I stepped off of the train and waited for the rest of our party to collect themselves. Mrs. Sturm did a head count, all twenty-six were there. We started walking up towards the State Capital. I walked by Mom and Savannah and Mom needed help with the Mei Tie. The three of us stopped and by the time we got Jubal all situated in the Me Tie the rest of the party were far up ahead. We walked quickly to catch up. When we came to the corner of the street I looked towards the Capital. There it was towering before me; huge, defiant, and strong. Statues stood around the place and stone steps went up to the main doors. Mr. Cliff had waited for us so we followed him to catch up. The front doors were big, really big. We walked in and I looked around me. It was dimmer in here we were in a wide open hallway and as we walked it opened out into a large room. The roof was domed and it gave the place a sort of cathedral effect. The floors were cold, shiny, and marble and the ceilings and some parts of the walls had gorgeous paintings on them. The rest of our group was up on the second floor and I waved up to them.
We located an elevator and went up. The elevator had golden colored doors, two of them, making a golden looking corner. The elevator landed and we got out and joined our group. I was in the back because I paused to look over the railing and at all the paintings. If I was a cartoon my jaw would have dropped to the floor. It was magnificent. They were turning into another hallway so I hurried to catch up. Marble floor again and more paintings, the hallway was sort of a half circle. I dragged behind looking at the paintings.
Our first stop was our Ray County Representative Bob Nance’s office. It was big and in the shape of an L, but still with twenty-six people it was crowded. A window faced the city street below and books shelves lined the wall. His was desk large (like everything else in the capital) and a couch sat in front of it. Henry Hilliard and the two other little girls sat there and the rest of us crammed in however we could. Bob Nance started out first; I hardly remember all that was said. Mrs. Debbie talked about the new regulations on scales and something about cheese. If you ask her about it she can explane it more fully. It really is an issue people need to know about. Not just because of cheese but because it infringes on our freedom. Anyways... Honnah Hilliard’s grandma asked questions having to do with what the youth could do around the Capital and those things, how we could get involved. In everything that was asked and discussed Mr. Nance always thought before he answered and said just the right thing. He is an eloquent and well-spoken man, mindful of his audience. His phone rang a couple of times while we were in there but he ignored it and just let it ring. Before we left all of the children got behind his desk with him and we took a picture. I stood next to Mr. Nance and we crammed together. He was very nice, comfortable with people and I didn’t feel nervous around him as I am with other people.
I have met him before In Excelsior Springs along with my brothers and sister. We had a little meeting, (It was for scouts) and he gave us a copy of the Missouri State Constitution, we gave him our emails and now we get hi “Capital Reports” which I enjoy reading.
Next Mr. Nance took us to Mike McGee another representative. His office was smaller and not so grand but more old fashioned and homey. He was very nice. He had grey hair and a beard, wore glasses and a reddish dress shirt, had a somewhat plump belly, and was talkative but not annoying. Bob Nance introduced us then ducked out to (as I presume) answer those phone calls. Mr. McGee had three other people in his office, they were eating lunch. One was a lady, his wife, and the other a handsome bald guy of indistinct age. Mr. McGee told us about the capital and encouraged pictures in his chair. He had the boys (there were mostly boys anyways) prop their legs up on his desk, lean back in the chair and hold the phone up to their ear. Honnah’s grandma posed too. She pushed her little rectangular glasses to the tip of her nose, sat very prim and proper, and talked on the phone. The two little girls posed too. Mr. McGee, the bald man and his wife were to be our guide.
The first place was the whispering gallery. It was a circular balcony partway up the dome of the Capital. We trailed along behind the bald man through the halls up all the stairs and to a little insignificant doorway. Mr. McGee and his wife were some around in our crowd. He got out a set of keys and unlocked the door. As soon as he opened it I could tell a temperature difference, it was cooler. (I was in fact, right behind him, so I was one of the first to see) All twenty-eight of us filed in one by one and started climbing blue staircase. All around it looked like an attic. It wasn’t very long till we got to the whispering gallery. It was grand. We started spreading out all around the balcony. I looked down far, far, below. I don’t know how many stories up we were but it was high. The air in the whispering gallery was actually cooler than the air below, it was drafty. Above out heads suspended on a chain was a chandelier. It was imposing; almost scary considering its size and weight was only held up by a comparatively thin chain. Jordon Sturm wondered aloud to me what it would be like to swing on that thing. I shuddered, and laughed. All along the wall was a stone bench. If you sat on the bench on one side and another person on the other you could talk to the wall and the other person would hear you. That’s why it was called the whispering gallery because if there weren’t a lot of people you could whisper to the wall and still be heard. Honnah took pictures, so did I. That place made me feel… airy, and… mysterious.
