Miami street department employees tore down the exterior walls of the former Miami Laundry and Dry Cleaning on Monday, three days after an early morning fire destroyed the 70-year-old business.
City engineer Jerry Ruse said safety concerns prompted the decision to put city crews to work at the privately owned site as the south and west walls of the structure grew increasingly unstable.
Russell and Sheryl Turnbow have owned the business for 30 years and say watching it disappear is “just too difficult.”
“I was by there earlier today for the first time,” Russell Turnbow said. “I don't want to watch the last wall come down.”
The Miami laundry business serviced customers from substations in many area towns including Grove and Langley, Baxter Springs, Kan., and Joplin, Mo. Those substations are now lost along with the central office, according to the Turnbows.
“There is nothing left,” Sheryl Turnbow said. “We won't rebuild.”
Along with the building, the business and the memories, something else is now lost forever - the Turnbow starch “recipe.”
“I had a process for starching jeans so they would stand up in a corner,” Turnbow said. “I've had people come see me from as far as Chicago who had kids going to school out here at the college and wanted me to starch their clothes (because) they were so impressed with my method.”
On a happier note, the Turnbows say that Grove band uniforms reported as being destroyed in Friday's fire are safe.
“They were not on the property at the time of the fire,” Sheryl Turnbow said. “We had them in another store.”
The cause of the fire has not been determined, according to authorities, and remains under investigation.
The Turnbows say they are attempting to retrieve as much information from the store's computer hard drive as they can to get an accurate assessment of the laundry in their possession on the day of the fire.
Anyone wanting to file a claim can do so through the Joplin address: Miami Laundry, P.O. Box 4468, Joplin, Mo., 64803.