I’ve started a series of articles reminiscing about my childhood in a small Kansas town. If you missed them, you can read the earlier installments by clicking on the links at the end of the article. In this installment, I will tell you about my grandparents.
My grandparents owned and operated a dry goods store located across the street from their house in the center of town. It was similar to an old general store, except that they didn’t sell any groceries; there was a grocery store across the street. You could buy candy and cookies, clothes, stationery, etc. – whatever you might need on a regular basis. Otherwise you would need to drive about 20 miles to go shopping in Iola, the county seat and a town of about 6500. They had owned this store for a long time and some items had been there for quite a while. In fact, I remember seeing sets of stationery and envelopes that were customized for each branch of the service, for families and friends to correspond with people in the military during WWII or the Korean War, both long over.
The Tree House and Trolley Swing
A couple of years after we moved to Savonburg, my grandparents retired and sold their business. My granddad then had a lot more time to spend with us. Immediately after they got married, my grandparents went to Wyoming and homesteaded for a couple of years. He built a log cabin for them to live in and wanted now to repeat that experience. So, he built a workshop that looked like a log cabin on the outside. He also made a large tree house for us nearby. But the best thing he made for us was “the trolley swing”! This was a tire swing that was attached to a pulley that ran on a cable. The cable went from a platform in the tree with the tree house downhill to another tree about 50-60 feet away, next to a small creek. You would pull the tire up to the launching platform and one or more kids would jump on and ride down to the end. It was a blast and we spent many, many hours playing on it.
My granddad was also a “packrat”. He loved to go the city dump and look through other people’s junk. He would regularly find something that needed to be rescued and bring it back home. Fortunately, he had a large yard and built several outbuildings to hold all of his treasures. So, it was always interesting to look through these storage buildings to see what he had found. We also began to collect some treasures from our trips with granddad to the “dump”.
Granddad also made a bedroom in the attic of his detached garage and in the summer we would often spend a night in this “special place”. There were two twin size beds and plenty of room for a couple of boys or girls to have a mini-adventure, away from the adults (In a separate building, but only about twenty feet away). The garage attic also housed some of granddad’s “treasures” to explore.
Grandma was a great cook and always had lemonade or limeade to drink and cookies to eat when we came to visit. She also loved lemons and made lemon pies, cakes, and sherbet often. In fact, I ate so many lemon desserts that to this day, I still don’t want any more!
My grandparents loved to travel and had driven to nearly every state in the contiguous 48. Every summer, we would pack up granddad’s car and travel to some National park and camp out for a week or so. I remember camping in Yellowstone Park sometime in the early 60’s, when the bears were still allowed to roam free throughout the park. We hung our food up in a tree to keep it away from the bears while we slept. But in the middle of the night, a bear poked its nose into our tent. My granddad was sleeping by the door of the tent and he sat up and hit the bear in the nose. Fortunately for all of us, the bear decided to leave! The next morning, we could see bear prints all over the car and everywhere else.
My granddad was a “rock hound” and collected pretty and interesting rocks wherever we went. So the car was always several hundred pounds heavier on the way home! There were rock gardens and collections all around my grandparents’ house and yard. They had a line of limestone rocks with different interesting shapes which formed a sort of fence around their garden in the backyard.
In the next installment, I will talk about how we entertained ourselves (without TV!).
To read on earlier articles in this series, click on these links: