Harvest Gold

Harvest Gold

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Award-Winning Sunsets

February 11, 2014
Beef Today’s Grazing the Net recently featured an article from Green Landscapes that listed the seven best places in the world to view a sunset. The Flint Hills of Kansas made the list. So did Finland, the Kingdom of Cambodia, Santorini Island in Greece, San Esteban in Mexico, French Polynesia and the Phoenix Islands in the Republic of Kiribati.
February 17, 2014
I haven't heard of some of those places. Kirabati? That will send my map-loving husband to an atlas for sure.

Those places probably haven't heard of the Flint Hills of Kansas either.

Here on the County Line, we're west of the Flint Hills. But the sunsets on the great open plains of South Central Kansas are pretty spectacular, too.
February 22, 2014 - Checking for new babies.
They are different each and every day.

They are practically different each and every minute.
February 22, 2014
Sometimes I get frustrated that the camera's eye doesn't see it exactly like my eyes perceive it. But that's OK, too. 
-February 22, 2014 - The third of my pictures from the same day.
I can just be thankful that I got to see another spectacular farewell to the day.
February 23, 2014

Were there no God, 
we would be in this glorious world 
with grateful hearts and no one to thank. 
–Christina Rossetti, poet

Zenith Branch - Kanza Co-op - October 2013

I could go back and search for sunset photos all day. But we are selling feeder calves in Pratt today, so that's on the agenda instead. (More on that later.)

June 2013

But the great thing about sunsets? There's usually a new one to add to the archives - whether captured through a camera click or in your mind's eye. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Zuppa Toscana


The last time we were at The Olive Garden restaurant, Randy and I decided to order the soup and salad lunch (with unlimited breadsticks, of course).

As I tried to order my Pasta e Fagoli soup, the waitress burst into laughter.

"The what?" she asked.

I didn't think I was that bad. Evidently, I've forgotten everything I ever learned in Italian diction class in the vocal department of Kansas State University.

It's a good thing I didn't try to order Randy's choice, the Zuppa Toscana. I should learn from him and just point at the menu when ordering.

I guess I'm a better soup maker than soup pronouncer. When I saw this recipe for a copycat version of Zuppa Toscana on Facebook, I knew I wanted to try it. Since we still aren't experiencing spring weather this week, it was the perfect lunch - even without the fancy bread sticks. (I did pull some cornbread out of the freezer.)

It's not the most beautiful soup you'll ever eat. But it is really tasty. Guaranteed.
Zuppa Toscana
(Copycat version of The Olive Garden recipe)
Modified from a CrockPot recipe on Facebook
1 lb. Italian sausage
4 to 6 russet potatoes, chopped (depending on size)
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
32 oz. chicken broth
1 cup kale or Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup half-and-half
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup real bacon pieces, chopped
Additional bacon to garnish (opt.)

Brown sausage and onion in skillet until sausage is lightly browned and onion is tender. Drain off fat. Put meat and onion mixture in stockpot. Add chicken broth, garlic and chopped potatoes. Cook on medium heat until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy.

Put half and half and flour in a jar, cover and shake to combine, making sure there are no lumps. Pour into the hot sausage-potato mixture. Add kale and bacon. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until broth thickens slightly. You may add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. (I didn't add any additional seasonings. The sausage was spicy enough for us. The bacon and sausage provided enough salt for our taste.)

If desired, sprinkle a little additional bacon on top of each serving for a little more color. Serve with colorful fresh veggies, crackers, pickles or whatever you like with soup.

I've made the Copycat Pasta e Fagioli Soup several times, too. It makes a huge amount, so you'll either need to be serving a bunch of people or plan to put some in the freezer.
***
I'm linked today to Wake Up Wednesdays, a recipe link-up on Wichita blogger Ashley's Kitchen Meets Girl. Click on the link for more recipes from food bloggers across the country.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thinking 3/50 365 Days a Year

Shop local. It's more than the latest internet buzzwords. It could mean the difference between survival or death for local businesses.

Let's face it: It's usually not too difficult to find a parking spot on Main Street in small-town Kansas. By contrast, back in the early 20th century, Main Streets provided the hub of social and business activity on Saturday nights as farm families loaded up the car and came to town.
The world is different today. We're more prone to "like" something one of our "friends" said on Facebook than to make plans to meet them for a treat at the soda fountain or share a tub of popcorn at a Saturday movie. For many, the big box store in the town 30 or 40 miles away is the place to stock up on paper goods or groceries. A click of a button on a website means that a store will deliver your every want and need to your own front door.

