December 12-19, 2014
Our three nights in Colony with Beverly and Bill were filled with the things all families do when reuniting after some time apart. Lots of conversation flowed as we caught up with each other’s lives, how the kids were doing, the latest updates on other family members and a bit of local gossip. We don’t get to Beverly’s too often; the distance involved and relative lack of things to do while there usually mean that we meet somewhere in between, or travel together as we’ve done so successfully the last few years.
Bev had to work on Monday giving us a little free time. We’d hoped to get a bike ride in but a cold wind blowing in from the northwest dashed that hope quickly and efficiently. Instead we drove into Iola, about twelve miles away to look for a cup of coffee and to walk the town square. When she first moved to Kansas, Bev lived in Iola, met Bill and they settled there, and in nearby Gas, until their move to Colony a few years back.
It was interesting to us how this small town mirrored many we’d seen in Europe. Larger than some, it is challenged by a changing world and local economy as it struggles to provide enough of a reason for folks to stay. Having visited a number of times over the last twenty years, we’ve been able to note things and places that have come and gone. One example is the old brick building at the main crossroads that housed the H.L. Miller and Sons Dress Company.
Bev worked there for a number of years, starting out in the sewing room and eventually moving up to the pattern making room, a fascinating place to visit. Clothing manufacturers generally base a dress pattern on one standard size, a ten, and then use a computer program to lay out the other sizes on the spool of cloth to minimize the amount of wasted material left over after the pieces were cut out.
Miller went out of business some time ago; Bev had left before then to work as an operating room technician at the local hospital, a position she still holds today. The old dress building still stands, having lived a number of lives in the intervening years, none successful, its last iteration a restaurant and nightclub. In search of some coffee, we parked a few blocks away at the town square and walked its entire perimeter, trying to locate the shop that Beverly had told us about.
At one point we stopped to ask a young man, holding an energy drink can, if he knew where the coffee shop was. He replied that he’d lived there his entire life and didn’t know about a coffee shop. Perplexed we’d almost completed our circumnavigation of the square when we looked down a side street and noticed the shop named Around the Corner, tucked away, the sign out at the square pointing to its location having blown down in the biting Kansas wind.
We shared a nice latte and a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. It was a small informal place, no pretentious trappings but a nice friendly vibe. We left hoping that it would survive long enough for us to visit our next time through.
Up early Tuesday morning we set out for Parker, Colorado and three nights with Doug Hoggatt and Sharon Withers. Not more than 30 minutes on the road brought us through the small town of Yates Center, population 1,417. I was pretty diligent about maintaining my speed at the required limit of 35 miles per hour and we soon left town heading east on the two-lane highway. A short distance out I noticed a police car with its lights on in my rear view mirror and wondered who they were after. It was I. Apparently I’d blown through a school zone, certainly not well marked, and was rewarded with an expensive reminder of the need to be careful about speed traps in small towns, my first ticket in something like thirty years.
Not a great way to start the day let alone the trip as a whole but given all of the miles I’ve driven, it was bound to occur sooner or later. The cold wind that had begun blowing the day before intensified in force, coming directly at us from the northwest, dampening our mileage but making for interesting snapshots of sky and land through the windshield of the car.
About four hours into our nine-hour drive, we arrived at the junction with the I-70 and continued directly west on it until we exited to take lesser-traveled two lanes roads to Parker, which lies at the southern periphery of the Denver metropolitan area. Except for the ticket, it had been a good day of driving; funny how ten hours in the car can seem short compared to the eighteen or more a few days prior. It would be good to see Doug and Sharon again; for Joanna even more so as it had been a couple of years since her last meeting with them. What surprises would Doug have in store for us this time around? Only time would tell.
H.L. Miller and Sons: http://www.cityofiola.com/history.html
Clothing Pattern: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Clothing-Pattern.html
Around the Corner: http://www.yelp.com/biz/around-the-corner-iola
Yates Center: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yates_Center,_Kansas
Yates Center Speed Trap: http://www.speedtrap.org/view/Kansas/91392