Rural Missouri - January 2011 - (Page 14)

Blackwater’s BUcksnort An unusual store and saloon in a historic setting someone who needed a tooth fixed. And in case a patron needed medical attention, there’s even a leech jar. In keeping with the authenticity, alk into the Bucksnort there’s a sign pointing upstairs to Trading Company and where the “soiled doves” are kept. Saloon in Blackwater However, Connie’s quick to point and anything could out the building has no upstairs. happen. You might find a whiskered Even the American flag — with all character straight out of the Wild West 38 stars — matches the era. So does stocking up for his next trapping expethe bronze National cash register. dition. You could run into an AmeriFor entertainment, today’s patrons can Indian chief picking up materials can listen to a world-class ragtime for a ceremony to ward off evil spirits. piano player, Bob Ault, play on an Or, you could find yourself caught historic piano. Without the need in a shootout between a jealous wife for sheet music, Bob rips off historic and her husband, caught in the act of songs such as “Darling Nelly Gray,” flirting with the “prettiest saloon girl “The Blackhawk Waltz” and the “Ben west of the Alleghenies.” Hur Chariot Race.” But one thing you won’t find is “If it played in the saloons years alcohol. The Bucksnort Saloon is dry, ago, I play it,” says Bob, who once save for a nice selection of sarsaparilla, performed in Carnegie Hall. Along root beer, cream soda and ginger ale. with the music, he dispenses the hisOpening what may be the only saloon tory of the songs he plays. in Missouri that doesn’t serve alcohol, Fearless guests also can join in a and a store that caters to obsolete game of faro, dealt by a character occupations, is just part of a most who looks like Doc Holliday himself unusual business plan for owners Gerbut is really Bill Branson. Faro, a ald and Connie Cunningham. card game where players bet on the “Our business plan is, if Wal-Mart order in which cards appear, was sells it, we don’t,” says Gerald. In the once common in saloons, Gerald saloon next door to their store on the says. Reputable establishments didn’t town’s Main Street, Gerald and Conallow the game since it was so prone nie make no pretense of making a to cheating. profit or breaking even. But at the Bucksnort Saloon, Ger“We sell sodas and beef jerky, but ald keeps things honest with his that never pays for the time, effort or “hand cannon,” a double-barreled, even the utilities,” Gerald admits. “We sawed-off shotgun with barrels so wanted to build an attraction, period. short it would be illegal — if it were We’re hoping it will not only bring real. enough people into town so our store When things get quiet, it’s not will benefit, but the whole town will unusual for a little gunfire to break benefit as well.” out. This might come from ConBlackwater is a town of 200 located nie. When she can get a break at the 3 miles north of Interstate 70 just west store, she comes next door to see if of Boonville. Once a watering stop for her “no-good husband” is flirting the Missouri Pacific Railroad, the little with the saloon girl, Erica Evans. town retains its historic flavor and is Gerald and Connie Cunningham listen to Bob Ault play ragtime music on the historic If that’s the case, the crowd usually the perfect setting for the Cunning1880s-era piano in the saloon the two built next to their store in Blackwater. Bob is just tells on him and Connie exacts her ham’s store and saloon. one of many characters who frequent the attraction on weekends. frontier justice with a tiny derringer Bucksnort Trading Company has pulled from her boot. when the town of Blackwater would have been in operation for four years, It’s possible the place is too authentic. “Somereached its heyday. “Most people who pop off though the saloon is a more recent times, we almost have to drag people in off the the interstate and find us are totally surventure. Gerald and Connie, who are • street,” Connie says. “They look in and see a bar and prised,” Gerald says of reactions to the members of Central Missouri Electric Blackwater bottles and think this is just another beer joint. It’s a store. “If this doesn’t surprise them, they Cooperative, opened the unusual business living cowboy history museum. It’s just soft drinks, are really blown away by the saloon.” after they retired, Connie from a job with and we are just here to have fun.” Gerald and Connie did a signifithe state, and Gerald from ConAgra Foods. At the store, visitors are invited to linger in the cant amount of research on Wild West “Blackwater brought us here,” Gerald rocking chairs and chat with the owners. Later, they saloons before they set out to transsays. “We came here for the antique shops might get around to making a sale — or not. form the building located next door to and got acquainted with the merchants. We Spend some time with the two, and it becomes their store, which was offered free by Blackwater’s both thought, ‘Wouldn’t this be fun.’” obvious they are more interested in meeting people mayor, Bobby Danner. In keeping with the mayor’s The two were avid re-enactors of the 19th-century and sharing stories than in making money. In fact, generosity, the Cunninghams don’t charge to enter fur trade era. For 17 years, they shared a teepee at Connie once talked a customer out of buying an the 1880s saloon. rendezvous held around the state. During these expensive piece of turquoise and silver jewelry Step through the swinging doors, and you are gatherings, various goods were traded. The Cunbecause she sensed the lady was unsure she wanted transported into an era where dusty men fresh off ninghams thought it would be fun to have a place it. “I didn’t want her to be disappointed later,” Concattle drives headed into town for refreshments and that sold year-round the equipment and materials nie says. entertainment. No expense was spared in making needed by re-enactors of all time periods. She adds, “This place is meeting our needs this saloon as authentic as possible, from the cofTheir unique store is the culmination of this idea. because we love to meet people. If you don’t like to fered ceiling, replicas of kerosene lanterns and the Here, you can get brain-tanned buffalo hides, handtalk, don’t come in or we will talk your leg off.” massive bar backed by a full-length mirror. Towels made knives, ceremonial peace pipes, Kepi hats for to wipe your moustache hang from the bar and spitCivil War uniforms of both sides and pottery from The store is open seven days a week until Dec. 31, toons are strategically placed on the floor. the desert Southwest. There’s baskets, toys, saloon when it goes to weekends only until April 1. The saloon Should the modern-day cowhand need a bath, girl outfits and wide-brimmed straw hats. is only open on weekends. For information, call 660there’s a portable range tub on display. There’s also Items for sale start with the Revolutionary War 846-2224 or log on to www.blackwater--mo.com. a barber chair that would have done double duty for period and go to the cowboy era of the late 1800s, W by Jim McCarty jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop 14 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.blackwater--mo.com http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2011

Rural Missouri - January 2011
Contents
Comments
Columns
Doing Wood Right
Mail Bag
Blackwater’s Bucksnort
Out of the Way Eats
Huntin’ With Hawks
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Billards Meets Bowling
Getting $mart in the New Year
Meet Yorik, One Tricky Dog
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4kids

Rural Missouri - January 2011

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