9th Grade Party



     All I know about this photo is what the caption gives and that it was in the 9th grade scrapbook of Ginny (Horn) Stelk.  I'll repeat the caption to make it easier to read.


"CATCHING AN EXTRA NAP are the guests of Carol Sue Johnson, 225 N. Columbia.  The girls were invited for a 'come as you are' Saturday morning.  Guests were (front row left) Larree Todd, Marlene Pinkham, Betty Harr.  Second row, Carol Sue Johnson, Juanita Nichols, Jane Meier, Martha Tease, Better Butcher, Marcia Chrisbens.  Top row, Jeannette Turner, Rosabelle Allen and Judy McSparin."


I'm going to guess that the party was more fun than this photo shows.  The caption says "(JOURNAL PHOTO)" -- I wonder how a Journal photographer happened to show up at this early morning party?  But without such an arrangement this page would be a lot less fun.





               The Telephone [excerpt]

          Lawrence H. Wetter, Salina, Born 1934


     [Grew up in Norton County, six miles north of WaKeeney]  The local Farmers Union owned and operated the phone system until the demise of the Union.  After that, a loosely organized coop of patrons assumed the job of maintaining our neighborhood line.  It was often out of order, however.  Phone wires hung about ten to fifteen feet above the ground, fastened to wooden poles with green glass or brown ceramic insulators.  Wind, rain, snow, age, and gravity all acted to bring the lines down.  A few men of the neighborhood would then get together to locate the trouble, replace broken poles and missing insulators, and mend broken wires or prop them up somehow.

     I think it was the late 1940s when Bell Telephone expanded into our neighborhood.  They planted new poles, strung new wires, and mounted small, black plastic phones on patronís walls and desks, thus improving rural communications drastically.



               A Plaque [from a long article]

          Linda Stahlman, Hays, Born 1948


     In my husband's family kitchen hung a plaque that said

ďAll of our visitors bring happiness, some by coming, others by going.Ē



               Salina Schools [from a long article]

          Larry D. Hobson, Scandia, Born 1935


     When we moved to Salina in 1942 [I was 7] I attended Lowell and Oakdale schools.  The classrooms were so crowded we didnít hardly know the teacherís name nor her ours.  [Schools were crowded because] Salina had Smoky Hill Air Force Base and Camp Phillips Army Base.] 

     During school at Oakdale we were taken to the basement to see pictures of Japanese, German, British, and American airplanes and memorized them.  If you were in the top of the class, 4-8 boys, you were taken to Smoky Hill where we were allowed to get in a B-17 flying fortress, plus got to see a P-51 up close, the fastest airplane in the world.  What a thrill for a 10 year old kid.


     Here are a couple of follow-up stories of dust storms.  I might have included these last month on this page but I forgot about them in all the excitement.


               More Dust

          Vernon L. Steerman, Osborne, Born 1929


     [The writer was born in 1929 near Osborne, Kansas, north of Russell.]  I remember the dust for the hell it created.  I think the dust came in September after the wheat ground had been plowed, harrowed, and sowed.  There were no terraces and waterways were just runoff ditches and gullies.  There was no irrigation since the river and creeks were not running due to lack of rain.

    In the dust day would turn to the black of night.  Even in the house the dust entered under doors and windows.  Breathing and eyes suffered.

     We stretched a rope from the back porch to the windmill next to and on to the nearby cellar.  It was cement and we lined it with two beds and kerosene lamps.  For the time it had a sophisticated vent system.  An axe was always present in case a tree or debris fell on the cellar door.  There was concern for the chickens and cows because they were the means of everyday existence.  Everything survived, and thanks were given.

     Our community, as many others in Kansas and Oklahoma, experienced a mass exodus of neighbors who gave up and moved to the west coast.  Our community lost 12 families.


               Dust Storm

          Beryl Gibson, Phillipsburg, Born 1930


     The writer [a boy born in 1930] and his father were driving a friend to his home.  As we drove down the street in Kirwin [north of Hays near Nebraska], the dirt was starting to blow and one could barely see the streetlight waving in the wind.  As they began the return trip home the wind shook the car and the dirt hissed against the windows.  The headlights made only two weirdly illuminated cones in front of the radiator.  My father leaned forward over the steering wheel and squinted into the swirly dust.

     Somewhere north of Kirwin the car stalled and refused to start.  Father removed his shirt and drained water from the radiator to wet it.  He placed it over me and returned to wet his handkerchief to put over his face.  When he stood up to return to the car, it was gone!  He had become disoriented and couldnít find the car!

     Then father bumped into another human.  He hung onto him and yelled over the howling wind that he had a car right here close and that there was a boy in it.  Five boys from Kensington were headed home in a Chevy after a dance in Kirwin was called.  They formed a human chain and moved in a circle until they bumped into the Model A.  They had been driving blindly up the road with one hanging onto the Chevy telling the driver which way to turn and one following the ditch or fence as best he could.

     The storm had let up somewhat when we finally made it to Agra [a few miles north of Kirwin].  It was getting cold.  I could see the streetlight and some of the porch lights.  Dad thanked the boys and said that we would stay with shirttail relatives in Agra. 

     During the night it snowed.  The snow mixed with the blowing dirt resembled chocolate swirled in vanilla ice cream.  We cleaned out the Ford and got it started.


                Pies and Indians

          Shirley Varney, Jewell, Born 1935


     My grandmother came from Sweden when she was 10 years old.  They eventually made their way to a small town in central Kansas. 

     My grandmother told me that there were several occasions that her mother would bake pies and put them in the open kitchen window to cool.  The Indians would come by and take a pie out of the windows.  That way, they never stopped to cause the family any harm.





        Just for Fun


   Here's a old photo showing how much fun it was to grow up in Salina.  It might not be representative, however.




The follow-up is a potpourri of interesting stories in Sheri's book Sod Houses and The Dirty Thirties.