My earliest recollection of a shimmering illusion of something other than reality was on the “New” Route 60 somewhere between Neosho and Seneca. For years our family travelled the Old Route 60.

My earliest recollection of a shimmering illusion of something other than reality was on the “New” Route 60 somewhere between Neosho and Seneca.  For years our family travelled the Old Route 60.
 The Old Route 60 is the present day Norway Road, past the Neosho Municipal Golf Course going due west to various points of interest that no longer exist and ending up in at the base of the big hill at Seneca.  I rode this somewhat meandering road one day this last week and was reminded of the many times that I travelled this road every other weekend in order to visit my Grandma Richardson who lived in Miami, Oklahoma. Dad had a brother that lived in Miami and another that lived in Vinita and later moved to Muskogee, so this was a path well trod over the course of my lifetime.
But that one fateful day as we were returning from Grandma’s house on the “new” Route 60, I recall one of my parents’s saying, “What is that?”  This was in reference to a shimmering vision that could have been wet pavement in the distance on the new roadway surface.  With a little direction from one of my parents, I was finally able to lock my vision on this miraculous visual wonder.  Now this is a common sight, but my memory of the first time I saw a heat mirage is still vivid.
This year looks to be one of those years that will produce a lot of heat mirages.  Every seven day forecast teases us with a chance of rain, but the dust is a stirrin’ and the grass is a dyin’.  Celebrate Neosho will take place on June 30th and we can hope for a little reprieve, but at this point my prediction is, “it’s gonna be hot”.  But, brave the heat and come on out to view the spectacular events that are planned for this year.  There is always relief as one of the vendors should have iced tea or some other cold beverage.
The thought of iced tea brings back other memories which leads to a recent conversation.  I was raised in a very practical and prudent household.  Money was not spent on frivolous things and certain things were deemed as pure luxury, banning them entirely from the household.  However, I cannot recall a meal at my mother’s table when tea was not available.  Iced, hot, you name it, there was always tea.  Mom purchased loose tea and for years it was a brand named Griffin’s Tea.  This continued until that brand could no longer be found.   For years this box of loose tea came with a goblet attached, so after many years of purchasing this brand of tea every household in the family had quite a number of these glass goblets.  But it really was all about the tea.  We liked this tea.  It had a great flavor and it was a staple in our household.

When I left for college and became acquainted with other students, friendships developed.  So on a weekend at some point during the first year of college, I travelled to St. Louis with one of my newfound friends.  His family lived in a very nice, suburban neighborhood in South St. Louis which was predominately inhabited by middle class, professional people.  I had never really been and I’m still not concerned with social status, but these households seemed to be a little more upscale than my rural background.  However, when we sit down to eat, I was appalled at the poverty!  They didn’t even have tea on the table.  Everyone was drinking, wait for it, tap water.  Of course this was long before bottled water and everyone drank tap water if you drank water, but oh the inhumanity of this situation, no tea!  This event changed my entire view of the world, social strata, economics and culture.  At that point I knew it was good to be from the south and from southwest Missouri.  We have iced tea!

Paul Richardson is the director of public relations and events for the city of Neosho.