by Pa Rock
Early tomorrow morning I will board a jet plane and head for the hills - the beautiful Ozarks of southwest Missouri. I will be going home to Noel, MO, to visit with my dad and see how he is doing. My sons and oldest grandson will also be there, so it should be a very nice four-day weekend.
Some of my trip will focus on checking out my small farm on Old Pine Trail. It is sadly vacant (I refuse to rent my green haven), so I will have to knock down the cobwebs and give the place a good mow. My little farm, aptly named Rock's Roost, is the most serene spot in the Ozarks, and I miss it terribly - especially every time I step outside here in Aridzona and into the bowels of hell!
Noel has several claims to fame. It is nestled along the Elk River, the first floatable river south of Kansas City. There is only one decent motel with just fifteen or so rooms, but the area abounds in nice campgrounds that will put you in a canoe or kayak at a very affordable rate for a day of floating down the river. It's a wonderful way to enjoy the summer weekends.
Noel was the home to a Hollywood crew and cast in 1939 when Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, and Nancy Kelly all called the little town their temporary home while the movie, Jesse James, was filmed in various locations throughout McDonald County.
Kate Smith, the singer, formed an attachment to the small town in the 1940's after several residents got together and sent her a very large birthday cake. She talked about Noel on her radio program several times after that. In 1969 some boxcars filled with fertilizer on a Kansas City Southern train exploded one hot August night and nearly leveled the town. One person was killed, and several others were severely maimed.
And then there were the escaped convicts from Kansas who hopped a freight train in the early 1980's and decided to hop off when they got to Noel. They played cat-and-mouse with several law enforcement agencies throughout the town and its rustic environs for several days before finally being captured in a boxcar of another train as they were ending their Ozark vacation!
I'm anxious to get home - as if you can't tell!