Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Their Memory Lives on through a Child's Table

In this photo are George and Helen Walls, friends of my mother back in 1948-9. They are visiting the home we lived in at 2201 Jefferson in Great Bend, Kansas. Before my birth my mother was employed at Thies Packing Company in Great Bend, where my father was also employed. Both were bookkeepers at the time. I believe my mother met Helen Ball while working there. Helen later married George Walls, also an employee at the plant. 

One of the most cherished possessions I still own from my childhood is a small table with two chairs. This table was a gift to me and my twin brother from Helen Ball, when we were toddlers, in that time period of 1948-1949.  I have this photo of using it at a birthday party in 1955. Pictured at left is my cousin Cora Sova and at right is our little neighbor, Pam Olson. 
You can see that I was still using this table for my own grandchildren in 1999. Pictured below are Brenna and Raichael Newman and Taylor Haining.  
On a recent trip back to my hometown of Great Bend, KS my husband and I had occasion to make a quick trip through St. John, KS. We each have relatives buried in Fairview Park Cemetery there so we stopped to photograph a few headstones. I was surprised to walk past the grave and headstone of George and Helen Walls. I honestly had no idea they were buried there. I felt grateful to have been in this place at this particular time to make this discovery. Helen would be surprised to know we are still using and enjoying the little table she gave us more than 60 years ago. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Visiting My Home Town after 16 Years

My family recently had occasion to visit my home town of Great Bend, Kansas. I lived there from 1947-1986 and moved to Colorado in 1987. I returned to Great Bend at the time of my mother's death in 1997 and then again in 1998 to move my father to Colorado to live near me and my son. What I found when I returned to Great Bend in July pleasantly surprised me. It's a town a bit larger than where I currently reside, but the difference is like night and day, just as it was those many years ago.

It's a beautiful town. We commented many times over a period of three days how well manicured the landscaping was, how clean the properties appeared, showing evidence of great pride and hard work. Many businesses I was familiar with in the 1970s and 1980s are gone, but have been replaced by thriving businesses, updated and attractive stores, shopping strips, and modern enterprises. This is totally contrary to the town in which I currently live.

We took a half day to re-visit the homes we've previously lived in and photograph them.

When my brother and I were born, my parents bought a lot at 22nd and Jefferson and built this basement house. They were popular in the post-war days.
When my dad re-married in 1951, he and my step-mother Phyllis built this home above the basement house. The basement was then used as a rental.
During my high school years, this is the appearance of the house at 2201 Jefferson in Great Bend.
Upon our visit last month, we found the house has been very well taken care of.

This view above shows the south side of the house and the current version of the "side entrance" which was the front entrance of the basement house.

From 1949-1952 we lived in Hoisington, Kansas with our grandparents while our dad was a single parent. Grandpa and Grandma Margheim lived at 114 E. 6th St.
 In about 1950 Grandpa built two bedrooms onto the house as a second story:
And at the back of the lot was a garage and "shop" for tools and storage.
Upon our recent visit, we found the property sadly in disrepair. The garage blew away in the tornado of 2001. The neighbor told us the second story bedrooms have mold in them, so they are uninhabitable. The house, now a rental that has not been properly cared for, is currently unoccupied.
When I was married in 1971 my first husband and I purchased this little two bedroom brick home at 1435 21st.
In 1973 we moved to this larger 3 BR home with a full basement at 3713 23rd St.
After our son was born, we built this new home at Bissell's Pt. in Great Bend.
The appearance today is beautifully enhanced by the growth of all the landscaping on the lot.
Our trip down Memory Lane was perhaps the social highlight of our visit back to our hometown. We don't expect to have occasion to return, so we were grateful for this opportunity to revisit our familiar neighborhoods and reminisce with our grandchildren about our "Family's history".