Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yesterday was such a day...

While the hills and hollows of the Ozarks are as near and dear to my heart as a beloved Grandmother, she still has the ability to surprise, even startle me on occasion. Yesterday was such a day.

While wondering through the blue highways of the Mark Twain Forest, I caught a glimpse of something out of place in the woods; something vibrant and distinctive that shouldn’t have been there in the leafless forest. I almost kept driving, but something in that flash of color convinced me that this should be explored and understood. 

I turned around, found a safe place to park along side the road and made my way down the embankment, across a small stream and into the middle of all that mystery.

I was in the center of a field full of wild daffodils, stretching from an old barn on the west through a field, around a stone foundation, along the creek bank, and filtering into the woods 100 yards farther in the east. They were all in full bloom; all looking in different directions, like a gargantuan choir of thousands taking a break in rehearsal, and discussing what to sing next. 

They paid me no mind, as I wondered in their midst, stooping to photograph one group then another. Each step through the mine field of flowers brought new discovery.

Daffodils played along the creek bank, jumped across the water and disappeared into the valley. They surrounded the old foundation, peeking from under storm damaged tree trunks and competing for space with every rock and plant they encountered.

Their march through the valley must have taken many decades, but they left me with the distinct feeling that this had never happened before, and would never happen again. All this explosion of color was just for this one moment, and if I hadn’t stopped and made the discovery, the day would pass and no human would have witnessed their song. What a loss for something so beautiful to have gone without a witness!

But the longer I sat in their presence... I started to realize that this unique moment in time, and millions other moments across this land, come and go in nature every day, many without a human witness. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care nor need our witness. She doesn’t seem do it for accolades or recognition. 
She does it because she can.

I was the lone witness this day, and I am a better man because of it.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Monday, March 31, 2014

"What has been and what is yet to be."

“You stand at the end of the past, where the future begins, you stand. You are the link between what has been and what is yet to be.”

I have been surrounded by that phrase here at the Walnut Street Inn for 18 years. It is in every room, on our website, in every brochure we have ever printed; yet I’ve never really noticed it, not until today when Becky, one of our “Inn Family” regular guests, brought it to my attention. She said she loved it and it seemed to fit the Inn so beautifully. That made me stop and think - where did the phrase come from?

My first response was that it is from Nancy Brown-Dornan, the lady who helped renovate the old house on the corner of Walnut Street so many years ago. That house, that family home, became the Walnut Street Inn in 1988 when Karol, their daughter, convinced her parents, Nancy and Gary, to purchase the property and turn it into the B&B we operate today. With their loving care, they turned this old house into the family business that has first supported them, then my family, and the many families of my wonderful employees, for the past 26 years.

“You stand at the end of the past…” - The house is a bit of a time capsule. When you walk into the parlors, you do step back in time. No TVs grace our walls, no modern furniture, no carpet, nor Lazyboys, or modular couches. As the local Landmarks Board, which is charged with protecting these old “Painted Ladies”, says at the beginning of every meeting, “There are no more houses like these being built.” My insurance man, as well, reminds me of that every time I renew. These are homes from the past. The feel, the smell, the sound of the creaky floors cannot be duplicated. And for most of us, we are reminded of a simpler time when we enter.

“where the future begins, you stand.” – So many of our guest are here to celebrate an anniversary, find a new job, or call on a new client; all things of the present and future. While the house takes you back, it is also part of the present, and if we continue to do our jobs correctly, part of our future and the future of all of our guests.

“You are the link between what has been and what is yet to be.” – We witness that link every day, especially with the baby-boomers. When they, or older folks come in, they often say, “This so reminds me of my grandmother’s when I was a child.” It links them to a time of their childhood when vacations were not flying trips to Disney World, but week-long stays with family. They talk of sliding across hardwood floors with fresh white socks, of playing hide-and-seek in the closets, dormers, and attics, and kick-the-can around the house at night. They share stories of playing cards, putting together puzzles, telling stories, and all the things we did before our toys took batteries and internet access.

I’ve just started noticing that the X, Y, and Millennial generations don’t always have those “Victorian” memories. Their grandparents and aunts and uncles more often than not live in 3-car garage suburban homes or condos with pools. They are experiencing the atmosphere for the first time, and most are fascinated by it. So maybe that is our link to “what is yet to be.”

Whether it reminds you of days gone by or creates new memories for you, this old house will keep on giving, keep on offering a place for contentment. With continued love and care, I know this home will outlive me. We are just the current caretakers. Now that I think about it, maybe it is the other way around. It is taking care of us.

We welcome you all to come find your place in this old house’s story.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our goal is 100% local produce and supplies!

Being a Springfield, MO B&B, our “product” is 100% local. Our rooms, our breakfasts, our events all take place within the United States, within Missouri, within Springfield, within the National Historic District. Why shouldn’t we use and support 100% local supplies? It is so much more rewarding to buy from friends and neighbors.

