chronicle details about American history and Connolly’s interaction with people on the route who he thought were interesting. For example, by reading the book I found that gangster Al Capone donated $1,000,000,000 to buy milk for poor children during the depression.

Connolly was in Cuba, Missouri during his road trip on Route 66. He stayed at the Wagon Wheel Motel and parked his 3-wheeler bike under the Wagon Wheel’s bike shelter.

Billy Connolly trike Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba, Missouri

The road must have been pretty close to the trike as Connolly cruised 66.

Billy Connolly at the Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba, Missouri

Connolly and his crew stayed at the Historic Landmark Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba.

Motel owner Connie Echols, who purchased and restored the motel in 2009, stated,” European tourists are very interested in Connolly’s stay at the Wagon Wheel and like to see his signature in the motel’s guest book.”

Billy Connolly's signature in the Wagon Wheel Motel's Guest Book

Connolly's signature in the Wagon Wheel guest book draws interest.

Billy Connolly's film crew setting up a shot in Cuba, Missouri

Connolly's film crew set up a shot on Route 66 with a mural in the background.

However, what really attracted Connolly’s interest was the giant rocker at the Fanning US 66 Outpost General Store, about 4 miles west of Cuba. That’s where he struck up an acquaintance with Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro, who own the store and the rocker. They hit it off so well, that the Sanazaro’s invited Connolly and the crew to their rural Cuba home that overlooks the river. Their family BBQed  for Connolly’s group and shared many laughs. Carolyn’s twin sister Cheri was there, and when the two women invited him to go on a turkey hunt with them the next day, Connolly was in. According to the book, he was relieved that they didn’t get a turkey, but he enjoyed his time with the Sanazaros and the two fun-loving twins. This time is chronicled in the documentary and in his book.

Carolyn Sanazaro stated, “Tourists stop by all the time to see what Billy talks about in his book. They want to see the rocker and talk about the turkey hunt. Many of them are following his travels along Route 66.” Because of the interest, Sanazaro is going to frame photos that were taken when Connolly visited them and hang them in the general store for the tourists to see. There is also a copy of Connolly’s book on the store counter. Many tourists have a copy of the book with them as they travel.

The novels The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and On the Road by Jack Kerouac, the Route 66 TV series from the 60s, and the Cars movies created a desire for international tourists to visit the US and Route 66. It seems that Connolly’s book is now adding to those flames of desire for the ultimate American road trip.

For more on Connolly’s visit to Cuba, read “6 Reasons why actor Billy Connolly will remember Rt. 66 in Cuba, Missouri.”

Buy Billy Connolly’s Route 66 on Amazon.



Cuba MO fourth graders step into history

Cuba school bus on a mural tour

Viva Cuba members took the fourth graders on their annual mural tour.

One of Viva Cuba‘s objectives with the mural project is that the murals are used to teach Cuba’s young people local, Missouri, and national history.  We like to say that every mural has a story, and we like to tell those stories to Cuba’s kids. We provide 4th grade students with a mural curriculum on each of the murals along with a little information on the general history of Cuba, Route 66, the railroad, and other pertinent topics.

The fourth graders study the mural curriculum and Missouri history during Missouri History Month in May. They always ask us to give a mural tour for the students, and we are glad to do it. We board their school bus and give two tours to accommodate all the fourth graders. We always ask questions and are happy to see arms waving in the air with answers. The students, their teachers, and their parents should be congratulated on the students’  knowledge. We know it takes a combined effort to teach history. As part of their Missouri History Month the students also build exhibits of local and state historical importance. Since you weren’t lucky enough to share this experience with us, we would like to show a few of the exhibits and scenes from our tour.

Rows of fourth graders during the tour of the Cuba MO murals

Rows of fourth graders gave their attention to Viva Cuba member Jill Barnett. Dale Grubaugh, a former Cuba student himself, drove the bus.

Scenes for a murals tour for the fourth graders

As the group drives the streets of Cuba, Viva Cuba members stress the importance of the railroad and Route 66 to the development of Cuba.

Jesse James and Meramec Cave

The story of outlaw Jesse James and his connection to Meramec Caverns is a popular story.

Amelia Earhart mural on the side of Ryles Car Wash Cuba, Missouri

Students use the murals as a focus for their exhibits. This is the Amelia Earhart mural. This year, Viva Cuba member Jill Barnett dressed like Amelia Earhart to give her 1st person version of her life.

Stan Musial and Cardinal exhibit in Cuba, Missouri

Stan Musial is an important part of Missouri's sports history.

World's Largest Rocking Chair Fanning, Missouri

Students visit the World's Largest Rocking Chair to get information about our famous rocker. Some have even run in Cuba's 4-mile Route 66 Race to the Rocker held in the early spring.

Guinness World's Largest Rocking Chair Fanning, MO

Teachers say that students are fascinated by the rocking chair. Steamboats and log cabins played their parts in Missouri history too.

Onondaga Cave Missouri Attraction

Onondaga Cave, a local attraction with geological importance, isn't overlooked.

Early settler exhibit

There were many log cabins showing the days of the early settlers--and their animals.

Logging in Missouri

Logging in Missouri and Crawford County has always been and still is important to the local economy. A trip by McGinnis Wood Products shows reserves of Missouri white oat to be made into barrels for shipment all over the world.

Missouri snakes

A knowledge of Missouri snakes is a useful piece of information.

Missouri Trout Parks

And with Meramec Springs so close, let's not forget the trout parks.

By now you should have the idea that Cuba fourth graders are hands-on and knee-deep in local history. Another important aspect of their Missouri History is ex-fourth grader Chip Lange’s presentation on the Civil War in Missouri as it is shown in the Cuba, MO murals. This year Chip was only able to talk to one of the fourth grade classes as there were scheduling conflicts during his brief time at home. A college graduate, he is now attending Physicians Assistant school in Toledo, Ohio. Check out this brief  blog to see photos of Chip with the fourth graders during last year’s presentation and get a snippet of his connection with the Civil War and Cuba’s murals.

So if someone asks you if you are smarter than one of Cuba’s fourth graders, you might say “probably not.”

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