We did some time traveling this past Saturday at Dust Bowl Jamboree in Riverside. Pick your time machine, music or car. Master event organizer Jim Spawn provided both in plentiful supply. The only thing missing was the dust. A nice rain early in the day cleared the air. Then the heat came on, but what would an August day be without some.
Regarding weather, we could have called it the miraculous non-Dust Bowl Jamboree.
What can you say about a year where it rained a lot spring into summer? Now we’re at mid-August, and our expectation is that if it didn’t rain today it will rain tomorrow.
Vegetation is lush and green. I don’t recall a summer like it. Now that the floods have receded, we’ll take the showers.
But this Dust Bowl Jamboree was about more than weather.
The oldtime string band fronted by myself and Rex Wright, Uncle Baccy Juice, opened the music portion in early afternoon. The nice stage at E.H. Young Riverside Park was still cool and tree shaded. It’s great fun playing with the Missouri River flowing not far behind you and people enjoying the park in front. Riverside doesn’t get the recognition for its park and paved riverfront trail that Parkville enjoys upstream, but the park is nice and worthy of visitors.
I recall its beginnings and the riding out of a few floods. It’s held up well. Trees have gotten enough growth to provide shade. In fact, as the afternoon heat rose and the sun beat down, most music listeners retreated into the trees beyond the earthen amphitheater sloping down to the stage.
I do offer a suggestion.
The landscaping is really nice in the park. However, to further the cause of using the stage for music in warm season months, planting some fast growing trees in strategic locations might be in order. Most events are going to be held during summer. The loss of visibility here and there would be rewarded with shade that enables people to sit close to the stage.
But it’s a minor quibble with a fine park that hosted a very nice event.
Beyond my band, Spawn had lined up some of Kansas City’s best Americana roots music bands. A time traveler wandering in from the 1930s would have recognized some songs and familiar front porch instruments from washboards and guitars to banjos and fiddles.
But music was only part of the day.
Antique automobile owners lined up their vintage cars and trucks in the park’s main parking lot. Some old Model T and Model A Fords carried us back to the 1930s, when most of rural Platte County didn’t have electricity and running water was likely a luxury.
Just for fun while writing this column, I wandered back to 1935 via an online Missouri highway map (we do live in wondrous times).
The road from Platte City to Smithville was not paved, but in Riverside, a paved U.S. 71 made its way north after crossing the river downstream at Kansas City. What’s listed as Missouri 15 Highway was crossing the Missouri River into Kansas, apparently what eventually became the U.S. 69 crossing.
Kansas City crime and political boss Tom Pendergast would have been enjoying his horse racing track in Riverside in that era. The track was not far from Young Park.
Speaking of E.H. Young, on display was a beautiful, mint, black, 1960s era Chevy Corvette with a bill of sale made out to Young, who founded the Red-X General Store and played a major role in incorporating Riverside into an official town in the early 1950s. So even now, years after his death, the venerable Young is entertaining folks.
I must say it is a bit sobering to see the cars I idolized in my youth lined up as antiques. That makes me …
I still lust for the swept-back shape of the 1967 Chevy Super Sport. A cherry red Chevy Bel Air convertible makes me want to head for a drive-in movie.
I didn’t pay complete attention to cars in my boyhood, because I had no idea until Saturday that Chevrolet during the 1960s made a Corvair in pickup and commercial van styles as well as cars. What I’d most like to have driven myself and the band home in was a sleek, long, black Oldsmobile 88 of 1930s or 40s vintage.
Ah, and there from my college days was a good old AMC Gremlin. I remember moving all my worldly possessions in one, several times, from one college haunt to another.
Oh how bittersweet is time travel in the mind while walking among vintage cars. You remember people and think about things you’ve done and things you wish you’d done. And you marvel that both the car and you are still here and rolling.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.