We say we want to shop local. But do we choose to do it enough?

On one of our trips to visit Brent in Morehead, Kentucky, I picked up a bright red flier that said, "Love your local. uniquely morehead (ky) + rowan county"
Link to uniquely morehead

When I got home, I looked looked up Uniquely Morehead's website. In part, it said:
We LOVE our great town nestled in the hills of East Kentucky, and we need to STOP and think of what we can do to keep it uniquely ours.  From our spending habits to our civic engagement, we need to be intentional about keeping Morehead unique. 

What can you do to help us remain Uniquely Morehead? It’s pretty simple, really. Be a wise consumer – just patronize independent, locally-owned businesses wherever and whenever possible, and encourage others to do the same.

Going out for coffee? Check out our local coffee shop or visit our local bakery to satisfy your sweet tooth. Need a gift for a friend’s birthday? We suggest a trip to one of our great local gifts, novelty shops, or better yet purchase a one-of-a-kind from a local artist. Looking for a good restaurant? Make a little extra effort to try one of our local restaurants or the seasonal farmers markets. There are locally-owned options for just about anything you can find at a chain store, so just take a moment to think before you open your wallet.
We ate at a cute little Main Street restaurant, All Seasons Cafe, in a refurbished old house. Nestled in with the menu selections, there was a page thanking people for shopping there. It detailed 10 ways that the decision to patronize at a locally-owned business made a difference. Here are just a few:
1. You kept dollars in our economy. For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $68 will stay in the community. What happens when you spend that same $100 at a national chain? Only $43 stays in the community.

2. You embraced what makes us unique. You wouldn't want your house to look like everyone else's in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?

5. You nurtured community. We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains.

10. You made us a destination. The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone. 
Does it really make any difference whether I spend the bulk of my grocery dollars at Wal-Mart or at my local Paul's Grocery?
 
Does it matter if I buy paper goods at Paul's or at Stafford Mercantile instead of stocking up in Hutchinson? Randy and I think it does.

As I wrote last year, even something as mundane as toilet paper can make a huge impact on the success or failure of our small-town businesses.
 
I recently read about a Central Kansas county that began a program called Buy Harvey. Businesses in Newton and Harvey County were inspired by Cinda Baxter, founder of the 3/50 Project. During a presentation in Newton, Baxter asked small business owners what would happen if people picked three locally-owned businesses each month and spent $50 at those businesses. A group of small local businesses started a grassroots movement called Buy Harvey that urges consumers to shop local and encourages small businesses to work together to promote their services.

We should be thinking 3/50 365 days a year. 
Photo: Shop Small Morehead!  Today we've got 20% Off and 30% Off Deals at our Florist!   Refreshments served!   Call 606-784-1007 for more information! @allseasonsrocks

Instead of being like Chicken Little and yelling, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling," these businesses are doing something to help themselves. I believe the possibilities could be as vast as the big, blue Kansas sky if businesses worked together and small-town citizens made a commitment to buy locally first.
Admittedly, smaller storefronts don't always have every single item you need. I'm not saying that you can never shop in a Wal-Mart or Target again. I shop in those stores, too. I just think it's time to look at our small towns for all the pluses instead of concentrating on the negatives.
Admittedly, Main Street Stafford isn't as bustling as it was in the early 1900s or during the oil boom of the 1940s. But there are businesses that have been here for the long haul and some new ones that complement them. (I started to list local businesses and then decided that was a formula for leaving people out. Our little town has restaurants, a coffee shop, a bank, a flower and gift shop, farmers cooperative and many other businesses that contribute to a good quality of life for its citizens and neighbors.) We are fortunate to still have Stafford District Hospital and a rest home meeting health care needs in our hometown.

 Our Stafford USD 349 continues to offer quality education to our community's youth, including adding innovative programs like the Stafford Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (SEED) Center. Students start their own business and become business owners through this program.

