Monday, September 28, 2009

On our visit home - part one

Mansfield, WA is the little town where I went to school when I was growing up. Our family's farm was about 7 or 8 miles west of town. For most of 12 years I rode the big yellow school bus with the other two dozen or so kids who lived out west of town.

We got groceries at the Mansfield Mercantile and hardware at the Mansfield Hardware Store. Sometimes, if it was open, we went to dinner at the Mansfield Cafe.

Funny - even after I was of "legal" age, I didn't feel like I belonged in the Town Tavern. According to my mom, it just wasn't a place where "nice girls" hung out.

The Fusion learns to be a "farm car" covered with dust from one end to the other!

The area Mansfield was settled in the late 1800-early 1900's - in 1907 my grandparents homesteaded the property that my sisters and I inherited from my parents. In 1909, the Great Northern Railroad finished their spur to the area bought a quarter section of land and set up streets and blocks - with sort of an "if you build it, they will come"attitude, the original town, which was a mile to the northeast picked up and moved to the new little city.

A couple of buildings on Main Street have burned in the past thirty years, but one vacant lot now has a new office - A Medical Clinic! Very cool - and necessary as the closest doctors office or hospital is 30-35 miles in any direction.

A group from the community has remodeled the old Post Office and turned it into a museum. I wish I had thought to ask our friend Doug if we could get in to see it - maybe next time. If you biggafy this picture (just click on it) you will see the big domed building at the foot of Main St. - that is the "new" school that was built in the mid 80's.

Like many small towns in Eastern Washington, grain elevators dominate the horizon.

"Last year, there were a total of thirty three farmers that delivered there crops to the Mansfield elevators. Annually, the elevators bring in nearly 1.7 million bushels of grain, the third largest intake in North Central Washington. The main grain harvested in the area, soft white wheat, is shipped around the world for production of pastries and noodles." (from the Mansfield website)

When he was alive, my father worked passionately for the marketing of our area's wheat, even making a trip to Japan and the Philippines as a member of the Washington Wheat Commission to drum up business for our wheat. I'd like to think that the ground work that he worked so hard for continues to benefit the farmers in our area.

Of course, every town has the rock or wall or some kind of landmark that the high school seniors traditionally paint with "their number" on one of the last nights of school. Ours is out east of town - a rock the size of a two story building - someplace on that rock is a little "70" painted by my class members - I was there, but it was darn dark so I don't remember where we put it....

And, we went to visit family - they mostly all reside in the cemetery now. I have always loved the headstone that marks the grave of my great grandfather.

Sorry mom and dad - It didn't occur to me to bring a trowel to cut away the dead grass around your stone - maybe next time.


Sharon said...

We have passed through many small towns that brim with personality and you know there are wonderful stories behind those store fronts and bungalow porches. Some places seem to have lost their core and are crumbling, but others have found ways to thrive and are delightful. I'm glad you town is one of the latter.

Kathy said...

What a neat post. It reminds me I need to go home. :)