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Tell It Like It Was - The Story Behind the Stories

Adapted from the original email sent by Paul Ovaitt on September 2, 2022

You Talking to Me? – Repaying a Debt – A Couple Drinks – Miranda Murray - Show FHA the $$$ - The Augusta Owl Flies Again

Paul: Thank you, Paul, for agreeing to this interview.

Paul: You talking to me?

P: Indeed, I am. I’d like to know why you do this Tell It Like It Was thing. Why do you interview folks in the neighborhood? And where do you see your “hobby” heading?

P: Hobby? That sounds dismissive…but never mind. Well…I know I’ve said before that TILIW is my way of repaying a debt to Augusta and the surrounding area. This town has been good to me, and I’ve grown to love it. I was able to make a living here. For the most part I’ve always felt accepted and welcome. Now, I don’t know what anyone says about me behind my back…but I think actions speak louder than words anyway.

So…interviewing and letting people tell their own story is how I show my respect for the community. You know, we…Paul Kampen, Jan Cross, Dave Klaas and I…videoed our first interviewees in Washington at Cedarcrest and Grandview. As a matter of fact, our first interview was meant to be with our town historian, Dr. Anita Mallinckrodt, but sadly, she died on the very day we had scheduled. Immediately, we set our sights on Jeanette Fischer, and successfully videoed her on January 23, 2019. Then in rapid succession we spoke with Virginia Nadler, Glennon Stelzer and Ruth Heman. These are all people I had known, especially my friend, Glennon.

Our next filmed interview was with Mel Walls in his kitchen. About that time, Paul Kampen dropped out, but Glenda Stelzer Drier soon teamed up with us. Next, we moved to the Augusta Visitor Center for 5 more willing victims, but soon we found ourselves videoing at Harmonie Verein until Covid 19 came calling.

P: So how did you get hooked up with the Friends of Historic Augusta?

P: Well…that’s kinda funny. During the Christmas walk of 2018, I had enjoyed a couple drinks, and I found myself at the Museum. I had no sooner walked through the door when I was somewhat brusquely confronted by Kathryn Frazier, the president of FHA. Word had already reached her that ye olde towne painter was about to morph into the town interviewer. Understandably, she wanted to know why I would undertake this new project without first seeking the blessings of the museum.

I explained that after having worked alone for so many years, I wasn’t inclined to seek permission for much of anything…and I really disliked meetings and committees. But I assured her I would, from there on out, faithfully notify the museum of future interviews, all of which they were welcome to attend. She seemed satisfied, and soon she was showing up to record it all with her iPad. Ultimately, Kathryn uploaded our interviews to YouTube. Thank you, Kathryn!!

In early 2021 I started writing TILIW stories based on walking excursions and interviews. After the museum had its website up and running, they expressed interest in posting my writing, and I liked the idea, of course. Currently, there are 12 of my 2021 stories posted there. (Fast forward to today, and there are 37 if you count what you are reading right now.)

P: Don’t your stories also get posted on the Augusta Community Facebook page?

P: Well…some do…but some never see the light of day on Facebook because some algorithm blocks them…very frustrating. But…if, and when, the museum website catches up with my wordiness, photos, musical recordings and videos…current stories can appear on the museum website first…as they should.

P: So, what’s the holdup?

P: It’s money, of course. Someone must pay the museum’s talented webmaster, Miranda Murray, to place the photos where they belong as the story unfolds. She likewise places videos and my recordings in the optimal spot. She even provides a means to leave comments. And when she finishes, she sends out Facebook notices to notify my gentle readers. She does this and more…dirt cheap…all the while managing her own web design company.

P: Why don’t you apply for a grant?

P: Funny you should say that. Just a couple weeks ago, FHA asked me for a one-page proposal to kick off the application for a $2500 mini grant from the Missouri Humanities Council. I did as they asked, but I wrote it in my usual irreverent and light-hearted manner, which is to say, in a totally unacceptable fashion. In fact, I conducted a mock interview with the MHC, and pretty much asked them to show me the money! It was brilliant! Like J. S. Bach, I pulled out all the stops, and I even quoted the Bard of Avon.

Well…the plan to pursue a grant was soon scuttled. And we still need money to pay Miranda. But do not despair, gentle readers. I have a plan. However, I need your help.

Thus, I have begun an all-out begging campaign. For starters, to prime the pump, I sent $100 to FHA, so that you can see I’m earnest in my resolve. I felt like I should put a little more skin in the game before I ask you to contribute your pound of flesh. (I know, more Shakespeare.) It just took me 800+ words to get to the point, which is…I need your financial help.

Way back in 2021, readers told me that I needed to publish a book. If they are thinking a traditional book, I say, no way. I’m too much of a tree hugger. But when you think of it, the museum and I, are creating a book that won’t collect dust on your coffee table and someday end up at Goodwill.

Our book is a digital, multimedia book. Already it has music, poetry, history, interviews, relevant links…and videos of places you’ll probably never visit – like the still flowing spring in Matson which supplied fresh water for the War of 1812 fort built by Daniel Morgan Boone.

There’s even a comment space where you can add your own thoughts (or photos) on my topics. Together, we can compile this book, and someday you or one of your clever kids or grandkids can pick up where I left off.

