The Liberty Park Bridge is a focal point in a new fictional tale written by a former Sedalian.
Colleen Kelley Riggs, of Independence, was born and raised in Sedalia. She graduated from Smith-Cotton High School in 1955, went on to marry Richard Riggs and took a job with Lockheed Aircraft Service Co., in California. After she and her husband retired in 2004, they moved back to Missouri to be close to family.
Her new book, “The Bridge at Liberty Park,” came about due to a short story presented to her by friend Richard Amos, also a former Sedalian. Amos’ short story is presented at the beginning of the book. Riggs takes up the story adding characters and plot to create a 264-page work of fiction that begins and ends with the bridge.
“I started writing and a couple characters he had, I gave them families and I gave them friends,” she explained Thursday morning. “And I made a book out of it.”
The story centers around a young man, Bob, who takes a girl out on a date.
“The boy is just really in awe of the girl,” Riggs said. “She’s very pretty, very popular, he on the other hand isn’t. But he likes her so much he gets the nerve to ask her out to the Harvest Ball at Convention Hall at Liberty Park.”
Unfortunately, the date doesn’t go well, and the girl tells him while standing by the Liberty Park Bridge she is seeing someone else. Due to this and difficult family life, Bob leaves home, changes his name and joins the military.
At one point in the book, he is missing and his family is searching for him.
“When he comes up missing, the reporter from the Sedalia Democrat comes out and talks to his folks,” Riggs said. “Then when he returns, he comes back to the Sedalia Democrat and talks to them.”
Life brings Bob full circle back to Sedalia and eventually back to the bridge at the end of the book, where the quote “it’s time to heal … it’s time to go forward” resonates.
Riggs’ natural talent for writing stems from her Sedalia childhood while attending Whittier Elementary School.
“All through the seven grades at Whittier, I never missed a spelling word,” she said. “I had a way with words. And then also where other kids might dread doing essays, I loved essays, I loved writing.
“I loved to write poetry,” she added. “So, I just had that interest in writing from a very early age.”
Riggs, who once worked as a carhop at Sedalia’s Wheel-In, said she was also encouraged by her English teachers at Smith-Cotton.
She also said she enjoys writing because she feels the pen can speak better than she can verbally.
“I converse through my books,” she noted. “When I first started, I thought I’d write stories that were for mature women. But I found out that men liked them.
“I have a lot of male readers who have my books and they really enjoy them,” she continued. “They say that story should just keep going on. And they appreciate it and enjoy it. So, I’m very happy.”
Riggs has written six books, all fiction with the exception of “Kelley’s Park a Memoir” which is about the ballpark her father Chester Paul Kelley established in the 1940s at East 15th Street and South Center Avenue. The First Christian Church now sits on the property.
“It was actually called Center Park,” she noted. “But it got to be known as Kelley’s Park and they would have all the ball games there in the summer. It was just wonderful.”
“The Bridge at Liberty Park,” “Kelley’s Park a Memoir” and Riggs’ other books can be found on Amazon.com and at Walmart. For more information, find “Colleen Kelley Riggs, Author” on Facebook.