Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category
John and Joni Creighton were married on August 19, 1989 in St. John’s Catholic Church in rural Rawlins County. In twenty years of marriage, they have lived in Boston, Massachusetts; Falls Church, Virginia; Bethesda and Rockville, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado. They have called Longmont, Colorado home since 2001. Both John (1983) and Joni (1986) are graduates of Atwood High School.
John is the son of Robert and Barbara (Wilson) Creighton. He was born in Atwood on October 11, 1964. He followed the family tradition (fifth generation) attending the University of Kansas where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with degrees in economics and business administration in 1987. He received a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 1990.
John worked on Governor Mike Hayden’s campaign staff in 1986 and 1990. For the past 20 years, John has worked as a public leadership consultant with a focus on public opinion research. He worked for The Harwood Institute for Public Innovations from 1991-1999. John founded his own consulting firm in 1999. Most recently, John agreed to write for the community section of the online edition of a major national newspaper.
John is active in Longmont, too. He was elected to the St. Vrain Valley School District board of education in 2007, the same year he succeeded his father as president of the High Plains Bank Holding Company.
Joni is the daughter of John and Betty (Rooney) Mickey. She was born in Atwood on May 20, 1968. She was a member of the Atwood High School state cross country championship team in 1986.
Joni attended Kansas State University and graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1994. She worked in the emergency room of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, as a floor nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland and as a research nurse in Boulder, Colorado.
John and Joni have three children, Emma Cloe born on May 26, 1997; Joseph Paul born on August 7, 1999; and Ada Grace born on December 18, 2001. All three children were born in Boulder, Colorado. Emma, Joe and Ada Grace hold the distinction of having two grandparents serve as Mayor of Atwood – Bob Creighton, 1983-1991 and Betty Mickey, 1999-present (Betty is the first woman and longest serving Mayor in Atwood history). The children enjoy visiting Atwood where they take swimming lessons most summers.
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Submitting to The Rawlins County History Book
I was part of an international community my first year of graduate school. I lived in the Cronkhite Center when I was a student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. The housing dorm was originally part of Radcliffe College. It’s claim to fame at the time I lived there is that it was once the residence of Benazir Bhuto, the former Pakistani prime minister who was assassinated in 2007.
Cronkhite was the temporary home to students from every continent – except Antarctica of course. Next door to me was a woman from Korea; across the hall a man from China; a little further down the hall a man from the former Yugoslavia and a woman who became a close friend whose family was originally from India. In other parts of the housing complex were students from really exotic places such as southern California.
Conversations in the cafeteria one day turned to cultures and cuisine – what are our favorite dishes from our respective “homelands.” The conversation turned into an idea which turned into an event. It was decided that we would hold an international food night. A sort of Taste of the World potluck featuring everyone’s favorite cultural dish.
The day of the event was a time of much activity and many smells. Many of our dorm mates spent the entire day preparing complex dishes. Spices I’d never before smelled wafted through the halls. Traditional meals from across the globe were being created right before our eyes – when I peeked through the kitchen doors.
I spent most of that weekend day watching sports on T.V. with my friend Jim Macrae. Neither Jim nor I were much for cooking. His favorite meal, probably to this day, is a cheese sandwich. My palate was not much more sophisticated. Indeed, at age 24, our idea of a good meal was the one that took the least amount of preparation. We were eager to participate in the Taste of the World party but weren’t keen on a long day of preparing a meal.
We faced another dilemma, too. What do two twenty something guys from the Midwest (Jim was from St. Louis) bring to an event like this? What would be authentic? I claim Scottish heritage but I’ve never eaten or made haggis and I don’t intend to in the future.
I don’t know exactly when or how the light bulb went off but we came up with what we thought was a brilliant idea. About one hour before dinner was to be served, we ran to the market and purchased the three ingredients for the most authentic of all possible meals – by the standards of Midwestern, 20-something guys. It was with pride that we served an entire platter of some of the best eatin’ there is: Manwiches.
My town is so small… How small is it?
Didn’t that type of joke become popular on the Gong Show?
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I am spending the week with a group of people from all parts of the country – Washington, DC; Las Vegas; Cincinnati; Louisville, KY; Detroit and Battle Creek, Michigan.
As tends to happen when you spend an extended period of time with people, small talk turns to hometowns. Some people in the group believe that they are from small towns. Battle Creek, after all, has a population of just over 50,000. The city folk certainly think that’s small.
In this group, only I know the “truth.”
I pepper people with Atwood facts to give them perspective about a real small town. (Even casual acquaintances in Longmont will tell you I’m always at the ready to talk – bore people with? – Atwood stats).
· Population 1,300 give or take. About 3,000 in the county.
· More people lived in my college dorm than in my town.
· 44 in my high school graduating class – though Natalie Ruda has been able to boost those numbers with her effective networking with former classmates.
· The town is roughly 8 blocks by 16 blocks – plus the lake and the golf course.
· My dad would round the circumference of two or three times on his morning run.
· The nearest town of 10,000 was more than two hours away – Hays. Remember, I lived in Atwood when the speed limit was 55.
· Denver is the closest town with a population of more than 50,000. At this point in the conversation, I sometimes have to remind people from the coasts that Kansas and Colorado are boarder states.
· It took me seven hours to drive to the state college – again, the 55 mile an hour speed limit.
· I only had to make three left turns from my house in Atwood to reach my fraternity house in Lawrence – okay, that’s not really relevant but I think it’s kind of cool.
All of this begs the question, why? Why do I want people to understand Atwood’s size? It’s remoteness?
