Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Goldie Gorman Webster: 1901 Memories



The Geary County Historical Society is lucky to be the place people can go and say “oh, maybe history isn’t as boring as my high school class made me believe.” We tell the stories that are left out of the history books. We give voice to those who are gone. And more than that, we allow people to share their stories. We are a depository for the stories of childhood, of parents that are gone, of a time that few remember. The community is able to come in and have a place to share those stories. We write down and save memories that might otherwise be forgotten. We create a community safe place, a common place for people to come and say “that’s my history.”  Today, we are going to share the memories of Goldie Gorman Webster.
Goldie Gorman's 1911 High School Graduation Photograph

“We came to Junction City in 1901. The first few weeks we lived at the Farmer’s Home Hotel at the corner of 8th and Washington Streets. This hotel, owned and operated by George and Annie Henry, drew its business from farmers who came to the Rockwell Store, across the street, and from trainmen who were on "lay over" from the railroad. There were two children in the Henry family about our age, and my sister and I played with them. There was a large shade tree behind the building. The Henry yard adjoined the yard of the Geary County Courthouse. The jail was in the basement of the courthouse. One day my sister and I decided to explore the courthouse yard. We ventured near the courthouse basement windows in the jail area. A man came to a window and called out to us. When we approached he asked us if we would go over to the Rockwell store and buy him a plug of tobacco. Never having been a customer at the store, we hesitated, but at last being willing to oblige the man, we agreed to go. He pushed a dime out to us. We went to the store and were waited upon by a nice young man who sold us a square of brown tobacco with a shiny little star pressed into it on one side. It was of metal. When we gave the plug to the prisoner, he gave us the star to pay for our trouble. The star was the trademark for the tobacco company. We learned later that some folks collected the little stars and horseshoes which were also trademarks for another brand.
            When mother learned of this incident, she announced to father, that we must move at once, this place being in the wrong environment for little girls.
Goldie's father, John, worked at the train yard.
 Here he is, second from left, with co-workers
            Father found an apartment for us in the home of Eugene and Rose Pickering on North Washington St. We lived there for awhile until he found a house for us across the street from the Keeshan greenhouse. Here we had a barn so we were able to keep a cow. We sold our extra milk to the neighbors for five cents a quart. The milk was delivered in a tin pail. When the city herd was not running, our cow was tethered along the street, where she fed on grass and weeds. When the cow went with the herd, we children watched for her return in the evening. (By the way, Junction City was given the right to feed these cows on the Fort Riley military reservation. In return for this right "the fort" was given the right to send their children to Junction City schools.) The herd spent the day on the reservation across the Republican river. We always marveled that "Bossy" knew exactly when to leave the herd, travel one-half block west and one-half block north at which point she went into her own barn. The herd was attended by several horsemen and followed by a few boys.
            Later on we bought a pig. Father bought material and built a pen, complete with floor and canopy. We and our friends spent many hours, pulling weeds along the street and alley for the pig to eat between the usual feed which father measured out. We at this place had a hydrant and city water in the yard, and after we tired of pulling weeds, we washed the pig and the pen with a hose.  We must have had the smartest cow and the cleanest pig in Geary County. We loved that pig and when it was butchered we shed tears and declared we would never eat that meat. Finally the fragrance of cooking meat broke down our resistance and we ate meat.”
            Look for more of Goldie Webster’s memories in future articles, or stop by the Geary County Historical Society to experience other histories. Do you have experiences growing up in Geary County you want to share? We want to hear your stories!  Give us a call at 785-238-1666 or email us at gearyhistory@gmail.com. Museum open Tuesday-Sunday 1-4pm.