A New Chapter in the Gold Star Boys Mural: The rest of the story

Gold Star Boys Route 66

Follow the rest of the story of the Gold Star Boys mural.

The Gold Star Boys mural was painted right after 9/11/2001. It pictures the faces of six young men from the Cuba Area who fought in WWII and did not return to their families. The families received the Gold Star Medal that was given to families who lost a relative to war.  The mural was well received and makes quite a presence on Filmore Street on Route 66 in Cuba.

What we thought…

But then we found out that there was more to the story. In the red part of the mural the names of the six young men are inscribed along with the location where they died during the war. Ralph Fishwick lost his life in the line of duty on a return convoy off the coast of Africa on December 2, 1942. We thought. Read on for the rest of the story.

What was revealed…

Ralph Fishwick was born in Cuba in 1912  and on his father’s side of the family was a member of one of the early families of Cuba that was involved in mercantile and banking. On his mother’s side of the family, he was related to the Bishs. In 1930, after he graduated from Cuba High School, he wanted to join the Navy. He was told that his eyes were bad and turned down. He was told to do eye exercises if he wanted to try again. After faithfully doing the exercises, he was accepted and began his first tour of duty. Shortly after that, his eyes worsened, and he started wearing glasses.

There was more to the story of Ralph Fishwick's death.

Ralph Fishwick did not die off the coast of Africa as originally reported to his family.

In the Navy he received training to become an electrician. After his tour of duty, he returned to Cuba. When World War II broke out, Fishwick reenlisted.  When his convoy went down off the coast of Africa, his family was notified that he lost his life on December 2,1942. When Viva Cuba researched the mural and found an early VFW publication, this story along with a photo was used in the designing of the mural.  But that was not the end of the story.

About 20 years ago, Mr. Fishwick’s niece Carol contacted the Defense Department after discovering that certain papers about his death had been declassified. What his niece found out, was quite different from what the family had been led to believe.

Mr. Fishwick had died when his small boat was hit by a mine or perhaps even hit by a German submarine off the East coast of the United States. As a matter of national security, the United States government didn’t want anyone to know that an enemy submarine could be that close to an American coast. So the story was changed when the families were notified.

Ralph Fishwick’s body along with 14 others was discovered on May 8, 1943. At that time, the real location was given. The cold waters of the Atlantic had kept their bodies perfectly preserved. He was brought back and buried in Kinder Cemetery alongside many members of the Fishwick and Bish families.

The article below was in the 1943 Cuba Review:

The Cuba Review reported that the body of Ralph Fishwick was returned to his family.

The Cuba Review reported that the body of Ralph Fishwick was returned to his family.

The Cuba Review also reported the full military funeral  given to Mr. Fishwick.

Ralph Fishwick was given a  military funeral in 1943.

Ralph Fishwick was given a military funeral in 1943.

We remember…

Because Mr. Fishwick died while he was in the service, he is known as a Gold Star Boy. A Gold Star pin was given to his mother, showing that she had lost a son.  It was worn with pride but also with a sense of loss and sadness. When the mural featuring Fishwick was painted, his brother Bob felt pride that his brother was included in the remembrance.

So the next time, that you are in the area of the mural on Filmore St., stop and pay tribute to all Cuba’s brave young men who are pictured in the mural. You will also find their names with a star by them etched on the Veterans Memorial on N. Smith Street in the Recklein Commons area.

And that’s the rest of the story.

For more info on the Gold Star Boys mural:



Route 66 and the Gold Star Boys mural

The Gold Star mural is just off Route 66 in Cuba, MO.

Ralph Fishwick sacrificed his life for his country.

Ralph Fishwick spent two tours of service in defense of his country.

Ralph Fishwick gravestone

Ralph Fishwick’s gravestone rests is in the Kinder Cemetery on the west end of Cuba, Missouri

A version of this story was printed in a Cuba Free Press article.




