I’m writing this column the afternoon of Christmas Eve, but it won’t be read until after the New Year, so I’m in a bit of a time warp as to whether to include end-of-2012 stuff or new year stuff.
Guess I’ll start off with a good, supposedly true, story that I heard last week about some early history in Chase County. Here in the Flint Hills, some of the taller, or more unusual of the hills, acquire local names.
For instance, I can see Jacob’s Mound in the distance to the south from our deck off the kitchen. Another, named hill in the southern part of the county is Tea Pot Mound, because of its shape.
Now, I learn that another “mound” in the southern part of the county acquired a couple of interchangeable names back in the early days of the county when it wuz settled in the 1800s.
The story comes to me second-hand from our county extension agent — you’ll recall that he’s Avery Ware. Not long ago a stranger came into his office and said he was an amateur historian and he wuz looking for Post Office Mound.
Avery wuzn’t familiar with that geographical feature in the county, so he said he’d do a little inquiring and research to find out if there had ever been a Post Office Mound in the county.
He turned to an elderly cowboy in the county whose ancestors were among the early settlers. The old-timer confirmed that there indeed had been a Post Office Mound in the county. It’s name derived from it’s use as an unofficial post office for the sparse population in that big country, since the U.S. mail had no regular delivery to the area.
History has it that whenever someone rode a horse or took a wagon or buggy to Emporia, that person would pick up all the local mail and stash it at some designated place on the “Post Office Mound” and the locals could pick up their mail whenever they were in the vicinity.
However, Avery’s old-timer added a bit of spice to the story of the Post Office Mound by saying it also had a colloquial second name. He said that back in those days of yore, the venereal disease gonorrhea became rampant among the settlers. And, in those days, folks didn’t really know for sure how the disease wuz spread and suspected it could be transmitted from one person to another by casual contact or breathing contaminated air — much like tuberculosis, or measles, or scarlet fever.
Now, there were medications in those times that supposedly helped control the disease and its spread. So, just to be safe from spreading the disease, folks would have their medications delivered from Emporia to Post Office Mound, where the infected persons could pick up their gonorrhea medicine anonymously at their convenience.
And, from that sly practice Post Office Mound acquired its second name — Clap Mound.
Someday I must ask Avery if he knows the location of the dual-named hill. Going to it would be a nice day trip.
And, from Colorado comes this cute story about a young rancher who aspired to become a husband, but had no luck enticing any of the young ladies into an enduring relationship. The young rancher lived as a bachelor in a rustic cabin on the ranch.
Well, during the holidays, the young rancher attended a community dance and met a really nice young lady with whom the he danced all evening long and discovered that the two of them had many things in common — love of the mountains and rangeland, horses, cattle and the ranching life.
The next morning he phoned his mother and announced excitedly that he had just met the woman of his dreams. But, he was at a loss as to what his next step should be. He asked wise ol’ Mom, “Now what should I do?”
His mother had this idea: “Why don’t you send her flowers and on the card invite her to your cabin for a home-cooked meal?”
He thought this was a great strategy and so he invited his heart-throb for dinner. He wuz thrilled when she accepted his invitation and showed up to eat dressed in her finest cowgirl regalia.
The young rancher’s mother called the next day to see how things had gone — hoping against hope that she might have aided herself in acquiring a long-sought daughter-in-law.
“I was totally humiliated, Mom,” the young rancher moaned. “She insisted on washing the dishes.”
“That’s a good trait in a wife. What’s wrong with that? “ asked his mother.
“We hadn’t started eating yet,” her distraught son replied.
Guess that’s how to get the New Year started. Hope you survived all the holiday celebrations and didn’t gain too much weight. I’ll close with these words of wisdom about weight gain and loss. A wag once said: “You can’t lose weight by talking about it. You have to keep your mouth shut.” Another said: “The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends.”
I’ll eat and drink to both of those quotes. Have a good ’un. ❖
“You can’t lose weight by talking about it. You have to keep your mouth shut.”