web STROUPE

1 decade 2 years 3 months ago Saturday, April 08 2006 Apr 8, 2006 Saturday, April 08, 2006 6:17:02 PM CDT April 08, 2006 in News

More than 400 people in four mid-Missouri counties depend on him every week, but after tornadoes hit the area March 12, he's out of work.

Sam Stroupe ran a dairy farm in Armstrong and delivered fresh milk from his cows household to household. But these pieces may be harder for Stroupe to pick up.

"The whole east side of the house was gone... The whole second floor, the roof was all off.. and the walls were kind of standing but they'd all been separated."

What used to be a home is now just storage space.

"Stuff that used to be upstairs... Just anything that we want to get inside out of the elements."

And a pile of rubble is all that's left of the milk shed.

"We just over the years had built up a clientele of about 400 families in four counties. And we delivered good, fresh milk like everyone used to drink to their homes. By going into somebody's home every week, you become part of their family. You start a conversation one week and carry it on over a month, you know? Because you can't stay very long at any one place," Stroupe said of his business.

He says the secret to the milk was using glass jars instead of plastic jugs. Others say that's just the beginning.

"It was really good! The best thing going over there was the cowboy cookies and the homemade milk," explained Stroupe's friend Beth Lewis.

"When you get the milk there'll be a cream line, so you know what you're getting is the real thing, I mean, it's straight off the farm," said Patrick Stroupe, Sam's son.

He was a dairy farmer until the tornado hit.

"Came down the road. I could see this black wall south of us whenever the lightening would hit. Ran in the house, grabbed my wife, we went into the basement. 'Bout a minute later, it struck. When we came back out the van I was traveling in was upside down over on what used to be the bakery."

Patrick's room used to be on the second floor. But now, there isn't even a second floor remaining.

"My schoolbooks, I'm pulling glass out of them as I'm going through them in class trying to get some sympathy out of the teachers."

The next morning customers drove to him.

"At any one time, there were over 100 people here. Before that, I'd come down here and depression would hit me, and I'd wonder where to start. I could've spent a lifetime trying to clean it up."

At 57, Sam doesn't know if he'll go back to his old 90-hour-a-week milk runs.

"I'm just going to take this chance now to spend several months to think about what I do want to do with the rest of my life. Because it may be that I might not want to spend a bulk of it milking cows."

Sam says he's too old, done this too long, and it would cost too much to rebuild. But Patrick has faith that his father will find a job he likes.

"My dad can do a lot of things. He's real talented."

And that they'll always have good milk to drink.

"I know he'll always milk at least one or two cows just so we'll always have milk to drink."

The tornado destroyed the farm, but not the family. The Stroupes are currently living in a mobile home on their property, but plan to rebuild their home.

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