The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 7, 2013

Mike Pound: Golden City remembers Millard Fillmore

Monday, around noon, I was sitting at a long table in the back of Cooky’s Cafe in Golden City.

I was there for a birthday party. It was not an exclusive party. After all, I was there.

But it was a special party nonetheless, although the guest of honor wasn’t present. The birthday party was for Millard Fillmore. I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t Millard Fillmore play shortstop for the 1963 Mets?”

Close, but wrong.

Nope, Millard Fillmore was the 13th president of the United States. Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh, THAT Millard Fillmore!”

Then you’re probably thinking, “Wait ... what?”

When it comes to U.S. presidents, Millard isn’t exactly in the Hall of Fame. I would like to tell you a few interesting things about him, but there aren’t any.

Well, when he was young and attending a one-room school, he fell in love with his teacher and later married her.

That’s sort of interesting.

This year, I almost missed Millard’s birthday party. Charlie Shipman called me Thursday from Bartlesville, Okla., to remind me about the party, but I didn’t get around to checking my phone messages until Monday. Charlie told me that the party would get under way at noon. When I got Charlie’s message, I looked at my watch. It was 11 a.m. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I can do that.” I drove to Golden City.

I don’t exactly have a full calendar.

When I got to Cooky’s, the usual characters were there. There were Lowell and his wife, Betty. Lowell owns the funeral home in Golden City, and he publishes a magazine for funeral directors called The Deadbeat. Also there were Joanne Howard, who works with Lowell, and Lowell’s grandson, Aramis Douglas. Charlie was there, of course. As was Dale Dermont. Carl Singer was at the table, along with a banker named Mike, a Baptist preacher and other folks who were sitting at the other end of the table and whose names I would just screw up if I tried to mention them.

During lunch, Lowell mentioned that we had a diverse group around us. He said I was there as sort of a recorder of record.

“Although he isn’t good with names or dates,” Lowell said.

Lowell knows what he’s talking about.

Speaking of dates, the other reason I almost missed Millard’s birthday party is because the celebration was held on Millard’s actual birthday, which is something that doesn’t happen very often.

This is the third year that I’ve been to Millard’s birthday party and the first time anyone can remember it being celebrated on Jan. 7.

I guess when it comes to Millard’s birthday, it’s the thought that counts.

I asked Lowell how many years he and his friends have been celebrating Millard’s birthday. Lowell got a slightly exasperated look on his face.

“Mike, you asked that same question the last two years,” he said. “The answer is, ‘We don’t know.’”

Oh, right.

Monday was a special birthday for Millard. It was his 213th. He was the 13th president, and this is the year 2013. Anyone sensing a pattern here?

On Monday, Joanne set up a placard containing photos of Millard, but the pictures disappeared between a small gap in the tables. And at 12:07 p.m., right after I ordered a double quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger, the lights in Cooky’s went out.

Everyone at the table agreed that Millard was trying to tell us something. But then we figured, since it was Millard, whatever it was he was trying to tell us wouldn’t be very interesting. So we started talking about something else.

Man, it ain’t easy being Millard Fillmore.

Toward the end of lunch, Charlie suggested that we all sing “Happy Birthday” for Millard. Since none of us had much else to do, we agreed. At the end of the song, someone at the table added, “And many more!” And we all laughed.

All in all, it was a good party.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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