Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Big Tear Up At Hooser

I can barely remember Hooser in the 50's. A house or two and maybe a barn or building and the cattle pens next to the railroad tracks. Cattle were still shipped by rail on occasion.

The following story, as best I can remember, was told to me by my father-inlaw, Ray Hawkins. The Mill's ranch was rounding up cattle, possibly to ship out of Hooser and had several cowhands to help.

One morning as the cowhands were at the Mill's barn preparing for the day's work, Jim Hutchins, who I believe was a regular Mill's employee, rode up to the barn on his horse. Jim said, you boys hear about the big tear up at Hooser? No they replied, what happened, what was tore up? Jim sat on his horse and looked them straight in the eye and said, a sparrow flew down on a horse turd and tore it all to pieces. With that he rode off without another word. I can just imagine the look on their faces and the conversation that followed. Cowboy humor is hard to beat.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I remember- A sequel to Phil's

The very first memory I have of Cedar Vale is hitting Jack Foster on the head with a hatchet. We must have been four or five years old and were playing under the front porch of our house. Jack and the Fosters lived right next door. I don't recall why I wielded the weapon nor what happened to me for doing it, but it happened. Mrs. Foster must have forgiven me because I did go next door to their house each morning to finish the homemade biscuits that she always made.
I remember the big snow during the winter of 1950-51. I had wanted a Daisy B-B gun, but I got an off-brand cheaper model for Xmas. That afternoon, I trudged through the snow up the road to Snyder's house, and Lloyd did get a Daisy. I was happy for him but sad that I only had a spin-off. We took our new guns and wandered off behind the barns along the little creek and, tramping through the snow, we, the great hunters shot at squirrels and crows and rabbits and the owl. Thank goodness we hit nothing.
I remember either Don Cox or Morris Jones standing on top of the Cox's house across the street from us, playing "Taps" on his bugle. He was dressed in his Scout uniform and I am sure that the rendition was not very professional, but I thought it was beautiful, with the sound carrying out across the neighborhood, a sad wail. I still cry when I hear Taps being played anywhere.
I remember riding the old John Deere tractor in December, freezing all day long, plowing our long field that ran parallel to the Hewins road, no enclosed cab with heater and radio like they have nowdays, but singing "Unchained Melody" at the top of my voice. Probably not musical but loud. Happily no one was around out there on those cold days to critic my singing, although my dad was still able to critic the rows that I had plowed. I had these thoughts that if he didn't like my plowing, he might want to do it himself. I was not an intelligent twelve year old, but I was smart enough not to tell these thoughts to his face. I remember on warm summer days sitting on the bank of Cedar Creek where it ran along our south property line, and trying to catch a gigantic catfish. All I could manage was a little sunfish which was no more than three inches long. This after sitting there all afternoon. But there was always the reward of stripping off my clothes and jumping into that dark-green,murky, muddy water and cooling off. That made it all worthwhile. I remember getting mad at our dog Cappie, and chasing him the whole length of the alfalfa field just north of our house. By the time we got to the end of the field, I had forgotten why I was chasing him, and we were both so tired that we lay down together in the alfalfa and I got my face licked. Good days, those. At that time there was a big bridge east of our house across the Big Caney river, between our house and Grunden's farm. Just above the bridge there was a wonderful swimming hole and car washing gravel-bar. On some Sunday afternoons Dad would drive us down there in the old car, he would wash the car in the "riffle" and we kids would swim or play in the water. We were very careful to not go above the gravel bar because one of the older Snyder boys told us that there was a deadly whirlpool there. You could not see it, but it had almost killed one of the Snyders (So the story went). I remember riding my tricycle on the sidewalk back and forth in front of our cleaning shop, from the post-office to the shop. At the time, the concrete sidewalk ended at our shop and there was only a flat stone paving from there on up the street. My dad was always warning me not to go too fast down the sidewalk, and at four years, of course, I knew how fast I could safely go. Until the time I was really flying and ended up in the gutter by the post-office with a bloody head and bruised ego. I am sure I remember this wrong, but it seems that Mrs. Pate came out and wiped the blood away, and led me bawling back up the street. One year our school was selling magazines and Dick Williams and I were headed home with our Catalog of magazines for sale. We stopped at our cleaning shop and, major insult, MY DAD bought an order of magazines from Dick. Not from me. Later that eve I asked him why he didn't buy from me and he told me that Dick was ready to sell and I was not, so he bought from the better salesman. I guess there was a lesson to be learned, but maybe I am still mad at Dick. I can't be mad at dad because he had the gall to die. I remember Raymond Clark and his hands. Raymond had come home from "the war" in the South Pacific and the skin on his hands was covered with "jungle rot", a bad fungus disease that he had acquired while killing Japs "over there". Raymond worked for dad there in the cleaning establishment and eventually bought the shop. I remember working in the solvent was terribly hard on his hands. He was a big tall guy,(at least to me, he was)and I could imagine him strangling those Japs with his diseased hands. After all, Japs were scrawny little yellow critturs, and Raymond could probably kill two at a time. I remember being told where babies came from by Bob Hays, sitting on a flat-bad trailer in the big yard north of our house. Thank God for that revelation, otherwise we might have more children than we did. I remember E.J. Clark with a perpetual scowl on his face when the little kids would go into his shop to listen to the clocks chime. But he never asked anyone to leave, that I know of. I remember Gary White and I had a secret hiding place in the stone wall of the stairwell that lead up to the high-school band room. We would hide treasures and messages in that little hole, and the other would retrieve it whenever it was convenient. I wonder if there still might be a treasure there in that little hiding place that one of us had forgotten to pick up. Good memories!! More??

