Thursday, July 30, 2009


Did you ever go to the rodeo in Cedar Vale?  Usually on a Sunday afternoon, and on special days like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day among others.  I recently drove into Cedar Vale and down to the old rodeo grounds, and as I sat there looking at the remnants of that wonderful place, I could hear the sonorous tones of Jack Guthrie singing about the Oklahoma hills.  At every rodeo, that song was played at full volume over the loud speaker of the rodeo grounds and was heard by the scores of folks sitting on the few benches around the edge of the arena, but mostly sitting in and on their vehicles.  It was a memorable place, and seemed to attract all manner of citizens from bankers and doctors to wild teen-age girls and boys on the prowl.  To me the highlight of the rodeo was the bull riding and I can still remember the announcer telling us "Hear comes Merle Magnus on old Hurricane".  Now I really don't remember whether Merle road bulls, but someone TRIED to ride old Hurricane every Sunday to the accompaniment of the "Oklahoma Hills".  It was a place to visit and gossip with your neighbor, to meet new "boy" friends, to renew acqaintances with some who had come from Howard and Burden to watch or ride or rope, or a place to see your special guy or gal out of the sight of the father.    It was the place where old Billy Bonnell had supposedly set the World's Record time for calf roping, at least that was the storyl
      So listen to old Jack Guthrie sing about the Oklahoma hills, close your eyes, and drift back to the days of yore in the city of the Cedars.

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Oklahoma Hills by Jack Guthrie

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gypsies & Hobos ...

During the 30's, 40's, and early 50's gypsies and hobos periodically roamed the Cedar Vale area. Many stories have been told about the impact that these folks had on our country. Someone with much bravado managed a rare photo of this group invading our territory. Being a bit strange myself these folks became special to me as they determined to reside locally.

Thinking a few of you might have a bit of interest in what happened to these unusual folks I will allow you some insight into their lives. From left to right:

1. This person had wonderful artistic ability. After being somewhat normalized she eventually evolved into a commercial artist in Wichita and Atlanta using her talents for leading department stores. During her time in our school system she was a cheerleader for both the Mustangs and Broncos. She married and had a family but has had the misfortune to have suffered from ill health. This talented gal currently resides in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

2. This individual had a voice that could melt your heart especially as she warbled a love ballad. Her emotion and feeling dovetailed nicely with a beautiful style. An older brother was known to some of you. One of our bloggers reportedly had his heart stolen for awhile by this female making for a dazzling dimpled duo. She later married another and had a family and reportedly lives in the Peoria, Illinois vicinity.

3. This person developed into one of the more popular folks in high school .. especially with those that did not mind a bit of spirit. Sports would have been part of her forte but the school prejudicially precluded such activities for her gender. The band was honored with the presence of her and her clarinet. Sadly, a marriage choice proved unwise but the family resulting from said union has allowed her much solace. Currently she is living with the lout in the town between two lakes - Marion, Kansas.

4. Finally, this gal was as silly as a goose and even had a known moniker of SOS. At the same time, she was super sharp and it was fantastically fun to be in her presence. She had a rather classical singing voice and played the trombone. In fact, it can be said that she performed the shortest trombone duet in the history of the storied high school. She married and had a family. Last heard she was living with her good husband in Branson, Missouri and is a quite religious lady. Her brother is married to one of our best looking bloggers.

Certainly, Cedar Vale should be proud to have turned around the lives of these vagrants. They arrived as untested and with the social graces of those unfortunates not living in the general area. The town of Cedars transformed them into four folks (almost) like the majority of those living in the Caney River Valley of western Chautauqua County, Kansas. Remarkable!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

White Sheep

White Sheep, White Sheep
on a Blue Hill
When the wind blows
you all run away
When the wind stops\
you all stand still
White Sheep, White Sheep
on a blue hill.
When were were four or five years old, Jack Foster and Bob Hays and I would lie on our backs in the grass by our house and watch the little white fluffy clouds floating around on the big "blue hill". We would try to see the changing shapes of all the wierd animals and monsters in the "white sheep" as the moved over the blue sky. My mother would sit with us and recite that little poem.
Do children still do that. Do they peacefully lie in the grass and visualize wonderful things in the sky. Or are mothers too afraid of the monsters that prowl the streets of modern American, so that the children are kept indoors to watch the TV monsters instead. That was one advantage of growing up in a tiny Kansas town in the 40's and 50's, we were innocent and enjoyed innocent pasttimes. What has been lost??
The worst things that happened to us was the occurence of numerous chigger bites, but watching the white sheep on the blue hill was worth a few little chigger bites.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Area Bachelor's

To my knowledge these men were all bachelor's. If I am wrong, someone correct me.

Ervin (Dutch) Gale Vernon

These men lived in a two story house two or three miles east of Hewins. I believe Carl Kelley now lives there. They would come to my dad's store to shop and set around the heating stove to visit. Dutch was always dressed in cowboy attire, Vernon wore kaki pants and shirts and Gale wore bib overalls and knee high rubber boots. They told some interesting stories and kept dad up to date on what was happening in Hewins.


