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By Joseph Dempsey Squires, Missouri

Sunday, April 5, 2009

If you just happen to be traveling in southern Missouri, Squires, on Highway 5, south of Ava and west of West Plains, is a fine place to stop. People have been stopping there since 1888. That’s when John Squire, the town’s founder, opened his store. Now, there are four landmarks of note in the town: the community center, Porters Café, the Squire-Spurlock house and fire truck, and Spurlock’s Store.

The store recently saved my bacon. I was running low on gas in this rural area and did not have a clue as to where the salvation to that problem might be found. George Neal in Almartha, Missouri, steered me in the right direction. I pulled up in his yard as he and his Chow were exiting his domicile. George was gracious enough to provide the information I needed. The old pickup’s thirst was subsequently slaked at Squires.

As you roll into Squires, you can’t help but notice the old fire truck parked in front of the Squire-Spurlock house. I asked the proprietress if anyone would object to my taking a few shots of said house and truck. With a smile on her face, she assured me that it would not be a problem. Further, she informed me, her husband, Randy Spurlock, was active in the Squires Volunteer fire department and without much prodding, would inundate me with information about the truck, the house, the fire department and Squires in general. She was telling the truth.

The house, dating back to the late 1800s, was the residence of John Squire. In 1922, Randy’s grandfather bought the house. The house is not sitting where it was originally built. In 1964, the powers that be decided to do some major work to Highway 5. This included blowing a world-class gap in a hill just south of the store. The house was sitting at ground zero for the blasting. Before construction began, cooler heads prevailed and the house was moved to its current location, safely away from the blast.

The fire truck is a 1957 Chevy, with a custom 322 1957 Buick engine, according to Jerry Campbell, assistant chief of the Squires Volunteer fire department. Further, Jerry allows, “It’s for sale.”

Jerry, who stands before his trucks in the photograph below, lives at the fire station. When a call comes in, he is off and running. Other volunteers, after being notified by the Squires volunteer dispatchers, quickly notify the other volunteers, who meet Jerry and the truck at the fire.

Jerry and His Trucks

Randy Spurlock’s father, the late Fred Spurlock, was the prime mover in organizing the Squires Volunteer Fire Department and raising the money to buy the truck. The department now has four pieces of rolling stock, including a fine American La-France truck, considered by many to be the pick of the litter in fire trucks.

Squires, Missouri, is a great example of people who believe in taking care of themselves. They have a fine community, with a fine community center, a fine fire department (which in March answered 27 fire calls) and a can-do attitude that should be the envy of all. They raise their own funds, build their own buildings and take care of their own problems.

N O T E S:  
Nikon D300 - EX Sigma 10-20mm D DC USM, tripod mounted both / Truck-house 1/250@f13 – ISO 200, 14mm (21mm – 35mm equivalent) / Jerry and trucks 1/125@f6.3 – ISO 200, 10mm (15mm – 35mm equivalent) Post processed with Photoshop CS4 Extended and Genuine Fractals Print Pro.

There is much more to Squires than meets the eye. See more pictures and learn more stuff about Squires on our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Click the jump wings
to see the previous
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weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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