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Kansas History


Dorothy’s Kansas Memories

By Dorothy Painter Rush

[Dorothy Painter Rush was born in Barclay, Kansas on December 29, 1908. As of 2003, she lives in Topeka and her brother, Ralph, age 97, in Salt Lake City. She wrote these reminiscences in 1994, to be shared with her children and grandchildren, choosing the third-person narrative. It was hand-written. I persuaded my mother that the "memories" should be typed up so that they could have a wider readership. My thanks to Elizabeth Boltz, a native Topekan and Kansas history buff, for suggesting this project and referring me to the Kansas Heritage Group. Barbara Rush LaCombe, May 2003.]


Barclay, Kansas, Dorothy’s childhood home, is dear to her heart, and it gives her pleasure to remember and talk about it to any who will listen. Dorothy paints a rosy picture because she feels that way.
[Photo: Dorothy and her brother
Ralph.]

Dorothy and her brother Ralph.

Dorothy was surrounded by aunts and uncles, lots of cousins, a great aunt and uncle, two sets of grandparents, a close knit neighborhood of good friends of all ages, a good school and church, AND, in due time, she was the proud possessor of the first and only bathroom in town.

Showing off the new possession, however, led to big trouble. Turning the faucet in the upstairs bathroom to make the water "run" was exciting, but, alas, the faucet was not turned off properly. By the time the mistake was discovered, some of the second floor was covered with water, and the water had found its way down the open stairs to soak the new oak floors of the dining room, parlor, and library. Eventually the dining room ceiling fell. Dorothy’s memory of this is of her parents’ compassion rather than punishment.
[Photo: Dorothy's father, Eldo
Painter.]

Dorothy's father, Eldo Painter.

Dorothy’s parents moved to "Barclay Square" in 1909, and sometime after that they had revamped the old house they had moved into, thus having the first "modern" house in town. This meant indoor plumbing, a Delco plant for electricity ,and a coal fired furnace in the cellar for central heating. Also, the so carefully tacked down wall-to-wall carpet was ripped up to make way for beautiful oak floors. (How the cycle goes round. Dorothy's children cover their lovely oak floors with wall-to-wall carpet. Incidentally, there was only one "modern" house to follow Papa’s lead in Barclay while Dorothy lived there. That was the home of Papa’s sister, Leah, just down the street.)
[Photo: Dorothy's mother, Rhoda Hunt
Painter.]

Dorothy's mother, Rhoda Hunt Painter.

In the home remodeling a sleeping porch was added—so Dorothy claimed another "first." She was the only Barclay child having snowflakes scattering lightly on her bed covers as she slept. The two porch beds were occupied the year round by Dorothy and Papa and Mamma. So cool in summer, and best to be out of that hot house for sleeping in the winter. Very healthy, Mamma said. The porch was designed with the upper half of the outside walls open to the air—screened of course. Then there were canvas curtains to be rolled down as needed for protection from the rain and snow.

Dorothy loved her porch bed—it was almost like sleeping in the trees. The stars and moon seemed close by, and in winter some tiny snowflakes blew through the cracks of the curtains to gently touch Dorothy’s face. A gallon earthenware jug full of hot water made it warm under the covers.

The only trouble was Papa’s snoring. It was terrible! He held a candle to no one on that snoring. Ralph (Dorothy’s brother) was lucky that he could sleep inside. Dorothy’s technique was to jump out of bed and punch Papa hard until he stopped snoring, then race across the cold floor to get to sleep ‘ere he started up again. Sometimes it took more than one trip.

Oh there was another problem the lightning! The open porch seemed to bring the lightning right in and there were a lot of crackling thunderstorms. Papa had lightning rods put on the house to protect us, but Will Lewis’ hay barn in view from Dorothy’s bed was vulnerable. One night came the worst bang of all and the barn was struck. It burned with huge flames as Dorothy watched. Will rebuilt and it burned again. A terrifying memory!

Papa was a rural mail carrier, taking mail over 25 miles through the country by horse and buggy. This was a prestigious and well-paid job for the farming community. Rural mail service had been first introduced in Virginia in 1896, so it was relatively new in Kansas. Papa was assigned to the Barclay Post Office as a rural carrier Aug. 16, 1910, at a salary of $900 per year.

