Kansas City, MO Friday November 15
Well, Kansas City is a keeper. We have enjoyed what we have seen, people we have met, and there are places we have yet to encounter. We have realized that Kansas City is not much further than Chicago which has always seemed to be a good weekend getaway. KC just might get added to our list for future getaways. A slightly warmer period of the year might be better.
The day’s activities began with a walking tour of Country Club Plaza, an outdoor shopping area developed back in the 1920s as the first outdoor shopping center in the U.S. This concept is not unusual now but was ahead of its time. It has a Spanish motif with numerous fountains and sculpture. KC is known for its fountains, among other items. The Plaza area has a large number of fountains but due to the time of the year, most of them had been turned off for the winter.
Early morning weather was cool and cloudy so the pictures may not be dramatic. As the day went on, it warmed up and the sky cleared up. Most of the stores were not open yet, but since we do not shop much, that was not a problem for us.
It was back to museums for our second stop. KC is the home of the only major museum in the U.S. devoted to the First World War. The museum (www.theworldwar.org) has been renovated in the last 10 years after first opening in 1921. It is spectacular and very well laid out.
You enter the museum over a clear glass floor overlooking a field of 9,000 poppies. Each poppy represents 1,000 combatant deaths. (There were tremendous civilian deaths also, many from starvation and disease caused by the first claim on resources by the military for the war.) The museum exhibits begin with a video explaining the world setting prior to WWI and closes with information about why the “peace” really only set the stage for WWII.
Inside are numerous displays and audio recordings discussing the timeline of the war and specific aspects. We found particularly intriguing the juxtaposition of new and old. Hand digging of trenches and the use of horses to pull artillery into the field alongside the introduction of machine guns, aircraft, tanks, and chemical weapons.
Propaganda was heavily used to focus on “us” as the good guys versus “them” as the bad guys. Us of course was your home country, which ever one that might be. The U.S. was not exempt from this and major efforts were devoted to rooting out those who might dare to question the standard line.
Our last portion of the museum to view was the observation tower providing an outstanding view of Kansas City. A gentleman from KC was there with his young daughter and kindly pointed out various landmarks to us.
From the museum we went down to Union Station, their renovated railroad depot and then over to Crown Center. Crown Center is a large commercial complex anchored by Hallmark Cards. We visited the Hallmark Visitor Center. This was a delight. Of course we got teary eyed reviewing the Hallmark commercials. Viewing the Hallmark Keepsake ornaments made me want to purchase a couple hundred more.
They have an art gallery which was showcasing several paintings by Winston Churchill-yes, that Winston Churchill. The founder of Hallmark got to know him and purchased the right to use some of his drawings on Hallmark cards decades ago.
While we have not double checked the facts, Hallmark appears to be an early adopter of employee health care, pensions and employee stock ownership. There was an exhibit of creative Christmas trees made each year by employees in honor of the initial founder of Hallmark.
As we left, we received a gift of Recordable Artwork canvas art kit made by Hallmark. Will have to decide how best to use it.
Dinner was out with our Evergreen hosts at a delightful local restaurant. Tomorrow is back to Saint Paul.
Ed and Chris November 15 10 pm