Every story's a good one in Jim Hoy's collection

"Flint Hills Cowboys: Tales of the Tallgrass Prairie" by Jim Hoy Jim Hoy, in addition to being chair of the English Department at Emporia State University and the premier folklorist of Kansas, is an authentic ... Full Story
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manka

United States

#1 Aug 14, 2006
By Monte L. Manka (Son of Wayne Manka)
A while back--Chad I met a man named Wilbur Countryman. This man was very direct and pretty much said what he wanted to say.
One fall when I was about 11 years old 1937 Wilbur asked Dad to come to his ranch and work on the engine of his tractor. I was tickled to death because Dad wanted me to go along. It was seldom that my Dad wanted me to tag along but he needed me to do some cleaning on the head and block of the tractor. I scraped the carbon and gunk off the head and cleaned the old gasket off the block and that was my job.
The main reason I wanted to go along was I knew that Virginia ( Wilburs wife ) would cook up some steaks for Dad and I, so all the time that I was working I thought of the meat in the skillet.
The Meat that we had at home was always Pig meat, Ham, Pork chops and such but no Beef, so I was really looking forward to the noon meal.
When it came time to eat Wilbur called Dad and I in and after washing up we sat down at the table with Wilbur, Virginia and their son Gene. Besides all the goodies I looked at the meat plate and didn't see any steaks, but I thought to myself "it sure looks good", whatever it was.
After eating what I thought were pork chops, Wilbur said,“Monte do you know what kind of meat you are eating" I said no. He laughed and said that I was eating goat--I tried hard not to throw up.
Wilbur evidently saw the pained look on my face and laughed and laughed.
Dad and Wilbur were good friends and when our farm house burned down Wilbur got hold of Dad and said “ you know where the key is to the house go and make yourself at home.” Wilbur was on another of his ranches in another state but he was kind enough to go out of his way and make Dad more comfortable.
Dad, just having everything that he held dear to him go up in smoke one early morning, needed some friendship and Wilbur presented it to him.
I went back soon after the farmhouse burned down and saw Dad while he was staying with Wilbur. The one thing that you did was stay for dinner at Wilburs and he did all the cooking. When we sat down to eat he had made stew and it had a spicy taste and I thought it was a cowboy recipe for stew.
You had to have fruit with the meal and Wilbur saw to it you had some. I don't care much for fruit cocktail but
at Wilbur's you had it any way because he put it on your plate.
After supper I volunteered to help with the dishes and while Wilbur and I were doing the dishes he said my gosh, I forgot to wash the stew pot last night, and it had a chili coating in the pot. Now I knew why the stew tasted spicy it was the remaining coating of the used pot. I must say that the stew was great and I am trying to get my wife to copy Wilbur’s recipe for it.
While there Wilbur said that I had to go to the wrestling matches with Dad and his gal and Wilbur and his gal. I made some remark that the wrestling matches were all rigged, and that the guy in the white shorts always won.
I spent the next 30 miles catching heck from both he and Dad, and was told that I was not right. When we got to the matches Wilburs girlfriend told me to sit next to Wilbur and I complied.
The guy in the white shorts wasn't doing so good. About that time white shorts made a good hold and Wilbur hit me in the chest in his excitement, with his elbow, and I had a hard time catching my breath. When white shorts made another good move I moved and Wilbur missed me that time.
His girlfriend said to me “Monte do you see why I wanted you to set next to him.”
After returning to California, I received the news that Dad had died at Wilbur’s ranch. One of Wilbur's friends asked him why he didn't put Dad in some home and he said “Wayne's a good friend of mine and as long as he wants to stay, he can.”
I heard that Wilbur has died as many of my old friends have, and the world has lost a good man.
Written in the year 1998
manka

United States

#2 Aug 14, 2006
Cowboy Friend

By Monte L. Manka
Monte1926@yahoo.com
A while back--Chad I met a man named Wilbur Countryman. This man was very direct and pretty much said what he wanted to say.
One fall when I was about 11 years old 1937 Wilbur asked Dad to come to his ranch and work on the engine of his tractor. I was tickled to death because Dad wanted me to go along. It was seldom that my Dad wanted me to tag along but he needed me to do some cleaning on the head and block of the tractor. I scraped the carbon and gunk off the head and cleaned the old gasket off the block and that was my job.
The main reason I wanted to go along was I knew that Virginia ( Wilburs wife ) would cook up some steaks for Dad and I, so all the time that I was working I thought of the meat in the skillet.
The Meat that we had at home was always Pig meat, Ham, Pork chops and such but no Beef, so I was really looking forward to the noon meal.
When it came time to eat Wilbur called Dad and I in and after washing up we sat down at the table with Wilbur, Virginia and their son Gene. Besides all the goodies I looked at the meat plate and didn't see any steaks, but I thought to myself "it sure looks good", whatever it was.
After eating what I thought were pork chops, Wilbur said,“Monte do you know what kind of meat you are eating" I said no. He laughed and said that I was eating goat--I tried hard not to throw up.
Wilbur evidently saw the pained look on my face and laughed and laughed.
Dad and Wilbur were good friends and when our farm house burned down Wilbur got hold of Dad and said “ you know where the key is to the house go and make yourself at home.” Wilbur was on another of his ranches in another state but he was kind enough to go out of his way and make Dad more comfortable.
Dad, just having everything that he held dear to him go up in smoke one early morning, needed some friendship and Wilbur presented it to him.
I went back soon after the farmhouse burned down and saw Dad while he was staying with Wilbur. The one thing that you did was stay for dinner at Wilburs and he did all the cooking. When we sat down to eat he had made stew and it had a spicy taste and I thought it was a cowboy recipe for stew.