On rare occasions Papa took Dorothy along in the buggy on the mail route, much to her delight. Papa would stop the horses at the various creek crossings for a quick wade in the cool clear water—and about half way there was a few minutes stop to play with Papa’s friend, Sarah. An important job, that—to be a mail girl. Later when Papa replaced his horses with a Model T Ford, the peaceful joy of a buggy ride was taken away.

Of course, to have a car was exciting, but it had its fears for Dorothy. When it rained (and it did, often and unexpectedly), the roads were muddy. A 25-mile ride to Emporia meant up and down steep hills,and if it rained before we got back----. When the car bogged down half-way up the steep hills and had to back down to get a better running start, Dorothy was sure the car would miss the bridge at the foot of the hill and slip and slide into the creek. Of course the chains helped and no disasters occurred with Papa at the wheel. Riding with dashing Uncle Dell was even more frightening but couldn’t be helped because it was super to visit Emporia. The man Papa talked about so much, William Allen White, lived there—and the Gazette came from Emporia.
[Photo: Ralph, Grandpa Painter and
Dorothy, in front of the Barclay General Store.]

Ralph, Grandpa Painter and Dorothy, in front of the Barclay General Store

The way to go to Emporia for Dorothy was by train. The "local" gave good service to both Emporia and Topeka for the Barclay people. On one memorable occasion, Dorothy went alone on that trip to Emporia to visit Great Aunt Etta and Great Uncle Jesse. They knew how to make a little girl happy.

Cousin Edna came from Iowa each summer to stay awhile with Grandma and Grandpa Hunt across the road from Dorothy. Her adventurous spirit added spark to the Barclay playtime. Seeing Papa’s fishing poles in the shed, Edna suggested going fishing, and she dashed off to ask Mamma’s permission. She returned to tell Dorothy that Mamma had said "yes." Dorothy was surprised and very doubtful, but Edna was adamant. Edna was well versed in fishing so she collected the necessary equipment and off they went to the creek, one mile down the road east.

In due time, Mamma missed the girls and called to them, to no avail. She recalled Edna’s fishing request when she had said, "If you don’t go near the water," a comment Dorothy would understand, but how about that child Edna. Oh, no. A phone call to Grandma Scott who lived on the creek revealed that she had seen the girls down by the water earlier that day, but they were gone. Hours went by the community was alerted the search went on--no girls anywhere. Well, the railroad tracks where the girls were playing were not visible from any of the search areas. The girls (or was it Edna?) decided to return home via the tracks. Jumping from tie to tie and doing the balancing act walking the rails was so much fun and took so much time. Then there were flowers to pick. Fortunately, the speedy main line train was not scheduled at that time. It was well after lunch time when the girls left the tracks at the pasture below their home and reported that they were hungry.

The punishment was swift. It couldn’t have been worse for the girls. That afternoon, the Women’s Missionary Society was meeting at Aunt Leah’s and for the children of the entire area it was a major summer event. They could play while their mothers convened and there was always lots of super good food and the best way to meet with friends. Dorothy and Edna were not there but were assigned to the sleeping porch beds with "bread and water." They could even hear the children playing since Auntie’s house was only the second one down. Wary of Edna’s mischief, Papa kept a watchful eye on the sleeping porch while tending his garden.

"Punishment" brings to mind Papa’s style when Ralph (Dorothy’s brother) decided to drive the Model T without permission. The car was kept in Grandpa’s barn across the road and it seemed easy to Ralph to drive it down the road just a bit and invite Edith Yeoman to go for a ride. When Ralph came out from collecting Edith he found Papa pleasantly reclining in the back seat of the car. "I just thought I’d like to go along," said Papa. But Ralph was not about to be outdone. He quietly said, "Oh, Edith and I are just going for a walk." They went down the railroad track and picked crocuses.

[Photo: Barclay Friends Meeting House
(1880) circa 1902].

Barclay Friends Meeting House (1880) circa 1902.


Barclay "town" was located around a quarter mile square, with the Santa Fe Railroad track running through. The Eldo Painter home was on the N.W. corner of the square—10 acres. Our neighborhood boasted the sidewalk. It stretched from the church corner down the west side of the square and around to the business district on the south—past the very important Santa Fe depot and the section house.

