14

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

LAWRENCE EUGENE VAUGHN (Sr)

Updated 4 November 2019 by Lawrence Eugene Vaughn Jr

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Lawrence Eugene Vaughn, December 1974

Table of Contents

  • Lawrence Eugene “Gene” Vaughn
  • Retail Stocking
  • Birth Certificate
  • Caring for Billy
  • L.B. Price Mercantile
  • Patee Park Baptist Church
  • Marjorie’s Notes
  • Graduating High School
  • The Summer and Fall of 1942
  • Sign Painting
  • Elkhart IN
  • Refuge in Kahoka
  • Nona and Tony White
  • 1505 Vermont Street
  • National Guard
  • 1709 Vermont Street
  • Shade Tree Auto Repair
  • House Additions
  • Chief Warrant Officer in Charge
  • Hannibal Police Department
  • Louisiana MO
  • Mexico MO
  • Moberly MO
  • Chillicothe MO
  •  Moving KCHI Radio
  •  North Missouri Armed Forces Day
  •  Boeing CH-47
  •  Helicopter Departures
  • Lt General Light
  •  Table Rock Lake
  •  Denke Dock
  •  Denture Dives
  • 40th Wedding Anniversary  
  • Death Record

Lawrence Eugene “Gene” Vaughn

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Lawrencd Eugene Vaughn (Sr), age 17

When Lawrence Eugene Vaughn was born on June 24, 1924 in Marion, Illinois his father, William Thomas Vaughn, a retail merchant, was 29 and his mother, Jessie, a dressmaker, grocer and retailer, was 28. He was the third child born to the family, One year later, almost to the day, he would have a younger brother.

Retail Stocking

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His parents were operating a neighborhood retail grocery store on Chestnut Street in Marion, Illinois, in partnership with Beulah’s father, Alfred Phillips. The store didn’t do very well, so they sold it and moved to another location on Duncan Street. That location was better, and they were there for a number of years.

My mother told the story that when Gene was a baby, he was cradled in a wooden cracker box on the countertop at the store. When he was a toddler he was tethered to a tree outside while his parents worked in the business. I wonder what they did when Billy got old enough to play outside with Gene. I can only imagine the boys getting their tethers tangled!

Caring for Billy

As soon as Gene was old enough, he was responsible for taking care of, and entertaining,  his younger brother, Billy, who was so “delicate” he was excused from having to do chores of any kind. He was considered to be artistic, and was given piano and singing lessons. Those skills actually supported him  throughout his radio and television career.

Meanwhile, Gene was tasked with working in the store, stocking shelves, taking care of general clean up and the other chores that are inherent in a family run retail business. He remarked in later years that he didn’t have much “fun” times as a child, as he spent his after school time and weekends “at the store” with his parents, working.

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Gene, age 2, 1926

L.B. Price Mercantile

W.T. had taken on some additional work with L.B. Price Mercantile, selling household goods door to door, and was away from the family grocery store almost all day. Soon, L.B. Price recognized W.T.’s skill set and hired him to manage an underperforming store in Harrisburg, Illinois. While there, Gene reached school age in 1930.

His parents decided to start five year old Billy a year early, and sent him to school along with Gene. Their sister, Ruth, and older brother, Virgil, were old enough to walk them to school and back, and make sure they knew their way around.

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Gene, age 7, 1931

L.B. Price relocated W.T. frequently to rescue under performing stores in Marion, Illinois, Paducah, Kentucky, Marshall, Missouri, St. Joseph, Missouri in 1939, and, finally, to Hannibal, Missouri in 1942. While in St. Joseph, the family lived over a store building on 12th street.

Patee Park Baptist Church

While in St. Joseph, W.T. and his family joined the Patee Park Baptist Church pastored by Reverend Cleland, who asked W.T. to be his assistant pastor. W.T. was soon commissioned by the Patee Park Baptist church, and he also had a smaller church he shepherded part time.

When W.T. moved to Hannibal, in August, 1942, to manage the L.B. Price store on Market Street, the family was able to live in the apartment above the store. In the next door apartment lived the Wallace White family.