You had to have fruit with the meal and Wilbur saw to it you had some. I don't care much for fruit cocktail but
at Wilbur's you had it any way because he put it on your plate.
After supper I volunteered to help with the dishes and while Wilbur and I were doing the dishes he said my gosh, I forgot to wash the stew pot last night, and it had a chili coating in the pot. Now I knew why the stew tasted spicy it was the remaining coating of the used pot. I must say that the stew was great and I am trying to get my wife to copy Wilbur’s recipe for it.
While there Wilbur said that I had to go to the wrestling matches with Dad and his gal and Wilbur and his gal. I made some remark that the wrestling matches were all rigged, and that the guy in the white shorts always won.
I spent the next 30 miles catching heck from both he and Dad, and was told that I was not right. When we got to the matches Wilburs girlfriend told me to sit next to Wilbur and I complied.
The guy in the white shorts wasn't doing so good. About that time white shorts made a good hold and Wilbur hit me in the chest in his excitement, with his elbow, and I had a hard time catching my breath. When white shorts made another good move I moved and Wilbur missed me that time.
His girlfriend said to me “Monte do you see why I wanted you to set next to him.”
After returning to California, I received the news that Dad had died at Wilbur’s ranch. One of Wilbur's friends asked him why he didn't put Dad in some home and he said “Wayne's a good friend of mine and as long as he wants to stay, he can.”
I heard that Wilbur has died as many of my old friends have, and the world has lost a good man.

Written in the year 1998

Forgot my e-mail address
Monte Manka

United States

#3 Aug 17, 2006
Yesterday when I was young--Chad
I was asked by Darwin Putnam, in about 1938, to come to his house and bring a bunch of I gal. water jugs and be the water boy for a threshing crew. Now the old pony wasn't in tip top shape but I started out.
These jugs were wrapped in burlap, then wet on the outside to keep them cool longer. I could get about four jugs on the saddle horn and I rode on out. I had to go down to the field and water the bundle men and then the hayracks crew and then the threshing crew itself and then back to the well to pump more water, and go again. One of the bundle men had a bloody sore on his mouth and the rest of the crew told me that if they ever found out that he had drank out of their jug I was in big trouble, I marked his jug and I didn't mess up.
It was in July and hotter than Hades but the guys had to have water so I couldn't stop in the shade and cool off myself. When lunch time came I had never seen so much food in my life. The neighbor women had came over to help Darwin's wife prepare the food. Keep in mind that there was no running water no refrigeration nothing but an ice box, for cooling the tea or milk, or water with their meal.
There was a beef roast, fried chicken Pork chops, ham, and that was just the meat. There were about twenty five guys with voracious appetites to feed and the tables were heaped with goodies. There were five kinds of pie there was Ice Cream Strawberry, Vanilla and chocolate. I ate until I thought I was going to split open and had to start the watering all over again. This Ice cream was made and frozen by hand, no electricity.
I got my horse out of the barn and saddled her to start again. We worked until the sun set and that was about eight in the summer time. When the job was finished and the fields were bare, the straw in a big straw stack, the wheat in the granary, Mr Putnam sat at a table in the shade of a tree and wrote a check to all of the workers. My check for two days was for $1.50 and I took a safety pin and pinned it to the inside pocket of my bib overalls. This was the most money I had ever made working for some one else.
This was my first job--it's ironic but I ended my working days by being a water boy. I started as a water boy on a horse and ended being a water boy driving a water truck the difference was the first was in Chelsea, Kansas and the last in Long Beach Calif. I made .75 cents a day to start and when I retired I was making 140.00 dollars a day.
Monte L. Manka
Monte Manka

