Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Composing

By Gary White

I began composing as soon as I began piano lessons at about age eight. I wrote little pieces for my piano teacher, Mrs. Kirby. Making up one’s own music seemed as natural to me as playing some else’s music. When I began to play the trumpet I also began to play by ear. My father would come home and say, “Play Stardust for me.” I’d have to find the notes on my horn and, after much trial and error, I became quite good at it. I could play along with songs on the radio and even add my own embellishments. My early interest in jazz , contributed to my creative development and, while I was learning to play by note in the band, I was constantly fooling around on the horn at home and at school.

My active interest in composition came when I attended Midwestern Music and Art Camp at the University of Kansas. At the camp I heard a live symphony orchestra for the first time and I said to Becky Grantham, my girlfriend at camp that summer, “Some day I’ll write music for symphony orchestra.” I’m sure she thought I was just day dreaming, but she played along with me. I went home from camp that summer sure that my destiny was to be a composer.

When I enrolled at KU in the fall of 1955 as a music major my first required classes were first year harmony, sight singing and ear training, and keyboard harmony. I took to the harmony class like a duck to water and by the second year my little compositions that Mr. Ledwith required of all students were often played in class as outstanding examples of how the assignments could be done creatively. Mr. Ledwith recognized that I had talent and he took me to meet Mr. Anderson, the head of composition and organ in the school. Mr. Anderson liked what he saw and accepted me as a private student in composition. For two years I was the only Music Education major who was studying composition. In my junior year I declared myself as a double major in Music Education and Music Composition. I hoped to be able to finish both majors within the four years, but that proved impossible, since a full year of counterpoint, and a senior recital was required to complete the Music Composition degree.

The University of Kansas had a very strange approach to their music education major. For the first two years students were in the School of Music and for the final two years they were in the School of Education. There was a real turf battle going on between the two areas and they scarcely spoke to each other. Since I was in the School of Education for the final two years, all the classes related to my composition major had to be approved by my advisor, who was a music educator. For the most part, that was no problem—I could take as many additional classes as I wanted so long as I was making progress toward the MusEd degree. There was, however, one class that caused me considerable difficulty. The composition major required a class in orchestration, while the MusEd degree required a class in music arranging for instrumental ensembles. The content of the two classes was quite similar, but neither the School of Music or School of Education would accept the other’s class as equivalent. I petitioned the School of Education to allow me to take the orchestration class in lieu of the music arranging class and this caused considerable upheaval. I was called into the chairman of music education, E. Thayer Gaston’s office and was grilled for about a half hour about why I would not want to take their class. In the end, he relented and I took the orchestration class.

There are two ironies for me in this situation. I had a classmate in music education, Claude T. Smith who, of course, took the arranging class that I had waived. As a final project he wrote a quick-step march for band that was so good that the KU Band premiered it in one of their concerts. This was the beginning of a long career as a composer of works for school band that included well over one hundred pieces. His works are still in the repertoire of school bands all over the US. Claude was a much more successful composer than I ever was, measured by income generated and the recognition of the public, and he never took a composition lesson in his life! The other irony is that many years later I wrote Instrumental Arranging, a textbook for the class I had waived that is still published by McGraw-Hill.

Amen!