Marjorie’s Notes

My mother, Marjorie Gwendolyn White recalled, “When I met your father in August of 1942, your grandfather, William Thomas Vaughn, was a salesman for L.B. Price Mercantile Company, and part time Baptist minister in Hannibal. I think it was at the Immanuel Baptist Church on St. Marys Avenue. Also, he was minister at a church located on 5th Street. I’m really not positive on that, as I seem to remember that the Hannibal Calvary Baptist Church, at one time, split apart and some of the people started the church your grandfather pastored.”

“He also, at various times, pastored Baptist churches at Perry, Meadville, Braymer and Kahoka, Missouri, where he and your grandmother lived in the parsonage home. It seems to me he also was part time, or filled in, for minister vacancies in Macon and Rush Hill, Missouri.” It was while living in Hannibal that W.T. decided to enter the ministry full time.

“Grandmother, Jessie Beulah (Phillips) Vaughn ran a substation for the Hannibal post office at that time in grandfather’s store. L.B. Price Mercantile Company sold bedroom linens, some dishes and kitchen cookware. I do not know how long he worked for them. Both the mercantile company and the postal station was located at, I think, 1724 Market Street (Hannibal, MO) and grandfather and grandmother lived upstairs. My family lived next door at 1722  Market, upstairs, above Neiman’s Grocery Store.”

Graduating High School

In this high school graduation photo, Gene and brother, Bill, are standing on the front lawn of Levering Hospital, located to Gene’is right, with Eugene Field School behind them. DeLaPort Shoes, Hoenes Hardware, Neiman’s Market,  the L.B. Price Mercantile, which took up two storefronts, and The Corner Cafe would have been across the street on their left. What were 1700 and 1800 blocks of brick buildings are now parking lots for the school.

The draft registration must have taken place only a few days after graduation from high school, as his birthday was June 24, and he had just graduated in May. It also indicates that he was head of household, although Marjorie said that he was still living with his parents at 1733A Market, and employed by C.L. Lukeman as a cobbler apprentice, in the rear of DeLaPorte’s shoe store at 1733 Market Street. (Those blocks have been renumbered as buildings were removed.)

Gene graduated in May, and Marge met in August, 1942, were married 12 November,1942,  and he shipped off to Marine Corps Basic Training shortly thereafter, and was discharged on the 26th of November due to chronic hay fever, and resulting bronchitis, which prohibited him from serving on a battleground.  

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The Summer and Fall of 1942

Meanwhile, World War Two was raging. Gene may have enlisted in the Marine Corps while still underage and in high school, but certainly no later than the summer of 1942, following his graduation. The daily news was all about current events of World War II. Pearl Harbor had been attacked the previous December, and the U.S. was gearing up to fight battles on two fronts.

The fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942, ended in defeat of the U.S. Army Forces Far East on Luzon by the 14th Japanese Imperial Army. The Battle of Corregidor, was fought May 5–6, 1942, in which 12,000 U.S. troops were defeated and surrendered. Over the course of the war, thousands were shipped to the Japanese home islands as slave labor.

Guadalcanal was now firmly in the hands of the Japanese, and the first air missions by the United States Army Air Forces were being undertaken in Europe.

The naval battles of the Coral Sea and Midway were also fought that summer. The Germans were now attacking too close to mainland America when submarine U-553 sank British freighter Nicoya near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, signalling the opening of the Battle of St. Lawrence.

News that Jews were being gassed by the Germans reached the West. The systematic deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto had begun. Treblinka II, “a model” extermination camp, was opened in Poland.

The news of those days would have fueled the flames of patriotism in the young men, and it is the reason U.S. military forces tripled in 1942 and again in 1943. Gene was disappointed that he was not accepted for federal service, and decided to join the Missouri State Guard, where he could serve at home. He had a long and distinguished military career which is covered in the following chapter.

Sign Painting

After returning from Marine Corps Basic Training, Gene went to work for the Independent Sign Company, located at Third & Hill Streets in Hannibal. He and Marge rented an apartment nearby on Hill Street. The Independent Sign company printed large outdoor billboard signs using the silk screening process and multiple sheets of paper for each sign. The silk screening process required framing the silk screens and mixing paints and then applying a layer of color one at a time with a squeegee.

