Viva Cuba’s blog started in April 2009. With the idea that some of our newer readers may have missed a few noteworthy blogs, we occasionally feature a past blog. This one explores the idea of how many Cubas there are in the United States. Some googling and research showed that there are 9. Of course, we like to think that none are as unique as our Cuba, but you will find that some of the “other” Cuba’s also have their claims to fame.
Check out “How many Cubas are there in the US?”
If travel opened up to the island of Cuba, would you go? Some of our local Cubans have already been there. Read “Cuba, No Castro…Now and then…” to hear the story of a very special senior trip and other interesting anecdotes about our connection to the island of Cuba. The Senior Class of 1952 started their trip to Cuba by bus by way of Steelville, Missouri. You would probably pick a different method today.
Personally, if travel opened up to the island of Cuba, I would like to be one of the first ones there. I would like to set foot on Cuba, hold up a sign that says “I’m from Cuba, Missouri,” and have Anderson Cooper of CNN interview me. I am sure he would get there first.
Even though the Fanning US 66 General Store is only 4 miles west of Cuba, Missouri on Route 66, the sign “90 Miles to Cuba” seems to be indicating a different Cuba.
How Cuba was named: *Before Cuba was founded, there was a small post office to the west of where Cuba is now. It was named Amanda for the postmaster George M. Jamison’s wife. Then, anticipating the railroad, two men Trask and Ferguson surveyed a town along where the future railroad would be. The responsibility for naming the town is said to have belonged to George Jamison and Wesley Smith. Smith suggested the name Cuba as a show of support for Cuban citizens, who were then under Spain’s rule. Others said it was because citizens had visited the beautiful island of Cuba. Jamison wanted to name the town for his wife Amanda. Legend says that they stood a stick on end, and they let it fall. How the stick fell determined the name of the town. Even though the new town was named Cuba, Amanda was not forgotten. During the 2007 celebration of Cuba’s sesquicentennial, the town celebrated “Amanda Days” with music, contests, food, and other activities.
The 2014 Route 66 Cuba Fest Chili Cook-Off is revin’ its engines for take off. Plan to cruise in for a pit stop for some Hot Rod Chili as some of Cuba’s car enthusiasts vie for the title of Champion Chili Cooker. Who will run off with the title this year and receive the silver ladle? Be there to participate and vote for your favorite in the home stretch.
Events will take place on N. Smith Street in the Recklein Commons area. The 5K run begins at 8:00 am on Saturday, and other festivities begin at 9:00. See Route 66 Cuba Fest on Facebook for more details and Cuba MO Murals & More on Facebook.]]>
On Sunday, October 19 form 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm, Viva Cuba once again stages its popular Cemetery Tour: Tales from the Past. A vintage-style trolley will pick up tourers outside the Catholic Church in the Recklein Commons area. The tours are free although donations are accepted.
Tourers will ride to the Kinder Cemetery, on the west edge of town, where costumed characters from Cuba’s past will board the trolley to tell of what it was like “back in the day” and provide details from their own lives in a heartfelt and sometimes humorous way. This year historical figure Will Delano conducts the trolley tour and relates details from his life and points out a few of Cuba’s historical homes on the way to Kinder. Delano took part in the California Gold Rush and did a bit of wandering before reaching Cuba, so his experiences are wide-ranging.
One character who will board the trolley at Kinder Cemetery is Charles Isadore Neron, who fought in the French Revolution. Through a series of events he ended up homesteading in the Prairie Valley creek bottom outside of Cuba. He tells of his exploits and those of his children and grandchildren, one who didn’t marry until the age of 83!
Dr. Solomon Horine, besides being a trained dentist and a farmer, also organized the Wild Rose School. Later, his family settled a couple of miles north of Steelville, and he set up a dentist office although he often had to travel on horseback or by buggy to see people who needed his services. He sometimes stayed over night in his clients’ homes, which brought about some interesting experiences. He served the people of Crawford County for many years.
Amanda Jamison was the postmaster’s wife at the post office that was named for her west of where Cuba is now located although there was no town named Cuba then. When Mr. Jamison and others heard that the train was going to come through the area, they planned a town to be located along the rails. Although Jamison tried to get the town named Amanda, it didn’t roll, and Amanda sets us straight on that injustice!
Two more characters Reverand Jacob Newton Manes and his daughter Rose Caldonia board the train to deal with the sinners aboard. Manes was a Baptist circuit rider, and he preaches against sin while engaged in a running commentary with his daughter Rose who sometimes accompanied him as he ministered to his flock. A little hymn singing is in order here.
Two sisters Helen and Ursula Gunn worked the switchboard at Cuba’s telephone exchange. Their high-necked, long-sleeved blouses and long skirts were signature outfits for the two. Talk about knowing the heart of the town, they knew that and a “little more.” With humor and heart the sisters tell of their days on the exchange.
