Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mulvane Kansas, My Home Town

I've just returned from visiting my home town of Mulvane Kansas. Mulvane is the place where I grew up. I lived there from the time I was 4 or 5 years old until I graduated from High School. After I graduated from High School I joined the U.S. Army and left town in July of 1978. I haven't lived there since, but with family and friends still there I enjoy visiting. Every time I go back home, I'm reminded of a different time in my life. One of fun, joy, and lot's of mischief. There's nothing like taking a stroll down memory lane, especially when you do it with family and friends. This time my sister and I spent a few hours going back and visiting the ol' stomping grounds and I took a few pictures, I hope you enjoy this small little town. Every time I go there I'm reminded of a simpler time. One where we left the doors unlocked at night. One where the children road their bikes all over town and really all over the country side without fear. A time where the greatest thing to do all summer long was go to the local swimming pool or a nearby creek and take a dip. Then at night we'd enjoy a baseball game or softball game at the ball fields under the lights. Then one weekend of each year in August, "Old Settlers Days" would come to town as it still does today. We'd have a parade, enjoy the amusement rides down town on main street, listen to music on stage in "Main Street Park" right downtown. In the evenings we'd go to the rodeo, enjoy local bands, square dance, ride some more rides, or simply take in the arts and crafts. It's a time to reunite with friends and family. Yes, Mulvane is a special place, and of course it will always hold a special place in my heart. Join me now as I take you on a tour of my home town. Note: Click on the pictures if you want to see full size photo's.

This is my sister Karen and her daughter Katie. I have one other sister, Vicki. I can't tell you how many countless hours we would spend at the railroad tracks. I know it sounds strange to be playing at the tracks and I suppose I was more inclined to play there than my sisters, but the tracks were only a half mile from our house down a dirt road and we would place pennies on the tracks and let the train flatten them. It was lot's of fun. In those days the trains all had a caboose on the end of the train. I can remember anxiously awaiting for the last car of the train so we could wave to the brakeman that rode in the caboose. He never failed to waive back. As a young boy I would dream of someday growing up to be a brakeman so I to could ride in the caboose. To give you an idea of how determined I was to make this happen I remember how disappointed I was during my junior year in High School. The school was holding a career planning day for the Juniors. This day we all took turns seeing the counselors to discuss our possibilities of going to college or attending a vocational school. When my turn arrived to speak to the counselor, I told him I wanted to be a brakeman on the railroad. He was a liitle suprised but he promised to look into that line of work for me. A few days later he called me back into his office and broke the news that he found out that next year they were going to be phasing out the cabooses on the end of trains and eliminating the brakeman's job. I was crushed! Sure enough, even throughout that same year I started seeing trains without a caboose. An era had ended before I ever got started. So much for childhood dreams... looks like I'm joining the Army!

Mulvane is known for it's trains. It was a railroad town in the old days and you can still visit the train station today at the end of the main street down town. It's a museum now, but I can remember going in there when they sold tickets to get on the train and travel off to the neighboring cities. Today there are still many trains that run through and all around Mulvane. Most of the trains are freight trains carrying everything you can imagine across the mid west. Trains are very active and used daily to deliver goods in this part of the country. You can see the wear on the tracks. Look at the picture of the penny on the track and you can see the wear and tear those tracks take. Here in Tennessee I rarely see trains, but in Kansas and throughout the mid west it's very common place. As a matter of fact since we grew up around trains, it was mandatory as young children in our schools be taught about the dangers of trains. In middle school we would all assemble together and watch a film. I'll never forget those films, they were graphic and they
showed what happened to people that would try and jump on a train while it was moving, or what would happen if you played around trains. People were killed or seriously injured and those films stayed with me forever. Even though I still spent time around the tracks, I was always mindful of what those trains could do.

You can see this Grain elevator for miles as you approach Mulvane. Lots' of wheat farming in these parts of the country and the COOP is a very active place during the wheat harvest time of the year in July. My dad used to haul wheat to these grain elevators during the harvest. If he wasn't hauling wheat he was on a combine in the field cutting it. We didn't own a farm but dad worked to make some extra money and during the harvest he would take vacation weeks from his regular job and work long hard hours cutting wheat. Those weeks I remember him leaving before the sun would rise and not coming back home till after the sun set. The combines had lights on them and they could keep cutting even into the night if they wanted to. The harvest was fast and furious. No time to waste. The wheat was ripe and the weather hopefully would cooperate so the combines and trucks could get into the fields. We didn't want rain during the harvest. Farming is a big part of Mulvane and the surrounding counties.

