I have often said that this is my third time working at the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.
I just realized last Friday that that is simply not true.
This is the fourth time I’ve received a check from the newspaper. The first time I was an independent contractor, probably 12 years old and worked for two weeks as a substitute paperboy.
I don’t recall how I got my bicycle to town but it was not uncommon in those days to ride our bikes into the city limits on Kansas Highway 15. Traffic was probably a tenth of what it is today. I certainly wouldn’t want my grandchildren risking their lives by doing that these days.
Grain trucks were just trucks back then, not semitrailers.
What brought this back to my aging mind was my view of Little Ike Park as I parked in the parking lot and headed in to work. Back in the 1960s, the newspaper was located at the corner of Spruce Street and Third Street, basically where the park is (or was since it was just razed).
The basement of that building was where the paperboys picked up their newspapers.
In the 1960s Duckwall’s was located on Broadway where the Reflector-Chronicle is today. Across the street to the south was the Abilene National Bank.
In 1976 my wife Kathy and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary when the circulation of the newspaper was twice what it is today. Henry Jameson was the editor/publisher and Chuck Walton was the general manager. Steve Russell was the managing editor.
There were three banks and no such thing as a drive through, with resources of $34 million.
The hospital had 69 beds. There were nine doctors and eight dentists located in Abilene. There were 25 churches.
Ed Dawson was the city manager, Max Fowler the city clerk and Jack Grubb was mayor.
Some of you may recall the city commission at the time of R. Lee Horst, Wade Phillips, Mort Smith Jr., and Lillie Mae Helm.
The sheriff was M.A. Anderson, whom everyone referred to as Dutch. Leo Lake was the superintendent of schools.
Mike Johnson was our state representative and Ross Doyen of Concordia was the state senator.
Our U.S. representative was Martha Keys and Bob Dole and James Pearson were senators.
Any of those names ring a bell?
And if any of you think all this is coming off the top of my head, that I have a memory like Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football, you would be incorrect.
This is straight out of the 1976 Abilene City Directory.
Here are just a few businesses of the time:
• Wayne Baier was the sales manager at Ronald Rice Motors;
• Hines-Roth Men’s Clothing was at 206 N.W. Second;
• C B TV Service fixed televisions in your home;
• Lee Beardslee ran Club Villa in Detroit;
• The Belle Springs Creamery was still operational. (Dad took cream there and in high school we bought ice there);
• Marguerite Blatchford was secretary-treasure of Ronald Rice, later den mother of the Abilene Country Club;
• Earl McIlwain was the manager of Abilene Concrete and Supply;
• Ida Burgraff ran the City Cafe on Third Street which offered the cheapest breakfast in Kansas;
• Alva L. Duckwall, Jr., was the president and director of Duckwall Stores Inc.;
• My father-in-law Joe Couture was the manager of West’s IGA where the Impact Sports & Fitness is today and his wife Doreen worked for the school district;
• My father John was the supervisor at the United States Post Office and my mother Nelda was employed at the Kansas Power and Light Company which had an office downtown;
• Not to be forgotten is the Plaza Theatre where we spent our Friday nights at 408 N.W. Second.
Downtown has certainly changed as the shopping habits of our community’s citizens have changed but each business is important. Each is writing a new chapter in history right now forty-four years later.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.