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How’s That Name Spelled?

Our house was built in about 1856 by Napolian Bonaparte Stone, a prominent banker and businessman in the pioneer history of Independence. There appears to be some controversy in the way he spelled his first name.

The Namesake

Napoleon BonaparteNapolian Stone's French namesake Napoleon Bonaparte was a young lieutenant of artillery when the French Revolution began in 1789.  He worked his way through the ranks, becoming a general four years later at the age of 24.  A string of victorous battles and a campaign in Egypt caused his popularity to soar, and by 1804 he was named Emperor.  His military victories expanded the French Empire from Spain to Russia.  When the Russian Czar withdrew from its alliance with France, Napoleon invaded, and was defeated, more by the Russian winter than by battle.  Exiled to Elba in 1814, he escaped and returned to France the next year.  He raised another army, but within a hundred days he was defeated once and for all at Waterloo.  Napoleon passed away in exile on the lonely south Atlantic island of St. Helena in 1821.

Our Napolian

When Napolian Stone was born in 1818, Napoleon Bonaparte was still alive.  Americans at that time were generally amicable toward France, a vital ally from the American Revolution, and they admired the self proclaimed Emperor who once controlled most of Europe.  It is not surprising that Stone's parents named him after this impressive figure.

There is no record of Napolian Stone's birth, nor have we been able to find a record of marriage to his wife Emily.  According to the information we have, he came from Kentucky to Independence with Emily and daughter Anna about 1846, and the earliest records from Jackson County bearing his name are from 1849.  As a banker, he was involved with many transactions (deeds, mortgages, etc.) that are recorded with the county clerk throughout the 1850s, 60s and 70s.  In all the examples we can find, Stone's first name is always spelled like the French general, ending in -eon.  When he affixed his signature, he always used his initials, "N. B. Stone."

Legal Document

A legal document from 1857.

Why Was it Spelled Napolian?

So why would we believe that the proper spelling of his name was Napolian? The proof is carved in granite.

Stone MonumentThe Stone family plot in Woodlawn Cemetery (less than half a mile from our inn) contains a grand monument fifteen feet high with a statue of a young lady (an angel?). I believe it is the most beautiful marker in the entire cemetery. The monument has panels that mark the life of Mr. and Mrs. Stone and list several of their children who died in childhood. There is also a panel that commemorates Samuel M. Parker (more about him in a later blog).

Stone's first name on the monument is spelled with -ian. Not once, but in two places. Of all the places where a person's name is written, it should be spelled the desired way here. A man would make sure his name was spelled correctly on his tombstone!

A Mistake?

Was the -ian spelling the result of a stone carver's mistake? Not likely. If Mr. Stone objected to the spelling of his name, there were several options to make a correction. The error could be ground down and carved again. Or a mixture of cement and granite dust could be used to fill the error. Or the entire panel could be redone.

Why Spell it That Way?

We will probably never know why Napolian Stone spelled his name in such a non-standard way. Perhaps that is the way his parents taught him to spell the name. Or he preferred an alternate spelling to set him apart from his namesake.

Help !

As you can probably discern, most of this blog is our best-informed speculation about Napolian Stone. Currently (December 2017), we do not have much definitive information to go on. We don't even have a photograph of Napolian or any of his family. If you have any information, please share it with us.

Ladies-Only Murder Mystery – Killer Apprehended!

Another murder mystery was concluded on Friday, August 8th, 2014. The ladies-only investigation began at 6:30 and ended three hours later with the arrest of the murderer. Justice prevails once again!

Murder among the nouveau richeIt was the quarterly meeting of the Gazillionaire Girls Group, an exclusive club whose membership is comprised of successful women who made it big without relying upon the other gender. The hostess for this unique gathering was entertainment guru Bertha Brothert. Her upscale line of products appeals to the nouveau riche.

Brothert’s yacht, ‘The Perfection’ was the scene of the meeting. A special guest was present to entertain the Group’s members and to predict their futures. Famed fortuneteller Madame Magda pulled out her crystal ball and told the assembled clique of distinguished daughters of destiny that many good things await them.

Yacht - scene of the ladies-only murder investigation
Suddenly, a shocked expression crossed the mystic’s face as she shuddered in horror. The crystal ball, she proclaimed, was emphatic in predicting that someone would soon die.

The next morning, true to her words, a body was found floating nearby the yacht. It was Madame Magda herself who was the victim!

A large group of distinguished and well-dressed women arrived to assist in the murder investigation. With ten suspects and five other characters to question, they had their work cut out for them. But first, to fortify the ladies for their daunting task, they first dined on Cordon Bleu, bacon wrapped green beans, salad, and for dessert, peaches and blueberry crisp.

