Sacred Land

“It’s so important that we acknowledge that these buildings are built on the homes of their ancestors.”1

Mary McKay, Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, 2021 Brown School and Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Commencement Ceremony

This tribal map of the United States was found on the website www. According to the site, “Native Land is an app as well as a website designed to show people what indigenous groups once lived in places they currently live in. All you need to do is enter the zip code or type the name of the town you’re interested in and the interactive map will zoom in on your inquiry, color-code it, and reveal data on the area’s Indigenous history, original language, and tribal ties.”

As I ride in search of Missouri cities with the same name as other cities for the 2021 Missouri Women On Wheels®MO WOW Annual Touring/Photo Contest, two thoughts come to mind:

  1. Missouri’s backroads, filled with small towns, old barns, pastured cows, and acres of hay and corn fields were once the lands of indigenous people.
  2. In her remarks to the 2021 graduates from the Brown School (social work/public health/social policy) and the Sam Fox School (art, design, and architecture), dean Mary McKay of the Brown School, said: “I’d like to take a moment and recognize that Washington University occupies the land of native people. It’s so important that we acknowledge that these buildings are built on the homes of their ancestors.”1
Missouri tribal map at www.
Defiance, Missouri: Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Osage, Quapaw, and Missouria.
Vandalia, Missouri: Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Osage, Peoria, Sauk & Fox, and Missouria
Canton, Missouri: Kickapoo, Peoria, Sauk & Fox, Osage, Potawatomi, and Missouria.

“The Missouria or Missouri indigenous peoples gave Missouri its name. The tribe belongs to the Chiwere division of the Siouan language family, together with the Iowa and Otoe. The tribe originated in the Great Lakes region and began migrating south in the 1500s. The tribe lived near the mouth of the Missouri at its confluence with the Mississippi River. In their own Siouan language, the Missouri call themselves Niúachi, also spelled Niutachi, meaning ‘People of the River Mouth’. At some point, the Missouria migrated west of the Missouri River into Osage territory. Today they are federally recognized as the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, based in Red Rock, Oklahoma.”2

“There are currently no federally recognized tribes in Missouri. Before the Indian Removal Act of 1830, there were nine tribes in Missouri, however other tribes inhabited and have connections to our state.

As we ride, let us follow the words of dean McKay:

“Let’s all celebrate and honor this ancestral native land and the sacred land of all indigenous people . . .”1

Especially we, the people of the river mouth, that live near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.




By Cris

It’s a Wonderful, WOWderful Life

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the debut of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. For those who haven’t seen it at least once during its annual rebroadcast around Christmas, the movie tells the tale of George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart.

George had aspirations to change the world in big ways, but his father’s death and a growing family kept him in Bedford Falls. George gave up his dreams to travel the world to run his father’s loan business. When thousands of dollars accidentally disappear, a suicidal George plans to jump from a bridge until an angel named Clarence shows George what life for those living in Bedford Falls would have been like had George never been born.

When Alice, Jackie, Marie, and I stopped in Seneca Falls, New York, on our way home from the 35th Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™ in July, Alice and I visited the Seneca Falls It’s a Wonderful Life Museum at 32 Fall Street.

The opening scene of “It’s a Wonderful Life” welcomes viewers to Bedford Falls. The film’s director, Frank Capra, visited Seneca Falls in 1945 looking for inspiration. The fictional town of Bedford Falls is said to closely resemble Seneca Falls.
Luckily there was no snow in Bedford Falls when we visited in July, but Christmas decor can be found inside the museum all year round.

At the end of the movie, George looks inside a book given to him by Clarence. The book is only one of dozens of movie props in the Museum.

Yes, Clarence, no man [or woman] is a failure who has friends.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if Women On Wheels® had never been born.

I cannot imagine as it’s truly been a WOWderful life.


The 75th Anniversary Celebration of “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Seneca Falls, NY
December 8-12, 2021

By Cris

Paving the Way

“Perhaps we women should remember the suffragists whenever we wear trousers, ride a bicycle, sign a petition, or participate in a demonstration because these and many other things are now ours to choose as a result of their journey.” – Stephanie Hall1

This sign at the corner of Mynderse and Fall Streets in Seneca Falls, New York, marks the spot of the first woman’s rights convention held in the United States organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on July 19-20, 1848.

Alice, Jackie, Marie, and I stopped here on our way home from the 35th International Women On Wheels® Ride-In™ held in Lake George, New York, July 13-15, 2021.

