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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
In 1907 a Girard, Kan., newspaper reported Kansas City was one of several cities making extensive expenditures to provide play ground facilities for the children. The newspaper editorial asked why something similar was not being done for the children of Girard and made reference to a construction site in that community where the contractor had a big pile of sand. The newspaper reported that from daybreak to long after dark little people were having the time of their lives playing there. The contractor was allowing them every freedom possible and joy was reigning supreme.
For a comparatively small sum, the editorial writer proposed the town board could purchase a carload of sand and have it dumped on the school grounds. The writer said the investment would be returned 500 percent.
I don't know if the Girard town council acted favorable on the editor's suggestion but reading the story 110 years later got me to thinking about how much I enjoyed sandpiles while a youngster.
My first sand pile was a long, narrow sand box. It was about 12 or 18 inches wide and eight to ten feet long. Made of wood the box may have been built to serve as a livestock feed bunk and adapted for use as a sand box. It was okay in my preschool days but I outgrew it. I wanted something far bigger and located where the youngsters visiting the gasoline station wouldn't be able to destroy my creations.
I only got part of my wish. My next sand box was certainly bigger for it was more like a sandpile. But it was located near the fuel oil pump north of the gasoline station, outlined with railroad ties with a tree growing out of the middle of it. It was even closer to the station than the first. It was at least 64 square feet in size, perhaps as large as 256 square feet. It allowed me to build expansive roads, dams and canals. But it had a problem. It was filled with fine river sand that my father was able to scoop up for free. I longed to have a sand box filled with the better purchased sand but never got my wish.
The sand pile served many functions. It allowed me to play with Father and Grandfather could watch me while tending to customers at the filling station. It also was among a group of playthings designed to entertain the station's younger visitors. Other toys included swings, a trapezze bar and merry-go-round made from a wooden wagon wheel.
Country school also had a sand box. This one was about the size of a table, perhaps 30 inches by 48 inches. Got to play in it some but the sand box served many purposes. In December it was home to a Christmas tree. Other times of the year, we got to build in it displays that were connected with our studies.
Never one to think small, my favorite sand box was really a sand bar in the Republican River. Most summers the Republican had vast expanses of vegetation clear sand that I liked to play on. But there was a problem, the river was far enough from my home that I couldn't carry my trucks and construction equipment there. And since the river flooded the sandbar following a big rain, I couldn't leave my toys there.
I dreamed of having my own car and drivers license thinking I could drive the car and haul my toys to and from the river at will. A second alternative involved persuading my parents to move. My dream home had a flowing creek nearby with lots of sand.
I eventually got my first dream, a car and a driver's license but by the time that happened I had lost interest in taking my toy trucks and motor grader to play on the sand.
Still later, I became the owner of a few acres located along the Republican River. I have enjoyed taking visiting youngsters to the river and letting them play on the sandbars but years ago I gave away my toy trucks and motor grader and no longer dream of playing with them at the river.
But I agree with the Girard editor. Money invested in a sandpile can provide provide a youngster with many hours of entertainment. I enjoyed playing in my sandpiles as a youngster and today enjoy remembering those good times.


A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

It was a strange experience being "visited" by our youngest daughter Monday evening. She and one of her roommates drove down from Omaha to pick up some of the belongings she still had in the house. It felt strange I think because when she was in college, she was technically still living with us, but now she just lives in Omaha. Period. Like all the other adults who simply live and work there.
She attended school full-time at UNO for a year, but it was apparently not for her. She didn't return for her second year, choosing instead to get a full-time job and a place to live of her own. Well, with some roommates, of course. She's renting a small house with two other people, one of whom she works with at the restaurant. Since the main leaseholder has been there for several years, the house is nicely furnished, except for Molly's bedroom furniture. Most of what she picked up Monday were clothes, books and personal things. And her guitar. She had left it for me because I was without one for awhile, but now that I have another one, she took hers.
I don't know what her plans for the future are, or if they include going back to school at some point, but she seems to be "adulting" quite well at the present time with no help from me, so I'm inclined to let her be. She's pretty good about asking my advice before doing "big" things, so I don't worry about her. More than the usual "daughter living on her own in the city" amount, like any other father.
I saw she posted on social media about attending the "Green Day" concert recently at the Century Link Center. I asked who she went with, and she said she couldn't find anyone, so she went by herself. I'm anxious to talk to her about the concert. I saw them in concert about 25 years ago.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

School bells will soon be ringing. It's almost like "the call of the wild" as parents prepare for their children to return to school or begin their very first school days. All are asking, "What happened to the summer?" as swim suits are put away, swimming pools are closed and camp days come to an end. Last minute trips to visit grandparents were made and family vacations were taken just in time. Now it's getting the children used to going to bed earlier in the evening so they can face the earlier morning hours of preparing for school.
It's time to hit the stores for school supplies and replace clothing that's been outgrown since the last school year. Visits are made to register at school and youngsters eagerly find their classrooms and meet their new teachers. Before school starts, visits are made to the dentist, eye doctor, medical doctor and barber or hair salon.
Mothers have mixed emotions as they prepare their young ones for school. They are proud their child is moving forward, but can still remember that child as a baby brought home from the hospital, learning to walk or speaking its first word. Where do the years go? They seem to have flown by.
From elementary school, it's on to junior high and then all too soon it's time for high school. Parents cheer them on in their studies and activities, including sports and music. Parents burst with pride as their child earns an achievement and rejoice with them when they accomplish something they work hard for.
Photos are taken of the children right before they leave for their first day of school. They look happy and excited as they wear new school clothes and carry their new bac pack. It's fun to see those photos as they are shared.
For mothers and fathers sending their youngest child to their first day of school, it is so hard! Children are anxious to begin new chapters in their lives, but for a parent it is difficult. Tears are shed, but they are led up the steps of the school building school bus, and with a wave or a blown kiss or two, they are off to new adventures.