Hamburgers have been special to me ever since I can remember. The menu of my lifetime has undergone change but the one constant has been a good hamburger.
Grandmother Laura Foust used to fix some great food on her wood stove on a farm close to Moline. When my Granddad Phil Foust would come in from chores she would have a steaming bowl of oatmeal and "real" cream ready for him along with homemade butter and biscuits. Along with those good things she would have fried eggs and bacon and perhaps gravy from time to time.
Grandad would have already milked the cows, separated the cream from the milk, fed the calves, and slopped the pigs at that quite early time of the morning. It was so much fun watching him stream a jet of milk directly from the udder of a cow to the waiting mouth of a cat! Later, my Grandmother would have me help her in the process of preparing dinner. The first chore would be to catch a chicken and chop off it's head. Then it would be necessary to boil some water to ease the process of removing the chicken feathers. (As you might remember feathers were used for bedding.) Potatoes from Granddad's large plot would be peeled to prepare the mashed potatoes to complement the wonderful fried chicken, gravy, homemade bread and butter, green beans from the garden and a scrumptious cherry pie removed from the wood fired oven.
Sometimes Granddad and I would roam the pastures looking for wild strawberries to serve as treats. Spending time in the summer at the farm allowed me the luxury of "bringing in the cows" and riding with Grandad on the workhorse propelled machinery. It was fascinating to watch the threshing process and to be part of Grandmother's huge, delicious and special meals prepared for the large group of threshers. Granddad would allow me (with his close presence) to drive the workhorse team while hitched to the hay wagon. When my Dad and Uncles would come to help Grandad with some of his special chores (IE cutting pigs or shocking kaffir corn) all would be the beneficiaries of some of his special home brew. This beer would be kept in the cellar and sometimes I would notice smoke coming out of the bottle after hearing a bottle cap removal explosion.
At the home of Sally and Brit, (Grandparents Britton), there were similar foods along with some subtle variances. Brit was a section foreman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in the small town of Riverdale in Sumner County. They had a jersey cow for milk and cream and Sally raised Plymouth Rock chickens as a small commercial venture. Sally was a wonderful cook and her fried chicken would have made the "Colonel" jealous. She had fishing buddies and her catfish catch of the day quite often made it's way to her table. Just as her chicken was delicious I have never to this day tasted such good fried catfish! As an accompaniment her cottage fries were without peer! She had a large garden for canning and she also canned various meats. One of Brit's favorites was Spanish Rice and I quickly learned to enjoy this (to me) foreign food. No one could come close to Sally's Blackberry Cobbler! Though I didn't enjoy the harvesting of the wild blackberries I most certainly could not get enough of the resulting product. After the butchering of a hog Sally would render the lard and make the most super doughnuts. Often, their attic would have the wonderful aroma of smoked hams. Brit took a lunch pail with him to work and once in awhile would take me along on the rail car. In retrospect it is doubtful that MoPac would have thought this wise. It was so much fun listening to the bawdy stories of the section hands and at lunchtime enjoying a boiled ham sandwich along with all the goodies that were included in the lunch pail filled to the brim by Sally. (We never had boiled ham at home!) Brit wasn't afraid of snakes and would not move out of the way should one be traveling on a collision course with his resting body.
Though Mom was a good cook she perhaps had not the expertise (or the want to) of Sally. Dad would shoot a squirrel or a rabbit and I can remember them as being fried in a delicious way. We had corn meal mush quite often and I especially remember the resulting fried mush the next day as being scrumptious. One of Mom's specialties was chocolate cake and I can still remember enjoying some still warm cake with a glass of milk from a "real cow". She also made cottage cheese occasionally and I can remember it hanging on the clothesline encased in cheesecloth. Our water supply was a cistern and we surely had clean water as a piece of cloth was attached to the spout supplying the water. What made the water "clean" was that the bugs in the water were trapped by the cloth. My Dad was forced into doing quite a lot of the cooking at home along with many of the other household chores. Guilt is still in my mind for not helping him more as I matured into high school. He would get up and prepare delicious homemade biscuits for breakfast along with eggs, bacon and his signature juice of apricot nectar. Standard fare in the evening was the most mouth watering fried round steak ever experienced. He always had a big slab of Longhorn Cheese available for snacking.
What Mom could really do was to fry an outstanding and delicious hamburger. So could Herb! During grade school and high school and any other time "Herb's" was like a magnet to me. Dad gave me a quarter for lunch and rather than using it at the school cafeteria I headed to "Herb's". Not only were the hamburgers grease dripping super but the chili was beyond description. He perhaps bought the chili "off a truck" but he did something to it that made it unlike and better than any chili that I have since tasted. The Cedar Vale Cafe (as I remember it) was run by Merl Sartin. After moving to Dexter I would oft come to Cedar Vale to visit on Sundays and before a resulting date or a trip home I would stop for a quite satisfying hamburger steak. Hilltop Cafe was a popular meeting place and I suppose the best full menu cafe in Cedar Vale. Many good times were spent there and "Hilltop" was the destination for me of a few dates. The Dexter school cafeteria was excellent! My meals were taken there and I managed to become friends with the cooks. Sneaking out of class I would visit them and they would allow me the sampling of their wares.
High School dates were taken to Ark City for delicious BBQ or to "The Harbour" in Winfield. My "Cedar Vale" jacket was forgotten there at Winfield one night never to be returned. The United States Air Force had good food. Many of the servicemen would not agree to this bold pronouncement but I hardly missed a meal. At the same time I must admit that no food stands out as being of gourmet quality. "SOS" was one food that was detested by many but I found it quite acceptable. It actually was hamburger gravy and I looked forward to those times when it was served. The first time I tasted Pizza was in Savannah, Georgia. Some of my friends invited me to go with them for "pizza pie". They were incredulous when I admitted that I had not a clue as to what they were referring. Growing up in Cedar Vale and Dexter without television did not exactly qualify me for much in the way of urban knowledge. My first taste was a disappointment but that brief encounter left me wanting more especially from that fine Italian restaurant, "Porzios".
After we were married we lived in an upstairs apartment. Funds were somewhat scarce as Pat even did the washing of clothes in the bathtub. Our standard food fare was bologna, 19 cents per pound Whiting, and three pounds for a dollar hamburger. She learned quickly to become an outstanding preparer of food! Our first knowledge of Tacos came from tasting them at the home of friends. Through the years among her specialties would have been the best homemade pizza ever experienced. She has long since ceased the preparation of this delicacy but our family looked forward to Friday nights when the wonderful aroma of pizza was followed by the quick consumption of same. I don't remember spaghetti in my early years but she has certainly allowed me to be a connoisseur of this wonderful dish. She has had few failures in the many meals that she has prepared for me and I am appreciative of each and every one of her efforts.
After a lifetime of sampling so many good foods it would be difficult to choose my favorite. Boiled shrimp comes to mind as does a properly prepared medium rare Kansas City strip steak. Pizza and spaghetti along with most Italian foods would rate high as would an authentic quality Mexican meal. Oriental foods are quite enjoyable but only upon occasion. Homemade head cheese is seldom available to me but it still has a special place in my memory bank. But let's face it for me it's still hard to beat a good hamburger! Ideally, it should be a bit greasy and be smeared with mustard. Adding dill pickle slices, a thick slice of onion, and a slice of homegrown tomato gives it an appearance and taste of what must be somewhat akin to manna from heaven.
Amen!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Ghost Story

By Gary White

OK, CV fans, in honor of Halloween, I offer the following ghost story. This is not a work of fantasy, but the absolute truth as I experienced it.

It was the 1959-60 school year and I was teaching in the public schools of Hoxie, Kansas. I had spent the weekend back at KU where my finance was attending college. It was the middle of the night on a Sunday and I was driving straight through to Hoxie to be there in time to do the morning band rehearsal at 8 AM. I often made this night time journey and then caught up on sleep during the week. (There wasn’t much else for a teacher to do in Hoxie.)

I was driving the interstate out across the plains west of Salina and the land stretched out flat as far as I could see in every direction. The eastern sky was just beginning to show yellows and reds and the landscape began to appear around me. I was driving at least 60 miles per hour in my old Pontiac when I looked off to the north out the passenger window. What I saw there made my hair stand straight up on end. Outside the window was the head and shoulders of a man who seemed to be riding right along with me. Thinking it must be my own reflection in the glass, I blinked my eyes several times but he didn’t go away.

I would describe him as being older than middle age, nearly bald, with tufts of hair sticking out from his head in several places. His complexion was dark, almost orange and his eyes were piercing and bloodshot. I looked as long as I could stand it and then just looked straight down the road to find a place where I could stop. I absolutely did not want to stop out in the middle of open country with this guy looking in at me. I don’t know exactly how long I drove like this in utter terror, but I saw a gas station on the side of the road ahead and it looked open. I pulled in and there was a little truck stop cafe that was also open. Being careful not to look out the right window, I got out and went into the cafe. There I drank several cups of coffee with shaking hands along with a good breakfast. That must have taken a half hour or so and, when I went back to get into the car, the sun was up and the sky was blue. Now I looked at the right side of the car and, of course, there was nothing there.

Getting into my car, I completed my trip to Hoxie in time to change clothes and get to the band rehearsal. What a relief to be back in familiar surroundings, with kids acting up and talking the way kids do. I could have hugged them all that morning. I waited for several years to tell this story and this is the first time I have written it all down. Just writing it gives me a little thrill up the back of my neck.

From Coena

I don't remember who was wanting this information, but I just received the following from Coena Scott Foster:

Gary: Someone was wondering about Charles Beachler. I don't know
exactly when he died, without looking it up, but at least 5 or 6 years.
His wife is also gone, she died unexpectedly of cancer 2 0r 3 years ago.
He was Jim, Jack & Bill's uncle. Dorothy Foster was his sister.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Firebug!

By Gary White

When I was six or seven years old I was given a bunch of waterproof matches. They must have been “war surplus” because I remember also being given either K or C rations. Remember K rations? I just checked into them and did you know that the K rations were manufactured by the makers of Cracker Jack? Interesting.

Anyway, these fireproof matches could be soaked in water and they would light just as if they were dry. To my seven year old mind that was miraculous. I was showing one of my friends, perhaps Donna Burch, how these matches worked. We were playing at a ditch near our house and I was dipping a match into the water in the ditch and then lighting it. I hit upon the idea of burning a little of the dry grass nearby, just to see what would happen. Well, the grass took off burning and I couldn’t stop it. I ran home and my mother called the fire department to come and put out the blaze.