After dinner, interrogations began in earnest. Everyone tried their best to extract the most information from each suspect, hoping for a slip-up that might reveal the killer. Additional information was provided by the Crime Lab and the Coroner.

After intense questioning, each of the suspects was considered. Motive, Means and Opportunity were examined. Some suspects were identified as very likely to have committed the murder. Others were eliminated by their alibis, or being ‘too obvious’ a suspect.

At last, the murderer was revealed, handcuffed and presented with a ‘Bad Kitty’ scented soap. The investigators also voted on the Best Dressed Lady of the evening, and she was presented with a gaudy bauble, a genuine diamondoid of over 200 carats.

Melanie and Perry thoroughly enjoyed hosting this special ladies-only murder mystery. Watch this page for details on future Murder Mysteries at Silver Heart Inn. You can conveniently purchase tickets online, or by phone. If you’ve never been to one of our Murder Mysteries, here’s what to expect.

Ladies-Only Murder Mystery

Food and Exercise – What Matters to You

A big emphasis in the lodging industry nowadays is on food and exercise options.  I completely understand their importance to the chronic traveler.  After all, it’s a lot of eating out on the road, in airports, and it makes it very difficult to eat and rest well.  Simply stated, it’s hard on the body.

We have had pleasure travelers inquire about the same kinds of food and exercise needs.  They want a healthier menu option, smaller portions, and directions to the local gyms.  They aren’t just the younger generation, either.  It seems that we are all getting smarter about our health and fitness.  I think that is really great.  After all, we only get one body and one life, and we do want to live it to the fullest.

So, what does that mean for Silver Heart Inn?  How are we meeting the needs of those guests?  What can we do for you if you are watching your diet or would like to have exercise options?

I have given quite a lot of intentional thought to this.  How can I provide an extraordinary experience for my guests?  First of all, let’s take a look at the menu.

Food

Delicious Crepes

Bed and Breakfasts usually have a signature dish.  That is wonderful!  It sets them apart from the others.  But I have taken it just a step higher.  We have a seasonal menu offering.  This is a great deal of fun, changing it up, and trying new things!  What does that mean?  I choose to cook what is fresh, in season, and try to attend our local farmers’ market weekly to purchase locally produced food.  I look for organic foods if they are available.  Because I ran an organic egg, chicken, and dairy farm for seven years, I have a lot of knowledge in this area.  We sold our fresh products to a local market right here in the Independence / Kansas City area for over three years.  Fresher ingredients mean better nutrition, superb flavor, and that equals a better you!

Garden Frittata

Did you know that you could stay here for a whole week and never eat the same thing twice?  (We certainly do honor requests for seconds!)  I vary the menu while you are here from carb to protein days.  What?  You have food allergies, diabetes, need gluten free, or you are vegetarian.  No problem, I have options for you as well.  I can serve healthful teas that are caffeine free.  We are glad to accommodate.

Exercise

Now, about that exercise!  If you prefer your morning yoga, we have mats, blocks and straps on hand right here at the Inn.  Check out a DVD to watch in the privacy of your room.  Prefer to have a live class? Just down the street, we have a Yoga and Pilates studio.  We would be glad to give you a class schedule or make arrangements to use this gorgeous facility.  Also, down the road is a gym with equipment in the Sermon Center.  You could even run there to warm up.  We have a great location for all your fitness needs.

Maybe you are a runner,  just needing that morning jog to “get your game on”  for the day.  We are in a great running area.  Not only is the neighborhood easy to navigate, the historic cemetery just down the road has some varied slopes for a better workout.  (Make sure you stop by to say hello to Napolian B. Stone, original builder of our home.)  We have beautiful parks in Independence and also the Little Blue Trace trail for a longer run.

Cyclists have really enjoyed the trails here in Independence as well as easy access to many in the Kansas City area.  Our location puts you at the heart of all the wonderful attractions.  I am even networking with a local bike shop for rentals.  Give me some feedback on that.  I would like to hear your thoughts.

Perhaps you just need to have a rest for your body.  Treat yourself to a little indulgence and pampering.  You deserve it.  Licensed massage therapists for both therapeutic and Swedish message are available to come to you at the Inn or you can go out to the studio (also located on Noland Road), if you prefer.  We are happy to reserve an appointment for you.

I hope you can see that we take our guests’ food and exercise seriously at Silver Heart Inn. Until we see you for your next visit, stay fit and be well!

Second Murderer Apprehended!

Our second murder mystery took place on Saturday, January 25th.  Held entirely within the Silver Heart Inn, the murderer was apprehended in three hours.

Hindenburg-Earhart

It was 1937, a time of great achievement, great danger, and great uncertainty.  Industrialist Peter Petulant was mudered aboard his streamlined train, the Petulant Express, underway somewhere outside of Akron, OH.  The Inspector brought together the sleuths for assistance in solving the crime.

