I hate to keep writing about the weather, but it’s still topic number one in the Flint Hills and all of eastern Kansas and the four states region of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. Since last week, it’s been one continual flood. I quit keeping track of all the rainfall here at home after it reached 14-inches. Suffice it to say, it’s too much.
Locally, the Cottonwood River flooded all the bottomland crops again It even washed out our Saffordville Old Boars’ Breakfasts two of the past three weeks. Travel was impossible between Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. It was gravel road only to Emporia.
Ol’ Nevah and I took a trip to Moran, our hometown, to decorate family graves for Memorial Day and found the Neosho River was one mile wide west of Iola and normally I could throw a rock across it. Burlington, Kan., had flood water just inches from downtown.
The whole eastern Kansas region is under a massive flood threat from all the waters the Corps of Engineers has held back in the reservoirs under it’s jurisdiction:
Tuttle Creek, Milford, Council Grove, Marion, John Redmond, Melvern, Pomona, Clinton, Perry, Fall River and Toronto.
It’s already releasing water from Tuttle and Perry Reservoirs. If we get any more rain is the next few days and the Corps has to unleash more water, it will be “Katie, bar the door” for all cities and communities downstream all the way to St. Louis.
In addition, tragically, four souls were lost in a fatal traffic accident on Highway 50 about five miles from our home. Word is that one of the vehicles hydroplaned in the torrential rain. And, several folks have drown and tornadoes claimed even more lives. Lawrence and the tiny burg of Linwood had massive tornado damage two evenings ago.
It’s become a cliche to even talk about “typical” Kansas weather.
All I’ve written about flooding, particularly the 1951 flood, prompted a faithful reader, Ruby T. from Wichita, to pen me a nostalgic letter about that epic flood. She wrote:
I just had to write. We enjoy your columns, but especially the recent one where you mentioned the 1951 flood. We have a couple of stories about that one that we want to share.
A few years ago, I was staying with my friend Brenda of Strong City. We were driving home from our event in Emporia when we passed the sign that said
“Saffordville.” I mentioned that we had an old wooden sign with the name
Saffordville on it and she said a local historian probably would like to see it.
The story behind our getting the sign is that we were camping at John Redmond Lake with friends and we took our old boat out exploring. We went up the entrance to the Cottonwood River and saw something up in a tree. My husband climbed up and found a beat up old sign with “Saffordville” written on it.
We took it home and hung it in our basement for awhile, then eventually it got moved to the garage. After talking to Brenda, my hubby and I looked in our old photo albums and found a picture we’d taken of the sign shortly after we found it and it was dated 1964.
So, we think the story is that the sign floated down to that tree in 1951 and stayed caught there until 1964, when we found it. We decided to return the sign to its rightful place and I’ll bet you probably see it when you go to breakfast or other meetings in the old Saffordville School House. I don’t know if the story ever got put up with the sign.
Also, my husband, Joe, who was a teenager in 1951, made the connection that it was the same flood that hit Iola. Back then he went with his dad back to Iola to clean up his grandmother’s home after the flood. He likes to tell how there were four outhouses that had floated on the flood into her back yard.”
Yes, Ruby, I pass under the Saffordville sign you returned every Wednesday morning at our Old Boars’ Breakfast. And, yes, the story of its return is posted nearby.
My retired bro-in-law, ol’ E. Z. Goin, is younger than me by more than a decade, but still getting up there. He tells this story about his two neighbor boys about nine and six years old.
- Z. knew the boys had participated in some youth activities at the Turkey Creek Church they all attended. However, E. Z. had attended church elsewhere that morning, when the neighbor boys came over in the Sunday afternoon.
When they boys saw him they came running, and, when they arrived, first thing E.Z. did wuz ask them about their youth activity at the church. The nine year old replied enthusiastically, “We did catapults.” To which E.Z. replied, “Apples?”
“No, not apples, catapults,” the boy replied. To which E.Z. replied, “What’s that?”
The boy rolled his eyes and said, “They’re and old weapon that was used to throw things at your enemies. Sort of like a big sling-shot.”
To which E. Z. replied, “Well, how does a catapult work?”
At that time the younger boy, who’d been listening to the conversation, interrupted and told E.Z. in an exasperated voice, “Look! Catapults are old? And, you’re old! So, you ought to know how they work.”
E.Z. told me that he doesn’t really feel like he wuz a boy when the slingshot wuz invented.
Words of wisdom for the week: “Mice die in mousetraps because they do not understand why the cheese is free. The same thing happens in socialism.”
Have a good ‘un.