Day 4 – Rolla to Joplin
A quick breakfast, a brief meeting, and we were on our way to points south and west, ever west. I remember this part of the trip last year and I knew that there would be a number of interesting reminders of how things once were. Not much has changed in one year and today afforded a little more time for the exploration of things I missed the first time through.
The first two stops included the Hooker Cut – once the deepest excavation through a rock formation in the U.S. – and then Devil's Elbow. The complete departure from the highway and associated noise allowed for a devotional moment along the creek whose formation inspired the name Devil's Elbow. All that could be heard was natural: birds, insects, and a flowing stream. It was a magical moment.
The next stretch of driving allowed us to arrive at Carthage, Missouri, and a brief visit to a delightfully restored drive-in movie theatre. I hope it is a profitable enterprise and that a new generation can enjoy the simple pleasure of a drive-in movie on a warm and pleasant July evening. Wall-E was showing last night. I must say that the Carthage Court House is magnificent and a must-see on any Route 66 trip.
The interview at the Joplin Family Y included Pat Crespino, South Family Y branch executive director; Morgan Ramsey, the youth and family director at the Y; and Victor Knowles, minister of Peace on Earth Ministries and a frequent guest and speaker at Pepperdine.
Joplin is a city that enjoys community. In an era when many cities are fractured and disengaged, Joplin seems to have turned the tide. Their churches, community groups, Boy and Girl Scout organizations, and other civic and social entities seem to be thriving. Several examples of local philanthropy supporting local charities were shared.
I was heartened by how easily this group spoke of the importance of faith and timeless values. The notion of prayer in school was a welcome concept and not threatening. When it comes to those things that students should be encouraged to attain in the course of their academic curriculum, we discussed the need to learn about money, good manners, social conduct, and a strong sense of self-reliance and responsibility.
Not surprisingly, parents were cited as indelible influences in the lives of those interviewed. I say "not surprisingly" because of the apparent and close connections shared between generations in a community like this one.
We discussed technology, adolescent influences, the economy, and a range of interesting, relevant topics, but the open conversation about the significance faith can have in our lives was one more positive attribute of this trip to America's heartland.
I would like to add another question to the five I proposed last evening for my blog-along friends:
6. In your opinion, what role should public secondary schools play in shaping values among their students?
Tomorrow offers an all-too-brief, 12-mile foray into Kansas and then a return to Oklahoma and an alumni event at the Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City.
Your blog comments are very interesting. Thanks very much. Wish you were here!