After dinner in the club car (including a birthday celebration), sleuthing teams questioned the suspects for clues.  Was it the obnoxious German brewer, the demure English mystery writer, the blustry southern senator, young Norwegian figure skater, the brash Aussie croc hunter, mysterious Italian opera singer, rotund baseball star or the flamboyant fashion designer??  Everyone had secrets, and some of those secrets, once revealed, could help solve the murder.

At the final gathering, the Inspector revealed the murderer.  One sleuth had deduced ‘who done it’ and was rewarded with a gift certificate.  The suspect with the best costume was similarly rewarded.  All guests left with a Silver Heart Inn keepsake wine glass.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this wonderful event, and to Debra for making mystery magic once again.  Watch this blog and Facebook for information on the next adventure.

The Murderer has been Caught!

From our first Murder Mystery Weekend,

October 11-12, 2013

What excitement, what fun! A fabulous weekend event on the most perfect fall weekend.  The weather was gorgeous and we were ready to deduce the murderer in our first ever Murder Mystery.

Friday Night – Meet the Suspects

The guests and suspects arrived as arranged by the Inspector to recount their testimonies for the sleuths on Friday night at the Cork and Barrel.  While we sipped on the celebrated vintage of the Melee Winery, each in turn recalled their memories of the party the evening before the body was found.  All emotions ran high, some seemingly disturbed by the news of the body found at the bottom of the winery basement stairs, other callous comments seemed incriminating.  Could it have been an accident?  The Inspector thought not!  Who did it if it was foul play?  A solemn tone had been set as we all left with the Inspector’s warning lingering in our ears, “You won’t get away with this.  One of you is guilty!”

Saturday Morning – Interrogations

All were once again gathered at the request of the Inspector on Saturday morning.  Information had been discovered overnight.  We could tell she had her own suspicions by the way that she eyed each suspect.  She asked for our help, and told us where to find the suspects in their regular haunts on a Saturday.  But this would not be just any ordinary Saturday, they would be questioned.  Maybe a little slip or perhaps an unintended comment about another suspect would prove helpful in flushing out the guilty party.  Someone was hiding something.  The plot thickened after each suspect was located on the Square or in the Englewood Arts District.  Little insidious connections became evident.

Saturday Afternoon – Snacks & More Questions

Food Spread

By noon we agreed to meet at the Silver Heart Inn B&B for a bit of hard earned refreshment and some time to share our clues with others.  This was no simple murder mystery.  The coroners report held a few clues.  It was more challenging than we thought!  As we sipped on our mulled cider, nibbled cinnamon doughnuts and caramel apple bites, each testimony revealed more twists, turns and conflicting information.  Questions came rapid fire, we were deep into the excitement of solving the crime.  Sleuths headed back out for a few more hours attempting to catch the murderer unawares.

Saturday Night – The Murderer Revealed

We met at Vivalore where we gathered in the 3rd floor art gallery. A “last chance” to confess was issued by the Inspector at the dinner table.  There would be no easy escape for the guilty one once revealed.  An arrest was about to be made.  No one confessed.  All around the table glances were passed, the knowing looks of those who shared secrets they believed no one else knew.  Oh, but we did, and now it was time to tell.  Tongues were plied with a bit more wine.  The Inspector stood….

You didn’t really think that I was going to reveal the murderer, did you?  You will just have to reserve your spot for the next Murder Mystery at Silver Heart Inn.  Check this blog for details on future Murder Mysteries. You can conveniently purchase tickets online, or by phone. If you’ve never been to one of our Murder Mysteries, here’s more about what to expect.

Murder Mystery Poster

Independence Film, Art and Music Festival

Film Art Music Festival

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Independence, Missouri Film, Art and Music Festival.  While it was the first, it won’t be the last.  I am already looking forward to next year.  And if attending these fine films was not enough, I had the privilege of hosting Ellen Frick, documentary film maker of Patriot Guard Riders right here at Silver Heart Inn B&B.  She is a great lady.  I will miss her and all the great conversations at breakfast over coffee.

You might be thinking, oh man, you actually sat through an entire weekend of documentary films!  Well, yes, Perry and I did.  We also took our 10 year old daughter.  There was much to be learned, shared, discussed, and well, you sometimes just need something to interrupt your world and open it up a little.

I am not a Bible beater, soapbox stander, or anything like that.  I am like most people who get fairly busy and comfortable in my world.  Sometimes I make assumptions based on what I know and often what I think I know.  I certainly take things for granted.  But I have to say this, things move me.  I cry at Hallmark commercials, the national anthem and movies.  When life and people touch my world, it changes me, I become connected.

