13 July 2016


I have always enjoyed Garrison Keiler’s reports from “Lake Woebegone, Minnesota, my home town….where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”  Perhaps it is because I come from a family of strong women and from a little town that—a lot like Lake Woebegone—has an almost mystical hold on those of us lucky enough to know and love her.  I’m not sure that Stanberry, Missouri is a “town that time forgot,” but there is no doubt in my mind that it is a little town that “memory cannot improve.”

The McCarty Family was one of the founding families back in September, 1879.  My Dad and his brothers and sisters were born and raised there by James Marion and Gertrude Margaret Kurtright McCarty

My Mom was raised there from the time she was in fourth grade because my grandfather, William Bertrand (“Bert”) Kennedy--who was employed by the Wabash Rail as a Superintendent—and grandmother, Mary Theodosia Goodrich Kennedy, chose Stanberry, as the place to raise their family.

My Dad was the eldest of 11 children; nine of them survived infancy.  He went to war from Stanberry and after, in my eyes, he won the war, he came back home to the heartland.  Even after he joined Eastern Airlines in 1953 and moved us to the St Louis area, Stanberry was always home.  My brother and I spent every summer from 1954 until I entered OCS in 1966 in that dear little town.

Yesterday, the matriarch of our clan, my Aunt Mary (Mary Kathlyn McCarty Harris) passed away in Wichita, Kansas.  Aunt Mary is the last of her generation to leave us.  

I won’t be the only member of Clan McCarty traveling back to God’s country in the next day or two.  If you want to find Stanberry, just follow the traffic.   On Saturday, we will all go to St. Peters for Mass and then gather at Mount Calvary Cemetery—on the hill where we have gathered so often in its two resting grounds—to say “so long.”  That’s the good thing about our faith—we don’t say “Goodbye.”

Long ago, my Uncle Charlie, "Mr. Stanberry," coined a phrase, a slogan, that has for his children and his nieces and nephews, and their progeny become almost gospel to us.  If "Home is where the heart is," then tomorrow, I start for home.  

It is an easy trip, you see, for as Uncle Charlie taught us, "ALL roads lead to Stanberry."

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