Thursday, August 9, 2007
The Little Guy with the Hammer
The Mayor and five members of the Raytown Board of Aldermen (Schlapia, Hamilton, Riehle, Creamer, Ertz) have sponsored a bill to replace the city’s logo with a new design. Most people will not get too excited about that event one way or another. But the way they are going about it – and what they have designed to replace the black smith pounding an anvil with his hammer leaves a lot to be desired. To be fair, the readers should know that I am partial on this debate. I like the little guy with the hammer logo. It speaks to a small part of history in Raytown that harkens back to the days of the Santa Fe Trail and a blacksmith shop owned by a man named William Ray. The location of that shop is commemorated by a plaque located at 63rd Street and Old Raytown Road, the geographic center of what is now Downtown Raytown. It is also at the center of the city when it was first incorporated. (Raytown annexed additional land in later years to reach its current size) True, the logo is old fashioned and it could use some updating. But what the sponsors of the bill have endorsed is a step in the wrong direction. The new design looks dated. It is typical of artwork done in the 1990’s that followed the corporate lead of the Nike swoosh developed to sell tennis shoes. It does not address anything about Raytown. The new design is as bland as white toast and sends a negative message. It literally screams that Raytown is ashamed of what it is by ignoring the area’s rich history. Raytown is so much more than a suburb of strip malls. We should brag about our past, not hide it. The Raytown area is rich with history. The Santa Fe Trail ran like a spider web through present day Raytown. The area also played an integral part in our nation’s civil war. The Battle of Westport, which was the high water mark for the southern forces in Missouri, was literally fought on Raytown’s western boundary. The hilly area just east of Raytown was used as a base by rebel bushwhackers. In fact, four unmarked gravesites of rebel irregulars have been found on property just east of Raytown. Between these two forces of north and south, people lived in present day Raytown. In an effort to repel outlawed rebel sympathizers an executive order was issued by a Union general empowering forces under him to seize property owned by Raytown area residents. Soldiers forcefully removed the property owners from their land. Private cemeteries in the area date back to those historic times. The people of Raytown deserve a logo that welds the past to the present. What has been offered looks more like something to be used as a corporate symbol devoid any heart or soul without any connection to our community.