sprained my ankle day drinking in Smithville last weekend. That doesn’t seem consistent with my chronological age. Probably break a hip in the next couple of months.
As a kid growing up in Plattsburg, I was lucky to have a front row seat to the building of the Smithville Lake. Some of my friends had their houses moved to accommodate the lake, or at least the lake flood plain. My wife’s parents bought one of those homes and moved it to higher ground. To my demographic the lake meant lots of country road gravel access areas that were good for the illicit and near illicit activities of our youth, but not much else; couldn’t see or smell the lake from most of them.
Anyway, I have digressed. I took in the Smithville Lake this weekend from more of a vacationer standpoint and I’m convinced the area has had a change in the last few years. For nearly 30 years, the lake has been basically a large body of water with some good golf and good boating but without the typical lake area type development on the ground, but that has quickly changed of late.
Spurred by housing around the area and the improved highways leading from Kansas City, Smithville looks a lot more like a lake town than it did just a few years ago. The Paradise Convenience store was packed with people grabbing freshly made hamburgers and “Cuban” sandwiches with the usual array of boaters stopping in to grab gas and beer for the lake. A small whiskey distillery has a nifty patio area just off the square in downtown Smithville and the former “Brickhouse” Bar is now under ownership from an experienced restaurant and bar owner from Kansas City and rebranded as “Humphrey’s” with live music on the weekends. The place has been spruced up, Smithville history on the walls and the former Kindred Chevrolet signage added to the bar that is the former home of the car dealership. Add in the pristine Ladoga winery and the best local/outsider mix bar (American Legion) in a four-state region and you got something going.
The former Spelman Hospital is nearing a conversion project soon to be presented to the city council that will bring apartments and more commercial development, and presto, this place is now a “lake community” on water and land. Soon as they get a strip club, they will be completely legit.
Just as Platte City has continued to tap the power of the interstate and seen similar “pop” in the past few years, the Smithville area is tapping the power of the lake and it’s going to be good for the entire region, it just took longer than most of us expected.
Just to be clear, when my in-laws bought the house and moved it to higher ground they were not my in-laws. My wife and I were approximately 12 years old, and I don’t think 12-year-olds can be married in Missouri. Ask your local law enforcement to be sure.
Still trying to figure out the ankle sprain. We didn’t Instagram any difficult photo shoots at the winery and the dancing had not started at the whiskey joint. I did buy a six pack at the Paradise convenience store and maybe hurt it by not balancing the weight of the beer properly. Anyway, it’s the price of playing the tourist game. I can play through pain.
(Guy Speckman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or playing the tourist game through pain in a city near you)