Jim Dyke blended history, art, scandal and humor as the featured speaker at Sunday's 35th annual Historic City of Jefferson dinner.
Dyke, the editorial cartoonist for the Jefferson City News Tribune and owner of Cottonstone Gallery, started his talk by poking fun at how our society's values have changed over time.
Pretending to read a breaking news update from his phone, he said: "You guys will be the first to hear this. A 32-year-old male Missouri lawmaker became frisky with a 15-year-old girl in Jefferson City on Madison Street."
"Oh, wait, this is old news," he said. "Within three months, they were married. They became the first couple to live in the existing 1871 Missouri Governor's Mansion."
He was referring to Missouri's governor at the time, B. Gratz Brown, who married a young Mary Hansome Gunn. The age difference, he pointed out, "would be a huge scandal right now."
Dyke, who has a self-professed geeky interest in history, talked about how he walks the downtown streets, seeing things the way they were in the past. The News Tribune, he said, previously was the corner building across Madison Street from the Governor's Mansion. The corner building, which once had letters across the top of the building that read "Tribune Printing Company," still stands.
At one point, the newspaper stood at 219 Madison St., where Sabaai-Sabaai Thai Cuisine is now located, he said.
He also talked about how historic preservation is one source of inspiration for his editorial cartoons. He showed a cartoon in which he poked fun at the controversy over whether to raze the old county jail beside the courthouse.
He drew county commissioners on one side singing about demolishing the structure, while local historic preservationist Steve Veile playing a guitar and singing about preserving it. The lyrics were a parody of Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock."
Dyke suggested a self-guided tour by downtown to bring the history of that part of the city to life. He said from Arris Pizza to Prison Brews is exactly 1 mile and could be marketed similar to the "Miracle Mile" in Chicago.
"There's a lot of historical sites that could be redeveloped, and tons of businesses along that strip," he said. It would end at Prison Brews, near where tours are given at the old Missouri State Penitentiary.
"I don't have any money to do this. Nick, I'm looking at you," he said to laughter, referring to longtime local attorney Nick Monaco.
Monaco's law firm and Dyke's Cottonstone Gallery are along the stretch.
Dyke took off a hand-painted tie he wore and donated it to be auctioned, with the proceeds going to HCJ. The tie went for $475.
At the event, Carol Blaney was honored with the Preservation Pioneer Award and Janet Maurer was given the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Jane Beetem, Jim Kreider and Vicki Schildmeyer were re-elected as HCJ directors. Jenny Smith and Holly Stitt, previously appointed as directors to fill spots, were elected to two-year positions. Bruce Bates was newly elected as a director and Melanie Stockman was made an appointed director.