Museum holds book signing for ‘Lifetime of Memories’

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
The Barry County Museum celebrated Volume 20 of its Lifetime of Memories series, which features the life stories of long-time Barry County natives Herschel Stehlik, Ed Sanders and Devere ‘Mac’ McQueen. Sanders and Stehlik were on hand to provide an oral narration, and autograph books, however, McQueen passed away in July of 2013. Contributed photo

Series celebrates 10-year anniversary

On Nov. 3, the Barry County Museum held a book signing for Volume 20 of its "Lifetimes of Memories" series and celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

The series is part of an ongoing project, started in 2005, and each book volume features the lifetime stories of three to four Barry County natives.

Narrators for the books were Devere 'Mac' McQueen, Ed Sanders and Herschel Stehlik. Sanders and Stehlik were present to autograph books. McQueen died in July 2013.

"We were very pleased with the nice turnout we had," said Kathy White, museum director. "It's part of our oral history project, and out of that has come this series of books. Oral history is very important to the community. The books are an excellent source of history, and will be for years to come. It was Jerry Watley's idea. He thought [at the time] it might just be a few months project, but is has lasted all this time. It has been a fantastic project."

Each volume covers about 250 pages, and covers the entire life spans of the subjects.

"Every story starts when the individual was born, or if at the time we publish their story they are deceased, we include their obituary at the end," White said. "We tell their stories, their war recollections, and lives in Barry County. Most of the men had been to war. They got on a bus at the corner of the square, and were taken to far and wide corners of the world; and these were young men who had never been out of the county, let alone put on a bus.

"The story of McQueen is fascinating. He came from a poor family, and a distant relative got him into the CCC camp earlier than what most boys were able to, and when that was over, he joined the service, then returned home to work, but couldn't find a good job, so he went back into the service but into a different branch, and made it a life career out of it before returning again years later. He had met his wife the first time he returned, who had lost her husband in the war and had two small girls. They married, had a boy, and traveled all over the world before returning to Barry County. She died first."

The stories were proofed and approved by the narrators.

"They had the final say in what went in the books," White said. "We've tried very hard to witness the story the way they told it, and in their vernacular."

The very first volume was published in the fall of 2007, when the museum opened.

"We were publishing about four a year, but had not published one since 2013," White said.

Copies of all 20 volumes are available at the museum for just $9.95 each, and make excellent Christmas gifts, said White, who has worked at the museum since it opened and been instrumental in collecting, overseeing and preserving Barry County history.

"At Christmas time, we sell a lot of the books," she said. "We mail them all over the country.

"The museum started in a small office in the Show Me Plaza, then in October 2007, moved into this building. Jerry Watley bought 16 acres of land, and built the building. He's a very community-minded individual."

For more information about the volumes, or to purchase one, people may call the museum at 417-847-1640, or may stop by their location off of Highway 76.

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