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My old Missouri home was a border state, harboring both Union and Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War.  Parts of Missouri even seceded.  There was the Kingdom of Callaway with its capitol, Kingdom City – now a not-so-regal truckstop between Columbia and St. Louis.

Columbia is, I realize every time I go back, a Southern-Midwestern kind of place.  You hear traces of Ozark accents, even hints of Kentucky and Tennessee, in voices all over town. 

Proof of the divided mindset of my homeown is found in the names of these two downtown elementary schools, located one mile from each other physically – but once a world apart. I’m sure that families sent their kids to the school that matched their side of the Civil War.

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Robert E. Lee School

A dude in overalls is not a rare sight in Columbia.  I mentioned to my dad that I never see guys wearing overalls and he said “Even little boys?”  OK, that’s the exception.  Every day of my visit, I saw a different grown man wearing overalls, but I also saw lots of professors, professionals, and posers.  Although Columbia is a college town, home to MU, Stephens College, and Columbia College, it is surrounded by farmlands – giving it a unique mix of visitors.

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My brothers and I even represent a mini Civil War.  Two of us are liberal, New York Times-reading Democrats.  The other two are active Republicans.  The Democrats live in the Easternmost cities, the Republicans are in more traditionally “wild west” locales.  We try not to bring up politics when we’re together, and if that’s impossible, then we just don’t mention Sarah Palin.

Even the housing stock of Columbia is a fascinating mish-mash of styles.  Some people still live in Quonset huts, those WWII left-overs.

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Some live in charming fairy tale cottages.

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Others are in fabulous, home-tour houses. 

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I could drive around all day just feasting my eyes on the wonderful mix of architecture in Columbia.  I always wonder why magazine editors have not discovered this place.

I had an action-packed few days visiting my dad, borrowing his computer, doing a five-mile-hike with him (16 minute miles!  Difficult for me to keep up!) on the Katy Trail, a former rail line, going to Rotary Club and First Baptist Church, attending a ceremony at the MU Library in honor of an endowment my parents set up, and helping host a going-away party for lovely neighors who are moving to Texas.

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Although like Dorothy I am originally from Kansas, Missouri is where we moved when when I was 8.  There’s no place like home.

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What surprises you when you go back to your town where you grew up?  What do you miss most about it?
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