Mo’ Curious: A Recent History of Bosnians in St. Louis

Center for Bosnian Studies Director Dr. Adna Karemhic-Oates at Fontbonne University in February 2023

“We might not have the ocean, but we’ve got plenty.”

St. Louis-based Bosnian refugee Elvir Kulovic on Missouri’s charms

Despite a great cultural disruption and numerous personal traumas, Bosnians living in St. Louis seem to be thriving.

For this podcast episode, I talked to three Bosnians living in the Gateway City about their experiences. Two are refugees and one is an academic. Their diverse perspectives offer an insight into what it means to be Bosnian in America circa 2023.

More stories from some of the 60,000 Bosnians who call St. Louis, Missouri home.

Thanks for listening to Mo’ Curious, a podcast about the history of our 24th state.

Field Notes

KOPN: The First 50 Years

In 1973, the Doobie, Allman and Isley Brothers all had popular records. Richard Nixon started his second term as America’s president. Also that year, a community radio station in Columbia, Missouri got a license to broadcast at 89.5fm.

In 2022 and 2023 – in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of KOPN, I organized current station volunteers to conduct oral histories with former and long-time station staff and programmers. These full oral histories live here.

For 13 weeks in early 2023, I hosted a live radio show on KOPN that drew from these oral histories, mined the station’s deep and wide archives and queried a live, in-studio guest about the week’s theme. I called the show KOPN: The First 50 Years. That’s a lot of work to put in to a one-hour show, so the shows live on as a predictably title podcast KOPN: The First 50 Years.

My goal with this podcast (and the KOPN Oral History Project broadly) is to preserve the story of our community radio station and give the listener (that’s you!) an idea of what it was like in the early, heady years after KOPN’s 1973 founding.

Episode 5 features oral history form lee Ruth plus poetry from the Chez Coffeehouse and archival recordings from Lee Ruth and Cathy Barton.
Episode 4 is about the ways the folk music found a radio home at KOPN.
Episode 3 features an interview with area fiddler and author Howard Marshall and KOPN programmer Margot McMillan, archival material from the Boone County Fair Fiddle Contest, Dear KOPN letters and more.
Episode 2 features an oral history with former KOPN children’s programmer Christine Gardener and current programmer Jackie Casteel, archival material from Inside Radio featuring Eli Burrell and Brother Blue plus live in-studio guests, including Ann Mehr, Sarah Catlin and Dante Dupuy.
Episode 1 looks at KOPN’s history with prison issues and features oral histories with James Robnett and Jim Austin, an archival feature about Renz Women’s Prison and guests Peggy Placier and December Harmon.

Mo’ Curious: Arriving As Refugees, Bosnians in St. Louis are Rebuilding Their Lost Community

Over 60,000 Bosnian refugees and their children live in St. Louis area. They have a significant influence on the region’s economy, religious life and culture.

In this episode of the Mo’ Curious podcast we meet four Bosnians making sense of their past and mapping out their future as members of two cultures: Bosnian and American.

Here is the story of some of the Bosnians who now call St. Louis, Missouri home.

Music in this episode was from the Bosnian-St. Louis band, Albosy. Here’s a fuller dose of the band:

More episodes of the podcast are available at

Thanks for listening and stay curious, Missouri.

Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘We are a Rock ‘n Roll couple.’

Stacy and Garrett Enloe met over rock n roll. They grew up in St. Louis and attended local schools. They went to rock concerts eventually meeting and bonding over heavy metal bands like Manowar and Judas Priest. One of their favorite venues was the club Mississippi Nights.

The venue was located on Laclede’s Landing and for over 30 plus years hosted everything from jazz to folk, metal to blues.

I remember venturing from my suburban home to the riverfront bar to see folk duo the Indigo Girls, reggae groovers the Roots Radics and political rocker Bruce Cockburn.

In 2007, the club was forced to close and the building demolished for a planned future development.

After a few years of grieving, the couple – by day, he works for UPS and she is a stay-at-home mom – decided to write a book chronicling the place that was Mississippi Nights.

