Prairie View

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Cedric Talks With His Hands

Our three-year-old grandson is learning to use motions and illustrations to convey what he wants to say.  This evening I asked him about the trip his family took to Texas over the Memorial Day weekend.


Cedric:  It's far away.  If this is how far to our house [he carefully holds his hands vertically in front of himself, spaced about four inches apart], this is how far to Bomani's house [Bomani is a cousin living in Texas.  He flings his hands as far apart as he can get them.] . 


Later, Cedric was telling me which day they got home.  First, he held his hands in a position like the one demonstrating the short distance to their house--in front, about four inches apart. 

Cedric:  If this is this day, then we came home here [he moves both hands far to the right, keeping the space the same]. 

I think his brain and his hands work together really well. 

He's a pleasant little chap, delivering his messages with smiles and twinkling eyes. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

A New Address

In a previous post, I said I'm from Partridge, Kansas, and detailed where I've lived in the Partridge area and elsewhere.  I also noted that I was actually born at a hospital in Hutchinson while my parents lived in a home with a Partridge address.  This post is about the time the address where I lived changed, even though we didn't move. 

This little detail about where I'm from reveals something of my parents' values.  It has to do with the mailing address at the place that is now known as 3015 S. Partridge Road, Partridge, KS.  It's the farm where my parents lived for more than 40 years.

During the years of my earliest memories of such things, that place had this address: Route 1, Hutchinson, KS.  Much later, each rural road was given a name and each residence was given a number, or at least at some point signs went up and residents were notified.

I don't remember the exact scenario, but I think my parents got wind that the Partridge post office would be in a stronger position within the US Postal Service system if they were serving more people.  So my dad not only petitioned to be served by the Partridge post office instead of the Hutchinson one, he contacted many neighbors personally to solicit their transfer as well.  Many of them did so.

On the Yoder mile (Riverton Road), people had divided loyalties apparently.  Although everyone there now has a Partridge address, at first, only the ones on the west side of the road agreed to the transfer.  The head of each household on the west side of the road was born in this community.  The ones on the east side were not.  Because of different memory reservoirs, I suspect that the level of commitment to the Partridge community may have varied as well.  I'm not sure when the switch was made.

To understand what this says about my parents' values, you should understand that the Hutchinson post office is about 12 miles from the Partridge Road address, and the city has a population of about 41,000.  Partridge and its post office is 3 1/4 miles away and has a population of about 250.  Small and local obviously was valued over bigger and "better."  I believe also that my parents had a strong sense that looking out for one's neighbors is important.  Although my parents' lives would not have been very directly affected if the Partridge Post Office had closed because of insufficient mail volume, many neighbors' lives would have been affected far more adversely.  For these reasons, I believe that Dad was happy to invest minimally if others could benefit maximally as a result.

These values must have seeped into my own pores.  For some reason at least, they make perfect sense to me and have, in fact, informed my own choices. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Where Are You From?

A writer friend asked me several weeks ago if I would consider answering the question "Where are you from?"  He hopes to receive other answers to the same question and write something based on what he learns.

As I tend to do, I thought of too many ways to answer the question--all at once, and in great detail.  The effect is paralyzing.  And thought-provoking.  It's a little bit like having to tell others "something about yourself" as I needed to do in the LRC class.  Where to start?

The simplest, most basic answer to the question "where are you from?" addresses location of residence.
Place of birth?  Hutchinson, KS (at Grace hospital--while my family had a rural Partridge address).
Current residence?  Rural Partridge, KS (at 13611 W. Partridge RD--about 2 1/3 miles west of Partridge)
In between birth and now?  Rural Partridge and rural Nickerson (3 different residences), with these two exceptions:  Rural Jerome, Michigan for about five months during the winter of 1955/1956.
--Rural Sugarcreek, OH during each school year from the fall of 1973 to the spring of 1978.

Three in-between residences:

--On West Illinois Avenue, about 1 1/2 mile west of Partridge RD, in the little house that has recently been available as a Bed and Breakfast called Homespun Hideaway.  My parents lived here when I was born, and our family moved away from that house when I was three years old.  My Miller grandparents lived in a larger house on the same property, separated from our house by a walking path.  The Dwight Miller family (my cousin Karen) and the Oliver and Emma Troyer family (my aunt and uncle) live on that farm now, along with Monte who has taken up long-term residence in the B&B. 

