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Another Day in the Country

A farewell to landmarks

© Another Day in the Country

An old landmark for the little town of Ramona, population 100, plus or minus, is coming down.

Tall, white grain elevators that rose up along the railroad track and towered over the countryside soon will be gone.

We expected them to be there forever, but nothing is forever.

Defunct, no longer used or useful, the elevators and the buildings that housed the accoutrements of a co-op that accepted grain from surrounding farmers are being torn down.

I hoped I would never see the day, but that day came. Of course, it’s progress.

Move-ins, as Aunt Gertie called newcomers in town, will never know the difference. For those of us who have been around Ramona for a while, they will be sorely missed.

When my family used to visit from California, we would fly into Wichita, borrow Uncle Clarence’s car, and head toward Ramona.

When we turned off US-56/77 to drive the five miles into town, we would watch carefully for the first glimpse of those grain elevators against the blue Kansas sky.

“There it is,” we’d say. “There’s Ramona!” We were back to our hometown.

It was a habit to watch for those white towers against the sky, piercing above the trees, as we approached Ramona.

We might have been driving home from going to the grocery or seeing a movie.

We might have seen a storm gathering in the south.

We always measured where clouds were against the elevators and gauged whether storms would have gone east of town by the time we got home.

We would see a fire burning in someone’s field and guess its whereabouts by which side of the elevators it was on.

We won’t be able to do that kind of reckoning any longer because our landmark will be gone.

Just like windmills that dotted the countryside in every farmer’s yard, informing us of people and livestock living in this place, the grain elevators informed travelers that they were approaching a little town, a place of commerce.

If you saw towers on the horizon, especially in western Kansas, where you can see for miles and miles, you knew you probably could make it to a gas station that most certainly would be in the vicinity. And, hopefully, there would be a restaurant nearby.

We still have a couple of old windmills in the countryside surrounding Ramona. When I take the back road to Tampa I know my turn is coming up by a windmill sitting in a field to my left.

There’s also a rag-tag old windmill about a mile out of town on the Ramona road that I made the feature of a watercolor I painted once. And a few more are standing, faithfully pumping water for their sleek cattle clientele.

I love these old landmarks, all the more precious as they disappear.

I’ve loved the grain elevators in Ramona. For me, they stood for the town. How could there be a Ramona without the “castles,” as my younger cousins used to call them.

I’ll probably be out of town the day the elevators come down. My sister said she would be taking pictures.

“I knew you’d be so sad,” she said.

I try to imagine what it will be like to drive back to Ramona and not see those elevators.

Like a little kid who’s lost his or her favorite toy or the scrap of a blanket that he or she went to sleep with every night, I’ll have lost something.

I feel like crying, but I’m a grown-up, and who cries over a building being demolished?

They’re old, they’re a hazard, they’re useless, they’re no longer needed, and they had to come down.

I suppose we’ll get used to it, just as we’ve got used to not seeing our old-fashioned windmills and red barns dotting the landscape. We’ll find ourselves creating new landmarks. Something else will tell us we are nearing home, on another day in the country.

Last modified July 12, 2018

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