I felt sure that I would never be able to show my face in Cedar Vale after such a crime. Embarrassment kept me at home for most of a day. When I finally went out with my dad to Clarence Marshall’s service station I was greeted with, “There’s the firebug!” The fire in the grass was nothing to the fire on my face. After that I became known as “firebug” for what seemed like a long time. Finally the joke played itself out and I wasn’t reminded any more of my transgression. However, I never forgot the lesson about fire that I learned that day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Commies Are Coming!


By Gary White

In the heady days after the end of World War II we saw a new enemy on the horizon—communism. Those Russkies were vowing to eat us for breakfast and we were afraid of their invasion with nuclear weapons, but even more so, of a silent invasion of communist cells forming in our midst. Guardians of our freedom and way of life such as Senator Joseph McCarthy were looking under every bed in Washington, DC and Hollywood for communist cells.

Where were HUAC, the CIA, the FBI, and the whole alphabet soup in the 1870s, when Cedar Vale was home to not one, but three communist cells? Not the geeks who looked through the wastebaskets in Washington, or the debauched artists in Hollywood, but real, living, breathing Russians in cells just a few miles outside of Cedar Vale—our own home town.

Of course, they entered the U. S. under assumed names. Vladimir Konstantinovich Geins became William Frey and his wife, Maria Slavinskaya became Mary Frey. They entered the U. S. in 1868 and, in New York City, they met up with other future members of the Cedar Vale cell. A Russian couple named Ponofiloff, who had entered under the name of Brook, were to become other founders of the Cedar Vale cell. They travelled on very different paths to arrive in Chautauqua county without raising suspicion of the authorities. They formed the Progressive Community and started a newspaper. In a few years the Investigative Community had been formed, and a few years later another group from Russia had formed a third community. It looked like freedom and democracy and our way of life were soon going to be a thing of the past.

Are you wondering why we were able to grow up in CV without being ruled by communist dictators? Well, one thing these commies hadn’t figured on was Kansas weather! They nearly died of frostbite in the first winter before they could construct adequate housing. The land was very hard to break out and they were not well equipped for the task, since they were not Russian peasants, but members of the intelligencia who had absolutely no experience in farming or building houses. By 1880, the whole bubble was burst without military intervention or even a single hearing by the HUAC. What a relief!

Thought question for today: How many offices in the current Homeland Security Department are devoted to protecting us from the communist threat?

Ooom Pa Pa


The first time I walked the halls of the high school was as a grade school student. My dad had been appointed by Mobil to be their new bulk petroleum agent. Somehow I heard that the band had a morning practice so that's where I headed my first day of school. George A. Beggs was the band instructor and I was happy to find such a personable man to be in charge. The practice was held on the stage of the auditorium and was attended by a rather large group especially for a school the size of Cedar Vale. After the practice Mr. Beggs gave me a ride to my new grade school.


During my time in Cedar Vale it was my good fortune to enjoy the company of some good musicians and instrumentalists. Probably I should note that being a good musician is quite different that being (for instance) a good trombone player. Many of us who could "play good" weren't really good "musicians". Cedar Vale produced both! Here are a few of them but it would be appropriate to the lapse of time that "some of the best" most likely have been neglected to my immediate memory.

Trombones: Verne Sweaney and Nada Marlene Hess. (Nada later played with the KU band if I remember correctly.)

Trumpets: Don Shaffer, Tom Gordon, Reece Bohannon, and Gary White. Don was quite good and later played with the KU band and was a music instructor and director of the "Hallmark" band in Kansas City. Tom is perhaps still playing in a dance band and Gary played with the KU band and had an outstanding career as a professor of music at Iowa State University. Especially remembered was Don's performances of "The Flight of the Bumblebee". The trumpet trio of Don, Tom, and Reece performed often and was always well received by the audience.

Others would include Rosemary Snyder, Pat Williams, and Jeanette Rice who were all good saxophonists, Donna and Norma Champlin were good flutists, Dorothy Alice Cox was among a number of good clarinet players, and Don Cox and Verne Sweaney were not only good bandsmen but from my understanding (still are) good singers.

George Beggs was a young man who I believe had just returned from the Marines. He was a good musician and a good trumpet player. His home was in the Columbus, Kansas area and he was married to a fine lady named Madge. G.A. was a very patient man and he had a likable personality. He was an avid fisherman but his best known and unusual ability was in being able to produce a good band from a group of kids not necessarily nurtured in the nuances of "ooom pa pa".

Not only was he the master of local music but if you had a problem it was convenient and it just seemed natural to visit Mr. Beggs. One incident of which I remember was when Don Schaffer was going to teach me how to back a car out of a garage. The vehicle chosen was the nice and shiny Fleetwood of his dad. The Shaffer garage was narrow and Don was standing with the driver's side door open giving the neophyte driver detailed instructions. Don's step by step proceedings failed to mention the clutch and the car lurched (without injury to Don) but with a resulting dent in the door. We were quite concerned and were afraid of both Clyde and Jesse for their possible reaction to the accident. Our first thought was to seek the advice of George Beggs. I don't remember what advice he gave but I do remember that we went to the Williams Chevrolet Agency to see if we could get some quite emergency repairs. That wasn't possible but we found ourselves fortunate in that our dads were much more understanding of the unpleasant situation than our allowed imaginations.

The band performed many well attended concerts as the community was proud of their band. Beautiful uniforms were purchased for the "Sound of the Bronchos". We marched for the Cedar Vale Labor Day celebration, along with similar occasions at Neewollah at Independence, Veterans Day at Grenola, Arkalala at Arkansas City, and Winfield's 75th Anniversary Parade. Also, we were at the Chautauqua County Fair and performed during and at half time of the football games and even further enlivened the release of the live turkey event atop L.C. Adams Mercantile Company. George organized a dance band for school events and a German band ("The Hungry Five") which was an instant hit. Most likely a number of additional events and groups have allowed time to forget. One of the crowd pleasers was a waltz step innovated by George. My marching band position was next to Mr. Beggs and when he ordered the waltz step I am sad to relate that I almost always (to no avail) protested.

At one event I can remember that fellow trombonist Janice Sartin and I were to play a duet. Janice was a fun loving girl and something happened prior to our performance that allowed us to be still a bit amused. We were introduced and entered the stage but one of us must have retained the humor of the moment and we began and could not stop laughing. We made fools of ourselves for a bit and finally left the stage without a note. Mr. Beggs did not rebuke us but instead said not a word. Perhaps he found that the result of our brief entertainment encounter was better than if we would have performed as planned.

