Looking back and gazing forward

 This is a short piece that eventually led to the writing of Urban Renewal, of my Champagne Books which may be revamped and updated at some future point. It's very autobiographical although it is fiction. The character names are different than those I used in the novel but the setting is the same, my grandparents' house on North Tenth Street in St. Joseph, Missouri. Home Again When I first come down the street, lined by the old houses that slouch like tired sentinels who just want to get off duty, it looks the same and that nothing has changed at all.   Time took a long break here and hung out – or it looks that way until I really open my eyes.   Then I see that the old neighborhood has gone downhill like the rest of us, that it has lines cut deep into its face, the kind that make-up cannot always hide and that it looks bad.    It was not an upscale place back then, about two rungs – or maybe just one and a half – above a ghetto but now, it is like some Third World disaster z

The small town that inspired Scrooge And Marlee

      When most Americans think of Missouri, the Gateway Arch comes to mind. Other landmarks they might find familiar include Arrowhead Stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs (including Patrick Mahomes) play, 1800's style theme park Silver Dollar City tucked into the Ozark hills near vacation destination Branson, or the Bass Pro Mega store in Springfield. There's another part of Missouri, however, that brims with history, scenery, and German culture. The Missouri Rhineland includes the city of Hermann, founded by immigrants from Germany in the 1850's.               Hermann offers a delicious taste of both German culture and cuisine. In the historic district paralleling the river, visitors can almost believe they're in Europe. In the hills surrounding town, multiple vineyards, some owned by the same family for generations, can be found. In Hermann and just outside, ten wineries can be found as well as five distilleries and two breweries. Several restaurants serve authe