You know you're from Columbia if...

Are you a local? Take our quiz and find out if you've got the turf covered.
Sunday, March 30, 2008 | 10:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:57 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
John Marshall prepares burgers at Booches, a restaurant and pool hall on 9th Street in Columbia on Christmas Eve, 2007. By tradition, many Columbian families get together at Booches on Christmas Eve to eat the restaurant's famous burgers served on wax paper. More than 1,200 burgers are prepared on busy days like this, Marshall said.

1. You’ve played pool and eaten burgers at Booche’s.

The place has been around since 1884, so it is no surprise that most people mentioned Booche’s Billiard Hall, 110 S. Ninth St., as perhaps Columbia’s trademark.


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Booche’s hamburgers have been chosen best in town in several listings — including one tallied by Vox in January 2005.

Eddie Boster, 62, who has lived here for 22 years, said Booche’s was one of the first places friends mentioned when he arrived.

“When you go there, you look around and see people from Columbia,” he said.

2. You crave Shakespeare’s Pizza.

The restaurant at the corner of Elm and Ninth streets is another icon.

Shakespeare’s is celebrating its 35th anniversary. A second Shakespeare’s in West Columbia has been pushing pizza for about 6 years.

Shakespeare’s has a relaxed atmosphere, with its clever signs (you don’t need to clean your table because “this is not the dorm”), towel napkins and friendly staff.

And, of course, classic pizza.

Tobias Epstein, the manager, said at least 15,000 students hit the place every year to eat, and many come back after they graduate.

This loyalty is documented by the wall of pictures showing customers in Shakespeare’s Pizza shirts all over the world.

You can even have pizza mailed to you anywhere in America. A few customers have paid up to $80 to have Shakespeare’s ship a pizza to their kitchens.

“It is a local place that does big business,” Epstein said.

3. You’ve hiked, biked or walked your dog on the MKT Trail.

The MKT Trail is a part of the cross-state Katy Trail, 225 miles long and connecting St. Charles with Clinton.

The MKT (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) Trail is a 352-acre park with 8.9 miles of path — 4.7 miles in Columbia and 4.2 miles in Boone County.

It has five access points plus benches, tables, drinking fountains and playing fields.

It’s a mandatory stop for nature lovers, outdoor types and anyone who wants to be a true fan of the city.

4. You love Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

Founded in 1967, the park is 2,273 acres big and has 15 miles of trails.

Located in south Columbia, it is ideal for hiking, biking and picnicking. It also has cave tours along seven miles of passages.

The state park is where parents take their kids and others just hang out, especially in the spring.

5. You can actually find Peace Park.

The small oasis filled with trees and squirrels on the edge of the MU campus has been the home to graduation ceremonies, art festivals, parties and picnics.

Peace Park on Elm Street, between Sixth and Eighth streets, is where students head to lie on the grass when it gets warm outside.

If you can head right to it without consulting a map, you really do know Columbia. Or else you went to the Journalism School.

6. Drivers in Columbia infuriate you.

“People in this town can’t drive!”

Ever heard that complaint? You are not alone.

It is not outsider thinking that Columbians are clueless behind the wheel.

Matthew Bossaler, 36, has lived here his entire life and has no doubts.

“I never got used to it,” he said. “Every time a light goes red, there is always a car that still goes past it.”

So, if everyone has the same opinion, which ones are the bad drivers?

7. You don’t think the water is rank.

When people first get to Columbia, it is very common to complain about the water.

Newcomers typically think Columbia water tastes nasty, but insiders disagree.

Matthew Bossaler said he drinks it freely and often.

“People do complain about it a lot,” he said, “but it doesn’t bother me.”

Apparently, if you can’t get used to it, you’re not quite ready to be dedicated to the city.

8. You’re aware that a local kickboxer appeared in a movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Former kickboxing champion Zennie Reynolds was in the movie “Kickboxer” (1989), starring Van Damme. Reynolds still lives in town and teaches Thai boxing at Wilson’s Total Fitness Center.

9. You waved to the Space Cowboy.

He used to stand on the corner of Broadway and Providence Road pretending to direct traffic.

When he is mentioned, people who have lived here a while will say, “Oh, yes, that guy.”

No one knows what really happened to him. He hasn’t been seen on the streets for a couple of years.

There’s a rumor that he died of cancer, but nothing about his death can be found in the archives of the Missourian.

Still, a lot people remember him.