That recalls another incident with Janice when a group of us were going to individually perform at "Cedar Vale Night" at the old basketball barn at the Sedan fair. Backstage I was awaiting my blackface performance of "Lassus Trombone". Janice was a good singer and I presume she was also backstage awaiting her turn. She motioned me to a back area where she shared her dilemma. Part of her attire was a pair of pants and somehow she had caught her shirt or something in the zipper. She needed help with her zipper. To show you how perhaps times have changed I was so proud that she chose me to be of assistance but at the same time so careful to not offend by not seeming overly adventuresome in said pursuit.
Mr. Begg's stern side most always just involved "a look". During a summer practice I knew that one of the marches practiced would be "Lights Out". At about the appropriate time I managed to slip into the back area and when George said, "Lights Out" ... I turned out the lights. He was not amused. He was not amused when I put tacks in his seat in science class. He was not amused when (in order to demonstrate something or other) I engulfed myself in the stage curtain. Through all of my ridiculous and inane antics for about four years I remember not once when he gave me even a slight verbal assault. Instead, he would give me "the look" and I would dutifully and quickly return to (almost) normalcy.

The bus trips with the band were always fun for me and the band members were a wonderful group of young people. So many memories evolve as I think of that band and hopefully you will join me in reliving some of those special days.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Days of Reckoning

By Gary White

One morning in the early 1990s I awoke from a bad dream. Unlike most bad dreams, this one seemed to persist and follow me around like the little dark cloud that hung over the head of Joe Btfsplk in the Lil’ Abner comic strip of our youth. There was simply no reason for the funk I was in. After all, my life was nearly perfect. I was at, or just past, the peak of my career. I had a good reputation as a composer and, in recent years, I had become known as a successful textbook author. The university had rewarded my long service in teaching, administration, and creative work with the highest rank they could bestow, distinguished professor. This got me a few hundred dollars additional salary and a parking spot right outside the music building. It also got me the honor of serving on the committee that chose a new university president and other prestigious committees such as promotion and tenure committee and the like. My wife and I had raised two wonderful children and had seen them through their university education and out on their own. The future was all smooth sailing.

Of course, I did average one migraine headache per week, but a combination of prescription drugs and regular massage kept that in check. The periodic diverticulitis could be handled with a round of antibiotics every month or so. My asthma was totally controlled with an inhaler and my chronic acid reflux was nearly under control with the new drugs that were coming on the market. The enlarged prostate could be kept in check by herbs alone, so it was no problem. I was working an average of sixteen hours per day, seven days a week, and having fun doing it. There was simply no reason that the dream that I was standing in front of my own, already dug, grave persisted.

Well, something was seriously wrong and I had to get to the bottom of it. I began to wonder why I was working all the time I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t remember when I had last done something frivolous, like going to a movie. Fairly soon I came to the conclusion that the reason for all the work was that I couldn’t stand my home life. Our marriage had never been a close one, but we had done a good job with our children and there weren’t any major wars going on between us. My wife was a respected attorney in town with her own very busy career. We enjoyed the good reputation that two successful people earn and we didn’t lack for friends and acquaintances.

In a sudden act that shocked everyone around, I moved out of the house. The next few months are just a blur to me. A friend had a room in her basement, behind her furnace. There was a full bathroom down there so I moved in. My bed was an old futon that was brick hard. My closet was nails driven into the walls around the room. I had one table and a chair. I was totally lost and Ivy was my port in the storm. I was still teaching full time, but I hardly remembered what I had taught ten minutes after the class. Twenty eight years of university teaching gives one a certain backlog and you can continue without much thought. I had bragged that someone could fire a starting pistol and I could deliver a 50-minute lecture without any preparation or even looking at my watch. I had some creative projects that were unfinished, but I could do them in the same way. I would undertake no new projects however, and gradually my days began to open up.

I started a men’s group where a group of guys could air their difficulties and challenges. Two of these guys were young people with small children. I began to hang around their houses and play with the kids. I joked that Indigo, the three-year-old daughter of one of the guys was the best therapist I had. She loved to bonk noses and I could bonk noses with Indigo for a few minutes and be totally relaxed. Most of the guys in the men’s group were not university types and I came in contact with a different part of society where the driven lifestyle of the university professors I knew wasn’t the norm. These people had time to be with their kids and time to read a novel or even go to a movie if I would babysit for them. And I did a lot of free baby-sitting during those months and my friends and their wives provided a lot of free home cooked meals.

Gradually the fog began to clear and I moved into a small duplex apartment. At least I was above ground level and I enjoyed visiting with my new friends and the neighbors around me. The university had an early retirement program that provided very attractive options for professors starting at age fifty-seven. I would be fifty-seven in 1994 and I began to make plans for early retirement. After about a year of fruitless marriage counseling, I filed for divorce. I was not prepared for getting a divorce from one of the top divorce attorneys in town. The divorce was fairly quickly granted, but the financial settlement took several years and ended up being argued before the state supreme court. Naturally, my ex-wife served as her own attorney with a colleague fronting for her to keep things looking on the up and up.

During the months of limbo I had wanted to keep my evenings busy. Going home to a dark basement room was just too depressing. The local Unitarian Fellowship had a very good program of adult education and I began to fill several evenings each week with classes. I liked the people I met there and one person in particular became a good friend. Elyn was in charge of adult education classes for the fellowship and had plans to go to seminary the following year. Her son was just the same age as my son and was in the process of completing his college education. We had a lot in common, not the least of which, that her parents had been colleagues of mine at the university. Her father was also a distinguished professor and Elyn had a PhD in cultural anthropology. She was in a lot of the classes I was attending and I asked her if she would like to car pool to some of the classes. Well, you can probably guess the rest of that story. In a few months we were an “item” and when she went off to seminary the following year I began to visit her in Denver as many weekends as I could.

By that time I was in my final year at the university, having declared myself in transition to early retirement. We were married the following summer. I can truly say that my life has begun anew in the years that Elyn and I have been married. We have traveled, enjoyed our home life, and taken time to do fun things. Just tonight we attended a concert and, on the way home, enjoyed looking at the full moon. In my previous life I would scarcely have noticed. I have noticed that the recent freeze has begun to turn our plantings into their fall beauty and I will enjoy that transition. Life is good!

Since I have retired I have come to grips with a lifetime of addiction to work. Work addiction is unlike any other addiction. Instead of landing you in jail it is rewarded. Society loves a work addict. The more you can accomplish the better you are rewarded and I had followed that carrot almost into the grave. I can’t say that I have beaten this addiction. I am up at 1 AM tonight writing this and I still put out a pretty full day of work most days. But, at least I know the dimensions of the problem and make every effort to take my time, have some fun, and just spend time doing nothing. Doing nothing is not wasting time, it is taking the time to enjoy the small things and the small things can be sweet. Like sharing this blog with you for example.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Class of 1955 3th Grade Photo


This is a larger version of our third grade class.
Remember, all you old geezers, if you want to see it life size, just click on the photo.

