By Doris Schroeder
Going through some old papers I came across one that Ruth Neufeldt gave me a couple years ago to use sometime when I remembered the old-time picnics of our earlier days. It was just what I was looking for, some thing about an earlier time in life when we made our own entertainment and it meant a lot more to each of us. At that time Ruth’s last name was Enns and mine was Kroeker.
“You’re wanted on the telephone, it’s a boy!” my mother informed me one Sunday afternoon. I threw down the Ladies Home Journal magazine and slid on the newly waxed linoleum to the telephone.
“Hello!” I tried to say it calmly! “You bet! I’d love to go to Wichita this afternoon!’ Excitedly I hung up the receiver and yelled “Mother, may I go out this afternoon?” I didn’t wait for her answer but slipped on my cool yellow dress, the new pique one and my white sandals. Then I heard a racket outside and I knew Em had come, for he was the only one around with a car minus a muffler!
It was a beautiful day, just right for the picnic we had planned. I carefully opened the window a crack and let the warm air blow through my hair. It felt wonderful! Johnny was driving, Doris was sitting beside him, and everyone felt good. Arriving at Wichita, we stopped at a Kings X restaurant where the boys bought a ready-packed lunch of steamy hamburgers and french-fried potatoes with cake doughnuts for dessert. Then we headed straight to the park. Picking the prettiest spot, we spread out our colorful blanket. Lazily we munched our hamburgers as we watched the river crawl by.
After every crumb of the hamburgers and doughnuts had disappeared, I went to wash my hand in the river’s muddy water. We had forgotten to bring a towel but “Em’s shirt would do as well!” I teased. With this, he playfully pushed me down the grassy bank and tried to halt me just as I neared the water’s edge. I lost my balance and grabbed a hold of Em. Splash! There were two soaking wet teenagers standing stupidly in the river!
As I stood shoulder-deep in the river and felt the mud oozing up between the strap of my white sandals. I couldn’t help but take a sorrowful look at my once-crisp yellow dress. now sticking shapeless to my body. Then I looked at the bank and saw Johnny and Doris helplessly trying to control their laughter. All of a sudden it dawned on me how funny the situation really was.
As I squeezed the water out of the hem of my dress, I resolved never again to trust a summer picnic!
In 1951, John and I (Doris) got married. Later, Emerson and Ruth tied the knot. John got a job at Wileys laying carpet and soon Emerson did too. They both learned the carpet trade at Harmon’s Furniture and worked there for several years. Later, when Harmon’s wanted to contract the carpet laying out, my husband John and Emerson decided it was time to start their own businesses…Emerson in Buhler and John in Hutch.
It was fun for me because I got to help the customers with picking out their floor covering. I took a course in decorating and we did most of the homes built by Jayhawk and Norman Ensz. Carpeting was very popular at the time. People were tired of having wooden floors and color was in.
Then it started…one of our carpet distributors had a wife that liked to travel. Her husband, however, really didn’t like to unless some carpet dealers and their wives went along so they gave us an easy incentive. If we sold a certain quota of yards, we could go free. We got to travel to Hawaii, Mexico, Spain, Africa, Italy, and we loved it…especially in those days, flying was actually fun! The world was a much less dangerous place than it is now!
I guess in a funny way, that summer picnic the four of us went on in 1950 laid the foundation to the carpet business to two families in the 20th century. We will always enjoy the memories that started with Ruth falling into the river in Wichita those many years ago! Little did we know when Ruth fell in what the future held for all for all of us. Because we all looked to God for our direction. He has never let us down!
I do, however, hope we will have at least a little carpet in heaven. Too many gold streets could get old!
Doris welcomes your comments. She can be reached at [email protected]