Driving down the old brick main street of White City, it dawned on me how much everything has changed. As a kid growing up here there was so much going on in a town where not much goes on. The pace is slow and the town is small, but when you’re a kid in the 60’s and ’70’s all you had to do was ride your bike down the sidewalks past Anderson Lumber and Hardware where my mother worked part-time. You could walk in and buy a Daisy BB gun right off the wall behind the counter. I wish I would have paid a little more attention to my mother while she was working. Funny and graceful I’m sure, but I would like to go back in time and see her in action. She is still very funny, but age and health has taken the grace from her step.
On the same side of the street was the White City Register. The local and surrounding newspaper, where Lacey Mahon did it the old school way. I can’t imagine what it took to do a weekly paper but he and his son John did a great job. My sister Jan worked there part-time and I’m sure at a time in her life that carries a lot of memories, she will smile when reminded of this. Next door to the newspaper office was the KP&L office and the Phelps Agency. Clarence Phelps sold insurance and it wasn’t a building I needed to walk into much as a young boy but I did on occasion. But mostly I remember the air conditioner that was above the door that dripped down outside on the sidewalk. Being a kid on a bicycle you tend to notice that kind of thing.
On the corner was Herb Funk’s Vicker’s Station. Herb had the air lines out across the driveway and we couldn’t resist every once in a while to ride across and make the bell ring. An old Pepsi chest vending machine and two old chairs inside for the regulars to sit on, the place was small enough that you had to step outside to change your mind.
On the next block was the laundry mat where many a day was wasted sitting outside on the steps. Not much to report here mostly because there never was much going on. It was a laundry mat for crying out loud! Next door was a church and Kohler T.V. and Appliance. John was a very public guy and was the Mayor for many years. I can remember riding by and looking in the windows at all the inventory. If memory serves me correctly, my folks bought our first color T.V. there. The RCA that changed the way we watched Gilligan’s Island and Big Valley. Amazing.
A little further down was a phone booth where a call could be made for ten cents. Or you could dial home and hang up when you needed a ride, without putting a dime in. You could hear the person who answered but they couldn’t hear you, so you would often hear from the other end of the line when calling from there or from the payphone at the high school “is this Jeff?” “If you need a ride home, hang up”. What a world we lived in back then…
The Jones’ had a clothing shop and there was a barber shop next door to it. Erichson had the pool hall and Perry Moore had one of the two grocery stores. I spent a lot of time in both the pool hall and the grocery store. Pool tables and pinball machines along with some locals playing dominos was a way to spend a few hours on a summer day between mowing yards. And Moore’s Market was a place to pick up a few things for my mother and have Perry “put it on the ticket”. Great to be a kid in a small town.
On the other side of the street was the Standard Gas Station and Spohn’s Repair Shop. Ash’s Repair shop was just a door or two down from Spohn’s and Buck’s Service station. Again not someplace a kid needed to go but it always seemed there was a lot going on there. The Post Office and Ken and Barb’s Cafe was next door to them. Ken and Barb’s was a neat place to go and how I wish we still had a Cafe or Diner like that. Ken and Barb did a great job. Vernon Rose had the other grocery store and it too was a cool place to walk into as a kid. Vernon’s Market was in the biggest building in White City and to this day is still a pretty neat old building. Like all of the business owners in town, Vernon was a good guy.
The White City Bank where Boone Scott took care of all my mowing money is on the corner across from Vernon’s Market. Can you remember a time when a bank didn’t have an ATM or drive-up window? I do. There was a Masonic Lodge, a bar called “Walt’s” and a farm implement dealer that was owned by Russell Brown. Did you blink? All of these and a few more business’s were located within the two blocks of main street. Since those days there have been many more people involved in the local business’s like Christlieb’s, Parker’s, Guimond’s, Fielder’s, Wood’s and Debbie Blythe. Bill Hickman and both Keith and Joann Kahnt, Rusty Rice and Ingmire’s to name a few. Lee’s Plumbing and Jamie Schmidt with Town and Country Beauty Shop and Alan Scott with The Katy Grill. I know I haven’t named them all and believe me there are more. Bill Calvin was a local welder, Bill Hare worked on small engines behind Vernon’s Grocery, the Mor-Kan Elevator, Barber and Son Construction, Junior Hultgren moving houses, Robert’s also owned a gas station, Keith Barber had the pool hall, Wayne Hultgren still has a repair shop and Frankie Nelson runs the library. Leo Hultgren sold Ohlde seed and Dale Scott with his NC+.
Life in the fast lane I know, but you had to be there to understand the impact all of these business’s and great people had on the community. They managed to provide and thrive in a small town and keep it all wrapped up in a town of about five hundred. You didn’t need to leave town for anything and I would give anything to have that back. But the amazing part of this is we still have the “small town” thing going on. That’s why in my mind, I can still drive down Main Street and see the drip from the air conditioner at Phelps Agency.
22 Replies to “White City, Ks. 66872”
Love it… gives me an insight to the little town that my boyfriend lives in….
I’m sure most every small town has the same feel to it. Thanks Tracy!
This brings back a lot of memories! Thanks for sharing.
It is amazing the response I’ve had! Thanks Karen!
anther great read – wow I have forgotten all the business in town – it was great growing up there- I can remember the day that we came too yer house in J.C. before ya moved too the big city – riding yer little Harley in the field , waiting for the burning season too burn it off – it was great growing up there – thanks for sharing , hopefully will be back this summer . get back and have to do a couple of passes down main drag , just for old times sake
We all drove that brick main street so many times we lost count! Good times…
Awesome…times have changed, businesses come and gone, but the small town feel is still the same! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed them!
loved the walk down memory lane. white city was and still is a great town to raise a family in. we just took a small vacation and it is so good to be HOME again
I love reading your blogs. I didn’t fully grow up in White City, but I remember several of those businesses you are talking about.
Thanks so much for writing this and taking me back a few years when times seemed so simple! It was great reading the names of people that helped to make White City a great place to live. I agree with Pam, it is still a great place to raise a family!
Oh that air conditioner! What a great post. Thanks for writing it!
Thanks for the memories. I can remember most all of them. I remember my Dad, Lyle Strome, working in the station on the corner and my Mom, Lucille Strome, owned the Country kitchen cafe. One time there was a tornado came through White City and her cafe was about the only business open since there wasn’t electricity. She cooked with gas there so many of the residents came there to eat. Growing up there was very fond memories. Someday I hope to come back for a visit. I haven’t been back there since 1990. I am sure there has been many changes sinc e then.
Thank you Bonnie! It is the people that make this community what it is…then and now!
Thanks for the memories . My husband was stationed at FT Riley . Coming from a small town in IN . I was so glad to find a wonderfull little town to live. We lived in the apartment above Kohlors tv in 1975 and moved to a house behind the bank in 1976.
Rest assured Cherie, it’s very much the same! Thanks for reading!
Thanks for for the blast of the past I remember all those places those were the days To the class of 71!!!!
Nice post. I spent last week searching for those small towns in Florida. Hard to find but, I persevered and got onto the smallest roads and ducked off the main roads to find a few. Some a bit chi chi with coffee shops a plenty but a few looked pretty authentic and just fantastic.
And to think I live small town life every day!