I have heard it said that the world is getting smaller.  Yet there are things happening right around us that we do not know.  How can that be in this age of information, real-time and Facebook?  I believe that it is easier to get lost in the confusion.

Documentary film makers are trying to bring awareness, discussion, education and well, sometimes change.  They want you to see the fabric of the bigger picture playing on the screen around your life.  You don’t have to agree or disagree but be open to being reconnected to your world.  There was a time in our history that we were free thinking and great debaters.  At this time, with the world of information in the form of the internet at our finger tips I believe that this has been lost.  We are more a society waiting to be programmed, told, informed about what we should know.

I would like to introduce you to Frank Buckles.  What, you don’t know him?  He is famous.  He was the last survivor of World War I, at 110 years old.  I love Frank.  He has had an extraordinary life, which he shared with film maker David DeJonge in Pershing’s Last Patriot.  He reminded me somewhat of Indiana Jones, adventurer, foreign traveler, fighting an evil enemy.  Really, it’s an amazing story of a gentle man who was selfless.  All he wanted was a World War I memorial in Washington DC to represent those who served.  There isn’t one in DC and it looks as if there may never be.  Fortunately, here in Kansas City, is the World War I Memorial which has been designated as the national symbol.  But what about all the visitors who go to Washington, school children, veterans, who look at all the monuments in this central location?

Some time ago I wrote about our family’s experience with the drive-in theater.  Film maker April Wright was our inspiration with her documentary, Going Attractions.  My daughter got to meet her in person!  What a thrill to share with her how she showed us what we have right here in Independence, two drive-ins open and thriving!  Thank you April.  I am hoping to squeeze in another night at the drive-in with the family before the end of the summer.

TWA Flight 800 and the surrounding controversy was the topic of film maker Kristina Borjesson’s movie.  Kristina is a former news reporter.  Her facts and details in this film are riveting.  It certainly was thought provoking.  Perry and I had a great discussion about the material presented here for contemplation.  But, more than discussion, an opportunity was presented here to become involved in making a difference.

Certainly, you have heard of the hot topic in Kansas regarding the Darwin theories presented in public school education.  I did not realize all of the angles on this story and I live in the Kansas City area!  I felt challenged myself to see the balance of sides presenting information.  There is a great deal of pressure from the legal sector as a decision could be historical in the way scientific theories are taught.  You should definitely check this out.  The world is watching to see what will happen here in the United States.  Jeff Tamblyn, film maker, did a fabulous job of covering this in a fair and balanced approach in Kansas vs Darwin.

My 10 year old daughter chose Patriot Guard Riders as having the most impact on her life, “It made me sad.  I didn’t know people would do things like that.  Those people who ride the motorcycles are doing a very important job.  Those families know that someone loves them.  God wants us to love people who are sad and hurting.”  I sat with her in the theater after the movie on Sunday.  She asked questions, and knows that Kansas is the state next to us where this all began.  We discussed what we believe as Christians, and how other people might think about people who call themselves Christians when they see what happens in this movie.  We even talked about the First Amendment and the rights American citizens have under that amendment.  She has a brother in the Navy.  This all hits pretty close to home for her.  I believe her little heart was touched, her world enlarged, her mind challenged.  In a nutshell, that is what a documentary is supposed to do.  We are supposed to think.

Patriot Guard Riders

There were many other films to see.  I’m sorry to say that Perry and I didn’t even get to see all the ones we had on our list.  It was only one weekend.  I considered it time well spent, and very enjoyable.  Thank you to all the film makers who have given so very much time, talent, and cost to be here.  We are honored to have hosted you and your fine works here in Independence.  Thanks to Jim Hennequin and volunteers, only 365 days left to plan the next one!

And, for those of you who missed out…well, you did!  But, at least there will be next year’s festival.  Make sure you get advanced tickets because there won’t be as many open seats next year.  Word is out now!

Boxing and Life: 2013 Ringside World Championships

Ringside Boxing Tournament 2013

We recently had guests stay with us who were attending the 2013 Ringside World Championships boxing tournament.  This is the first year that the tournament was held in the new Independence Events Center.  It was an amazing experience. There are several insights that I would like to share.

Boxing Venue: Independence Events Center

I never was a boxing fan or even had any real understanding about the sport or the people who live that life.  And I do mean “live.”  It is not something that is taken lightly, for to be successful you must eat for the sport, live your daily life in a way that is centered around the training and conditioning necessary, even sleeping revolves around a different schedule.  A strict discipline of mind and body are essential.  The commitment it takes is astounding.  What I saw in just a few days was a mere tip of the iceberg.

