• McFlation

    During my trip to St.Louis I made my annual visit to McDonald’s because my daughter requested McSalad. I was disappointed that inflation continues to devastate McValue “dollar” menu. You used to be able to get medium French fries in a cardboard package, and now it’s downgraded to small fries in a little paper bag.
    Very old people would be able to recite McDonald’s original prices:
    hamburgers–15 cents; cheeseburgers–19 cents; fries–10 cents; soft drinks–10 cents and 15 cents; coffee–5 cents; and shakes–20 cents.
    With higher prices and crappy food there shouldn’t be any reason to go to McDonald’s, while we have plenty of local hamburger joints such as Town Topic, Harold’s and Winstead’s.

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  • Musical Interlude

    I think I know a thing or two about the circus. When I was growing up© my parents took me to the circus 4-5 times a year and it wasn’t a traveling circus or a tent. My city had a permanent circus building and every few months a new program would come to town to perform for sell-out crowds.

    I was there during the golden age of the Soviet circus – world famous magicians, clowns, exotic animals, ground-breaking acts, daring performances.

    No wonder that many performers in the Cirque Du Soleil shows are from the Russian/Soviet school of circus. I attended three Cirque Du Soleil shows so far and they turned out to be some of the best shows of any kind I’ve seen in my life. Everything from costumes and specially composed music to the highest quality acts is perfectly matched to create a magical show. This song from the show Alegria is probably my favorite. Something about the dramatic music and raspy tragic voice of the singer; sometimes I keep playing it over and over….

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  • Old Photos: Russian Orthodox Easter

    According to the original Life Magazine article published in 1952 these photos were taken in the Cathedral of Holy Virgin Protection in New York. In Russian Easter is called “Pascha“; after the all-night vigil the believers declare “Christ is Risen!” and everyone responds “Indeed, He is risen!”.

    ©Time. Ralph Morse.
    ©Time. Ralph Morse.
    ©Time. Ralph Morse.
    ©Time. Ralph Morse.
    ©Time. Ralph Morse.
    ©Time. Ralph Morse.

    The rest of the photos.

    Russian icon depicting the resurrection. (source)

    Sergei Rachmaninov: Liturgy Of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 31

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  • Hardship-Off

    Reader Grace practically challenged me to a hardship-off. In response to my post “How old am I in dog American years?” she writes:

    I was born in pre-economic-Tiger South Korea. We had an outhouse, and took baths in a big tub in the courtyard that my mom filled with hot water. In the winter we went to the neighborhood hot baths (I think they have in Russia too, right?).

    As a simple answer I am posting artist’s depiction of outdoor plumbing facilities similar to what my grandmother had. The water from the well was poured into a hand-washing device and dirty water was collected below for whatever purposes i.e. mopping, etc. Once-a-week we went to community bathhouse for more thorough hygienic procedures.

    To continue the hardship-off submit your own hardship in comments.

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  • Johnson County,KS: Then and Now

    Today’s feature may be called “Back to the future” or “Forward to the past” because it goes back to the time when this metro area had a commuter rail which some of us so desperately want now.

    Interurban Line

    The description of this image reads:
    Black and white film negative of two trolley cars on the Strang Line between Pflumm & Haskins on Walnut. The car at the left is an open car. Text on the left end: “SANTA FE TRAIL ROUTE.” Text along the side of the car roof: “MISSOURI & KANSAS INTERURBAN RAILWAY.” The car has a number of seated passengers and two children stand in the end of the car. Several of the women passengers wear hats. The right car is an enclosed car. An oval on the side of the car, in which the name of the car is may read “OGERITA.” The building at the far right is the Lenexa mill. A portion of a railroad stations appears to be visible behind the cars. Several utility poles run along the track. A portion of a house is visible at the extreme left. Bare dirt in the railroad right-of-way is in the foreground.

    You can find a brief history of the Strang Line on the the JoCoHistory website. Strang Line (officially named Missouri and Kansas Interurban Railway) was developed by William B. Strang Jr and existed between 1906 and 1940 providing a link between Olathe and Kansas City and further on to St.Joseph. A book by Monroe Dodd (recently laid off from the Star so buy the book!) A Splendid Ride: The Streetcars of Kansas City, 1870-1957 has more details and a better quality picture of the same or similar train. A website by Ed Gentry is dedicated to the Interurban linking Kansas City and St. Joseph.

    Today the old Strang Line can still be traced on the map and in a surviving street name.

    The site of the old picture still has rails but they belong to the real railroad.


    In the end it’s always the real people who make the old pictures come alive. Someone named Bob Blackwell commented on the museum photo in October 2006: “The picture is looking to the Northeast so the dirt road is probably at the front of the old Trails End Hotel. I have fond memories of the Strang Line although I do not remember any open cars. I do remember the Obregon car. My mother Francis Blackwell used to take me to Kansas City on the Strang Line so she could shop. I rode the Strang Line to Olathe to high school in 1938 until it closed down.”

    Maybe some day we will be able to ride “the highest, coolest and most beautiful ride out of Kansas City” and create our own fond memories.

    View Larger Map

    This look at the past was brought to you by the Kansas City Lunch Spots : Where Lunches and Spots Meet In The Open. Also sponsored by: My Job: Three-day weekends – plenty of time to waste Additional financing by: Light Rail: Dream on.
    Previous posts here.

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