Newcomer to Springfield looks at oddities of Missouri

Mar 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Commentary, Springfield News

Zach Becker


Who is John Q. Hammons?

And why is every building named after him?

As a recent transplant to Springfield (I moved here from Kansas in July), this is one of those questions that has been bugging me.

Finally, curiosity overcame me and I Googled him. Apparently, he is a Missouri State graduate and the company he founded owns and operates 71 top-notch hotels across 24 states.

Hammons Field. Hammons Tower. Hammons House. John Q. Hammons Parkway. Hammons Fountain. JQH Arena. (And the list goes on and on.)

See a theme here?

For all he shows in generosity, he (or whoever names all this stuff) equally lacks in creativity.

Jack Bauer Field. Manute Bol Tower. Gregory House. J.B. Fletcher Parkway. Brokeback Fountain. LOL Arena.

If I was rich enough to donate buildings and such, those are the kinds of names I would pick (my wife says that is one of the reasons I will never be rich). But really, Springfield would be much less confusing if every place had, you know, a unique name on it.

Although in all seriousness, I must send a shout out to John Q. Hammons and his generosity. I’ve been very impressed by all the locales I’ve seen his name on.

In fact, I can’t say there is much I haven’t been impressed with here in Springfield.

I’ve heard some of my friends complain there is just not that much to do here, but I guess they didn’t just move here from the western half of Kansas. The town of Hays, Kans., where I moved from, is a university town with a population of about 20,000.

About all the residents did there was drink (in fact, Hays has the highest alcohol consumption per person in the nation). That’s great if you are a really into that, but since neither I nor my wife are, we were left with the only alternative entertainment: Wal-Mart. We’d go there with our friends about 2 or 3 a.m. frequently. It was either that or play Rockband or Halo.

But now that we’re in Springfield, wow, there are like seven or eight Wal-Marts to choose from.

Heck, we’ve even driven over to the Nixa Wal-Mart. And we’re starting to discover all the non-Wal-Mart activities in town. Ice skating looks cool. As does go-carting and mini golf. And Branson is less than an hour away. It’s also fun going to basketball games at the fancy new JQH Arena.

This town has everything. Heck, I even saw PetSmart is opening a brand new Pet Hotel, where while you are gone your pet can watch “pet themed” television shows and sleep on a lambskin rug and even have personal playtime and training sessions.

That’s not to say it has been an easy transition to Missouri life.

Some of the people here are just plain strange. We decided to shop at Aldi discount grocery store one day. With the accents of some of these people, I swore I was lost in an episode of Beverly Hillbillies.

I was half expecting granny’s chair to be tied to the roof of a car in the parking lot. And speaking of strange usages of the roof of a car, what is it with people here tying a mattress on top of their vehicles?

I’ve probably seen 15 cars with a mattress tied up there, and then as they drive, the mattress gets caught by the wind, raises up and then proceeds to slam back down violently on the roof. Weird.

And then there is West Sunshine Street (a.k.a. Rated-R Lane). Seriously, the police need to set up a checkpoint or something to make sure everyone who goes down that street is 18 or older.

But it’s not just West Sunshine Street. I go down Battlefield and am just in shock by the names of some of these businesses. Kum and Go. Rapid Roberts. Wood You. Fast Lube.

And as I drive down Battlefield, I am equally stunned by some of the maneuvers drivers try. Illegal u-turns. Swerving in and out of traffic. Not yielding to pedestrians. Driving in the turning lane. Slamming on the brakes for yellow lights.

I guess I can forgive them on the last one. Red light cameras have to be one of the worst ideas I’ve ever seen. I’m sure they generate some money in fines for the city, but they must create a lot of rear end accidents when people slam on the brakes for yellow lights.

In Kansas, and I bet to people in a lot of states, yellow means hurry up and drive faster. Not a good combination when the person in front of you is breaking like there’s an old women with a baby stroller crossing the street.

Those accidents are sure to keep the police busy. Unfortunately, I’ve been reading that the Springfield police are going to be stretched more thin after the voters rejected a potential 1-cent sales tax bailout to fund the police and fire pension fund.

Here’s an idea: how about the police spend less time setting speed traps and more time catching criminals or, you know, just helping people in need. That protect and serve stuff. I’ve gone down the James River Freeway and seen two cop cars sitting back to back, the cops standing outside, radar guns drawn, just waiting for some poor speeder to pass. Here’s a better idea: move those red light cameras onto the James River and send tickets to speeders instead of wasting police resources. Sorry, but those dumb red light cameras drive me nuts.

But really, I have enjoyed my brief time in Springfield. And I’ve enjoyed Missouri State as well. It really is a nice place to live and go to school.

Now if they’d just come up with some unique building names.

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