We are wishing you a cool Christmas in Cuba, MO in 2012

We are hanging out the wreaths in Cuba, Missouri

Cuba, Missouri is ready for a “cool” Christmas season: the tree, the Christmas print, the History Museum, the parade, the lighting contest, the rocker, and more…

The Tree

Cuba, MO “Route 66 Mural City” has the “coolest” Christmas tree on Route 66. This blog entry from last year shows the tree during its first year that Chris Palmer created it. This year Chris has designed the condenser to look like a gift box under the tree, and he has refined his lighting system. It is located on Route 66/W. Washington. Take your camera for a family picture in front of the “coolest tree on Route 66.” Let’s see how many of those we can get on Facebook showing the location of the “coolest” tree on Route 66.

Chris Palmer's innovative Christmas tree made from AC coils

Some of our Cuba neighbors are innovative. Chris Palmer figured out how to use an air conditioner and coils to make this unique Christmas tree that he lit and displayed in the historic area for the first time in 2011. What will Chris dream up for 2012?

The History Museum at Christmas

Cuba’s History Museum’s special holiday artifacts and displays offer a festive glance at our history.

Cuba, MO History Museum 2012 Christmas

Check the History Museum’s website for updates and new info.

The Parade & Santa

If you need a little small town Christmas parade footage to go with the tree coverage, the Cuba Chamber of Commerce will have its Christmas Parade on December 8 starting at 6 pm. The parade begins at the historic landmark Wagon Wheel Motel on Route 66 and continues down Route 66 to Smith Street where it loops around to the Lions Den on Buchanan Street where Santa will be greeting the kids. This will be another photo opportunity. While at the Wagon Wheel Motel grounds, check out the vintage Nativity Scene that has been used at the historic motel since the 1960s.

Nativity scene at the Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba, Mo

The vintage Nativity Scene at the historic Wagon Wheel Motel has been used since the 1960s.

Cuba’s First Christmas Painting & Print

This is also the first year that Cuba has had its own nostalgic Christmas Over Route 66 Cuba, Missouri painting and prints. The Hwy 19 Peoples Bank will display the original painting during the Christmas season. Prints can be purchased at the bank or at Spirals Art Gallery on Route 66/East Washington, next to the East Office Bar & Grill. To see the genesis and evolution of the print, read this blog entry.

Cuba Christmas painting & prints at the Highway 19 Peoples Bank

Stop off at the Highway Peoples Bank to see the original Christmas Over Route 66 Cuba, Missouri painting. Drop off some canned goods for the Cuba Food Pantry.

Santa & the Christmas Over Route 66 Print

Santa poses with the Christmas Over Route 66 Cuba, Missouri print. Look for his key to the ’57 Sleigh.

The World’s Largest Rocking Chair at Christmas

You might want to drive 4-miles to the Guinness World’s Greatest Rocking Chair at Fanning to get a photo with the festive red & green seasonal lighting.

World's Largest Rocker at Christmas

The Guinness World’s Largest Rocking Chair on Route 66 lights up the night in seasonal colors.

The Lighting Contest

The Cuba Chamber of Commerce Lighting Contest is also in progress, so you might see some great light displays in some of our neighborhoods or at some local businesses.

Christmas lights in the Viva Cuba Garden

The Christmas lights are lit in the Viva Cuba Garden on Route 66.

Our Churches

Many churches and organizations in Cuba are also having special services and programs during the Christmas Season. Below are some events of the Cuba Ministerial Alliance that we borrowed from a Cuba Methodist Church listing. People who receive a food basket need to sign up with the Ministerial Alliance ahead of time and attend the service on Dec. 12.  Please feel free to post other church activities that are occurring in Cuba. Christmas is truly a season of giving, and we urge everyone to look to those in need, whether it is a gift tree for the children or our furry friends at the Cuba Animal Control facility. Or perhaps you know of a special family or situation that could use a little help this Christmas. Cuba is a giving town, and it goes into overdrive at Christmas.