--At 3015 S. Partridge RD.  My grandfather Beachy bought this place from Elvin and Bertha Helmuth when they moved away from Kansas (to Ohio?).  Earlier, Bryan Tedder had owned this place.  My parents moved here in about 1955 and stayed there till all twelve of their children left home and they became empty nesters.  After that, Hiromi and I lived there with our children for about fifteen years, moving from there to our current residence in 2013.

The first house we lived in on Partridge RD was an old house with a tiny cellar under part of it.  The house had a porch on each of its four sides.  Over time, all of them had been enclosed except the east porch.  From a landing at the top of a steep stairway two doorways on opposite sides of the landing opened into bedrooms tucked under the roofline of the house.  Only a small area at the center of the rooms had a ceiling parallel to the floor.  These rooms were always girls' rooms while we lived there.  The boys slept downstairs.

Later a one-story house was moved in and positioned over a rectangular basement.  To the moved-in house were added two bedrooms, a bathroom, a hallway, and a laundry room.  That's the house our son Shane and his family occupy now.

--In a little house on West Clark Road, in rural Nickerson, 1 1/2 mile West of S.  Partridge RD.  Hiromi and I moved here when we were first married, in 1981.  We lived there until 1984 when we bought a place and moved--to the same house where we live now, on Trail West RD.  My brother Lowell and his family own the farm now where we first lived, and they have raised their family there.


Our current home sits on a three-acre property which is surrounded by land owned by Miller Seed Company (or LaVerne Miller, perhaps--not sure).  LaVerne's father Ervin owned the field before him.  He was the founder of Miller Seed, which now has at least one 4th-generation family member working there.

Fred and Fern Brent at one time owned this place, which was at that time part of a 40-acre property.  Fred raised hogs and sometimes sold feeder pigs to my father, who then grew them to market size and sold them to Winchester Packing Company in Hutchinson.  Fern was the postmistress at Partridge.

When Fred Brent fell on hard times, he shared his woes with my dad who suggested that he might consider selling the farm ground to Ervin Miller, in order to gain some financial stability.  He followed through on that suggestion, and that's how Ervin came to own the field around this place.

Fred and Fern had added a piece to the south side of the house.  It was moved in from elsewhere and apparently fit the dimensions exactly.  The "seam" is still visible.  Those rooms were made into a kitchen and bedroom, with a bathroom between them.

The Brents eventually moved off the place and sold it to Ron and Beverly Thiessen.  Ron was killed in an explosion at work, and Beverly later died alone here in the house.  They had no children.  Her parents, Marion and Ijean Benton, fell heir to the place and moved here temporarily to get the place ready to sell.  They did a lot of good work.  At some point, a utility room had also been added to extend the house still farther south.  It opened into the kitchen.

We purchased the place in 1984 for $16,500.  The house was liveable, but Hiromi happened to be between jobs at the time after being laid off from working at Business Computer Center.  We had just returned from a trip to Japan, and Hiromi had finished up a class in Business Law at Hutchinson Community College, and we decided to take full advantage of the timing and do some more extensive work before we moved in.  We tore off lath and plaster throughout the four rooms that had originally made up the whole of the house, and replaced it with sheetrock.  All the wiring was redone, new windows and doors were installed, and all the exterior walls were insulated.  .The opening between the living room and dining room was a small one, arch-shaped.  We removed all of the wall beyond the doorway and joined the dining and living rooms.  Paint and paper on walls, new floor coverings and refinishing of wood floors--oh my--it was all a lot of work.  We moved in on Nov. 4, 1984, when our oldest child, Joel, was about 18 months old.  The house wasn't really finished then, but the main part of the living area was done, and the kitchen and bathroom were functional.

Most of the dilapidated farm buildings have disappeared or are still in the act of disappearing.  We've made some massive changes in the landscape, while also making use of some of the features that were here when we came.  A class offered by the Extension Service gave us a lot of help with making a landscape plan, and we worked doggedly over many years to work the plan.  We left in place several trees that were here when we arrived:  A pair of Kentucky Coffee Trees, a Cottonwood, a Siberian Elm, and three pear trees that produced delicious fruit.  We removed a number of Siberian Elms and transplanted several small trees to new locations.  The large maple in our circle drive was one of them.  The Green Ash north of the house was another.  We also created new rows of Vanhoutte Spirea bushes from a row that was eliminated directly north of the house where we wanted to restore the front-door function of an exterior door.

I may think of things to add to this section, but I'm ready to move on to some of the other kinds of answers to the "Where are you from?" question.  That will likely happen in future posts.