When I researched what rural Kansas felt like, I hit a roadblock. I couldn’t pick up and visit, it just wasn’t an option. Cue my friend Molly Totoro, from Kansas. While she is not at all rural, she has lived in Kansas for a number of years and told me about climate, topography, feel, and other aspects of Kansas that my imagination couldn’t have shown all on its own. Molly was kind enough to join me today to share with you the feel of rural Kansas. Please welcome, Molly!
While I live in a metropolitan area, most of Kansas is made up of small towns and rural farmland. One day recently, I decided to venture outside my local neighborhood to visit Wetmore, KS – population 361. I went with a friend whose parents live – and farm – in Wetmore.
The familiar suburban sprawl drastically changed once we traveled outside Topeka. At that point, the interstate highway became a two-lane local road, and traffic was non-existent.
We probably traveled more than five miles before we saw another car. As we passed one another, the driver nodded, smiled, and gave the customary one-finger wave. Apparently country folk never meet a stranger and are prompt to welcome new faces to the area.
Our first stop was the family’s dairy farm. We arrived around 11:00am, just in time for hay feeding before releasing cows to pasture. They operate a small farm, about fifty head of cattle, but they work from sun-up to sundown – 365 days a year. Her mom and dad have not taken a vacation in over thirty years. Apparently cows don’t allow for time off: they require milking twice a day, every day.
According to the signage along the interstate, the average Kansas farm feeds 155 Americans. I gained a new appreciation for our country’s farmers and their dedication to the crops and animals I take for granted.
We left around 11:30, hoping to make it down the driveway before the milk truck arrived. The tanker comes to the farm twice a week for collection. It then transports the milk to a local bottling plant where its cream is made into butter and sold in Kansas City supermarkets.
Once down the driveway, we drove five minutes to town and had lunch at the Dinner Bell Café.
Town is located on Main Street, an unpaved road, two blocks long. There is a bank, grocery store, grain-and-feed store, doctor’s office, post office, library, and town hall. Oh, and an antique car museum that is definitely worth the visit.
When we arrived at the café around 11:45, we were greeted with, “You can sit anywhere. It’s a good thing you beat the rush.” They weren’t kidding.
At noon, I heard what I thought was a tornado siren, except this was not the first Wednesday of the month and skies were clear. I soon learned this was the daily noon whistle, which signals all shops to close and everyone head to the Dinner Bell.
Shortly after they all arrived, we were instructed to sing Happy Birthday to Vicky – the wife of the bank’s President. I even joined in the festivities, and Vicky loved it.
The luncheon special was indeed a bargain: chicken fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade roll, strawberry sheet cake and choice of beverage for $7.99. I nearly licked the plate clean.
We left the restaurant around 12:45, along with everyone else. This created the town’s daily traffic jam: two cars trying to back onto Main Street at the same time. However, no horns honked, and no tires screeched. Each driver exhibited friendly patience while waiting for the other to move on down the road.
After traffic subsided, I decided to take a few pictures before we left. I meandered down the middle of Main Street because there is little traffic and no one is in a rush. There are no stoplights, and road rage is a foreign language. Everyone respects one another and assumes the best in people. There is honesty and truth here, wrapped up in a good work ethic and friendly spirit.
While I am still a suburban girl at heart, small town Kansas is a nice place to visit. It’s good to know there are still decent folk out there.
Molly writes her own blog focusing on reading, writing, Creative Memories, and travel. You can visit her at My Cozy Book Blog, or follow her on Twitter at @MyCozyBookNook. Thank you for joining me today Molly!