On May 5, Sandy, Kansas City friend Elaine Fry, and I went downtown to attend a Cinco de Mayo celebration and topped off the evening with Irish Coffee on the rooftop bar at the Vandivort Hotel. Before it was the Vandivort it was home to the Masonic Lodge, where my dad attended lodge meetings and later on I became a DeMolay. I looked toward the historic public square and thought how fitting it is that our history museum is located there. In the days of the Civil War, Springfield was attacked more than once by Confederate forces and on one occasion worried town leaders stood atop a city building on the square to check the progress of Confederate soldiers advancing up South Street from the cemetery at the bottom toward the square at the top. We were saved on that occasion but only after a long day of battle.
On another occasion, Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt faced off across the square to settle an argument. Hickok, a better shot and armed with a long barrel pistol, shot Tutt dead. Years after that, to our everlasting shame, two young black men were hauled from jail by a mob and lynched on the square. Still later, folks celebrating the end of World War II drove around the square, honking their horns and shouting with joy.
But on May 5, 2021, our town seemed at rest. Darker moments in our history — the turbulent, the violent, the disgraceful — though never forgotten, were not out ghosting. Sipping Irish Coffee, looking over the edge of the roof, we watched young people enjoying a pleasant evening, strolling downtown Springfield in peace.