The Seneca Falls Convention laid the groundwork for changing the future for women, including a woman’s right to vote, but it also had an impact on female fashion.

“Fashions of the time were restrictive and contributed to women being seen as incapable. Voluminous skirts were both pointed to as evidence that women were incompetent and in fact limited what they were able to do.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was interested in dress reform and learned of a new fashion worn by activist Elizabeth Smith Miller: a skirt or dress over loose trousers. She tried the outfit and introduced it to another activist and editor of the progressive magazine, The Lily, Amelia Bloomer in 1851. Bloomer promoted this new form of dress, particularly a version with very full trousers drawn in at the ankle. What was then called the “Bloomer outfit” was extremely controversial and was ridiculed by those who opposed social change.”2

Period illustration of a Bloomer Outfit, with a (relatively) short skirt over pantaloons. The engraving may depict Elizabeth Smith Miller.

“Stanton, Bloomer, and [Susan B.] Anthony all agreed that they should disassociate the suffrage movement from the Bloomer Outfit controversy so Amelia Bloomer’s bloomers did not catch on in the 1850’s, either as a suffrage garment or as fashion. But the problem of garments that got in the way of working, sports, and even ordinary activities of life continued to be a problem.

This changed with the introduction of the safety bicycle, a bicycle with two wheels of the same size that was easy for women to ride. Women could ride it with skirts, though its introduction did help raise hemlines. But garments for riding the bicycle: split skirts and full trousers gathered in below the knee started appearing in the 1880s and became the rage by the 1890s. The trousers were often called bloomers, although they had little resemblance to Amelia Bloomer’s costume of the 1850s.

There were, of course, grave concerns about women mounting bicycles and freely going off on their own, showing the shape of their legs as they did so. Women cycled on undaunted. When it came to greater freedom of dress and movement, the coming of the safety bicycle helped to bring an era of change that was unstoppable.”3

Or did it?

Bessie Stringfield was the first African-American woman to ride solo across the United States, making eight long-distance rides covering the lower 48 states at a time when women were not supposed to wear pants or ride a motorcycle. During World War II, Bessie worked as a civilian motorcycle dispatch rider. Despite completing intensive training and being the only female in her army unit, Bessie encountered prejudice on the road.

Dot Robinson also set an example in a time when motorcycling wasn’t considered proper for a woman. Dot worked as a motorcycle courier during WWII and assisted in the creation of the Motor Maids. Dot earned many motorcycle endurance race trophies, but she had to fight to compete. Attempts were made to prevent her from participating in the sport she loved, but she persevered and was allowed to compete, making it possible for other women to race.

In 1916, sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren rode coast to coast and were the first women to ride motorized vehicles to the summit of Pikes Peak. They wanted to convince the military that women were able to serve as dispatch riders. Although they did not achieve that goal, they proved that women were capable of far more than society was willing to accept.

“At the time, in many towns, especially in rural America, women wearing pants was a serious violation of the social order. Gussie and Addie were just out of Chicago, barreling west through the ring of small townships that radiated from the city through central Illinois, when they were pulled over by police for their scandalous dress and cited for wearing men’s clothing. This pattern was repeated several times as the sisters roared into towns unaccustomed to women on motorcycles, especially women unaccompanied by men, and definitely not accustomed to women on motorcycles, without men, wearing pants. Still, they persisted.”4

We, that ride, should always remember to honor those that paved the way for us to wear whatever we desire no matter where our journeys take us.

1, 2,3Hall, Stephanie. “Symbolism in the Women’s Suffrage Movement”. August 24, 2020.


By Cris

All [rocky] Roads Lead to Ice Cream

Editor’s note: The text in italics about the ice cream cone’s introduction at the 1904 World’s Fair and the history of Velvet Freeze ice cream is borrowed from

In the April/May/June 2021 issue of “Women On Wheels®” magazine, it was announced that this year’s Member Challenge is riding for ice cream. WOW wants unique and quirky pictures of ice cream shops taken while members spread the word about WOW.

For International Female Ride Day on May 1, the Heartland Chapter took on the ice cream challenge. Of course we would. St. Louis has a long history with ice cream.

“Legend has it that at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, a man purchased a waffle from a waffle man who happened to be next to an ice cream wagon. On impulse, the man rolled the fresh waffle into a cone, purchasing a scoop of ice cream and placed it inside his twisted waffle. The waffle man and the ice cream man saw the possibilities. Soon they were working together, selling ice cream cones.