Once, while mixing paint, he leaned over too far and got his long curly red hair caught in the blades of the mixer. As it wound his hair round and round, pulling him toward the blades, he braced himself again the mixer, and it tore his hair completely out, leaving a large, bloody, bare spot on the front of his head. He immediately went home to bed, covered his head with a pillow, and stayed there until time to go to work the next day. He wore a hat to work after that incident.

Gene and Marge’s first son, Lawrence Eugene Vaughn, Jr. was born on Valentine’s Day in 1944. They called him “Larry.” They had moved to a larger apartment on Bird Street. Their second child, Jean Ann, was born in March of 1946. In that year Gene was listed in the Hannibal City Directory as a sign painter for Outdoor Advertising Co, and resided at 900 Pleasant Street.

Elkhart IN

In late 1946, seeking better pay to support his growing responsibilities, Gene moved his family to Elkhart, Indiana to accept steady work as a press operator for a tool making company. He now had two children, and a third was soon to arrive. He worked at Precision Stamping, a metal working factory where he ran a large press.

The job put food on the table, but piecework was not a good fit for his creative talents and interests. He continued to receive referrals and requests for quotes from his sign painting business back in Hannibal. During this time his third child, Pamela, was born.

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Precision Stamping, Elkhart, Indiana 1946

After the 1947 spring floods had receded from the streets of Hannibal, family members notified Gene that the Mark Twain Hotel needed someone to paint a large Mark Twain themed mural in the dining room. He was one of several bidders for the project and was awarded the contract. Work on the mural was scheduled to begin in a few months after repairs At the time he was working at the Elkhart tool company as a press operator, had three children, walked to work, and had no car. But, he needed to get to Hannibal.

Shoeless Joe

In 1948 my dad set out to make the trip to Hannibal on foot. He thought he would try hitchhiking from Elkhart, Indiana to Hannibal, Missouri, a distance of over four hundred miles, to paint the mural in the Mark Twain Hotel. He got only one short ride through a town, and just gave up on hitchhiking. It seems noone wanted to pick up a young man carrying a pair of suitcases, one of which held his paint pigments and brushes.

He eventually made it to Hannibal, after completely wearing through the soles of his shoes. He had to line the insoles with layers of cardboard and newspaper until he could afford to get them repaired. While in Hannibal, he learned from family members about the Missouri National Guard unit based at the Admiral Coontz Armory, and that he could get a fatigue uniform, including a pair of combat boots, if he enlisted! He enlisted, and he got his boots!

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Hannibal Unit of the Missouri State Guard Bivouac, Mark Twain State Park, Florida, MO ca 1947
Eugene Vaughn on left (in combat boots)

Moving back to Hannibal

When the hotel mural was finished, Dad’s work landed him a little local notoriety and several new painting commissions, mostly sign painting and lettering. He was then able to purchase an old Pontiac 4-door sedan and go back to Elkhart to move his family to Hannibal.

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Gene, above left, and father-in-law Wallace White, in Elkhart, build a trailer for Gene’s move back to Hannibal, in early 1948. Wallace is carrying wire, which suggests that the trailer may have been at least in part, held together with bailing wire. Notice, standing upright and leaning against the porch, between Gene and Wallace, are clothesline poles. The clothesline was located just behind Wallace at the right edge of the photo.

Mom told the story about that return trip to Hannibal, towing the trailer with what little they owned stowed in it. The trailer broke apart that night as they were rounding a curve in Kankakee, Illinois, during a rainstorm. Family tradition is that the right side of the axle came lose and steered the trailer wildly toward the river, while jackknifing the car behind it.

They had just crossed the Kankakee River, went up a slight hill, and started down the other side, in heavy rain, when the trailer’s axle broke and whipped the car into a spin, jackknifed, tipped the trailer on its side, and spilled the contents all over the highway and down the steep shoulders of the road toward the river.