The "business district" meant Grandpa Painter’s General Merchandise Store ("Dry Goods, Groceries, Flour and Feed"), and across the street Mr. Brower’s Grocery Store with the Post Office, Uncle Dell’s Creamery, and the Town Hall. Grandpa also had a farm scale.
[Photo: Barclay Schoolhouse (1887), circa
1910]

Barclay Schoolhouse (1887), circa 1910.

The school house was on the N.E. corner of the square out of reach of the sidewalk, so the children had to be prepared to trudge one-quarter to one-half mile through mud enroute to school.

The big two-story school building, constructed in 1887, was very spacious for both grade school and high school. Andrew Carnegie didn’t know about Barclay, but anyway there was a well stocked traveling library.

The school was integrated, although it wasn’t called that. There were many Mexicans lending their culture, one black family, and people straight from Wales. Dorothy hoped to get to Grandpa’s store at the same time the Welsh were there to hear that foreign language. A bit of Spanish was learned, too, playing with the Mexican children. (The Mexicans "worked the tracks" of the Santa Fe.)

Tall trees shaded the Barclay homes and the yards were spacious. Grandpa Hunt had a lane of maple trees of the real kind that gave up their sap to the buckets hung on the trees. Simply marvelous!

Next door south of Dorothy’s home was Ernest Gilges’ big family, and farther down his blacksmith shop. What an interesting place—the blacksmith shop! It was fun, even if a bit scary, to watch Mr. Gilges’ art at that hot, screeching, blazing flame—and to watch him shoe horses.

Yes, it was Mr. Gilges. The Barclay children were taught that respect for their elders meant care with titles. It was Mr. or Mrs., or for the more intimate or older friends it was "Auntie" or "Grandma."
[Photo: Barclay Depot, with Floyd,
Stanley, and Clair Dodge, Dorothy's cousins, circa 1910.]

Barclay Depot, with Floyd, Stanley, and Clair Dodge, Dorothy's cousins, circa 1910.

It was the main line of the Santa Fe Railroad that went through Barclay and the tracks followed the edge of Papa’s pasture. The speedy, shiny trains could be seen from Dorothy’s window. Could it be that Dorothy’s love affair with trains started way back then?

The express train carried the Barclay mail. A mail pouch was thrown off the speeding train while at the same time the outgoing Barclay mail pouch was seized from a tall post. Maybe faster mail service 80 years ago than today.

Dorothy’s world was part farm life and part "city" life. Papa’s ten acres allowed for a pasture with cows and horses, an alfalfa patch, a chicken yard, a barn with hay to play in, an orchard, a berry patch, and a big wonderful garden.

Papa worked magic with his land. Everything was well groomed and cared for. There was a cherry tree (red pine) in the front yard, the apple orchard to the north, and in the back yard apricot, peach, pear, plum and mulberry trees. Papa introduced the boysenberry in his raspberry and blackberry patch, and his huge strawberry patch was magnificent. It was required to have the new potatoes and corn on the cob ready to harvest on the 4th of July—to go with the fried chicken and ice cream.

Papa delighted in his big flock of Plymouth Rocks with the big brown eggs. None of those namby-pamby white leghorns with the dinky white eggs for him. He had to have a Jersey, of course, for cream to pour on the strawberry shortcake and on the dishes of peaches or blackberries or whatever—and for the luscious butter and ice cream. That thin Holstein milk had its place of course—so there would be a black and white cow in the pasture, also.

Papa’s cannas were the surprise and delight of the neighborhood. Grandma Painter’s yard was the flowering show place—but she specialized in shrubs—nothing so exotic as cannas.

Papa liked to go fishing on the Maria’s de Cygne River some ten miles south of town. He took the family in the big wagon filled with hay for comfortable sleeping. (Better than air mattresses.) Dorothy remembers one time when she woke up frightened—alone in the big wagon bed. Before it became too serious, however, Mamma came riding up on the horse. She had gone to a nearby farm for eggs.

Better than fish that time was Mamma’s surprise dish. What was in that Mason jar? Mamma said just wait. Well, each year, now we can hardly wait for fresh tomato season and "Tomato Relish" (a side dish).

Chop tomatoes and stir in chopped onions, celery seed, vinegar, sugar and salt to taste. (Canned tomatoes are good, too.)

