Tuesday, September 28, 2004

September 28, 2004
Back from Kansas City. Got in at 3:30. This morning I saw one of the most amazing museums I have ever seen. Back in the 1970s some Old West maniacs from Kansas City got obsessed with digging up sunken steam ships on the Missouri River (there are a reported 400 sunken ships strewn from Saint Louis to Kansas City and northward), and they ended up digging up this packet called the Great White Arabia which had 200 tons of cargo bound for the edge of civilization (Omaha and the Dakotas) when it hit a snag and sank in 1857. These crazy guys dug the ship up in 1988 paying for most of it with their own money and what they found is just incredible. Inside packing crates and barrels and boxes were some 4,000 pairs of shoes and boots (many of them rubber, made by the Goodyears, yes, with an s, co.), tens of thousands of buttons, oodles of axes, hats, pants, suits, guns, door knobs, tape measures (50 foot rolls of tape!), pocket knives, fine China, window glass (400 panes) and lots of food. Now here’s the incredible part. Since it has been buried under silt (the river channel moved and the entire ship’s cargo is under 36 feet of sand and silt, there was no oxygen and all of the cargo (sans cotton products) is in perfect condition. Especially the food. The story goes that they opened a jar of pickles and one of the diggers bit into one and it still had a ripe snap. They opened a bottle of champagne and it was perfectly bubbly. There are many bottles of cherrys from France that look like they should be on the shelf of your local gourmet grocery store. I met with one of the guys who discovered and dug up and created the museum and we are going to do several features on it.

Speaking of food, I ate like a Kansas City King. Bart E. from our printing plant Banta (which is just north of the city) took me to the Smokehouse Bar-b-que on Monday for a great lunch, and this afternoon we hit The Golden Ox (“The real reason Kansas City is famous for steaks.”). Really enjoyed it, especially the Missouri style bar-b-que which I have heard so much about but never had.

Toured the Banta printing plant. They do some 400 titles so we are a small part of their 24/7 operation but everyone I met raved about True West and especially that we have never missed a deadline and they can always count on our punctuality and our product (it’s rare for us to even have a correction). This is all to the credit of Robert Ray and his crew. They work very hard under trying circumstances and always get it done.

My speech last night to the grocers was so-so, but the event was enlightening to me. I got to mingle with them at the cocktail party prior to the dinner and met several “Loyalty Managers,” which I had never heard of, but I learned plenty and I’ll spill all of their "loyalty" secrets tomorrow.

Going to be nice to go back in the office in the morning. Really looking forward to it. Been out too long. Lots to do.

“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn’t stop until you get to the office.”
—Robert Frostr

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