I can’t believe it has been 5 days since I posted! My children have been home all week for Spring Break…husband as well. It’s a miracle I’m getting anything done. I did take the day off….truly took the day off yesterday and we drove a full 45 minutes up into the great state of Kansas to a small town called Independence (we live very near the Kansas border). It is a trip we all enjoy. It’s not too far and we have a great time…and it doesn’t break the budget! It’s a no lose situation.
Independence is a town of about 10,000 people. Not too big but certainly not dinky in appearance. My husband’s family hails from there abouts. They are all gone now but memories live on for him and we have made many new ones.
Founded on land taken from the Osage Nation, early Independence was home to many families made wealthy by the oil and gas booms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ornate Victorian homes and architecturally thrilling buildings still attest to the prosperity of pre-Depression days. Oil magnate Harry F. Sinclair, who founded the Sinclair Oil Company with its dinosaur logo was one of the more known. His retro building still stands prominent within the town. As we walked around yesterday, we wondered how many people still knew that building, now filled with multiple individual businesses, had once been the headquarters for Sinclair’s empire. Undoubtedly time will continue to lessen the historical significance of such.
I talked about William Inge, a famous playwright, in an earlier post about Picnic. He was born in Independence and, as is indicated in much of his works, the town had a huge influence over him. Each spring Independence Community College hosts an annual festival in his honor.
Miss Able, a rhesus monkey, was born at Ralph Mitchell Zoo. If Miss Able is ringing bells….you may have seen her in Night At The Museum 2. We’re very proud to have visited her birthplace! Miss Able along with Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey, became the first animals to fly in space and return alive on May 28, 1959. Monkeys still live on the island sporting a rock castle surrounded by a water moat enjoyed by ducks and a pair of stately swans that love dog food (I’m out of breath). The zoo is free! It isn’t huge and occasionally many of the animals will have taken refuge inside. Still, it is a highlight of our trips. We have certain exhibits that are “must sees” and there is an awesome playground inside the zoo with a nursery rhyme theme (and 3 gorillas…. not sure how they fit in but the kids love to have their pics made on them). Yesterday my third grader had to take her Flat Stanley. Photographs abound…now to just get them downloaded. I’m so bad about that I’m in dire need of a personal assistant!
From Memorial Day to Labor Day The Miniature Train, Miniature Golf Course and Carousel are open (Weekday evenings and Sunday afternoons). Admission: the Carousel is 5 cents, the Miniature train is 25 cents and Miniature Golf is $1. The Mid-Continent Band plays every Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. at the band shell through the summer. How’s that for small town entertainment! I love it! Oh yes, they also boast their annual Neewollah event as Kansas' largest annual festival. Held the last week of October, Neewollah's musical stage shows, carnival, concessions, entertainment and grand parade attract more than 80,000 visitors each year. Do we attend? Don’t you know it! The last time we missed was the year my son was born on October 15. I simply couldn’t bring myself to take a newborn. It’s an action packed day. Hey, Chris…I do have my limitations after all! You did realize Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards???
And, last but not least, the day would not be complete without driving through Dairy Queen for traditional treats. The store in Independence is owned and operated by an older group. They can still make Chocolate Sodas…as long as one of the three is there. I hope it is not a tradition that will go away with them although it does seem like it, huh?
That makes me sad but also serves as a reminder to me to teach my children. I love walking through history. We’re blessed to live in a place rich with such (Bartlesville, OK was home to Phillips Petroleum Company and Frank Phillips for many, many years. I’ll have to write about that someday…) It’s amazing how much history we have right outside our front doors. Opening one door can unlock the doors into the past as well as into the future. How many doors can you open right there in your own town? Try it. I’ll bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.