Wednesday, January 30, 2008

VIP (Looking Back)

There are many very important people in the history of Cedar Vale. It would be very interesting in looking back to know more about some of the town characters, leaders, and other interesting folks from the past. Some of the individuals that I remember and would like to hear life stories about or even just stories (for instance) are Junior Couch, Charley Grounds, Brady Meldrum, Old Doc Stone, and Squeaky Richardson.

Others are L. Claire Hays, Andy Earley, L.C. Adams, Roy Smith, and Cecil Humphries. It could be that there are individuals of whom you might have interest and would like to know more about their lives. Perhaps you could add comments as to your personal list.

Also, I would like to know "whatever happened to" many of the folks closer to my age. What are they doing and what were some of the events of their lives. This venue created by Gary White seems a most logical place for receiving more of this type of information. While it is true that class reunions give a chance to somewhat catch up with some of your classmates there are so many other friends or acquaintances of which you lose contact. For instance, don't you ever wonder about some of your dates and "whatever happened to Suzy or Mary"?

Some of us have shared our lives to various degrees and it would be quite interesting to hear more of these stories. It could be that you have a special friend or relative of which you have much knowledge that has had an interesting life that would be good to have entered into this vestige of history.

Our resident Cedar Vale historian, (Don Cox), has a rich heritage and vital information on many of the folks living in or passing through Cedar Vale. Possibly Don could take a person each week or so and expand upon their lives or share more interesting stories concerning his or her time in the town of cedars. Many of you have information that would be of great interest to us all if you would review your memories.

In looking back who are your VIPs?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Archer Photos

Here are some photos from Diane, one is her dad's graduation photo from 1922 and the other a 1956 photo taken at the Archer Motors dealership. Thanks, Diane.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

T. Fred Archer Remembered

My daddy was Thomas Frederick Archer, more commonly known as T. Fred Archer or just Fred.
He was born January 11, 1906 in Kingsley, Kansas where his father worked for a short time as a butcher. The family eventually settled north of Grenola, Kansas. Daddy’s parents were Tom and Angie Archer and his siblings were Dale Archer, 1901-1963, and Bula Archer Lemert, 1910-2000.

Daddy had two aunts and one uncle. The two aunts lived most of their lives in Anaheim, California, where the oldest, Lena and her husband, Rocky Fay, had moved in the teens. Uncle Rocky grew to be a somewhat wealthy business man when he sold his orange farm. Ethel, the sister who was a maiden lady school teacher, moved to live with them in California.

The two boys of this generation included my grandfather, Tom Archer, who was a farmer, and his brother, Alex Archer, who became a doctor and practiced out of his office in Grenola. Early in his practice he traveled the area by horse and buggy to treat ailing folks, many times accepting produce, livestock or whatever the families had to give for his fee. Uncle Alex married Jennie Fay, sister of Rocky and they had one daughter, Fay, who was daddy’s only cousin.

Daddy enjoyed hunting and trapping as a young man and I have a picture showing him posing with his snares. An earlier story relates his eagerness for an education. There was a school house across the road from the family’s home and at about age two, Daddy sprung loose from the house, stark naked, and ran across the road, bursting into the one room school. Reportedly this caused a small ruckus and gave opportunity for an impromptu class in anatomy.

He graduated from Grenola High School in 1924 and began teaching at Shiloh country school the following fall. He taught there for eight years and each summer attended Pittsburg State Teachers College in Pittsburg, Kansas. He then went to Anaheim to stay with his aunts where he enrolled in the University of California at Davis, graduating in 1932 with a bachelors degree.

Upon returning to Kansas, he taught school at Fort Scott, Kansas. I don’t have many facts about his life during this time period, but after a few years he met my mother who lived with her parents north of the Spring Branch school house which is still standing east of Cedar Vale.

Mother, Opal Farris Duke, was born August 3, 1913, (dod:7/12/81) to Debbie and Alec Duke at Cedar Vale. She graduated from CVHS in 1931 and was then required to stay home to take care of her mother who had poor health. For this reason she was unable to fulfill her desire to go to nurses training. Her sister, Jewel, was eight years younger and a brother, Harold, who was twenty-one was helping with farm work and still at home. Another older brother, Wayne, had been killed in an accident at age 12. He was hit in the head with a horseshoe and although he seemed fine at the time, he died later that day.

I think Mother and Daddy met in connection with social activities at the Cloverdale School. A story Mother liked to tell was about contracting mumps during their courtship. When Daddy came calling she hid so he wouldn’t see her with a swollen face, a fact she was able to laugh about years later, telling how embarrassed she had been.

