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No Car

#52Ancestors #Transportation

Did you ever have a grandparent or older relative tell you that they walked to school – 3 miles in the snow and uphill all the way? Even though we view that statement as an exaggeration today, parts of it were likely true for many of our ancestors. They often did walk to school even in the snow. And it may have been 3 miles to school.

Having a car has always been part of my life, but it wasn’t always a part of my parents’ life. A car was not part of my dad’s life growing up either. His dad, Leon Crawford, walked to work at the Santa Fe railroad yards in Dodge City.

When the family lived at 510 Avenue G, near the corner of Military Avenue and Avenue G, the walk to the railroad shops on the south sides of the tracks would have been fairly short.

That walk to work got significantly longer when the family moved to 911 Second at the corner of Elm Street and Second Avenue. While living on 2nd avenue, not only was Leon walking to work, but his wife, Winnie was also walking to work. Winnie worked in the Eckles department store at the corner of Walnut and Second. Even though this was only a four block walk, Winnie made this walk in high heels. (Map pictured above is from a 1911 Sanborn map.)

I’m not sure when my grandparents purchased their first car, but it was prior to my dad’s marriage in 1951. My parents were married in Emporia, Kansas in June of 1951. Although Kansans remember the 1951 flood that occurred in July, it was also flooding at the time of my parents’ wedding. My dad described the flooding during an interview with him prior to his death as he described how he and his parents traveled from Dodge City to Emporia, Kansas.

D – We got married in First Christian Church in Emporia, Kansas June 9 1951, 1951 was the year of the great flood. But the great flood didn’t occur until after June. Minor floods occurred the end of May and all of June before the major one in July and if you get out a Kansas map we traveled from Dodge City to  — o jeepers – should’ve got out a Kansas map myself – o just a minute – now I can’t even read it

Me ah Florence

D – We traveled from Dodge City on 50 to Florence and had to go North at Florence and then across Herington and then across and then clear across north of Emporia and then south into Emporia and my best man Curt Craig and he traveled for 3 hours in various distances to get to Emporia and my usher Clair Conard was in Lawrence and he had a hard time I don’t know how long it took him a while to get to Emporia. That flood also cost me several jobs that summer

Since my dad was riding with his parents to his wedding, he did not own a car at the start of his marriage. After their marriage, my parents moved to Glasco, Kansas where my father taught science in the local high school. During that first year of their marriage, my parents did not own a car. My mother shared that she rode in the back of the doctor’s car to get from Glasco to the hospital in Beloit, Kansas for the birth of her first child.

We lived in Glasco Kansas we did not own a car. The hospital was in Concordia, no Beloit. The doctor said don’t worry about it, I’ll drive you. So when the time came, yea he came and picked us up and drove us. The problem was he had a brand new car and at that time you were supposed to break new cars in by driving them at varying speeds and not very fast. I thought we would never ever get to the hospital.

Later in the interview, my parents discussed how they would get from Glasco to their parents in Emporia or Dodge City for visits.

Me – I didn’t realize you hadn’t had a car when you lived in Glasco until probably the last month but when you were telling me about that you also told me how you got to Dodge City or Emporia to see your parents from Glasco

D – first of all we didn’t have a car when we lived in Glasco. We didn’t own a car until we lived in Emporia for the first time.  Getting — I don’t remember many times us that we went to Emporia or that we went to Dodge City

M – Yes – we I can’t remember I think it was probably with (you said it was with friends) drove with

Me – you rode with them part way …

M – yea they took us and there was a rest area on the high way coming down this side of Marion and daddy met us there and brought us on in to Emporia and they lived in what town close to Great Bend –

D Ellinwood –

M – and we would ride with them to Ellinwood and Gene’s folks would come there to pick us up.

It is hard for me to imagine life without a car to go to work, to church or even the grocery store. And I live in a small town where walking to these places is feasible.

I am thankful that I took the time to interview my parents for these glimpses into their daily life. I have a transcription of the interviews and have uploaded them as memories for my father on FamilySearch.

2 thoughts on “No Car

  1. What a great reminder that not too long ago a car was a luxury. None of my grandparents drove at all, let alone own a car. I remember going to driving lessons with my mother when I was a kid. If you lived ‘in town’ you walked or took the bus. Thanks for sharing!

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