Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hitschmann: A Kansas Ghost Town, Part Three

Before we get started today, I’d like to take a couple minutes to respond to the letter published in the Metro last week written by Richard L Sallman. Richard you asked me if our sovereignty extends out 60 miles into International Waters. Okay, you got me there. Truth is, I don‘t know. Maybe I need to be a little more careful the next time I start running my mouth. Now about the coal. Richard, it’s not that I’m blasé about coal as a source of energy. It’s more like I understand that as a Nation, we depend on it just as we depend on a reliable, uninterrupted supply of natural gas and oil just to survive. And the truth is, no one has really come up with a workable replacement. You asked me to check a out cover story in Time Magazine about the 40 pounds of mercury coming from each coal-fired power plant. Sorry Richard, I’d read it but I doubt it would change my mind. I’ve watched Time Magazine preach the gloom and doom, end of the world stuff for the last 40 years and I‘d be more than happy to provide a few examples of what I mean by that, but that‘s another story for another time. Richard, I doubt you and I will ever agree on such matters but I do thank you for taking the time to respond, it was a good letter.
Okay, now where were we? Oh yeah, the old school in Hitschmann. After finally getting the pictures inside the school I was after I wandered around outside for a while. I walked around the old playground and stood in the middle of what used to be the soft-ball diamond. Other than the old back-stop there’s not much left to suggest it was ever anything other than a hay field. Oh there are so many memories to talk about but we need to get going.
I walked across town and found myself standing in front of what used to be Artie Beck’s house. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the place today, but we used to have some great adventures at that old house. Artie lived there with his mom and dad, Art and Lucielle, two brothers Freddie and Jerry, and a sister, Becky or was it Bonnie? I don’t remember, you gotta understand, we were like 5 or 6-years old at the time and didn’t exactly hang with the girls. They just didn’t like to do the things we did. Things like pouring water into holes we’d find in the ground to see what we could flush out. We always had a jar ready to catch whatever it was. I’m not sure but I think we probably had the biggest spider collection in town and were pretty proud them too. We used to pin playing cards to the spokes of our bicycles wheels for the sound effects. I remember draping towels around our necks and becoming one of the super-heroes of the time. Artie was always Bat-Man and I liked Super-Man. Both were cool though.
I walked around the back yard for a while and noticed the old clothes line posts were still standing. Brush, vines, and trees have all but covered them up over the years but that old clothes line provided us with so many good times. I remember swinging on the lines. The posts served as base for our hide and seek games. We used to tie our imaginary horses to them as we played cowboys and Indians. But my favorite memory was spending the night in the tents we used to make using clothes pins and old Army blankets. We’d fix peanut butter sandwiches and a jug of Kool-Aid or whatever other survival foods we could find. We always had a good supply of army men, toy trucks, and comic books or whatever else we could think of and off into the night we’d go. You know, now that I think of it, I don’t think we ever actually made it through a single night. You see, night time was when the monsters came out and luckily we knew it.
Friday’s were always my favorite day at Artie‘s house. It was the day his dad gave them their allowance. They each got a dollar and every once in a while I‘d get one too. Now a dollar might not impress a kid today, but in 1964, for a little while we felt pretty rich. We’d head straight to Frank and Bertha’s place. I remember the old pop machine in the back room. It was a little different than the one’s we have today. It was an old chest type. You opened the top and the pop sat in cooled water. Anybody remember those? There was a big table in the back where people played cards or dominoes or whatever. They cussed and discussed everything under the sun. There was an old wood burning stove they used in the winter. In the basement there was an old pool table where the men would gather while they drank their beer. Yeah, it was a cool place. Shopping was even different in those days. You told them what you wanted and they’d hand it to you. By the time we left the store our dollars were pretty much all gone. But we each had a pop, sunflower seeds, maybe a candy bar or whatever else we could think of. Yeah, life was good back then.
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