History: There's Nothing Like It

This is a busy day for my Journal entries. I’ve been going over old photos, fractals, a digital compositions. My home town, Fredonia, Kansas almost washed away in the floods last month. My mother just turned 89 this week and still lives there. My brother is in Seattle. My sister is in Colorado Springs, and I’m in Chapel Hill, NC. We all spent several tense days on the phone with her. There was no way for us to get in to the town. All roads but one were under water. My mother had her usual good luck. All of the units in the retirement community where she lives but hers flooded. She had friends and neighbors checking on her constantly.

Fredonia has fallen on hard times since my childhood, when it was a prosperous small farming community. It’s still the county seat. It’s built on a square with the court house in the middle. I can’t count the hours I spent as a teenager driving around the square trying to pick up cool guys! Behind the court house is a parking lot. That lot was the first place I’d hit in the evening after I got home from college. The kids would meet greet and split up into cars to go riding around. A few turns around the square were required to end any date. If you went to town during the day, it was often hard to find a parking space. Now, the square is almost empty during business hours. My father’s law office is long gone.

Now, many of the buildings on the square have burned down. Many stand empty. The only time during the year when Fredonia shows a burst of it’s former prosperity is during October. All the little towns in Eastern Kansas have a fall festival. Independence has Neewollah. That’s Halloween spelled backwards for those of you who aren’t natives. Fredonia has Homecoming. One side of the square is blocked off for a small carnival. Another side is blocked off for food stands, bingo games, local entertainment, and tutle races. There’s a pagent to pick the Homecoming Queen from the high school senior girls. The pagent consists of a talent show. The mayor serves as announcer. He was arrested for fraud several days after the last one I attended!

Friday is the football game. Saturday is kicked off by a parade with marching bands, Shriners, floats, and lastly horses. When I was little, it was considered a great honor to be picked for a float. I rode on the American Legion float, my grade school float, and marched in the band playing the saxaphone for 6 years.

Saturday afternoon is taken up with mini-reunions. The school mascot is the Yellow Jacket, so everyone meets in 10 year groupings at the “hive.” I knew that I was getting old when the 60s got moved to an earlier hour. You get a name tag at the door and sign a sheet on the wall where all of the classes are listed. Everyone greets, mixes and visits. Several of the retired teachers are always there catching up with their now middle aged students. Saturday night is devoted to family, class reunions, and a country western dance. When I was in high school, it was a street dance in the court house parking lot. The band was often St. John and the Apostles. Fredonia couldn’t afford the Flippers or Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts!

After I graduated high school, I coudn’t escape Kansas fast enough. I’d never move back, but I treasure my friends from this period of my life more than I can say. They are still a source of comfort and support. I’ve known several of them so long that I can’t remember when we first met. It’s a bond like no other.

My next few journal entries will deal with different aspects of Fredonia. There was the very illegal Christmas pagent and the very abusive high school PE teacher. More on those subjects when I get over the nightmares I have about going to Fredonia beauty salons to get perms.

Journal Comments