Granby's Old Mining Town Days celebration began tonight with the traditional appearance of Bill Pierson, whose big band music has had quite a following in this area over the past six decades.
Pierson, whom I have been fortunate enough to call a friend since the days he was a columnist for the Newton County News and I was that newspaper's editor, was named Granby's Citizen of the Year in a ceremony that immediately followed the performance by Jim Hunter and the Mellotones with Pierson performing as a special guest. Pierson has performed on the opening day of Old Mining Town Days since it began over 20 years ago.
Thanks to master of ceremonies John Styron, who graduated a year ahead of me at East Newton High School, for his kind mention of Small Town News
Our band, Natural Disaster, will play shortly after 7 p.m. tomorrow night in Dick Smith Park. We are scheduled to perform for about 45 minutes. I hope to see some of you there.
Each year when I attend Old Mining Town Days, I usually park near the Methodist Church, which gives me the opportunity to look at the fountain beside the church building.
It was placed there over 25 years ago in honor of the late Barbara McNeely, who was murdered in September 1977 at Northpark Mall in Joplin. When I made my first efforts to write a novel back in the mid-1970s, it was Barbara who did my typing for me and took care of mailing the manuscripts to publishers (all of whom mailed them back, but that was my fault). I talked with Barbara's mother, Brownie McNeely, a longtime employee of the Granby bank, tonight. We talked about her grandsons, both of whom have been selected to attend service academies and about her son and daughter, Brad and Becky.
Barbara would have been proud of how her family turned out. Today would have been her 49th birthday. (I wrote about Barbara last October, you can read more at this link.)