My Favorite Cedar Vale Teacher

By Don Cox

If you had to pick one teacher from your years in the Cedar Vale Schools as the favorite; Who would it be? I hope a few of you will chime in with your nomination, and the reason for it.

I had to winnow down from three names that immediately came to the fore, but finally my pick was not that hard. Ruth Wade is the winner. Here's why:

Ruth moved to the Cedar Vale system in the forties when the Hewins School closed. She started as the 7th grade teacher when I was a 6th grader (I think).

During that year someone decided to have boxing matches in the schoolyard during recess. There was already a set of heavy gloves in the principles office which were fetched when any two boys got into fisticuffs at school. The idea being that they could thresh it out in a manly way. Why it turned from the original to schoolyard entertainment I couldn't say.

I was a prepubescent pacifist, still with baby fat. One of my classmates was precocious physically and already an adolescent. Of course as the two biggest 6th graders it was decided we should box it out and I couldn't refuse or I would be "yellow" and gravely stigmatized. Well, of course, he beat the stuffing out of me with the whole schoolyard looking on. I did land one feeble punch and many people cheered. I was thoroughly disgraced, abased, and demoralized. I knew that boys my age weren't supposed to cry, so I staggered back toward the 6th grade room. At that point Ruth Wade, who wasn't even my teacher, sought me out, put her hand on my shoulder, and told me how brave I was to stand in there and take that beating. How I needed those words and that gesture !! I learned much later that she had many advanced study hours in psychology and counseling. It didn't surprise me.

Miss Wade was never my teacher in grade school because she was moved to the high school faculty the same year I moved up the the 7th grade. I caught up with her in high school and she was my teacher in all my math classes and in typing (that one didn't take very well). General math was a breeze and Algebra I was fun because Ruth made it interesting and made us understand, and praised us when she saw the light come on during the explanation of some equation.

After Algebra I our Jr. year, she quietly approached four of us in whom she could see some promise, and asked us if we would be interested in an advanced algebra course. Four of us said yes, and so we had that course with only four students. She was on a roll and having fun teaching us and it was infectious as we certainly applied ourselves. It was the most intense and satisfying learning experience of my years at CVHS. She was a good disciplinarian who earned respect-- and got it-- from her students. I went on to study in two Universities and remedial math was never required for me.

Miss Wade became Mrs. Depew as she married a fine gentleman from Grenola, KS I expect she was well into her forties before marriage. I believe she continued teaching in the Grenola schools. Our lives and careers diverged as I was starting a veterinary practice, then moved to California to per sue my career for the next 37 years. In the early 90s Verne Sweaney, a lifelong friend, told me Ruth was in the Ark City Hospital with cancer in her abdomen and asked me if I would like to go and see her. I said YES INDEED. We found here in her room alone with an abdominal tumor which distended her belly. I know she was not in a comfort zone, but she was recognized us and was very happy we had come. We sat a visited with her for the better part of an hour. She was quite lucid and we reminisced and held her hands. She asked us to pray with her before we left and said goodby for the last time. I had leaky eyes then and now I have again as I remember Miss Wade.

How I Became an Author (for Fun and Profit)


By Gary White

OK, CV fans, here is another chunk of my autobiography. I can’t imagine trying to do any sort of connected narrative of my life. Instead, I offer these little vignettes for anyone who might be interested, or bored, or simply curious.

One day I was sitting in my office at Iowa State University when there was a knock at the door. Two women introduced themselves as editors for Wm. C. Brown (a publisher of college level textbooks). College professors are often approached by representatives of textbook publishers who want them to adopt their books for their classes. I assumed this was just another sales call and invited them in. To get rid of a textbook salesman is relatively easy. You ask what new books they have to offer and select two or three to have them send sample copies. That generally satisfies them and they go on their way. In due course you get the books, spend a few minutes looking at them, and either put them on your bookshelf or toss them in the trash. (Unscrupulous professors get as many free books as possible and sell them on the used book market, creating a small profit center for themselves.) Well, I started into my usual spiel, “What new books . . .” and the ladies stopped me cold. “We are not here to sell you books, we want to talk with you about becoming a textbook author.”

It seems that they had a very successful textbook, Music in Theory and Practice (MTP) by Bruce Benward that they were having trouble with. Dr. Benward, it seemed, could not produce publishable manuscript without help. I was, of course, familiar with the history of this book. I had looked at the first edition with some interest because I agreed with its basic premise, that the early study of the theory of music should look at all aspects of music rather than simply concentrating on the study of harmony as the traditional method had done. (I know you are all yawning by now, but these are the sorts of arguments that college professors engage in—rather like arguing about the number of angels that would fit on the head of a pin.) I had decided against adopting the first edition because it was filled with errors and seemed poorly organized. A second edition had been hastily put together a year or so later to try to correct the worst of the flaws, and that book had been relatively successful. To get a third edition out four years later, the publisher had hired a ghost writer to rewrite the manuscript. This version had been extremely successful and now they were looking for a long-term solution to their problem—how to get an author on that they could depend on, while keeping Dr. Benward’s name on the book, which guaranteed sales.

“Would you be interested in considering a joint authorship with Dr. Benward for Music in Theory and Practice?” I would have to say that such a thing was the farthest thing from my mind. I was, at the time, a very busy professor with a full load of teaching and a demanding career as a composer. The last thing I needed was another full-time career. However, I never believe in rejecting opportunities that appear on your doorstep without giving them some consideration. I agreed to go to the University of Wisconsin and meet with Dr. Benward for a discussion since the publisher was paying for the travel. My meeting with Benward was successful and we seemed to be a good fit for each other. I agreed privately with the publisher that I would be in charge of actually producing the future editions of the book and Benward would supply me with his ideas. That would work out well for everyone concerned, particularly in the financial area. Textbooks that are successful generate large sums of money, enough for everyone to be well paid for their efforts. At the time I didn’t have need for additional income, since I was being well paid as a professor and my compositions generated a small income. However, as I looked forward to retirement I thought I might need some additional income to supplement the largess of Social Security and my university pension.

I began work on the next edition of MTP and found that I actually enjoyed being an author. There was a lot to do to bring the book up to my own standards. It needed to be reorganized and several new chapters needed to be written to fill gaps in the outline. Benward was easy to deal with, since all he appeared to want was the yearly royalty checks and a few of his pet ideas to be included. He was happy to turn all the work over to me and collect his royalties. We produced the fourth edition of the book and it was even more successful than the previous editions.

With easy money coming in for the next four years (new editions are usually produced every four years), I began to think about other topics I might like to tackle as a sole author. The first of these was the area of music fundamentals. I wanted to write a beginning textbook that wasn’t the dry factual approach that music fundamentals had always been. (Music fundamentals, for all you non-musicians, is the study of music notation, scales, intervals, triads, key signatures, and rhythm—the fundamental building blocks of Western music.) I wanted to involve the student with making music as they learned these basic facts. The publisher bought my idea and I wrote Music First as the result. (This book is now in its fifth edition and is doing quite well.) When the manuscript for this book was finished I approached the publisher about actually doing the page layout for the book, a task that they normally contracted out. With my computer skills and the new page layout programs that were coming on the market I thought I could do the job and not have anyone else making mistakes and messing up my manuscript. I got the contract for this job, thus beginning what was to become yet another full time job.