We have always had a “local first” mentality, but today there are many more options for buying local. I still shop at Sams, but the number of my purchases there goes down every year. Local, free-range eggs were our first find, and for the past two years Happy Mouth Foods have been delivering the most beautiful eggs to our back door every week. The quality, freshness, and taste have convinced us the extra cost (over 3 times the cost of “Sams” eggs) has proven to be a sound decision.

This summer we went on a hunt to find a reliable local source for breakfast meats. We have purchased a commercial brand for years, and the taste is good, but the bacon slices have gotten thinner through the years and the sausage texture is not what we want. Plus, there was no “good feeling” like when we purchase the local Happy Mouth eggs!

All we had to do is put out the word with our local friends and guests, and we found Horrmann Meat Company. They are located here in Springfield at 1537 West Battlefield and their tag line says it all: “Nobody can bring the best of what local farmers have to offer than the butchers who see and process it!”

They have been wonderful to work with, individually packaging just what we want, sometimes cutting our bacon while I’m in the store. All our “meat eating” guests have praised the local grass fed product, without knowing it is totally antibiotic, steroid, and sugar-free.

Today I purchased their hickory smoked Cajun-style bacon. I am looking forward to seeing what our chef Rita does with that!

Another update: If you haven’t visited and “Liked” or Walnut Street Inn Events Facebook page, come on down! Events Coordinators,

Shelly Drymon and Patty Workman, are doing a wonderful job keeping our “Local Product” fresh and fun! They coordinate all our parties, weddings and special events here at the Inn, and maintain our new Events Facebook
Page for easy access to what we offer. They just had a sit-down birthday dinner for 40! We are a few “Likes” from 200 for this new site, and when we hit 200, there will be a drawing for a free night at the Walnut Street Inn! If you haven’t found the site, take a look and “Like" us at:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Life is short

Part of being an innkeeper is when you open your home to all, you are privileged to meet wonderful folks you would normally not get the chance to meet. That was so true this past week.

On Monday, June 10th we had the honor of hosting the six “Gosselin Girls” here at the Walnut Street Inn. The house came alive from the moment they arrived and stayed that way until their parting goodbyes. They came to breakfast on Tuesday, all with mustaches! (I hear they wore them to dinner the night before.) I asked if they would send me a picture for our facebook page and they said they would. I enjoyed them throughly and found every excuse to sit and talk with them on the back porch.

After they left, I got the picture seen here and a nice note from them telling me that they enjoyed their stay, but with the sad note that one of the sisters, Christi, (seen here second from the left) had passed away the Friday after their stay.

What a blow to this wonderful family! We would like to send our heartfelt condolences and prayers, and take this moment to honor Christi with this memorial tribute on our facebook page and our blog.

Life is short, and grief is heavy, but we pray the love of this family will heal the loss. We were lucky to have Christi and all the “Gosselin Girls” cross our path.

Shown in the picture, from left to right; Deb Gasper, Christi Beistline, Kathryn Gosselin, Kathy Gale, Cheryl Fryberger, and Laurie Cabot.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jumping out of a totally good airplane!

This past week, our Events Coordinator, Shelly, came in to meet with a bride for an upcoming wedding here at the inn. She looked a bit pale and unsteady on her feet, so I asked her if she was okay. She said she was fine, but that she had not fully recovered from jumping out of an airplane that morning!

What! If I jump out of an airplane, it will be because it is on fire and headed toward a mountain. And even then, it will be at the very last minute.

She wrote about her experience and I asked her if I could share it here with you. I've got to admit, after reading it, I'm thinking of jumping out of a totally functional airplane! (NOT!)

Shelly's story:

I finally did the tandem dive I first thought about doing when I was in my mid-thirties. However, back then I had three small children who depended on me and I saw skydiving as a risk I could not afford to take.

The idea of a tandem jump was something I put away for years. One night my boyfriend and I were chatting and for some reason I mentioned doing a tandem jump. I thought nothing of the conversation. However, Steve, being the good listener and sweet man that he is, bought me a tandem jump for Christmas!

On a very early bright, clear and slightly cool June morning Steve and I head out to the airfield for my scheduled 8:00 jump. I was a bit apprehensive, I suppose. There are a few butterflies in my stomach that had actually been there for a couple of days. Having a bit of nervous excitement is expected, especially for the death defying act I was about to participate in.

Maybe not death defying, but certainly exciting. According to the massive amount of research I conducted the week before my jump, sky diving is actually very safe. In fact, according to the National Safety Council,” a person is much more likely to be killed getting struck by lightning or stung by a bee.”

I had never been stuck by lightning but I have encountered plenty of bees, so I figured I was safe.

