A day in the life with food, music, bowling and art

Lee's Summit JournalJune 13, 2014 

Always a Ray in Johnny Ray’s

Sitting at the counter for a burger and fried cauliflower, a customer can immediately spot the namesake of one of the oldest continuous eateries in Lee’s Summit – Johnny Ray’s.

That’s Martha Ray behind the wall, visible through a window, working the grill and fryers.

Bob Ray, her son, is nearby making a drive-thru order. Grandson Sterling Ray is on a break, enjoying what a grandson should at a diner – a bacon sandwich with syrup.

The Ray kin still rule the roost at the popular burger joint, a place that still hosts car shows and features an old-fashion juke box.

Then again, time doesn’t stand still at Johnny Ray’s. After the last bite of the single with cheese is devoured and the last fried cauliflower popped in, this customer paid the bill and signed a computer screen for the check and tip – a clear sign that times can change, even a little, at a place where you can still get a cherry Coke or chocolate malt.

Business picks up at almost exactly 11:30 a.m. on Friday, May 30. A day in life of this diner includes a solo lunch patron in a booth, a family of four celebrating an ending school year and a litany of buzzes from the drive-thru.

A workshop, a home, a way of life

Dave Eames doesn’t mind his commute to work, all 38 feet of it.

Once a graphic designer with The Kansas City Star, he put away his key card and went fulltime doing the thing he is most passionate about – creating art for others to enjoy.

Fossil Forge Design Studio was born in 2003, but it wasn’t until 10 years later that Eames would be able make the change.

Surrounded by metal, tools and equipment, Eames, sporting an apron, beams when he speaks about his craft. Most days, you can find him in the garage-turned-workspace, working on everything from a new Little Free Library for New Longview to deck posts for a company in Massachusetts.

A day in the life of Eames and Fossil Forge can start with an online order or simply an idea from a friend stopping by the house. Eames’ backyard is a plethora of bottle trees, serene art made of metal, colors, shapes and good vibes.

Inside, the workshop almost looks like an art gallery, the works of years and years from the mind of an artist that doesn’t see scrap metal and empty bottles the same way as the rest of us.

Eames graphic design work was clean, tidy and specific.

But that’s not life now. In the workshop, dirt isn’t disparaged and rust isn’t ridiculed.

Eames shows off all the pieces that will be used or could be used on current and future projects, including a metal monument in honor of Park Board member Paula Belser’s late husband, Wayne.

“Life Times” will be displayed at the Gamber Center. The four-panel piece represents the stages of life and seasons we all experience. Eames has crafted it so the shadows and silhouettes will change throughout the day as the sunlight shifts, creating an ever-changing scene.

You could say Eames is living the dreams, and the dreams sometimes translate to the art around him, his family and the community of Lee’s Summit.

Senior bowling can be serious fun

Bowling is serious business on Friday afternoons in Lee’s Summit.

Sure, fun is the first order of business, but Eileen Whiskur, Harry Pahlman and Carol Hurtt would like to win.

And in this day in their life, May 30, they did.

Summit Lanes’ Friday senior league starts at 12:30 p.m. each week. And by 12:35, the high fives and “atta boys” are filling the bowling alley.

Pahlman, from Lee’s Summit, took up bowling 20 years ago. And it shows. He started game three of the league with six strikes in a row. On his seventh ball, however, he left the 5 pin.

It was one of many close calls on the day. Six strikes were followed by three splits. Still, Pahlman finished with a 213 and never stopped smiling.

Hurtt isn’t happy about the splits she’s leaving and Whiskur is determined to pick up her spares.

Energy levels are high as 14 lanes of activity swirl around the sound of tumbling pins and cheers of congratulations.

The trio is usually a foursome, but teammate Dorothy was not in attendance.

Still, the handicaps and pin totals went their way on this day.

Music … and a little rain

Howard Station Park was at its packed finest on May 30, the second night in the summer-long Music in the Park series in downtown Lee’s Summit.

The families enjoying the tunes ranged from moms and kids, grandparents, expectant mothers and families of seven enjoying dinner and an evening together.

While the skies were getting ominous around 7:30, the first act, Electric Mud, was wrapping up its set.

The Union Pacific train, a regular guest at the weekly concert, made its appearance around that time.

Then the thunder rolled and the skies opened up.

Kids and parents scrambled to nearby cars and under the awnings of the businesses off Southeast Main Street, staying close to gauge if the second band, Favorite Daze, would make it on stage.

The minutes turned into almost an hour, but the torrential downpour subsided and a light sprinkle fell over the park and downtown.

After a sound check and another train, the second band took the stage, welcoming back the lighter crowd that opted to wait out the delay.

By this time, the lights on the Howard Station fountain were shining, reflecting off the nearby trees as the water danced above it.

A little needed rain couldn’t stop the music after all.


– John Beaudoin

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