Never one to leave well enough alone, I authored and co-authored three more textbooks over the next few years and did the layout for all but the last one. The publisher was happy with my work as a “pager” for books and began contracting me for production of other textbooks they were bringing out. I accepted nearly all of these jobs and at one time, I was employing as many as ten student assistants to do research, proofread, and to produce the scraps of music notation that dot music textbooks. I continued to do all the layout work. I was having fun and was working nearly all my waking hours, without regard for my health or the needs of those around me. My career as a composer was nearly over, since my output began to diminish, and I’m sure that the quality of my teaching was beginning to suffer as well. If this sounds totally insane to you, well, it does to me too. Nevertheless that is how I chose to live about ten years of my life.

So, boys and girls, that is how I became a textbook author for fun and profit!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wayne Woodruff's Picture


One question. Where did the rest of you old guys buy your hair?? I need the name of the outlet. This picture was taken in 2006, and I have lost more hair since then. (But I gained weight). (This message from Wayne by way of Gary.)

OK, Wayne, when are you going to get up the courage to do these posts yourself? Gary

Recent Photo of Gary White



Well, I had this photo up last month but it disappeared.
Here I am in the back yard doing what I do with most of my spare time—on the computer.

Class of 1955 4th Grade Photo


Wayne says, "Can anyone identify all the children in Mrs. Jones 4th grade class?

Would you buy a car from this man?

Well, if I remember correctly Norma Champlin indeed bought a car from this man. This photo was taken in 2005 by the "Hillsboro Free Press" as they announced my appointment as executive director of the Marion County United Way. Actually, it's the only photo that is available of either of us during the last number of years.

As I left you in a previous post (honoring Owen Hubbard) you might remember that our life's traverses and travails had picked us up and deposited us in Bremen/Marysville located in Marshall County, Kansas. Home is said to be "where the heart is" ... and our heart was now in Marshall County.

Life was good!

Not so fast my friend! Jimmy Carter was president and while we were absorbing debt from the building of our home in Bremen and building a new branch bank (at the edge of Marysville) a snag developed. Building costs escalated but more importantly interest rates soared to an astronomical level. I had borrowed funds for the purchase of the bank and for the construction of our home. Interest expense became (almost overnight) devastating for us along with our bank's farm customers.

For awhile, I was able to maneuver around these major problems. I became more active in investments and one year our profit percentage from bond purchases and sales was equaled only by a bank in Overland Park. About this time many banks were being closed and the regulators became more and more concerned with the rapidly deteriorating situation. They changed the method of determining capital reserves and then limited investment activities. The change in the accounting rules was devastating to us as we had no means of additional funds for capital increase as most certainly we weren't "real" bankers coming from "old" money. We were perhaps doomed when our principal means of keeping afloat during the bad times was blocked by the cessation of profits from investment activity.

When the regulators saw that our situation was untenable they correctly moved for change. It is believed that they were understanding of the situation and did not involve me in any legal proceedings. At the same time, one of the directors/stockholders brought suit against me (I believe) attempting to possibly put himself in a good position for future community bank involvement.

Absolution of the charges was only a hollow victory. The suit effectively ended not only my hard fought banking career but any ability to secure adequate employment to allow the means to work my way out of a negative financial situation. My financial statement had looked pretty impressive prior to all of this but the result was that most everything of material value was lost. Perhaps the fellow upstairs never thought of me as banker material. We hung our heads in shame and dragging our tails behind us we headed "home" to Arkansas City.

Those of you that have not experienced the difficult times of negative public perception have perhaps lost the important ability to know of whom are your friends. For the second time in our lives we were snubbed by friends and relatives. At the same time, there were those thought of as being "only friendly" that showed us friendship in depressing times. Some of those folks participate in viewing these blogs. To you ... we say with emphasis ... "THANK YOU"!

"Sally", (my Grandmother Britton), was in her upper 90s and was becoming less able to care for herself so she lived with us as we attempted to put positive value to our lives. Unable to find employment in Marshall County or in all the hundreds of banks of which I had correspondence I was happy to find a job at a Walmart being constructed in Ponca City, Oklahoma. The contact giving recommendation was Nancy Lee from Marysville who was helping in "setting up" one of the first "Super Centers". (Her husband of earlier vintage had once threatened to thrash me while I was the banker at Oketo for not advancing him additional funds. Thank goodness for whatever reason he left without carrying out his vow.) Driving back and forth from Ark City, I began recuperation of soul and spirit and enjoyed my activities in the customer service department.

A large Chrysler dealership in Ark City was my next step to some recovery as I began a brief career as a car salesman. I worked very hard and had some success in the occupation that my Uncle Dale had earlier enjoyed. Later, after visiting often with cousin Mike Foust's wife (Leslie) I successfully passed the test and joined her as a "Realtor" at an agency in Ark City.

My daughter was working as a social worker in Ark City and gave remark that drivers were needed to transport foster children. In Kansas, SRS is the state agency that has the onus of responsibility in removing children from homes of abuse. Various benevolent agencies are responsible for placing them (hopefully temporarily) where they might enjoy the best possible means of success toward normalcy. "The Farm" was such an agency based in Emporia that allowed me to be of a little help in the process during my semi-retirement. Transporting those children of all ages, situations, and maturity levels was an occupation that in many ways was the most rewarding of my life.

Pat worked as a salesperson for some time at "Harvey's", (a ladies clothing store in Ark City). She had not previously entered the workplace and though the work was at times difficult for her she very much enjoyed those times. Her mobility began to be a problem and it became apparent that it was time for us to be apartment dwellers. She needed a place without steps and our children were all residing in various sites of northern Kansas. Not wanting to be right under their noses we attempted to find a suitable abode in central Kansas and finally chose an apartment located in an atrium in Marion, Kansas. "Atrium" is a fancy word which might be more properly described to some of you older folks as the "poor farm". We are most likely the least affluent of the growing list of Cedar Vale bloggers. This is said not to elicit sympathy as I have never equated success with money but to realistically report our situation.

Oh, I have my inheritance! The best gift ever received was the continuing advice that my dad gave me concerning the proper way to lead a life. Don't worry about what others are doing. YOU do the right thing! Don't embarrass the family by making issue of unfairness. YOU do the right thing! If a person unfairly threatens you or others ... YOU do the right thing! My dad remains the best person that I have ever known. Sadly, I suppose I wasn't able to always do the right thing but I have never forgotten his priceless advice and as I have measured the decisions of my life it has been my goal to do the right thing.

