Postcards chronicle history
We retrieve a stack of photographs from the pages of a book where they have been pressed to keep them flat. It is a jumble of picture postcards that chronicle the history of one small town, dating back as far as l908.
There is a post card dated January l908 from the Bonner Springs Sanitarium, located across from a rock house on North Nettleton, close to where the fire station now stands. The story has it that people came to Bonner for the “cure” and submerged themselves in the natural springs that graced the community in those days. Another story has it that the sanitarium was for people with mental disorders who were sent here for the same curing properties of the natural springs.
There is another of Oak Street, dated Oct. 21, l908, which chronicles that street’s devastation by fire, the caption reading that the fire burned all the way up the main street to the drug store “fire wall.” We do not know, but can only guess, that the drug store was the old Watson drug store on the corner of Second and Oak. What we do know from the postcard picture is that only stonewalls were left standing.
There is another post card dated l914, one-cent stamp, of the Kaw Valley Electric RR. It is a decorative car, with glass windows and a cable on top that connected it to the cable line. Had it survived we might have become a San Francisco of the Plains, with cable car transportation connecting us to communities along the Kaw. Who knows of its demise?
The daughter of the cannery owner who peruses the pictures with me is taken with one postcard of the cannery; I examine one of the brick factory, the Gray Brick Co. There are others of the old Christian church, United Methodist Church, McDanield School, the Union Pacific Depot.
We pored over one picture of downtown Bonner around that same period of time. The caption reads “Oak Street looking toward the Kaw River.” Using a magnifying glass, we could make out a Mobil gasoline sign, east of Dorton’s garage, a Plymouth sign farther down the street. Across the street the Iris movie theater, where one of my older sisters later had her first job.
The bulk of our time, along with a half dozen cards, was spent on the l951 flood, beginning with the Santa Fe Bridge, water lapping at its moorings. On the high side of the river, Bonner was saved from much of the devastation of the flooding; all suffered from its aftermath. Like the water, memory laps beneath our moorings.