Just where Ward Parkway abandons Brush Creek for its race south, the evening commuter should be wary this month.
Sometimes, the three curving lanes abruptly become two, the rightmost now overflow parking from yet another big holiday party at the Carriage Club.
So while stuck, waiting for a traffic pause, let us consider golf and dominoes.
Once, this gathering place of pools, courts and ice rink was part of the Mission Hills Country Club, including those 121 acres of lovely links just west of State Line Road, connected by footbridge.
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Jesse Clyde Nichols built it all in 1914 to entice the deep-pocketed of the era, who were reluctant to build on his large lots inside raw Kansas.
Anyone who finds it odd that the clubhouse/watering-hole was left on the Missouri side is too young to remember the bone-dry liquor laws to which Topeka stubbornly clung. Or the oceans of booze that flowed through anything-goes Kansas City.
Doubling down on the golf card, Nichols built the Community Golf Club just upstream on Brush Creek about eight years later.
All those Kansas sand traps, by the way, were carved out of former grazing land bought from Charles Armour, part of the meat-packing empire, who raised imported Herefords there.
That was handy, because the “Big Duffer,” that is, the Kansas City Country Club, found itself uprooted from Wornall Road, its home since 1896. The lease on what had once been the east pasture of Seth Ward’s farm wasn’t renewed. The widow of Ward’s son, Hugh, had remarried to a fellow eager to see it developed like Sunset Hill.
You’d think our busy developer would have jumped at the chance to fill those 80 acres with more of his high-class and highly segregated architecture just south of Nichols’ invention: the auto-centric Country Club Plaza shopping center.
But instead, Nichols approached Ella Loose, a wealthy widow, about buying the land for a park. It’s named after her late husband, a founder of Sunshine Biscuits. (On frosty or misty morns, as soft sunlight wakes Loose Park’s little vale, one can whisper a “thank you” to Ella.)
Needing a home, the Kansas City Country Club swallowed the greens of Community, which dominoed to south Mission Hills to be today’s Indian Hills Country Club.
In the 1950s, a huge divot out amid the greens became the new Mission Hills clubhouse. Sold off, the dark-beamed edifice at 5301 State Line Road was reborn as the Carriage Club.
Hey, the light changed. You can get into the middle lane now!