Our life (like most) has been quite like a yo-yo but my growth as an individual has come more in the difficult times than in the times that I was "on top". Small achievements are more meaningful. For instance, last week was a good one for me as my church asked that I be on the finance committee (nope) and the school offered me the job of being the public address announcer at the high school basketball games (yep). This future job (should they be satisfied with my performance) is exciting for me in that a beautiful new gymnasium with indoor pool is currently being built close to our asylum.

Life is indeed like a box of chocolates. Delicious!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Class of 1955 Early Photos




A bonanza of early photos from Wayne Woodruff.
At the top, our 8th grade graduation
Middle, our 2nd grade class with Mrs. McCall
Bottom, gradeschool basketball team

Class of 1955 as 8th Graders


This photo was just forwarded by Wayne Woodruff.
How many can you identify?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

One Great Basketball Team


By Wayne Woodruff

Cedar Vale basketball fans, let's have an argument. I think the greatest CVHS basketball team was the one during year that the team included Jim Hill, Reece Bohannon, Bernard Lemert, Bob Bailey,Bob Brown and Tom Gordon, or am I mixing players and years?? They went to the State Tournament inspite of the fact that Reece was the tallest player at 6'3" and they had to practice and play on that postage-stamp size gym above the old auditorium that Gary glorified in his article.

Every seat and every standing room spot was filled with people who didn't even know they were basketball fans, but were caught up in the excitement of the chase. As I remember the players, each of them could "stuff" the ball in spite of their stature, even Tom Gordon, who was the shortest and youngest. Maybe this little remembrance will stimulate some you rabid Broncho fans to recall more facts and fantasies of that time. Don't be bashful about making mistakes in your recollections, because I am sure I am wrong about some of what I have recalled here.

Bits and Pieces

By Gary White

I continue to research various items relative to previous posts. Here is a sampling of what I have found.

In the article on Bertha Kirby on September 7. I stated that she had been a “mail order” bride. I have since been researching her history and found that, while she was born in Missouri in October of 1875, her parents actually moved to the Cedar Vale area sometime between 1900 and 1910. Bertha was known as “Bessie” in her early years and is so recorded on the U. S. Census rolls. She married Dr. John Kirby in 1909 in Winfield. I believe that Dr. Kirby must have known Bessie/Bertha after she moved to the Cedar Vale area with her parents.

I continue to look at various sources of information on the Cedar Vale Progressive Community (see October 16). I have been unable, of course, to look at the original papers that are housed in the New York Public Library, but I can deduce a lot from the list of titles that I was able to download. There are letters from Alcander (not Alex, as listed in the census rolls) Longley and S. S. Briggs to Frey before the Frey’s came to St. Louis to join the Reunion Community. It was probably on the basis of these letters that the Frey’s joined the community. As to my speculation about the “free love” splinter group at that community, there is a document in the NYPL box entitled “A sketch for a discussion on free love.” As to the founding of the Cedar Vale community, there is a document entitled “Description of journey made by Frey, Brooks, and Briggs to find government land for their commune.” This seems to indicate that these three men came to Cedar Vale to find the land for the Progressive Community. Frey and Briggs were described in the October 16 article, but Brooks is a new name to enter the picture.

Nicholas Brook (or Brooks) is the American name for Nicholas Ponofiloff, another Russian immigrant who came to the U. S. slightly later than the Freys. It seems that Frey met Brook in New York before coming west and they formed a friendship. Brook/Ponofiloff came to Cedar Vale with Frey and Briggs and took a plot of land near the Progressive Community. It appears that Brook was at first a part of the community, but he and Frey had a falling out that is described in some detail by Machtet in his published commentary on the community. By the time Machtet visited the community Frey and Brook were not speaking to each other and various attempts by Machtet to reconcile the two were unsuccessful. Brook and his wife, Julia, are listed on the same 1875 Kansas Census page as the Progressive Community, but it is clear that their place did not adjoin the community’s land. Several other families are listed between the two. Further search for the Brooks shows that in the 1880 U. S. Census the Brooks are running a hotel in Peru, Kansas. They have an adopted daughter, Emma, and another young woman, Rosa Stotts is listed as an employee of the hotel, along with Lee S. B. McPheron, whose occupation is listed as “printer.” Mr. McPheron must be a lodger at the hotel.

As to Frey’s subsequent divorce from Mary and marriage to Lydia Eichoff, there are several letters from Frey to Miss Eichoff that are postmarked Cedar Vale, Kansas. It is clear that they must have known each other, at least by correspondence, before the Cedar Vale community broke up.

I am sure that more will come to light as I continue my research.

CV in 1936 or 1937


Here is a companion photo of your "Historic Mainstreet Photo" This one is likely from about '36 or '37 judging by the automobiles. It is taken from the old Post Office Bldg. roof. The action is the Saturday afternoon "Drawing", an event subsidized by the town merchants. 5 or 6 persons would win merchandise or cash. A big revolving barrel with all the names of those who signed in was placed on the back of a pick up truck and one of the comely employees would draw the names which would then be anounced by the Merchant. I can remember that my father did the emcee job occasionaly. The big crowd would visit, shop, sometimes eat at the restaurants, maybe go to the Leonard Theater or the pool hall and enjoy the big outing of the week.

I see a restaurant in the near right where later Art Smith had his tavern. None of us remembered that one for Wayne's Main Street articles.

Even though this was in the midst of the depression, I believe that it was the highest point in Cedar Vale history when considering population and loyal trade area.

DFCox

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pebbles


By Gary White

Perhaps it is a symptom of my advancing age that I can remember driving out east of Cedar Vale across the Caney River valley more clearly than what I did or what I saw yesterday. I can see those old gray concrete arches of the bridge ahead better than the golden arches I passed by on Cerrillios Road here in Santa Fe just this morning. Perhaps it is some long suppressed desire to turn over all the loose pebbles of my memory, those fleeting images that somehow got printed on the photographic plate of my mind in hopes of finding the piece that will make the whole jigsaw puzzle of my life fit together in some neat and consistent pattern. Whatever it is, I seem to be in this reflective, sifting mode and what I read on our blog confirms that I’m not alone in this. I sense that a lot of us are jogging our memories and finding out that the tiny town we left behind without looking back was really a very complex, fascinating place to grow up in.

Sure, we are bound to turn over a few painful memories in the process. My personal hope for all of us is that we can forgive without having to forget. I tried the forgetting method for most of my life and all it got me was a fragmented self. Now, I hope I’m ready to forgive those bullies who chased me home from grade school and all the other little slights that I thought I was forgetting by getting away from CV. Maybe somewhere in this process I will discover myself, whole and unscarred. Or, at least I can enjoy the rich colors that flood my memory when I think back on those days.

Thanks for being on the journey with me.

Post from Diane Bradbury

This just in from Diane Bradbury. Let's all join in wishing Biffle a happy 97th birthday! (Thanks, Diane.)