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


We were born before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, frozen foods, contact lens, Frisbees, dishwashers, computers, and the PILL. We were before credit cards, split atoms, laser beams, and ball point pens, before pantyhose, microwaves, electric blankets, drip-dry clothes, and before Man walked on the MOON’.
We got married first, and then lived together. How QUAINT can we be? In our times, closets were for clothes – not for “coming out of”. Bunnies were small rabbits, and rabbits were not Volkswagens.
Designer’s Jeans were scheming girl’s names; Jean or Jeannes and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins. We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent, and Outer Space was the back of the Leonard Theater.
We were before house-husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers and commuter marriages. We were before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt and guys wearing earrings. For us time-sharing meant togetherness, not computers, videos or condominiums. A “CHIP” was a piece of wood, hardware meant hardware and software wasn’t even a word.
In 1940, “Made in Japan” meant junk, and the term “making out” referred to how you did on exams. Pizzas, McDonalds and instant coffee were unheard of. We hit the scene when there were 5 and 10-cent stores, where you bought things for five and ten cents. For one nickel, you could ride a streetcar; make a phone call, buy a Pepsi or enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards. You could buy a Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one? A pity, too, because gas was only 11 cents a gallon.
In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, grass was mowed, coke was a soft drink and pot was something you cooked in. Rock music was a Grandma’s lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the Principal’s office. We were certainly not before the difference between sexes was discovered, but we were surely before the sex change, we made do with what we had and the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby. NO WONDER WE ARE SO CONFUSED AND THERE IS SUCH A GENERATION GAP TODAY? BUT WE SURVIVED.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hubert Cox and Roy Prather

I remember as a 9 or 10 year old boy going fishing with Hubert and Roy. They loved to set lines and went whenever they could. I was lucky enough to be invited to go with them several times.

They had a small wooden boat that appeared to be home made. It was very well built, I wonder if they made it.

After Roy would finish his mail route we would go catch bait. The worms we used were dug north of Ralph Snyder's house in a drainage area. Some of them old worms were 10" long.

They would load the boat on Roy's flat bed Ford farm truck and would keep the bait fish in a wire cage down on Cedar Creek.

We would head out after supper to set and bait the lines. Hubert would do the rowing and Roy would tie and bait the lines. He would let me hand him the bait, small perch. We would head out about daylight to run the lines. Roy usually wore a brimmed hat and puffed on a fat cigar, Roy Tan I believe. Hubert wore a ball cap and hightop tennis shoes without the strings. When they would put the boat in the river in the morning there was always a lot of slipping and sliding and falling down on the wet slippery creek banks.

I remember catching several 20 to 40 pound flatheads. They would sure flop when Roy would throw them in the bottom of the little boat. They would put them in a gunny sack for the trip home and they would clean them in Hubert's back yard.

On one trip Hubert told me to be at his house at 6:00 a.m. for breakfast. When I got there they were sipping coffee and cooking. We had french toast and fried perch with orange juice. I can still almost taste it today. Those were the good old days.

