Saturday, March 24, 2012

--The last store in town--

I pulled into the very small town off the highway to have a look around. Not much left here, just a few houses, some abandoned store buildings and shops and etc. Looked like a flood town where folks had moved on. It did have a Post Office though and a little corner store that looked open. Before I went inside I took a photo first and noticed the handicap walker outside....

Inside was an elderly woman and her son sitting at a booth eating some butterscotch pie with meringue topping and coffee. They greeted us warmly and he quickly told me that it was his Mom's 96th birthday and this was her store...
Soon the phone rang and it was someone wishing her happy birthday and she jumped up quickly and moved the walker at a fast pace to the phone. 
I had unwittingly stepped back into time on this day by sheer luck. Her son Boyce explained to me that his Mom (Mrs. Baumgardner) lived right across the street from the store and each morning Mon- Sat at 5:45 am one of the remaining handful of residents in this tiny ghost town come and help her walk across the street where she would open up the store and make coffee and begin her day like so many others. Someone also helps her go home each night. He lived about 6 miles away but had grown up in this store and that same house and had brought her favorite pie for her birthday. She returned to the booth and sat for a visit and answered my questions. I asked had she owned the store a long time. "We built the store in 1947 as a locker plant and store where the local ranchers would bring steers for butchering and store the meat in the lockers there since not many folks had a home freezer. My husband died in 1997 and I have just been putting in my time here since then." 
I noticed a huge walk in freezer and the shelves that were only partially stocked now. She said it used to be a busy place as folks would come in and buy some groceries, go into their locker to get some meat for supper and visit while there. 

Everything else in town had closed except for the post office which might be on the endangered list for possible closing.
I noticed the ice cream fountain area where young folks must have loved to hang out after school and eat ice cream or drink malts and shakes.....and at one time they even had a carhop.

I sure enjoyed looking around and visiting with these folks. You just don't see places like this anymore and in fact most have been gone for a very long time.

As we left the store I took a few photos of other parts of the soon to be ghost town...

And so goes the story of my chance meeting of a birthday girl in Elmdale, Kansas (pop. 40) who is a living Icon in her part of the world...
Stay strong Mrs. Baumgardner, the world needs you to hang around longer. 

1 comment:

  1. This just *has* to be one your most serendipitous stops along those rural Kansas highways and byways.......Mrs. Baumgardner has my respect and admiration for carrying on in her truly wonderful old store to this day.......

    What a great visit you must have had......I wish I could have sat in on that need to do video of these folks as you talk to them.....priceless!