United States

#4 Aug 18, 2006
Yesterday I ---- Well Chad
After I graduated from District No. 10 I moved into Junior high school in El Dorado. I would stay at the Hazlett ranch at John and Ruth Fox's home and Dad and Mom would come and get me on Friday. My Dad had an old "Olds" coupe, it wasn't the most reliable car in the country and if it wouldn't start I would sleep over.
I would ride my bicycle into the Junior High about three miles when the weather was good. I was made fun of because I was a farm boy and was not as polished as the city boys. Gym was one of my big things, I never had undressed in front of any other strangers and I had trouble hiding myself until I finally figured how to get into that "chastity belt" known as a jock strap. Hell I had no idea what it was, my mom had gotten my gym clothes.
I survived that and then Ruth and John Fox moved into town at 418 South Atchinson, and I would stay there for the five school days and the folks would come in and get me on Friday night.
One cold evening in February of 1940 I was walking home to the Fox residence when Merwyn Sontag passed me in his car and didn't stop to pick me up. I thought this strange but I kept on toward home. When I got to the porch there was Merwyn talking to Mrs. Fox and when I walked up, they stopped talking. I said to Merwyn you look like you just saw a dead person and walked into the house. Merwyn left and then Mrs. Fox told me that my Mother and little Brother had been killed in a train wreck and that my dad might not live through the night. When I look back on this, I often wondered how Merwyn felt when I said what I did about seeing someone dead.
After the funeral and all I was called into the office of Mr. Schaffer the Math teacher, and was what you call it nowadays counseled about the traumatic effect this had on me. At 13 years old losing your only brother and only Motherand your dad in the hospital in a coma for about three days your guess is as good as mine.
I remember the neighbor ladies coming over immediately at the farmhouse and doing the cooking and everything for about two days. Mrs. Lorraine Hodges, Mrs. Corfman, Mrs. Don Milbourn and others I don't recall were so nice to me and my Uncle Ves. Carter.
Finally after about a week my Dad got better and was told he couldn't carry a small pail of water because of the injury to his back. He was about forty years old at that time, he lived another forty some years, and his back got better all the time.
Monte L. Manka
Monte Manka

United States

#5 Sep 14, 2006
The Chelsea Cemetery

That hallowed ground
Just to the south
Of the Wayne Manka farm
Where the old tombstones
Stand there alone
With their earthy charm

They stand with somber beauty
Some granite and some stone
Showing all who travel by
They’r really not alone

The wording’s faded quite a bit
Because of wind, and rains
Some damage has been done
And it’s faded out the names.

In the back of the lot
By the row of Cedar Trees
My Mother and little Brother
Are resting there in Peace.

The ones that are in the front
The Cogshalls, Putnams and Carters
The rest I can’t remember
Buchanans, Doornbos for starters.

That Chelsea Cemetery, Didn’t mean much to me
When I was just a kid
But now I can see what I missed
And realize how much it did.

The names of those old farmers
The ones I can’t recollect
Were real People that were the Chelsea founders
And deserve our respect.

Man and wife worked side by side
Out in the dusty field
From daylight until darkness
Their hard work they did yield,

They planted here another crop
They depend on the weather
To bring the rain, upon the plain
For a Bumper crop to gather.

These were the farmers
That had worked with their hands
Before they passed on,
To those Promised Lands.

For the ones that are buried here
To those that have a plot in
The Chelsea Kansas Cemetery
These pioneers now aren’t forgotten..

Monte L. Manka
monte manka

United States

#6 Sep 21, 2006
WHY YOU CAN’T GO BACK TO “BOUNTIFUL”
These pictures show
From first to last
That old Chelsea Farmhouse
That rests in the past.
The Kitchen, the dining room, the porch and the parlor
The two bedrooms upstairs, as now you can see
Is a big pile of burnt lumber
There’s nothing but debris.
Early one morning
My dad woke to smell of smoke
His throat was burning
And out to the yard he broke.
Walked into the yard
Looked up and he could see
Fire was shooting through
The roof hungrily.
He went into the house to call for help
The phone lines were burned in to
The electricity was off
He couldn’t find his shoes.
He groped around in the darkness, for his pants and shirt
Got dressed and out he ran
Then couldn’t find his car keys
Back into the burning house he ran.
Found the keys in the darkness
High on a chest of drawers
Drove a mile to the neighbors
And down the lane he tore.
Got the neighbor up
Called the fire department
The fire engine made the 12 miles out
Too much time had been spent
2
To much time was lost and
By the time they arrived
With a little water that was in their tank
No way was the Farmhouse to survive.
Dad and the Fireman
Stood and watched it burn down.
When the sun came up
Dad turned and drove to town.
The thoughts that went through Dad’s head
While staring into the glow
I could not imagine
Something I’ll never know.
While living in this farmhouse
He had two sons, by his first wife
Lost one son and his first wife, my mom
The first love of his life.
Married the second time
To a woman from Eureka town
Didn’t last very long
Divorced her while I was overseas bound.
Married Peggy Schaffer a country girl
She had two children,
Ralph and Margie
And the kids moved in.
And later to them a little girl, Carol, was born
After I married and started my career
Carol grew up, married and moved away
He also lost Peggy after many years.
Dad was hurting badly but
Wilbur countryman Dad’s life long friend
Ask Dad to come and live with him
And my Dad moved in.
He spent a couple years with Wilbur
Then Dad was gone
With him went all those thoughts
Of which, I am sure I was one. Monte L. Manka Aug-30-2006
monte manka

United States

#7 Sep 29, 2006
The Chelsea Kansas Church

The Chelsea Kansas Church
Had lost it’s Churchy Charm
The Bell Tower was removed
Now it looked like a barn.

The Bell tower was torn down
With the Farmers permission
For the safety of the
The whole Congregation

After the chores on Sunday
We were washed and dressed
Twas the day to go to church
You had to look your best.

