Kansas City, Here I Come.

I’ll be leaving here in another few days for a trip to Kansas City. I’m going to get there the same way I did on my first and only other visit to that city: a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Los Angeles and, the next day, Amtrak’s train, the Southwest Chief, for the overnight ride to Kansas City.

My reason for this trip is to attend a three-day meeting of the Rail Passengers Association. My last trip there—it was my first ever to Kansas City—was a dozen years ago. I was there to see the Boston Red Sox play a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals. 

That trip was a mixed bag because the Red Sox lost all three games. However, Kansas City has a well-deserved reputation for barbeque and helping to compensate for the Red Sox dismal failure was a visit to Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque Restaurant where I devoured a huge plate of baby-back ribs. 

The restaurant was and probably still is bare bones, with a plain concrete floor and tables with formica tops and a strip of aluminum moulding running around the edges. Notwithstanding the decor, which was right out of the 1950s, the joint was packed and with good reason: If you serve ribs like that, decor is irrelevant.

I also spent several hours at the Truman Library in nearby Independence, Missouri, boyhood home of former president, Harry S Truman. It’s a large facility—well laid out with interesting displays. Of course there’s nothing ostentatious about the place—Truman would never have permitted that—but it’s impressive nonetheless.

The former president and his wife, Bess, are buried side by side in a quiet out-of-the-way courtyard—quite unpretentious and certainly fitting for that plain-spoken, simple-but-great man. 

When Jack Kennedy was sworn in as president and Truman became an ordinary citizen again (He said at the time that meant he had been promoted), he and Bess packed their things, climbed into the family sedan, and headed home to Independence, Missouri, with ordinary citizen Harry Truman at the wheel.

I don’t remember the time of year (except that it must have been the middle of summer because it was still very hot even when the games ended at almost 10:30 p.m. 

Oh, yes . . . I do remember that I was seated on the third base side of the infield for the final game of the series and, for the first time in my life, caught a foul ball, a pop-up hit into the stands. It’s around here somewhere.