In this Field Notes installment, the Enloes describe the beloved venue, its durable fan base and how the couple came to write a book chronicling the story of a club that seemingly booked everyone before and after they became someone.

You can buy the Enloes’ book here.

You can hear more Field Notes installments, hear my Missouri History podcast, Mo’ Curious and learn more about my oral history business at


Mo’ Curious: Saving the Hidden Stories of a Vanishing Rural Lifestyle

In this episode, we listen to the oral histories of Margot McMillen. We hear from a river boat captain, a train engineer and an independent woman. These and several dozen other Missourians were the subjects of Margot’s late 1970s oral history recordings.

At that time, Margot was a young mother of two, a graduate student in English and a budding author. She was also was a listener.

When the Union Electric utility started buying land from farmers in Southern Callaway County for a nuclear power plant, Margot jumped into action. With her recording kit and an abundance of curiosity, she set out to preserve stories of a rural lifestyle that was rapidly disappearing. The stories illuminate what a different world we live in 45 years after they were preserved.

Here’s some of the oral history work of Missouri author and radio host Margot McMillen.

Hear more episodes of the Mo’ Curious podcast at and wherever you get your podcasts.


Mo’ Curious: The Living Legacy of Missouri’s Dramatic 1939 Sharecroppers’ Strike (part II)

There aren’t many folks alive today who remember what went down in the Bootheel in the winter of 1939. There are remaining, however, longtime residents who know about the sharecroppers’ strike, what it meant then and what it means now.

Click here to listen to part 2 of a two-part episode about Missouri’s 1939 sharecroppers’ strike.

Mo’ Curious is a podcast about the past, present and future of our 24th state.

Special thanks to Matt Schacht and Vidwest Studios for their support.


Mo’ Curious: The living legacy of Missouri’s dramatic 1939 sharecroppers’ strike (part 1)

Back in 1939, the world was a different place. For one thing, there were a lot more people involved in farming. In Missouri’s Bootheel region, this meant bodies were needed to grow cotton. Under the sharecropper model, those Missourians who grew cotton had no guarantees of a wage. They could be evicted anytime from the land on which they lived and worked.

In this episode of Mo’ Curious, we learn about the 1939 sharecroppers strike in Mississippi County, Missouri. It was on January 1 of that Depression year that Bootheel tenant farmers, or sharecroppers, participated in a protest. They camped on the roadside to draw attention to the deplorable economic and housing conditions that kept them impoverished and dependent.

Click here to hear part one of a two-part episode about the impacts of the 1939 sharecroppers’ strike on Missouri’s bootheel region.

For two months, fifteen hundred Missourians lived their lives on the side of Highway 60 between Sikeston and Charleston.

In order to bring a better understanding of the strike to area youth, we asked Charleston High School students to conduct oral history interviews. These interviews aimed to explain the strike and its legacy on the surrounding communities. Here is some of those exchanges.

Mo’ Curious by Missouri Life is a podcast about the past, present, and future of the 24th state. Hear other episodes at

Field Notes

Field Notes: The Slow Path to Deplasticizing Your World

The health risks associated with plastics are astonishing. I am not a chemist, but even a casual read of the hazards surrounding plastic give me pause. Once ingested, the chemicals used to create single-use food packaging are now linked to cancer, they impact human development and can impede reproduction. Much plastic now ends up in our environment where it wreaks havoc on marine life.

Columbia businesswoman Leah Christian has a solution for removing plastic containers from your home one bottle at a time.

My logical self says to never bring plastic in the home and to remove all the plastic already here. The realistic side of me understands that plastic is everywhere. It is in my computer, appliances, food packaging, pens and toiletries. Plastic is everywhere.

Armed with the awareness that most plastics in our home are unsafe, I started eliminating those plastic containers that seem to be closest to the foods we eat. Getting my wife on board with no more Tupperware took some doing however. As it turns out there are plastics with sentimental value. We ultimately found some lovely glass jars in which to store our sugar, flour and coffee.

