Lonely Statues

My son, Nathan, is guest writing today!

Lonely Statues

Standing on a faded red and white thirty foot tall tower, the white Charolais bull statue at the junction of Highways 5 & 36 in Laclede, Missouri, is a local legend.  Erected in 1972, the statue has for many years informed passersby of the location of Lamme Farms, the now-defunct ranch once run by June Lamme and her late husband, Bill.  Despite the statue’s landmark status, many people have forgotten that Lamme and her husband were instrumental in the introduction of Charolais cattle into the region.  Lamme Farm Charolais sign

Initially, Lamme’s husband raised Charbray cattle, a Charolais-Brahma cross developed in Mexico, but Lamme says, “They were really touchy.  They wouldn’t let us pet them, we couldn’t get close to them.”  Their experience with the Charbray taught Lamme and her husband they would prefer to work with a breed that was more approachable.

Finally, in the early 1950s, her husband made the decision to “breed up” to full-blood Charolais, which was a tamer, gentler animal.  He then bought full-blood Charolais from the Wrigley family in California.  When asked if she meant the family that founded Wrigley Company, Lamme exclaimed, “Yes, and Bill always said it like that, ‘Wrigley Chewing Gum people is where we got our start!’ ”  With this choice, Lamme Farms became one of the first breeders to introduce pureblood Charolais into Missouri, along with the McGinnis brothers of Lathrop, Missouri, and the Litton Charolais Ranch of Chillicothe, Missouri.

Lamme and her husband then joined the American-International Charolais Association, or AICA, a registry designed to prove the pureblood pedigree of Charolais cattle.  This required them to send in paperwork and documentation for every animal to the headquarters of the AICA, which at the time was in Houston, Texas, but was later moved to Kansas City, Missouri.  She remembers travelling with her husband to the international meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.  Lamme tells how one year she and her husband were invited by their hosts to dinner at their host’s home in the mountains, “We could look down and see Phoenix, and see all the lights.  This was quite an experience for me.”  She sweeps her arms apart as she speaks, to symbolize the magnitude of the view, and her eyes sparkle as she stares into the distance.

The Lammes also worked to promote the Charolais breed as a whole, and in 1963 they helped found the Missouri Charolais Breeders Association, or MCBA, an organization devoted to the promotion of Charolais cattle.  Lamme laughs as she passes on the wisdom of her husband, “Bill always said it’s easier to sell someone else’s cow.  You can brag on it and it doesn’t sound like you’re the one bragging.”  Mr. Lamme would be elected to the first board of the MCBA, and would later serve as president of the organization.

When asked about her role in the group Lamme says, “They’d give anybody a job.  One time, they asked me to be in charge of decorations at our Charolais Congress in Kansas City at the Muehlebach Hotel.”  The Charolais Congress was an educational event on the promotion of Charolais, which preceded a “Red Carpet sale,” held in conjunction with the American Royal livestock show.  “For the first time [the Charolais Congress] met, I had these beautiful flowers for the head table, then I would move them to…wherever there would be a meeting.”  Lamme smiles as she reminisces about the splendor of the event, “Then we moved, on a Sunday, to the Red Carpet sale… We used the same flowers all around where the red carpet was and the cattle were brought out on the red carpet to be introduced to the crowd, who would then start buying… Who’d ever heard of going to a cow auction and have flowers there?  But the Charolais people did it up right.”

Despite all that, in the mid-1970s the Lammes decided to sell their herd, after Mrs. Lamme began leading tours.  “In 1970, I planned my first tour to Europe.  It was 21 days long and it cost $750… We had enough [people] that we did two tours.”  Mr. Lamme had planned to join her for the first tour, but one of his bulls injured him and he was unable to travel.  The next year, however, was different.  “Bill got to go this time, and he realized what a wonderful trip it was, and I enjoyed it so much more when I could share it with him.”  A fond smile tinged with sadness crosses her lips as she describes travelling with him, “I’ve had a wonderful life, and gone on wonderful trips, but those years when Bill and I went together, those were the best years, looking back on it now.”

Shortly after those first trips, Mr. Lamme began contacting other ranches, looking to sell his herd.  Lamme sighs wistfully before completing the story of their herd,  “He had been writing this ‘special report,’ as he called it, a list of every Charolais breeder that advertised in any magazine…he knew quite a few people through that, so he talked to somebody up in Canada, and they came down and bought all of [the Charolais].”

Lamme Charolais cattle 1990

The Lammes sold their herd, and after everything they had done to promote Charolais, they were now out of the business.  Mr. and Mrs. Lamme would go on to start the Green Hills Travel Center and would lead tours around the world together until Mr. Lamme’s passing in 1991.  Now, many people have forgotten the history of Lamme Farms, and this story ends where it began, a lonely white statue atop his tower, watching over pastures long void of his kin.

Lamme, June.  Personal Interview. 2/9/2015