Cuba, MO’s a small town with big ideas? Just ask Ozark Ed.

Cuba, MO Ozark Ed's World's Ozark Shiner Lure

Ozark Ed, local fisherman and craftsman, spent the summer crafting a record breaking Ozark Shiner lure. The sign says his lure is two feet longer than the official World’s Largest lure., which is 10’10” long.

Cuba, MO may only have a population of 3400 and have the smallest WalMart in the U.S., but we’ve got some big stuff too. And people with big ideas. Maybe not big like the Willis building in Chicago or the Empire State Building in New York, but big.

Here are some examples:

  • The Fanning Outpost Guinness World’s Largest Rocking Chair 42+ feet tall
World's Largest Rocking Chair Fanning, MO

The World’s Largest Rocking Chair brings many to take photos.


  • The Hayes Shoe Store Robert Wadlow Shoes Size 35 & 37
Robert Wadlow Shoes Cuba, MO

Hayes Shoe Store has two Robert Wadlow shoes on display. This souvenir pin shows one of them.

  • The Three Mile Creek bed & sign (size unknown)
Three Mile Creek Bed

Three Mile Creek, crafters of custom furniture, uses its oversized bed as part of their signage.

And we’ve got some old stuff

  • The Wagon Wheel Motel– the oldest  continuously operating motel on Route 66 since 1935

    Connie's Shoppe/Wagon Wheel Motel Cuba MO

    The Wagon Wheel Motel has been welcoming travelers since 1935.

And now Cuba has one more mega-artifact thanks to Ozark Ed Smith who crafts handmade lures at his country home north of Cuba. Ed’s son Patrick thought that it would be neat for his dad to build the “World’s Largest Fishing Lure” in keeping with many of the other large artifacts in Cuba. Ed can build just about anything, so he took the challenge. This is a really big fish (lure) story.

The base of the lure is wooden, and Ed molded fiber glass screen to build the form, and then covered it with foam. The inside of the lure holds old cans and other filler. The lure is a larger replica of one of Ed’s Ozark Shiner lures. Of course, after it was built and painted, Ed and his son had to test it out. They tied it to the back of their boat and away they went. It lure performed admirably with good action. Now, Patrick is dealing with the application to Guinness World’s Record. The current record holder lure is 10’10”, and Ed’s is two feet longer.

Where it makes the record or not, Ed  built the lure for fun. “Even if I get the record, I know someone will come along and break it pretty quickly,” he stated.

The smaller Ozark Shiner is for smallmotuh bass. Ed wasn’t sure if you could catch anything on the giant lure but if you did, “it would have to be a whale of a fish,” according to Ed.

Ozark Ed plans to be at Cuba Fest 2012 with his handmade lures and with the big Ozark Shiner lure. He is working on a way that kids can sit on it and get their pictures taken.

Cuba Fest is October 20-21, 2012 in the Recklein Commons area. Make sure you stop by Ozark Ed’s space to see his lures of all sizes.  You can’t miss this one.

Giant Ozark Shiner Lure by Ozark Ed Smith

Ozark Ed’s World’s Largest lure is over 12′ long.

Ed's original Ozark Shiner lure served as an inspiration for his larger lure.

The original Ozark Shiner lure handcrafted by Ed Smith

Check out this Facebook video of the Ozark Shiner in one of our local lakes.

Fun, chickens, and craziness in Cuba

Fanning Feed Grand Opening 2012

Carolyn Hughes Sanazaro and Cheri Hughes Tune pose with the Fanning Feed Chicken at the Grand Opening.

Even though we face some serious issues and the drought is raging, Cuba, Missouri is still a spot where we can pause for some fun. It may a special event, a short pause in the work day, or events that are brought to us by Route 66  or by  scenic Hwy. 19, both of which intersect our town.  Often, as I am out and about photographing and talking to people, I see some fun and crazy scenes. I think about what fun it is to be able to do this.

July 4th lets us remember the freedoms that we have and the sacrifices that have won these freedoms. Let us also remember the freedom to enjoy our country and town with a little fun and frivolity. I’ll let the captions provide the explanation.

Want some chicken with your groceries?  This scene met shoppers when Mace’s was promoting the new chicken product in their deli. We always provide a warm welcome in Cuba.