For the travelin Preacher
Would soon be there
To lead in the singin
And also in Prayer.

Mattie Holderman would play the Organ
And sing out loud and clear
We followed along with her
On the hymn we loved so dear.

“In the Garden”
We sang with vigor and Vim
We sang all the verses
To that great old Hymn.

After the Prayer
We would depart
To the room reserved
For our class to start.

The kids in the South room
The teenagers North, for their session
The Adults stayed in the center
To study their lesson

After the classes were over
We assembled once more
Out in the pews
On the main floor.

We listened to the preacher
He had a wart on his tongue
We watched intently
And snickered when he sung.

Sermon was over
Sam Putnam passed the plate
With my two cent gift
I wondered how the preacher ate.

The Preacher would come to our home
Invited for a dinner on Sunday
Always said a long prayer
Seemed to run into Monday.

Take off your Sunday clothes
Hang them up oh so neat,
Off to the grainery
To play in the wheat.

Monte
monte manka

United States

#8 Oct 4, 2006
Chelsea School
Chelsea School,
District No. Ten
Goes way back
To I don’t remember when.

I attended this school
From first. to the eighth.
Had several different teachers
To which I’ll relate.

Miss Blaney was my 1st. grade teacher
Small, timid and shy
The eight grade boys would tease her
They would make her cry

TW, Jr. Hunt and John Turner too
Kept her in a state of frustation
With their crazy antics
And their aggrevation.

Agatha Vestring taught Number five
She stayed inside and sent us out to play
While she played footsie’s
With an eight grade boy, they say.

When our teacher was ill
Out with lumbago
We had a substitute
From The city of El Dorado.

She opened the school day
By giving us a treat
Those wonderful stories
That kept us on the edge of our seat

We liked her so much
We’d hope our teacher would get sick
So we could get our substitute
Mrs. Newacheck

Miss Sager was A stickler
To have you be quiet and polite
She gave me a job
To bring in the coal at night.

For ten cents a day
I’d bring in the coal
Fifty cents on Friday
Was a lofty goal.

In all eight years
Melda Welty and me would stay
There were always the two of us
When other students moved away

In Grade four
A very pretty girl
Came into the Chelsea School
And my heart began to whirl.

I looked at her in her feed sack dress
And me in my bib overalls
And thot what a couple we would make
Holdin hands in the halls.

I was smitten
She couldn’t have cared less
All I could think about was
The girl in the feed sack dress.

Barbara and Melda
Became the best of pals
And found ways to tease me
In my shoddy shoes and bib overalls.

The Chelsea School, Like the Chelsea Church
Lie under twenty feet of water
Same as that Road, that old gravel road
I say Adieu to My Alma Mater.
Monte
Monte Manka

United States

#9 Dec 17, 2006
The Chelsea, Kansas Blacksmith
The Chelsea, Kansas Blacksmith
Up 13 highway
To the east of our Chelsea farm
Lived a blacksmith by the name of Buchanan
With a shop that was extremely warm.
When Dad and I arrived at the shop
You could hear the clanging of the hammer
Hitting against the Anvil
While he was molding Plowshares for some farmer.
I marveled at this large man
When I was just a kid
His arms were big and muscled
To do the work he did.
He wore a blacksmith apron
To keep the heat from creeping in
To his burley body
And not to burn his skin.
He had an array of tools
Hammers, Anvil and tongs
A barrel of brackish water
To cool what he was working on.
The blower he worked by hand
It made a terrible racket
As he heated up the forge
To work on an iron bracket.
He was always sweaty
This working man
There was no electricity
Of course there was no fan.
2
The shop doors were open on the East and the West
To capture every breeze
It was cool when the wind did blow
But sometimes the wind would cease.
Didn’t bother this big gentleman
He worked on through it all
To finish a job for some farmer
To be ready when he’d call.
This mighty man would
Heat the metal till it was just right
Take the tongs and lay it on the anvil
And beat it with all his might.
Iron rims for wheels for wagons of grain
Iron rims for the hayracks too
Irons for the ends of single trees, and wagon tongues
Molding Iron there’s nothing he couldn’t do.
Metal bands for wooden Axles
On the grain wagons he would make
They fit perfect
The farmers knew that they wouldn’t break.
My Dad would take plowshares
Sometimes he called them lays
Mr. Buchanan could sharpen them
Made it look like child’s play.
He’d pound them out very thin
Then work on the nose
Making sure that the share was true
And no problem it would pose.
3
My Dad broke a 6-foot metal bar
Right smack in the center
Took it to the blacksmith
Into the shop my Dad did enter.
There was no welding machine
Or electric grinders you see
This man put it back together
With heat and hammer as true as could be.
Many years later
Dad was still using that bar
For postholes he was digging.
As I went off to war.
The blacksmith is no longer there
He passed on years ago
With the Arc welders taking over his profession
The Blacksmith’s age did go.
I’ll bet he’s working for God
Mending little things
Making small attachments for
The bindings of Angels wings.
Monte L. Manka 06-03-2006
Susan Hobbs Meyer

Wichita, KS

#10 Nov 17, 2007
To Monte Manka, I am from the Chelesea just south of your house next to the grave site, J.C Hobbs daughter. I enjoyed your poems , but wanted to know how to get hold of Carol I grew up with her, thank you susan5256@sbcglobal.net
Susan Hobbs Meyer
Monte Manka

United States

#11 Dec 31, 2007
Thank you Susan, I have complied with your wishes. Monte L. Manka
Monte Manka

South Pasadena, CA

#12 Feb 9, 2008
WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
1945

‘Twas the night before Christmas

In a far off land
6,000 miles from home
At an Army Command.