The great flu epidemic of 1918 will never be forgotten by anyone involved. Looking back on it, it seems that Mamma, Papa, and Ralph may have been especially blessed to have lived through it. They had only Dorothy for their nurse—nine years old. No one wanted to enter the house of that terrible flu, but Aunt Leah helped at a distance. She stoked the furnace in the cellar (there was an outside entrance) so it kept the upstairs bedrooms warm.
[Photo: Ralph, Dorothy and their dog
'Collie' in front of their house. Circa 1914.]

Ralph, Dorothy and their dog 'Collie' in front of their house, circa 1914.

Auntie also sent up food in a basket drawn up with a rope to the second story window. And gave instructions and loving encouragement.

Grandpa Painter’s General Merchandise store was a super place. It was a very important feeling to a little girl to get behind the counter, and maybe even help a bit to wait on the customers. She would weigh out a bag of crackers from the big cracker box, or cut a length of calico (hard to do). Of course it also meant super candy jars of all kinds and what excitement to have a bunch of bananas arrive "on the freight" from those far away places and hang in the front window. There was respect for the sharp curved banana knife used to cut off bananas one by one—and fear that a tarantula might race out any minute.

When Grandpa got ready to retire, Mamma and Ralph took over the store, the story being that Ralph, a high school boy, needed work to keep him out of mischief. Ralph’s memories are of the hundreds of eggs he had to sort. Eggs were bought from the farmers and put in crates to send off to the market "on the freight." (The railroad was such a vital part of Barclay.)

Dorothy remembers that at the age of 12 ("going on 13") the kitchen was turned over to her that summer, since Mamma was a "working woman." Even the menu was Dorothy’s province, Mamma saying, "That is your department." It was a happy time, though—working the cream separator being the worst part. Churning the butter in the tall earthen jar was rather pleasant, since it was done on the open back porch—with Collie overseeing. Papa helped out with his buckwheat pancakes for breakfast (his only cooking art). The pancakes were very special since it meant fixing up a mix and leaving it overnight. Copied from Papa’s own handwriting is his syrup to go on the pancakes.


Maple Syrup

2 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2 c. white Karo

2 and a half c. water. 

Boil 15 minutes. Add 1 t. Maple flavoring

Just in case—this is the way to make buckwheat pancakes:

1 c. lukewarm water plus half cake of yeast plus 1 T. sugar. After a bit 
add one fourth c. Cornmeal, 1 c. Buckwheat flour, one fourth c. (warm)
sour milk, one fourth t. salt. Mix the night before. In the morning add 
one half t. soda dissolved in one fourth c. warm water.

The big kitchen Dorothy worked in was the design of the "Country Kitchen" now pictured as glamorous in the "Good Housekeeping," with the big eating table on the south end, and the rocking chairs at the window. True, the stove was coal oil burning—but a "modern" 3 burner style "with oven." The "vinyl" table tops seemed to be oilcloth (very pretty and satisfactory), the cupboards were spacious, and there was even "air conditioning" because of the summer kitchen.

A small adjoining room to the north held the cool coal-oil burning stove in summer. Also that room held the separator, the pie cupboard, the ice box. Since ice had to be purchased at Osage City six miles away, that didn’t always seem necessary. Of course it was essential for lemonade and for making ice cream.

Generally it worked well to lower the milk and other items into the cold part of the cistern. The fruits and vegetables coming straight from the orchard or garden didn’t require refrigeration, of course. The extras were canned and gleamed beautifully in the great rows of Mason jars in the cellar.

The cold cellar was also the place to keep food. Grandma Painter had it best with her cool, cool cave. And of course the milk came from the cow each day, so "keeping" wasn’t a problem. Turning the separator each day was the problem. The cream, so separated, was to be taken to Uncle Dell’s creamery for sale.

Mamma took over for Sunday cooking—fried chicken and all that. And she cared for keeping the long white linen tablecloth ironed (with linen napkins 12 x 12) for Sunday dinner in the dining room. The new pressurized gasoline iron was too dangerous for children to use.