The Cemetery Tour is part of the 2-day Route 66 Cuba Fest that is jam packed with family fun, a 5K Mural City race, music, crafts, mural tours on the Saturday trolley, a chili cook-off on Saturday, apple butter making, food vendors, a spirits tent, and more. This year The Route 66 Road Crew band will set your toes a tapping at Belmont Winery & Bistro starting Saturday at 5:00 pm. Bob’s Gasoline Alley will also be open during select hours: The updated hours at Bob’s Gasoline Alley during Cuba Fest will be Saturday noon-4:00 pm and Sunday noon-3:00 pm. The fee is $3.00. If you have never seen it, don’t miss this unique venue.
View Route 66 Cuba Fest’s Facebook page for more photos and details.
Join us for a good time in Cuba, MO “Route 66 Mural City.”
Save this Date!
In 2014, the official Route 66 Cuba Fest is Saturday and Sunday October 18-19. This year there is a bonus with pre-Cuba Fest activities of a Cruise-in and bonfire planned at the historic landmark Wagon Wheel Motel on Friday, October 17. And Saturday night the Route 66 Road Crew band will be rocking Belmont Winery, with the Tri-C Club running the gate. As details are ironed out, there will be more announcements to look forward to.
In 2014, Bob’s Gasoline Alley will be open to display an amazing private collection of nostalgic memorabilia. The updated hours at Bob’s Gasoline Alley during Cuba Fest will be Saturday noon-4:00 pm and Sunday noon-3:00 pm. The fee is $3.00.
Cuba Fest under various names, etc. has been in existence since Marie Marr started it in 1961 as the Cuba Art Show. It helps keep us town-strong as it is part of our small town culture.
Three reasons that you should support this yearly community event and help us stay town-strong.
1. There are activities for the entire family and your whole family can attend it together. There are events and contests for everyone. Take part in an event if you can.
2. Your neighbors and community groups have worked hard to organize this event, and they often pour any money that they make back into their community. They also bring tourists to town for the event, which, in turn, brings extra dollars to Cuba.
3. It is festivals like this and the September Car Show, the Fair, the Route 66 Race to the Rocker, the Picture at the Rocker Day, & other annual events that make our town unique and give us a sense of place. These are the things that will form your children’s memories about their hometown.
Three ways to show your support for Cuba Fest and other major community events
1. Attend. You may not spend a lot of money, but that is ok too. It doesn’t cost anything to walk around, talk to people, and be part of the event. You can still visit the History Museum, see performances, watch events, ride the trolley, view the crafts, and get a sense of community. It’s a great event for someone on a limited income.
2. Buy something if you can. See if there is a small item that you can purchase from the crafters: a decorative item, jewelry, honey, apple butter? It might make a great gift for a birthday or Christmas. We always say Shop Local when you can.
3. Don’t schedule major events that conflict with Cuba Fest and other community events so that people don’t have to make a choice. We know that a favorite team may have games on Cuba Fest weekend, but we are only talking about the events that you can control.
Tri-C Club organizes the event although the Cuba Arts Council is in charge of food vendors. Other groups and organizations have booths where they can raise a little money for their needs. Some booths such as the Cuba Chamber or the Route 66 Association of Missouri are mainly informational although they may sponsor an event or sell their organization’s products.
Viva Cuba operates the narrated mural trolley tours on Saturday and the Sunday Cemetery trolley tours where you can meet some of Cuba’s historical characters. Our annual Chili Cook-off is Saturday.
We hope you mark your calendars for Cuba Fest the third weekend of October. You can smell the open fire where the Apple Butter bubbles. And what historic characters will “come to life” in Kinder Cemetery. The trolley bells will ring, and there will be singing and dancing as Cuba stays town-strong.]]>
March 22, 2014, (9:00 am Rain or Shine) creates race fever as the community prepares for a yearly event that brings out hundreds for the four-mile race that shuts down both lanes of Route 66 and raises 1000s for the fitness of Cuba kids. Last year, the 6th annual Route 66 Race to the Rocker brought in over $20,000 for Cuba’s kids. Close to 1000 racers pounded the Route 66 pavement .
The race begins in Cuba, MO’s historic mural district in front of 3rd Generation Salon and ends at the site of the World’s Largest Rocking Chair at the Fanning Route 66 Outpost General Store. The race is unique for its Route 66 route and its finish line. The goal for every participant of whatever age is to make that last bend of the race and see the massive rocker on the horizon.
Hayes Shoe Store has a rush for new tennis shoes. The walkers and runners hit the street in preparation for the race. All ages take part. The oldest runner was eighty and the youngest only one. Yes, you can use a stroller if you stay toward the back when the race starts.