This young Kansas Farmer
Was thinking of home
With a horrible feeling
Of being all alone

Staring out a window
Listening to the sound
Of piped in Christmas Carols
While a soft snow fell to the ground,

A feeling of loneliness as he
Stared at the Quadrangle below
At the emptiness there
Slowly being covered in snow.

Feeling sad and dejected
With a lump in his throat
Thinking of Christmas at home
While in a letter he wrote

Confessing to his Dad
His feelings of love
How he wished he was home
How the soft snow made him think of,

Those Christmas’s on the farm
With the popcorn strung tree
And being together
With the whole family

Trying hard not to cry
Come on you are a man
Men don’t cry
Here in the Army Command.

He moved to his cot
With a sigh he drifted off to sleep
While praying to the Lord
His soul to keep.
2
He dreamed of Christmas
When he was a kid
And of all the things
That his family did

On Christmas Eve peeking
Out his bedroom door
Looking for Santa to spread
His toys on the floor

Beneath that Cedar tree
That we had cut down
Out of our timber
Better than the ones in town.

In the morning
There was a toy van
And printed on the side
Was made in Japan.

A dollar watch
Now he was in a bind
He had to learn
How to tell time

Mom came into the room
He awoke with a start
What a beautiful dream
It warmed up his heart.

He turned onto his side
And said to the bare wall
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU MOM
MERRY CHIRSTMAS TO ALL

S/Sgt. Monte L. Manka
C/O 29th General Hospital
XXIV Corps
APO 901, Seoul, Korea.
Monte Manka

South Pasadena, CA

#13 Feb 9, 2008
Growing Older
As I grow Older
And my dark hair turns to gray
My pace is a little slower
And my mind seems to stray,

I find more muscles
That seem out of place
A few more wrinkles
On my aging face,

And the fire that once burned inside me
My get up and go
Left me some time before
Now there’s just a glow.

No, I’m not crying
It’s life and this is the way it goes
I know I’m preaching to the choir
About the “Ebbs and Floes”

Of the aging process
Sometimes seems not to be fair
Some are treated kindly
Some with little care

But I wake up each morning
And have to smile
I am still here
Even for a little while

So I am thankful
And go on my way
While I live a little longer
And enjoy another day

Monte 07-11-07
Monte Manka

South Pasadena, CA

#14 Feb 10, 2008
The White Striped, Black Kitty

One summer morning
Down by the Walnut River
My brother and I
Were cutting arrows for our Quiver.

Cowboys and Indians
Was the game we played
We needed bows and arrows
And these by us were made.

We had just left the Paw Paw Patch
And started to walk across
The old corn field
Between the broken cornstalks.

When this black, white stripped Kitty
Came loping through the corn
A few feet ahead of us
In this early morn.

I had never seen a skunk before
So when he stopped
I hit him with a Paw Paw branch
And over the river bank he flopped.

Off the bluff
He sailed into the water
But on the way down
He did something he shouldn’t otter.

Halfway down Leslie and I
Smelled something mighty rotten
And it got worse
As we got nearer to the bottom

The skunk swam to the other side
And went
We wished he had taken with him
His scent.
2
The odor made us sick
And we knew first of all
Mom would be mad
She’d have to burn our overalls.

Running every step of the way
All out of breath, and gasping
We got to the house
For fresh air we were a’ grasping.

Mom said what’s the matter
Why do you look so pale?
Without hesitation
We related to her our tale.

Mom laughed and said
The smell is not in your clothes
I can’t smell anything
It’s all in your nose

My lesson is
If you’re not to sure
And if you’re from the city
Don’t be dumb
Turn and run
From that itty bitty black striped kitty

PePee Le Pew—Monte 05-02-2006
Monte Manka

San Diego, CA

#16 Feb 27, 2008
Saturday we went to Town

We all got into the Olds,
Ready to depart
Dad started crankin
But it wouldn’t start.

The hired man, Curley Amen
I did hear him say
If your car won’t run
Take my Model A

We piled into the A, all four of us
Into Curley’s Coupe
We were kinda crowded
But we were soon on our way.

I was in the middle
My brother on Mother’s lap
Dad was driving
I tried to take a nap.

We went to town
By Irvy’s we did pass
Across the low water bridge
And through the underpass.

Just to the South of our farm
Irving Buchanan resided
This little man was kinda close
In fact he was tight-waded.

He painted two sides of his house
Because to Dad he did say
They were the sides that could be seen
From Thirteen Highway.

Down by the El Dorado Lake
On past Charlie Nuttles, we did go
Past the John Teter ranch
And Into El Dorado.