Cuba Ministerial Alliance Christmas Schedule 2012

We borrowed the Cuba Ministerial Alliance Schedule from the Methodists, but many area churches participate in these events. Feel free to list your Christmas programs and services in the comments section of this post. People who receive a food basket from the Alliance need to sign up for one ahead of time and attend the Dec. 12 service.

We would be glad to have you enjoy Cuba during the Christmas season and view our new Christmas print, have a meal at a local restaurant, take a night drive by the murals, see our unique tree and rocker, and attend some of our Christmas events. You are welcome in the Mural City the year round.

Hayes Shoe Store at Christmas

Hayes Shoe Store always prepares a Christmas display.

The Garden and the Phillips 66 Station

Enjoy a drive through Cuba on Route 66 to see the murals at night and the Christmas lights.

Check the Cuba Free Press and the Cuba, Missouri Chamber of Commerce website for updated info area Christmas events.

Hot Rods & Cool rides in Cuba, Missouri

Hot Rod Power Tour 2012 Midwest Travel Plaza  Exit 208

A few of the Power Tour cars gathered in the Midwest Travel Plaza parking lot.

Last night we received a tip from car buff Jerry McLain that the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour of classic cars would be traveling down Highway 19 to I-44 Exit 208 where they would turn right and travel west. Thousands of cars were expected to make the trip, and they were  expected in Cuba between 10:00-10:30 am.

Around 7:30 am on Wednesday, while on an errand, I started seeing some of the cars at the Huddle House, Super 8, and the Midwest Travel Plaza. I stopped to take some photos and talked to some of the tourers. One driver told me that they were part of the early wave and that cars would go by for several hours.  The tour directed them to I-44, but  a few of the cars made it into Cuba.  We are use to classic cars traveling Route 66, but not as many come to Cuba from Hwy. 19, so this was a treat.

A Huddle House breakfast for the Hot Rod Power Tour

We saw these beauties at Huddle House.

Country Kitchen Cuba MO cars

Some of the drivers stopped off for breakfast at the Country Kitchen.

Super 8 Cuba MO cool car

Super 8 had this cool ride and a few motorcycles.

Classic Truck on Hwy 19 Cuba Mo

Even a few trucks made their way into Cuba.

Spyder Huddle House Cuba MO

A couple of spyders were in town too. This one was from Ohio and his driver caught breakfast at Huddle House.

Then I ran into these guys who were huddled around a map on their car while I was taking photos. I heard them say ZZ, so I asked them if they were looking for ZZ? They said yes, and so I told them how to get to Washington Street, which was also Route 66 and then ZZ. While giving directions, I mentioned the restored Phillips 66 station at the 4-way, and their eyes lit up. One man said, “That’s what we are looking for.” It seems that this group from North Carolina wanted to get off I-44 and see some attractions. They ended up going into Cuba to take photos and visit the Wagon Wheel Motel, the Phillips station, murals, and when I left them they were going to look at rooms at the Wagon Wheel with the idea of bringing their car club back to Cuba. They were also planning a trip to the rocker. Below are some photos of their cars and a few other scenes in town. Too bad more of the drivers didn’t realize what they were missing as they traveled down I-44. We enjoyed seeing them in Cuba.

Looking for Route 66 Cuba MO

These smart drivers wanted to get off the interstate for a more scenic drive. Our conversation took them into Cuba.

Restored Phillips 66 Station in Cuba, MO on Route 66

The drivers appreciated the Phillips 66 Station, owned by Wallis Companies.

Vintage Phillips 66 Station Cuba MO

This scene is a blast from the past.

Amelia Earhart Mural Cuba Mo

The tourers took some photos with the murals.

Shelly's Route 66 Cafe Cuba MO

A few cars stopped at Shelly's Route 66 Cafe.

