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I brake for rainbows…

I love rainbows: their rarity, their beauty, their promise.

To see a rainbow suddenly being brushed across the sky in a mix of vibrant colors is an exhilarating experience. And yes, I do brake for rainbows.

I suppose I should have a bumper sticker stating that in large letters on my car so the drivers of cars behind me will, hopefully, quit honking their horns and take time to share the gift of a rainbow with me. Or, failing that, at least understand why I have my head hanging out the window, staring at the sky and grinning.

I don’t know what it is about rainbows, but they do always bring a big smile to my face and a lift to my spirits. In fact I get almost giddy when I spot one. So you can imagine my reaction a few weeks ago when, driving south on the outer road from Park Hills I spotted not one, but TWO distinct rainbows streaked across the eastern sky. The colors were brilliant and distinct with both legs of the first rainbow clearly visible. The second one was a little more faint and the colors of a paler hue, but there nevertheless.

When I realized I had several cars parading along behind me, and not pleased about it, I turned into the Parkview Cemetery, drove to the very back of the lot, and just sat, staring happily at the spectacular treat. I even got out of the car and stood enthralled, wishing I could find the foot of the rainbow and stand in it.

I’ve always wanted to do that—stand in a rainbow and become infused with its colors and effervescence. I imagine that you would feel a tingle and warmth throughout your body generated from the energy of the rainbow. It would have to be a life-changing experience.

I am happy to know that I am not the only person enamored with rainbows. Fannie Flagg’s delightful book “Standing in a Rainbow” recounts such an experience, and keeps me hoping that I too may one day stand in the end of the rainbow.

It’s not quite as colorful as a rainbow, but the Country Days parade, coming up on June 6, is certainly a delightful. Everyone seems to love parades, but particularly in smaller communities like ours. Being able to name most of those on the passing floats and walking units and calling out our appreciation to them is part of the fun. Viewers this year will have the pleasure of seeing the North American and World Percheron Champion Six Horse Hitch in the Country Days Parade again. Albert and Karen Cleve, owners of the marvelous team, are bringing them back for the second year to participate in the event. Thanks, Cleves, for sharing these magnificent animals with their hometown.

Above and beyond…Jay Jennings, a former resident, can testify that being a television producer can be dangerous at times. Jay was shooting video for WRAL-TV of a home near Elizabethtown, North Carolina where a double homicide had occurred decades ago. The man who had been convicted in the killings was recently found innocent and Jay was working on a documentary about the exonerated man. Jay said a rather elderly man in a blue pick-up truck pulled up and started yelling at him that he had 10- seconds to get off the land. Without further warning he hit Jay in the head with his cane. Jay suffered a head wound requiring staples, and was taken to Bladen Country Hospital where he was treated and released. His assailant was arrested and charged with assault and battery. Jay later learned that he was the grandson of one of the victims in the case. Jay is doing fine, much to the relief of his parents, Sonny and Elma Jennings of Farmington.

Travelers…Randy and Kay Anglin recently returned from Ft. Worth, Indiana where they had celebrated Kay’s mother’s 97th birthday.

Going further afield, Colleen Cruse is back home from an extended vacation in Ireland. She and a cousin enjoyed their visit to the “land of 40 shades of green” for five weeks. Larry Cruse was with them the first week before returning to Farmington, and quickly followed by other members of the family and friends who took turns staying for a week or so.

Congratulations to the graduates….Molly Eye, daughter of Susan Eye and the late Buddy Eye, graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science from Missouri Baptist College on May 9. Her mother and grandmother, Barbara Hartshorn attended the ceremony at the arena in St. Charles, Missouri. Molly will become the bride of James Wilson in July.

Brendan Gallagher, son of Dr. and Mrs. Brian Gallagher, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the school of Allied and Health Professions with his degree in Radiological Sciences. He has been accepted into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse where he will seek his Masters Degree in Dosimetry.

Word about Doc Reney…Greg Roderick, formerly of this area and now living in New York, often visits Dr. Richard Reney at his residence in Massachusetts and keeps informed the others of us who preformed in various plays under Doc’s direction throughout his tenure at MAC. Dr. Reney moved to Massachusetts several years ago and, due to health problems, has now moved to a nursing center. His current address is: Dr. Richard Reney, 2nd floor Midway Country Manor, 115 Holliton St., Medway, Mass. 02053. He enjoys receiving letters and notes from his many friends in this area.