They were married in April of 1936 and lived on a farm south of Grenola where Linda Kay was born on September 11, 1938. Uncle Alex was the attending doctor, accompanied by his wife, Aunt Jennie. It had long been Aunt Jennie’s desire to go with her husband to a birth and he finally relented for this case even though he thought her too genteel for such things.

The little family moved to Sedan in 1939 where Fred served as County Clerk and made many friends and business acquaintances. Judy Diane was born October 19, 1941 at Newton Memorial Hospital in Winfield. They continued to live in Sedan until about 1943 when they moved to a farm between Sedan and Longton. Linda attended first and part of second grade at Crum School.

Daddy went to auctioneering school in Indiana and in 1945 we moved to Cedar Vale into the last house in which my dad would live. The move was prompted by a partnership being formed between O.D. Mills, Ralph Snyder and Daddy as owners of the Cedar Vale Sales Company which had a livestock sale every Friday. Daddy’s main duty was that of auctioneer. Apart from the partnership, he also did many farm and estate sales and branched out to own a cattle truck to provide hauling services to sales barn clients on sale day. He eventually bought a semi rig for hauling and hired Lyn Casebolt, Sr. as driver.

Much of the time he had a herd of cattle on leased land but eventually bought a farm about a half mile south of Wauneta. I learned to drive going with him to feed and had a great time fishing farm ponds with him for small perch which he used for bait in setting lines on the river. He often set lines with Hugh Sweaney, father of Verne whose mother Vergie was my mother’s first cousin. When I would go along, Hugh got great pleasure in rocking the canoe to scare me and he was the only person to call me Judy until years later when Verne picked up the habit.

Daddy enjoyed playing poker with a distinguished group of gentlemen nearly every Saturday night. The group consisted of Mike and Brady Meldrum, Lincoln Robinson, Cecil Humphries, Dr. Herbert Stone and others. A few of these men also fished together in Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. I’m so glad Daddy went on a few of these trips as he worked hard and didn’t allow himself many such leisure activities.

Daddy wanted to visit Aunt Lena and Aunt Ethel in Anaheim and to have a nice family vacation, so in the summer of 1954 we drove to California by way of Carlsbad Caverns and a trip across the border from El Paso to Juarez, Mexico, where we attended the bull fights, an experience never to be forgotten. In California we stayed with the two aunts and saw many sights, even the early, unfinished Disneyland. This was a wonderful time for all of us and will always bring a smile to my face.

Daddy opened a Ford dealership in Cedar Vale in 1955 which was made possible from an inheritance from Aunt Lena’s estate. The business lasted only about three years due to Daddy’s failing health. He had several heart attacks and on June 2, 1958, while playing croquette at Wauneta, he suffered a massive heart attack and died at age 52.

He was a young man but had accomplished much in his life. He jokingly referred to himself as jack of all trades and master of none, but he was a capable business man and had many successful business ventures and occupations. At the time of his death he was running for county commissioner. He was well respected and had extended credit to many in his business of trading cars, and some debts were never repaid. He was often approached by a quiet man who worked on a local ranch asking for a small loan. The man always repaid Daddy as soon as he had his salary, and Daddy was always there when he needed the loan again.

My dad was a quiet man at home. He held high standards of behavior and when I defied him he only told me to “Always do what you say you’re going to do.” In this case I had not followed this mandate and I felt like I broke his heart. I never forgot this rule and tried to follow it in my life.

T. Fred Archer was my dad. I loved him and after 50 years I still miss him. I was lucky to have had such a dad.

Bill Leonard

In my article on the Leonard Theater I related what I knew of Bill Leonard, who was my friend as a young boy growing up in Cedar Vale, Kansas. In this article I will discuss what I have learned from research, which includes extensive searching of census records and a copy of Bill’s obituary, which Don Cox generously provided.

William W. (Bill) Leonard was born on July 20, 1881, in Waterloo, Iowa, the son of John E. Leonard and Margaret (Maggie) Leonard. His father was a railroad brakeman. When John died shortly after 1885, Maggie took Bill and his older brother, Charley, to Lebanon, in north central Kansas, where she married an older man, Seneca S. Lake and the boys grew to manhood. In the 1900 US Census 18-year-old Bill is listed as an apprentice painter and 20-year-old Charley is clerking in the post office.

According to his obituary, Bill was very active as a trombone and tuba player in the local band, which was led by Charley. Sometime later, Bill established a drug store in Lebanon. Apparently, a degree in pharmacy was not a requirement for operating a drug store at the turn of the century in Kansas.

