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Ozark Highlanders Store

By Lisa K. Gendron

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Jefferson Republic, DeSoto, MO - Thursday, September 15, 1949

Max Krodinger Family Proves USA Still the Land of Opportunity

By Mrs. Ruth Hopson

The Ozark Highlanders novelty, souvenir and curio shop on Highway 61 is a building more curious and novel than any of their items. Begun only a short time ago, the building was finished and ready for use in almost no time. When asked where he had the idea of making such a novel display building, Mr. Krodinger said that, well, they had plenty of stove wood and clay so they just used it.

The 18 x 22 foot building is actually of 14 inch stove wood put together with clay and a layer of mud, a layer of stove wood, just like laying bricks. And for windows or port holes, they used a section of an old bee tree, cut in similar lengths. There are nine of these and they may be glassed in the winter. The floor is of concrete, the roof of tar paper. Corner posts are peeled oak logs and windows purchased second hand at a sale for the front, completed the materials used.

The building cost about $20 not counting labor. But labor is plentiful in the Krodinger family, as the entire family work at building, making souvenirs, building their house, setting out strawberries or raising fryers. Three boys and three girls at home, and the parents, make a pretty efficient crew for any of the many jobs there are on the farms they operate, and in the souvenir and curio business.

This is really a home industry as nearly all the materials come from the farm itself. This farm on the federal highway, a few miles south of the old Flucom road and Highway 61 junction, was cleared this spring. A quonset hut, 60 x 60, was put up first for the family to live and work in while their new house was being built.

Having wholesaled souvenirs at their shop on old Highway 9 some years ago and wanting to catch the summer trade, the family voted to build the souvenir shop before finishing the house. After all, they could live in the tent and the hut a while longer.

While building the unique stovewood and clay shop, as many as fifty cars have stopped in one day while people looked and wondered. One man asked a lot of questions, then told the Krodingers that he was going to cancel his order for cement blocks for his clubhouse and used stovewood and clay. Mr. Krodinger wanted to be sure and use clay without humus, that is, under the top soil about a foot and a half, so it would be sure to hold. Other people interested in the building stopped to take pictures and ask questions.

On tables in the shop are displayed the unusual and finely made souvenirs. Finished pieces such as miniature cedar chests are the best sellers. Prices for all articles depend upon the time needed to make them. There are all kinds of boxes, chests, book backs, lamps, salt and pepper shakers, salad bowls, vases in polished woods of cedar, walnut, or cherry. Rustic pieces such as buckets, miniature wells, plaques are made of persimmon and sassafras. There are split-corn cobs with novelties, including arrowheads, stamped instructions, and other rocks mounted for door stops and paperweights, key chains, mail boxes and small tubs.

Customers tell how hard they searched from Little Rock all the way up here for souvenirs of the Ozarks and how pleased they were to find some at last and in such an unique building.

The souvenir shop is the 60 foot square quonset hut. It is equipped with modern wood working machinery, such as sander, drill, lathe, planer, joiner, band saw, table saw, drill press and innumerable hand tools. The shop is an approved shop and Ralph the oldest boy, and an ex-G.I., has a class of 4-H boys who meet every week to learn carpentry.

The home being built is of vertical half-sawed logs. It has a basement and will have air conditioning and modern conveniences when finished. The long front living room is 50 feet long. Inside walls are of vertical grooved guards that fit without nails. There are no hollow walls. The floor is from an old barracks, sanded and finished and very attractive in its mellow coloring.

Besides building the curio shop, building the house, setting up and maintaining the work shop, the Krodinger family has found time to raise fryers to sell, or to clear ground and make gardens and fields, and set out three acres of strawberries; they sell cream and eggs, collect rocks and cut their own timber for souvenirs.

Although it takes all of them to keep their own souvenir shop supplied, a truck stops every Friday and takes whatever they spare in the line of souvenirs to the Soulard Market in St. Louis. This is with the understanding that anything unsold may be returned. Nothing has come back yet!



This set of wooden salt and pepper shakers is on display at the Jefferson County Heritage & Historical Society Museum.

Max and Gertrude Krodinger

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The souvenir Shop  - Gertrude Krodinger, holding the child in the doorway

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This wall was built by Max Krodinger in front of their house, and was an extension of the Ozark Highlanders store.

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January 2022