A friend and I spent a day at Klim, MO, the site of my Linn House mystery books. We lucked out on the weather – incredibly quiet, warm without being hot, cool breeze, buzzards wheeling overhead, the Mississippi River very low due to the drought the area’s having. Sandbars galore. Not many barges, unfortunately, but some. The night we were there we heard the tugboat motor throbbing and ran outside our earthen berm cottages to see the starboard, port and running lights on a HUGE group of barges sliding upriver. It was pitch black, so we couldn’t see the exteriors of the barges or the tug. But it was the eeriest feeling to see this large red port light gliding past the trees and winking in the darkness. Gave me a very unnerving feeling. I used that in the short story, “The Gingerbread Drops Death”, that I wrote. It’s being published November 1, 2021 by The Wild Rose Press as part of their new Christmas Cookies series. No experience goes to waste for a writer! 😉
I woke early enough the next morning to see a rift in the clouds and the sunlight spilling onto the river. It was gorgeous.
When we left Klim the next day, we drove south, past Ste. Genevieve, MO, and after driving around in circles (literally), we finally stopped at a Jaycee lodge to ask directions. No, not for the way back home: I wanted to find the old WWII POW camp in Weingarten, MO. I just learned several months ago that MO had four main POW camps during the war. Each camp had numerous branch camps. The prisoners could work on local farms (plant crops, harvest crops) or in factories. Many farm families became friends of some of the POWs and corresponded with them after they returned to Italy after the war. Some POWs stayed in the area afterwards and married local girls. Anyway, I got an idea for a subplot to the fourth Linn House book. It involves the Weingarten POW camp and Klim, MO. I wanted to see the POW camp so I could get the feel of it and the area. Well, after talking to the helpful guy at the Jaycee building, we learn there is just one chimney/fireplace left standing! The barracks, rec hall, kitchen, officers’ quarters, guard towers, etc are gone. The chimney and fireplace were in the officers’ club. The concrete slab behind it was the tennis court. The chimney/fireplace are now on private property. In fact, the entire camp area is now private property. The current private house is built where the colonel’s house was situated, which I think is interesting—that’s the colonel who ran the camp. Well, after driving down a dead end road, we found the chimney, and I stood on the road to take a photo of it. I didn’t have to worry about being hit by traffic – the entire town of Weingarten (population: 74) has at the most a dozen houses. No stores. The Jaycee building and one church are the only non-residence buildings there. It was great to see the area, regardless of the ruined state of affairs. I could imagine the camp and the men as they were seventy-seven years ago and hope I can do it all justice in the new Linn House mystery Out of Time.