Sunday, May 06, 2007

goodbye greensburg

As a child, I spent summers on a lake outside of Medicine Lodge, Kansas. It was called 99 Springs and was a private club with 100 members and half that many cabins scattered around the lake, most of which dated back to the '20s. My mother grew up on that lake and lived there in the '20s and '30s when there was a dance pavillion built out over the water. Big bands from Wichita and Kansas City and Denver would stop in and play as they traveled from one booking to the next.

It wasn't a fancy place, but I loved it and still do. It was so beautiful, nestled in the flint hills of western Kansas, spring fed and surrounded by immense cottonwoods. Summers spent at 99 Springs had a positive impact on my childhood and the experience of growing up in that place we called "the cabin" grounds me more than any other.

So my heart broke a little to read that Greensburg, Kansas, a short distance from our lake at 99 Springs, was wiped out by a tornado. Greensburg lies between the cabin and Dodge City, where the majority of my kin still reside. Greensburg was the destination for summer outings, for picnics next to the World's Largest Hand Dug Well! and the incredible Pallasite Meteorite! It was a pretty place of small, tidy homes, a grand main street that held its charm despite the modernization that afflicted nearly all small communities in the '60s.

On the western plains of Kansas, one has to look a long while before finding anything of note. The horizon must be the flattest on earth, trees are evidence of farm houses or the occasional rare trickling spring. The only variation in the landscape is found in the colored coats of the cattle and the soft green of winter wheat.

From the news reports, 95% of Greensburg is gone. I can't imagine it. That sweet little town of good Kansas people completely destroyed. We live here ~ tornado alley ~ with an uneasy awareness of the power of those funnel clouds and the humbling knowledge there's not a thing we can do about them. I always wonder why it couldn't have just gone around? Kansas is practically empty out there. Why run right over the town?

In my home town, the tornadoes invariably wiped out Blackwell, 20 miles away, and skipped right over Ponca City. We'd watch them swirling overhead with amazement, then hear on the news that Blackwell got hit again. Strange things and fascinating, until they kill people and destroy whole towns. It's a sad day and my heart goes out to the people of Greensburg.

5 Comments:

Blogger Red7Eric said...

My sister lives in Kansas -- way on the other side of the state -- but it was indeed scary to read about an entire Kansas town wiped off the map ... especially this week, when my parents are visiting.

May 07, 2007 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Tater said...

This was tragic. I remember too often the wail of the tornado sirens growing up. I also remember being in places like Muskogee, or Ryan OK, and not having any sirens at all, but all of a sudden feeling weird, having the sky turn a greenish color, and then hearing all the adults screaming to us to get down in the storm cellar NOW! I rode out at least 4 severe storms in my young life, and they left their marks. Tragic that these people lost so much.

I just brought myself to finally watch "When the levees Broke" about Katrina. I haven't cried that hard in a long while. Bush should be publicly flogged for his mishandling of this crises. It made me hate him even more than before. The Citizens of New Orleans are still trying desperately to rebuild their lives while this asshole smirks like a fucking chimp and says things like:
"I am praying for the Lord's help and comfort for the people of Greensburg..." Great. While your praying, how about opening your fucking checkbook to provide faster recovery to Katrina survivors? They were fucked up over a year ago, and are still reeling. Why the hell did we deny the offers of assistance from foreign countries? I hope the people of Greensburg recover as well, despite our government's "effort" at helping them. Maybe they will get the help they need, seeing as how they are WHITE,MIDWEST,CHRISTIAN, and REPUBLICAN.

May 07, 2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous TedBear said...

Lynette, I knew there was another reason to love you, even though I really don't know you personally.

As soon as school was out for the summer, my parents packed all the kids up and sent us to live on the farm in Kansas. All my mom's peeps are in Harper, Attica and Anthony, Kansas. I spent all my summers with my Amish and Mennonite grandparents on the farm. It definitely shaped me into the person I am today.

I called all my cousins in Harper early Saturday morning. They were all on their way to help clean up. It is their way.

We watched the horrifying damage, an entire town wiped out, the same size as Harper. It is horrible. We cried. I am still trying to find out where to send money. We are on our way to China or we would go there to clean up like we did in Southern Mississippi.

I agree with Tater. Don't expect Bush to help you. There are still armies of volunteers in Southern Mississippi and New Orleans. One person at a time we can make a difference.

The overeducated redneck's nephew (I suppose my nephew too, since I have known him for 22 years) is a MSW in coastal MS. He says it is just awful, and work is harder than ever. The living conditions in MS are still bad. People are still in tents. Trailers? There are about 40k trailers sitting EMPTY off Highway 59, south of Picayune. Shame on the government. Shame.

May 07, 2007 12:26 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

well the shrub is going to stop by there today or tomorrow. i'm sure he'll fill their heads with empty promises.

tater, there are some real wild eyed radicals out in western kansas. my uncle joined up with a bunch of other farmers and drove is tractor to washington dc to surround the white house and protest farm policies. of course he's also a nazi, which is probably worse than republican.

tedbear, i've been to all of those little towns! i can't believe you know these places. i'm shocked. no one has ever heard of these little towns in southwestern kansas.

eric, are you folks okay? they're in eastern kansas?

May 08, 2007 6:41 AM  
Blogger kimberly3273 said...

Oh My Gosh Miss Belle! My Grandparents owned a lake house at Lake Arrowhead which is just down the road from 99 Springs. I grew up at this lake house and we would often (every weekend) drive and "sneak in" 99 Springs. How ironic as a child the movie Dirty Dancing was popular and I was totally convinced that it was filmed there.


By the Way my family no longer owns the property at the lake house but I miss it every day and wish my kids could experience the same fond memories that I have.

July 22, 2010 11:47 PM  

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