Day 36 – (October 10) – A Step into the Past

We set out early from the cousins’ home in Lee’s Summit, MO to make a pilgrimage into the past. Sixty-seven years ago, my driver’s mother had lived and worked in Topeka, Kansas. We went in search of information . . . or maybe even only a feeling . . . of what her life might have been like all those years ago.

Hosted by my driver’s half-sister’s half-brothers (or, as we have affectionately designated them our “quarter brothers”) we toured the surrounding areas where we knew she had worked and perhaps enjoyed an evening out. They took us to the Veterans’ Hospital in Topeka where she once worked and my driver spoke with records to see if he could gain any information about her time there.

After driving through the area and locating points of interest, our “quarter-brother” guides treated us to a lovely buffet lunch at “Green Acres.” I had to pass up the buffet in favor of one of those signature Midwest pork tenderloin sandwiches. Each time I have one I can never figure why they are not available in our part of the world. They are fantastically delicious.

In the 1940’s there was a popular lunch spot and dance hall in Osage City named “Snappy Lunch” where my driver’s mother most likely enjoyed a good lunch, a good dance and certainly, many friends. We toured the spot and went inside. It was not difficult to imagine the place filled with couples dancing and having a lively time. Like so many previous places we have visited, just being in the locale where our ancestors once were brings a feeling of closeness and connection. It is an encounter with a time and a place that brings some understanding to what our ancestors might have been like and what they may have enjoyed. While we found no definitive information about my driver’s mother, just encountering the place gives us a new appreciation of who she was.┬áThe feeling associated with standing in a spot where she was long before we were born is priceless.

Our “quarter brothers” and their wives were beyond gracious and we so enjoyed the time spent with them. The conversations flowed easily and we felt so fortunate to have met these wonderful people.

As the afternoon turned gray and cold, we stopped in Lawrence to visit my driver’s father’s grave site. It was the second time we had visited and the sadness it evoked is beyond description. Never having known his father, all we can do is imagine what life might have been like had they had the opportunity to known each other.

We returned to the Lee’s Summit cousins’ home and enjoyed another home cooked meal and evening of conversation. It was fun to talk “ancestry” and look through family picture books and family history books associated with home towns in Iowa.