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June 27, 2019

1931 Ma Brown's Prior to Old Barneys - Family Photo and Story of Ma Brown's on the Courthouse Square

Reddit Link

I just ran across this picture again in my parents' storage! Here's a few things I know about my grandparents:
My grandmother ran Ma Brown's Q-S Bar in Warrensburg Missouri. (Quality and Service) For a time during Prohibition it appears that she ran a speakeasy on the same premises. (Warrensburg has a Ma Brown's Speakeasy event each year...Link
My grandfather operated a farm and a small hauling company (three trucks, hauling to MO, KS, IA, AR, and OK). Rumor is that he also hauled liquor during Prohibition, but no direct evidence of that.
My grandmother was going strong right up to her death. She taught me poker and blackjack, how to cheat at both, and why you shouldn't. I don't remember her having a lot of grandma crap around her house, but she always had a few decks of cards, some ashtrays and lighters, and this awesome old upright piano.
Don't know if it's just me, but I think my grandmother bears a fair resemblance to Scarlett Johansson. And my grandfather has a great jawline and a great smirk (probably b/c he's married to a Scarlett look-alike).

Ma Brown's Q-S Lunch

Many people may have memories of Ma Brown's, a little sandwich-and-beer shop on the courthouse square.  Buddy Baker certainly does. He spent a lot of time there when he got back from following the pipeline that was being built across the nation just after World War Two.
Warnick Dodge stood to the East of Ma Brown's Q-S "Tipsy Tea Room" and Harmon Motors was to the West. Warrensburg, MO Courthouse Square
This was also the bus station for many years.
Old Barney's is now in the old Ma Brown's Location, Warrensburg, MO
He had made friends with another pipeliner from Warrensburg, Billy Brown, who was the son of Laura "Ma" Brown and her husband Hick.  Hick was a trucker who hauled cattle from this area to the Kansas City Stockyards leaving Brown's Q-S Lunch for his wife to run.
When the two young men got back to Warrensburg, Buddy joined the 52-20 club. (The government gave World War Two vets a 52-week pension of $20 a week allowing them to take a year off to recover from the trauma of war.) Buddy and Billy spent their free time at the restaurant. Buddy remembers it as a friendly place where college students and factory workers congregated for lunch. Some people came in to wait for the bus that ran several times a day between Warrensburg and Whiteman Army Airfield until the airbase was demobilized.  There were booths and a Seeburg Jukebox.  A yellow cat named Seeburg greeted the customers.

The Brown family even introduced Buddy to another regular customer, Francis Walz, who would later become his wife of 50 years.
Ma Brown's is now Old Barney's on the Courthouse Square. Notice that the top of the facade has been removed so that it is now lower than the building to the right of it.

Does anyone else have any memories of Ma Brown's Q-S Lunch?  If you do, we'd love to hear them. Whatever happened to Laura Brown?

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