Newspapers capture community through time

October 18, 2013 

By Luke Scavuzzo

A sense of excitement would overwhelm me as a child when the newspaper was published each week.

Inside, there would be photographs and stories from local sporting events.

As a kid, playing basketball, football, and everything – to get the Democrat Missourian on Friday was an exciting moment each week. We would even get up early to go get it.

You wanted to read about the game from the prior week. It was just kind of cool.

The community waited for that paper each week. It was what everybody wanted to see.

Hopefully, it will always be there.

The newspaper in Harrisonville captured, in essence, the lives of many in our community.

People I knew, and people my family knew.

Growing up, I would spend countless hours on the Historic Harrisonville Square – helping at my family’s grocery store, Scavuzzo’s Supermarket, on West Wall Street, visiting other businesses, and hanging out with my friends.

I remember walking through town, visiting with dad or going to the dime store.

There were no big box stores here in the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up.

You didn’t go to Sutherlands, Walmart or Lowes.

If you wanted something electrical, you went to McClain Brothers.

In the days of my youth, the Square was an active place, and where I would spend most of my time.

Teens would hang out in the evenings and eat at the Tastee Freeze.

That doesn’t happen anymore.

One of my other favorite memories was a citywide appreciation day at the park.

We donated the meat and hamburgers, and the town came out for a big picnic.

It was a simpler time.

Those times are now gone but what I remember from back then.

Through the store, I got to know a lot of people because we just didn’t serve just Harrisonville.

We were really a county supermarket, especially for Peculiar and the southern communities.

My grandfather came down from Kansas City to Harrisonville in 1922 looking for a place to move his family out of the city.

A gentleman helping with the produce at the market told him that he needed to check out Cass County.

My grandpa, Santo “Charlie” Scavuzzo, drove down here and thought it was a great place. He was exactly right.

The family opened their grocery store in the heart of the community.

As part of our business, our family did a lot of work with the newspaper through advertisements for the store.

It was originally called The Advertiser. In junior high, we even rolled the papers to help the guys who would go throw them.

When I became older, I developed an interested in government.

As patronage began to dwindle on the Square in the 1970s and 1980s, we started a deli in the store. A lot of people from the courthouse would come down to eat.

That’s when I really started to get to know people at the courthouse and became interested in local government.

Even though I became a state representative first, I knew that I wanted to come back and work in the county someday.

It’s my way to give back to the community that has been so good to my family after more than 70 years in business.

I want to help see this county continue to grow.

Luke Scavuzzo is a life long resident of Cass County. He graduated from Harrisonville High School and attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. He is the former owner of Scavuzzo’s Price Chopper in Harrisonville, a two-term Missouri State Representative for Cass County from 2007-2010, and currently serves as the Cass County District 1 Commissioner.

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