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MEMORIES OF LOULA LONG COMBS
by Eva McCance
(circa November 2000)

My interest in the R.A. Long family was first aroused in 1947. I was newly married and moved to KC from South Bend, Indiana. We took an apartment on St. John Avenue in the NE district just a short distance from Cliff Drive, an elite, historic neighborhood of grand old homes where the Longs had held residence. Theirs was the palatial Corinthian Hall, which later became (and is today) the Kansas City Museum. It was given to the city as a gift by the Long family.

Loula Long was at this time living with her husband, Pryor Combs, at Longview Farms in Lee's Summit. One of two Long daughters, she had been of great importance to this area for years as a horsewoman, and often appeared in newspapers as she darted around the country in competition. She was a household word in KC.

I saw one of her appearances at the American Royal Livestock Show where she drove her hackney ponies into the winning circle dressed in one of her magnificent hats and accompanied by her favorite lap dogs.

Besides her accomplishment and her devotion to their work, she was first of all known as a gentle woman and was well loved by all who knew her. I met her as a person when we joined this church in 1956. Mrs. Combs arrived on Sunday mornings still in a big, beautiful hat with plenty of chewing gum in her purse for restless kiddies. She was quite a hit with children.

The annual Christmas play and program was staged in the church basement, as it still is, and Mrs. Combs was always there with enough of those old-fashioned re-net stockings filled with oranges, apples, and nuts to pass around to all.

I was told by one of the ladies who lived on the farm that at Mr. Combs' direction, a truck from Macy's or Emery, Bird, Thayer, would drive out to the farm every Christmas loaded with gifts for all the farm personnel.

One spring my folks visited here from Indiana and my Dad showed such interest in the horses that she offered to show us around. She met us in the early morning at the horse barn with her pockets full of sugar cubes. The horses loved to see her coming and she treated them like individual, personal friends. It was such a pleasure to see her among her favorite things and hear her stories of this one and that one, and see her ribbons and trophies she had won. She was a most gracious lady. That day she was wearing something like a house dress and somewhat ragged old sweater, but she carried herself with such dignity and displayed such hospitality to all around her that she came across as the true aristocrat which she certainly was.

One funny little anecdote she gave us that day was about how she had kept close track of the farm as it was being built and that she drove out all that distance from the city in a buggy to watch its progress. One day it was so hot and she was so tired and thirsty she drank a big glass of buttermilk they gave her, and became quite ill!

She was getting on in years but she still drove the hackney every day or every day she could. Some of my favorite memories of her are of her sitting straight and tall and rounding the curve down at the race track here on the farm. I was teaching my daughter to drive the car one spring and we'd come out here where the traffic was minimal and park over on Sampson Road and watch her with much delight and admiration.

Mrs. Combs was a warm, friendly person who looked you straight in the eye when you talked with her, and listened very carefully to anything you had to say. She was someone you could defer to socially, and think of as a valuable neighbor. You were just so glad you knew her among people.

Note: This memory was shared at our 85th Celebration in November 2000 as one of those from our longest attending members

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