DISPLACED PERSONS

Several years ago I started a correspondence with a fellow member of Women Writing the West, Eunice Boeve. Eunie lives in Phillipsburg, KS, while I, of course, live in NYC, so you might think a more disparate twosome could hardly exist. But whether it was our writing, or just the feeling of kindred souls, we have regularly corresponded now for some time, including family news, health issues, and even politics among our discussions of writing successes and woes, and I have learned an amazing amount of information from Eunie, particularly about Kansas history. So it was Eunie who brought me to Kansas, who imbued in me the need to see KS for myself.

The first item on the day’s itinerary was the Orphan Train Museum in Concordia. The idea of moving thousands of street children and orphans to homes out west is startling to modern thinking, yet that is exactly what was done. Their various stories are preserved in this old station house, and have now been retold in numerous novels. It is a startling facet of American history.

Driving through the Kansas countryside to our appointed meeting with Eunie at Nicodemus, it was Cristal and I who were displaced. The flat plains of Kansas is disconcerting to New York gals—devoid of buildings, few people, little traffic, and stretching into the distance with an endless horizon that wraps around you 360 degrees. But, at last we reached Nicodemus and Eunie, waiting there for us. She introduced us, in turn, to Angela Bates, descendent of one of the first African American pioneers who settled this township of former slaves from Kentucky. Conversation was stimulating over lunch, though it was heart-breaking to see so many buildings of this settlement in a sad state. Today there are only 13 persons still living in Nicodemus.

However, the day proved one of our best yet. Eunie, I know you’ll be reading this: we appreciate all you did, and are grateful for such generosity. We remain ever thankful as we journey on.

Angela Bates, Eunice Boeve, me and Cristal at Ernestine's BBQ, Nicodemus

Angela Bates, Eunice Boeve, me and Cristal at Ernestine’s BBQ, Nicodemus

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7 responses to “DISPLACED PERSONS

  1. Nice post about your stop in Kansas, seeing Eunie, and learning about orphan trains, the land and meeting Angela in Nicodemus! Hi, Eunie!!

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  2. Lovely to see you and Eunie together! I am so enjoying your travels, Andi. What a journey for you and your daughter.

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  3. Kansas is a fascinating place Andi. As you say the history is rich. Driving through north Texas on the way to Lubbock we saw ample evidence of the economic pain in small town rural America. The talking heads who talk up the economy are full of . . . delusional. Glad you are having such a good trip. We miss you in Lubbock. Karen, Trish and I are stumbling along without your guidance.

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  4. Loved seeing you two here in Kansas. It was like seeing old friends, and in a way we are, although until yesterday we had never met. Enjoyed the afternoon and evening so much. Have a good rest of the trip! Love you both!

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