Saturday, October 27, 2012



      It is a long and weary fight to try and keep rural and small town America prosperous and viable.  There is not only the outside influences that attract the young folks away with the jobs (that are not there anymore), and the lifestyle of lights and fun.  More and more of those who leave to find out that the attraction is fine in your 20's but when you are raising a family, and trying to instill values in your kids, there is "no place like home".
      But the relenting attack by a combination of things is killing the places that we come from.  People now think that food comes from the grocery stores.  We used to say kids but they are all grown up and raising their own in this mind set.
     We are taught in business school that only the bottom line is important and things like customer service are secondary considerations.  MBA's have been put in charge of many companies buying divisions as well as management.  You can attest to this by walking into a national farm chain store or any other clothing store and try to buy large size clothing.  Racks and racks of small, medium, large, and 1X are full but the larger sizes are either sold out or not there at all.  This in a time when 60% of the American population is over weight or obese.
      The MBA mentality and the increase of government regulation has devastated the community banking system.  Most of the regulations were put in place because fo the Mega Banks that were "too big to fail", collapsed the system.  Now this mentality is wreaking havoc on rural America.
     My example:  ISABEL, KS. is a small town that many would call dead or dying from the first view.  Population 90 until 6 moved out the other day.  Having had it's 125 celebration this year it is the main office for a Coop that has 6 or more locations.  The town is fighting for it's half day post office.  If closed the office that would be designated as theirs is in another county and 45 minutes away.
     Isabel has a community store that is open from 9am to 2pm. it is holding it's own.  A farm manufacturer is the only industry in town and it is a family concern.  There is a bank with all the marble and classic architecture from the turn of the 19th century.  Once the 'half day' branch was owned by a Kansas City banking chain.  It was always in danger of closing.  Now the bank is owned by a "local" bank chain. 
      Thinking that the "local" bank would be more attuned to customer service it came as a shock that at the end of the year it will be closed and combined with the Medicine Lodge branch.
      Trying to gauge the feelings of the community so this is not my own rant I talked with ranchers and towns people about the impact on the area.  I even visited with a bank manager and obtained the notice letter that was sent out to patrons.  I wanted to get both sides of the story.
      Needless to say the patrons are devastated.  This is creating a hole in the town and another empty building.  Those coming from the Pratt area where the bank closed it's branch some years ago now will have to go on to Medicine Lodge or Kingman. 
     To quote one rancher "it will cost them more in business and ill will than the cost of keeping it open".  The official explanation of the banking chain is that regulation and fixed costs prompted the move.
      The problem with strictly bottom line decisions is that customer service and good will suffers and may cost more in the long run than the black and white figures show.  Rural America suffers when our own adopte the attitudes of those who ignore the backbone of the nation and don't care if main street closes its doors.
      If our own corporations and family businesses do not strive to keep small town and rural life attractive we are shooting ourselves in the foot.  There has to be more consideration as to why a business exists.  It is getting virtually imposible for a young ambitious person to start or expand new things because bank loans are virtually impossible.  This pushes the demand for government or other funding vehicals.  This kills growth and inovation.
      The black and white arguments just don't work in todays world and if we cannot help ourselves I will quote our US Representative, "Don't come to the government for help, you won't like the results".
      I hope the banking family will look more to customer service.  Profit is essential and I am all for it, but customer satisfaction is the backbone of any venture.  Kill that and kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

Friday, October 19, 2012



     You can be in the most quaint setting or in the biggest city in the world and there is always one, or more, of these.  If there is anything that can sour the best of intentions, when everyone is pulling together, it is a thief.
     Most of you probably have not heard of Muscotah Kansas.  It is a quaint town of 200 in the western part of Atchison County in north east Kansas.  There is not a lot of draw for tourists but they have a claim to fame.  The area was the home town of pro baseball player Joe Tinker.  Now you have to be a baseball fan for that to mean anything but it is something.
      The town recently replaced their old water tower with a new one.  So they have this old one that, LOOKS LIKE A BIG BASEBALL!  Maybe the biggest baseball in the world.  Ok, here is the inspiration part.  If you make it the WORLD'S LARGEST BASEBALL what do you do in it.  YOU MAKE A BASEBALL MUSEUM FEATURING HOME TOWN HERO JOE TINKER.  And that is what they are doing.
      So there is cost to do this so the town has to have a fund raiser.  So they have this nice day and the goal of $1000 dollars is raised.  They are on their way.  Community spirit works again.  But hold it!
      Wake up the next day and guess what?  A THIEF STOLE THE MONEY.  One of the lowest, sniveling, underhanded, dirty rotten, no good, things that anyone can do is steal the proceeds of a great effort for a good cause.  I have to stop there because it gets unprintable.
      So what to do?  Marci Penner and Wendy LaPlatt and the KANSAS SAMPLER FOUNDATION have a stroke of genius.  Get the word out to the Kansas Explorers and other Sampler fans and send in $5 dollars to replace the stolen money.
      If you are as ticked of at thieves as I am why don't you send $5 to replace the money and let the people of Muscotah that you support their efforts and community spirit. 

