When you see a windmill against the background of an azure blue Kansas sky with floating wisps of white clouds drifting lazily in that sky, does it ever remind you of a special memory or two? The memories that this writer recalls being awakened by that image are numerous – some hilariously funny and others create a bittersweet emotion.
After being born a Kansan who continues to be a ‘dyed in the wool’ lover of this great state, join this writer as we create Windmill Memories together. Are you sad when you see a forgotten windmill that has been bent by the Kansas wind? Perhaps a Kansas twister or tornado was the reason for this forlorn skeleton standing all alone in a field of Kansas prairie grass. Or maybe you have seen a bright and shiny steel structure with the blades whirring rapidly as there is water being pumped to quench the thirst of the cattle herd or even a lonely wild animal who makes its home in this same pasture.
The windmill was very necessary to Kansas farmsteads in the early ‘30s’, very well known as “The Dirty Thirties”. Kansas wind blew daily and with no rain from those Kansas skies, there was dust and dirt every day and everywhere. Some days the dirt was so heavy that it was dark by midday. The need for refreshing water provided by those ever reliable Kansas windmills was life itself to Kansas farm families. Families tried to keep the dirt outside their homes by soaking sheets and towels with water and covering windows and even doorways. Still the dirt invaded their homes. The wind was blowing that beautiful black Kansas soil into other states so that in later years there was no good top soil to help with vegetable gardens and crops planted by Kansas farmers.
“Windmill Memories” awaken remembering those days by many Clay County citizens who are of the same age era as this writer. Remind a friend or a neighbor to tell you a story of surviving during those dust bowl years. Those memories must not be forgotten and can only lead to further incidents and stories that have been long ago forgotten or tucked away and covered with happier times.
Go with this writer back in the years past that hold those precious memories and are stories of the strength, tenacity, perseverance, and determination of Kansas farmers and their families to survive those tough years. They represent the backbone, the character, the fortitude, and the spirit of our Kansas ancestors. Be thankful to have lived through those years and to have helped create the heritage and traditions that make up the history of your family background. Share those little vignettes that may seem trivial to you but are meaningful to your children, grandchildren and especially to great-grandchildren. Continue to celebrate with pride and honor the privilege of being a Kansan.
Share some of your thoughts and memories with this writer who loves the state in which she was born and raised and continues to call home. She loves her collection of windmills and that is the reason for the column title: “Windmill Memories”. Are you willing to share your thoughts and memories for subjects of future columns?