Our high school has added a new Culinary Arts and Management program this year, cooperating with local restaurants, Stafford County Flour Mills at Hudson and others in the private sector. Just this semester, the program began using the new commercial kitchen now housed in the the former Family and Consumer classroom. Vo-ag students have built a greenhouse on school property. It just goes to show that you don't have to be a big, metropolitan school to offer innovative, hands-on programs.

We've had more exciting news on Main Street. For the past several years, the Ritz Theater has been showing movies two weekends a month. The City of Stafford recently made the commitment to upgrade to a digital projector, after learning that the movie industry would not make new movies in the film format any longer. Soon, the Ritz will be able to show first-run movies almost as quickly as the big-town theaters can, which the city hopes will bring additional visitors to Stafford.
Our high school offers a program for students interested in entrepreneurship. It is the Stafford Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (SEED) Center. Students start their own business and become business owners through this program. - See more at: http://kansasteachingjobs.com/index.php?p=funct.search.job&jobTitle=FACS+Teacher%3A++Emphasis+on+Culinary+Arts+Career+Strand.&jobHash=fe1364e93480524&employerHash=c9ba9750eada3cf#sthash.qsnRuirk.dpuf
Our high school offers a program for students interested in entrepreneurship. It is the Stafford Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (SEED) Center. Students start their own business and become business owners through this program. - See more at: http://kansasteachingjobs.com/index.php?p=funct.search.job&jobTitle=FACS+Teacher%3A++Emphasis+on+Culinary+Arts+Career+Strand.&jobHash=fe1364e93480524&employerHash=c9ba9750eada3cf#sthash.qsnRuirk.dpufCenter, a greenhouse and the latest in technology.  We have exciting news on Main Street Stafford. For several years, the Ritz Theater has shown movies two weekends a month. The City of Stafford has made the decision to upgrade to a digital projector.

 
For a sesquicentennial cake I made a few years ago, I took photos of Stafford's version of the old Burma Shave roadside signs and included them in my cake display.
Just in case you can't read them: If our road signs ... Catch your eye ... Smile awhile
And stop to buy ... Stafford Main Street ... Gateway to Quivira NWR. 

The survival of small town America depends upon all of us. We should make intentional decisions to shop at local stores and patronize local businesses when we can. We could help bolster other communities by taking day trips and visiting small, rural towns, spending a little money at a local restaurant and shopping in a locally-owned store while there.

We can all be part of the solution. The Kansas Sampler Foundation, based in Inman, has numerous programs to support small town Kansas, including the Kansas Explorers Club.  It's another great resource to see and appreciate what Kansas has to offer.

If you'd like, leave me a comment about your favorite Kansas place or your favorite local business. (If you don't live in Kansas, share something from your area.) Share the positives! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Back to Nature

Near the confluence of  the Rattlesnake Creek and the Arkansas River in central Kansas, water remains the great driver of a diverse complex of salt marsh and unique native sand prairie community that is Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The combination of these productive habitats as well as the refuge's mid-continent location continue to attract millions of birds needing to replenish essential reserves and to find protection in the mosaic of largely open grasses, sedges, rushes and water. 

For visitors, each moment is unique -- the smell of the moist earth and salty air, the primitive call of a crane, the whispering bluestem, the cacophony of geese, the early steps of a snowy plover chick or the discovery of a subtle pattern or design in nature.
From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan & Environmental Assessment


Bricks and mortar build towns. The buildings and critical services anchor us to the communities we call home. Sometimes, the buildings are more than utilitarian, like the architectural treasures that are the Stafford library and the Stafford United Methodist Church. Sometimes, memories are built at soda fountains, like that at the Stafford Mercantile.

But another of our local attractions celebrates change. Each visit to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is just a little bit different as the sky, the wind and the seasons collide in new and spectacular ways.

Stained glass windows at the library and the church are gorgeous. But it's tough to rival God's very own light show. It's different every time.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, which encompasses parts of Barton, Stafford, and Reno counties in central Kansas. (It's just one of a system of 11 byways that dot the state of Kansas.) Quivira is located just a few miles from our farmstead. 
The Spanish word "Quivira" is a form of the Native American name, "Kirikuru," which is what local people called themselves when the Spanish explorer Don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado visited the region in 1541 in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola. Instead of gold, he found grasslands and wildlife. After his expedition left, only a few trappers and explorers came to the area until the mid-1800s.

