by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
As is the case most weeks, I never know what to write about. I try to avoid too many personal stories about my own family members. But when your maternal family has been in the Grain Valley neighborhood since 1854, and your father’s family came in 1922, avoiding personal stories is rather difficult.
Sometimes I look around the museum and I’m inspired by artifacts I see and sometimes a recent donation to the Historical Society provides a story. Many times, I rely on a picture for my inspiration. Such is the case this week. However, the photo I have chosen is my mother.
My mother was the second daughter of Loren “Elmer” and Mittie Rumbo. Elmer came to Grain Valley from Kentucky but Mittie was born in Grain Valley, as was her mother, Anne (Herrington) Sanders. Mom had one sister, Opal. My mother attended 12 years of school, 5 in the original brick building, one year in a church, and her final 6 in the “new” two-story, built in 1926 after the fire. She graduated salutatorian of her class in 1932. While she had planned to attend college, it was not to be. On Christmas Day, 1931, Grandfather Rumbo’s feed store burned to the ground. It was during the Great Depression; the family business was destroyed and college was no longer an option.
She moved to Sni Mills for about a year. She lived with her married sister and worked at the Sni Mills general store which was owned by Opal (sister) and Clyde Fristoe. Soon Clyde bought a grocery store in Grain Valley and my mother returned to live with her parents in the house where she was born. I think she had various retail clerk jobs around town until March 25, 1937, when she and my father were married. After a honeymoon on the East Coast, they returned to the “little house” at Sni-A-Bar. My mother ran the boarding house and she often noted that “my salary was $150 per month and your father only made $100 per month!” I think she had to pay the woman who helped her prepared meals for the Sni-A-Bar workers.
They left Sni-A-Bar in 1942, and after managing a dairy farm in Fowlerville, Michigan (1942-45), they moved to Lee’s Summit, Kirksville, Tarkio, North Kansas City, Independence, and Lake Tapawingo. After WW II, my dad was employed by a number of large cattle operations to get the purebreds ready for a dispersal sale. They returned to Grain Valley in 1949 with two children, one ready to start first grade. They purchased Loring Hardware, later known as Napier Hardware.
My mother worked at our hardware store. She kept the books, ordered and stocked merchandise, and waited on the costumers. But just before Christmas in 1959, another huge fire destroyed the family business. Napier Plumbing & Heating continue after the fire and she continued to “keep the books.” In January 1961 my parents bought the school buses in Grain Valley and Oak Grove. They operated Napier Bus Service until 1983. In 1973, with the gas shortage in full swing, they bought DX Travel Mart in Oak Grove In order to have enough gasoline to run the buses in Oak Grove and Lone Jack. And mom continued to “keep the books.”
In between, she raised two children and made sure that they both graduated from college. I think that was her only disappointment in life, she wanted to go to college; she wanted to be an accounting teacher. She would have been a good one!
If you would like to know more about Grain Valley history, homes, businesses, or people, drop me an email. If I don’t know, I will try and find out for you.
Visit the Grain Valley Historical Society during its Missouri Centennial Celebration through August 15th. The museum, located at 506 Main, will be open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00am—4:00pm, and Sunday from 1:00pm—4:00pm.