Later in the afternoon
We started home from town, the four of us
The weather had changed
And looked rather ominous.

As we left the city limits
It began to snow,
Before we got to Nuttles
The wind began to blow.

Mom was driving
And when we headed North, past Charlie Nuttles
Around a curve we slid into the ditch
That’s where we settled.

The Model A had no heater
The snow and wind coming fast
With the north wind blowing
I didn’t know how long we’d last

It was cold O so cold
My nose was cold so I tied a rag on
Dad said he would walk the five miles home
And get the mules and wagon.

He got out in the Blizzard
Had on his low cut Sunday shoes
Headed into the North wind
And disappeared from view.

Mom kept us busy
In that old cold Model A
We sang songs and jumped around
I’m sure my Mom did pray.

She never let on to us
That she had any worries
Made up some games
She even made up stories.

Suddenly the passenger door opened
And In got Charlie Nuttle
He made it warmer in the car
Said he was checking on his cattle.

He asked Mom if we were all right
My Mom told him Charlie go on
Wayne should be coming back soon
With the mules and wagon.

Charlie got out
Mounted his horse
When he did
Seemed much colder, inside of course.

After a few more songs
We were singing loud
I spotted something dark
Coming up the road

My Dad and Curley Amen
Had brought blankets and hay
To the Model A Hooked a chain
We were finally on our way.

We were covered with hay and blankets
We were finally getting warm
Mom had her arms around us
Still keepin us from harm.

Dad stopped twice on the way
To pick up stranded neighbors
Unhooked from the A
Took them to their doors.

We got home
Warmed by the stove
Nothing ever felt so good
To my nose and toes.

Dad later told us
In his lowcut Sunday shoes
His feet were so numb from cold
He could barely move.

He got to the kitchen door
Couldn’t get up the steps
Called to the Hired man
To give him some help.

While Dad thawed out
Curley hooked up the mules
Threw in some hay and blankets
Into the wagon threw a chain and tools.

Years later while the family was at dinner
I asked my mom if she was scared
On the stormy, wintry night
She got very quiet, into the empty doorway stared

In all my born days
I thought we were gone
I was asking God
To keep us safe from harm.

As I set here and write this
Something I would like to settle
Was the man that got into the A
Really Charlie Nuttle? Monte Manka 5-5-2006 (True Story.)
Monte Manka

San Diego, CA

#17 Mar 4, 2008
Clean up after the Tornado in El Dorado

For the next three weeks
After all the chaos
There were Tornado warnings every night
Much sleep was lost.

I was working 4 til midnight
At the Skelly refinery
I was worried sick
For the safety of my family.

Don Lawrence,
My neighbor to the North said
Do not to worry
He would take care of Shirley and the kids.

This eased a lot of pressure
Weighing on my mind
Knowing that my family
Would not be left behind.

In the mornings
I would go down
And help some one clean up
With every one else in town.

The bulldozers had cleaned a path
Down the center of the streets
To provide access
For the firemen and police.

I walked down to Herb Bonnell’s
And I was at a loss
All the landmarks were gone
Couldn’t find Herby’s house.

Where Herb’s house once stood
A couple walls were still upright
I recognized Herb,
My God what a sight.

The roof was gone
The garage just a cement slab
Herb saw me coming
I’m sure he was glad.

We saved the electric boxes
Switches from the walls
All the wiring we could pull
We saved anything that was good at all.

A plastic canister set sat undamaged
Beneath a cabinet in the kitchen
Coffee, Flour, Sugar etc.
Were in a safe location.

Herbies wife opened the one containing coffee
Said look Herbie this is in good condition
Dug in to the coffee with a spoon
Below the surface there was Rock wool insulation.

All the things in the canister set
Was Ok on the top
But just below the surface
There was the gray insulation glop.

He found things in his house
That didn’t belong to him
An old Blow torch
And other things that had blown in.

As I was throwing pieces of splintered lumber
In the yard into a pile
We had to hurry
The Dozer would be here in a little while.

Every thing would be pushed into a stack
To clean up the debris
Then hauled off to the disposal area
To be burned immediately.

I had worked for a couple hours
I found a Holy Bible cover
The insides were gone,
While I stood there, an eerie feeling came over.

I found a Wall hanging
A plate that was in a wire frame
The plate was cracked, right through “God Bless Our Home”
Mother Nature was to blame.

A lady and her daughter was out front
Looking up in a leafless, broken tree
Look Mom she said
There’s the prom dress you got for me.

A large piece of Red cloth
Was waving in the breeze
I had done pretty well up to now
But this almost brought me to my knees.

I stifled a couple sobs
Wondering how they could bear the pain
With seemingly indifference
And go on again.

That evening I went home
I said to Shirley Jean, my wife
Were selling our home
And starting a new life.

I advertised in the paper
Sold it within a couple days
To a man that had lost his house
And my asking price he did pay.

Vern Goodman was the one
Who handled the escrow
We signed the proper papers
On to California we did go.

You can see the Tornado devastation on TV
But until you have walked through one
The awesome loss is something hard to feel, and see
You really feel so helpless and alone.