Wagon Wheel Motel Hot Rod Power Tour Cuba MO

Some of the tour members checked out the rooms at the Wagon Wheel Motel with the idea of returning for a car club cruise.

Spyder at Frisco's Cuba Mo

This spyder driver returned to Cuba and was lunching at Frisco's. His group had been in town for Spyderfest.


Hot Rod Power Tour 2012

scenes from around town during the Power Tour

For more on the Hot Rod Power Tour go here.

It’s the green season…A.J. Barnett turns green for St. Pat’s

AJ Barnett mural turns green...Cuba, MO

A.J. Barnett probably never imagined that he would have a mural on a wall, much less that he would be pictured in a "green" version.

Cuba, Mo  With a little computer technology, Viva Cuba’s very first mural has joined the green season, just in time for St. Pat’s Day. The subject of this mural, Mr. A.J. Barnett probably never realized that he would be the subject of a mural or that he would someday be portrayed as green.

Who was Mr. Barnett, that Peoples Bank would sponsor this mural to recognize the 100th Anniversary of its bank?

A.J. Barnett, the first cashier and President of Peoples Bank from 1920-1959, was mayor of Cuba for ten years. The first city lighting system was installed during his first term in 1922.

The mural shows him cranking the first Model T Ford in Cuba, which Barnett owned.  In the car, left to right are Katie Hunter, Billy Jackson, and A. J.’s  children James and Mildred Barnett.  The building in the mural at the SW corner of Smith and Washington was the site of the bank in the early 1900s. Barnett also owned Barnett Motor Company, one of the first garages in Cuba.

Early 1900s Peoples Bank Cuba MO

This distinctive corner entrance of an early bank building has a presence in the mural. The building is located on the corner of Route 66 and Smith Street.

A.J. Barnett cranking his Model T in Cuba, Missouri

This photograph was an inspiration for the mural.

Barnett Motor Company Cuba, Missouri

The Barnett Motor Company grew with the growth of Ford cars.

 Car clubs that travel through Cuba sometimes pose their cars in front of the mural, and there are classic cars in front of the mural during the September Lions Club Car Show.

Austin 7s from the UK

These Austin 7s came from the UK. These cars look a good deal like the old model T that A.J. Barnett drove. The mural is just off Route 66 on Buchanan St.

Although we are having a little fun with this “green version” of the photo, let’s pause to think of the many town leaders who made their contribution to Cuba and  do our part to continue to make it a good place to work, live, and do business.

AJ:Model T Mural & Trolley Cuba Mo

Come to Cuba the 3rd weekend of October during Cuba Fest for a free, narrated trolley tour about all of Viva Cuba's murals.

Read about the Route 66 Cuba Fest 2012 and see scenes of past Cuba Fests.

Henry Hayes, the passing of a gentleman

This information is updated from a previous Cuba Free Press article.

Henry Hayes WWW II

As many young Americans of his his age did, Henry Hayes served his country before marrying and beginning a family.

March 31, 1918-February 27,2012  RIP

Cuba, Missouri: Henry Hayes, former owner of Hayes Shoe Store, was a cobbler, a businessman, a Baptist, a Lion’s Club member, a family man, a gentleman, and much more.  He was known as a man of impeccable integrity, few words, and a sharp wit. For a few years,even after selling Hayes Shoe Store he went to his cobbler’s bench at the store each day because he had people who depended on the custom work that he did.

Hayes’ granddaughter Sarah Hayes created an album about her grandfather, especially his war years, for a school assignment. As Hayes’ granddaughter said in her album, “Henry is a tacit man who speaks only when he thinks what he has to say is completely essential.” In an earlier article for a school assignment that his grandson Jeff Branson wrote, he said of his grandfather, “Grandpa doesn’t talk much. When Grandpa talks, you know to listen carefully.