Upon arrival I was required to watch a video narrated by Bill Booth, the man responsible for tandem diving. (Bill looks like he could be a member of the band ZZ Top.) Bill tells me I could die or be seriously injured so I had better understand the risks involved. I was also warned that in order to put the harness on, that would attach me to my instructor, I might be touched in places some would consider inappropriate.

After viewing that uplifting video I had to sign four pages of documentation saying that neither I, nor my heirs, would sue anyone remotely connected with the jump should I die or be injured. Not the owners, not the business, not the manufacturer of the plane or the parachute, not the farmer next door should I land in his field…nobody! I also had to indicate any impairments I may have such as high blood pressure.

Of course I sign. It is safer than running through a clover field full of bees!

I was then introduced to my instructor Justice. He was a nice young man who had some big muscles, so that was reassuring, and 13 years of jumping experience. We went over how the parachutes were packed, the reserve chute and how that would deploy if needed.

There was a “practice session” where I was taken to the plane and briefed on the actual logistics of the jump. The plane was a very small Cessna that would carry me, the pilot, our photographer and of course, Justice.

We went through who would sit where, what I would need to do to get hooked to Justice. When we were close to 10,000 feet and I was all hooked up, the photographer will yell, “door” and then open the door. Justice would put his right foot out on the ledge over the wheel of the plane and I would place my right foot next to his. At that point I would be dangling over the earth and then we would jump. Actually Justice would jump, I would be shoved!

Time to suit up. You can wear street clothes and I had the option of a jump suit but I chose not to wear one. My harness was put on and man is it ever tight. “Don’t want you going anywhere” proclaims Justice.

While I was suiting up the photographer was videoing the event. “Are you nervous?”

I replied, “Just a little.”

Time for the real deal. The four of us load up in the plane and we begin our loud, rattling takeoff. I would describe the plane as a tin can on wheels. To make the whole event more surreal we are rolling down a grass runway. Still I am not one bit nervous. I am super excited however! The photographer is making cracks about hoping the parachute opens this time and Justice is yawning and telling me he wishes he had gotten more sleep the night before.

I just grin at them and say, “You can’t scare me.” They laugh.

As we approach 10,000 feet Justice gives me my goggles, which are so tight. I mean squeeze the head tight. I sit in front of him, we get strapped up and the door opens.

WOW! Talk about noise and wind. But what a rush as well. We inch our way in front of the door and Justice puts his right foot out on the ledge over the wheel of the airplane. He indicates for me to do the same and for a moment I am dangling high above the earth, one foot out and one foot in. I am hanging on to the door opening with one hand and my other hand has nothing but air. Funny thing…I don’t feel the least bit nervous or scared. Instead I am feeling very Zen like, as I tell myself, “You are about to jump out of a perfectly good plane!”

Justice gives me the signal to grab my straps and put my head back. And just like that we are off. Sixty seconds of falling without a parachute - here I come.

There is nothing in the world that can prepare you for the amount of wind or noise in a free fall. From what I have read you are cruising along between 120 and 125 miles an hour. It is not actually a free fall, because at some point your body hits the speed at which it will fall and stays there. Still, we are moving and moving rapidly. I struggle to breath and I gasp for air. The photographer is in front of us so I give him the thumbs up and smile. I can’t close my mouth after because of the force of the wind.

I look down and I see the earth below and I am still not worried. My mind is just trying to take in everything that is happening at the moment. I am not sure if it has dawned on me yet that I am falling to earth at a rapid speed.

Then Justice deploys the canopy. I scream a few expletives and then start giggling – hysterically. We slow down very quickly which actually felt like we were pulled straight up in the air as if a hand had reached down and jerked us backward. It appeared even more so because the photographer was still falling. Justice does something to the hooks at my hip and loosens the strap across my chest, so I can be more comfortable.

Under the canopy you can converse with each other so I tell Justice that was awesome! He gives me the toggles and says I can steer the ship.

I give it a pull to the left and we go left. I give it a pull to the right and we go right. Then my stomach starts to roll, and I remember I have vertigo. Now vertigo is not like being dizzy, it is more like things around you slanting. And with no solid object to focus on my vertigo was out of control.

I told Justice I was sick to my stomach and he took the toggles back. I tried to concentrate on what was going on, but I was also afraid I was going to be sick. Justice tells me if I am going to be sick, throw up to the side. If I throw up to the front it will just come back on us.

Looking down I could see for miles. It was so quiet and peaceful floating above the earth. The blue sky around us and the green earth below was jaw-dropping beautiful. It was as quiet as free fall had been loud. I pointed out the red plane on the ground. We saw the photographer with his purple canopy moving very quickly to his landing.

“What do you think?” Justice asks.

“I have no words to describe it.”

This all happens so quickly. I am not sure how long we have been up there. Three, four minutes but it felt like ten seconds.

