(orchestral music) – [Narrator] Missouri Life
Television is sponsored in part by the Missouri
Beef Industry Council which is supported by
Missouri beef producers who are dedicated to keeping a strong and viable beef industry in Missouri. These beef producers support
education and research, and share information with
consumers and the industry. You can find healthy beef recipes and more information at mobeef.org. – On this episode of Missouri life, we’re on the Mother Road in Pulaski County where we’re cruising
through highway history, eating a home-cooked
meal in Nona’s Kitchen and saluting our nation’s military. All that and more, coming
up next on Missouri life. – [Announcer] Production
support is provided by Missouri Life magazine
and by viewers like you. Thank you. (upbeat music) – Hello, and welcome to Missouri Life. I’m your host, Meredith Hoenes. It has been called the
Will Rogers Highway, the Great Diagonal Way,
Main Street of America. Uniting 2,448 miles of some of America’s most scenic roads linking
remote rural populations with destinations like
Chicago and Los Angeles, Route 66 got its designation
from Congress in 1926. Of Missouri’s 300 miles,
Pulaski County contains 33 original miles of
this iconic mother road. So let’s get our journey
of discovery started and get our kicks on Route 66. (tires squeal) (upbeat music) No matter where you are,
if you have any love for this country, you know of Route 66. Songs have been written about it. What was it about that? How did it change culture
in a neighborhood like this? – It was really just a road
and business opportunity, but for Pulaski County and
particularly for Waynesville, it was that tourism that people
associated with the road. – [Host] As tourism boomed along Route 66, it didn’t take long for
Pulaski County to become a destination for hunting and recreation on the Gasconade, Roubidoux,
and Big Piney Rivers. The US involvement in World
War II loomed on the horizon and the military sought out suitable sites for new training facilities
for a growing army. Ample water resources,
plenty of government land, and a paved highway made Pulaski
County the perfect choice. Construction on Fort Leonard
Wood began January 1941. It finished in only four months. An influx of 32,000 workers laid a 20 mile railroad spur and raised 1600 buildings. Compounded by the fact
that Waynesville was the only nearby weekend
destination for soldiers, traffic congestion was a colossal problem. The solution included
turning a section of Route 66 into four lanes. – You see the way we built
roads up to this time is that you follow the landscape. We didn’t alter the landscape,
we followed the landscape. So you build a road on a ridge or you know you follow the valley that you know that had maybe a creek in it. Well the big thing about this is that old Route 66 coming from
the east went around this big hill called Hooker Hill. It went around the end of that hill and then went into, then
crossed the Big Piney River, a little hamlet called Devil’s Elbow. Well what the engineers decided to do, they were going to alter the landscape. And so they decided to
cut through that big hill and make it a straight shot. And that big cut became
known as Hooker Cut and it was 92 feet from the
top down to the road cut and it was known as the deepest road cut in the United States
you know at that time. And there were a couple of innovations on that road construction route. First of all the big rock cut. We could not have done that before. And what they did with
that is up 30, back 15, up 30, back 15, so that
if you had loose rock, and this is limestone you
know and it would loosen up, it would fall down and
hit the terrace below it. But also, it was divided. It had a median. That was the first divided
median in the state. They also did a lot with
the water drainage too. The road had a curve and so the curve then would channel rain water
you know into gutters and one on the end of the box culverts. So a lot of innovations in
terms of road construction. – Just north of Route 66 is the Saint Robert Military Tribute. In addition to this M60 tank, you’ll see an ever growing wall of
painted boulders honoring the strong and dedicated men and women serving in the military. Located in southern Pulaski
County is Fort Leonard Wood. What began as a basic training facility during World War II has
grown and is now home as the Maneuver Support
Center of Excellence. It has three US Army Regimental schools and it trains about 80,000 military and civilians each year. And though it sits in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest, it is the soldiers who
are its greatest resource. – I’m from Crockam, Missouri. It’s a small town. We’re about 12 miles due
north of Fort Leonard Wood. – I joined the military. I’m from a military family. My dad was a retired
Command Sergeant Major and that’s always intrigued me. That’s what I wanted to do. I mean I was no stranger to the base. Growing up I’d come here quite often. I’d run with my dad some
times and visit the pools and the gymnasiums. So I was no stranger to Fort Leonard Wood well before I came in the military. – I’m from Waynesville, Missouri. I grew up in the military
in an army family, but didn’t really give it a lot of thought to joining the army until kind of late in my college application process and decided to do it there
