Here comes the band – in the ’40s or early ’50s.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Special memories of our typical small town

Jeanne Newby

Moments in time… sometimes we have special moments that only last a few minutes. Then again, there are special moments that hang around a little longer. We are blessed when we have a picture to help us remember the special times we have enjoyed.

Webb City was your typical small town where everyone knew each other or at least knew of each other. Webb City was a typical small town community where major events left an impact because they didn’t happen too often. Do you recall memories of special events in Webb City? Do you have a picture to help you remember? Here are a few special events that I recall.

Do you remember when the Goodyear Blimp was hanging out at the airport?

Were any of you able to make it to the airport when John F. Kennedy made a stop? It was nearly impossible to get into the small airport at that time.

Oct. 31, 1955, Webb City had a Halloween costume parade which ended with a dance on Main Street. Good clean Halloween fun and magic. It seemed like the whole city was involved.

How about this? Do you recall a side show that set up on a vacant field about 1969, on Range Line just this side of Newman Road? They had a lady frozen in ice and you could walk through the trailer to view her through the ice. It cost a quarter for a memory to last a lifetime!

My grandchildren and I were so excited the day the big truck brought the Georgia City Bridge to King Jack Park in June 1997. My father-in-law, Alvin Newby, was born (1909) in a house next to the original location of the Georgia City Bridge. A classmate of mine wrote a book about some episodes that occurred below the Georgia City Bridge. History was moving into our park. It took a few years, but it was finally put to use when added to the walking trail. A pretty sight in King Jack Park. The lights added at Christmas became a permanent decoration of the bridge.

I remember when Bill Lundstrum organized a circus to come to Webb City. I still have some of the circus posters that announced its coming. We all promoted it as the first circus in Webb City… but we were wrong. Sara Easley McKibben shared some old time photos with us that has a circus parade in Webb City. The circus would have a parade to let the citizens know a circus was in town. The cars along the street were old so I am thinking that circus parade was in the 1920s. What an exciting day in Webb City, the day the elephants roamed Main Street!

I notice as I am going through old pictures and memories that Webb City loved a parade. We had parades for holidays, special events, homecoming, important visitors in town, the annual Mining Days Celebration and many other special events. Any excuse was a good excuse for a parade. The crowds were big.

The dedication of the Praying Hands (1976) was a monumental event in Webb City. That was one of the events that put us “on the map,” gathering attention in many other countries. And folks have  come from far and wide to see our new landmark.

Marti Blankenship once told us about a movie company coming to Webb City filming many children at Hatten Park. She said everyone was excited because the film was being produced to find local talent. Sadly, she says they never saw the film or heard anything about it.  But it created a memory.

Some memories included tornadoes, fires, grand openings, movie stars, political campaigns, small town gossip!

Do you remember Lester Flatts and Earl Scruggs coming to Webb City? They were often seen on “The Beverly Hillbillys” with Jed Clampet, or on “Petticoat Junction,” both television shows of the 60s.

Another big ongoing event in Webb City was the sidewalk sale! Remember getting up early and going downtown? All the businesses had their sales outside on tables and racks. There was a kiddie carnival on Main Street. Vendors were walking through the crowds selling balloons, popcorn, toys, etc. So much excitement for our little town.

Kids from the 60s might remember when they had a band concert at the Webb City Drive-in Theater. The band (don’t recall the name) was up on top of the concession stand, and the kids danced down below on the concrete and gravel. For Webb City this was cool.

Fireworks at the Webb City Drive-In Theater. What a great event for the whole town. Those who did not attend the theater parked up and down Madison Street, and all connecting streets.

A carnival in town was a fun time for all. For many years, the festival grounds were located behind City Hall between First and Church Streets. You could visit with everyone in town as they enjoyed the carnival. The Fall Festival was held on the same festival grounds. Then Mining Days began in King Jack Park  in 1980.

Band concerts in Memorial Park were fun events. They were free, and everyone could visit with their neighbors.

These are just a few of the great events of Webb City. Do you recall a special memory in Webb City?

Jeanne’s new book, “The Zinc City, Webb City, Missouri” is now available at Webb City Chamber Office.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.