Monte Manka 06-19-2006
Monte Manka

Valencia, CA

#18 May 8, 2008
The way to Chelsea School
[Through the backyard, on through the fence headed south
Across Irving Buchanans pasture, walk behind his house
Turn right toward Lymon Haver’s
Than on south down the gravel road to the Chelsea school.

Almost every morning
This route I did take
All eight years to school,
I didn’t hesitate.

Through rain and snow, heat and cold
No excuse could I fabricate
Wouldn’t have done any good
Hurry Monte don’t be late.

I had to cross Irvy’s forty acre pasture
I had to be so careful
Munching on the Buffalo grass
Was Irvy’s White Faced Bull.

The Matt Cooks were our neighbors to the North
They had several kids, but only three I knew
Out of this large family,
Was Chelsea, Doris and Linearu

In the first and second grade
Crossing to the other side
I depended on Doris Cook
To save my scrawny hide.

Irvy’s bull looked so mean
With his horns so big and scary
Doris led me across
A big club she did carry.

I wrote Doris years later,(about sixty)
And according to Doris
Irvy’s bull was so emaciated
He couldn’t chase and gore us.
2
But in my mind
He seemed to be
Contemplating
Eating me.

As I got older
I found that if I didn’t hurry
This old Bull paid me no attention
No longer did I worry.

One afternoon
I saw the desicater
Loading up the carcass of
The Old Bull see you later.

My tales done
So’s Irvy’s White Faced Bull
This story is
Just a little dull?

Monte 05-06-06
Monte Manka

Valencia, CA

#19 May 8, 2008
Aw yes, Chelsea town

I remember it well

Two houses, a set of scales, with a gravel road running down

A railroad crossing, three trees, It was a magnificent city as you can tell

Still our town of Chelsea, out on the Kansas Prairie
With each of our neighbors homes separated by a mile or more
Each 300 acre yard populated with varmints tame and wary
Was far larger now than it seemed then, in those distant days of yore.

But yes, about when we were young we can reminisce
About Chelsea, with a ten below night, or a hundred and ten degree day
And remind ourselves of days gone by that we miss
Even hauling hay

The Walnut River was our place to fish and swim
To hunt the squirrel, the rabbit, and the loon
Where Jay and Monte would take a lady friend
To spend an evening admiring the sight of the harvest moon
2
And when we went to school or a neighbors house, it was not so far
We laughed and played as we walked or ran or rode a horse
No need for a bus, a taxi, or a car
Because our neighbors were only a short couple of miles away of course

And yes we were hard as nails
Up at five am to do our morning chores, then twelve hours on the tractors seat
Baked by the Kansas sun, soaked by rain, holding your hat in prairie gales
Feeding the cows, pulling a plow or cutting wheat

Then home again to do the evening chores
Fed the hogs, milk the cows, wash in the creek in the dark,
After supper, work done, radio time, the green hornet and the FBI in peace and wars
Looking back we had it pretty good, but it certainly wasn't any lark

Now after my mornings dozen pills and two hours on a lawn tractor
Mopping my sweating brow, my oxygen bottle almost out of gas
It's time to make an appointment with my Chiropractor

And it's hard to believe the things we did in those days at Chelsea far in the past
Ralph Schaffer, My half Brother. Monte
California kid

San Diego, CA

#20 Sep 19, 2008
THE CASSODAY CAFÉ
(BEEN THERE FOUR TIMES)
See Cassoday, a ghost town of Butler County, Kansas

While sitting here
Before this computer machine
I searched for a subject
While staring at the screen,

I was looking at the Internet
And for today
I typed in something I remembered that was
Far, far away.

About my poem
For today.
You’ve got it
It’s the Cassoday Cafe

I traveled back to the Wayne Manka farm
Dad and I drove up North on Highway 13
Several miles till
We arrived upon the scene

As I drove into Cassoday, Kansas
With my dad that late summer day
We decided to eat
At the Cassoday CAFÉ.

We parked out front by the old hitching rail
We walked through the door
There was a counter, tables and chairs
On a clean, worn wooden floor

Turn left and over the door
Was a sign that read
Remove Spurs or Muddy Boots
Before going ahead.

We went on in and ordered a meal
The food was delicious and then I
Ordered a big piece
Of that good apple pie

When I returned to Anaheim
I told the family
About the Cassoday Café
And the sign I did see,

About the spurs and muddy boots
You’re kidding Daddy, Lori said with a grin
It’s the truth, that’s what it said
Above the door before you go in.

Took a vacation back to El Dorado
In the latter part of May
Lori wanted to know if
We could go up to the Cassoday Café.

I drove up thirteen
North of Chelsea
Parked by the hitching post
In front of the Cassoday Café.

We walked in and Lori
Started breaking up
When she saw the sign
I told her to straighten up,

Just because you’re a city girl
Doesn’t give you the right
To make fun of us country folk
Come on now be polite.

We ate lunch
And I
Had a big slice
Of that good apple pie.

Took my Aunt and Uncle
From Alva, Oklahoma way
Up thirteen Hiway
To the Cassoday Café.

