The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 3, 2007

Wally Kennedy: From Africa to Range Line Road

In this space in late June, I introduced Kate Raum, a young woman who was returning to Joplin after spending two years with the Peace Corps in Tanzania.

I wrote about her experience because she sent me an e-mail detailing how she kept abreast of Range Line developments by reading clippings of this column that were mailed to her by her grandmother.

She closed her e-mail with a postscript that asked: “Do you eat at all the places you write about? If so, how’s the new Fortune East on Maiden Lane? Man, I loved that place when it was in the old Dog N’ Suds (26th and Range Line).”

After detailing the conditions of Raum’s life in Tanzania and how she was a courageous example of living in the now, I closed the column with a promise of lunch at Fortune East when she returned home. Last Thursday, I made good on that promise. It also was an opportunity to make another introduction.

Erin Patton and Raum were neighbors of sorts for two years and did not know it. Patton was stationed with four other Peace Corps volunteers in Xia-Xia, a provincial capital in Mozambique. Raum was pretty much on her own in Sepuka, a small village on an escarpment of Tanzania’s Rift Valley.

When the two met for lunch, it was nonstop chatter. Did you have to take bucket baths? Did you have running water? Did you have electricity? Did you hitchhike? Dirt roads or paved? Relationships? What did you do? Christian or Muslim? Lots of lizards and spiders? TV or books? What brand of peanut butter? Long skirts?

Both lamented the fact that the Peace Corps expects female workers to wear conservative attire, such as long skirts. Nothing cute is acceptable; frumpy is preferred.

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A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

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