The Sunday we left St. Louis, the only thing we had to do was drive to Kansas City (stopping at Brass Armadillo outside KC on the way to our hotel in the River Market). Now, the wedding of my oldest friend was the night before, so I wasn’t feeling *great* that morning. We got a little bit of a late start, waited for our rental car for over an hour, then drove 2 hours and 45 minutes to learn about Jim the Wonder Dog in Marshall, Missouri.
Jim was seriously a magical dog. A Llewellyn Setter owned by Sam Van Arsdale, the dog obeyed commands as if he could actually understand English. He could pick out the lady in the red dress or to go find the car with license plate KU4-521. When Sam started giving informal demonstrations of Jim’s powers, tests were devised to debunk the dog. In order to preclude any secret signaling, a Morse code message was tapped out (Sam didn’t understand Morse code) instructing Jim to walk to a certain person, and Jim did it. Senators and representatives sat dumbfounded as Jim picked out people with various traits. Jim could also predict the future. He could foretell the sex of unborn infants, the victors of World Series and presidential elections, and the winners of seven consecutive Kentucky Derbys. When Jim died in 1937, the Van Arsdales asked that he be buried in Ridge Park Cemetery. He was buried just outside the cemetery fence; the cemetery eventually expanded around Jim. Of course, we went to see his grave, too.
From Marshall, we got back on I-70 for a little bit and an hour later ended up in Warrensburg, Missouri, to see Old Drum. A hound dog, Old Drum was shot dead in 1869 by an irate neighbor who thought Drum had been killing his sheep. Drum’s owner sued the man, and the case eventually went to the Missouri Supreme Court, where the owner won the case. It was in the courtroom in Warrensburg that the dog owner’s lawyer, future senator George Graham Vest, delivered his famous tribute: “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world… is his dog.” A statue of Old Drum stands on the Johnson County Courthouse lawn; the old courthouse, now the historical society, is about half a mile west, and features its own dog statue and historical marker. We went to see both. At the Johnson County Historical Society, we were looking around outside when a man approached us and asked if we’d like to see inside the building. We got a tour and a history lesson and had a lovely time chatting before hitting the road again. In another hour we made it to our hotel – we did not stop at Brass Armadillo and instead took a Minsky’s pizza to our room and promptly fell asleep. I do not miss driving into the sun! I miss the Midwest dearly but visiting certainly makes me appreciate all the more the gloom and the mountains of the PNW.