The picture of our Kansas roads are etched in my mind and memory and if I have my way, the Lord willing, will be engraved in my brain even as I go to heaven. Although my family moved around a lot when I was young, the essence of my life took place in the area I often see as we travel to Buhler.
We reach the Old Highway 61 about a half mile from where John and I live now. As we ride along the road, I see some houses where my high school mates lived back in the late forties and early fifties. The old highway passes through acres of trees that have grown up since Kansas became a state one hundred and fifty five years ago.
I even remember, as a four-year-old, standing on the back seat floor of our Model A, coming home from Buhler where we had visited my grandparents. We had stopped at the filling station in the little unincorporated town of Medora, to put air in the tires. Then as we traveled home, the highway curved at 43rd Avenue and the car started to sputter. Dad said we were almost out of gas. I thought I had the solution and told my Dad “If we hurry a little bit more, we can get home before we run out of gas!” I was even proud of myself for coming up with the solution. It must have worked because we did make it home.
Almost every Sunday afternoon, my folks would drive that same route to visit one of my grandparents either in or around Buhler. We would drive through the little town of Medora, situated by the railroad tracks. Sometimes we’d hear the train whistle as it raced alongside of us to the corner. This is where we turned towards Buhler, drove around the curve by the Little Arkansas River and past Sunrise Road.
This was the road my Dad’s parents lived. They had a farm located about a half mile up the hill on the right side of the road. It had a large two-story yellow farmhouse, a big red barn, several chicken houses, and a few other necessities. When we drove up the driveway on the hill, their farm dog, Shep, would always come to meet us. My grandfather still farmed with horses and my cousin Della and I would often ride in the trailers of wheat when they were brought to the granary.
When my grandparents moved to Buhler, my Dad moved Mom and me to the farm. I loved the huge house we lived in with five bedrooms upstairs. It was full of things my aunts and uncles had left behind when they started their lives away from home. I could look out the windows and imagine all the things I wanted to do. When my girlfriend from the country school of Sunrise visited we made up all kinds of plays as we played the old Victrola. The only record was “Blest be the tie that Binds,” and we wound it over and over again.
When our family grew and I had a little sister, my parents moved us to California for a year and a half. I enjoyed the golden state but told all my friends about the Kansas farm and I think I could have convinced them all to move here if it was in my jurisdiction.
We did move back and I was thrilled that this was my home again. I loved to look out over the fields of wheat in the fall when I herded the cattle. It was special to me in the summer as the golden wheat on the rolling hills was harvested and taken to Buhler in the trailers.
As we traveled to Buhler during harvest, we would pass the Buhler Cemetery which had been made on the land donated by my great grandmother’s father. We took the wheat to the Buhler Flour Mill where my other grandfather, Peter Lange, once worked as a miller. The house where they lived was on Main Street. The house on the other end of the block was the well-known Sam Schneider house. He owned several gas stations my grandfather had invested in, and my Dad worked for him several years.
Down the block from the Schneider house was the Buhler Grade School and the big two-story Buhler M.B. Church where my Uncle P.R. Lange was the pastor. The Buhler High School, located on Main, has grown many times over the size it was when I attended. The Buhler Main Street is also different. The only business that is still at the same location is the grocery store.
Even now, as John and I have become the “senior citizens” of today, I feel a certain joy to travel this memorial road to Buhler. Both sets of grandparents risked a great deal to come to America in 1874 and 1902. I will always appreciate their courage to make that dangerous trip to relocate in a country that means everything to us. God has truly blest America and especially the state of Kansas.
I would wish with all my heart that the people of our state would keep God first in their lives as they travel the memory roads that mean so much!
Happy Birthday, Kansas!
Doris would appreciate some of your recollections of this memory road. [email protected]