Charlie and Homer

These men lived in a small house just east of the Cedar Vale Sales Barn. They always had a large garden, a few calves, a milk cow, a pig or two and chickens. They were very self sustaining. They both passed away in the 1960's and are buried at Ozro cemetery.


Christain (Chris) and Robert (Bob)

These men lived just east of the Dale Seman place west of Hewins on the north side of the road. They had a small grove of pecan trees in one of their pastures and my uncle Zeke would take me squirrel hunting there. We would always go to the house and visit for an hour or two. Both of them smoked pipes and they would light them with kitchen matches, then get to talking and their pipes would go out. They would strike another match and the same thing would happen. They had three pound coffee cans sitting around, full of struck matches. I would like to know how many matches they bought in their lifetime. They told many interesting stories.

All of these men were what I would call hard working, salt of the earth men. My generation is probably the last to remember them. I wish I could go back to the 50's and hear more of their stories and learn more of their lives.

If you know about any of these men, please share your memories.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Tom Appleby, who I believe was a classmate of several of you, died yesterday. He had been in ill health for some time, but his death was unexpected. His funeral will be one week from today at the Sedan Methodist Church.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cedar Vale Fantasy Video

It is the early 1950's in CV and I just got a new Blackberry cell phone that takes the neatest videos. Much better than the old movie camera. And it is so light and portable that I can take videos anywhere and no one will know they are being observed for posterity. So over the early and middle years of the '50's I wander the streets of CV and this video I am sending to you over the blog is the result of those efforts. Now, if I can just find the right buttons to push, the video should be on your computer-blog right Huh, it didn't work. Well, maybe it is not possible to put a video on the blog?? So, what I will do is watch the various selections and describe them to you. Not as good as seeing the scenes, but better than anything we have been treated to in the past few days.??