By the end of 1935, brothers Oscar and Alexander Grosberg and Jacob Martin had formed Velvet Freeze, Inc. Within a year, Velvet Freeze had 50 stores in the St. Louis area. For many years, an 18′ tall fiberglass double-dip cone stood outside the two-story warehouse at 3230 Gravois. By June of 1986, the Velvet Freeze ice cream factory had ceased operation. The Affton School District acquired the cone in 1992.”

Velvet Freeze Plant, mid to late 1940s. Photo at
Roadside Attractions calls this the “Big School Ice Cream Cone”. You can find it on the grounds of Mesnier Elementary School at 6930 Weber Road in Affton, Missouri.

Only one Velvet Freeze remains in operation in the St. Louis area at 7355 West Florissant in Jennings. Unfortunately, the store was not open for business for another hour when we stopped and we decided not to wait. Happily, our ice cream cravings were not denied.

What’s in a Name?

“It’s really useful to travel, if you want to see new things.”

― Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days

The theme of the 2021 MO WOW Touring Contest is “Missouri places named after other places”.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of them!

The rules also state that we can include Missouri towns that are spelled exactly like the same town in another state. For example: Fulton MO/KS, Pittsburgh MO/KS/PA, or Alma MO/KS/AR (and my favorite, WI!).

As persons in our group research similarly named places and our ride schedule grows, this is just a sampling. On this route, the Auburn (MO/AL/IL/IN/WA) destination was unsuccessful (and deserves a revisit) and we skipped Davis (MO/CA/OK) due to time.

“Old School” navigation system used in conjunction with my phone’s GPS. I prefer to use both when riding on scenic “Alphabet Soup” roads.
Winfield (MO/IL/KS)
Foley (MO/AL)
New Hope (MO/MN/PA). Post offices, police stations, schools, and other standard city buildings/markers/signs can be hard to find or dangerous to stop and photograph on many roads. One can usually find a church to document travels to smaller towns/remote locations.
Troy (MO/AL/MI). You can take the Alma WI farm girl off the farm, but the connection to rural America remains after 35 years in the suburbs of St. Louis. I hope to visit Alma and Winona MO soon in recognition of my alma maters–Alma (WI) High School and Winona (MN) State University.

By Enforcer

Little Mary’s River Covered Bridge

Glow recently rode to one of Illinois’ six remaining covered bridges.

Located 4.3 miles northeast of the junction of Illinois Routes 3 and 150 between Chester and Bremen, the Little Mary’s River Covered Bridge is the oldest bridge in Illinois and the only covered bridge in the southern part of the state.

Per, “The Little Mary’s bridge near Chester, Illinois, was reportedly the scene of two spectacular stagecoach holdups shortly after the Civil War. Now, the center of attraction in a state-maintained picnic grounds, it is viewed by thousands annually.

In the early days the Little Mary’s bridge was opened as a toll span like many such structures in the southern half of the state. It was operated by the Randolph County Plank Road Co., chartered by the state assembly in 1853, and A. E. Hortmon of near Chester was the designer and builder. The turnpike was a single-lane road with frequent turnouts provided to enable traffic to pass and the river bridge was one of the stopping places to pay fares.

Plank roads never became a vital cog in the state transportation system as the coming of the railroad sounded on early death knell for them. For a time the plank road carried a heavy volume of horse and ox-drawn traffic between Chester and Bremen. Plank roads were made by cross-laying eight-foot planks, three inches thick and 12 inches wide, over stringers flush with the ground level.”

Can you imagine riding a motorcycle on this “road”?

Little Mary’s River flows underneath the bridge.
Some history about the bridge can be found in the U. S. Department of the Interior National Park Services’ National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form as received on September 20, 1974

Bridge and sign photographs by Glow

What do you get if you combine nice weather, a planned journey of twisty roads, three bikes with full gas tanks, and three women (Cris, Sandy, and I) who are eager to go riding? You get the ride we experienced on Monday, the first of June 2020.

Cris planned and led this ride. Our ride consisted of state roads of letters and numbers such as, A, C, D N, T, Z, KK, YY, 47, 94, 100, and 185 (these are listed alphabetically and numerically, not listed in order traveled). As you can see from the map below, there were many twisties, sweeping curves, and a few straight-aways. I love twisties and I practice outside-inside-outside riding through them. (I was taught this by a motorcop. A link and photo of this technique follows this article.)