Grandpa Hunt was a hymn singer—not in the choir but at home and all about. It was wonderful to be held close on his lap as he sat in his rocking chair, rocking to the rhythm of all the hymns he sang so joyously. The rocking chair itself was a bit awesome. It was lovely oak overall, but the seat was leather carved with scenes from the Civil War. Dorothy knew that Grandpa Hunt had been in a war when he was young and had been wounded and in a hospital in far away Tennessee. Probably that was why he couldn’t hear so good. But all that war stuff wasn’t talked about much.

Grandma Hunt had a beautiful organ in her parlor and she gave Dorothy free access to it. It was a bit hard to pump, but how wonderful it was to be able to bring forth that magnificent melodious music. Dorothy almost liked it better than the piano, and playing the piano was her great delight. Being church pianist at age twelve was special.
[Photo: Dorothy's Aunt Lizzie, circa 1917.  
Sometimes she took Dorothy with her 'to town' (Osage City).]

Dorothy's Aunt Lizzie, circa 1917. Sometimes she took Dorothy with her 'to town' (Osage City).

When "Aunt Louisa Brown" came from far away to live with Edith’s family down the street, a little wide-eyed girl learned about "English tea time"—the real British style. Could it be that Dorothy’s life long devotion to afternoon tea time was thus inspired?

"Aunt Louisa" had so many interesting things in her private parlor—and she served "afternoon tea" with Edith and Dorothy as her guests often. A fancy cloth was on the small round table, lace tipped napkins, luscious sandwiches, and goodies, and tea poured from a beautiful china teapot. The girls loved the delicate flowered teacups and were proud to be trusted with them.

Next best to afternoon tea was to time it just right to join Grandpa Painter on his back porch as he was having his late afternoon snack. That was crisp soda crackers with cream poured on top—thick yellow Jersey cream just skimmed from the crock of milk in the cave. And Grandpa P. was so jolly to visit with.

Grandma Painter had black walnut trees. Wonderful! She baked a black walnut cake for special treats on everyone’s birthday. A real special cake!

Dorothy read everything on the home book shelves, as well as those at Grandpa Painter’s, from "Les Miserables" to "Complete Works of Shakespeare." She remembers that the Youth’s Companion, Capper’s Weekly, the Saturday Evening Post, the Atlantic, and the Emporia Gazette came regularly, but the National Geographic was the best.

When Dorothy was nine years old, Mamma took her to Kansas City on the train! Mamma’s Kansas City was as wonderful as expected, but the most concrete memory is of the "white gloves." They stayed with Mamma’s friend, Virgie (who had been a Barclay girl), and her daughter, Elizabeth Virginia, just Dorothy’s age. As all were starting to go downtown to shop, E. Virginia said to Dorothy in horror, "You don’t have white gloves!"

Well—Dorothy thought it absolutely silly to wear white gloves to shop—but anyway Mamma had told her that she was too young for white gloves. Of course, Mamma had white gloves, but at the moment she had black gloves on for shopping. Dorothy’s mother was a far classier dresser than her mother.

E. Virginia didn’t need to put on city airs. Dorothy knew she was better off . E. Virginia had no father living at home with her, she didn’t have a brother, and she couldn’t live with her mother in the summer because her mother worked and she was not allowed to stay alone in an apartment. She had to live with her Barclay grandparents in the summer, and she rarely got to see her father.

Dorothy’s brother Ralph was great. He didn’t fuss with her, and he as always there for her. He even took his little sister along on his dates if Mamma had said she was too young go to the out of town basketballs, or the chivarees (sic), or whatever.

Chivarees--is it good or bad that they went out of fashion? Dorothy well remembers the only one she got to go to. That was because it was for cousin Leta, and Ralph would care for her. Leta and Lou were married at the Sunday evening church service with the plan to go directly to their newly furnished farm home north of town. The chivareers (sic) had prepared their welcome to their new home. The bed mattress was in the yard, and other items in the house had been rearranged. Soon after Leta and Lou got home the chivareers appeared out of the darkness to clang tin pans and ring bells—maybe sing a bit—until the bride and groom invited the group in for food and merriment. At Leta and Lou’s 60th wedding anniversary they had the pleasure of telling that on their wedding night they had been prepared with a proper bed hidden carefully away—so that mattress in the yard had just stayed there.

