Did I Do That?

By Lara Sodon

So I did something on Saturday afternoon…maybe I should start at the beginning. My paternal grandmother moved to Table Rock Lake when I was a baby. My granddad and my grandma bought a plot of land from friends who had moved down there and built a house and resort. My grandparents planned to build their house right next door. Picture a STEEP Ozark mountain. There was a family owned campground at the top of the mountain, a gravel road that led to the two houses and the resort below that. My grandparents’ house had nothing but trees between their house and the lake…maybe 100 yards.

If my memory serves me, the story I was told was that my grandparents sold their house in St Louis and moved to the lake. My granddad laid the concrete foundation and got the framing done (side note: my granddad built most of the houses that he and my grandma lived in. There are at least 3 houses in St. Louis that I could take you to right now that he built, and they are still standing, and people live in them). Anyway, Dec 1972, my granddad died suddenly, and no the house was not complete!

The situation was assessed. and it was determined that my grandma was not in a position to walk away so my dad helped complete the house! My grandma lived in that house until 1998. Most of my memories of my grandma are in that house. We moved her to St Louis in 1998 for a variety of reasons. She had some health issues that were not helped by living on an Ozark mountainside; her friends/neighbors/original owners of the land/resort we either moving or getting ready to move to warmer weather and the family owned campground was being sold or had been to a corporation. Just wasn’t a good idea for my grandma to be there by herself.

So, over the years I’ve been to Branson, but I could never find the house. It was a gravel road with no name or street address. It was rural route with a mailbox. Well, I was in Branson this weekend for a retreat and I decided Saturday that I was gonna find her house! I found the resort address; it was still there under the same name. I found the gravel road and the two houses were still there!

I threw caution to the wind, got out of my car and went to the door!

I get to the door, l raise my hand to knock on the door, and I pause. All of a sudden, a million thoughts start running through my mind. Should I do it? Will they answer? What will they say? Will they be A-holes? What would I say if I was on the other side of the door? Are they psychos? After what seemed to be an eternity, I knocked…softly. Nothing. I knock again a little louder. 10 seconds pass. I knock again. This time I hear voices. I glance at the window on the right and I see the curtains move. I knock again. I hear voices again. And dogs barking. I just stand there. Another 10 seconds or so, I knock again. Finally, I see the door start to open, just a little. It’s a woman in a bath robe looking a little disheveled. I take a deep breath and say, “Hi, I’m so sorry to bother you! I know this may sound, well I don’t know. My name is Lara Sodon. My grandmother was the original owner of this house. I was in Branson for a conference and decided I wanted to try to find the house and well, here I am!” I stop talking and… (In my years of direct sales training, I learned that the first person to talk next is buying LOL). By this time a young boy has come to the door along with a dog. The woman opens the door a little wider. I can hear a man’s voice in the background. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it was “oh” or “really.” I said yes. This house was built in 1972. She replies, yes it was. She opens the door wider. I say, I can’t believe it’s still here. I thought it might have been torn down. I hadn’t been able to find it before. I apologize for just showing up but that I was so shocked to find it. She says that she’s been under the weather, but do I want to come in and look. I ask her if she’s sure? I know it’s weird and I don’t mean to intrude. After a back and forth for a few minutes I agree to go in the house. The man whose voice I heard appears and she starts telling him who I am. He looks at me and gruffly says hello. I apologize again for intruding.

When you walk in the front door you are in the living room. I start looking around. It looks really different and yet not at all. She starts telling me what she knows. She bought it exactly a year earlier. She is pretty sure she bought it from the couple that bought it from my grandmother. The man was a flooring guy. Apparently he did a LOT of remodeling and renovating which I realize the longer I’m there. We make our way to the kitchen and the memories start flooding my mind. I start describing things that are different and things that are the same. She offers me a seat and I start sharing stories. I even find a picture on my phone of me in the kitchen and show it to them. The 3 of us sit there talking about the house. I tell them how my grandmother acquired the land and built the house. That good friends of my grandparents had bought the land and built the resort that is down the road. How the trailer park up the road used to be a family owned campground. The through road the house is on used to be a dead end. I even called my parents while I was there and put it on speaker so my dad could share how the house was built. My grandparents sold their house in St Louis and moved down to the lake. They lived in a trailer that summer. My granddad poured the concrete foundation and did the framing. And then he passed away suddenly. That next summer my dad along with a few others finished the house.

I sat in their kitchen for over TWO HOURS! I thanked them several times for letting me come in and look around. I got back in my car and drove back to Kansas City. I drove back on pure adrenaline! When I got home I told my daughter what I did…and got a lecture about safety from my 24-year-old daughter.

It was definitely worth the risk lol.

I have posted pictures that I found online from the real estate listing and pictures I have of growing up.

Two Exciting New Books


By Wm. Sharpe

We have two new novels now available. Not Forgotten is the third novel in the Nick Caldwell detective series. In this adventure Nick and his team solve a 40-year-old cold case of the murder of a young couple in Saint Louis. In so doing Nick also catches a serial killer who has killed other couples in several states.

When Christmas Trees Flew tells the story of a 10-year-old boy’s experiences from Thanksgiving to New Years day. This bitter sweet  story recounts the last big family Christmas gathering before a death changes the boy and his family forever.

My third novel, Uncle Joe Is Dead, was released in 2018. You can get either a hard copy or e-book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kindle.

My editor, the scholar and gentleman, James R. Sodon has urged me to write a few words about the book. I thought I was done when I wrote the two-hundred plus pages that are in the book. I guess I am supposed to tell you the inside story about Uncle Joe Is Dead and about writing the book.

The title of the book was the message I received from one of my good friends when his great uncle Joe died. I remembered it because I thought Uncle Joe would go on forever. His uncle was a good and generous guy who some would have called a hoarder, but I would call a collector of over stocked merchandise. Since I too am a collector of stuff that others discard and from second-hand stores, I understood Uncle Joe’s interest. I like to think of us as pioneers in reuse technology or, if you prefer, dumpster divers work too.

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Origin of the BearhounD Stories

Bill Sharpe explains why he wrote the BearhounD stories

Author’s Note:

This was the first BearhounD story I wrote down. It was not the first BearhounD story that I told my four-year old daughter and her four-year old friends. The whole BearhounD story started one summer afternoon when I was working in the yard. Sondra had two friends over and they decided that they would “help” me.

Starbuck, the family dog, was never very far from Sondra and if she wasn’t available, he would settle for me. For the record Starbuck was not named after the premium priced coffee company in Seattle. Starbuck was named for a fictional character from the play and film The Rainmaker; the film starred Burt Lancaster. Starbuck was named in 1986, a good six years before you could get a latte from the coffee company in Seattle.

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Mystery novels and trench coats – professor debuts first detective book

Viktoria Muench | Editor-in-Chief March 17, 2016; 1:45 p.m.

Professor Sharpe on his way to class in the Spellmann Center.  Photo by Kelby Lorenz

He storms into the classroom of Mass Communication Theory with a large cup of coffee in his hand and his briefcase dangling from his shoulder. Instead of saying “Good morning,” Bill Sharpe simply grunts.

His students smirk, because they know they are about to hear another story about his life and daily encounters, told with a form of grumpy sarcasm that is unique to the communications professor.

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