The organizing group JOG,inc. and Race Director Brad Austin begin planning the next year’s race as soon as the current one is over. Committees form to take care of the myriad of details involved in the Friday night Expo and Spaghetti Dinner. The Saturday race must be well-organized and coordinated with Big River Running. Registration has to flow smoothly.
The race also garners attention for the town. Rural Missouri Magazine featured the Rocker on its cover and profiled the town on the inside cover of its March issue. Jim McCarty’s photo of the rocker is enough to make other racees green with envy.
AAA’s March/April Midwest Traveler Magazine also covered the race and our town in its article “Show Me the Mother Road” by Deborah Reinhardt.
In her article Reinhardt has this to say about Cuba:
A short drive west from Stanton brings you to Cuba, an interesting town with an impressive collection of outdoor murals, some devoted to Route 66. If you’re in town on March 22, you’ll likely see runners participating in the annual Race to the Rocker. The world’s largest rocking chair–according to the Guinness Book of World Records–is in Cuba. You’ll also find the restored Wagon Wheel Motel, 901 E. Washington. Several restaurants, including Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q, are in town and well worth sampling.
The Cuba Free Press began running a series of articles in February that profiled some of the racers and how the race has changed them. Jane Parres’ story in a recent article is just one of many that have inspired the community. Another article discussed how the race has become a community event. One of the participants stated:
There are many stories of personal triumph behind each race, and the race has changed lives. And I am proud to say that the last person in the race is celebrated and applauded as well as the winners of the race. Whatever the weather, whatever a person’s time and placement, we are all winners at the Route 66 Race to the Rocker.
Whether the race is inspiring, helps the economy, or adds to our fitness, it’s also fun and brings visitors and locals together. The end of the race at the Rocker is a social occasion. After the photos are taken and awards given, many go out for lunch at local restaurants, photograph the murals, or visit the winery to listen to music. Many wear their race shirts with the distinctive rocker. It’s fun, it’s our race, and we rock it.
What do Cuba, Missouri and Riverside, California have in common? Both towns enjoyed visits from two famous women, Amelia Earhart and Bette Davis.
Earhart and Davis are depicted on large outdoor murals along the Route 66 corridor, commemorating their stopovers in Cuba, Missouri.
Earhart made an emergency landing in a field near Cuba, Missouri on September 4, 1928. Finding no damage to her plane, she continued her journey to Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The Mission Inn, a beautiful hotel in Riverside, California boasts two noteworthy pictures of the celebrities that can be seen at the Mission Inn Museum.
The first picture shows DeWitt Hutchings, son-in-law of the builder of the Mission Inn Frank Miller, visiting with Amelia Earhart and the Mission’s pet macaws, Joseph and Napoleon on February 3, 1936. She was honored in a ceremony held at the Mission Inn. The following year, in 1937, Earhart, along with her navigator vanished over the Pacific Ocean when they attempted the first flight around the world.
Just as Cuba does, the Mission Inn Museum provides a lesson plan for local students on the famed aviatrix. Their lesson plans are for third graders while Viva Cuba’s are for fourth graders to coincide with their spring Missouri History Month. View one of our resulting fourth grader mural tours here. You will see Cuba’s version of Amelia Earhart.
Both communities also have a connection to the famed Academy Award winning actress Bette Davis.
Actress Bette Davis, whose real name was Ruth Elizabeth Davis, was married on November 30, 1945, to William Grant Sherry in the St. Francis Chapel at the Mission Inn. View more about it on the museum’s website.
Three years later, in 1948, she visited Cuba, Missouri where she dined at the Southern Hotel. Read about it here. Her visit is depicted in a mural on the Cuba Free Press building along Route 66.
Yes, it’s a small world. If you haven’t visited Cuba, stop by sometime and visit. And bring your camera.
Cuba, Missouri is proud of its history, its development, and its art. Viva Cuba sometimes boasts that we are a community where “Art Meets History.”
All of that’s still true, but Viva Cuba has also embraced technology and social media. In addition to this website and blog, we are on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Viva Cuba re-designed its website since its 2009 beginning with a mobile friendly interface in mind.
On this blog, which is part of our website, we have over 376 posts about people, places, and events concerning Cuba. Many deal with Cuba’s history and heritage. Our posts always contain photos and graphics, so you can not only read about our heritage, you can see it as well.
Viva Cuba’s Facebook page Cuba, MO Murals & More contains 100s of photos about the activities and scenes of Cuba, MO. Our Facebook posts also update to our Twitter account.
Our Pinterest site contains 11 boards and over 500 pins/photos.
You can find videos about the Cuba murals and our community on You Tube.
Viva Cuba’s future plans include placing QR codes on each of the murals. The codes will open with online information and a map to each mural.