One of the great pleasures of life was our collie dog—named simply "Collie." She was harnessed to pull Dorothy on the sled. She was kind and loving to everyone except Mr.Gilges, the next door blacksmith neighbor. It was after Mr. Gilges deserted his big family that Mrs.Gilges told that it was Mr. Gilges’ habit to get coal from Papa’s coal shed every night. Collie didn’t like that.

Windows to the world were opened for a little Barclay girl when Mamma’s cousins came to visit—Ethel on leave from China from her missionary service there, and Bertha the same from Korea. Cousin Ethel introduced Dorothy to cloisonne!

Uncle Charles and Aunt Nonie sent postcards, too, from foreign places, and they came to visit often with tales of all the ‘round the world places they had been—and gifts from all those places. The best was the shiny red and gold "gong" from the Taj Mahal, and a real Japanese parasol which Dorothy could carry on the Barclay streets.

Great Aunt Virginia came now and then from California, that Mecca of gold, with fancy long rustling skirts and big fancy plumed hats, and gifts—an abalone shell ring straight from the Pacific Ocean.

"Come and See" was good Barclay entertainment each month at the town hall—inaugurated by the new high school principal. Literary and musical talents gleaned from all the various community members were shown off to everyone’s pleasure—talents from the two-year olds to the grandparents. The climax of the evening might be the Box Social.

Mamma said that Dorothy was too young for such antics, but finally the day came for her to participate. This meant hours of decorating a box beautifully and filling it with very special goodies (fried chicken and pie important). All secret—don’t even tell the girls what your box looks like. Then at the appointed time watch with trembling as the boys bid on the unmarked boxes. Will mine bring the highest price? Who will be my beau? Maybe the Box Social would climax an oyster stew gathering.

At Christmas time the whole community became "family." Everyone in the community gathered at the church on Christmas eve for a celebration. First, there was a worship service to celebrate the birth of Christ—then a welcome to Santa. The big Christmas tree in the corner had been decorated by the children of the community with their handmade paper fancies and with strings of popcorn and cranberries. Santa’s pack carried a gift for each child—these having been brought by respective parents. And there were no more gifts at home. The Barclay child then expected only one gift at Christmas. Of course the goodies were very important—the rare orange and very special candies, the rare almonds and Brazil nuts in the stockings at home. Popcorn balls, too.

But times changed fast for Dorothy. Her parents were on the forefront of progress. Rhoda was a dresser. Mamma kept up on the Kansas City fashions, sewing up a storm, and Dorothy was the first to have that "wicked" bobbed hair. And the Eldo Painter children were allowed to play CARDS! (Of course it was Rook and Finch—none of those bad "playing cards.")

Suddenly, at age 14, Dorothy moved with her family to the big city of Wichita, Kansas. This brought her into the complete circle of "modern" living—even to the playing cards. (AND from a Sophomore high school class of 10, to one of 2,000.) But she did get to go back for a three month goodbye to her beloved Barclay.

Oh—the pleasures of the summer of 1924 (Dorothy’s 15th year), living with Grandma Hunt in her big house on Barclay Square. Cousin Ione came from western Kansas, to complete the loving trio. The girls were there to keep house and cook for Grandma and that meant taking on the rigors of "old fashioned housekeeping" since Grandma’s house was not "modern."

Water was pumped from the deep well by the kitchen door and transferred to the copper bucket on the kitchen table and to the big china pitchers sitting on the washstands in the bedrooms. Coal-oil lamps were to be groomed; there was a path to the two-holer; heavy iron handled irons were warmed on the stove. (But the girls took turns reading to each other as the ironing was done—so that helped.) There was horseback riding at Uncle Will’s, with bloomers and middy blouses as the attire. Aunt Bessie always had the very best goodies on hand.

Grandma’s indulgences were abundant (she made the best sour cream spice cake) and the days for the girls were carefree. But there was that thing about the fried chicken. Grandma just couldn’t believe that her two daughters had raised their two daughters without their ever having "dressed out a chicken." That would be cared for in short order, Grandma said. A bucket of hot water was taken to the yard for scalding and plucking the chicken. Grandma did agree to handle the axe part. So the lesson was learned to be practiced many times during the summer. Even the axe part became ok.

