Wednesday, December 9, 2009

November 28, 2009 - What to Do, What to Do . . . .

So there we were, sitting in my sister Sue Parker's home in Salina after lunch on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on Thanksgiving weekend, wanting to go Exploring Kansas but with the reality that between the two of us  had pretty much been everywhere to see everything within a hundred miles radius of Salina. 

So what to do?  We certainly could not waste such a great afternoon.

We thought and brought up this place and that place to no avail, until my sister realized that she had not been to Glasco, Kansas since going roller skating there back around 1970.  Gratefully we packed into her car and headed north. 

Glasco is located on U.S. Highway 24 in the southwest corner of Cloud County.  I showed my sister the buidling that once housed the very popular rollar skating rink, which attracted teenagers from all across North-Central Kansas in its time.  Sadly the building now sits vacant, along with the former gas station next to it. 

We drove into town and, seeking a drink, parked before the Hodge Podge, the local drug store/giftshop featuring an original Soda Fountain.  Unfortunately we arrived at 12:03PM, and the store had closed three minutes before.

So there was nothing for it but go across the street and settle for a pop in the Pepper Pot Cafe.  Nice, big and clean, the cafe was baking rolls for the upcoming supper run as we took our leave.  Down the street we met with the "police dog" (every small Kansas town has one) and, after a few pats and a scratch, were allowed on into Glasco's excellent second hand/antique/computer parts store. 

Then it was a driving tour of the rest of town and we headed on east, going a couple of miles before realizing that we never took one picture the entire time we were in Glasco.  All I can say is, don't read anything into this!  The city is certainly worth a visit and has a great church tour. 

Four miles east of Glasco is a paved county road leading south six miles to the town of Delphos.  Now just under 500 people, Delphos has a unique way to let you know that you've entered the community.  The street sign shown above is located at the city limit line along each major  road coming into town.

And for we slower, uncomprehending people, there also is the normal city limits sign.  A third sign at the city limits is one you can only find in a small town, letting everyone known when the local Lions Club meets.

These days Delphos is primarily known for being home to the little girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote to Abraham Lincoln and suggested that he grow a beard.  A monument commemorating the event can be found in the city square. 

As we headed south into town we immediately discovered what other interesting thing Delphos should be noted for - the town has extraordinary architecture, and not in one location but all over the community.  This grand house seen in the two photos above is a perfect example.  

Without meaning to our tour of town became a grand architectural driving tour!   Above is St. Paul's Catholic Church.  Current Internet sites list services here as starting at 11AM; however, the sermon sign out front sports only one word: CLOSED.

And then a block east of St. Paul's (seen here in the right background) is the remarkable First Presbyterian Church, with its two main entrances and two bell towers.

Only in a small town story:  we had parked just past the church, and I was opening the car door when a SUV pulls up to us.  The driver leaned out the window and and asked if we needed help.  No, I said, I was just getting out to take a photo of the church.  Turns out we had just missed a dinner at the church for a funeral and she thought we were out-of-town people late for the funeral.  She then told us that this is the church where Milburn Stone, "Doc" on the old TV series Gunsmoke, was first married.  In 1925 while appearing at the theater in Delphos Milburn met and fell in love with Ellen Kelman (Nellie) Morrison, a local preacher's daughter. They were married in the church across the street from the Morrison family home.

Now, to us who are from that generation that grew up with this revered Western series, this is pretty big stuff.  We looked all around for a marker or even a brochure to commemorate this significant tidbit of Kansas Explorer information, but there was nothing; only a chance meeting with a knowledgable local citizen exhibiting kindness to strangers and pride in her community's heritage.

On the east side of Delphos is this home with not only a bay window but also the unusual St.Anne-style round tower on the side. 

Continuing the "two main entrances and two bell towers" theme in the town is the Delphos United Methodist Church.

A closeup of the lower tower of the United Methodist Church with its unusual half moon decoration.

Heading back into downtown Delphos one cannot miss going around the city square, which is a city park and a very busy place the day we were there.  On the northeast corner of the square in the two white buildings is the home of Parker's On the Square, your business place for according to the list on the front window just about everything.

At first we didn't really notice the town watertower,  seen at upper left in the above photo.  Then we looked again and of course gawked, much to the irritation of the driver in the pickup behind us.  What happened to the top?  Was the tower never finished?  Was this a Halloween prank?  If you've seen the roof for this tower, good citizens of Kansas, please return it, as it's loss is causing near-accidents among startled visitors to the Delphos community. 

Still on the on the north side of the square are two other important town businesses.  The 1910 First National Bank building, seen above, is now the town library.  Next to it on the left is the Second Street Diner, which closed its doors just as we drove up to it in hopes of getting a drink.  Just par for the course on this journey!

Dominating the west side of the square is the old I.O.O.F lodge hall.  According to family company records my great-grandfather Frank Rothenberger rebuilt one of the building's walls back in the 1910s.  Nice to see it still there. 

After a great hour-long architectural tour through Delphos we finally headed east out of town on Kansas Highway 41.  Three miles east we then turned south along a paved county road towards the Ottawa County seat of Minneapolis.

Suddenly sound exploded in my ear.  "That house!  You've got to see that house!" exclaimed my sister.  I pulled over, turned the car around, and headed back north to the intersection we had just passed.  A quarter mile east of the intersection stood this farmhouse, which is certainly more impressive than this photo gives credit.  As I got out of the car to take the photo the owner came up from the yard.  He explained that the house had stood six miles to the southwest and that he and his wife had spent the past nine years restoring it. 

Heading on into Minneapolis we found the place to be on the weekend - the Virginian Restaurant & Bar.  Friday and Saturday is Steak and Crab!

It seems that the Ottawa County Architectural Tour continues!  At the west end of downtown Minneapolis is this great St. Anne-style home.

North and east of the downtown area is this mansion with its copper-roofed tower.

East of the downtown is an entire street of fine architecture.  On the south side of the street was this elegant home, while across the street to the north . . . .

Can be found this fine home, the photo for which does not do it justice.  And it's for sale!  Anyone who is interested can contact the fine people shown at the left. 

The end of our visual tour comes with this shot of the Minneapolis Nazarene Church at 302 Argyle.  It caught our eye as the size of the steeple is amazing in view of the overall size of the church.  Its effect of drawing one's eye into the sky is impressive in its simplicity.

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