Of course, the best way to experience Cuba, Missouri is in person–and bring a camera.
Time does not stand still, and neither do we. We say, “Cuba is a small town (pop 3400) with big ideas.” Stay tuned.
Cuba High School senior Kenzie DeRennaux‘s photo Welcome to the Mural City captured the first place position in Viva Cuba’s Our Town Photo Contest, which was open to high schoolers in the Crawford County R-II school district. The bright fall day and treescape perspective added color to her photo of one of Cuba’s welcome signs.
Students were instructed to shoot within the city limits and look at what makes our town unique.
Second place went to junior Tyler Fieser and his photo Water Tower Town, which captured the Cuba water tower on a blue sky, white fluffy cloud day. During World War II, a young soldier from Cuba George Smith sent his wife a postcard of the Eiffel Tower. On the card, he said that he would rather see the Cuba Water Tower than the Eiffel Tower. We think that he would approve of this photo.
Kenneth Highley Jr., a high school junior, took 3rd place with his photo Been Here Forever, which features the railroad trestle and its date of 1934. Cuba originally grew up around the railroad, which was key to its early development.
Viva Cuba thanks the young photographers who submitted photographs and Cuba High School teacher Suzanne Bouse who helped coordinate the contest. We also appreciate the work of our independent judges who selected the winners.
We hope the contest will spur Cuba’s citizens to think of the many elements that make Cuba, MO stand out from other small towns. What would you choose to photograph for a slice of Cuba?
For the second year, Viva Cuba is offering our nostalgic Christmas over Route 66 Cuba, Missouri print. The print was warmly received last year, and Cuba citizens and collectors purchased many prints as gifts and for their homes.
Last year the original Ray Harvey painting was on display in Peoples Bank. But for only $20, prints can be purchased at the Hwy. 19 Peoples Bank. You can order the print online here for $20. and a small shipping fee. Our elves are standing by to get your print in the mail for you.
Wherever you are, keep a little piece of a Cuba Christmas next to your heart.
Tri-C’s Cuba Fest 2013 allows Cuba, MO to bring together a variety of family music, food, crafts, and entertainment for both its local citizens and visitors to enjoy. Each year Viva Cuba, our community betterment and beautification group, plans several activities as their contribution to the community fun.
Here’s a preview of what we have in store this year:
*On Saturday, there are free narrated tours of the murals, where riders on the vintage trolley hear the stories behind the murals.
*On Sunday there is the much in demand Cemetery Tour, Echoes from the Past. At Kinder Cemetery, characters from the past, dressed in period costumes, walk to meet the trolley and tell their stories. This year, you will meet the following:
Albert U. Farrow was Cuba’s first mayor and a Postmaster of Cuba.
Budge Gunn opened graves for area funeral homes for over 45 years. He was also a talented carpenter and brick layer.
Hattie Holsinger Nichols was way ahead of her time. She was a druggist from 1915 on at the Meramec Drug Store, which was a popular gathering spot for young people.
Sue Wood, daughter of John Fanning, tells of a Civil War era wedding gone astray that ended in a party anyway, but abruptly broke up when Confederate General Sterling Price showed up on the scene with chaos in mind.
Hiram Pinnell, one of the first local settlers, fought in the Battle of 1812 and was granted 640 acres of land along Brush Creek, where he settled with Indians for neighbors.
George “Cad” Spencer‘s father purchased a farm in Cuba on Maple Shade Road, now known as the Fleenor Place. You will never guess which famous outlaw made the Spencer place a regular stop when he was in the area. Spencer was also a finish carpenter who worked on the Fabulous Fox Theater and buildings for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
…and maybe a few surprises.
*Viva Cuba’s Annual Chili Cook-off
The 23rd Annual Chili Cookoff is called Who Can Make the Best Better Chili because area 4-H Clubs will vie for the best chili. The clubs who are putting their best chili forward are the following: Blue Ribbon Kids 4-H Club, Rocky Hills 4-H, Forest Hill 4-H, Lone Star 4-H, Prairie 4-H, Crossroads 4-H, and the Oak Hill 4-H. The kids are selling tickets and planning their chili for the “Silver Ladle” prize.
And for a little trivia, do you know who won the very first Chili Cook-off? And what was the year?
*You can purchase Viva Cuba items, the monies which will be used to support our projects.
*Viva Cuba T-shirts with scenes of the murals
*Our Christmas over Route 66 Cuba, Missouri 18 X 24 inch print
* Our new Cuba Route 66 Mural City Patch
To borrow a phrase from our 4-H friends, Viva Cuba is trying to make the Better, Best for you in 2013 at Cuba Fest. Join us at this year’s Cuba Fest for a whole lot of family fun. Many more clubs and organizations are also doing their best to give you a good time.