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New almanac helps Missourians learn about the state’s facts and history

Carolyn Mueller and John Brown
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

Did you know that Missouri was once a mecca for health conscious people, that there is a town in the state named Tightwad or there is still a law on the books that cattle can’t graze on airport runways? These and a plethora of other facts and histories can be found in the new book “Missouri Almanac 2018-2019.” Carolyn Mueller and John Brown, two of the book’s five authors, joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to share highlights and the genesis of the book.

Mueller explained the idea for the almanac came from discussions with school librarians. “They all spoke about how kids gravitated toward the ‘National Geographic Almanac’ and ‘The Guiness Book of World Records’ and these trivia books about random things,” she said. “So we thought it would be cool to make one all about Missouri so kids could learn about their state, where they live and where they come from.”

Among the almanac’s offerings are a list of the state’s 22 symbols, names of all native Missourians who were on professional sports teams in 2017, biographies of famous Missourians and many little known facts such as Springfield native Brad Pitt dropped out of the University of Missouri just two weeks before he would have graduated from journalism school to pursue his acting career in California.  

Brown pointed out that the almanac can also be a useful tool to encourage learning. “My daughter picked up the book and she started looking at some the sections,” he said. Next thing you know, she’s on the internet researching more about what she saw here.” He has even heard of teachers using the book as inspiration for the required fourth grade Missouri history project having grown tired of the same 10 famous Missourians that are generally studied.

The almanac can also serve as a guide book for the many state parks within driving distance of St. Louis and Kansas City and everywhere in between.  Mueller said, “We do have a really lovely state and we want to encourage kids and families to get out there and enjoy the natural aspects of Missouri and I think the almanac does a great job of highlighting that.”

Brown added, “Across the board, there’s a lot of great stuff to do, a lot of great places to see and I think this is a great place to start with it.”

Listen to the full discussion for other highlights and an explanation of the delay in wide spread availability of the book due to the recent fire in the Reedy Press warehouse.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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