Tuesday, July 2, 2013

West Table and Howl County

by Pa Rock
Determined Typist

I rolled into beautiful West Plains, Missouri, yesterday afternoon and am now safely ensconced at my son's home just outside of town.  One near calamity was barely avoided yesterday afternoon when I realized that I had left my insulin in Kansas City.  Fortunately, I had switched my pharmacy from Target to Walgreens a couple of months ago and was able to get a new bottle.  (There is no Target in West Plains - and I probably would have had to drive a hundred miles to Springfield in order to replace the insulin through one of their stores.   Fortunately, however, West Plains has a very nice Walgreens with a very nice staff.)

Today is beautiful - cool breezes and a high possibly in the low eighties.  Nick is working, and his son, Boone, and I, made a couple of trips into town this morning.  This afternoon I have sat on Nick's wonderful shady deck working on the writing project that has eaten up my spare time ever since I got out of the hospital in March - and here's a bulletin:  I finally finished it today!

Writing is so much easier in places that are green and breezy!

Daniel Woodrell, the author of Winter's Bone and Ride with the Devil - among other great books - lives and works in West Plains.  He uses the town as a backdrop in his writing and refers to it as "West Table."  Howell County has been Woodrellized to "Howl County" - which I greatly prefer to the original!  Marideth Sisco, the folksinger who did the beautiful vocals (The Missouri Waltz among others) in Winter's Bone also lives in West Plains.

Other notables from West Plains include comedian and actor Dick Van Dyke (born to a single mom who had been shipped here to stay with relatives while Baby Dick was born), country singer Jan Howard, and country great Porter Wagoner.  Baseball player Preacher Rowe also lived in West Plains during his youth where he ran a small grocery.  (Jan Howard, Preacher Rowe, and Porter Wagoner all have major streets named after them in the town.)

When I lived in northern Howl County - Mountain View - thirty years ago, West Plains was where we came to buy groceries, shop at a Walmart (I feel so dirty admitting that!), and eat at a McDonalds.  Now the town has all of the popular chain joints - including a Walgreens!

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