It will make you feel good.  It will help a small town who was helping itself, and will give you an investment in the WORLDS LARGEST BASEBALL.
      It would be a great thing to Send $5 to the Kansas Sampler Foundation and support their efforts to promote small town and rural Kansas.
KANSAS SAMPLER FOUNDATION, 978 ARAPAHO RD., INMAN, KS  67546  contact Marci about the great things they do.

And to the thieves that stoop to this I hope a ticked off grandma with a broom gets to you before they arrest you!!



   I finally left the hilltop and took a drive thru Eastern Kansas on the way to Branson, MO.  I had several friends that were playing the Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City.  It had been so many years since I went down there that I had to just chuck everything and go.  I have a god daughter down there that I have not seen since she was little and she is in her 7th year of teaching grade school now. (hang my head red faced).
     It has been years since I was down thru Dexter (Henry's is still open).  I like the southern Flint Hills and Chautauqua Hills.  There was so much to see that I had to slow down to catch a lot of it.  I had breakfast, both ways, at Cedarvale at the Hill Top Cafe.  Good food and the locals drink coffee there.  They are in the process of adding a steak house, hope it goes good.  The bad note that between going and coming the dishwasher there had died.  In a small town it is a sad event for everyone.
      I was delighted to see that US 166 is a really good two lane highway.  If I was not in a hurry to get down the road there were a lot of bargains I would have tried to buy.(if I had a way to get them home).  Old cars, trucks, and tractors don't fit the budget well.  There was this one classic car lot in Coffeeville I had to speed by.
      The colors were not at their peak but during the last part of the week there was great rains from Winfield to Branson.  I did not know how to take thunder, lightning, and water running.  Was a great reminder.  And the colors after the rain started going wild.
      Did not have time to detour to Sedan.  That is a great visit and I hope someday to visit the Red Buffalo Ranch owned by Bill Curtis.  Driving on I-44 again was an experience.  It is a shame that all the tourist trap places on all the exits now are all Adult Video stores.  Once away from that onto the MO state highways it was back to the way I remembered it.  It also occurred to me that the 20 MPH curves really are that not like in Kansas where it is a suggestion.  When I was younger I liked driving them more than I do now.  That is why I left for home at 4:30am on Sunday morning so I had no traffic until I got back on Interstate.
      I only saw a little of the tornado damage going thru Joplin.  The old way I went thru would have taken me right into the worst hit areas.  They are building back with that same can do spirit that Kansans are famous for.  Good luck to them.  I did see FEMA trailers being sold.
     I hope all of you will take some time to get away from your place and visit the rural parts of Kansas and go ahead go onto Missouri if you want to.  I saw not only my friends at Silver Dollar City but also went to the RFD Theater for Roy Rogers Jr. and Brule'.  They were great.  I also went to see the Sons Of the Pioneers Chuckwagon Show. 
     Now if I can get time to listen to all these new CD's.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


     Well if you looked at my last blog you were in for as big a surprise as I was.  Somehow I was shut up.  I will call it the LOST BLOG.  Now most who know me understand that I am a techno-idiot.  I have managed to get my views on here for over a year and a half, so what happened to my story of going thru South East Kansas on the way to Branson has just disappeared.
      I will follow up with that information however I need to forge on.  I want to bring your attention to a wonderful event at a fantastic historic theater that has been save and is a viable part of it's community again.
     The event is THE WEST IS WILD AS EVER.  It is a show that you have never seen the likes of before.  It is a composition of the Diamond W Wranglers, Judy Coder, and 3 Trails West.  There is more talent wrapped up in the debut than you have seen for a while.  I am so excited about it that I am leaving the hilltop and going to Emporia on October 28th with a car load of friends to see it.
      Early word about the performance is the individual performances as well as combining all members into an 8 part Harmony that is out of this world.
     All the participants are friends of mine and I am going to sound very biased but if you want to see the best make plans to go to the Granada Theater in Emporia.  You can Google the Diamond W Wranglers and order tickets from their website.  You will not regret it.  It is on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
      Now about the theater.  The Granada is another story of a wonderful building that saw it's glory days and then deteriorated until it was almost razed.  A labor of love by the Emporia Community and a lynch pin of the Main Street program there it has been restored to its art deco glory again. 
     The Granada is an example of what individuals and government cooperation can accomplish.  The drive is worth it just for the sound and feel of this venerable old venue.
     I am planning on stopping by Cottonwood Falls on the way up and eat at the Emma Chase Cafe.  We will make it a Kansas Explorer excursion as well as a trip for great entertainment.  The tickets are only $25 so it is not a budget buster. 
      I have a feeling that once the music is turned loose and more people are exposed the WWE will be playing larger and more expensive venues.  Meet me there and be in an a great beginning.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