Rick Hollister

I remember ...

My first visit as a teenager to my birthplace was in the summer of 1948. This was just a few months before we moved back when my dad took over his duties as Mobil Bulk Agent. As a junior high student in the "big town" of Winfield my friends were less than impressed with my description of the jewel of Chautauqua County which was to be my new home. Nevertheless I was excited to be coming back home!
My first day of school was in October as we had just moved into the Georgia Chapman Apartments. Band practice at the high school was the initial stop and I remember the friendly manner of the students as I walked down the hall though I was just a new little shrimp. After practice, the most genial Mr. Beggs transported me to my first day as an eighth grader at CV Grade School. I still remember the not unpleasant but unmistakable aroma of the school on the hill which I suppose was the residue of the daily cafeteria cooking.

John Morton was my teacher and he was strict (in a sense). He more than once whipped me with a hole drilled paddle. Individual misdeeds are not recalled but it is remembered that I felt not mistreated in his administration of justice. He perhaps was not as observant in regard to scholastic matters as I never secured any of the textbooks different from those in use at Winfield. Among the good students in my class were Bertle Gurskey, Charlene Smock, Myrna Cable, Tom Randel, Tom Gordon, Delores Hall, and Shirley Sweaney. Bright kids (but not necessarily excellent students) would have perhaps been Karl White, Ivan Wilkinson, and Charles Oliver. Ornery kids would include Ivan (The Terrible) Donahue, Kenneth (Gravy) Graves, and Keith (Stinky Cheater) Ziegler.

The grade school boys played the high school freshmen in football and we were pretty much demolished. One of our good players was Deon Rainbolt who must have received a small concussion from the contest as I don't believe he was quite himself for awhile. Our basketball team wasn't tremendous but I believe we won more than we lost. One of our major feats was in winning a tournament at Chautauqua. Some of our current bloggers were on that somewhat less than distinguished team but later grew into renowned athletes (or perhaps some would suggest that the sentence should have ended at 'grew'). A life's lesson was learned when we played Dexter. Prior to tip off the player whom I was guarding was quite friendly. As play began he most purposely tripped me. I have never forgotten that situation and the name of the fellow - Calvin Brazle.

What do I remember about this era of Cedar Vale? Well, though I had no memory of my first time living in CV (back in the 30's) I felt strangely very much back home. At that time a young man in a new town often had to deal with proving yourself. Though I had a few fights no one ever really beat me up and even the few bully types seemed to be not mean spirited. I remember telling my dad that I could handle some of the boys and I was friendly with the others. (He didn't talk much but he smiled at my revelation.)

I remember the crowd at Hankins Drug Store with so much fun visiting and consuming the delicious soda fountain concoctions. I remember the summer rodeos along with the dances and liquor and fights at the aging but most graceful Hewins Park Pavilion. The throngs of people downtown on Saturday nights shopping, visiting, and attending the movies. I remember Labor Day Parades and American Legion Poker. The 'big boys' actually befriending the 'little boys'. I remember the beautiful big girls and wishing I was one of the big boys. Some of the teachers were most likely secretly wishing to kill the little snot-nose kids who disturbed the learning atmosphere of the classes. I remember the Mr. Humble-type that managed to achieve discipline and to teach with so much excellence and the Mr. Stocking-types who were wonderful folk but seemingly had no clue of how to teach certain subjects. I remember instructor "Wild Bill" Foster and the skunk placed in his vehicle trunk.

I remember fording the river and washing vehicles downstream from the dam and below the beautiful old bridge. The falls of Ozro and the nature trail roads to interesting Hewins and historic Elgin. I remember either a carnival or circus at Hewins Park but the lasting memory was the intriguing but forbidden 'girly show'. Discussions of hush-hush sexual matters with good friends both male and female as a 'mature' eighth grader. I remember my first 'real' kiss and I remember also the first feelings of what surely must have been love. Gosh, I so fondly remember lover's lane and other similar destination areas.