Growing up we lived in a Mobile Home park outside of town. Munholland's as it was called was a nice little trailer park outside of town. It was like a community of it's own. Lot's of kids to play with and the country life was great. we spend many days at the creek fishing or swimming. Mr. Munholland owned and operated a very nice Mobile Home park. He always took good care of the park and had very strict rules that kept the park neat and clean. Mr. Munholland realizing the dangers of tornado's and the frequency that our area had tornado's he build a couple of Storm Shelters for us to go to in case of a tornado warning. I spent many a night in those shelters waiting for the tornado to pass. As a kid, I remember it was an exciting time. I'm sure my folks felt different, but for us kids, we'd all be huddled up together safely inside the
shelter while the adults of the park would listen to the radio in hopes of hearing some news about the weather. Every family in the park would be in these large shelters and usually we were all in our pajamas because the storms seemed to always hit in the evenings or at night when the weather was cooling off after a very hot day.

There are two churches in town that have special significance to me. The first one is this little Brethren Church. This small little
white church had a bus ministry that would come out to our trailer park on Sundays and pick up the kids. I rode that bus for about two years and it's because of this bus ministry that I became saved. I had a Sunday School teacher that witnessed to me and taught me all about Jesus. He gave me a bible and I would read that bible by flashlight under the covers when I should have been sleeping. One night in my bedroom I prayed and gave my life to Christ. I praise the Lord for this church. You can read more about this church in my previous posting titled "The Church Bus." The other church pictured here is the church that I got married in. The Methodist Church was the church the my wifes dad went to. After we got married, one week later we were both living in Germany. I was serving in the U.S. Army and I came back home on leave to marry my High School Sweetheart. 29 years later we're still happily married. I love her with all my heart. Her maden name was Brenda Francisco.

Just to highlight a few other pictures... Dirt roads are very
common throughout Kansas. Here in Tennessee the roads follow the terrain so you rarely have straight roads. But in Kansas, well it's pretty flat and level ground so the roads are sectioned off by the mile. Most country roads are a mile square. Where my dad lives in the country you can go out of his drive way and go down the road to the left. As long as you keep making left turns you will come back full circle and be back home four miles later. This picture gives you an idea of what these dirt/sand roads look like. Go straight, or turn left, the next road is exactly a mile away.

This picture of the "Arkansas River" reminds me of some great times. I've fished, camped at, canoed, and swam in this river. This river is located just outside of town and the reason I took this picture is because here in Tennessee the rivers usually don't have sand bars like the rivers in Kansas do. The rivers here in TN are usually lined with heavy trees and steep terrain. But the rivers in Kansas are wide and always sandy bottomed. They are also usually shallow due to lack of rain during the hot summer months. Sand bars are common and I can remember camping out on those sand bars while fishing most of the night. The final picture is of down town Mulvane. Mulvane's main street is unique because you can park right in the middle of the street. Main street has changed quite a bit over the years, but it still resembles the look of it's original design even when the only means of transportation was horse and buggy. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures of my home town, maybe in some way they remind you of when you were young.



Steve said...

I forgot to mention that A casino is trying to move into our small town, or should I say at least within about 4 miles away off the interstate near the county line. I posted this late last night and this morning I noticed I had 6 emails waiting for me to view comments. I rejected each comment because everyone of them were silly and they were left by Casino or loan agencies. My suggestion when the upcoming vote come to Mulvane KS. Vote NO to the casino. Can you imagine the debt that folks will have upon them as they borrow to pay for the rent or food money they lost in this nearby casino. Just from these emails alone, I'm concerned for what could happen to my home town if thise was to go through.
God bless.


Don Smith said...

Hi Steve,

I have many great memories of Mulvane. We moved there in 1955 and left in 1963. (I even remember driving with my family to Udall after the tornado stuck.) We lived on Miller street...222 Miller St.

Seeing the photo of the grain elevator etc. sure took my thoughts back in time.

Thanks!! :o)