Sarah’s album chronicled the life of a young Henry Hayes who grew up in West Plains and Rolla, wanted to have his own shoe store, and had met a girl named Audrey in 1940. World War II intervened, and Hayes had to defer his quest for his own shoe store and marriage to his sweetheart. Instead, he served in the army, fought in Germany, and carried Audrey’s picture in his pocket during his days in the foxholes of Europe.

Hayes started in the shoe business in fourth grade.  He was able to convince Mr. Williams of Williams Shoe Store in Rolla to give him a job sweeping the repair shop there. He dreamed of having his own store. Hayes attended Rolla High School until 1937 and continued to work in the shoe business in West Plains, learning to be a cobbler. When he joined the West Plains unit of the Missouri National Guard in 1940, he never expected that he would be going to war or fighting battles.

The War Years

According to his granddaughter’s album, ‘ “I was serving in the 35th division of the National Guard at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the second I heard the news about Pearl Harbor being bombed, I knew that I was no longer a young boy trying to fulfill his required one year of National Guard service. No, with the impact of Pearl Harbor, I knew that the draft would call me, and I’d become a live and kicking soldier.”’ After training in the US, Hayes was sent to Europe. Hayes docked in Glasgow, Scotland.

From there he was shipped to Brest, France to fight his first battle as a member of the 2nd Division of the 140th Infantry.  His unit fought the Germans for three weeks until the Germans finally surrendered. Hayes was stationed in the Black Forest in Germany.  Every morning before battle he realized everything could end for him that day. He earned several Bronze Stars while fighting. He said that he hardly ever got to shower while in Germany and wondered what Audrey would think about that. He developed a habit of carrying different coins in his pocket from the countries he had been in, which would eventually lead to a coin collection, which reflected the events of his life.

While in Germany, Hayes saved several crisp American fifty-dollar bills.  He had a plan for the money. The next time that he was near a mailbox, he intended to send Audrey the money to buy an engagement ring.  She worked at a jewelry store in Springfield, and he thought that it would be easy for her to pick out a ring. Hayes intended to return home, marry Audrey, get his job back at a shoe store in West Plains, and someday have his own store.

Finally Hayes’ days as a squad leader ended, and he received his discharge papers in November. His discharge papers stated that he had fought in North France, the Rhineland, Ardennes, Normandy, and central Europe. Hayes, as would a generation of young Americans, would now return to the United States to start a new life.

Starting a business and a family

Hayes’ grandson Jeff Branson chronicled the next phase of Hayes’ life in a article “The Evolution of a Successful Business” for the 1995 edition of Cuba High School’s Backroads magazine.

In 1946, Hayes and Audrey were married, and they owned a shoe repair shop in West Plains, Missouri for three years before selling it and moving to Cuba in 1950. They started the store on West Main St. and moved to store’s present location on Route 66 in 1951. Hard work, determination, and the ability to work with the public would be the basis of a solid business.

Their daughter Ann was three when they moved to Cuba, and son David was born in Cuba. Church, family, community, and building their business would define their lives in the years ahead. Henry’s background in the shoe business and the classes the Hayes attended for  shoe business owners contributed to their success. They made up for their shortage of operating capital with knowledge, a good work ethic, and customer service.  According to the Backroads article, they would often cut costs by driving to St. Louis, buying what shoes they needed, then loading as many as they could into their car for a return to Cuba.

Hayes recollected to grandson Jeff the days when there wasn’t enough cash to keep the inventory they needed.  He recalled a day when he couldn’t find a size that a customer needed, and he told the customer, ‘ “I hope some day we have enough shoes in this place that we will have to pick our way around stacks of shoes.” ’ Jeff remarked in the article that anyone that has ever been to a Hayes’ 99-cent shoe sale knows that those days finally arrived.

The shoe repair part of the business was always important to Henry. He could make shoes last longer or adapt them to the special needs of customers. Hayes liked this portion of the business because he could restore something that might have gone to waste, and he liked the challenge of repairing shoes that required a delicate touch not to ruin them, such as a high heel or removing old soles.

