Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ernie Margheim: Recalling My Home Communities and Civic Activities

Excerpts from an email Dad wrote to Eldena Allen, a friend of his sister in their school days in Hoisington, KS, mid 1940s. Written in May 2008 when he was 86 years old. It wasn't until I looked online that I learned of her death from the memorial on Find-A-Grave for Eldena, who died one year after this letter was written to her. I'm sure Dad told me of her death, but I don't remember that. 

Eldena Hamilton Allen
Everyday I thank my Lord for my good health and enjoying life. It took me awhile to get over feeling like a "fifth wheel" after Phyllis died, (2/24/97). I still have my up and down days. I keep telling myself I need to get out more. When I first moved out here, I got INVOLVED. I joined a civic club (University Club) similar to the Kiwanis I was a member of in Great Bend for probably 45 years. I attended the Seniors Mini-College offered at the local Community College and traveled often to Colorado Springs for the Symphony concerts. 

Looking back, while I worked for Thies, I was heavily involved with civic duties as part of my PR position with Thies Packing Co. Chamber of Commerce, GBID (Great Bend Industrial Development), with establishing the airport into an Industrial Park; bringing in the Marlette Mfg. plant, bringing the Railroad spur, Natural Gas Line, Expanded Sewer and Water facilities; fundraising period of Central Kansas Medical Center and Barton County Community College, County Red Cross Chairman, promoting Republican party Precinct. I conducted the Safety meetings for Thies Packing, collected for the United Way, and served for one year as Chairman of the congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church, as well as singing in the Church Choir and teaching Sunday School. 

JC Penney occupied the
former Wiley's building
All that just does not seem that long ago to me now. One year I was Kiwanis Chairman to furnish concession facilities at the Rodeo at the Airport grounds. The plant was heavily involved with community projects and activities, as Hody (Thies) was Mayor for a spell and it carried over the following years. Your boss at Litwins, Ralph Raffelock, was also involved with most of the activities I was part of. He
Ralph Raffelock
was a great "Giterdone" type of person. He didn't seem to have to be too vocal, but somehow, he knew the right buttons to push to finalize a project. He was sort of a King Pin on the CKMC project. Then they tore down the old Great Bend Hotel at Broadway and Kansas, and Wiley's built that new store.

It was not hard to get drafted to be part of community improvement. Then the Lions Cub planted all those Redbud trees on Broadway.  

Then the FIRES! Parrish Hotel, the Woodman Hall at Broadway and Main...WOW! Hasn't Great Bend come a long ways in fifty years? We used to have the Strand and Plaza Theater. Of course speaking of fires. The Royal Theater in Hoisington as well as Hunts Pool Hall near where Star Grocery used to be at 2nd and Main. Then the Alexander Cafe fire. Remember the old Moanon (sic) Hotel south of Howell Grocery. On the Hunts Pool Hall, it was winter and my dad was one of the volunteers helping to fight the fire. Their overalls froze still while they worked that night.

Well, I may be boring you. Many of these things probably occurred before you were old enough to remember. I think Charlie Hulme giving that Sportsman Club ground to form the Historical Society was a Great Boost for the town. 

I could go on and on. I have a one track mind and when it meanders on and on, I am unable to find a stopping place. But you still fit into my pleasant memories. Your family was wonderful, especially your mom helped my mom a great deal. My mom always fixed a big dinner on Labor Day to feed many of the Argonne Rebels members. Seems your mom also helped with that. Your dad was such a "straight shooter", quiet, sincere, friendly, dependable. It was a treat to be his friend. Well, that was all back in the 1950-60s and here we are forty and fifty years later. Still talking about it. 

Thanks for listening!

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