Lifetime of changes apparent with birthplace visit
If there is one truth that is constant every day, it is that there will be change. This became evident to me last week when Jean and I took a trip to Garnett to decorate my parents and grandparents’ graves.
I have said this many times – I was raised in Garnett and it will always be a special place, but Bonner Springs is my hometown. I left Garnett in 1957 after my father died, and other than checking sports scores and reading an occasional news story, I really have no connection to the community. Well, I do attend class reunions, but that is about it.
The house I grew up in is still there and I could recognize it. The barn where I played is gone and so are the three trees in the front yard, which served as bases for ball games. The large garden is now a green space and, of course, the fence is gone. It was a great place to play ball, since a long drive cleared the garden and went over the fence for a home run. Of course you could get in trouble if the ball hit the neighbor’s house.
I graduated from Garnett High School, and it is figuratively and literally gone. A number of years ago, it became “Anderson County High School” when other schools were consolidated. They maintained the mascot “Bulldogs” and red and white colors.
However, the school building was demolished a few years back, and only the gymnasium remains. I was asked if it bothered me that the building was taken down, and my answer was “no.” The building was dedicated to “Spanish War” veterans, so that gives you an idea of its age. You see, it was just a building and it is gone, but my memories of attending school there remain. Buildings can be demolished but memories are permanent.
I drove by the new high school and was surprised to see a new, modern football field. Garnett had a stone stadium built in the 1930s as a WPA project, and I’m sure it was state-of-the-art at the time. I was very young, but I remember seeing my first football game there. Then some years later, I remember going on the field as a sophomore in my first varsity game. I enjoyed my experiences watching games there as a youngster and then playing, but I believe the students who now compete for Anderson County deserve the best facilities. The nice folks at the school said all games will be played at the new facility. The old stadium will be used for other activities.
Like most small towns, business has moved from the downtown square to the highway. The Anderson Countian newspaper, where I started my career, is now combined with its rival, The Garnett Review. However, unlike many small towns, there are still two newspapers.
I was impressed that they have an active community theatre group that regularly puts on productions. When I was growing up there was a movie theatre, which is gone. Almost everyone I knew took their first date to the local movies.
The employees at city hall and the school district were very nice, and they certainly gave me a great impression of the community. I’m happy the city is doing well.
Back home I was pondering all the changes, and then it struck me. I looked in the mirror, and I saw real changes. I don’t know when the 18-year-old boy became a 78-year-old man. Maybe that’s the biggest change of all.