Gene and Marjorie got out into the heavy downpour to save what they could, particularly, she later said, “the children’s’ clothing.” They were scattered everywhere! The Victrola record player was the only household furnishing they were able to retrieve, as they washed down the slope into the river. They couldn’t locate the baby’s highchair, or anything else that was still usable. The Kankakee Police did send a small package of little bits of children’s clothing that were recovered, but nothing of much consequence.

Refuge in Kahoka

They had little money, and now had lost their winter clothing, linens and bedding. They had no place to return to in Hannibal, so Gene stopped at his parent’s parsonage in Kahoka, MO. His father was pastor of the Baptist church there, and had a small home with a spare bedroom.

When they arrived in the middle of the night, they found that the spare bedroom was occupied by Gene’s grandfather and grandmother, Fate and Rebecca Vaughn, who had recently come to Kahoka for an extended visit, as they had given up housekeeping.

Pallets were quickly made up on the couch and the floor, where the children slept comfortably, and the adults fitfully. But, they were dry, they had full tummies, and would get gas money from church coffers to complete their trip.

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Gene’s family stayed in Kahoka for a second night, making long distance telephone calls to Hannibal to make housing arrangements, and then headed out with only a couple of spare blankets, some gifted clothing, and a full stomach to get them on their feet. (Notice Marjorie’s rubber boots) There was more sign painting work waiting for him in Hannibal, but he wouldn’t get paid until each job was completed, and he had to be very frugal with the money he had on hand. It was a desperate time.

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Mom and Pop White

Since they had no place of their own, Gene and the family turned to Marjorie’s grandparents, Tony and Nona White, who lived in a four room house on Market Street in Hannibal. They also owned a two story house at 1505 Vermont that they had remodeled and rented as two upstairs and two downstairs apartments.

When they arrived in Hannibal, Nona and Tony, known to the entire family as “Mom & Pop White,” fed them and told the family to go to the house on Vermont, where they could rent the upstairs two room apartment overlooking Clark and Vermont steets.

Nona gave them what spare blankets and bedding she had, and, with the help of their church family, helped them set up some basic housekeeping. Marjorie made “curtains” out of wall paper for the tall windows, got by with borrowed spare dinnerware and used furniture contributed by folks from Mom & Pop’s church.

Soon, Wallace and Nellie White, Marjorie’s parents , soon came from Elkhart to visit. They bought winter coats for the children, and Tony and Wallace helped Gene set up a sign painting workshop in the stable out back of the house on the alley facing Clark Street.

Mark Twain Hotel Mural

It was during the 1947-48 period that he painted a full color Mark Twain themed mural on the long dining room wall of the Mark Twain Hotel, downtown Hannibal. No known photo of the finished work has survived. The flood of 1947 had damaged or destroyed much of the first floor of the hotel, including dining areas, and as a followup of the restoration, Gene was hired to paint a large mural covering the entire length of one dining room wall. The project took several weeks to complete, and the progress was reportedly quite the spectacle.

Marjorie, Gene’s wife, described the mural as a wall-length landscape of the Hannibal waterfront with the light house on the left, Lover’s Leap on the right, a string of railroad boxcars pulled by a steam locomotive below Cardiff Hill, with a paddle wheel passenger boat approaching the dock, and a string of a dozen barges emerging from behind Jackson Island pushed upriver by a gleaming white towboat. In the background was the heavily wooded Illinois shoreline with blue sky and fluffy white clouds above.

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1930s postcard of the Mark Twain Hotel coffee shop shows the elegant hotel decor

The elegant Mark Twain Hotel was built in 1905 to replace the former Park Hotel which had stood on the northwest corner of Center and Fourth Streets until it was destroyed by fire on April 27, 1899. It had seen many famous vaudeville stars during its heyday.

The Park Hotel and its staff had served as hosts to many notable persons who came to Hannibal. Many of them were famous in the world of music and drama. They performed at the well-known Park Opera House at Fifth and Center streets, one block up the hill.

Hannibal, in that period of its greatest prosperity, attracted many new enterprises because it had the necessary utilities, was served by commercial river traffic, three major railroads, and two regional short line railroads.

