A couple of weeks ago we noted the passing of cartoonist Mort Walker. He served at Camp Crowder during World War II and recreated many of his Crowder experiences in his long-running cartoon series "Beetle Bailey."

A couple of weeks ago we noted the passing of cartoonist Mort Walker. He served at Camp Crowder during World War II and recreated many of his Crowder experiences in his long-running cartoon series "Beetle Bailey."
This week, I would like to talk about another cartoonist who served at Camp Crowder. Ted Key also created a famous cartoon character, "Hazel." Anyone who reads the cartoons is familiar with Hazel, the no-nonsense housekeeper who really runs the house where she works. Hazel is a little bit smarter than the nice family she works for, which makes her almost a folk hero.
When I first came to know that Ted Key had served at Camp Crowder, I contacted him to get his story. Mr. Key and I kept up a fairly long friendship and exchanged letters and e-mails. Unlike my correspondence with Mort Walker, my Ted Key file is intact. I would guess I have at least a half dozen hand-written letters from him and two or three cartoons made especially for me.
Key came to Camp Crowder in 1943. Four months after his arrival, he was joined by his wife and baby son. They could find no lodging in Neosho so they lived in a tiny apartment at the rear of a grocery store in Joplin. Key said it was five blocks from the highway and he hitchhiked back and forth to Camp Crowder every day.
As I learned more and more about Ted Key, I thought he should be honored in Neosho as was Mort Walker, but apparently no one else cared. I thought that another trail at Bicentennial Park could carry the name of Ted Key. Another option was naming a street in Neosho or a tribute of some kind at Crowder College, but people with influence  weren't interested.
I wrote an article about Mr. Key and his stay at Camp Crowder in the June 24, 2001, issue of The Neosho Daily News. I remember that article got a lot of attention. But sadly, some 17 years later, you can find nothing to acknowledge that another one of America's great cartoonist was here for over a year.
It is wonderful that Mort Walker and Beetle Bailey has been honored by the Missouri Department of Conservation at Bicentennial Park. I can't help but believe that Mr. Walker would welcome some recognition for one of his peers.
We may have forgotten Ted Key, but he did not forget us. At age 89, he wrote to me:
"I have warm memories of Camp Crowder, Neosho and Joplin. Civilians couldn't do enough for us…I look back at the wonderful days I spent at Camp Crowder, Neosho and Joplin. What wonderful people I met, what good friends I made, in and out of camp…"


Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.