"Many of you will remember Biffle Gordon, Tom's mother. She currently resides in Winfield and will be 97 on October 29. Her mind is crystal clear and she has been reading some of the blog articles that were copied for her. I'm sure she would be pleasantly surprised to receive birthday cards from any of you so inclined to send them. Her address is: Biffle Gordon, Rest Haven, 1611 Ritchie St., Winfield, KS 67156."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tribute to Owen Hubbard


Our small family arrived back in Cedar Vale from the Air Force in November of 1957. We rented a small rural house on the Hays property. Our beautiful stone home was located on the left side of the road just before you turned up to their residence allowing Dr. Hays to stop occasionally to visit with Graham as he was playing outside. We were thoroughly happy at our good fortune of home and position. My job at the bank would allow the start of my dream of a business career and the three of us would have the added good fortune of being near family and friends.

It is remembered that the staff of the bank included R.D. Oltjen, President, Owen Hubbard, Cashier, Lucile Littrell, Shirley Brown, and Bobbi Harp. Later T.D. Oltjen and Bill Foster were among those that joined the group. Ray Oltjen was a good banker who originally came to town with a plan of closing the bank (to turn a profit) as he had done at his previous bank at Florence, Kansas. Unfortunately, Ray had wasted some of his best years with a serious problem with alcohol. During the times that he was unavailable the conservative and capable Owen Hubbard kept the bank open. At the time of my employment Ray had placed the alcohol problem behind him and was aggressively growing the bank. "Bank with a growing bank ... and grow with us!" My early times at the bank were exciting as I steadily learned the banking and insurance business from Ray and Owen and was taught the bookkeeping routines from Lucile and Shirley.

It took us awhile to develop friendships but eventually our fireplace-heated home was active with groups of couples gracing our abode. Among the couples visiting at the time were: Dick and Gloria Beuoy, Maxine and Wayne Hutchinson, John and Linda Murphy, Jack and Donna Foster, Joe and Marilyn Ellis, Mary and Floyd Patterson, and Lloyd and Ethel Snyder. Some of us developed a "Civic Club" and projects included a flower area at the high school and a painting get-together at Hewins Park. We also initiated a successful softball team and were appreciative that Pete Napier (Co-Op) purchased us uniforms. Our son (Graham) was to have a brother now as Vince was born at the Cedar Vale Hospital.

Life was good!

Not so fast my friend! Ray Oltjen was growing the bank and growing his personal wealth through wide and wild dealings in cattle, grain, and oil. Partnerships were developed in a manic way and while some of the partners were not so bad ... quite more of them weren't so good. It was noticed that banking rules were not being followed as per even my limited knowledge. Owen Hubbard most likely noticed these insidious and sickening changes and it is likely that his observations made it impossible for him to continue at the bank.

The same decision that Owen made was one that I had to make. This was a difficult time for Pat and me in that it was almost impossible to explain to her what was happening. She didn't want to believe me and she didn't want to leave her parents and Cedar Vale. At one time she perhaps could have decided that while it might be time for me to leave ... it would be without her and the boys. As I gradually gained her support we met with Ray and Elsie to beg Ray to change his ways before it was too late. All to no avail! We were assured that I "was making a mountain out of a mole hill" and that "everything is going to be okay".

As a bit more time evolved it became more than evident that everything was not going to be okay. My formal resignation was given prior to the securing of a new job. Payments were to be made on our home and two rental properties. We were fortunate to sell our home and the rental homes pretty much remained occupied until they were eventually sold. Certainly, I wanted to stay in banking but bankers were leery of me as it seemed that I was the heir apparent to a growing family bank. Why would I want to leave? In deference to Pat ... I could not tell them.

Instead, it logically looked to some of the citizenry of Cedar Vale and prospective employers
that "something was wrong with Phil", (as Ray wrote his Mother in Hiawatha). Ironically, I landed a job in Hiawatha and we were moving the day that President Kennedy was buried. The Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin had accepted me for quasi-campus and correspondence school. This turned out to be the vehicle for a job as I had made a friend at school who recommended me to the owner of The Citizens State Bank. Wayne Starr owned the bank and was the son of a former Kansas Bank Commissioner. Wayne was killed in an airplane accident but (for rescuing my family) forever is my hero.

It is felt that this was a quite dangerous time in my life. In fact, I have often realistically thought that my jeopardy in Cedar Vale resembled the evening when an armed masked intruder invaded us in Bremen. Some of the characters that were attracted to Ray's expansionary ploys were not exactly choir boys and threats came my way as I fulfilled my duties at the bank. Even so, I determined to not bow to the pressures that some were placing at my watch.

When the almost inevitable closing of the bank occurred I was working as the manager of a bank owned by Starr in the hamlet of Oketo, Kansas. We learned of the closure from a neighbor who had heard it on radio or television. No family or friend from the area is remembered to have contacted us except John Murphy as he stopped to see us in Oketo while traveling to Nebraska. Most of the information that we gleaned of the closing was either from newspapers or suppositions made from most difficult bank examinations and unwelcome depositions.

Even though I had given some details of the situation to my employer (after time) my career was damaged as it was assumed by some that I could have been part of the sordid mess. This was hurtful in that I had fought for the bank (and for Cedar Vale) by beseeching Ray and Elsie Oltjen to come to their senses even to the point of sacrificing a budding career. As we have all learned, a person is reminded from time to time that life isn't fair. More than fair was that our family was growing as our daughter Gretchen was born while we were living happily but uniquely poor in Oketo (as friend Murphy might attest). A move further west to Smith County was made as we were fortunate to secure a banking job after the Oketo bank was sold not long after the closing of the Cedar Vale National Bank.

As time advanced a banker from the area did not forget me and helped my return to Marshall County to eventually own the Bremen State Bank. After attending Kansas University our son Graham worked with me at Bremen and younger KSU son (Vince) ran the Marysville, Kansas branch of the bank. All three of our children graduated from Marysville High School and it was my honor as a member of the school board to hand Graham his diploma.

Pat and I remain appreciative of Cedar Vale for our education and friendships and to the Oltjens for giving me a start in banking. Certainly, things didn't go as we would have wished and it was especially difficult to leave the community and the bank (as did Owen Hubbard) without many being aware of the circumstances.

It has been my feeling that a banker should give back to his town by helping make it a better place for his tenure. It is (at least) my opinion that Bremen and Marysville were better communities when it was time for me to say goodbye. Sadly, it is believed accurate that Cedar Vale was not a better place when Owen Hubbard (a good and intelligent man of high principle) and I were placed in a situation that forced us with hat in hand to singularly depart.


Owen Hubbard ... banker!
Owen, you are gone but I am optimistic that your town will not forget you but will remember you in accurate and positive perspective. May they allow you the esteem and respect that you duly earned and deserved!