DAY 53 – FRIDAY AUGUST 30

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DAY 53 – FRIDAY AUGUST 30

ELSBERRY TO WINFIELD

Breakfast at Rachel’s Restaurant with Terrie, Sue, and Larry. This is the first time we’ve seen grits on the menu and had to order some. They were delicious as expected (especially with a little melted butter). We probably ate too much before running, though . . .

Ran south out of town. Past Forrest Keeling, past the white house, past the caves. Down State Route 79. It was an uneventful journey – the calm before the storm, so to speak. Tomorrow’s journey will prove to be a bit more interesting . . .

I ran into town as Tom checked in with Roschell at City Hall. She was actually on vacation, but graciously took time to make sure our stop was coordinated. We were a few minutes late, but Roschell, Christopher and Beverly were there waiting for us on the front porch.

Roschell welcomed us into the council chambers, a table waiting for us for the interview. We got settled in to talking and learned the gamut about Winfield, Missouri. East Winfield vs. New Town. This was a town of 500 in the 70’s and is now about 1400. Beverly’s family came from Arkansas originally, but she definitely considers Winfield her home. One of her family members was killed during the construction of Lock and Dam 25 – walked right off it in the night. 

This place is also home for son Christopher. And truly, between Beverly and Christopher, they feel that the natives are beginning to be outnumbered with the tremendous growth of Winfield. It feels like the community is not as strong when its members don’t have a solid relationship to Winfield history.

Christopher was born here and moved back here from St. Louis. He just felt there was too much violence in St. Louis. Since being back home, he’s gotten involved in the community in every way he can. His partner is on the city council, but they try to keep city politics out of the home. Change continues to be on the forefront for Winfield with the Port of Lincoln project looming. According to Beverly and Christopher it might make them a new “East St. Louis”. They are happy with the small town size and life of Winfield and don’t need to become another O’Fallon or Troy.

Since the flood, this most recent flood—as there have been many over the years, in Winfield, new churches have also popped up, taking parishioners away from existing, longstanding church communities. That’s at least what we are hearing from Christopher and Beverly. Apparently, church is infiltrating city government and schools, and we haven’t had time to investigate that further, but these are the concerns of the people we’ve met with. We do plan to look deeper into this, to experience these faith communities, and to learn. Winfield was a community very deeply hit by this year’s flood and we plan to circle back and spend more time as soon as we can.