A few more miles down the road, I pulled into Bucklin, Kansas, where both my mother and father were born and raised and where both sets of grandparents lived most of their lives. Bucklinís population of 725 never changes. One dies; one is born. Similar to Oberlin, Bucklinís wide main street dates back to the day when freight wagons needed that space to turn around.
Talk to people who have driven across Kansas on their way from one coast to the other and they will almost certainly comment on how thereís "nothing out there, just flat land." Well, neighbors, this is just not true. For one thing, pioneer history abounds in the Midwest. Roy and I drove over to Meade to visit the Dalton Brothers hide out. If you know your western outlaw history, youíll recall that the Daltonís achieved lasting notoriety by trying to rob two banks at once and paying dearly for their cheekiness. Interesting but a bit on the too touristy side, the hideout didnít measure up to our next stop: the Meade County Museum, located in what was once a five-and-dime store up on Main Street.
Roy and I were the only visitors that day (that week?) and the docent there, a stylish woman still in her 30s, was pleased by our interest and happy to show us around. The museum was comprised mostly of rooms with different themes: a parlor, a print shop, a railroad depot, all spilling over with personal memorabilia and artifacts donated by locals. I was impressed that so many Meade County citizens found pleasure and pride in sharing their personal history.
We ended the day with a visit to Dodge Cityís Front Street. Recently renovated (and long ago moved from its original site), it looked a bit too spic and span for my tastes. But even if a bit of a tourist trap, it's a reminder of Dodgeís colorful past. These days, Dodgeís connection to the cattle business is as a major meat-packing center. Not too colorful, I'm afraid.
My trip to Bucklin ended on a sad note with a visit to the cemetery where my parents are buried, along with my grandparents and many other relatives. My folks were fine people and I (and many others) will forever miss them. But life goes on and Bucklin will always remain a special place to those it has touched.
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