In one of our road trips to deal with issues this winter, we were less than ten miles from the small berg of South Mound, Kansas. The post office here was opened in 1870 and the Katy railroad made a small station here. The population was under a hundred and three stores at most, but it was a lively, thriving place though small. I remember going here for summer religion classes long, long ago.
When I learned I had family here once, some still in the cemetery, I had new appreciation for the hamlet. I am not sure how the years all fell, but my dad’s grandmother moved her family here sometime in the early 1900s. His paternal grandmother and her children moved here sometime after her 1929 divorce from an abusive husband. Oh, how hard a divorce must have been in those days. I am not sure when and how their children married, but my dad’s parents married and lived in South Mound too for a few years. So I after not seeing the place for over 40 years, I wanted to drive by. I knew it would be an almost ghost town.
The grain elevator was once a cornerstone in the community, gathering corn and wheat from local farmers. Now it stands, still tall enough to be seen across the prairie from miles away. But up close it is a sad affair. Old stores are gone or crumbling. The church is gone expect for the concrete steps that still mark where the foundation once stood. Most houses are in disrepair, groaning in the wind at memoires of what they used to be. However, one resident has painted his house with pure hope for better days ahead. It made me smile just to see it.
So many Midwestern towns are deteriorating, fading away one board and one shingle at a time. It is sad. Progress has brought much, but still it is a shame to lose the lifestyles that involved not only hearty individualism, but of togetherness too. People needed each other then and had to get along to make a life. They did not have cell phones to call for help, but they did not get a voicemail when they called out for help either!