In Lebanon, Bill met and married Maud T. (or T. Maud) Pennington (1879-1958) who had a daughter, Mona B. White. The couple took Mona as their daughter and they moved to Cedar Vale in November of 1907, where they purchased a half interest in Pattison Drug store. This store, which was originally known as Pattison and Leonard, became Leonard’s Drug Store when Bill purchased the interest of his partner. Bill and Maud operated this drug store in Cedar Vale for thirty-one years.

Bill continued his interest in music, organizing and directing The Girls Band (see photo), The Men’s Band, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and the Hobo Band, which gained considerable regional fame in southeastern Kansas. He also took over the Old Opera House in Cedar Vale where he presented local talent shows along with road and stage shows that passed through the area. He brought carnivals and tent shows, called Chautauquas after their place of origin in Chautauqua, New York to Cedar Vale. I don’t know what, if any relationship exists between Chautauqua County, Kansas and Chautauqua, New York.

The Old Opera House continued until the advent of motion pictures. When the movies became a national phenomenon in the 1930s Bill and Maud opened the Mystic Theatre, the first movie theater in Cedar Vale, on the site where Herb’s Cafe later stood. I well remember that in back of Herb’s joint there were the remains of this earlier building, which may have been razed or perhaps burned down.

Bill published a small newspaper, called “Mystic Murmurs” for seven years while he was the proprietor of the Mystic Theatre. If you have the impression of a man who was constantly on the move, consider that Bill was also the local sign painter during all those years. His signs were in evidence all over Cedar Vale, each with the characteristic signature “Bill done it,” on the lower corner. I can remember that many of Bill’s signs were posted all over the town at the time of his death on November 28, 1952.

Bill and Maud took over another movie theater (the Princess Theatre) on a main street site next to the bank and renamed it the Mystic Theatre. Later it became the Leonard Theater and sported a large sign painted by Bill over the entrance. This is the site of all my early adventures with Bill and the movies that I have previously described.

While Bill Leonard was not the professional musician or circus musician I imagined him to be from the many tales of show business he told me when I visited him in his office or projection booth, he was a natural showman of great local fame in Chautauqua County, Kansas. Bill and Maud were responsible for much of the cultural life of Cedar Vale during the first half of the twentieth century. In Bill’s obituary the writer says, “A book could be written about Bill for his life was an open book. His ever outstanding sunny smile, good manners, and love for all, especially his love for children and animals, will always be remembered, not by one but by all.” This short piece along with my piece on the Leonard Theater will have to stand as my humble attempt to write that book.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Girl's view, growing up in CV

Nancy just emailed me and asked that her posted comment be added as a post. I've invited her and hope she joins as a contributor. Welcome aboard, Nancy!

First, I want to tell all of you how much I have enjoyed this blog! Thanks Gary!

Secondly, I am so impressed with all of your memories. I must admit I am unable to remember as much as some of you.

My family moved to Cedar Vale after WWII. My father, Floyd Goode, had the title “Master Mechanic” at Boeing. He and his team had only one job: to keep the large machinery used to make the airplanes parts running 24/7.

My mother, Marjorie Ward Goode, worked for Boeing as a “Rosie the Riveter.”

When the war was over, Boeing wanted to keep Dad, but he was always a small town boy and accepted a job at Ames Garage in Cedar Vale. Both my parents grew up in Chautauqua County and most of their families still lived there.

During the war years the Wichita schools were so crowded we only went ½ days. Imagine my surprise when I started the 4th grade in Cedar Vale and I had to go all day!

My sisters, Jeanette, Billie, and I took piano lessons from Mrs. Kirby. We suffered the sore knuckles from her pencil with each mistake. She was probably a lonely person, but smart as she always scheduled our lessons to last until suppertime so she would be included in the meal. I think my mother must have thought everyone else was feeding Mrs. Kirby too. On lesson day we always had dessert; normally we only had dessert on Sunday and special occasions.

At about that time I joined Girl Scouts and our leader was Edna Bird. Some of my fellow scouts were Judy Stone, Nancy Hankins, and Elizabeth Robinson. What fun we had hiking, picnics, overnight campouts, cooking over an open fire, singing, making crafts and learning to make s’mores!

I feel very fortunate to have had the friendship of those girls. Over the years we had slumber parties , sang every song we knew, put on impromptu plays, rode Elizabeth’s Shetland pony, played board games, went to the movies, told ghost stories, went on out of town trips, dragged main (we’d put 25¢ of gas in at a time) and of course, talked about boys.