The General Land Survey was conducted in the region in 1871, evaluating its suitability for farming and grazing. One surveyor noted:
Section 17, T22S, R11W (2 miles weest of what is now the Migrants' Mile area): "All pure sand without any vegetation. All hills and hollows. Constantly drifting. Worthless."
The first European settlers came to Stafford County in the 1860s. By 1876, a few people located near the Big Salt Marsh. A company was organized for the purpose of manufacturing salt, which was soon found to be unprofitable. Homesteaders began using the marshes and grasslands for pastures, hay land and cattle production. Besides agricultural uses, the salt marshes were used for commercial and recreational waterfowl hunting after the turn of the 20th century.

In May 1955, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the establishment of the Great Salt Marsh National Wildlife Refuge to recognize two unique, historic salt marsh and salt flat areas, the Big Salt Marsh and the Little Salt Marsh. In 1958, the name was changed to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge after the Spanish term for the area. The refuge consists of 22,135 acres in Stafford, Rice and Reno Counties.

It's a stopping point for migratory birds.
But you can see lots of other animals during an afternoon drive, including deer ...
and a turtle who must have lived a hard life, if his shell is any indication.
The refuge hosts educational events like Monarch Mania, which I visited for the first time last fall. (I shouldn't have waited so long for something that happens each year, practically in my own backyard.)
For more information about Quivira, visit their website. There's a Visitor's Center located at the south end of the Refuge, overlooking the Little Salt Marsh. Our own toddler tour guide, Kinley, provided a look at Quivira when she visited the farm last fall. Normal hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM to 4 PM, but it is sometimes open on weekends during spring and fall.
 
Call the Refuge, 620-486-2393, during weekly business hours to get any updates on operational hours.

** Historical information was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan & Environmental Assessment, a 263-page document.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'll Take Some History With That Cherry Limeade


Stafford's Main Street looks different than it did in this photo from 1955 (found in Stafford's Centennial book, Crossroads of Time: 1885-1985). The latest census shows what everyone already knows: The population in rural communities, including Stafford, keeps decreasing. But, instead of giving up, Stafford citizens are pulling together and trying to make lemonade out of lemons - or, in this case, beautifully topped ice cream sundaes out of plain old vanilla ice cream.

In Stafford, you can have that sundae or a freshly-squeezed limeade at an historic soda fountain located at the Stafford Mercantile.  
The "Merc," a variety store on Main Street Stafford, has been open since the fall of 2012. Local investors came together to return a business to the vacant storefront after national retailer Duckwall's pulled its stores from most small Kansas communities three years ago. 
 
The Mercantile makes it possible for residents to shop for things like Wrangler jeans or a bridal shower gift without driving 30 minutes to Pratt or Great Bend or 45 minutes to Hutchinson.  

The centerpiece of the Mercantile is a 1928 marble soda fountain. It was originally in Smart Drug in Stafford. 
From the Stafford Centennial Book. You can see the marble soda fountain as it was in Smart Drug on the lefthand side of the photo.
When Randy and I were first married, the soda fountain was still on Stafford's Main Street in Jim's Sundries. Later, Leroy and Ollie Meyer purchased the business and continued to operate the soda fountain at their business they called Elroy's. But when they closed the sundries portion of the store to focus on the Elroy's Pizza side of their business, the soda fountain was sold and was stored in a neighboring town for years. One of the Mercantile's organizers, Clare Moore, tracked down the soda fountain and brought it back home to Stafford.
   
To install it at the Mercantile, they added oak columns from a Stafford Victorian-era home to frame the soda fountain. The back bar was from a prohibition-era speakeasy near Stafford Lake, and booths and marble tables are original to the same drug store as the soda fountain.  All were dug out of different storage places and refurbished.
A year ago, Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, was in Stafford to present a Building Better Communities Award. The award spotlights positive community action in Kansas and shows how creative thinking and teamwork make a positive difference.