One small group of boxers arrived from far to the east, Philadelphia.  Six guys crammed into a small car for an amazing eighteen hour trip.  If that wasn’t enough, upon arrival they crammed into our largest room and stayed together, supporting and encouraging each other for the next five days.  Late that night they ate one can of tuna and a few crackers and then went for a long run.  Some of them wrapped in plastic, sweating, to maintain their body weight within a few pounds.  All of this is critical control as in a few days it would be time to weigh in.  They must qualify for their weight class.  The next morning was more of the same, sleeping, running and even finding a local gym that they sometimes used into the night.

It was so very different than my own life.

In the first few days, we began to get to know one another.  I am talking about conversations of their lives and backgrounds.  It is not like the gritty “Rocky” scenes that you see in the movies.  These are men who have stories, aspirations, and struggles.  Boxing became real for me then.  I connected to the humanity of it all.  I connected to the ones who had entered my life.  My family went to the Independence Events Center and watched them in the ring.  I cared, I cheered, and shared the disappointment when they had their first nights of losses and in that one stroke, for them it was over.  But, the team stayed.  They cheered each other on.  Victory for one would be a victory for them all.  They had pride in their home gym.  The others continued to train while they waited for their one chance in the ring.

Boxing Training Fare

I have never cooked so many egg whites or turkey bacon in my life!  We went through ten dozen eggs this week.  Out went the B&B menu and I began cooking for “my boys.”  Some started calling me Mom.  I was the house Mama. They could look up into the stands and there I was, watching for them.

Another group of boxers was a family from Kansas who stayed in our beach cottage.  They have a gym and their son and his teammates came to fight.  This family lives for boxing, and their son’s success.  He is a champion, aged 15.  You would never know it.  He is gentle and humble.  His extremely conditioned body would be the only tip off of a dedicated athlete.  His family has drive and passion not only for their own son, but the other boys at the gym.  These gym owners literally fund the location, equipment, and trips out of their own pockets.  Why? Because they care.  Many of these boxing clubs are located in areas with low incomes, gangs and the like.  The boys they help have little, but what they get from boxing is beyond measure.  They turn a cocky young boy with attitude into a conditioned, disciplined young man.  I appreciated the heart they have and they way they give of themselves.  The dad has a regular job, a cattle farm, and works at their gym every night from 4-8 pm.  While they were here they had some car problems.  There he was, out in the parking lot, with those boys, pulling the tires and brakes off.  He was teaching them outside of the ring.  Those life skills will be a valuable asset to them.  His wife was totally supportive.  The two of us ran to the auto store to get parts that they needed.  She is making a difference in the lives of these young men.  They treat her with respect and she cares about them.  She is an amazing lady.  Her husband told me that and so did her son.  This husband and wife are a team with passion and purpose.  I now consider them friends.

A coach from St. Louis stayed with us while his team fought.  He had 3 young fighters, somewhat green, here to experience this huge event.  It is important experience to gain.  There were six rings set up for the tournament, with boxing matches going on continuously.  That is a lot of commotion and noise.  While the fights are going on there is cheering and mass confusion in the room.  Each boxer needs to learn to focus, tune out the distractions and spectators so that they can hear the coaches shouting to them instructions during the match.  It is difficult at best.  This was a time for the St. Louis group to learn as well as compete.

Breakfast was a grand time.  Since I had a house full of boxing people, the conversation flowed freely and friendly.  They made connections.  They shared stories.  They also had the same experience as me.  I heard them talking about life and shared interests outside of boxing.  They were getting to know each other, making new friends.  I was proud for that to be happening at the Silver Heart Inn.  I felt a small part in the bigger picture.

The other guest is a retired boxer and now a gym owner from far away Canada.  He has always wanted to come to the Ringside Tournament.  He may have arrived alone but soon found many new friends.  He is a gentle soul with a passion for the craft of boxing.  He shared with me a dream of coming to the USA and opening a gym here.  He described a feeling of destiny every time he has come to the U.S.  He wants to change lives too.  He loves the diversity of the U.S. and our many landscapes across it.  But what he would choose is the inner city where he can reach more boys and touch more lives.  Maybe we all want to leave our mark in the world.  I think that the greatest contribution that we can leave behind is the lives we have touched.  We may never know what a difference we might make on one person.  I had this conversation with one of the young men from Philly.  What is the difference between ordinary and exceptional?  I think our friend from Canada wants to give these young men a chance to live an exceptional life.  I admire him and hope that he gets the chance to live his dream.  He is a very kind man with a huge heart.  I will definitely be keeping in touch to see how his future plans unfold.

The tournament ended today and most of my new friends have gone home.  Tomorrow our friend from Canada will depart.  Somehow I am sad, the Silver Heart Inn seems empty without all of them.  Boxing has made me a better person.  My own world is bigger.