Volunteers needed….Mona Yates, director of the Oaks Senior Center, is in great need of volunteer drivers to deliver meals to home-bound. Routes take about two hours each and all are in the immediate Farmington area. For those who can’t deliver every weekday, substitute drivers are also needed. Right now, Mona, who has been the center’s director since it opened, is making many of the deliveries herself, along with overseeing the operation of the Farmington Senior Center. Call her to volunteer at 756-1376.

Project Fund Raiser…Steve Slinkard, chairman of the Preservation Committee of Negro Masonic Cemetery, said a special fund-raiser is being initiated to purchase new fencing for the cemetery. The cemetery is located on Colony Church Road, and covers three acres. The land for the cemetery was purchased in 1903 by four African-American men of this community who each pledged 25 cents a week to pay for the land. Today the cemetery is the final resting place for more than 100 former residents, including many notable persons. The cost for the materials, dismantling of the present fence and installation of the new one is $9,000. Donations should be made to the Preservation Committee and sent to Mr. Slinkard at 3653 Hildebrecht Rd.

Take a local tour…An opportunity to tour the historic Long House will be available only from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 during Country Days. Tours will be given by members of the Monday Club, and a minimal fee charged to help maintain the home.

1975 Class Reunion…The FHS Class of 1975 will have their 40th reunion on Saturday, June 27  at Twin Oaks Winery from 1 to 6 p.m. (no charge). An informal get together will also be held the evening before at the 12 West Restaurant in Farmington at 6 p.m. For additional information please contact Kim Gedge Davis or go to the FHS 40th Class Reunion page on Facebook.

A walk for mental health…The 3rd Annual St. Francois County Mental Health Walk will be held Saturday, May 30, from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. at Engler Park in Farmington. For information, contact Michelle Ramirez at 573-756-5353.

Passing of a former alumni….Tamara Mills Ward, sent word that her mother, Jude (Judy) Towler Burgfeld has passed away. Judy grew up in Farmington and graduated with the class of 1969. She was married to another FHS grad, Lawson Burgfeld Hefner. Visitation for Judy was be at McCombs Funeral Home in Jackson yesterday and funeral services were held at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jackson this morning (Thursday). Interment was at St. James Church in Tilsit.

Sometimes, the passing of a resident takes more than just their presence from a community–it also takes a large part of its history. This was the case this month with the death of two of Farmington’s cherished citizens who died within a few weeks of each other: Mary Manley Crouch and Jack Clay.

Mary (Mrs. F. R.) Crouch was 104 and Jack was 91- a few years apart in age, but very similar in manner. Both were quiet and unassuming; easily overlooked in a crowd. But, upon getting to know them, you realized there were great depths within, and their unassuming natures covered quick minds and strong characters.

Mary was a member of the class of 1928 and graduated from Farmington High School with honors. She won the Missouri Spelling Contest that year, being the third person from FHS to win the contest since 1925. She went on to attend the University of Missouri and was one of the top four students when she graduated from there. She shared the honor with three other area students: Gertrude Zimmer, Marie Quesnel, and Melbourne Rickus of Farmington and Irma Cook of then Flat River. She married Dr. F. R. Crouch, raised four children and lived contentedly in her hometown. Mary was a woman who took great pleasure in her family, her church and community, and was a backbone for all three. She was a faithful and staunch member of the local Methodist Church throughout her life, and a quiet and gentle leader in this town. Her long life, intelligence and excellent memory made her a repository of Farmington’s history.

Jack Clay, grew up in St. Francois County and early in his life moved to Farmington. He had an inquiring mind and unending patience, which he used to unearth many fascinating and little know details of this area. He was simply the Community Historian Emeritus. He gladly shared his knowledge and passion for history and was always willing to help others trace family histories and stories. He was recognized for his many contributions by both the city and the state and community residents in general. Whenever a question on area history came up, the answer was always, “Let’s ask Jack Clay.”

We’ll miss these two beloved and irreplaceable members of our community; their intelligence, their conversation and most of all, their gentle presence among us.

A line from a poem by Hurt Hardy Jr. both sums up our loss of Mary Manley Crouch and Jack Clay:

“The rooms were quiet when they were resident. Now they lay silent. That is different.”

Remember your loved ones this Memorial Day….They were responsible for many rainbow moments in your life.

Janet Douglas

Janet Douglas

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