© 1998 Jeff
Gammons All Rights
There is nothing ambiguous about the heritage of Hermann, Missouri. Even before we arrived at the small village on State Road 19, it was obvious this was a German town. The names of the insurance agents, of the shops and the things they sold: Bratwurst, cheeses, "Real" German beer you know is genuine because the sign doesnt say Real. We approached the town and slowed, as we always did, not anxious to learn the nuances of local traffic law.
Once in Louisiana, that strange place, a cop took my drivers license and told me Id get it back when I paid the fine through the mail. He gave me a little piece of paper, which was valid for sixty days. I thought that was outrageous, but I paid the ticket in a hurry.
The entrance to Hermann makes a gentle right curve around a circular park area at the front of the town. Inside the circle is a large white sign, very prominent, with the title Hermann Roll of Honor. Beneath that, in glass, is a list of all Hermann residents who died in World War II. Theres no question these are proud Americans. It made me wonder if some outsiders had questioned that patriotism at the outset of the war. But, the people of Hermann wanted to make their loyalties very clear. The blood of their fathers and brothers was on display for all to see. It was a chilling sight.
The village was uniformly beautiful and clean. No super-rich here, just freshly painted homes, well-manicured lawns, and a pride that was as palatable as the sweet scent that hung in the air. There was still some heart in the heartlandthe sweat and determination was clear around every corner. As if in a vacuum, Hermann held at bay the decay and apathy evident in so many American communities. I wondered how long they could hold out as we drove through and south towards the highway.
At the interstate was Cuba, MO. Super 8 motels were the lodging of choice since they all seemed to have The Weather Channel in their cable lineup.