From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
---EDITOR'S NOTE: George R. Cullen will be remembered best in Leavenworth by those persons who were in their teens about 50 years ago. He has, since leaving Leavenworth, established himself as a well-known writer, having held positions on many of the country's larger newspapers. In more recent years he has done publicity work and has been an advertising specialist for manufacturers of well-known household appliances. He now lives at Tulsa, Okla. The following article is the last of a three-part story which will appear in The Times.
The Leavenworth I knew as a boy was a solid town. It was like so many other towns of that period. It had all kinds of businesses, mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers and the like. There were well-to-do people, poor people, well people and sick people. Sympathetic neighbors took care of the poor and the sick . . . they considered themselves their brothers keepers. There were no community chests or relief organizations. There were no trade unions, and the term "open and closed shop" had not been invented. Men were hired for what they could do at the price the employer paid. They were fired when not satisfactory . . . or not longer needed. There were no strikes. "Big business" had not arrived, with all of its complications.
In those days the amount of money made by the stores and shops was not large . . . and the monetary rewards of mechanics and artisans were pitifully small compared with present day incomes But[sic} the people were happy. Men sang at their work. They married and reared families. The children went to school, came home, did chores, played with the neighbor children, and joined the family circle in the living room or dining room, whatever room in the house was the common meeting place of the family. The youngsters did "home work," or practiced music. Fathers read the newspapers; mother, when her work was done . . . it usually never was . . . knitted or did fancy work. The peaceful, normal life. There were no public dance halls. Bad boys and girls were corrected by their parents. Children obeyed their parents . . or else. The morals of the youth was not a problem. Crime existed, as it always has, and probably always will, but it was rare. People walked to and from work. Only the fortunate possessed a horse and buggy. Delivery wagons were then non-exixtent[sic]. Train rides were a luxury, and there were no Pullman cars. Homes were lighted with kerosene lamps. Some mighty powerful learning was accomplished with that kind of lightning. Candles had done as well in an earlier era.
Leavenworth is an old city. It has not grown big. In this it is like most of the town in this country. In every state you will find for every bustling, fast growing city, hundreds that are static. Some of the cities that have mushroomed to might and have huge populations have been spoiled in the metamorphosis from little to big.
Leavenworth has been unspoiled by rapid growth. It can still look back upon its traditions with pride. Let nobody think lightly of the contribution of the people of America's town and villages to the sane thinking of the nation. If the writer knows his America, it is the people of the smaller cities that retain their perspective, that remember the terms of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and who thrill at the recital of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. They are the backbone of this nation.
So I bring this saga of my boyhood to a close--reluctantly. It would be easy to extend recollections of persons, places and things to thrice the length of this article, so vivid are the memories of boyhood.
My salute to the old town! Since I trod its streets and countryside as a barefoot boy I have remembered and loved it. . .and so shall I until that hour when, like the Arab, I shall fold up my tent and silently steal away--away from this earth into the unseen temple.