Mennonite passenger on Spyder motorcycle outside of Cuba, MO

The year 2012 brought a couple of great events to Cuba: Spyderfest U.S. 2012 and the opening of the Cuba Bakery and Deli by Mennonite community members. Here the two events came together when one of the Mennonite ladies took a ride on one of the Spyders that has cow graphics. This photo was provided my Matt Coblentz at the bakery. The spyder owner’s nickname is Cow Patty.

Family fun at Cuba Fest, the third weekend of October

Cuba Fest, the 3rd weekend of October, always provides good fun, activities, crafts, and music. The Bast family got into the spirit of the event with their unique outfits.

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 more on the “Coolest Christmas Tree on Route 66,” go here.

Cuba, Missouri Airport/Lane Sanazaro

You can always take to the skies. Here, Lane Sanazaro and his mom pause for a photo before they get ready to fly off from Cuba’s Municipal Airport, Mosby Field.

2011 Cemetery Tour/Cuba Fest

In Cuba, even a Cemetery Tour can be fun. This scene from the 2011 tour shows actors portraying the Foxes, a vaudeville team, who later came to Cuba and founded Fox Springs Lodge.

Cool Cars come to Cuba

A lot of cool cars cruise into Cuba on Route 66. They often stop to eat or take photos of the murals.

Lions Club September Car Show

The Lions Club Car Show in September is growing every year and brings all manner of striking vehicles. This year it is September 22. It’s in the Historic District, right off Route 66.

Running Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri

Once a year, we get really crazy and close Route 66 for a four-mile run down Route 66 to the Route 66 World’s Largest Rocking Chair. Last year several hundred locals and visitors took part. The 2013 race will be March 23. Get ready!

Even the animals have fun in Cuba.

Camel mooching a drink

This camel managed to mooch a drink. He evidently didn’t know about camels being able to go a long time without water.

Goat catching a ride on Route 66 in Cuba MO

This goat not only caught a ride on Route 66, he has a staff to see to all of his needs. Here they take a break at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba.

To see why these young men were traveling Route 66 with a goat, go to this Cuba Free Press article.

Coon hound sticking out his tongue

Sometimes a dog just sticks out his tongue and laughs.

Squirrels enjoying recreation in Cuba MO

This summer has brought a lot of squirrels to Cuba. Here a few of them enjoy some of our Crawford County recreation: golf, fishing, and canoeing on area rivers. Thanks to the Fanning US Outpost 66 for our models.

So remember, don’t be too serious. Enjoy the blessings of life. Have some fun.

Cuba, Missouri: Good-by Midway, Part I.

Helen Brown  Cuba, MO  2011

Helen Brown worked at the Midway in the 1940s. Recently, she reminisced about those years and shared photos of those days.

Empty windows at Midway Cuba, Missouri

Although the Midway stands a shabby reminder of what it once was, in its hey day, it was a warm, welcoming place for the community to gather.

Although it was never certified as such, The Midway Restaurant has long been a historic landmark on Route 66. The large white building at the intersection of Route 66 and Highway 19 in Cuba, Missouri was a local meeting place and restaurant, a haven for travelers, and a community center of its time. A local feature in the Cuba Free Press, gives the details of how it started, developed, and how long time owner Allyne Earls shaped it over the years. Helen Brown was a waitress there in the 40s, and she shared her remembrances and photos of those days. All the people in the photos can’t be identified by Mrs. Brown, but the old photos take us back to those days. Click to read the Cuba Free Press Midway Part I feature here.

Enjoy additional photos below and take the opportunity to add your stories about Midway in the comments section. There will be a Part II to the Midway story that deals with its place in the hearts of community members and how some couple met at the Midway.

Midway Bus Cuba, Missouri

The Midway Bus provided transportation from town to town.

vintage Midway Cab Cuba, Missouri

The Midway Cab was a community service.


Midway Restaurant Staff Cuba, Missouri

Forever frozen in time, cooks and waitresses pause for a photo at the restaurant.

Meat cutter at Midway Restaurant Cuba MO

Mrs. Brown said this gentleman was a meat cutter for Midway and worked in the basement.

