During my entire weekend drive, I came across only three trees with this very strange looking fruit hanging from their limbs. Two of the trees were in Missouri and, at the time, I had no idea what they were.
In size, they were like a large grapefruit, but their skin had a very rough bubbly appearance and the fruit felt very hard to the touch, not much give.
A little research tells me that these Osage Oranges are native to Texas and Oklahoma, but were spread thoughout nearby states by settlers in the 1800's because of their thorny properties. In the days before barbed wire was invented, the trees made for nice fences. The properties of the wood in the trees also made for great bow material because of its flexibility.
As for the fruit, it turns out that no animal native to North America eats it, and neither do humans. The fruit that I saw lay on the ground beneath the tree where they dropped. The only animal that does eat Osage Oranges are horses, a non-North American animal introduced by the Spaniards. One theory on how the trees originally spread within their little area surmises that giant sloths ate them and then left the seeds behind in their droppings. These sloths died out in the 1500s, at about the same time that horses were introduced to the continent. I have since learned from a Kansas VT member that these trees are locally referred to as 'hedge apples' and that one of their uses is to ward off cockroaches!
As with my drive along the eastern side of Kansas before re-entering Missouri, I found the housing styles in the small towns that I passed through to be very interesting.
Sometimes, there was a row of big Victorian style houses where the well-to-do lived or had lived. However, in most cases there was also the simple side of town where the small bungalows were set back from the streets. The style of the verandahs, with large support pillars reminded me of similar houses that I had seen in New England towns many years ago when my parents would sometimes take us down to Mystic, Connecticut to visit relatives.
The sight of them brought back good memories.
Dumb Missouri Laws
It is not illegal to speed. (Repealed)
In this small town of only 4,000, yard waste may be burned any day except Sunday.
Hard objects may not be thrown by hand.
Worrying squirrels is not tolerated.
Minors are not allowed to purchase cap pistols, however they may buy shotguns freely.
Installation of bathtubs with four legs resembling animal paws is prohibited.
Minors can buy rolling paper and tobacco but not lighters.
It is illegal for more than four unrelated persons to occupy the same dwelling (The Brothel Law).
Frightening a baby is in violation of the law.
It shall be unlawful to provide beer or other intoxicants to elephants.
Dancing is strictly prohibited.
It's illegal to sit on the curb of any city street and drink beer from a bucket. This law refers back to the extinct Italian celebration, Hill Day, when beer was served in buckets.
A milk man may not run while on duty.
Four women may not rent an apartment together.
Plenty of cultural things in and around St. Louis. Make a great side trip to Hannibal and visit Mark Twain's boyhood home. The river drive is pretty and it can be done in a day from St. Louis. Be sure to go in the Cave, they take you 200 feet underground and turn off the lights, so you get a feel for what Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher experienced with just a candle for light. (Don't worry, they turn the lights back on) Cahokia Mounds on the east side is great for those into Native American culture, archeology, history or just a great day outdoors.
Here I wanna tell you about a special place in Missouri: Washington and the surrounding towns (such as Dutzow or Krakow). Still today you can see that these towns were settled by the Germans. Dutzow is even the first German settlement in Missouri. There can still be found some German words in the vocabulary of the people in Washington: instead of saying 'Bless you', when somebody has a cold, you often can hear the German word for it: 'Gesundheit'. Also do a lot of people speak German. Especially the older ones who are originally German, or who have German parents. Strange is also, that there practically can't be found any black people in Washington and the surrounding areas. You can see that the town is German, if you look at all the last names of the people here: they are mostly German. So don't be surprised if somebody talks to you in German or you find customs, that you're used to in Germany.
Mr. Duden came over from Germany and settled a hill in Dutzow - now known as the 'Duden Hills'. Most Germans who settled Washington and Dutzow where from the Northern part of Germany - what is obvious in the many houses that are made of red brick. That's typically for Northern Germany.
In St. Louis (which I have been told has more 4-way stop signs than anywhere else), do NOT come to a complete stop at a stop sign, especially a 4-way.
St. Louis is home to, and has perfected, the 'rolling' stop. I have even heard rumors (doubtless untrue) that the local constabulary will ticket you for a full stop.
7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens.
Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression. Chicago, St.
Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.
As you can imagine, Kansas City is famous for its BBQ. But what you probably have not realized is that KCers do not just go for the common BBQ pieces. One of the most famous parts of KC BBQ is the Burnt Ends. These are the pieces at the end of the brisket that were usually thrown away, or used in some other cooking method like the pieces of beef in a chili or stew. As mentioned though, KC citizens have turned this into a whole new meal. The burnt ends are actually considered a delicacy in Missouri, so make sure you don't throw those things away!
Photo #1: Burnt ends, combined with ribs, creamed corn and baked beans.
Link Below: About.com's information on burnt ends.
Try really hard not to sound like a New-Yorker. These people are very prejudiced against 'Yankees'. Blacks are not really welcome, either, unless they play basketball (the state passion). Can you tell that I am not a native??
Respect the local people--they live and work hard to make Branson a great place to visit.You won't see a lot of rushing here or finery.Everyone is very casual.Tip the waitresses well.They will stop and talk with you and give you some tips of travel and life in the Ozarks.We got to know the local people well and felt very safe in Branson.
Don't make fun of Budweiser Beer. It's brewed in St. Louis, home of Anheiser Busch Brewery.
The University of Missouri-Columbia has the Bengal Tiger as mascot for it's athletic teams. The University has a program to help save endangered wild tigers.
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