     One of the things that radically has changed in the last few years is the fact that people who have no idea what real life is all about decide that they know more than you.  It is not that these people have not always had the opinion that they are more intelligent than you.  It is the fact that there are enough of them now to actually force their opinions on their neighbors and get away with it.
     I have seen an entire AG industry killed by the opinions of people that have no concept of what reality is.  I am talking about the horse industry.
      The horse is a domesticated animal that has been in the past the engine of society.  It is an animal that still has fascination and affection of most people.  But the radical animal rightists have succeeded in turning livestock into pets in the minds of society.
      The horse has been a source of enjoyment, industry, and business.  Yet there are realities to the fact that value is underlined by a market.  Without market support there is no real value.  This is what the groups like PETA and the HMSA have been after for years.
      The fact that there is no viable way of handling aged, unwanted, and neglected animals has created a huge problem today.  The wild horses and burros of the west have been romanticised as a natural resource and allowed to grow to the point of damaging the public lands of the West to the point of no recovery.
       The revulsion that the horse is used by some societies as food puts the drive to change the world into the radicals fervor.  I don't really care if Europe or anyone else eats horse.  It is frankly none of my business.
       Passions for a beloved animal can take ordinary people and make them believe the rhetoric that these organizations use for their own agendas.  The victim of this big push against animal agriculture is not to 'save the horse' it is to control and eliminate the use of animals in the food supply.
      The great irony is that these "humane" groups run the largest slaughter houses in the world.  The humane destruction of dogs and cats is under the control of these groups that wish to grant animals human qualities and rights.
      A New York City restaurant recently announced that they were going to include horse on their menu.  The uproar that followed was enough to almost drive the restaurant out of business.  If I were to look at the menu and see horse on it it would not bother me in the least.  I would not eat it but that is my choice to make.  And if I would travel to countries like Mir Mar I would not eat the puppy on their menus.  I would not try to change their customs either.
      The great irony is that we have an explosion of horses, no market, farmers and ranchers driven from the business and we IMPORT horse meat to feed zoo animals.
      There is really a lot of people that need to get a life and quit trying to dictate to the rest of us.  I believe they have enough problems of their own to bother with ours.  Or is there more to the story?

Thursday, October 4, 2012


     I have been giving the politics fits for a while and I am setting here pondering the view out my windows.  I can see over 20 miles down into the Gypsum Hills from our place.  One of my acquaintances put a question out on her Facebook today and has drawn a lot of attention.  It has also gotten a lot of answers.  HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A MIRACLE?
      Of course I have seen miracles everyday and I replied that my time on the Rescue Squad, Ambulance, and Fire engine I witnessed many miracles.  I have seen so many times when someone should have died they came thru without a scratch.  Other times there was so little damage you wondered why anyone died but they did.
      This time of year is a season of miracles that I never tire of.  Not only the cooler weather and the wildlife but also the great hope and faith that the farmer has.  I learned how to farm from my Grandpa Becker and that is where I learned to plant a straight row.  Crooked rows would not do.  I remember riding with him and seeing the neighbors plantings and commenting on the inattention to detail (Carl was real blunt).  Farming was not a casual thing, for him it was his livelihood and pride of doing good work.
      I did almost every job on the farm while growing up but the drill and planter were not allowed.  Later on when I farmed for a friend of mine I drilled wheat and it was as if I had done it all my life.  The lessons must have taken hold.  Maybe plowing a straight headland or mowing hay instilled the skills.
      One of my proudest days was when I swathed some alfalfa for a friend while he took a dinner break, (dinner is at noon in the country, for all you city dudes), when he came back he complimented me by saying he could never swath that straight.  I just said thanks but if I didn't run straight Carl Becker would be mighty disgusted.
      I miss the miles of drilling with that 706 Farmall and the 20 hole drill in the fall.  The neighbors would come in with big folding drills or double drill hitches and try to plant fast.  The steady pace of drilling with that red rig always seemed to be not far behind.  You don't rush planting.  I miss the deer coming out and walking right up to the tractor and stepping aside when passing.  That rig did not spook them like the neigbors rigs did.
     The miracle of putting seed in the ground and even with no moisture in a few days green fragile wheat appears.  I watched last week the wheat going in the ground and it is up.  How a tender little plant can survive is a miracle.  I am astounded at those who say they have never seen a miracle.  I don't understand what kind of unhappy life they must live.
       Grampa always said that you had to kill wheat three times before putting it in the bin.  He also said God always lets it rain ten minutes before it is too late.
      For all the storm clouds on the horizon for this country and the worry that is put in about it's future, look at the wheat growing.  Things are still in his hands and miracles abound if you choose to see them.