Today, Lamar, Missouri, population 4,200, is probably best known as a stop on your way to Kansas City. Or a town where you stop along I-49, stretch your legs and fill up your car with gas on your way back home. Randy Turner’s new book, Only In Lamar: Harry Truman, Wyatt Earp, and Legendary Locals, seeks to tell the stories of the town’s internationally known residents and those not so well known but who helped shape Missouri and the U.S..
Wyatt Earp was a well-known figure during the wild west days of American history from the late ‘1800s reaching into the ‘1910s. He is probably best known for being a part of the shootout at O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona on October 26, 1881. Less known is that the Earp family, including Wyatt, settled in western Missouri. While numerous films portray Earp as an outlaw and constantly on the run, author Randy Turner says Earp worked both sides of the law.
“As a 20-year-old, he (Earp) became the first city constable of Lamar, and he was not partially a good one and he pretty much got ran out of town.”
Lamar is also known for being the birthplace of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, on May 8, 1884. While the Earp and Truman’s families didn’t know each other at the time, eventually, the Earp’s would purchase Truman’s birth home in Lamar, according to Turner.
“The Earps owned it from 1920 to about 1956, and in fact, they were the first ones to have tours after Truman became the first Vice President and then President. By that time, Walter Earp didn’t live too long past Truman becoming President, but his son Everett, who was also in law enforcement, began conducting tours.”
Perhaps the individual who passed through Lamar, besides President Truman, who made the most significant impact nationally was Dorthy Stratton. It would be incredible enough that Stratton lived to be 107. She only lived a few years in Lamar, her family relocated to the community due to her family being a Baptist minister. According to Turner, Stratton succeeded in nearly everything she attempted. “She thought about having a career in journalism but eventually became the first Dean of Women at the University of Purdue. And after December 2, 1941, when of course Pearl Harbor was attacked, she decided that she was going to take a leave of absence from that position, and she joined the women’s Navy at that point.”
Stratton would become the first director of SPARS, also known as the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, in 1942. Three years after her death in 2006, first lady Michelle Obama christened the USCGC Stratton, the first Coast Guard cutter to be named after a woman since the 1980s.
Randy Turner has written a variety of books; he also writes the Inside Joplin and The Turner Report Blogs.
In 2009 Rob Poole and Carol Puckett had an idea. What if we hosted tiny concerts inside the living room of our house? ‘Olive Street Presents’ was born, and Poole and Puckett would continue hosting shows until COVID-19 swept the U.S. in 2020, closing concert revenues large and small. Olive Street returned better than ever last year, hosting their first concert at PSU’s Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and internationally renowned artist Sam Baker.
This year Olive Street picks up where they left in 2021, hosting Pittsburg’s The Golden Girls and Laney Jones at Miller Theater at the Bicknell on Thursday, July 21. OSP has added a second show at the Bickell as Trout Fishing in America will visit southeast Kansas on Friday, September 30. Poole says that while two of their five shows will be at the Bicknell, ‘Olive Street Presents’ is still rooted in hosting house shows.
“Our roots are in hour concerts, and we hope to always do those until we can’t carry chairs anymore and move the furniture around. But some shows lend themselves better to the theater environment, the larger setting, bigger band, things like that, so we’re going to continue to have that mix. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put two or three shows inside the Bicknell.”
Three of the five shows that ‘Olive Street Presents’ will host as part of their summer-fall 2022 lineup will be at their Olive St. location in Pittsburg. There are a few reasons why the couple decided to host two shows at the Miller Theater.
“The Miller is just a superb space for singer-song writer-type venues. We are really, really excited when Sam was here. His folks have played all over the world, and they were just absolutely blown away by the quality of the theater and the production of the staff, and they just couldn’t say enough good things about it.”
Last year ‘Olive Street Presents’ formed a 501-c-3 nonprofit that allows the organization to accept tax-deductible donations. Poole says that to enable Olive Street to continue to operate and grow, they were given a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas. Regardless of the venue or act, the cost to attend an ‘Olive Street Presents’ concert is $20 if purchased ahead of time online, and $25 at the door.
Poole and Puckett aren’t in the concert business to make money; they both have full-time jobs. They are working to bring the community closer, make new friends, and watch great concerts. Their commitment to that goal remains unchanged.