Peoria harkens back to the 1670s glory days of the French voyageurs and became the now-familiar face of Americana—its townsfolk have touched every aspect of national and international life, often significantly. In comedy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Charles Correll, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, and even Bishop Sheen with his witty homilies have made Peoria the “Habitat of Humor.” Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique jump-started the 1960s feminist movement, while Philip José Farmer’s The Lovers rocked the 1950s sci-fi universe. Dr. C.T. Vivian, Dr. Romeo Garrett, and John Gwynn Jr. held the frontline against racism. Representing the best of society’s core values, Barb and Dick Hammond founded Friends of the Children of Haiti, a medical organization tending to the year-round needs of the earth’s poorest. And unheralded Bill Noel has shouldered the sorrows and burdens of others who have leaned on him for decades. When it comes to all the legendary locals, they play in Peoria . . . and the world.
Of Cows, Cat, and a Quest Glen Barton (born 1939) grew up on a farm in Alton,
Missouri, a Grant Wood–esque American Gothic town, with a population of 576.
Growing up, he helped his grandfather, two older brothers, and older sister
around the farm while his father worked at the post office. During the “o-dark-thirty
” daily cow milkings, he daydreamed of owning a dairy with automatic milkers. He
graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1942, which was something of