I remember the only loss (at the state tournament) for the basketball team of 49/50 and the good football team one year earlier. A wonderful baseball coach and horseshoe expert - Roy Smith. I remember the outstanding trumpet trio and the less than outstanding (but so much fun) trombone duet and boys vocal quartet. I remember band concerts and trips to Grenola, Coffeyville, Sedan, Arkansas City, and Independence for parades. Talent night at the Sedan Fair and the old barn at the fairgrounds where the intense CV/Sedan basketball games were conducted. I remember the truly impressive (at the time) Jr./Sr. banquets and the school dances. The "Cedar Vale Messenger" and the weekly anticipation of same. I remember the hospital and the doctor who made house calls and delivered me across the street from the high school. The Dentists Stone whom so nicely served the community without greed. I remember the super busy livestock sale barn and all of the fun characters thereof. I remember "Squeaky" Richardson and Junior Couch and the city jail. How could I forget a good man - Lincoln Robinson? I remember Maude Leonard and her grape consumption prior to payment at the grocery store and Otto Morton (our very own clairvoyant and movie critic). I remember Jimpy and Twid at the barber shop. The system of sales at L.C. Adams Mercantile with the cash and ticket going upstairs to the office and with the change returned via the same small cable car. I remember Carl Steward and his Caney Valley Electric employees yearly erecting the large Christmas Tree. Oh yes, and the anticipatory excitement of receiving a valued letter at our post office box.

I remember thinking my dad just didn't understand and then later realizing his superior intelligence and common sense. The wonderful roller coaster feeling of going over small hills too fast and the awesome entry into the town with the view of our very own mountain. I remember driving through the end of our garage after a particularly exhilarating date and stepping through the kitchen ceiling in the attic of our new home after my dad warned me to not wander off a particular board way. Uncle Dale giving me the largest $20 bill ... ever ... as I met up with him at Arkalala and the great fun of playing cards with Cecil and L. Doran Wesbrook. I remember the regal bearing of my Great-Grandmother Jessie Wesbrook and Grandfather Phil Foust and his handsome appearance around town in a suit of clothes while driving his gigantic Green Packard.

I remember all of this and so much more about those years in Cedar Vale and the special feeling that made the town ... home!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Candlerock West

I am very happy to announce that we closed the sale of the hospital faciliy this week. Jonnie Hayes is the new owner. He owns Candlerock in Fredonia which will now be Candlerock East. The Cedar Vale facility will be Candlerock West. The Rural Health Clinic will continue to operate in the part of the facility they have always used and will be the health servers for the rest of the facility.
As near as I can tell, they will serve veterans with post traumatic stress or any other psychiatric problems. The may recieve clients from state institutions such as Osawatomie when they are released but may need a "halfway" station before going back to mainstreet. I understand that it is available to anyone who wants to give up housekeeping and doesn't yet need a full time care facility.
The nursing home has also been purchased by Candlerock and will be rehabilitated later. It will be a part of the Candlerock complex.
Mr. Hayes has many ideas and dreams about making Cedar Vale a "Destination Town" I am quite sure it will be a positive thing for us--remains to be seen just how much. We certainly wish him the best and will cooperate as we can.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Crescent Grocery

During the summer of my thirteenth year I was unable to run and had little energy. Something was wrong and it was even seriously imagined that I was suffering from leprosy as I developed skin lesions. Later, after school started my dad noticed my lethargy and took me to Dr. Hays. My fingers were (and are still to a lesser degree) deformed and my legs were so weak that he opined that I had survived polio. It was also found that I had a rather severe case of psoriasis which caused me to wear long sleeve shirts to cover the ugly rash. The medicine prescribed did not help but Mom was visiting Leon Gordon's mother (at the hospital) and learned that he too had the problem and was using a patent medicine to control the situation. Hankins Drug Store was able to supply the remedy and one expensive bottle kept the condition under control until it was no longer problem.

The start of my business career began as I mowed lawns as a young man and during the summer when I was fourteen. One afternoon as I was trudging up the hill with my mower, Mr. Woodruff stopped me and asked if I would like to work in his grocery store next to 'Woodruff Cleaners'. Jumping at the chance, I started work that late afternoon and enjoyed my short stint with his store prior to the sale of same to Charley Fields.

Charley was an engaging and energetic young man and was married to Norma Haden and had (I believe) two young children at the time. They had a fancy new Dodge automobile with a push button automatic gear mechanism and they even allowed me to drive it from time-to-time (as I provided chore duty). Other workers at the store included Farrell Barger and Frank Crocker. Ms. Barger was the personable and efficient individual who was at the check-out counter while Frank was the rather nice old grouch and a butcher. Charley also did some of the work at the meat counter.