 In a speech on the U.S. Senate floor on January 30, 2013, Senator Moran said:
     In small communities across America, the people there, they work hard. They come together to find common-sense solutions. They solve problems. They try to make a difference in the life of their families and their community. They also strive to provide a better future for their kids, so that every child has the opportunity to grow up, pursue the American Dream and reach their goals.
     For rural communities to survive and prosper, citizens have to work together to create their own opportunities for success. … The reality is that those communities that are going to have a bright future are those who decide, on their own, to work together within that community to make certain that’s the case.  An example of a community that rallied together in a way to make good things happen and make the community better for the future is the community of Stafford. ...
     Rural communities across Kansas have been hit hard by the economic downturn over the last few years and many towns have encountered the closing of businesses. Main Street looks a lot less appealing. There's a shortage of health care services. The younger generation is leaving home in search of employment. In light of these challenges, the community leaders of Stafford have taken steps to secure that town’s future.  …


Comments from Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kansas
Speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate
January 30, 2013
See the complete speech
Senator Moran's staff also prepared a video that's been posted to Youtube (That link is at the bottom of this post.) There are three other videos that focus on specific ways Stafford is looking to thrive (click on each of the underlined links to see those videos.) Besides featuring the Stafford Mercantile, another talks about how the community rallied to save the Stafford District Hospital. Another features Stafford USD No. 349's SEED (Stafford Entrepreneurship and Economic Development) Center, a charter school for high school students. It's where students develop a business plan, talk to the banker, make a product or deliver a service and then actually open and operate their own business on Main Street Stafford.
Stafford is proving that when communities look within themselves for growth, they do have the capability to forge a stronger, more positive future.
Stafford County Economic Development Director Carolyn Dunn
Maybe revitalizing a community is like making an old-fashioned cherry limeade. Even in a community "squeezed" by challenges, the future looks a lot more "rosy" when people get "stirred up" and come together. (You can get one of those cherry limeades at the Mercantile's soda fountain by the way. They are even half-priced on Thursdays!) 

Also this week as a President's Week celebration, all merchandise at the Mercantile is 20 percent off (except for consigned items). The Mercantile definitely needs support from its hometown and from visitors to survive. You can be part of the solution by shopping locally. Or, if you're from outside Stafford County, come visit us and spend a little time at the soda fountain. Even though it's historic, it has all the modern conveniences - like free Wi-Fi!. You can also "like" the Stafford Mercantile on Facebook.



***
Note: This continues a series of posts about things to see and do in our community of Stafford. On Tuesday, I featured the Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library and the gorgeous stained glass window, leaded glass and woodwork in the building which has served Stafford for more than 100 years. Wednesday, I focused on the Frank Lloyd Wright influences in our home church, Stafford United Methodist. This post is rewritten from a Kim's County Line post dated February 8, 2013.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Little Frank Lloyd Wright in Stafford, America

When I walk through the doors of the Stafford First United Methodist Church every Sunday, I'm not thinking about the architecture. For me, the church is the people - not the building. 

But sometimes, as I sit in the choir loft, I see the stained glass ceiling reflected on the glass top of the altar, mingling with the reflection of the lighted candles. There is beauty not only in the people, but in the surroundings.

From the outside, it doesn't look like your typical Midwestern church building. There's no steeple, and you don't see the stained glass from the outside.
The church was built in 1927 and was designed by architect Don B. Schuler. 
 
Schuler worked for the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and incorporated some of Wright's design aesthetics into the building. The exterior of the building is an English Collegiate Gothic style, said to represent the secular, outside world. 
Frank Lloyd Wright believed that "light is the beautifier of a building." Though Wright didn't build the Stafford church, his student obviously carried that principle into the interior design. 

In planning the Stafford church, Schuler was inspired by Wright's sanctuary design used for the Unity Temple in suburban Chicago. The ceiling is accented with 36 stained glass boxes called sunlight glass. The predominate color is yellow and the warmth of that light illuminates the whole sanctuary and is said to reflect Jesus as the Light of the World.
In the sanctuary, there are four pyramid lamps with yellow stained glass and green, red and yellow chevrons patterns. Smaller pyramid lights hang in the church narthex.

There is rich walnut woodwork throughout the sanctuary. Just one example at the front of the church, where the wooden panels cover the organ pipes. 
This was not the first church for Methodists in Stafford. A simple frame design was built in 1883 at the church's current location even before Stafford was incorporated in 1885. In 1904, the frame building was moved to the north and a new brick building was built at a cost of $9,000. 

The present building was begun in February 1925, 89 years ago, and the completed building was dedicated in May 1927.

Our congregation is raising funds to refurbish the southern steps and entrance to the church. Since the church is on the National and the Kansas Register of Historic Places, we had hoped to receive a grant that would help with the funding. But, our application has been turned down twice, so we are continuing to raise the funds privately. We hope to begin the project this summer. 

