Lake 33 Killing Relic
Chapter 13
Request for a tour guide

As mentioned before, THIS IS FIRST DRAFT, typos and poorly thought out ideas included. I will correct or send the chapter to the trash can as needed.

Note: still working on Ch 12 and jumped ahead

Chapter 13

Request for a tour guide

I was looking at a picture on the museum’s wall, an old-style house with a sweeping veranda.

Director Liu walked by and seemed to make a decision, turned, and came back to me.

“Those ladies you were eavesdropping on during our meeting?”


“You can close your mouth,” said the Director. “If I am going to help them in some fashion, I may require your assistance, that is, if you would like to help,” said Director Liu.

“Because you dived into my life history, I may be a little safer?” I asked.

“Marginally so. But Missouri is an open-carry state, is it not? That helps somewhat to improve my safety.”

I was at a loss for words.

“You can close your mouth,” repeated the Director. “It is not difficult to hear your talk in this echo chamber museum; honestly, the amount of trivia you have collected is astonishing. If I intend to help those ladies, I need to know more about the area, its history, and the remediation efforts of the Ordnance works and the Yellow Cake activities. My predecessor, while a good bureaucrat, appears to have deleted the files of various test results.

In short, I need a tour guide who knows his shit. You can close your mouth.”

“I would like to help,” I said. “I kind of like talking about this history.”

She gave me a look that could have been interpreted as “Really?”

“Are you familiar with this photo?” I asked, pointing to the picture I had been looking at.

“Yes, of course, Catalog Number 281-C.”

“This house is near where I grew up,” I said. Or rather, the ruins of the house sit on the prettiest part of Busch Wildlife Area. It overlooks the valley where the O’Day Creek and Dardenne Creek come together.”

She seemed mildly interested, but it was just another 1930s-era house with a wide veranda.

“The first time I saw the ruins, I was a kid on horseback- no, I was on a shetland pony. Probably too young to be riding in the remote areas of Busch.”

I pointed to another part of the museum, “But here, this is what makes it interesting. See the framed letter? I don’t know if anyone realizes the letter goes with the house.”

“What makes you think that?” asked the Director.

“The name and address. The letter is dated 1946, and the former landowner requests the Federal Government and the War Department return his 300 acres. Did you know that by 1946, many farmers still had not been paid for their land?”

“I heard you say that to someone. You get animated on the subject of the farmers, and I can hear you from across the museum. Did you realize you were already the unofficial tour guide?” asked the Director. “I hoped they tip you for your efforts.”

I felt my face blush. “Ah, sorry,” I said. But in truth, I had purposely increased the volume of my voice whenever the Director stepped from her office.

“This picture? I was attempting to explain that even though the house was torn down in 1938 when all the farmers were evicted for the war effort. But the letter, in 1946, this former landowner is asking for his property returned, which is heartbreaking.

He writes, “I believe I have sacrificed for the war effort by relinquishing my home and farm, and currently, the farmland that my family worked for generations to clear is being rented out to tenant farmers.”

The letter is doubly sad because that very year, the land was handed over to the Missouri Conservation Department to create Busch Wildlife Area. I can only imagine he died bitter about the entire deal.”

“That is sad,” said Director Liu. 

“Would you like to see the ruins of this house and the spring at the bottom of the hill? As a kid, I drank out of the spring every day while hiking.”

“How do we get there? It would help me, as the manager of the interpretive center, to see some of the homesteads and get a feel for what happened, but no tours through the radioactive areas. And I have heard you tell that wolf story several times.”

“I’m your tour guide, then. Does this afternoon sound okay? And yes, the Wolf Story was cool as hell, and that was in the bad area. We can park at the movie theater and hop the fence for these ruins. It’s not a bad walk. Bring some shoes that can get wet,” I said.

“Wet?” asked the Director.

“Well, you want to find an arrowhead, don’t you?” I asked. “And clothing, nothing fancy like you normally wear.”

“Fancy? Is that what you call business casual,” asked Director Lui.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t wear business casual,” I said. “And no cowboy boots or sequined evening gowns.”

“I have already been hiking the Weldon Springs and Katy trail. I know what attire to hike in.” She almost seemed irritated by my playful banter.

“Final question: one vehicle or two vehicles?”

“That’s easy. Two vehicles. I have seen the antique you drive, shake, shudder, and belch smoke.”

Oh my god. For the first time, I received a smile from Director Liu. 

“Two vehicles it is; meet you at the theater in thirty minutes?”

She turned for her office, and I caught myself, not for the first time, staring at her business casual clothing and wondering about the figure under the clothes.

“Hiking attire will be interesting,” I said to the old photo.

My phone buzzed; I looked at the screen and cursed at the world’s unfairness.

“Murphy,” I said.

“Hey bud, you have an hour and five minutes to get to the parole office for a check-in,” said Murphy.

I closed my eyes and nodded, “I will be there; I have to borrow a vehicle again.” 

The line clicked off.

 And borrow some urine, I thought. Butch?

I knocked on the Director’s door, and she turned with a smile that was so bright that it burned.

Brief author's note: Riding my pony and discovering these ruins is one of my favorite early childhood memories. At the spring was the first time I realized with some shock that every high hill along Dardenne Creek and the O'Day branch are covered with arrowheads.  

A few samples O'day Park arrowheads

Next Chapter   

Return to chapter  (to ch 11 while i complete 12)

Return to chapter 1 &2 of Weldon Springs Killing Relic.

Return HOME from Chapter 13 of the Weldon Springs tour guide story


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