Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cross Country Trip ~ Part Three


NOTE: Most will find this part about Topeka, Kansas boring but I wrote it for my children's benefit.  PLEASE do not stop following my posts, I promise, they get more exciting as days go on.
As I said in my last post, I wanted to visit Topeka, Kansas for sentimental reasons.  It was HARD ... emotionally.  I left there in March 1972 with my Mama and Daddy, sister and brother, and being back there again, all these years later, without my Mama and Daddy with us any longer, was just so very emotional.  No one to ask questions of ... just me and my memories.

I was surprised that I found my way around, still!  Sad thing is, it hadn't seemed to have grown much (as a city) since I left there ... at least, Downtown and the Forbes Field area.  A town unchanged but still beautifully maintained, Downtown, anyways. 

On the way out of Downtown, I recognized the old White Lakes Shopping Center (White Lakes Mall), the Mall where we visited Santa every Christmas!!!!!  And the old Fox Theatre next to it ... both shut down and abandoned ... maybe there are newer ones elsewhere in the suburbs?!?

Further down the road (Alt Route 75 or SW Topeka Boulevard), towards Forbes Air Force Base, I saw the Frito-Lay plant that I had toured with my Girl Scout Troop way back in the day ... still runnin' and producin'.  Oh the memories ...

Forbes Air Force Base (now known as Forbes Field) shut down in the early '70s and now is used for a number of things, among them, a Museum of the Kansas National Guard and the Topeka Regional Airport.  Most buildings were gone but some did still stand.  It didn't really resemble a base any longer but there were hints that it once was.  The Commissary, BX, Bowling Alley, Theatre, etc. ... gone. However, I did find the church we attended still standing, though in much disrepair.  The old main airplane hangers and tower (with its blue tinted glass) were still there.  That brought back many a memory of us picking up our Daddy on the tarmac after he had been TDY or deployed to Vietnam.  I can still remember the crackle on the phone when he would call us from over seas ... I hated those calls, only because there was so much crackle that I could hardly even recognize my Daddy's voice. 

Base Church we attended.
Wow!  This brought back many memories!
Our old home on Base Housing (across the four lane highway from the base), is now civilian houses.  The street names and addresses were all changed (weird) but I did find our old house, as well as recognized many of our neighbors homes (it was a base of many varied style homes, some duplexes and some stand alone).  Man did it seem so small!  Funny how as a kid things seem much bigger then they really are.   Neighborhood was nothing like it was, no beautiful well maintained lawns, no fresh paint and, of course, no names on the homes.  The BIG field across the street where my brother and his friends played football, while my sister and I were tied to the carport posts with our jump ropes (my brothers idea of babysitting LOL) seemed to have shrunk!!!  Our elementary school (Pauline South Elementary) was still there, though minus the huge concrete playground full of huge swing sets, tall slides, merry-go-rounds, jungle gyms, tether ball posts, and foursquare markings.  The field where us girls would sit during recess (back when recess was, well, recess) and make chains of flower necklaces and halos was still there and surrounded by the same farmer's fields where corn and wheat were grown!  The gravel oval track where we had Field Day every year, and where my sister went flying over the handlebars of her bike one summer and ended up with a few stitches in her forehead ... gone!  Yep ... lots and lots of memories ...

I left there with all kinds of memories running through my head so fast that I was choked up so badly that my throat felt like it was closing up on me ... memories, good and bad, they are what makes us who we are ...

We left Topeka by way of I-70 and travelled all the way across the state of Kansas ... we saw farm, after farm, after farm, not much between Topeka and the state line for Colorado, a few small towns but mostly just miles and miles of farms and farming communities, lots of old timey windmills and an occasional oil pump, not the fields of them that I remembered.  Not much had changed ... just miles and miles of land.  A humbling experience to see firsthand.  It is a beautifully hilly and a sometimes flat countryside and I kinda kept expecting to see buffalo stampeding across the plains ...

Top, notice the stone fence posts, lots of windmills and some oil pumps.

SIDENOTE: I've always known 'buffalo' as just that ... buffalo.  I had always wondered why they called their meat bison???  Ya'll all know the song ... "oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play ..."?  Well, I did a little research on that (I had cell/internet service in Kansas) and found out this:  The early American settlers first laid eyes on what we call buffalo and called them that because they reminded them of water buffalo ... why, I don't know because in my opinion, they don't look like a water buffalo ... anyway the name stuck and that's why we call them Buffalo.  They are really BISON and are only native to North America ... interesting tidbit there huh?  Did you know?

Sorry it's blurry ... that happens when you take a photo driving along at 80mph.
Bison farm ... I just love that American flag flying so proudly!  Saw a lot of that!
Another sightseeing stop in Abilene, Kansas, birthplace and home to our 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower.  I had visited here as a child and it worked out that I got to plunder around the grounds where his childhood home, museum, Presidential Library and final resting place are located while my hubby was on a business conference call (yea, ain't no vacation truly a vacation without the occasional conference call or must needed reply to an email or two, or three ...).  Anyway, if you're ever through there, it’s an interesting place to visit ... especially if you love history, as we do. 

NOTE: Here's where that helpful hint from Part One comes in handy ... you know the one about, gas, water, snacks, etc?  Gas Stations and Restaurants from here on out become few and far between (except for the big cities) ... seriously!

Miles of miles and miles of just this!
After leaving there we made our way across the remainder of the State of Kansas (its a long long long way across Kansas) and onto Highway 24 in Colorado down to Colorado Springs, Colorado where we laid our heads for the second night.


1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to hear the rest. You should also chronicle this in a scrapbook for your kids Debbie...but you were probably already planning something like that anyway. It is just so neat, and interesting and very personal...they will love it. Great job!