Perhaps I should make it clear that I don’t collect a cent for what I’m doing. As a matter of fact, besides the cash donation I made, every story I send to FHA becomes their property once it is posted by Miranda. I work for free, and I work hard on these stories. People enjoy them…I think. So, I’m begging you…show your love for Augusta, and show FHA the money. And when you think of it, I’m further committing myself to keep producing more stories by making this request.

You can donate right on the website: I’m told there are sufficient prompts to allow you to direct your donation specifically to Tell It Like It Was.

Or if you’re more old-school, please send your tax-deductible gift to:

Friends of Historic Augusta

c/o Sally Heining

296 Lower St.

Augusta, MO 63332

Sally will send you the legal receipt you need for a deduction. And please notify her that your check goes to TILIW. And one more thing – please give her an email address so you can be notified of events at the Augusta Museum.

That was hard. I hate to beg, but somebody’s got to do it. But I must warn you, I will go beyond a digital request if need be. IOW, I’ll put the personal touch on each and every one of you, and we all know how uncomfortable it is to turn somebody down in person. Wouldn’t you rather send Sally a check?

Enough of that…I want you to meet the web master.

Paul: Is Miranda Murray your real name or a stage name or some handle?

Miranda Murray: Yes…!?!?

P: Nice name. How old are you?

MM: I am 25 as of ______________.

P: Happy birthday. Sorry I’m late. Where are you from?

MM: I was born in Washington, and I grew up in Beaufort and Union, MO.

P: Okay. You’re very rural, I guess. And where do you live now?

MM: I live in Pacific.

P: Where did you study computers and media or whatever you call what you do?

MM: It’s a mix of things…when it comes to computers and technology…I grew up working in my dad’s computer shops, and I learned a lot there.

P: Really? What’s the name of his shop?

MM: It’s Reboot Computers and More. He has 4 stores at the moment; he’s about to have 5. One in Washington…one in Sullivan…St. Clair…Union…and soon there will be one in Owensville. I’ve worked with him since I was about 13 years old.

P: Oh my gosh!

MM: And then I have more formal education. I went to East Central College to get an associate’s in graphic design and then I went to UMSL to get my bachelor’s in graphic design. That included UX-UI Design, user experience/user interface design which has a lot of technology and website building training.

P: What is the name of your business?

MM: I’m working as a freelancer now. I just work via contract basically, so, it’s Website Design and Graphic Design by Miranda Murray.

P: What is your interest in Augusta, and how did you get to know the place?

MM: I was approached by Kathryn Frazier because she contacted my dad. She needed help putting the interviews from Tell It Like It Was on YouTube, and then she eventually talked to me about building a website. Now, I’ve always been familiar with Augusta…and once she introduced me to the history of the place…the museum…the agricultural history…I was hooked (laugh). So, I’ve been working at a discounted rate every chance I get just because…I really enjoy the beautiful history of the people and events of Augusta.

P: Well, since you brought it up…and I was going to bring it up…unless it makes you uncomfortable…that you’re working too darn cheap…like working below fast-food wages. I find you extremely competent and I enjoy working with you, but I expect you to be adequately rewarded for all the things I ask you to do with my stories.

MM: I do want to keep helping the museum at this rate because it makes me feel like I’m giving back…because I can’t volunteer 100% of my time…if I can volunteer at a low rate for a non-profit…that makes my heart happy.

P: Okay, I have a plan. Since the museum recently decided to handle my stories as a separate project…a separate client, so to speak…I’m going to give you a raise…and you’re going to earn every penny of it. I can think of so many ways to enhance, preserve, and speed up the delivery of my stories…even add a table of contents, an index…but I can’t do it without you. Henceforth, you will get $25 for every story you post, and I will get zero. You’re young; I’m old. I’m retired, and in a better position to give back to the community. This will bring your posting fee closer to what you currently charge your clients out in the real world. And it will still be a modest sum.

BTW you told me how you met Kathryn, but how did she know that Reboot would help her with her YouTube challenge?

MM: Well, I know that my dad goes above and beyond…making house calls…remoting in and helping people set up…email…Microsoft…things like that. So, she (Kathryn) thought that here’s a company that will do other things related to computers. And Dad knew that I knew more about that…that’s how.

P: What’s your dad’s name? Can I put that in the story?

MM: Oh yeah, he’d love that. It’s Mike Murray, and Reboot Computers and More is at 902 East 6th Street in Washington.

P: You know, you are well spoken, and you come across with confidence. Did you deal with the public much when your worked for your dad?

MM: Yes, that’s exactly where it started. Taking in customers…as a teenager…you just kind of learned…how to explain things in a way that people can understand. And customer service…and being kind…and listening…and being able to sell them on the solution that you think will help them the best. It was something that was taught to us. I believed it started there…and going through freelancing for many years. I think the first side job I did was probably…I was only 14 years old.

P: Miranda, you’ve given me plenty to write about…unless there’s something else, you’d like to say.

MM: Maybe you could express that I’m grateful to be… You know, this started off as just a normal inquiry for a freelance job, and then it turned into being part of a community…if you could express my gratitude for that.

P: You just did it, Miranda. You said it perfectly.

Gentle Augustans, besides a photo of Miranda Murray, I have attached a 10 second video of the Augusta Owl showing its enthusiasm for donations to TILIW. (The owl was designed and constructed for me by my amazing friend, Tom Niemeier, of Defiance.) Please click on it. It won’t infest your devices with bird lice or viruses.

Be well, be curious, and be generous.


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