Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Couple’s ideas spark community excitement

Two St. Louis fur merchants built luxurious homes near Harg in the late 1930s. Four days a week, the two men drove to their offices and back and on long weekends enjoyed the quiet beauty of their "farms." One family dismantled and rebuilt a large, 130-year-old home with the bricks which were made on-site by slaves. The other family started from scratch and built a mansion and lake on a large acreage on Fulton Gravel between Columbia and McHarg’s Store. Few of us knew these residents well, but after several years the St. Louis families sold their properties and moved back to the city. Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Stice bought the Fulton Gravel mansion and became integral parts of the Harg community.

Frances Leach Stice was a talented musician, and she was happy to direct the Olivet Church Choir. Maurice Stice, crippled by meningitis in his early years, operated his law office and a small business from his home. Frances had five children by a previous marriage; Barbara and Burton Leach lived at home and were in high school and college. The arrival of the Stice family was a boon to the Harg community, particularly in 1950 and 1951.

Some of the members of Harg Hustlers’ 4-H Club signed up for summer camp at Lake of the Ozarks. However several parents were fearful of the big lake, some thought their children were too young to be away from home for several days and others couldn’t afford the cost. There were schedule conflicts for those who had doctor’s appointments, music recitals or family trips. I was disappointed that only three or four of our club members would be going with the county group. Maurice and Frances Stice came to the rescue with an offer that sparked enthusiasm among parents and club members alike. Frances said, "Sue, you could have a camp for the entire club, right here at home. You can use our lake." Parents and children liked this idea at once. Edith Jacobs, Lorena Black and Alberta Winkler offered to bring food and stay to help. Ella May Meyers and Sue Mitchell volunteered to teach crafts and other skills. Olivet Church’s organist, Amy Behymer, would help in several ways including games and singing. My dad and two women, eager to fish in Stices’ lake, offered to help young fishermen with their tackle and bait. Teenage boys offered balls, bats and other athletic equipment. Girls were willing to help younger children with crafts, stories and games. A fun camp experience was assured, and we planned a schedule selecting three and a half days in August. Then the Stices made an additional invitation: "On the third day, they could bring their bed rolls and sleep overnight on the floor of our long, screened porch." Another great idea.

As camp director, I was responsible for the safety of the children and all who were involved. I was also concerned about the lake’s water purity and possible underwater hazards. Therefore I scheduled an hour of swimming at the outdoor pool in Columbia, to begin each camp day — that pool has been gone for more than 30 years.

We planned to carpool the children to the pool and back in early mornings. The ones who were just learning to swim would have lessons, and all would do stunts and water games together. The kids would be tired, happy and hungry when we reached the lake so we arranged cookies and Kool-Aid for all, crafts and stories from younger campers and ball games for the big kids until noon. The food committee had planned lunches with fried chicken, pots of green beans, cold sliced tomatoes, deviled eggs and other farm fare.

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