late in the fall of 2004, decided to join. I think what drove me to it was just the experience I had growing up and then seeing the families and the teams that were created, the
experiences that I had just as a child growing
up in different locations. And then of course there’s
I think for anybody that joins the military, an
inner drive of patriotism and selfless service and a
combination of those things. Going back my father was in
the military for 26 years. His brother served in
Vietnam and then my father’s father and his five brothers
all served in World War II. Immigrants from Italy you know serving in World War II from New York state. So there’s definitely a history, a lineage of that in our family. – I’m originally from Nicaragua. My father used to work for the government back in 1979 with the
revolution in Nicaragua with the Sandinistas. It was a civil war so my family has to get out of that country. So we come over here
with political asylum. I went to school for my nursing. I got a job at the VA hospital and every time we get a new veteran, you know it’s a different experience. It was like I want to see
actually what they were living for and you know all these stories that I saw for World War II veterans
to Vietnam veterans. So it’s something that kind of excite me. If one of our patients
say you know if I can make a difference so you have
to join the service, he always every day when I see him, he always say you need to go,
you need to join the service. You’ll make a great soldier
and you can make a difference. So a memory of him, Mr. Sistrom,
and I joined the service. – Once I got in the
military, I kind of learned the hierarchy and how things worked and the camaraderie and the brotherhood that came along with it was just something that always intrigued me
and it’s a brotherhood that I can’t really explain I guess or put into words, but it’s awesome. – It’s really taught me everything because of having been in
this is the only life I know. But I think on a day to
day basis too that changes. Based off of what you
learn, the experiences that you have that day,
but the things that when I go home or on the weekends that I really hang my hat on
these ideas of being humble, of listening, being patient. These are all things
that are tested every day and they are in many jobs,
but those things are important and then just the importance of people. How much they matter. It’s just my entire
outlook has been tested and shaped by it. – Our next stop on Route 66 has been on the National Register of
Historic Places since 1980. Let’s go inside and find out more. (banjo music) – This was built before
the Civil War in the 1850s by a gentleman by the name
of William Walter McDonald. Today it’s a tin room house museum but it started off as
two one-room log cabins. We’re sitting in what
was known as the tavern. This is where the passengers would come in and rest while the horses
were being changed. Particularly if you were
coming from east to west because you had to come out
of the Big Piney Valley, a very tough topography. In 1862 the Union Army
came into Waynesville under the command of Colonel Albert Segal, just pretty much took over the town. Commandeered McDonald’s building. Used this for a hospital for the fort that they built on the
hill overlooking town. – [Host] A few years after the Civil War, the railroad arrived in
norther Pulaski county. The stagecoach business declined
and the old stop was sold. – [Historian] And then it
became known in the ’30s as the tourist hotel and
served tourists on Route 66 and soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood. It’s been here for
soldiers in the Civil War. It’s been here for
soldiers in World War II and it’s been here for soldiers in Korea and it was here for the soldiers in the early days of Vietnam. – Why is preserving history
and getting those stories and passing those stories
on, why is it so important? – You know, history, it’s
the word story in history. It’s our story and you
have to keep passing it, you know keep passing it along. – Just a short walk
around the block puts us at the Route 66 Courthouse Museum, one of only two period courthouses along the mother road in Missouri used by the Pulaski County
Government until 1990. It’s now open for tours,
for historic displays such as a military room exhibit, and one dedicated to the
Fort Leonard Wood namesake. (jazzy music) – Thanks, Meredith. Now we’re at Nona’s
Kitchen, a restaurant housed in one of the oldest buildings in historic downtown Waynesville. (upbeat bluesy music) – I just love the idea of being downtown. I loved the idea of having
something historical and on Route 66, and then
just always love cooking, always loved being in the kitchen. It was definitely a passion of mine. I went ahead and just
took a couple of months, talked to family, and decided it was time for us to kind of make a move and invest in downtown Waynesville
and being on the square with the courthouse was just definitely, it was kind of all the
things that we wanted to make it happen really kind
of came together for this. We come in every morning,
my husband and myself, and we prep. We do all of our vegetables
daily in the restaurant. I’m still very much at the kitchen. I’ve tried to come out a little bit but it’s really hard for me to step away from that space. I’m very comfortable in there. Not so comfortable coming out
at the front all the time. You know I’d rather be in the back and maintain that quality