Cuba History Museum Allyne Earls uniform

Allyne Earls was the long-time owner of the Wagon Wheel Motel, and her uniform is displayed at the Cuba History Musuem in its Route 66 room. She was said to be a sharp dresser who loved wearing jewelry.

Cuba History Museum (Allyne Earls/Midway)

This display at the History Museum describes Allyne Earls’ role at the Midway.

Roy Earls

Although Roy Earls ran a business in Steelville, his wife Allyne put her stamp on Cuba’s Midway and his name was on the Midway Bus and Cab. He appears to have been a snappy dresser too.

Update: This photo was provided by the grandson of Blanche Rook who worked at the Midway. He contributed this info:

I am the grandson of Blanche Rook, who was the cashier at The Midway, on Rt.66 in Cuba MO. My grandmother worked for Allyne Earls for many years. Allyne was a tough lady who was a very prosperous entrepreneur with the Midway and took it from a cafe and garage in 1934 to a major Trailways bus stop, 20 + room hotel and cafe in the 50′s & 60′s. Her husband, ran the Earl’s Cab company as well as the Earl’s bus line. I have a lot of fond memories of Cuba, as well as St. James, the Rosati family’s grape stands, The Mule Trading Post and my grandfather’s farm in Rolla. My parent’s families were from all up and down Route 66, from Bourbon to Rolla.

Cuba Missouri Midway Restaurant, Blanche Rook

Blanche Rook was one of the many workers whose hard work made the Midway Restaurant a successful venture for many years.

Update: More photos of Blanche Rook sent by her grandson:

Blanche Rook @ Midway Cashier

For Blanche Rook a smile went with the service in the 1950s.

Blanche Rook Midway Cashier 1950s

Blanche Rook was a trusted employee who helped keep the Midway working smoothly.

Although  Allyne Earls is a legendary business owner, we have no photo of her. If anyone can help remedy this, please let us know.

For more photos of the Midway Restaurant now and then read this blog entry “Ghosts of the past haunt Route 66 landmark.” For a followup on this Part I History visit “Some Midway Matchups withstand the tests of time.”










Cuba, Mo History Museum Displays Christmas Exhibits Nov. 30-Dec.30

Hats & Gloves Tree Cuba  Mo History Musuem 2011

The Crawford County History Musuem's hat and glove tree from the 1950's is just one of their themed trees on display in December.

If you want a little history with your Christmas, be sure to make the Crawford County History Museum on Smith Street a stop in December.

Among their usual displays and artifacts they are featuring the following:

*10 themed Christmas trees with a historic or cultural significance

*Pat Cookson’s award winning fireplace screen

*Ben Brown’s White House ornament collection

*Dee Tarnowkis’s antique Santa collection

*Many more Christmas items of interest

Cuba Missouri Presidential Ornaments

These White House collectible Christmas ornaments are part of the seasonal exhibit.

These seasonal displays will be on exhibit starting November 30th for the month of  December. Visit the museum website for photos of other exhibits and hours.

Visit this blog entry to read more about fiber artist Pat Cookson.









Mural maintenance marches on…

Leslie Faust repairs a tire in Cuba, Missouri

St. Louis artist Leslie Faust repairs a tire with her paint brush.

After Viva Cuba’s murals are commissioned and painted, the work and expense does not stop. Weather and time degrade the murals. Therefore, it is necessary to main an inspection schedule and then arrange for artists and maintenance painting in a timely manner.

This summer, mural artist Ray Harvey did some touch-up painting and sealing on the murals on the Phillips 66 station where weather had faded some of the colors.

Recently, St. Louis artist Leslie Faust spent time in Cuba doing some repair work on the Al West Sr. mural. While waiting for some primer to dry, she played the part of a Cuba tourist. She visited the World’s Largest Rocking Chair and the Wagon Wheel Motel. She was amazed that she met people from England and France in that short time.

This fall local painter Susie Haffer will also be doing some touchups and work on some of the plaque stands.

As we say in Viva Cuba, “it’s always something.” Thank-you for your patience and consideration as our artists work on mural maintenance to keep the “Route 66 Mural City” looking good.

Leslie Faust Cuba, Missouri

We find that people enjoy watching the artists work on the murals, whether it is when they or painting them or repairing them.




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