Ok, you ask, what's in Skidmore? Well it's not what's in the small northern Missouri town, but what happened there. Every town has it's characters, some good, some bad. Skidmore had a bad one, in 46 year old Ken Rex McElory. McElory had numerous run-ins with the law and was charged with various crimes over the years. He was never convicted of his crimes as he had a habit of intimidating witnesses against him.
In 1980, one of McElroy's children got into an argument with a clerk, Evelyn Sumy, in a local grocery store owned by 70-year-old Ernest "Bo" Bowenkamp and his wife, Lois, allegedly because a younger McElroy child tried to steal some candy. McElroy began stalking the Bowenkamp family, and eventually threatened Bo Bowenkamp in the back of his store with a shotgun in hand. In the ensuing confrontation, McElroy shot Bowenkamp in the neck; Bowenkamp survived, and McElroy was arrested and charged with attempted murder. McElroy was convicted at trial of assault, but freed on bail pending his appeal. Immediately after being released at a post-trial hearing, McElroy went to the D&G Tavern, a local bar, with an M1 Garand rifle, and made graphic threats about what he would do to Mr. Bowenkamp. This led to several patrons deciding to see what they could legally do to prevent McElroy from harming anyone else. Nodaway County Sheriff Dan Estes suggested they form a Neighborhood Watch.
In 1988 a book, In Broad Daylight was written by Harry MacLean, which I read at the time. I was intrigued by the authors description of the town and the surrounding area. I specifically remember his description of the mud on the roadways left by the farm tractors. Later a movie of the same name was made starring Brian Dennehy as McElroy. Dennehy played a great villain in the movie. At the time I told myself that someday I would like to pay a visit to Skidmore. Well, now was the time. About 100 miles south of Omaha, we took a drive down to get a look for ourselves.
The population of Skidmore had declined in the ensuing years as has the town. The grocery has closed, no gas is sold at the service station, and the D&G Tavern is no more. Farming is still the main source of income in the area with corn and soy beans the main crops. At as we drove toward town, mud from the tractor tires was evident on the roads
In 1980 on the television show Dallas, J.R. Ewing was shot at the end of the season. CBS played up the next season with advertisements asking, "Who Shot J.R?" Around the same time, after Ken Rex McElroy was shot, some one had T-shirts made up which on the front said, "Who Shot K.R?" and on the back said, "Who Cares".
|ON THE WAY TO SKIDMORE|
NODAWAY COUNTY COURTHOUSE
You can buy the book In Broad Daylight on AMAZON