When we had enough of that we went farther up still! Up those seemingly endless stairs we went; all the way to the top. On the way up I was behind Mr. McGee this time and he was behind the grandma of the little girls wearing the purple shirt. She went slower so we had time to talk. Mr. McGee told us all about the place. He pointed out the plaster that made up the decorations and paintings on the other side. We passed a stain glass window. He told us that before they had air conditioning they would open up these windows and regulate the temperature that way.
“I guess what they did was have a lady stand there on the bottom floor to say if it was too cold or not. If she got a little too warm she would tell them to open the windows another inch, if she got chilled she would have them shut them.” He also told us a story about a fourth grade class that came. There was one boy who was in a wheel chair and he couldn’t go up the stairs. He suggested taking him to see the Missouri governor who nobody else was going to see. “’I don’t know anything about the governor but I’m a fourth grader, I go with the fourth grade’” he said. So at the end of the story Mr. McGee carried the boy up. “That’s the thing I’m most proud of all the time I’ve worked here” He ended with.
He also told us about the time the chandelier fell. They had been changing the light bulbs and had lowered it down with the pulleys till it was five feet off the ground. The cable snapped and it crashed to the ground and was badly broken. (I like to think that it shattered into hundreds of pieces and that the shards of glass gave the workmen cuts… but that didn’t happen.) They had the pieces shipped off to get fixed. In the year in between they had two flood lights hanging up; definatly not as impressing.
On the way up he showed us where the cable pulleys were and had us look down the hole the cable ran through to the chandelier. Next was a tall winding flight of spiral stairs; up and up and up. At last we came to a door and wham! We were on the top of the world! The whole of Jefferson City was stretched out below us. I saw the Missouri River and the train station we had come in on; the governor’s mansion, the Supreme Court building, St. Peters Catholic Church, everything. It was so free up there. I felt as if I owned the world. I could hear the sounds of the city and people laughing. I looked down at the court yard and saw a group of people standing in a circle next to a fountain. It smelled so clean up there. I didn’t talk at all just looked and ‘absorbed’ pictures were taken and it was all over too fast. Down the dark stifling stairs and out the skinny door back inside the Capital again. (A note of interest: Mom came all the way up too, with Jubal strapped onto her with the Mei Tie)
Next we went to see Joe Auhl he was a Democrat so had a smaller office. (The Republicans are in power presently) He asked us tons of questions about being homeschooled. You could just feel the parents bristling in the back. Here came all the familiar questions... Do you get to socilize? Do you feel you are learning the things you need to... and on and on. (I might have gotten the sequence mixed up because somehow Bon Nance was there with us.) Joe Auhl’s office was just a corner for him he shared a kind of office complex thingy the ceiling was low to make up a second floor above. It was all inside one room but divided up into sections with a second story within. The phone rang and Joe Auhl answered but immediately handed it to his secretary. While he was briefly on the phone Mr. Nance jokingly mentioned “Now ya see, I didn’t answer my phone when you were in MY office”
We also met with a senetor, I don’t remember his name but for clarity’s same I’ll call him Garret Kingsly. Mr. Kingsly’s office was even bigger than Bob Nance’s. It had three different areas to it. There was a sitting room, his area, and his helper people’s area, plus a table for lunch off to the side of the couch. Mr. Kingsly told us a lot about the Capital. He told us about the time it was struck by lightning and burned down and had to be rebuilt. He couldn’t remember the exact years it took to rebuild it.
He turned around to one of his ‘helper guys’ and asked (I’ll call him Fred) “Fred, how many years did it take for them to rebuild it?”
Fred stood up and said the years and ended with something like “… four years”
He turned back to us and said as if he had come up with it himself “Four or five years that’s right”
One of the ladies asked him why he had decided to become a representative and he told us that he was tired of yelling at the radio. He was the “do it yourself” kind of person. James Sturm took a picture of him with his white cell phone while he was explaining this. My first impression was because the man had inspired him, but probably not.