Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

TRAIL MOTHER ; IN TEBBETTS, THE WORLD PEDALS A PATH TO MRS. TURNER'S DOOR Series: Tom & Wayne's Katy Adventure Boonville to McKittrick Third of a Five-Part Series. {TYPE} THE KATY TRAIL MRS. TURNER (LEONA TURNER)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

TRAIL MOTHER ; IN TEBBETTS, THE WORLD PEDALS A PATH TO MRS. TURNER'S DOOR Series: Tom & Wayne's Katy Adventure Boonville to McKittrick Third of a Five-Part Series. {TYPE} THE KATY TRAIL MRS. TURNER (LEONA TURNER)

Article excerpt

AN EARLY MORNING rain washed the sky, leaving it a brilliant Colorado blue. Or maybe it's always like that in the country.

With fluffy white clouds and a patchwork of green and gold fields in the foreground, it was a Kodak moment for my partner, Wayne.

Leaving Jefferson City on a 45-mile ride to McKittrick, our 188- mile adventure on the Katy Trail was well past the century mark. The trees along the trail had made a comeback from the slashing and herbicides used by the railroad and now had grown into a cooling canopy.

Even my buns felt better. Was it the scenery, or the ibuprofen?

Twelve miles down the trail, we pedaled into Tebbetts, Mo., met Mrs. Turner, as she is known by everyone on the traila, and fell in love.

Tebbetts, an old railroad town, is an enclave of white-framed buildings and grain bins. Leona Turner operates a general merchandise store out of the tiny bank building. She makes sandwiches behind the deli counter.

On Sept. 16, Mrs. Turner will be 94, three years older than the bank building. She's lost little over the years, maybe 3 inches in height.

"I do need new glasses," she said. "When you get up into your 90s, you do have problems. I can't hurry too much any more. I tell people they have to be patient when I make their sandwiches."

Before her husband, Elmer Turner, passed away in 1989, he insisted that his wife keep up the business. "He wanted me to come back and be with people, not be by myself all the time," Mrs. Turner said.

"I was quite a coward. I'm still scared to death of storms."

Canned goods and other items are stacked neatly on shelves. A large steel vault door is next to the deli counter with "Bank of Tebbetts" in gold letters.

"I keep my desk and my money in there," Mrs. Turner said with a wink.

Mrs. Turner greets everyone who walks in with a "Hi, there," and keeps a guest book for visitors to sign.

"My family, mostly me, were the only people who wanted that trail in Tebbetts," she said. "I think it'll help the state, and I enjoy the people I meet.

"I've had people from Norway, South America - I had somebody in here from England yesterday. I never liked traveling, and I quit driving when I was 85. People come here to see me, now."

Mrs. Turner owned the vacant building next door, and donated it to the YMCA recently for a bed-and-breakfast for Katy travelers.

"I don't care to see 100. But I would like to live to see that building finished," she said.

"Don't drink, don't smoke - never did, never did want to. My dad did make grape wine in the basement. Land sakes, if he'd give me a little taste, I'd take it."

Alma Hanks, who helps Mrs. Turner behind the counter on busy days, worries that her friend has slowed a step, especially since the younger of her two sons, Chester, died of cancer four months ago at the age of 68.

Mrs. Turner lives in several rooms at the rear of the bank building and offered a tour to see her collection of antique art- glass lamps and marble-topped walnut furniture. …

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