Then I feel my legs falling asleep. You know that tingling feeling you get when you sit funny and your leg falls asleep. All of a sudden I feel very light headed and I tell Justice I feel like I am going to pass out.

He tells me we only have thirty seconds until we land.

And then I faint.

Only I didn’t know I had fainted until I wake up, on the ground with Bryan, the owner, kneeling in front of me saying, “Shelly, are you alright?”

“Oh no, did I pass out?”

“You just took a little nap.” Bryan jokingly says.

I was horribly disappointed that I had not been awake for the landing. So disappointed I am going to do it again, so I can experience a landing and get it on tape!

I was told that sometimes the harness is tight and cuts off the circulation at the pelvic area. Justice told me he has had people faint before. Maybe it was my mind telling me I should be a little more afraid than I was?

After doing some research the factors that contribute to people passing out during a tandem jump could include:

1. The harness cutting off the circulation, as it is strapped around the major arteries in your leg.

2. A decreased amount of oxygen you experience during free-fall

3. The amount of adrenalin running rampant in your body.

I now know how difficult, although not impossible, it is to breathe before the canopy opens. Instead of having my mouth open gulping for air I will breathe through my nose. I also know that when I dive again, if my legs start to fall asleep I will bring them up to the sitting position to relieve the pressure of the harness.

Still I felt really silly. I shouldn’t have though. I just jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 10,000 feet. I was up above the world coming down at 125 miles an hour with a fantastic, breathtaking view underneath me.

I had done all the reading about the rush of wind and the speed and the noise. Justice told me it might be difficult to breathe before the canopy is deployed. I had read tons of blogs and watched videos of people jumping. However, nothing would prepare me for the memorable, exhilarating and breathtaking experience I was about to have. Words and pictures cannot do it justice.

I can totally see myself solo diving. And you can bet I will be back out there for another tandem jump. This chick is hooked!


Amazing story Shelly!
Next time you are at the Inn, ask Shelly if she has taken that second jump!  

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
Info: 417-864-6346
Reservations: 800-593-6346

Monday, April 15, 2013

Just another spring day at the Walnut Street Inn

This past few spring days at the Inn have been fun and rewarding. We had a group of 8 couples who get together once a year and stay two nights at a B and B within Missouri. They are wonderful guests, and very appreciative of the house, staff and property. They were here before, and if I am lucky, will be here again.

I love to see guests using the parlors, porches and decks of this old house. I love hearing snippets of conversation between old friends. Their banter is casual but kind, direct but not rude. They know the accomplishments and failures of each other, and the discussions build on years of insight and empathy. The gatherings go well into the night, on the back porch with cigars, and in the parlors with music.

My sense of déjà vu is that this type of sharing has gone on at this exact spot, very similar to what I’m witnessing now, again and again for the 117 years the house has existed; laughter and tears, cigars and scotch, friendship, support, and love. What more could we want in life.

I’m thankful they found the Walnut Street Inn, and it reinforces why I have been an Innkeeper for the past 17 years.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn
 900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806
 Info: 417-864-6346
 Reservations: 800-593-6346

Friday, November 23, 2012

Winter petunias and being thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and my niece Lauren, Paula and I drove to Thayer, my hometown, to spend the holiday with my sister's family, my father, and all the gang from Oregon County. It was very pleasant. The food was as great as was the conversation. Only the bitter loss of the Dallas Cowboys marred my Thanksgiving mood. As an avid, lifelong fan of the Cowboys, my attitude toward life often ebbs and flows with the success of the team. It's been more ebbing than flowing lately. But enough about that.

When I walked outside the inn this morning the sun was shining brightly but the wind was whipping 20 to 30 miles an hour all around the property. I did my usual morning inspection, walking around the three buildings, checking out all the changes since I left yesterday morning. The sun was glorious but the wind chill was bitter. I was not dressed for it. Rather than seek shelter indoors, I found the warm, protected spot on the southeast side of the inn where the sun has been shining through the leafless trees all morning. There in this warm, toasty corner was a summer flower pot that I had discarded from the back porch, against the foundation of the house and it was blooming as if it was spring. These "winter petunias" didn't know or care that it was late November and the wind was howling out of the north. Their will to live, grow, bloom, and attract the long gone butterflies was an encouraging message that life goes on no matter what happens. I know that these tough little flowers won't be there much longer. They were living in the moment, and with their example and guidance, so will I.

I hope you find that warm, sunny, protected spot in your world today.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. We are so very thankful for your support and friendship here at the Walnut Street Inn.

Gary at Walnut Street Inn 900 E Walnut Street Springfield, MO 65806 Info: 417-864-6346 Reservations: 800-593-6346

The Walnut Street Inn

The Walnut Street Inn
the Inn is made up of three 100+ year old buildings.