Monday was wash day, and it meant WORK, an all-day production. First four big tubs must be filled, bucket by bucket, pumped from the well. (The washing machine tub, two rinse tubs, and the oval copper boiler which sat on the kerosene stove for BOILING sheets, towels, etc.) Of course, the water had to be heated for the washing tub.

It was good, though, that for this part of life Grandma had gone "modern"—at least, 1924 modern. The washboard was hung on the porch wall (just in case) and had been replaced with a hand powered washing machine. And a lot of hand power was required; not fun exactly. A sturdy hand wringer was transferred from tub to tub.

In a way it was a pleasure to build up the soft suds—scary to lift the HOT sheets from the boiling water (with the polished pine stick)—but finally to see all the billowing sheets on the line was a good feeling. The Kansas sun could be counted on to finish any bleaching. Be sure to hang the colored clothes in the shade. Wait until the end of the day cooled off to empty those four big tubs—bucket by bucket. The water must be poured way out by the barn (or the fence) so as to not mess up the back door.

Dorothy and Ione outwitted the "no running water bath tub" by creating a "Barclay shower." No plumbing needed—just a big nail and a hammer and a bucket. The no longer used sweet smelling grainery came in to use. With holes punched in the bucket it was hung from the grainery rafters. The girls took turns keeping the bucket full for the others showering delight.

The boys came a courtin’—trying to have the first date with the new girls in town. Nowadays the boys had "Flivvers" (Model T Fords) to drive the girls about after Sunday night church, or after the ice cream socials. They liked to play croquet too.

Saturday nights were for "going to town" to socialize (Osage City, 6 miles away). Everyone came from nearby areas to walk the two city blocks up and down and round and round and clusters on the street corners. The young ones walked, that is. The parents did their shopping with visiting, of course. A goal might be to pick up a beau for a soda at the gleaming mirror-studded counter at the drugstore. More elegantly, have a sundae at the round marble topped table with the gold laden chairs. The less affluent (or less lucky) stopped at the ice house at the far end of the circuit for an ice cream cone.

For those who smile tolerantly, "Why Barclay was just a crossroads" the challenge is given. First, the populace numbered 107 just on the Barclay square, not counting the Mexican community just to the south. To this number must be added the many nearby farm folk who were a close knit part of the community.

A big circle of friends of all ages complemented a childs life so perfectly and it was so nice. Why, the children of the 1990's scarcely know the people on their own city block, and they have few close adult friends. "It takes a village to raise a child."

Notes

The move to Wichita High School—1923

Dorothy, the 14 year old country girl, met the CITY. Things really went very well except for the never to be forgotten, excruciating experience brought on by that huge card catalog in the library in the new high school.

Actually, Miss Armstrong was to blame for the trouble. She taught history by outline—no textbook. Miss. A. meant business and this meant research. That plunged Dorothy into a card catalog the like of which she had never seen before. Asking questions was unthinkable.

Boom! An "F" on Dorothy’s first history report card. Totally, totally humiliating. But the "F" took care of things in short order. (Eventually at Honors Assembly Dorothy’s name was called when they said "National Honor Society.")

But let not the psychiatrists step forward. That did not become a permanent blot on this child’s life—just a very healthy lesson. It even built her up to cope with the unbearable Mrs. McBride of the speech class. Harsh was a mild word for Mrs. McB. To little quiet Dorothy’s surprise at herself, one day, just as Mrs. McB was to call Dorothy to the platform to deliver her speech, she arose from her seat in the back row, right in the middle of the class period, and walked down the center aisle (facing Mrs. McB. in the eye) and out the door, never to return.

Dorothy did survive the baptism by fire and thought Wichita High wonderful. Her two years there were joy. There was a swimming pool for P.E. (Barclay had a pond!) A brand new building, and the Pythagorean Math Club! Her school won the National Basketball championship, too; and oh, the books in that library. Riding the street car all the way across town was rollicking fun, with popcorn to buy at the downtown transfer place.

[Written in 1994, revised in 2003.]

Barclay, Kansas History


Site author: George Laughead Jr., manager, WWW-VL: United States History network. Thanks to Lynn H. Nelson.

Return to the Kansas History Web Sites directory or the Kansas Heritage Group.
Site previously maintained at the University of Kansas. Posted: 21 April 2003 Updated: 25 February 2007.