My first year of life was partly across from the golf course and the next bit was out by the Lime Kiln.
I went to Kindergarten in a private home on East McKinney Street. That was pretty big stuff being driven into town every day.
First grade was at Central School. The playground looked out over the Big Spring Park and north to our house above the northerly lime caves.
My mother did not like living in the country, but she always gave a sandwich to the hobos who showed up at our door and I often sat with them while they ate by the screened-in porch at the top of the stairs… the ones we never used.
I thought cameras were hidden in trees and that was how movies were made. I developed dramatic behavior at a very early age.
Glory of glories, in 1950, we moved into town. I was ten years old. My girlfriends and I rolled down the grassy slopes of home. We rode our bikes all over downtown Neosho, playing tag through the alleys.
We went swimming at the Fort Crowder swimming pool on summer afternoons. We were Rainbow Girls. We had ice cream socials with real ice cream and cakes at Big Spring Park. Once we had a dance around the wading pool. It was warm summer nights, summer dresses and surely it was Camelot.
Experience-gathering often takes one away from home. I have always come back home. I have maintained my Neosho home, whether I lived in it or not. Frank Sinatra loved New York and Chicago. I love my town and my hill and my park.
Of course, I cannot not own the hill, the park or the trees, but I have managed to retain my childhood. Just as London was for Peter Pan, Neosho is my very own “Never-Never Land.”
I love to drive up and down the hills and see all the other hills in front of me. I love the dark-sky winters and the bright white snows (which we have missed 2 years). I love the Spring as now with the yellow forsythia and Granny’s white spirea. Flox and vinca minor edge our rocks and rills with dog wood and redbud on our streets and hills.
Summer will come with orange day lilies and fall always follows with maroons and golds. No wonder I can look out every morning and say, “God, You do good work!”
Find yourself a high point in Neosho where you can look across the cityscape. We are unique here.
I know! I have been everywhere else.
By Judy Haas Smith
(Judy Haas Smith lives in Neosho.)