Saturday, February 10, 2007

In Retrospect: the Best of 2006 ~Greensburg, Kansas

Hunters Drug Store Soda Fountain

Have you ever driven a 10-hour stretch with 4 children in the car? If so, you know that you look forward to lunch and dinner breaks! Just getting out and enjoying a short respite from the van is a pleasure.

Alas, my husband and I are old parents and cannot settle for a "McDonald's break." Our children don't quite understand that; McDonalds suits them just fine. But our well being depends upon better things.

Our search for the right stopping place paid off last winter as we traveled home from our Arizona vacation. We happened upon a cute little cafe in the small Kansas community of Greensburg, population 1,574.

While waiting at table for our food to be served, a white-haired gentleman approached us with a friendly greeting. I found out later that this man is something of a local celebrity. His name was Richard, and he encouraged us to step across the street after lunch and have a dessert at the drug store, where he worked as the soda jerk.

We did so and were immediately charmed by the old-time atmosphere of Hunter Drug Store. It transported me back to my own growing-up years, where we sipped 5 cent cokes while swiveling on high chrome stools at the soda fountain.

Richard Huckried, the soda jerk, served us with alacrity. As he did so, he filled us in on a little history. Richard had been a soda jerk at Hunter Drug Store since 1953! Someone from the news media had recently "discovered" him and placed his picture along with an interview in a national magazine. The community of Greensburg raised money to place a cardboard likeness of him in the Kiowa County Museum. It seems Richard has the honor of being the soda jerk King!

We were urged not to leave Greensburg until we had checked out another local attraction: the world's largest hand-dug well. We did so, and that little side trip led us to yet another delightful diversion. An architecturally beautiful building across the street housed 10,000 square feet of antiques. We enjoyed both the antiques, and our visit with the owner, who was a recent transplant from Las Vegas.

"What possessed you to move from Las Vegas to Greensburg?" we asked.

"We fell in love with the place", was the immediate answer. "Besides, the night life is great." This was said with a wink.

My husband inquired if there were any used bookstores in the town? He is always looking for old volumes for his pastoral library. No, was the reply, but you might find a few books at the thrift store.

I can honestly say the Preacher hit pay dirt. He bought a brown grocery sack full of wonderful, old books for the price of 10 cents each! The only downside was trying to stuff ONE MORE THING into a van that already resembled the "Beverly Hillbillies" in its abundance.

Just as we were ready to pull out of Greensburg, Joy's eagle eye spotted another place too interesting to pass by.

"Daddy, we can't leave yet! There is a vintage clothing store, see! Snootie Seconds!"

"OK, OK, one more stop, but then we must get back on the road."

Snootie Seconds was the epitome of vintage clothing stores. Rows and rows of sweet little hats with veils, old purses in mint condition, and gorgeous dresses and shoes artfully displayed. I bought a purse. Joy bought a hat, which she had to wear in order to conserve space in the van!

FOUR HOURS after pulling into Greensburg for lunch, we reluctantly got back on the road.
About ten miles later, we hear from the backseat, "Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom!"

I was tempted to go back to Greensburg. There was that quaint little Bed and Breakfast that we didn't have a chance to investigate. Maybe we should just spend the night?

That didn't happen, but I really, really want to go back to Greensburg. It is America at its best.


afreak4jesus said...

I enjoyed your entry a lot- that was especially neat that you provided links to all the different places you visited!
~ Hannah

Anonymous said...

We found a neat soda fountain in Seneca, KS, on Hwy 36. It had a double horseshoe pink formica counter (if I recall correctly!) and we made it there for the afternoon gathering of retirees. We didn't know the rules and didn't realize that the seating was segregated by gender, the old men at one counter, and the old women at the other...the women surrounding Michael, who was then about 9, and at his most charming. A wonderful memory, and a throwback to a more relaxed time.

Carol in Oregon said...

I do believe we could travel together and enjoy ourselves. I'm always looking for used bookstores and love to pick up bargains at second hand clothing stores. What a lovely memory!

katharos said...

I now wish that I too could have visited this quaint little village. How sad that it is now no more... and yet the memories of it will live on forever!