1505 Vermont Street

In 1950 Gene was listed in the Hannibal City Business Directory as a “Sign painter” located at 1505 Vermont. In the residential directory for 1950 he is listed as “Supply Sergeant, National Guard,” residing at 1505 Vermont.  In September of 1950 he was promoted to the Grade of E-6, Sergeant First Class, in 35th Military Police Company, 35th Infantry Division, Missouri National Guard.

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Missouri National Guard

Gene eventually had taken on a full time position with the Missouri National Guard, as resident administrator of the Admiral Coontz Armory in Hannibal. He had less time for sign painting, as the Guard job included working on drill weekends once a month, renting the armory for community events, cleaning up the armory after each event, and there was a two week summer camp each year.

Preparing for summer camp seemed to take several weeks, as vehicles, field kitchen,  and other equipment were all inspected and thoroughly checked out prior to departure. All of the vehicles and trailers, communications gear, and other equipment needed for the National Guard unit’s mission would be moved onto the drill floor of the armory a few weeks ahead, so that it could be checked out and prepped for deployment. Food and other perishables were purchased and stocked in the last few days before deployment.

1709 Vermont Street

In the 1953 Hannibal City Directory Gene’s occupation is listed as “USA,” and he resided at 1709 Vermont St. I didn’t find a business listing for his sign painting business that year. I presume the “U.S.A.” means that the Missouri National Guard had then been organized as an active unit of the federal force.

Shade Tree Auto Repair

There would sometimes be one of the Guard’s vehicles parked in the driveway alongside our house where there was a very tall oak tree. From an upper branch of the tree hung a long, inch thick olive drab military tow rope fitted with a pair of pulleys used to lift and lower parts being worked on by dad and other members of the unit.

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Shade tree auto repair of . In the photo above, working on a broken flywheel, are Dennis Bowen (on the ground under the engine), Eugene Vaughn (under the hood), Wallace White (sitting on the ground), Wallace (Jack) White Jr (front seat), and David Vaughn (by rear fender) in 1951.

The location is the driveway beside our house at 1709, which is not in view. The building beyond the car is the former Elzea Grade School, residence of the Bowen family at Dean and Vermont streets. On the opposite side of our house was the home of Henry Pickett.

The driveway ran from the street to the large back yard, where a parking area had been graveled, and a concrete block garage started. That oak tree, produced so many acorns we scooped them off the gravel driveway with a flat bottomed scoop shovel! They were extremely difficult to walk on, and they stank in the summer sun after a car ran over them. We scooped them over to the Bowen side of the driveway, along the fence, where they were eventually carried away by an army of squirrels.

House Additions

Gene built an additional bedroom onto the back of the four room house at 1709 Vermont St, and enlarged the bathroom out onto a part of the large back porch, which also served as the laundry room.

The interior of the new bedroom was finished with outdoorsy tongue-in-groove knotty pine, and had an in-floor gas furnace in the middle of the room. This became the bedroom for Larry and David. The entrance was through Pam and Jean’s bedroom, or, alternatively, from the laundry room, on the back side of the kitchen. The parent’s bedroom and the living room were on the front of the house.

Tony Matthew White and father-in-law Wallace Benjamin White also worked on the construction of the new bedroom.

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Donald White, David & Pamela Vaughn, J.T. White, Jean & Larry Vaughn 1951.

Chief Warrant Officer in Charge

The 1955 Hannibal City Directory listed Gene as Administrative Assistant, National Guard, residing at 1709 Vermont. In 1959 the Directory listed him as CWO in Charge, National Guard, 35th Military Police Company, residing at 1714 Grace.

Hannibal Police Department

In 1958, while still in the National Guard, Gene joined the Hannibal Police Department part-time to explore how his army criminal investigation training might transfer to civilian policing, and whether he might want to pursue a civilian career in policing.

The Army National Guard had announced plans to retire the warrant officer grade in all army occupations, except for aviation. That meant that Gene had only the option of regressing to the grade of First Sergeant, and returning to non-commissioned status, with accompanying loss of pay.

