Saturday, April 29, 2017

Prince Salman's U-Turn -- A Must-Read -- April 29, 2017

Link here over at The Economist. Archived. First thought: if an autocrat (dictator?) suddenly reverses course to pay his minions more at a time when his kingdom is in deep financial straits -- and with no good news on the horizon -- it only tells me that the emperor with no clothes realizes that, even at home, he is in deep doo-doo.

A Note For The Granddaughters

Your great-grandmother Ruth grew up in northwest Iowa, a state for which she still has fond memories.

I remember on numerous occasions while growing up in Williston she would talk about her closest childhood friend moving to Kansas City, Missouri. I never thought much about that at the time.

But it's funny how things happen. Decades later while touring the Grand Canyon I picked up a softcover copy of The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West, by Lesley Poling-Kempes, c. 1989.

From page 116:
Newton and Dodge City may have challenged the Harvey system and its ability to bring gentility to a railroad community, but Kansas City, Kansas, was a made-to-order Harvey town. For many years, Kansas City was Harvey headquarters, with the offices of the Harvey brothers, and the head employment office, in the Union Station. The great Harvey dining room at the Union Station opened in 1914, and could seat an unprecedented 525 people. 
"The opening was a glorious occasion." Cora Winter recalled in a 1946 interview with the Kansas City Star."
So many dots to connect. So let's begin.

First, Hemingway and the Kansas City Star. 'Nuf said.

1914: WWI. Your great-great grandfather "Ekke (Ike)" Flessner was sent to France around 1918. He was invalided in France with pandemic flu. He most likely did not see combat action. He very likely could have taken a troop train through Kansas City on his way to wherever he trained before going overseas. I'm thinking of The Great Gatsby, of course.

"Putting 2 and 2 together" suggests to me that in the 1940s and 1950s, maybe earlier, Kansas City (Kansas / Missouri) was the center of the universe for young folks growing up in Iowa. And that's exactly where my mother grew up -- in Iowa. She did not have much when she was growing up on a farm in Iowa and she may have had even less when she married and moved to North Dakota. If I am correct that Kansas City was the center of the universe for young Iowans in the first half of the 20th century, then it was the center of her universe, and it adds a lot to the story of your great-great grandmother.

Emotionally things would have gotten worse for her when she was struggling in remote and desolate North Dakota and then reading that her best childhood friend, married to a wealthy car salesman, was moving to Kansas City to run a dealership there.

I write all that because we got a note today from an elderly couple (which only means that they are a few years older than we are) who, after thirteen years in San Antonio where we first met them, have moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to be closer to one of their daughters and their grandchildren.

Seeing their Kansas City, Missouri, address was all it took to remind me of my mom and a) how often she talked of Kansas City, Missouri; and, b) how much she gave up by marrying Dad and moving to North Dakota.

Cue in the violins.

Kansas City Star, Roger Miller

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