One summer morning Nancy Hankins and Elizabeth Robinson had a “Come as you are Breakfast.” They woke Judy Stone and me up at about 7 am and took us to the Robinson house. In the dining room the table was covered with a linen table cloth and set with their good china, crystal, silver and linen napkins where we were served an elegant breakfast. We had such a fun time with lots of giggling in this formal setting with Judy and I in our ‘baby doll’ pajamas and ‘bed heads.’

During our high school years I was a ‘soda jerk’ at Hankins Drug Store. I was lucky to have Don Hankins as my first boss. He was always supportive and interested in his employees. He was one of the nicest, kindest men I have ever known.

Mr. Beggs was one of my favorite teachers. I enjoyed marching band more than concert band probably because I wasn’t that good on my cornet but I could really march! I loved our purple wool uniforms with the gold trim. My first marching parade was in Sedan for the Chautauqua County Fair. We had to be in our places in the hot sun, it seemed forever, until it was our turn to start marching. I awoke on the pavement. Mr. Beggs wouldn’t let me march. So my first real parade was at the Arkalalah in Ark City, thank goodness it was cooler then!

I liked chorus more than band. Mrs. Morris was my favorite teacher. The Mikado was absolutely the highlight of my high school music career. I was cast as Pitti Sing and every once in awhile I still catch myself humming ‘Three Little Maids from School!’

Our Senior year Judy Stone and I were giving the task of gathering colorful foliage to be used as decoration for some activity in the school gym. I can’t remember what it was –Halloween Carnival? We drove up and down country roads gathering anything that was orange, red and yellow. We then decorated the gym with our treasures. One of our teachers came to check on us and with an incredulous look said we were decorating with poison oak! I probably don’t remember what the activity was because I was subsequently admitted to the hospital that afternoon and didn’t get to go.

Following the war, there was a mass exodus to rural America and a wish for a safe, innocent and simple life. Our generation was fortunate to live during that time.

I don’t know maybe that’s too simplistic, but I do know I had a very good childhood in Cedar Vale.

Unforgettable John Murphy

John Murphy is a person unlike no other that I have met in my life. First and foremost; I found John to be a good and intelligent man.

What makes John unforgettable is his overwhelming sense of humor. No doubt others of you have better stories ... but here are a few that perhaps define John.

John, Jack Foster, possibly Bill Foster, and perhaps a coach at the high school and I ventured to Oklahoma University one rainy fall day to watch a football game between OU and Missouri. The ride to and from the game was hilarious as John regaled us with his stories. When we arrived at Norman, John took us to a frat house for a meal and without shame pushed his way past a long line making not so veiled reference to our importance. He wore rain gear that showed strong evidence of it's ranching use. John directed us to a fancy restaurant after the game in Norman or Oklahoma City. It was darker than which I was accustomed and John summoned the head waiter to our table. In a hushed voice, John mentioned to him that he had noticed rats scurrying around the floor close to the fireplace. The man was quite surprised and had no ready response. There were no rats of course but John was very convincing along with meal-long mad conversations with those amid our surroundings. After the meal, we went upstairs to a private club where John promptly instructed the bartender to hand over the bottles of some fellow (known or unknown). The bartender could find no bottles but in some way John was able to secure the ingredients for a drink even though we certainly were not members of the club.

One story that I heard about John was that he provided an enactment of a physician at "third hill" in Winfield. He identified himself and asked the cashier at a restaurant if she wasn't one of his patients.

Another favorite was John coming to the Super Center in Ponca City and informing the Customer Service Representatives that he was deaf and was unhappy with a purchase. He went through so many gyrations and unusual ways of expression without intelligible sound that showcased his very real ability to entertain.

John's way with people and his brusk assertions were so interesting to view as a bystander but possibly made you feel like a victim of Don Rickles if you were the thrust of his antics.

My memory has limited my examples of John's ability to shock but I feel that there are those of you who can comment with your own favorite stories of John. Also, more of John's quite interesting personal history would be most likely enjoyed by the bloggers. Truly, John Murphy must be among the top ten of Cedar Vale's most unforgettable characters?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I hope some of you Kansans will enjoy this poetry by Langston Hughes who was raised by his grandmother til age 13. His early life was mostly in Lawrence. He is considered the Kansas Poet Laureate. This is "Mother to Son" or maybe he meant Grandmother. I love the voice he uses.
Mother to Son
Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me
ain't been no
crystal stair.
It's had tacks
in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.'
Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now-----"
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no
crystal stair.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year

Well, CV fans, let me be the first to add to our blog in the new year. Happy New Year to everyone. So, how about answering Phil's questions in the previous blog: Remember. I know there are interesting tidbits out there. Also, if you have photos you would be willing to contribute to the ongoing slide show let me have them.