Gene chose to pursue a different occupation, and in 1960 went into residential construction as a developer. Many of the houses visible along U.S. 61 between Hannibal and New London were in communities he helped develop early on.

Louisiana MO

In  the summer of 1961 he moved his family to Louisiana, Missouri, where he joined the real estate development firm IBC Homes. They were fabricating wall and roof sections of residences which were then delivered by truck and quickly assembled using cranes to lift the sections into place. It was a new wave in home construction, and whole neighborhoods were grown up in short order.

This residence was their home. The screen capture is from Google Earth in 2017, and shows the house as it was in 2012. The house originally featured a two car garage on the left, full length basement, and three ground floor bedrooms. The boys shared one bedroom while the girls shared another. Marge and Gene had the master bedroom on the right end of the home. The dining room, on the rear, adjacent to the garage, had sliding glass doors that provided a spectacular view of a curve in the Mississippi River, shown below.

Marjorie, Nellie and Wallace White standing at the rear of the house, with the view from the dining room of the mighty Mississippi river in the background.

There was very frequent barge traffic on the river, and on one occasion while the family was seated at the dining room table, a long string of barges came around the bend. The barges were covered with snow, and, as my sister Pam tells it, mom exclaimed, “Oh. look! They’re taking snow down south for people who never get to see it!”

I remember it differently: Lea was visiting my parents’ home, and we were seated around the dining room table with her back to the river. Someone pointed out the barge coming around the bend, and Lea turned to see it, and exclaimed, “I always wondered what they did with all that snow they plowed up!” Then, never one to miss a chance to “get one over” on someone, mom said, “Yes, they’re taking the snow down south for people who never get to see it!”

Gene’s new home construction business had been going quite well, until one of the subcontractors he was using failed to perform to standards and the homeowner sued. The suit went on for a couple of years after I graduated and moved from home, but, eventually Gene was found at fault and liable for restitution. The lawsuit nearly ruined him financially.

Mexico MO

His next move was to Mexico, Missouri, where he entered the field of commercial sales for the local radio station, KXEO.  He found that he liked the broadcasting industry, and his son, David, also worked on air at KXEO for a while. Marjorie liked being in Mexico, where she had spent many of her childhood years, and had many members of her extended family still living there.

Her father, at one time, worked for the local brick factory operated by A.P. Green, providing trucking services, and later, into working on the manufacturing line. Once known as the firebrick capital of the world, Mexico lost its last firebrick plant in 2003.

Moberly MO

The next career move for Gene was to Moberly, and KWIX Regional Radio, and The Paper, both owned by Jerrell Shepherd. Jerrell also owned a 3,000 acre farm in Clifton Hills, west of Moberly, where he was raising a small herd of bison and specialty grasses for feed. Gene enjoyed working in the Shepherd businesses, but after a few years, learned of an opportunity to manage a radio station not far away.

Chillicothe MO

KCHI was owned by an investment group who were silent partners in the station, none of whom lived in the area. They hired Gene to manage it, and he put together a sophisticated sales training program, hired a morning announcer away from KWIX, and hired other staff through the Missouri Broadcasters Association.

His wife, Marjorie, took on the role of traffic manager, which is the position responsible for getting the sponsored content on the schedule at the correct times. Gene quickly established his sales process and built an aggressive and quite successful sales team in short order. His success resulted in much better profits for the investment group.

Moving KCHI Radio

Soon, his sales staff outgrew the small space the radio station occupied in a retail center, and he bought a building at 421 Washington Street that had at one time been a bowling alley. He built several freestanding rooms to serve as broadcast studio, production studio, sales and management offices, all with large windows that permitted a clear view of activity in all departments throughout the building.

The studios were designed so that announcers stand at the control board and microphone, rather than sit, for better voice projection. The practice was considered innovative for its time. Gene styled the studios after the design he observed while at KWIX radio in Moberly. Their broadcast system was designed with a very slight echo on the microphones which suggested “vastness,” enhancing their “Regional Radio” theme.

