Tom Booth

Tom Booth

Prior to this year’s Fair Grove Heritage Reunion, I was asked to give a talk to four Fair Grove School second grade classes, on the history of Fair Grove. Using photos featured in the old Historical Society calendars, I picked out several I thought depicted the way our town looked during its early years.

My talk went well, I believe. There were 100 students; all sweet and attentive. Okay, here is what happened as they were going out—one boy asked how old I was, and I told him he wasn’t supposed to ask such questions. Then I grinned and said I was born in 1944, and for him to do the math. He looked at his teacher, with a look saying he didn't know how to figure that, so I told him I was 73. Then a few students later began hugging me, and one little girl hugged, then said, "Bye old lady with glasses." You gotta love ‘em, right! 

On the afternoon of my talk, the teachers took the students on a tour of the historic district of Fair Grove. They were able to see how their town looks now. I hope they enjoyed their tour.

The Saturday morning of the Reunion, it was cool (downright cold to this lady). It reminded me of the cold weekend we had several years ago. Phoebe Lemon, Hazel Andrews and Ressie Wallace were manning the genealogical booth, and each of the ladies had on several layers of warm clothing. As the day progressed, the temperature rose, prompting the ladies to begin taking off a few of those layers. Hazel joked that she would soon be performing her striptease dance, and I told her to be sure to let me know so I could have the announcer announce it over the loud speakers. She said she would.

Then when the time came for her to start disrobing, she said, “Okay, I’m ready,” joking of course. I acted as if I was going to tell Tim, my son who was doing the announcing, and Hazel said, “Don’t you dare.” It was funny!

For many years, a key to the city has been given to a deserving individual or individuals who volunteered their time and efforts to the betterment of Fair Grove. This year’s recipient was Tom Booth. Here is what was read during the presentation, written by Dan Manning: “When Tom wasn’t trying to tell his wife Drieda why he was not at home helping to raise two sons, he was working at City Utilities in Springfield, or singing with the Statesmen Barber Shop chorus, or helping churn homemade ice cream at the yearly social. Or he was helping repair the old mill’s roof before it was owned by the Historical Society or making a scaled-down wagon like the one pulled by Jack & Pete, the Historical Society’s mascots, and pulling his son Dale in it at the first parade. 

“Or making a funnel cake booth for the Methodist youth group or making stick mules for kids to race at the early festivals, or shooting at the bad guys that were holding up the bank on the square. Or making wooden signs for several places in downtown Fair Grove or helping John Park and others erect stone work beneath Wommack Mill and the Miller’s cabin and the Gazebo. Or bringing a bunch of false teeth from a jobsite that were thrown into the straw stack at many festivals for kids to find or setting up a knife and tomahawk throwing booth at festivals. Or dressing up like a crazy man and riding a bucking garden tractor in parades until its transmission broke ... Whew! Anyway, Tom Booth, we bestow on you this slight token of our esteem—the Key to the City of Fair Grove, Missouri.” 

While reviewing what Dan wrote, I remembered the year Tom led a goat around on a leash, as if it was a dog. He would ask people, mostly kids, if they wanted to pet his dog? When a child would say it was not a dog, that it was a goat, he argued with them.

When I related this memory to Drieda, she said she was trying to forget that one. “He told the kids it had to be a dog because I wouldn't let him keep a goat.” 

Saturday inside the Farm Machinery Museum, I watched as Mary Terry and Tammy Lowery demonstrated how to make butter. The ladies put a small amount of cream into a fruit jars and told the children to shake it; they could do a little dance as they were shaking their jars of cream. 

In no time at all (about ten minutes), butter formed inside those jars. Mary then emptied out the butter, worked it with a spoon a bit, and served it on crackers. The children enjoyed the fresh made butter. 

The butter made with the store-bought, pasteurized cream (the kind they were allowed to serve) was white. The butter Tammy made with the (raw-milk) cream she brought from home was more yellow. 

What a fun weekend. The weather was absolutely wonderful, a huge crowd lined the pathways leading to the craft and food booths, music and dancing performances, the demonstrations and tours of the Wommack Mill. All in all, I would say it was a good two days. 

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