My duties were pretty much all encompassing. My primary responsibility was (I suppose) sacking groceries and carrying them to the vehicle of our customers. Also, I took the egg crates to the back room from the ladies who were going to trade their eggs for groceries. Transferring their eggs to larger crates to be sold to the produce company I inspected them to a degree. From time to time, I would find a whiskey bottle (belonging to Charley I presume) hidden into the depths of the dividers of the empty crates. I would silently but dutifully hide the bottle in another empty crate for my good boss.

Another job was to stock shelves and dust them for a good appearance. The extra cans and supplies of grocery items were kept quite neatly (after I arrived) on storage shelves in the back room. I would also slice luncheon meats and salt pork and bacon and pork jowl should Frank or Charley be absent or busy. Should it be needed I would check out groceries. Out back was a vinegar barrel (with the enclosed 'mother') which I would tap to fill the customer's large glass vinegar containers. Also, I would sack pinto or navy beans into cellophane containers from large burlap bags. Another job was to sack potatoes in ten pound paper bags and trim daily other vegetables (such as lettuce or cabbage) so that they would have a positive appearance. It is remembered that Charley sometimes would go a little wild in purchasing (for instance) too many bushels of peaches from Colorado for the ladies to can. The extras would spoil and would leave a mess for me to clean.

My weekday hours of work in the summer would (I believe) be from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM and from 8:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night on Saturdays. Goodness, would it ever be exciting on Saturday night as the streets would be full of people, cars, and pickups as people would visit and shop and attend the movies for 35 cents at the 'Leonard Theatre'! Many folks would attend the dances at the pavilion where most every week there was a real 'honest to goodness' fist fight. Some of the later years while I was working my future wife (Pat Oltjen) was one of the soda jerks at Whitney's Drug Store.

We were not open on Sundays but often I would work by myself in late afternoon after everyone else would go home and would "close up shop" for Charley. Everyday after school I worked until 6:00 PM (or after). This left not a lot of time for social life but never have I enjoyed myself more than while working at 'Crescent' or later at 'L.C. Adams Mercantile Company -Grocery Department'. (After finding liquor bottles under the aforementioned egg crates, under shelves, and other various locations and finding it necessary to "not notice" ... acceptance was made to a job offer. I joined my friend Don Shaffer to work for Maurice Smith at 'Adams' after Jimmy Hill didn't show up for "inventory" one January 1st. (An increased raise to my wages was received from 40 cents to 50 cents hourly when I moved to the "big time" store. Certainly, I still am indebted to Mr. Woodruff and Charley and Maurice along with Hubert and Harold Cox who owned and managed the *Adams group for allowing me to gain such valuable experience.

* Though previously mentioned it should be noted that this was a very large enterprise. A grain elevator, feed business, hay business, men's store, woman's store, hardware store, grocery store, funeral home and furniture store were all operated by this mercantile company. Most likely; other businesses not remembered or known were operated either at the time of my employment or earlier. Grocery competitors as remembered for Crescent and Adams at the time were Moon Grocery [next to the bank] and Foster's [at Jess Fosters gasoline station] along with a grocery store "up the street" from Crescent.

And the same from Spain

Feliz Año Nuevo from Sahagún, Spain. Check my other blog for details.

Happy 2009 from Panama

I have not posted anything for many weeks, but wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year from the land of eternal Springtime!  Nights are in the range of 50-60 F, with 74-79 F almost every day. 

After being here permanently for 14 months I am very happy with my decision to move.  I still live in a 2 bedroom rented house with my 2 dogs, 1 Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler) and 1 Panamanian mixed breed (mut).

My on and off home building plans are on again.  Sort of!  I am still looking for a bilingual person to manage the small crew of locals who will build my new home.  Because of the economic difficulties in the U.S. and Europe I have scaled back my plans until real estate prices in other areas rebound.

I now plan to only build the lower level of the house, including the 2 car garage.  The lower level was planned as an apartment and I have redesigned it for my personal comfort.  I am hoping that construction will not interfere with my plans to attend my CVHS Class of '59 reunion in May. I am also planning to visit my family and friends while in the U.S.,  as my plans do not include many more trips stateside. 

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy & prosperous 2009!

panama [at] jaymills [dot] org (replace with symbols)