We all have defining experiences in our lives. I have had two. The first was growing up in small town on the Great Plains – Atwood, Kansas. The second was becoming and being a father. The essays on this blog are snapshots of my experiences growing up in Atwood and of my life as a father, husband and friend. These are my memories. I don’t pretend that each essay will pass the journalistic test of accuracy.
The town of Atwood is situated on one square mile – more or less – in a valley in the center of Rawlins County, Kansas. It is necessary to descend a steep hill when entering the town from any direction. The welcome signs note that Atwood is the home of Kansas’ 41st Governor, Mike Hayden.
The town is eight blocks east to west and sixteen north to south, framed on the west by Kansas Highway 25 and the north by U.S. Highway 36.
The high school and football field sits just to the east of Eighth Street. A manmade lake built during the great depression of the 1930s, a nine-hole golf course and two ball diamonds rest on the north edge of town; an airfield a few miles further north.
The county courthouse, the only building of any architectural note, can be found in the center of town near the statue of a buffalo, mascot for the local schools. My house sat one block to the south.
Nestled in the southwest corner of town is a 1950s era swimming pool and city park with scout houses for both boys and girls. A hospital and assisted living center were built on the opposite side of town in the far northeast section of town.
The business district consists of three or four blocks along Fourth Street and three or four blocks along Main Street. These were the streets that young people of my era spent hours driving back and forth on weekend nights – dragging Main we called it, even though we spent almost all our time on Fourth. The grade school was just a block further north on Fourth Street. To this day, no stoplights can be found in the town.
Atwood is small by anyone’s standards – about 1,200 people as of the most recent census. For eighteen years it was my whole world. It is the place I was born, fell in love, was married and buried both my parents. It is the place I learned the values, work ethic and sense of community that continues to shape my world view.
I have lived away from Atwood far more years than I lived in the town but it is still part of the essence of whom I am.
Joni, Emma, Joseph and Ada Grace – my family - is the other thing in my life that most defines who I am. The picture(s) says all that needs to be said (I will add to these over time).
I have three goals in writing this blog. First, I want to capture family stories. My father encouraged everyone to write an autobiography for their grandchildren before the age 65. This is my substitute. Second, I want to learn to be a better writer – how to hold people’s interest, especially my kids. And last, I want to learn more about the world of blogs. I begin this as essentially a novice. I am interested to see where it leads.
Thanks for taking the time to read. I appreciate your comments.