Early 50's. Must be a Saturday, and look at the hustle and bustle of this little city. The parking on the streets is almost full, even diagonal parking in the middle of main drag. Jesse Foust's big old Mobil truck is parked in the middle down across from Stella Walker's Whitney drug and I guess he is going in to get a large cherry coke. He is a big, good-looking dark haired guy; no wonder he has such good looking children. Speaking of big good-looking dark haired men, there goes Charlie White driving HIS Standard Oil truck south past the post office. He and Jesse Foust look enough alike to be brothers. ?? I wonder.
Yes, must be a Saturday, ?late afternoon?, because it seems that all the farm families are in town for the weekly shopping and gossip . There is Rollin and Olive Ramey getting out of the pick-up. Looks like she is headed for Hankin's Drug and he is wandering up the street toward Swain House's saddle shop. They always seem happy and carefree and seem to enjoy life. And Frieda Magnus and her mom are just coming out of Andy Early's clothing store, maybe getting a birthday shirt for the mister?? Frieda and her mom, look enough alike to be two pretty sisters.
Leroy Stacy and his family, shopping at Morris Smith's grocery, and there is Phil Foust helping Mrs. Stacy with several big bags of groceries. Now, there is another good-looking mother-daughter couple that could be sisters, Gail Bennett and her mom doing the weekly shopping at Charlie Field's grocery up by the cleaning shop. There goes Nancy Goode, headed for work at the drug store?? Seems that CV is filled with beautiful people, especially on Saturdays.
But, on the other hand, there are the "not so beautiful", speaking of which, here come T.D. Oltgen and Jay D. Mills entering the pool hall. T.D. stayed in but Jay came right back out and headed home. I guess his dad, O.D., must have already been there and caught the prodigal son trying to start on a life of sin. Oh, a big treat is driving up the street and parking in front of the City Hall; the Grunden family doesn't come to town that often, but getting out of the vehicle is Naomi, Irene and their mom. Now that trio really increases the beauty of main street. Mr. Grunden also heads for the saddle shop, maybe just to gossip with Rollin and Swain.
Now, what is Gary Metcalf doing hanging around outside Hankin's Drug?? Is he planning a hold-up or maybe just mooning after Nancy Ann, but Cecilia, his younger sister takes him in tow and off they go back to the farm. Romance will have to wait.
The next video must be a different day because it is five p.m. and we see Nellie Walkinshaw coming out of her job at the Caney Valley Electric where she keeps books for Carl Steward. She will take the short walk home to prepare supper for the two hungry sons. Across the street we see Clyde Shaffer also heading home, and he calls a greeting to Nellie. He is the most friendly and outgoing fellow in town. Nellie, a little more reserved, but acknowledges his greeting with a small smile and heads on down the block. She always seems just a little sad, but is a wonderful mother and takes good care of her little family.
And what is Betty Beaver doing going into Kenneth Dunn's newspaper office?? Maybe applying for a job?? Oh, but he she comes out again, this time walking with Roy Walkinshaw who has just finished, a day working in the news-ink it would seem from his appearance. Funny, why does Betty have the little smudge of black ink around her lips. A mystery.
Now, here comes trouble. Looks like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse; War, Conquest, Famine and Death, only this time it is Five Horsewomen. As I said, trouble: Billie Goode, Susan Alexander, Diane Archer, Barbara Woodruff and Elaine Bennett all aiming for Hankins Drug. Shurd Tucker sitting in front of the City Hall should keep a close eye on those five. But instead, he gets into his old pick-up and drives up the highway to park in front of the Hilltop Cafe and set up the infamous CV speedtrap. Keeps the city finances healthy.
Across the street I seen Owen Hubbard on his daily walk home, up the street past Whitney Drug, the beer parlor, the post office, Woodruff's drycleaner and on by Bill Leonard's house on the hill. Owen always is dressed neatly; looks like a banker, which he is. And down toward the other end of the street, we can see Ray Oltgen coming out of the bank and get into his ?Buick?
Can't tell from here, but notice the slight limp that always accompanies Mr. Oltgen. I think I heard that was from a case of polio.
As I wander down toward William's Chevrolet, we see a glimpse of another man with a slight limp, Merle Sartin, coming out of his restaurant to have a cigarette. Maybe the inside of the establishment is designated "Smoke Free". Speaking of trouble, here come Dick and Bill Williams from their house on the corner, headed for the pool hall. Who would have thought it of those two little angels. Heading back toward the CV National Bank, it is quitting time and over the years we get videos of various attractive women who are tellers at various times. Frieda Magnus' sister, is that Irene Grunden?, Lucille Littrell, Shirley Sweaney, and others. When you go into the bank, it is a friendly place with smiling tellers and no bank guards. Must be a crime free town that old Shurd protects.
Mid-afternoon and we see Nadine Pate leaving the post-office and walking south, down toward the beer parlor?? Always a friendly smile, but instead of beer she wants a Steffins ice cream milkshake at Whitney's. She can't take too long, because the new PostMaster, Kenneth Dunn, is a strict boss. Across the street in front of Vic Hollister's store we see Lyman Fesler's wife and daughter going in for some shopping. But Mr. Fesler heads up the street, also toward the saddle shop, probably to get a new quirt to keep Velma's suitors in line. Another pretty mother and daughter combination. Seems as if all the girls in CV have pretty, nice mothers.
Speaking of nice, Don and Mary Bess Hankins are coming out of the store and they have a smile and word for everyone on the street. It is no wonder that the drug store-fountain is always crowded with kids and adults alike. I see the Woodruff family sitting in a booth having their weekly 25 cent milkshakes.
As I video on down the street, I go past Glenn Cross' hardware. Glenn is standing out in front talking to Herb Marshall. Herb sitting on the stoop in front of the cafe, smoking a cigarette, and Glenn, another of the most friendly men in town, always speaks to young and old alike. It is rare to see Herb so un-busy that he can come outside for a smoke. As I walk back north we can seen Fred Archer going into the pool hall, where a game of poker with O.D. Mills and Woody Lemert is waiting. Then down the street comes Hubert and Harold Cox from the L.C. Adam's Mercantile. Hubert tall, Harold short, but brothers none-the-less. Maybe going to Herb's for hamburger and chili lunch, but probably both headed home where Hubert will be fed a superb meal by wife Nita, who is a great cook. Across the street, did we just see Tommy Johnston going into the beer parlor?? No, it couldn't be.
The morning after Halloween we scan down the street and, look up on the roof of the Adam's building, someone has put one of the old horse-drawn wagons up there.. I ask around, but no one will admit to this "high" crime which occurred right under the nose of the Night Marshall.
That seems to be about the extent of crime in this prosperous, bustling little town of Cedar Vale.
Well, the battery on my Blackberry seems to be about finished, so further videos will have to wait for a while to be on the blog. Enjoy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Living in ...

Feelings aren't easily described and if not factually based they may lose relevance to those not sharing those opinions.

At the same time my feelings for those wonderfully hopeful years of the late 40's and early 50's seem appropriate to share. The nation had gone through a major depression and a major war and we survived! People were alive with hope. Military folks were coming back to their idealized home towns to live their long delayed dreams with those that had mightily supported their heroic efforts.

Anything was possible and our town certainly reflected this hope. The town was bustling with activity and our generation enjoyed this prosperity of emotion after years of downtrodden reality. There was no dearth of positive competitive material to hone our abilities along with companionship from an abundance of outstanding peers. Everything was good.

The underlying face of a new reality did not negatively impact us at first as we marched ahead. But the hidden onrushing change of our basic economy short-changed those hopes and now only a few of us live in that marred utopia. Perhaps many of us of that era will always maintain that idealistic hope for the future as we age into obscurity.