What I take away from all of this is that I have looked through the sport and have seen the people.  Pain, desire, aspiration, disappointment, joy and above all passion and commitment.  I just want to thank all of you for becoming a part of my world.  You are people, just like me, striving to live your dreams.  You are extraordinary.

A Train Trip: Take the Rail to the Trails

Truman Depot, the start of our train trip

I recently had the pleasure of making a train trip by the Amtrak line which comes into Independence.

While I needed to make a trip to St. Louis, I turned it into a bit of a research project for the Silver Heart Inn Bed and Breakfast.   Boarding the “Missouri River Run,” which is the name of the route which runs across the state between St. Louis and Kansas City, I left from the local Independence Station.   The early morning train which would take me into the St. Louis station would arrive just after lunch.   Of course, this would give me time to maximize all the opportunities of traveling on the train.

It had been many years since I had ridden the train, and honestly I had forgotten how enjoyable it can be.  The gentle rocking of the train was comforting and the scenery rolling by the window reminded me that Missouri is a very diverse state.  I observed the quick change from city with industry that used to depend on the rails to bring needed resources and take the finished product to the market place, to rural with its fields full of soft, lush, green spring grass.  Old rail fences took me back in time to a different pace of life attested to by more than a few abandoned barns who had stories of their own to tell.

Each stop was interesting, people coming and going.  I wondered what brought each of them to the train: commuting, seeing loved ones, a special time of getaway?  A group of school children were being herded by teachers and mothers, taking a short ride from one stop to the other.  I saw a young man asleep, a bunch of soft pink roses bundled in pretty paper tucked protectively in next to him.  What lucky girl would have them?  I wondered if she knew how much he cherished and missed her.  The image of a sweet reunion played in my mind.  A grandmother and granddaughter were traveling together.  The little girl’s voice was full of excitement as she questioned the older woman about all things that were new to her.  They smiled and enjoyed each other; it will be a precious memory neither will forget.  My own daughter and I traveled together, a spontaneous trip to see a young man who is very special in her own life.  She will soon be out on her own, beginning her life in the world.  We both have busy lives.  I captured the opportunity to make something special of our stolen time together.

Feeling a bit hungry, my daughter and I were free to get up, move around, and walk to the club car.  A charming boxed lunch was shared in the booth in the club car.  We had time to talk.  My daughter, who had been somewhat skeptical about the train verses driving (because it would have been a half an hour shorter), remarked that, “This was really nice,  I’m glad we did this.  I would definitely do this again.”  I would trade 30 minutes for this time with her any day!  Having had our fill, we returned to our seats and catnapped.

A pull of the whistle announced Jefferson City station.  Our capital is beautiful.  From the tracks, the Governor’s mansion and various state government buildings can be seen.  The range of history here boggles the mind.  Many of the people boarding were in business attire.  Could I be traveling with lawmakers and other important people?

Mid-way into the trip, we entered Missouri wine country.  There are many choices for tasting.  I have my own favorite Missouri wines.  I enjoy the variety of those produced and often serve them for events at Silver Heart Inn.  We do our best to support local sustainability by conscientiously choosing locally produced products.

The landscape began changing from suburban to urban once again.  St. Louis was not so far away now.  Was this the end of my trip?  No, my trip had begun at the station as we boarded.  When we travel as a “car” society, we think of how long it will take to get there before our “vacation” can begin.  Travel is something we tolerate, a necessity of going from one place to another.  But what if we were to look at the “getting to” as part of the journey that can be the phase where we begin to wind down?  How much more would we feel like we got out of it?  I was only gone for an overnight trip but I do feel refreshed.  I slowed down and so did time, it seems.

And just so you don’t think that I was slacking, I wrote this blog, “Take the Rail to the Trails” on the train.  Which trails?  The Civil War, the westward trails, Santa Fe, Oregon, and California, or the campaign trail which ended here for President Harry Truman?  I will be arriving home in Independence as he did, later today.

My daughter is already planning her next trip.  It was fun!  I’m looking forward to doing it again.  But first, I think I’ll catch a bit of shut eye.  I’m not doing the driving!

Patterns and Textures – Other Times

Shirley Gamble lovingly decorated the Stone-Gamble Mansion in the 80s.  Here are a few patterns and textures in the house that her decorating complemented.
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Risk Reunion Weekend, 28-29 September 2012

On a recent weekend, my wonderful wife Melanie presented me with a surprise that was nearly a year in the making: a Risk Reunion!

Risk Reunion: Vintage box

First, I need to explain how Risk, the board game of world domination, played an important part in the history of the Silver Heart Inn.

Since seventh grade, I was close friends with Evan, who lived in this beautiful house with his grandparents.  I visited him here often, and got a glimpse of the many rooms.  I recall one occassion when we stayed overnight in the Little House, the cottage in the back.  With no adult supervision, we stayed up the whole night.  On the huge console TV, we watched Johnnie Carson on the Tonight Show, then scary movie after cheesy movie on the Late Show.