‘“Removing old soles isn’t always easy because they are stitched and cemented. The soles have to be carefully removed so the welt (or upper) is not damaged,”’ Hayes told Jeff.  Hayes also had customers who depended on him to make orthopedic adjustments to their shoes because of various foot problems.  It would cost the customer much more if they had to have the work done in St. Louis.

As the Hayes family grew, Audrey stayed home with the children for many years.  When school started, she would work in the store until school was out and then she would go home with the children.  According to Audrey, ‘ “If the children did have to spend time at the store, we tried to have some activity to keep them busy.” ’

According to grandson Jeff, their hideout was a small storage space under the stairs that served as a place to do homework and to play. Jeff mentioned that not only did David and Ann use this space but also the grandchildren when they visited. When granddaughter Sarah visited, Henry taught her, as he had his own children, to use a stick with a piece of gum on the end to retrieve coins that dropped into the floor grates of the store. Hayes continued his coin collection that started during WWII and shared his knowledge with his grandchildren.

Their children David and Ann also worked in the store as they were older and learned to respect the source of the family’s livelihood.  In a Cuba Free Press article, David Hayes stated, ‘ “I’ve said publicly that I could write a book entitled Everything I needed to learn about management, I learned in the shoe store.  There were invaluable lessons about how to meet the public, getting along with people, equanimity, business 101, and on and on.  The lessons were truly endless.” ’

One story that Dr. David Hayes told when interviewed for a Cuba Free Press article illustrates how Henry and Audrey Hayes taught their children by example:

Hayes says that his parents also practiced what they preached, especially “give unto others.”  He remembers vividly an example of this on a cold January or February night.  A woman came into the shoe store just before closing with two kids.  The mother needed shoes for the younger child and made it plain that she didn’t have a lot of money.  “As mom fit the child, she noted during the fitting that the older boy had holes in the bottom of his shoes, and you could see his socks.”   The boy’s mother said that she could only afford shoes for one.  However, the Hayes fit both boys for shoes, for the price of one pair.  Mr. Hayes said as they were leaving,  “So are you going to the basketball game tonight, our boy is going?”  The boy said he wanted go, but he didn’t have the 50 cents to go.  Hayes says, “As they were leaving, Dad gave him a dollar and told him he better go to the basketball game.  Again, they practiced what they preached …still do.”

Ann is now a speech pathologist in St. James, and David is a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Hayes was a charter member of the Cuba Lions Club, and he and Audrey participated in club activities and donated the building for the current Lions Den. Hayes supported many civic improvements in Cuba, such as business development, the pool, and the fair. For years Hayes was an avid golfer and was known for his huge collection of old golf balls that he found on the course.  Hayes always hated waste in any form.

Although they sold the shoe store to Jeff and Dona Bouse so that the business would have continuity, they both still worked in the store for many years.  Audrey used her expertise in fitting shoes, and Hayes maintained his cobbler’s bench in the basement so that he could mend soles and make something old good again. He also passed on the basics of his mending to Jeff Bouse so that he could continue Henry’s work.

They continued their church and community work and were revered by their children, grandchildren, and those who know them.  Henry still carried Audrey’s photo in his wallet, and she baked those sweets that he yearned for during the war years.  They seemed to have done what eludes many modern families. They  balanced all the important elements of what God gave them into a prosperous life.  For Hayes, this was the life he was fighting for during the war, and he  made the most of it.  Hayes’ life illustrates the quote, “Give the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.”

After a few years of ill health, Henry passed on surrounded by friends and family and survived by his wife Audrey and his two children and their families.

The family has announced that there will be a memorial service for Mr. Hayes at a date to be announced.

Read Henry Hayes’ obituary here.

Read a past article  “Cuba Lions honor Henry Hayes.” 

Henry Hayes of Hayes Shoe Store

Heyes used his skill and experience to make a pair of boots last just a little longer.



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