and level of you know what we expect to put out. But definitely you know
my daughter works here. She’s up in the front
and my son washes dishes. My husband’s here with me
so the girls that we work that have their family too. (upbeat bluegrass-style music) I think it’s funny when people realize how small the kitchen is. It was a house so there, you know, we’re in the master bedroom right now and then the dining
room is the living room. And then the dining room
area of the house is the cash register and bakery area. The kitchen is a galley
style tiny little kitchen and the stove is a regular house stove. We do have a turbo chef that
cooks our pizzas and stuff, but it is just a very small space and we sometimes have
three people in there which could get totally crazy, but most of the times just two. It’s I think challenging for us because we would love
to have a larger space but at the same time we really don’t have any room to expand. We’re maxed out the way that it is and we have the patio
which allows extra seating which is great but it’s
kind of, it’s small and it’s quaint and it’s charming I think, but it’s definitely,
there’s many challenges when you’re trying to swing open doors and pass people and it just gets kind of crazy back there for sure. I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and then I was a working mom for 10 years and I think both of those kind of inspired the menu to let somebody
plan so you can kind of see, okay we have a menu for a month and then a working mom might say, “I’m going to go get dinner at
Nona’s three nights a week,” and they circle the calendar,
put it on the refrigerator, and so we’re always there
in the back of their mind as a place they can come
and get a home-cooked meal, fresh made that day from scratch, and if they didn’t have the time to do it or if they just didn’t want to do it because they chose to do other things instead of being in the
kitchen, we do that for them. And so I just think that was for me having a schedule helped us kind of get into people’s homes and let them know we were an option as far as something besides fast food or something
besides a pizza delivery. – In the early days of Route 66, the road was unpaved
through Pulaski County and the economy was depressed. Residents saw an opportunity for growth, providing services to wary travelers. Families set up craft stands
and drive-through shops alongside the road. Local tourism on the Main
Street of America was born. Today, Eclectic Originals is
keeping that tradition alive. (upbeat blues music) – I’ve always loved craft
fairs and things like that, all handmade, homemade
products and what not. I thought you know it’d be fun if you just didn’t have to do it at Christmas and go to a craft fair. I could have it all year
round and just open a store, a gift shop that showed
the talent in the area with all handmade, home-grown
items in the store. And it’s just important to me to get the local vendors and have
that relationship with them and just display their stuff proudly. So how I came to be at this location is my friend Bob Hathaway owns Odyssey Scuba and I’m one of his instructors
and this room here was part of that store. And I said, “Hey, I want to do this idea. “I like handmade homemade
things, we kind of need that “destination for people to come to. “What can we do?” And he’s like, “Well, let’s do this.” And then it just kind
of snowballed from there and I’m very excited that
the success it’s become and it looks like I’m going to make it. You know just giving the people that are tourists and coming through town, you know a lot of motorcycle groups, so they want that small little item that’s locally made and
we do have handmade stuff that has Route 66. We sell different things like plaques and these little travel
boxes back in the day, they used to have these little travel kits that they put kids’ games in and stuff and then closed it up. It stayed in the car. So I’ve sold those in the past. I’ve got pens that say Route 66 that were handed by Dan with DB Woodworks and so a lot of things that people can get that are locally made, part of this town, part of the heritage of this town that’s not made overseas. (country music) – Well, growing up I kind of helped out a friend of mine. His house had burned so I helped him and his dad regut it and redo it up and I got into it and then in high school I took a class my junior and senior year for building construction. And just kind of played
around here and there and then once I got injured
and retired from the military, I found a school up in
Rolla and I went up there for two years and did cabinet making. And then it just evolved
from there more or less. Each artisan stuff that’s in
her store is basically handmade so I think you’re buying
something that some person has sat down and put a lot of hard work, sweat, blood, tears sometimes,
you know into something where it could have been manufactured in Taiwan, China, or overseas
or even somewhere here in a factory in the US. You know somebody actually
used their two hands somehow someway to make that and I think that it’s just more
sentimental and more memorable that it was made by somebody
here in Pulaski County, especially from her store. So I think that that means something not only to the person who bought it but you know to us who made it. It just goes to show that