Starting in our Junior year of High School (1978, Go Bears!), Evan hosted a game of Risk on Saturday nights in the Dining Room.  Anywhere from five to fifteen people showed up each week to play.  Most of the time, we played multi-board games, split into two alliances and rolled the dice with a special program that Evan wrote in BASIC on his TRS-80.  I always played green, Evan was blue, and several of the other regulars had their colors: Barton was black, Scott was red.  We had T-shirts made in our colors with the words, “I take risks” and a special pocket on the sleeve for our Risk card sets.

I know what you’re thinking, “Musta been pencil-neck geek Central in there!”  I will only say in our defense that we were perfectly NORMAL high school students of our time.  We all had cars, and most of us had girlfriends.  My letter jacket was adorned with medals and pins from my triumphs in Math relays, but the gold C I wore came from JV track I ran sophomore year.  Like I said, normal.

After high school, our lives all followed their own separate ways:

– I spent time in the Navy and Navy Reserve and became an IT weenie (“Could you reboot one more time, ma’am?”).

– Evan became a serial matriculator, attending several prestigious universities.

– Scott was a part-time corrections officer and become a successful marketer of food products.

– Barton was a software developer team lead at Garmin (my own dream company to work for), and became an accomplished Contra dancer in his spare time.

– Sadly, after creating several award-winning screenplays, Bob succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2007.

Zoom ahead to 2010.  Evan came to town and called a few of us to meet at Arthur Bryant’s, his favorite barbecue place.  We learned that the beautiful house was going on the market.  Melanie has dreamed of running a Bed & Breakfast for a long time, and was convinced that this wonderful house I knew from childhood, would be perfect to welcome guests in.  It took us a year and a half to get our finances in order to make an offer, but soon the house was ours!

The summer was a scorcher, and it was very difficult to make improvements on the Little House in the hot weather.  Melanie told me we had a booking for the weekend, so I took off work the week prior to make the enormous upgrades that still needed to be done.  Fortunately, everything progressed well, and by the end of the week, we had reimagined the Little House into a fabulous Beach Cottage.

Meanwhile, since before we even moved in, Melanie was contacting as many of my Risk buddies as she could locate to arrange this Risk Reunion.  A few weeks out, I happened to look on her phone and saw Scott’s name.  Melanie played it cool, and said that he was in town to visit family and had heard about our Bed & Breakfast plans from Evan.

Well, Friday night came, the time for Scott to arrive.  As soon as he did, I showed him around the place.  As I was doing that (surprise, surprise), Evan showed up.  I was still in the dark, and thought that maybe Evan stopped by because he knew that Scott was here.  Then Barton arrived, and I still didn’t put the pieces together.  Finally, Melanie presented us with our new, improved Risk shirts, and explained about this wonderful surprise.  We enjoyed wine and cheese that evening, and got caught up on each others’ lives.

On Saturday, after a breakfast of pumpkin pancakes, the Risk tournament began.  We used three boards, connected in a line from Kamchatka to Alaska.  After some jockeying for position, we soon formed into alliances: Barton and myself against Evan and Scott, black and green versus blue and red.  Missing Evan’s old TRS-80, we used an iPhone app to roll the dice.

After many hours of enjoyable banter and intense conflict, black and green finally succumbed to the onslaught.  Not to worry, however, we are planning a rematch next September.

Patterns and Textures – Shirley

The Stone-Gamble Mansion was expertly decorated by Shirley Odneal Gamble from 1983 to 1985.  She took special care, because not only was the house a showcase for her interior decorating talents, it was also her home.  The house was featured in local newspaper articles of the times.

Shirley Gamble

Shirley Odneal Gamble

Shirley decorated the home in Georgian Style, a flamboyant style that is characterized by elaborately carved furniture legs, ball-and-claw feet, ornate carvings and gilding.  The style borrowed from many influences, architecturally from Greek and Roman styles, but Chinese and Eastern styles were common interior elements, such as oriental rugs, Chinese prints and lacquer ware.

Allow me to share some rich patterns and textures that were lovingly placed throughout the house by Shirley.

Chinese Wallpaper

 

This wallpaper print, found the southeast bedroom, is a perfect example of Chinese elements used in the Georgian Style.  There is so much subtle variety in the pattern of birds and dainty dancers, that it is hard to discern three repeating vertical bands.

 

Bluebird Wallpaper

 

This is the wallpaper design in the northeast bedroom.  It is light, bright and airy.

