The basic question "Where are you from?" has been constant in my life for the last 20 years. My response, "Lawson is a small commuter town northeast of Kansas City on the Missouri side." A few follow it up with more questions, but it is often the first and only impression I give in regards to Lawson. So this is my chance to make a first or second impression about the who, what, and where of Lawson Missouri.
Lawson has two blinking lights at the intersection of 69 Highway and D Highway to D and C Highway, otherwise known as three mile. It has one main drag, the main street is called Pennsylvania Street with a church, the newspaper office, one law office, post office, bank, diner, video store, drug store, small clinic, small grocery store, hair salons, tavern, water service office, tax office, police department, city office, funeral home and small hardware store and the town square with a gazebo and playground equipment. This has all changed or evolved during my 20 year absence so each time I am home I tend to go out of my way to drive down this strip to see what's new or gone since my last visit.
Population during my youth was maybe 1,800 people mostly caucasian and nearly all second or third generation Lawson residents. A large number of the residents worked and commuted to the Ford factory in Claycomo, worked at the local school or farmed. Today the population has grown to 2,400 people, bit more diverse but the largest employer for the Lawson residents, I think is still the Ford factory and local school.
When you grow up small you know all. A town this small comes with perks as a kid, scrape a knee while out raising hell on your bike in town, no problem knock on the nearest door and the door is answered with a familiar face. Trick or treat was never a concern of safety, home after dark little concern because it was a small town if you did something you shouldn't the news traveled home quickly. We had the freedom in the summers to ride our bikes to the pool, to friends or family homes unsupervised, uptown for the best vanilla Dr. Pepper or butterscotch milkshake from the drug store, evenings filled with the sounds of engines revving at the local Sand Drag race strip, and the occasional tornado after a wonderfully loud thunderstorm. And one long weekend a year the Annual Lawson Picnic kicks off with a parade, highly sought after and delicious funnel cakes from the Boy Scout stand, competitive fishing tournament at the city lake (otherwise known to locals as the Tank Pond), cutest baby contest, bingo games, and carnival rides (favorites were always the tilt or wheel and the scrambler, today both would likely make me ill).
August to May our town revolved around the sports, plays or concerts, the town coming out in large numbers to cheer for and support the local students. We were small but mighty when it came to community unity and support. Funerals and visitations were exhausting for any family as the entire town came to support and share mournful respect for the departed. Funerals were more common in my youth than weddings or birthday parties. Sadly I never realized that wasn't the norm until college when a dorm mate had to return home for their first funeral ever; college, they made it 18 years with out a funeral? When I ask the others on my floor the average number of funerals they had attended was around 3 and usually only direct family members. When I call home every week we still discuss the latest departed.
My Old Union church family and youth group were EPIC. In the mid to late 90s we had one of two of the largest youth groups in town. Wednesday nights were loud but amazing especially when we had Brent and Diana B leading the youth. They were even were brave enough to host an all night lock in at their home which always resulted in the largest and longest outdoor sardines/hide and seek game because they lived out in the sticks. Our group also had a great mission to serve with visits to the local nursing homes, mission trips to Haiti and services at the youth detention centers out at Watkins Mill. The youth at Old Union also spent two weeks a summer at Jr Camp as camper or counselor depending on your age and/or Tri-State plus 1 Camp (MO, IA, OK and Arkansas was added late hints the plus 1) for kids 13 and older. Both camps hold hilarious and fun memories, we loss two beautiful souls we cherished from these times way to soon, Kris M and Ben P. I found a notebook from the last camp I attended while packing to move abroad and spent about an hour reading, laughing and crying recalling the memories and loss.
I was blessed with a large loving church family that I could always count on since I was waddling around the church nursery playing with Ronnie A, piano lessons with the late great Margie B, tall George B with his giant bass and his meaningful words of wisdom, Roy and Ralph B giving me a hard time for never wearing shoes in church, and wonderful memories of weekend float trips with Toby and Angie, guess who is coming to dinner with Garland and Patsy, the infamous Ernie, for hitting every skunk on the way to Colorado for a church retreat, his hugs and Easter morning eggs, Dick T with his pocket full of suckers and so many more lovely souls including the ones that have left our family for their eternal rest Norma, Beverly S, Sue B, Bill B, Doris Kay, Jesse, Marvin D, and Harry (I still hear his beautiful distinct baritone voice every time I hear an old hymn). To my Old Union family thank you for supporting and loving my family for the last five decades.
To the Lawson Senior Services committee, local sororities, TOPS group, woman's weekly prayer group, senior transportation service, and other weekly groups that set up card parties, events and entertainment for our seniors, THANK YOU!!! The weekly conversations with my Grandma Rexena, 86 this Saturday, who has the busiest social calendar I know, is in large part to the community and locals that serve. My appreciation and admiration for all that you do for this beautiful generation makes my heart so full.
To the latch key kids that my mother, Candy, took care of before and after school thank you for entertaining her for nearly 20 years, and to the city of Lawson and local Park Board, bless your heart for employing my 'retired' father, Mark and his get it done now and right the first time stubborn work ethic, he is our bear we know he can be grizzly and soft.
And to the community of Lawson, thank you for making it a wonderful, happy, safe and charming childhood for my generation we had it made!!
If you are living or relocating to the Kansas City area and want a small charming town with great schools, amazing community support, loving church families and more consider Lawson.
How does your hometown compare? Let me know in the comments below.