August 22, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
During the summer of 1949, the “Good Neighbor Program” was broadcast from the Leedy Drug Store over Junction City’s new radio station, KJCK. On this show, local residents were recognized for being “good neighbors” and citizens. One of the first honored was: Mary A. Verbeke, who was nominated by the Reverend Harry Weed. Mary Verbeke had an interesting life story. She was born in Belgium. When Mary was eight years old, she immigrated to this country with her mother. During their train trip there was a need to change trains in Kansas City. Mary and her mother witnessed women chewing something at the train station. It was not common in Belgium to see women chewing and their only reference was that of men who chewed tobacco. So, Mary and her mother assumed the women were also chewing tobacco, when in fact the women were chewing gum.
Upon arrival in Junction City, Mary and her mother spent their first night with the Muenzenmayer family, who lived on West 6th Street. A neighbor at that time recalled the first time Mary was given ice cream, she put it on the stove to warm it, because it was too cold for her.
Mary and her mother moved into their first home on West 5th Street in 1893 and Mary lived there the rest of her life. Because Mary was on the “remembrance committee” of several organizations, she developed the habit of sending greeting cards and cheery notes and messages during her life time. So, KJCK’s recognition of Mary Verbeke in 1949 as a “Good Neighbor” was well deserved. Showing our appreciation for others is a good habit to get into, even when we are not recognized for doing it. It is just the right thing to do. That’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present.”