High in the air on some power lines
A thousand starlings were perched
I parked far from that line
So my car wouldn’t be besmirched.

Went in and had a meal
Before we left, I
Had another slab
Of that good Apple pie.

We left the Café
Those Starling birds
Had made 27 deposits on my car
And I said some dirty words. Oh Well

I was riding in the funeral home Limo
That was taking my Dad’s body
Up Hiway 77
To the Cemetery at Cassoday.

As we rode along
All the cars we met
Pulled over to the side of the road
To show their respect.

The cowboys in their pickups
Would remove their hats
As by the side of the Hiway 77
They sat,

Until the Funeral procession
Disappeared down the road
This gave me such good feelings
To see such respect, bestowed

On my Dad’s procession
Some didn’t even know my Dad
But to them
You’d think they had.

After the Cemetery service
My cousins Harold, Ruby, Alvin his wife, and Monte
And Carol Brooks of the Manka clan
Decided to go to the Cassoday Café.

The Funeral director suggested that I
Take the hearse
Drive to the Café
I could think of nothing worse.

I could picture those
Cowboys looking out the window sill
And see me in the White Hearse
Parking next to the hitching rail.

I declined the Funeral Directors offer
Rode with my cousins and they
For the first time
Walked into the Cassoday Café.

One of the waitresses there
Sang the hymns at the funeral of my Dad
I was taken aback
And I wish I had,

Enough sense to tell her
Her voice sounded so pure and mild
She sang hymns I hadn’t heard
Since I was just a child.

We all ordered Tea and coffee
To sorta unwind and relax, and I
Had another slab
Of that good apple pie.

Monte Manka 09-13-2007
Monte Manka

San Diego, CA

#21 Oct 26, 2008
IMAGINATION
Many long years ago
After going to a scary show
When I went to bed at night, and in the dark
Those horrible movie images would grow and grow

I’d cover my head
Under the sheets
Hoping Bela Lugosi
There I wouldn’t meet.

What was that noise in the darkness?
Was it Dracula coming for me?
I’d curl up in a ball
And make like a tree.

Spooks, Goblins and ghosts
Please let me go to sleep
Go to some one else’s house
Why give me the creeps?

With the curtains closed
On those stormy nights
It was hot in my bedroom
With the windows closed up tight

The Thunder roared
The lightening flashed so bright
Even with my head under the covers
Couldn’t shut out the flash of light.

I’d always pray and ask the Lord
To spare our house from harm
And watch over us
Out here on the farm.

After the storm abated when you could open up
The smell of the rain was so sweet
It is hard to describe the pleasant smell
After the fright, now the blessed relief

Spooks, Goblins and ghosts
Please go I’m so sleepy
Go to some one else’s house
I’m tired of feeling creepy..

Early one summer afternoon
I walked to the neighbors, to the West
Mom told me to be home before dark
I told her I’d do my best.

I played much too long
It was getting dark
I had to cross the cornfield, and the Walnut River
Without a flashlight, it was no walk in the park.

I crossed the cornfield
Came upon the river bank
Heard a rustling in the leaves
My heart sank.

I whistled loudly
Even loudly sang a song or two
To warn all those goblins
That I was coming through.

I crossed the river, dark as pitch
Climbed the other side
I went through the gate
Then I lengthened my stride.

I was on the road to the barn
My feet wouldn’t stay still
I ran fast, ahead of the Ghost
That was following me up the hill.

I was never so glad to see
Old Bessy, our Jersey
Chewing her cud
Lying there ahead of me.

Spooks, Goblins and ghosts
I made it to the barn
I beat you once again
Finally, I’m safe from spooks and harm.

Another scary movie
In the summertime we slept outside beneath the trees
In a makeshift bed
To capture the nighttime breeze.

My little Brother and I
Ghost stories we would tell each other
And before long we were
Thinking about going in the house to Mother.

The hoot owls would hoot
Wasn’t as bad as the Screech Owl.
That sound was like a woman screaming
Our bedmate, Billy would lay there and growl.

We knew that our Dog Billy
Would keep us safe from harm
Keep the goblins at a distance
While around his neck we both had wound our arms.

Spooks, Goblins and ghosts
Billy will take care of you
We beat you once again
To you we say Adieu

On dark and stormy night
Trying to shut out the lightening and thunder
I was looking for a way
For the mattress to get under.

When a flash and a sizzle
The telephone wire over my head
Exploded right over my Dad
I thought he was dead.

We were in a state of shock
The explosion was so loud
But not as loud as Dad
As under the covers I cowed.

After everyone settled down
And the burning curtains were tossed out on the lawn
We slipped into dreamland

As the Storm passed on.
There were no Spooks, Goblins and ghosts
Just a lightening strike
At the telephone pole
In our front yard that night.

These stories
Oh so true
Did anything like this
Ever happen to you?

Imagination can be
Either good or bad
But it can run away
When you’re just a lad

But when you were young, could you believe
In your wildest imagination
That with a touch of a button
I can send this all over the nation?
You are so lucky—UGH. Monte 09-16-08

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