Leah Christian understand the quest to remove plastic from our lives. To that end, she started a business. The Clean Refill sells soaps, cleaners and hair care in re-fillable glass containers. Leah’s mission? Remove plastic from your kitchen and bath one bottle at a time.

For more information about Leah’s business, check out For more on the dangers of plastic in your home and in the environment and tips on how to get plastic out of your life, check out

I will tell you it is a process removing plastics from your life. My advice? Start small. Take it one bottle and container and thing at a time. And don’t go touching the Tupperware without consulting your wife.

Thanks to Leah Christian for the interview. And until next time, remember, your neighbors are more interesting than you think.

Field Notes

The Dalton Interviews

Dalton Vocational School was a trade school for black students that operated in Chariton County, Missouri from 1905-1956. Their alumnae stories deserve to preserved and shared as a way to hear first-hand the stories of life in Missouri under segregation. During the summer of 2021, a few colleagues and I interviewed former students and alumni about their time at the school. I remain grateful to have been part of the documentation of these Missourians’ stories.

The interview subjects were all in their late 80s. They are a shrinking group of people who can tell us first-hand what it was like to attend an all-black school during America’s era of racial segregation. The Dalton alumni were honest about what they had and did not have during those years. The folks we talked with were universally proud of their school. They expressed confidence as they described how tiny Dalton Vocational School prepared them for success later in life. I am grateful for being allowed to preserve their stories.

The Dalton interviews were also humbling. There was no tangible benefit for the Dalton alumni to talk with me. None of them knew what a podcast is nor were they familiar with the county historical society where their stories will be shared with visitors. I am moved that they let me record their memories. When Madelyn Payne, William Payne, Gladys Mann, Leroy Jackson, jr., Virgil Redding and Diane Pippens saw that my collaborators and I were sincere about preserving the memory of their school, they invited us into their homes and for that I will forever be grateful.

Some of the Dalton audio recordings ended up as an episode of my Mo’ Curious podcast. I am also editing the videos for part of an upcoming display about Dalton Vocational School at the Chariton County Historical Society museum in Salisbury. I am adding video edits of these interviews to my Recollection Agency YouTube page as I get them complete.

Thank you to Lizzy Kalinka and Jennifer Thornburg for their partnership in collecting and sharing these important Missouri oral histories.


Mo’ Curious: Preserving the Disappearing Memory of Missouri’s Little Tuskegee

Madelyn Paine remembers getting weighed at the Dalton elevator. Diane Pippens feels her light skin helped her pass for white or Mexican when she integrated her town’s high school. William Payne recalls the town’s annual reunion where he met his future wife.

It was at Dalton, Missouri’s annual reunion in 2021 that I did my first interview for this episode of the Mo’ Curious Podcast. Throughout that summer and ending on Labor Day of the same year, my collaborator Jennifer Thornburg and I conducted six oral histories with alumni from the former Dalton Vocational School in Chariton County.

Here’s one story of the students who attended Chariton County, Missouri’s segregated Dalton Vocational School.

Dalton, now listed as a village by the U.S. Census Bureau, had an official population of seventeen in 2020. Nathanial Bruce started the school for blacks in Dalton in 1907. Between 1907 and 1956, Bartlett Agricultural and Mechanical School (later Dalton Vocational School) graduated young men with skills in farming and machinery. Young women learned how to type and cook in preparation for future work in offices and as house-keepers.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that separate-but-equal facilities like schools were unconstitutional. This led to the closure of the school perched on the hillside in Dalton. After the 1956 school year, active Dalton students attended now-integrated schools in their hometowns.

Now seemed like a great time to gather memories of Dalton Vocational School from the shrinking pool of aging alumni. This podcast tells the story of Dalton Vocational School—Missouri’s “Little Tuskegee”—in the former students’ own words.

Videos of these oral histories are planned for a future online and in-person display of Black education at Salisbury, Missouri’s Chariton County Historical Society Museum.