 

 

 

Bird of Paradise Wallpaper

 

This wallpaper was Shirley’s crowning achievement.  It is a pattern featuring a Bird of Paradise and adorns the front entryway, all the way to the top of the stairs.  Straight from the factory, the print is very, well, BLAH!–not very colorful at all.  Shirley punched it up by commissioning local artist Dortha Wingate to hand paint highlights to the flowers and feathers in burgundy, pinks and teal blues.  It was a stroke of genius, because it coordinated perfectly with the deep burgundy moire below the dado.

Dortha Wingate

An artist always signs her work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Drops

Shirley went a little 80s in the north bathroom.  This small chandelier and the light fixtures in the wall feature light blue drop-glass beads.  The rest of the room is done in baby blue and gold, with brass faucet and tub fittings.  Following the Georgian style, the large mirror is surrounded by an ornate, gilded carved frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signatures in Elavator Shaft

In 1984, Roy Gamble suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair.  At the same time that Shirley was redecorating, the house was remodeled for wheelchair access, including a small elevator.  But Roy wasn’t the only passenger.  On the wall inside the elevator shaft, visitors have made their mark, echoes of happy times.

Shirley and Roy

This is one of the first signatures on the wall, Shirley and Roy welcoming us all to their home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are some of the decorating elements that Shirley added to the house. In my next blog, I’ll feature patterns and textures found in the house from other times. Many of them are elements that Shirley’s contributions complemented and harmonized with.

The 1850s

The Stone-Gamble Mansion has been an Independence landmark since it was built.   The exact date of construction is unknown, but the best evidence seems to indicate that it was between 1855 and 1859.  To set the stage, here is a list of significant events in local and American history from the 1850s.

1850: Millard Fillmore becomes the 13th President of the United States on 9 July, after Zachory Taylor died in office.

1850s Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore

1850: California is admitted as the 31st state on 9 September.

1850s U.S. flag with 31 stars

31 Stars

1852 to 1855: Commodore Matthew Perry and his fleet of ‘Black Ships’ established trade relations with Japan.

1853: Franklin Pierce becomes the 14th President of the United States on 4 March.

1850s Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce

1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed into law on 30 May.  The law repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which used geographical location to determine whether a territory would be admitted as a free or slave state.  Under the new law, the inhabitants of a territory (beginning with Kansas) would decide by popular vote whether to allow slavery or not.  Abolitionist settlers from the East stream into Kansas, as do pro-slavery settlers from Missouri, leading to many clashes in the following years.

1855: Alexander Majors built his two-story farmhouse south of Kansas City (now 81st and State Line Road, on the Missouri side).  The farmhouse still stands, and it is now a museum.  Majors was a partner in a vast shipping firm that transported freight overland from Kansas City to all parts of the West.  In 1860, the firm created the Pony Express.

1855 to 1856: Abolitionist John Brown travels to Kansas.  Advocating violent action against slavery, he terrorizes pro-slavery settlers and fights several skirmishes in what has become known as ‘Bleeding Kansas.’

1850s John Brown, 1856

John Brown, 1856

1856: The sidewheel steamer Arabia hit a snag and sank in the Missouri River near Parkville on 5 September.  The wreck was excavated in 1988 and the cargo is on display in the River Market area of downtown Kansas City at the Steamboat Arabia Museum.

1857: James Buchanan becomes the 15th President of the United States on 4 March.

1850s James Buchanan

James Buchanan

1858: Minnesota is admitted as the 32nd state  on 11 May.

1859: Oregon is admitted as the 33rd state on 14 February.

1859: John Brown storms and occupies the Harper’s Ferry Arsenal in what is now West Virginia, from 16 to 18 October, with plans to use the weapons to arm a slave rebellion.  He was captured by U.S. Marines under the command of Army Colonel Robert E. Lee, and later convicted and hanged.

I’ll add more entries as I discover them.

Our Story

Our own love story began in 2008 with a small silver heart.  It was found on a wintry day the first time that Perry and Melanie went geocaching.  On one side is inscribed “Passion,” and the other side, “Romance.”  Taken as a memoir of that day, it became very precious to us.  It is on display and we just love telling the story.

Silver Heart

Perry also enjoys sharing the adventure of geocaching with anyone who is interested.  Kansas City is a great location for geocaching, alone or with the family it can be a great day outdoors, fun and educational.

Innkeepers Perry and Melanie Johnson welcome you to historic Independence, Missouri.  Silver Heart Inn is located just off “The Square.”  Take in the sights; visit our downtown shopping; soak in the history from the historic trails, the Civil War, or visit the home of president Harry Truman; enjoy the local flavor of Kansas City’s barbecue; or just relax in the garden with something delicious to savor.

Perhaps you have a special occasion?  Let us have the privilege of making it unforgettable.  Requests are our specialty.

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