someone was interested in our items and our product and it’s, sometimes you can’t describe it you know. – Housed at the theater
on the downtown square in Waynesville, The Pulaski
Fine Arts Association brings live theater to the area. – Community theaters have an average life of about four and a half years. They start, the people are burned out, nobody new comes in and it quits. So we’ve been going
now, this is going to be our 21st year. Every community needs I
think some kind of an art, a place to go. Something besides just
faction numbers and things. The human condition is under
a microscope with the arts and it’s the kind of microscope the human condition benefits
from looking through. – And it’s also a culture piece. It gives us an opportunity to bring in education to our audience members about history and literature and just like the human condition you know on stage and allows that for our community. – My husband’s active duty military and we lived in Germany for six years and when we came back in 2009, one of my first things that I did was come and watch a play here. And I fell in love. This is a family passion of ours and we also belong to the PFFA family because once you are here
and that bug has bitten you, you’re just welcomed into the family and it’s a large family
and it’s always growing. It’s just it’s perfect. – We get a lot of very
positive feedback here. People who return repeatedly
to watch even the same show and we do sell season
tickets so we do have season ticket holders who
buy tickets every year because they want to be a
part of what we’re doing. Even those who aren’t
wanting to be involved as far as being a volunteer here, really look forward to
our upcoming season. What are you guys going to be doing next? Can I bring my kids? Can I bring family from out of town? And they help advertise for us if they’re willing to put up posters. We also have advertising in our programs. Our community likes to, the
businesses like to be supportive and advertise in our programs. And we do a lot of partnership things. Anytime anything goes on downtown like Old Settlers Day or we
have Freedom Fest coming up, we are usually a part of that. We provide things like face painting and things like that to the community. – For a couple of years,
two or three years, we actually performed
in elementary schools and different venues and then
this building became available and a very community-focused
lady by the name of Virgie Mayhan had this building and she had kind of been working along in the background. She had helped with some of the producing and some of the background
as this organization grew. This building became
available and so this became the home of PFAA and the
name Theater on The Square was coined at that point in time. – Acting here, it’s small
but when you step up on stage and those lights come up and you see the crowd, it’s huge. Like just the feeling that you get whenever you escape who
you are for a couple of hours a day, you get to
be someone else, is crazy. – This is by far the biggest cast that I’ve ever been involved with and I’m used to acting with people that are only my age. So having a bunch of little kids, that’s definitely been something new to you know act with
them but it’s also been helpful ’cause I mean you
learn to really work together as a team when you have such a big cast. – I think since we’re all volunteers we’re genuinely here to help each other and so the older people
kind of help guide the kids and then the kids keep the adults on track and we all just work together as a team. It’s really cool. – It is a place that anyone can come to. I had no real connection to it myself. We just thought we would give it a try and it was a lark the first time. And it grows on you as well
as grows something in you. It’s a great deal for anyone to walk into. There’s a lot of dedication to it and then there’s a lot
that goes into eight or nine weeks of production, but it helps. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a thing that anyone
can get involved with should they let themselves try. – Our final stop on
historic Route 66 is the Trail of Tears Memorial
and interpretive trail. It’s where the Cherokee Nation camped and forged the Roubidoux River on their tragic journey 180 years ago. The struggles they endured
are depicted on storyboards along the one-mile hiking trail. We hope we’ve engaged
you on this drive down the Mother Road, learning
about the craftsmanship, people, flavor, and
history of Pulaski County. For everyone at KMOS TV,
Missouri Life Magazine, and myself, thanks for watching. – [Narrator] More information is available on social media or online at kmos.org. (upbeat music) Production support is provided
by Missouri Life Magazine. Missouri Life Magazine
explores and celebrates the people, places,
history and destinations that make our state unique. Subscription information
for Missouri Life Magazine can be found online at missourilife.com. And by viewers like you, thank you. (upbeat music) – [Narrator] Missouri Life
television is sponsored in part by the Missouri
Beef Industry Council which is supported by
Missouri beef producers who are dedicated to keeping a strong and viable beef industry in Missouri. These beef producers support
education and research and share information with
consumers and the industry. You can find healthy beef recipes and more information at mobeef.org.