My family traces it’s lineage to the deep south, South Carolina to be precise, while Sharon is the midwest farmer’s daughter brought to life in the Beachboy’s classic hit, California Girls. We love to travel….almost as much as we love to return home to Missouri, her native and my adopted state. We were fortunate to move around Missouri, chasing our respective careers, and finally decided on Springfield as our destination as we settle into this thing called retirement. We cannot believe our good fortune!
Springfield offers big city amenities and convenience with a small town vibe and absence of stress associated with our two bigger metro areas in Missouri. During our first tour in Springfield, we embraced the character of this town, and never let it stray far from our minds. Professionally and personally we loved the community. I was a relatively young Troop Commander in those days, and neither the men and women in the troop nor I had any idea what to expect. I inherited a troop that was mature, with a cadre of seasoned professionals and support staff who were welcoming, energetic and laid back all at the same time. I knew within days of arriving, this was a great town to be a Highway Patrolman in. We accomplished many things that simply could not be done without the commitment of the entire crew at Troop D.
Springfield, with a population of some 159,498 souls, (2010 Census), reflected a population increase of around 5% in the preceding decade. There are colleges, trade schools and the largest public school system in the state. Sharon, then a classroom teacher, was in her element. My leisure time was spent fishing one of the beautiful lakes that dot this region. There are few places where you can hook up and pull your basser to a lake in any direction you choose. As a young officer, I travelled with a group of fishing buddies to Springfield on an annual basis to spend a day at Bass Pro Shop now only minutes from where we live. If you are an outdoors oriented person, it is a terrific place to ruminate and contemplate……my barber during my first tenure here was located in……..yes…Bass Pro!
So, what about the amenities that I refer to? Like to eat out, Springfield is a terrific restaurant town, the home of the simple yet delicious cashew chicken. Like coffee? Springfield offers a plethora of coffee and breakfast destinations. Like diversity in your weather? Springfield has the most varied weather in the nation according to a 2007 Forbes Magazine article! Our winds, with an average velocity of 6.5 MPH, approximate the wind in Chicago, the windy city. Concerned about health care? Springfield is home to 6 hospitals with two on the list of America’s top 100. Like sports? We have minor league baseball and world class golf courses, and the folks around here know a little something about fishing and hunting. You may be surprised to know the Patrol’s own Ralph Biele is enshrined in the Misssouri Sports Hall of Fame, located in Springfield. Like country music? One word, Branson.
Finally, the over-riding consideration is the people who live and work here. To be sure, we have our fair share of knot heads and miscreants. Who doesn’t? Our vision of this town was reinforced when we moved into our new neighborhood and were greeted by neighbors eager to help out in any way, with notes left in the door by those who missed us as we ferried back and forth from our last residence to here. The folks at the Rutledge-Wilson Farm, just across the road, are a gregarious and accommodating bunch. Tazzy, the Lab and CEO of our existence, loves the animals there, indicating his appreciation for choosing this home by sitting by his lead every morning, ready for his walk to the “farm”.
We have not stopped smiling since closing on our new home a month ago. We feel like winners should feel…..and our prize is Springfield, the home of the “Mother Road”……..and roads are important to an old trooper!