I’ve probably made ten trips to St. Louis in the past twenty years, and for gasgeek reasons I always stop at I-70, mile marker 148, the Kingdom City exit, the westernmost Mobil station.
Once I accumulated women in the family, naturally we had to hit the tourist traps and before outlet malls sprung up Kingdom City was the widest spot in the road. There are two, Ozarkland on the south side and Nostalgiaville north.
Ozarkland is the place to go if you’re looking for fudge, (but not pecans or walnuts, for some odd reason). Their ‘souvenirs’ consist of semi-crafty knick-knacks, the usual Missouri shot glasses, leather goods that read ‘Missouri’ here and probably in Salina they read ‘Kansas’…
What bugs me the most is the generic Missouri-themed t-shirts. You know the type–airbrushed stuff that has variations on ‘Missouri’, ‘Ozarks’ not to mention non-specific proclamations of liberty, freedom, patriotism, wolves/eagles/native American imagery, yaddayadda.
I suppose it’s cheaper than selling licensed trademarked items. If I were going cross-country, I’d be grateful for a one-stop shop for Mizzou, Cardinal, Rams, Blues, maybe even Chiefs and Royals if anyone cares about them :-). What I don’t want is crap that only indicates that me or someone else passed through and really represents nothing except someone was in a hurry to spend $15.
One can get into trouble placing specific boundaries on geographic areas, (for example, is Texas: Dixie/The South/The Plains/The Southwest?) Missouri has the same problem, but I can state unequivocally that The Ozarks begin on the southwest corner of exit 148 on I-70. The north side is definitely not The Ozarks.
Nostalgiaville. For seventy-five miles on either side, drivers are alerted/warned/reminded of America’s preternatural fixation on necrophilia. If you want mass-produced screenprints of your favorite dead actors promoting crappy movies and television shows that weren’t funny fifty years ago, rock stars, baseball players, this is the jernt you’ve been looking for, and they’ll even ship. Remember Billy Joel? The good old days weren’t all that good…?
I’ll be brutally honest–I do come here to find refrigerator magnets that advertise long-gone railroads and airlines. But I’d be willing to pay for actual, realistic concert posters, old car advertising, but not a dime for mass-produced facsimiles. Here we go again, but picking a Beatles concert bill from 1964 out of one-hundred just like it–what message are you sending by calling this a gift? And if you need something to remember a Chuck Berry concert from fifty-five years ago…?
About the difference between The Ozarks and North Missouri? (Either way, my joke is that when you enter either, you have to set your watch back fifty years…) But in North Missouri, incest is limited to cousins, while in The Ozarks–away from the lakes–all bets are off, in terms of sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.