It’s a point of pride. I like people to know I’m from a place that is unique. A place some people can’t even imagine.
I confess, my pride is stoked in part by a small chip that’s been sitting on my shoulder for nearly twenty years.
When I attended grad school, I perceived and experienced a disdain for people from rural America. Not all of my classmates to be sure. But, the disdain – or perhaps disregard is a better word – for rural Americans popped up from time to time. (It’s a good reminder to me that even small, unintended insults can have a lasting impact. I know I’m guilty, too.)
One experience to which I took mild offense was unintended. The person thought she was offering a compliment. “You’re pretty smart for a person from such a small town,” she remarked.
“Did you really say that,” I asked? She’s a good person and we’re still friends.
On another occasion, I was in a campaigns and politics class. Our professor showed commercials from a variety of candidate and issue campaigns. One ad featured a man from rural Tennessee. He stood in a thicket , wearing overalls. He belted out the punch line of the ad in a thick southern drawl, “They can have my gun when they pry off my cold, dead finger.”
Many of my classmates burst out in laughter. The professor, chuckling himself, had to intervene to restore order. I overheard classmates mock the man in the ad doing very bad southern impersonations.
A classmate who grew up in rural Wisconsin was so offended he picked up his books and left. “I’m outta this place (the class not the school),” he whispered to me as he exited the room. I understood.
The chip on my shoulder is almost gone. I rarely feel its weight. But, the pride in Atwood remains.
Very few people grow up in and are shaped by a town like Atwood. I’m proud to let people know. I do so every time I have the slightest opportunity.
We stood on the boardwalk in Atlantic City looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. There was a faint hint of light on the horizon – a sign of the coming sunrise. It was a new and bewildering sight for two kids from the Great Plains.
It was not quite six in the morning. We were very tired. It had been a long night.
There was no good reason for us to be in Atlantic City. We were on our way to Boston. Atlantic City was hundreds of miles out of our way. But, there we stood.
Twenty four hours earlier we were in Louisville, Kentucky. We had spent the night with Phil Priebe – our close friend, my roommate at KU and now our brother-in-law.
We were on our first road trip as a married couple. We were moving all of our worldly possessions to Boston – a mattress and box springs, table and chairs, a television, kitchen supplies and a few boxes of clothes, towels and sheets . I had one year of grad school to finish. Joni would find a job.
We had no car so we rented the smallest truck available at the Colby, Kansas U-Haul. Our belongings did not begin to fill the truck. They would more than fill the three to four hundred square foot apartment we rented on Beacon Hill.
On the advice of an older friend, we decided to live in the city. We just couldn’t afford much space. Our basement apartment was so small it was not possible to open the stove and the refrigerator at the same time. The bugs we discovered at night were as big as the mice.
We left Louisville early in the morning and made good time. We stopped Hagerstown, Maryland for a late lunch. We sat in a booth at Wendy’s and studied the Atlas. The wheels in our minds began to turn.
Should we turn north and take the shortest path possible to Boston? Or, should we see the sights along the East Coast? We had three days before we had to return the truck. But, we didn’t want to pay to stay in a hotel.
The answer was clear. Drive all night and sleep in the truck if we got tired. Those kinds of answers make sense when you’re 21 and 24. And thus began our Clark Griswold vacation.
We turned south at Hagerstown and headed for Washington, DC. We didn’t count on rush hour traffic. Little did we know that we’d wrestle with this traffic every day just a year later when we moved to Virginia and then Maryland.
The traffic was so thick we didn’t make it to the city until well after dark. We were having trouble reading the map. We drove through Georgetown which we didn’t realize at the time. A few turns later, we were driving along the Mall taking in the Lincoln and Washington monuments, the Capital in the distance. It was inspiring. We’d never seen the monuments lit up at night.
I’m not sure how but a moment later we were sitting in front of the White House – you could still drive by in those days. We had no idea where to park the truck. So we didn’t. We just slowed down and Joni took a picture of the White House through the passenger side window.
Next “stop,” Baltimore. It was getting late. Again, we didn’t park. We drove down to the Harbor, back to the Interstate and on to the next city.
In Philadelphia, we never found Independence Hall. In New York, we drove through Times Square and then down to Battery Park. We pulled over on a side street into what we thought was a parking spot. We climbed on top of the U-Haul to get a better view of the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t want to leave the truck.
Then, someone yelled at us. I have no idea what they said. But, we got back in the truck as fast as we could and tried to escape the city.
We visited Atlantic City between our drive-bys in Philadelphia and New York. We drove through New Jersey in the middle of the night. It was pouring rain. Joni could not stay awake. I pulled the U-Haul under an overpass and parked, waiting for the rain to let up. A New Jersey trooper stopped to check on us. He told us it was not safe to park there. We went on.
We arrived in Atlantic City at five a.m. – just as the casinos were shutting down. They wouldn’t re-open for another hour or two. So, we headed for the boardwalk. We had finally found a place to park the truck. There were only a few people out – clearly at the end of a night that involved alcohol.
Joni and I were mesmerized by the waves. They rolled toward shore in a perfect rhythm like a metronome. One after another. The same height. Uniform distance. It was hypnotic.
We stood there for fifteen or twenty minutes studying the waves. After careful consideration and drawing on our collective knowledge of oceans that we’d learned on the prairie, we agreed, “Cool wave machine!”
We headed back to the U-Haul to complete our trip to Boston.
For those who might be wondering… Yes, we really thought a machine was making the waves.