Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
Take a trip down memory lane as bloggers Danny Batson and Gary Thomas recollect their experiences while growing up in the Chillicothe area. We hope our discussion starters, pictures, and articles will evoke your personal recollections of Chillicothe; we invite you to share your stories with all of us. So, let us discuss the days gone by and have fun!
Grand River Tales Part II by Gary Thomas
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About this blog
By Gary Thomas
Hi, I am Danny Batson (Knouse) and I am a lifelong resident of the Chillicothe area. I was born in 1951 and graduated from CHS in 1969. I took over my dad’s septic tank business that he founded in 1937. While I have been in every state ...
Chillicothe: As We Remember

Hi, I am Danny Batson (Knouse) and I am a lifelong resident of the Chillicothe area. I was born in 1951 and graduated from CHS in 1969. I took over my dad’s septic tank business that he founded in 1937. While I have been in every state (except Hawaii and Maine), there is no place like home! I love taking pictures of old and unusual things and sharing them. There is beauty in everything, if we look for it. I have three Facebook pages filled with local pictures that may be of interest: “Where Has Danny Been,” Chillicothe Now,” and “Danny Batson”.

Hi, I am Gary Thomas and I was born just across from Central School in 1942. I graduated from CHS in 1960 and MU in 1964. After two years in Army, I completed a graduate degree at the University of Chicago in 1970. After working in software development for more than 40 years, I retired from Raytheon in 2007. I have an abiding interest in history and in researching past events, places, and people. My latest project is developing a history-based chronology for Livingston County from 1801-2000.

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March 28, 2013 12:01 a.m.

I remember Oscar, though I didn't recall his name until I read this story. Also the City Hall Auditorium featured pro wrestling out of Saint Joe on a regular basis in the 1950's. Remember Nick The Bruiser!
This story is one of many from the section entitled "Old Time Tales" from the fine 1981 historical work developed by the RSVP. This celebration of 150 years of our past is available from our Livingston County Library website.
PETS OF THE PAST by Margaret Oliver
In the past, members of the Chillicothe Fire Department have adopted a pet to add a bit of extra interest to while away the long hours of inactivity. With the burning of the City Hall in 1925 nearly fifty pigeons, pets of the city employees, lost a happy home. During the fire, the pigeons were seen to fly over the burning building for some time, seemingly reluctant to fly away to find a new home.
The pigeon gets its name from the Normans and belongs to the dove family. It has been used for centuries as a passenger to deliver messages during periods of stress; it is a symbol of peace. Pigeons in flocks of great numbers can also become a nuisance. At one time a “shoot out” took place in Chillicothe to rid the Courthouse roof of too many of them. But the pigeons of the City Hall employees, before 1925, were pets, fed and cared for by the City Firemen.
When Walter Forbis was fireman from 1937-1952 the alligator was the pet of the employees. Many groups of school children were taken to view the animal so unusual in this locality. Robert Frith, a Chillicothe lawyer for many years, had practiced law in Florida for a year following his graduation from law school.
When he returned to Chillicothe, his home, he brought “Oscar’, the alligator with him and gave it to the Fire Department. This was in the late twenties and Oscar lived until after Mr. Forbis resigned in 1957. Its home was a big tank built especially for him and his eating habits, which were a bit unusual. He died at his Chillicothe firehouse home.
“Bosco” the squirrel, another pet of the Fire Department, had the run of the station and knew no other home having lived there since it was a tiny animal. He became a pet to all visitors; was the subject of an article in the Constitution News Press, and finally was turned loose in a corn field by Mr. Forbis.
From 1947-1979, when Merle Hatfield was Fire Chief, “Gypsy”, a black and white Dalmation dog, was the mascot of the department. A Dalmation is sometimes called a “coach dog”. Perhaps that is why he liked to accompany the Chief on every run and sit up in the driver’s seat beside him. When a call came in for a fire, it was “Gypsy’s” signal to hop to his position. Gypsy died in 1970 and is buried on the City Hall lawn; a tomb stone marks his grave.
Joe Rinehart, Fire Chief since 1979, says he has fifteen pets, all employees of the fire department.

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