For most of us, the church is much more than a building. It's the people. It's the memories. 

Randy's parents, Melvin & Marie Fritzemeier, were married there in 1951.
Then, in 2009, 58 years later, Jill and Eric stood under the same lighted cross at the front of the sanctuary to say their wedding vows.
Photo by Gina Dreher
Photo by Gina Dreher
It's where we said goodbye to Marie during funeral services. It's where Randy and our children were baptized and confirmed. 

So, for us, it's much more than an architectural wonder. It's home.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Treasure in My Own Backyard

Sometimes, it takes a challenge to make you look at something in a whole new way. I belong to a Facebook group called Snapshot Kansas. It's a group of amateur and professional photographers who post pictures of all things Kansas.

I love photos. I love Kansas. It's the perfect little spot on the Web for someone like me.

Each Tuesday, the site administrator issues a new challenge. Photographers are free to participate or ignore the prompt. Sometimes I join in, and sometimes I don't. Last week's suggestion was to take photos of unusual libraries or bookstores.

I've never seen a library or bookstore I didn't like. I have loved libraries since my Mom took us each week to get new books at the Pratt Public Library.

But I am ashamed to admit this: I don't go into the Stafford library very often. It's certainly not that I'm anti-library. The ladies at the front desk of the Hutchinson Public Library know me by name because I reserve so many just-released books.

Of course, Dixie knows me by name, too. She's the librarian at Stafford's Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library and has been for years. When Jill and Brent were little, we frequented both the Stafford and Hutchinson libraries. It was often a challenge to keep the piles of children's library books separate and accounted for.

Brent, especially, loved going in to the Stafford library to see Dixie and to play games on the computers there. As an older elementary school student, he'd walk to the town library after school and wait until I was done with work at Stafford Middle/High School.

But this Snapshot Kansas prompt reminded me there is an unusual library in my own little town. A centerpiece of the library is this gorgeous stained glass window.
 
Nora Larabee was the only daughter of two of Stafford's leading citizens, Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Larabee. When Nora died of tuberculosis in 1904, her parents wanted to build a tribute to her. In 1906, they erected a red brick building at a cost of $5,000. Nora Larabee's portrait in stained glass dominates one of the library's west windows.

Dixie says the window is at its most beautiful in the later afternoon, as the setting sun illuminates the window with a fiery red. But I took this photo a little after 2 in the afternoon, and it's pretty spectacular then, too!

The stained glass window isn't the only unique feature of the library. Many of the other windows feature leaded glass. (Even though it doesn't show the woodwork, I like the angled view below because I could avoid the storm siren and the power lines you see when you look out the window directly.)
The windows are encased in beautiful original woodwork.
This photo also shows one of the pieces of 100-year-old Mission-style furniture in the library.
The library hasn't been without controversy. When I shared the photos with the Snapshot Kansas group, I wanted to include a snippet of history. What I learned surprised me:
      The library is unique as a focal point in a 1907 feud between the town banker and The Stafford Courier editor. The building became a public library only after a controversy which turned the town upside down. Public sentiment about the library was so strong that the entire Stafford City council and mayor resigned before the deed for the building was finally accepted. The condition of the deed that caused the furor read as follows: "Owing to certain unwarranted attacks made by The Stafford Courier…it is made a condition of this deed that the present editor of said newspaper, nor any of his family shall at any time be a member of the said board of directors."
        Finally, in May of 1907, a petition from Stafford citizens requested the library council to either accept the conditions of the deed to the library or resign. The new city council voted to accept the building from the Larabee family along with the stipulation that the editor of The Stafford Courier and his descendants be barred from membership on the library board in perpetuity.
Information from http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Stafford/libhist.html

The feud is long-since forgotten, but the library remains today, more than 100 years after it was constructed as a memorial to honor a beloved daughter.
This Snapshot Kansas "assignment" caused me to think about other unique features of this place we call home. They say that those who live near the Grand Canyon don't go look at it until they have guests coming. The same is said for Washington, D.C., residents who save their trips to the Smithsonian for special occasions or to entertain out-of-town visitors.

Maybe I need to think like a tourist in my own backyard to truly appreciate it! So, in the coming days, I plan to share more from Stafford, America.