Anyway, I rode sweeper this time. As I love twisties I had to remind myself to allow the rider in front of me enough room to “ride her own ride” and navigate the twisties as she saw fit. I think I did well, but there were a few times I got closer than I meant to and one of Meghan Trainor’s songs “All About That Bass” came to mind. With a nod and apologies to Meghan Trainor, I was singing “it’s all about that brake, ‘bout that brake, no throttle” as I tried to keep my distance from the second rider.

It was a good day and we all had a good ride. We even found a barn quilt for photo entry in our Missouri WOW Touring Contest.

After riding about 70+ miles on serene country roads, we stopped at a Dairy Queen parking lot just to talk (social distancing was observed) before heading home.

Good day, good friends, good roads!

By Alice

Looking Back

“Looking back” during the group ride at the 20th Annual Missouri Women On Wheels® State Rally in June (photo by Marie)

As the snow falls today, December 16, it’s starting to seem like the diagnosis of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) may find its way into our garages soon, just as our Chapter Director warned us it would.

Looking back, though, we are grateful that 2019 was another busy year for us. For the most part, our schedule of rides/events went as planned, although three Missouri Women On Wheels® (MO WOW) Ride to Lunch events were canceled and a handful of other calendar items had to be rescheduled due to weather, work, or other commitments.

We hosted one of our two designated MO WOW Ride to Lunch events. Most of us attended the 20th Annual MO WOW State Rally in Bolivar, Missouri, in June and several attended the 33rd Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™ in Casper, Wyoming, in July. Together we accumulated almost 70 points from visits to military memorials across the state for the MO WOW Touring/Photo Contest.

In keeping with the military theme, our charity for 2019 is Little Patriots Embraced, a “non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the lives of military children and families”.

We observed International Female Ride Day by joining the Metro East Illinois Spyder Ryders on their visit to Casey, Illinois, and enjoyed “eight objects certified by the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world.”

On December 7, we celebrated our annual Chapter Holiday Gathering with food, laughs, stories, and the gift of each other’s presence.

Looking ahead to 2020, we’ll pull out a paper atlas or log into Google Maps and look for roads to explore, places to eat, and activities to enjoy to help us recuperate from PMS. The view outside the window today makes it likely to be a very severe case this year.

Happy Holidays to all!

Fall “Fowliage” Ride

The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself how it is to cross rivers.” – Gladys Aylward

Google Images

Timing, they say, is everything.

This year’s annual fall foliage ride was planned for the predicted “peak” weekend–November 9. Our timing was off, or perhaps the trees are just tired this year.

We headed north on Missouri Highways 94 and H. Due to this summer’s slow-to-recede flooding, we passed new pockets of water. As our three motorcycles roared by, cranes, pelicans, and other assorted water fowl took flight.

In a field to our left, the brilliant white head of a bald eagle caught my attention. As I approached, he took off and flew beside me for a few seconds. He was beautiful . . . and big. What a moment!

We continued to West Alton, Missouri. The city has a number of condemned homes because of flooding. It has been a long, wet summer for those living near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

Pere Marquette State Park (Illinois) did not disappoint us. As we wound our way along Scenic Drive we were finally gifted with a tunnel of gold-colored leaves.

After Glow left for home, Thomas and I decided to catch the Grafton/Brussels and Golden Eagle Ferries back to St. Charles County. It has been a long time since we visited Calhoun County and we enjoyed every minute of it.

The view from the Brussels Ferry
The view from the Golden Eagle Ferry

As we crossed the rivers still high with spring melt and summer rains, the eagles and hawks soared overhead–crossing the mildly turbulent river without worry.

By Cris

11th Hour: 11th Day: 11th Month (Veterans Day)

While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.” – Randy Neugebauer

Frottage drawing from a plaque at the Missouri National Veterans Memorial

The 2019 MO WOW Touring/Photo Contest commemorated the 80th Anniversary of the start of World War II on September 1, 1939, when German Nazis attacked Poland. The United States entered the war in response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Our challenge this year was to take photographs of 58 pre-selected military monuments in counties throughout the state. While I will not be able to visit all of them, each memorial was a place for quiet reflection and a time to offer gratitude to the men and women being honored there.

I wanted to do something special with these photographs (my favorites) so I finally decided to share the beauty of these places just before Veterans Day. While writing this, I was reminded that these memorials come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages–just like the brave people they represent.

Cuba (Crawford County)
Missouri National Veterans Memorial
Perryville (Perry County)
Springfield National Cemetery
Springfield (Greene County)
Blackwater (Cooper County)
Museum of Missouri Military History
Jefferson City (Cole County)

By Cris