“He acted like he was directing traffic, and he had a electronic device like a buzzer,” Bossaler said.

10. You appreciate the city’s diversity.

When you walk around Columbia, you see all kinds of clothing, hear a world of accents and meet people from all over the globe.

The diversity is noteworthy.

“We have so many different accents,” Boster said. “You go 15 miles outside of Columbia, and you have that Missouri accent.”

For Keith Fletcher, a teacher, the fact that the world is represented in Columbia sets it apart.

“Diversity is our cliche,” he said.

11. You own at least one Mizzou Tiger souvenir.

It might be a sweatshirt, hat, pillow, bumper sticker, notebook, stuffed animal, flag, mug, blanket, cooler, golf bag, umbrella, lamp, cookie jar, clock, folding chair, tie, snow globe, duffel bag or a set of dishes.

It doesn’t matter.

If you truly belong to Columbia, you must have at least something with a tiger on it.

Or an item in black and gold with a big yellow “M” or “Mizzou Tigers” written across it.

This truly is Tiger Town.

12. You have been somewhere on Ninth Street

There is a lot to choose from. Restaurants, bars, clothing stores, art galleries, boutiques, wine shops and more.

It is impossible to be in Columbia more than a week or so without entering an establishment on Ninth Street, or at least doing a little window-shopping.

If you haven’t walked up and down this street, shame on you.

13. You sample Columbia’s musical side.

The music in Columbia is strong, and it brings people to town.

Augustine Accurso, 19, who works in downtown Columbia, testifies to that fact.

“It has drawn a lot of people to Columbia,” she said.

She was born here, and she says that’s what the town is known for.

“It is a very supportive, creative community,” she said.

To be authentically Columbian, you must listen to the bands that play in the Blue Fugue, the Blue Note and other venues.

Accurso considers it Columbia’s “main appeal.”

14. You know True/False is not just a choice on your final exam.

The True/False Film Festival had its fifth edition Feb. 28 through March 2, and more than 20,000 people attended the event.

Every year, a fresh batch of documentaries is assembled by the proprietors of Ragtag Cinema.

This year’s festival included the Oscar-winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side,” plus dozens of others, including “An Alternative to Slitting Your Wrist” and “Man on Wire.”

If you missed it this year, make sure you watch at least one film during next year’s edition.

Buy tickets early.

15. Francis Quadrangle has deep meaning.

Known as “the Quad,” the David R. Francis Quadrangle is anchored by Jesse and Neff halls and bisected by a series of six famous columns.

It is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Mizzou (other than the Tigers).

Almost everyone has walked by the Quad, snapped a picture there or seen photos in catalogs.

If you don’t recognize it, how long have you lived here?


If you clearly associate with:

** Fewer than five items: You probably haven’t been here for very long. If you have, you aren’t really paying attention. Try harder!

** Five to 10 items: You know quite a few things about Columbia, but you need to go deeper. You may know your way around downtown and own a few tiger things, but there is more to Columbia.

** 11 to 15 items: Congratulations! You are a true Columbian. It doesn’t matter how long you have lived here, you care enough to know the place and enjoy your time here.

Did we miss anything?

During the past month, we have been talking to people around Columbia to create this list. If you have any suggestions, send them to Gabriela Lessa at

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jim fred March 31, 2008 | 4:44 a.m.

What about Mugs Up? If you know where it is and when it opens and closes for the year is the real test of a true Columbian.

(Report Comment)
Robert Scribner March 31, 2008 | 9:00 a.m.

What about the Shelter Garden summer concerts on Sunday nights?

(Report Comment)
David Friesen March 31, 2008 | 9:49 a.m.

What about trivial journalism?

(Report Comment)
Bryan Ross March 31, 2008 | 11:56 a.m.

Eaten a "Stretch" at the Broadway Diner!

(Report Comment)
Matthew Bossaller March 31, 2008 | 8:13 p.m.

Actually, the space cowboy died (as quoted in the Vox magazine). His name was Terry Saunders. Also, I'd like to clarify a misquotation of myself-- I didn't say "he had a electronic device like a buzzer"...I said he had an electronic voicebox that he spoke through...

(Report Comment)
tina wells August 6, 2011 | 8:32 p.m.

went to the old sky-high drive in and cruised the business loop. what about the skating station? good times

(Report Comment)
tina wells August 6, 2011 | 10:38 p.m.

the first taco bell on the business loop that became subway.

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