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Eugene using Texas Instruments TI 99/4A computer to create a payroll system for KCHI – 1982

Table Rock Lake

In 1977, Gene and Marge had been planning a July family vacation for over a year. Each of their four children, and the grandchildren, would take vacation at the same time, and get together at Indian Point Resorts, on Table Rock Lake, just south of Branson, Missouri.

The five families had each rented a cabin for a week. In those days Indian Point Resorts had a number of individual rustic cabins with small kitchens situated in and around a wooded area just a stone’s throw from the lake. The gravel roads and driveways in the resort were deeply rutted, and a challenge to navigate in some places, but they just made it seem that more rugged and “away from home.”

Each of the cabins was in a little grouping of trees, and just far enough away from the other cabins to provide a little privacy.

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Public telephone booth

There were no digital devices or television signals, and the only phones available were public phone booths scattered around public places, like the boat dock down by the lake.

There was no air conditioning, but the cabins were equipped with screen doors and windows, and the breeze coming off the lake was pleasant, as it ebbed and flowed through the shade provided by the tall trees.

Each of the families planned to spend one day in rotation cooking three meals for the entire family. Larry, and wife, Lea, volunteered to cook two days. The final day would be a pitch-in clean-out day to use up as many leftovers as possible before we hit the road for home.  

Denke Dock

One afternoon the group decided to go down to the lake for a swim. David had rented a ski boat from a fellow staffer from work, and selected the cabin spot because the water was deep, calm & excellent for water skiing.

The weather was hot and overcast, and the water was delightfully cool and refreshing. The swimmers promptly got into the water, diving or jumping from the dock, which extended about twenty feet into the lake. Others sat on the deck, dangling their feet in the water. The grandchildren swam or played in the shallower water along the shoreline under the watchful eyes of their mothers.

Dad, who was not a swimmer, lowered himself from the dock onto a large inner tube while keeping a tight grip on the deck. After getting settled in the tube, he pulled himself a few inches along the dock, while, hand over hand, securing another grip to move himself toward the deeper, cooler, water.

After three or four of these movements, he was near the end of the dock, floating calmly, when a little wave rocked him and caused him to lose his grip on the deck. It moved him just out of reach. As he frantically leaned over to get another handhold, he lost his balance and flipped out of the tube, which went flying into the air. Both of his sons, swimming nearby, rushed to get a hold of him to move him to safety.

In his panic, Dad thrashed about wildly, kicking and battering both swimmers, pushing them under water as he tried to raise himself up. Realizing that he was in a panic and wasn’t going to cooperate, both sons moved behind him and gave him a big push toward the dock so he could get a handhold. They then recovered the tube so he could cling to its comforting buoyancy while they got him to shore.

David, his youngest, helped him return to his cabin to recoup. Dad was terribly embarrassed and humiliated to have that happen in front of the entire family. His ego was devastated! David remembers that it was the only time he could remember that his dad allowed him to be close enough, as an adult, to touch him affectionately, and to tell him that he loved him.

Denture Dives

As we got him back on shore, we realized that in his panic he had spit out his upper denture, and after a couple of test dives, Larry realized that the water was too deep, and too murky to be able to find the denture plate without proper gear. What we needed was a scuba diver with a good underwater light. After arrival, it took the diver only a few minutes to locate the denture plate, and all was well.

Dad, however, was in bed for about three days. We inquired of mother, who said that he just wasn’t feeling well. We prepared a plate for him at mealtimes, and mother delivered them, but, early on, they often came back untouched. By the fourth day, which was clean out day, he emerged from the cabin, but was obviously still very weak. We didn’t have any idea that he might have suffered a heart attack, and thought it may have been a bug of some sort.

As we loaded up the cars for the return trip to our homes, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, not realizing that Dad had been seriously ill. It wasn’t until a later episode, when he had a heart attack and went to the hospital, that we learned he had suffered an untreated heart attack previously. It was then  posited that he suffered his first heart attack during that tubing incident in 1977, while on the family vacation at Table Rock Lake.

40th Wedding Anniversary

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1982 – Chillicothe MO Eugene and Marjorie’s Family on their 40th Wedding Anniversary

Death Record

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Next Chapter: L. E. Vaughn (Sr) Military Service

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