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Coffeyville, KS

48 hours ago, I was dropped off at my friend's house. He, another friend, and I were all heading off to Coffeyville, Kansas to do a job. We're done with it now, and we're all home, but while we were there an interesting thing happened. At about 4:00 PM on Wednesday, from our hotel room, I heard the sound of a marching band. I looked out the window to find a parade slowly passing our hotel.

It was a neat little parade that was full of the things that you normally see in one. There were antique cars, riders on horseback, wagons, a military Hummer with soldiers on top, fire trucks, police cruisers, a marching band, etc. Candy was being tossed to children. People all over were smiling. I was entertained for several minutes just sitting on the curb taking in the sights and festive atmosphere but soon I realized that I had a rather drab view from the hotel's parking lot so I decided to set out on foot and see some of the other older buildings in town.

I knew nothing of Coffeyville other than that it had been, at one time, a relatively large producer of paver bricks. I've seen many antique bricks in many places that bear the name of Coffeyville, like the one pictured here. I've seen these bricks still in use today in downtown Springfield, MO, and in West Plains, MO. So, I was convinced that the town had enough history that there should be a significant amount of older buildings to see. It didn't take long to find some cool old buildings just around the first corner. I headed up Maple to 9th and then 8th. Here I found several square blocks of historic brick storefronts, factories, and government office buildings. It was a really nice area. Massive cement awnings had been built along the fronts and sides of buildings to shade the 12 and 14 foot wide sidewalks.

Over the past 48 hours, I've worked 20 hours during the night when normally I'd be sleeping. So, my concept of time and even the day of the week was a little skewed for me. As the parade began to wrap up after having zig-zagged through the downtown streets, I realized something. It was Wednesday afternoon. All the people I had passed weren't working. The stores were all open but they were empty. Even the owners and employees of the stores were out on the sidewalks watching the parade. The town was hosting this parade, with very good attendance, I might add, at a time when most communities wouldn't dream of "interfering with business" to have one. I was witnessing American Culture right before me as I had read about, heard about, and seen only in movies. These people were halting their day to revel in something together that was completely unseen. Community.

'Comforting' is the only word I can use that describes, if only partially, the feeling I got when I saw that almost everyone in the parade wasn't just waving at the crowd like you see in large televised parades. They were really waving to friends and neighbors that they knew. "Hi, Tina!", "Hey, Chris!", "Oh, there's Lisa!" and many other shouts from one to another could be heard as I walked. It was an interesting 45-minute stroll that I'm thankful I got to witness.

It was reported on a nation-wide news show a while back that this economic recession might encourage people to live more simple lives. They predicted that, we would all need to lean a little more on each other and that families will be strengthened as family values grow, towns may start to live in closer community, and that people in general will be more friendly to each other.

I don't know if any of this has been occurring nation-wide but I do know that I saw something in Coffeyville that I want. I saw something that I believe we all desire. I saw a community of neighbors.

7 comments:

Glad to hear you made it back safe and sound. I noticed to my amusement that the ampersand in the pictured paver brick is backward. :)

Thanks for sharing this experience - I have always loved small towns! In HS I spent a lot of time in Seymour, MO b/c my best friend lived there. I loved that everyone knew everyone & that fun on the weekends was going muddin' or hanging out at the creek. It doesn't get much better than the Seymour Apple Festival! I always felt like I was missing out on something living in the "big city":)

My husband and I are from Coffeyville

I love that you wrote this about my little home town and were able to see the good in the community. There is a ton of history there. You can research the Dalton Gang which is what we're famous for. They have a reenactment every year of when the Dalton Gang robbed the bank and were shot down by the towns people. There's a Dalton museum in town. Thanks for writing this. The annual fair and rodeo is a big deal around there (that's all that everyone's posts were about this week). 1/2 the city was lost a few years back and they've started to rebuild. There was flooding that took several businesses and homes on the east side of town.

Thanks. I do want to look up more about Coffeyville. I read a very brief summary on it on the town's website. Matthew McConaughey mentions Coffeyville as where his character is from in the movie 'Reign of Fire'. He mentions the whole Dalton Gang thing, too.

Levi, your mom shared this with me, knowing I'm from Coffeyville. It's nice to hear a perspective of it from someone who isn't from there. I shared with my family. Like 'anonymous' stated, if you're interested, you can check out the Dalton Gang. Coffeyville is where the gang essentially met their demise. The bank they robbed still stands today downtown by Walnut street. Thanks and have a great day!

Yes, Coffeyville and their people are close to my heart and I am so glad that an outsider could see that her people do not claim to be perfect, but are still good down-to-earth-type-people. It brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart that someone could see a positive side to my Coffeyville that I feel.

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