Archive for Wednesday, September 8, 1999

Reflections on the new Mirror

September 8, 1999

Last week we moved into our new office downtown. This is The Mirror's first move since 1924, and it's just a half-block west and across the street from the former location, next to the Post Office. Be sure to stop in and see us when you pick up your mail.

As we tucked ourselves into our newly renovated office last week, passersby glanced curiously in the windows. We were surrounded by carpenters, painters, electricians and computer technicians. It took a quick vacuuming every once in a while to keep the new look to the carpet.

If this were the Tonganoxie of 30 years ago, it might be unnecessary to introduce ourselves. Everybody would already know who we are. But our city has changed. What used to be a sleepy little farming community has evolved into a bedroom community that continues to stretch its long arms toward the city.

To help you get to know us, here's a little more about us: Cathy Gripka, editor and publisher, is a 25-year Tonganoxie resident, a journalism graduate of the University of Kansas and a former Lansing publisher. On her noon hours when time allows, Cathy makes a five-mile drive home to take her three long-haired dachshunds for a walk. One day last week, she came back, having just witnessed the birth of a calf at their farm. She and her husband, Ralph, have five children, Erin, Megan, Sarah, Matthew and Jonathan.

Our office manager, Terylan Walker, has lived in Tonganoxie almost all of her life. She and her husband, Gary, are the proud parents of two daughters, Jenny and Jocelyn, and doting grandparents to a blond-haired grandson named Kody. Terylan is a third-generation Tonganoxie resident. We recall that her grandmother, Mable Garner, ran an old fashioned laundry next to the former Mirror office.

Leah Starcher, our local advertising account representative, is a 1993 graduate of Tonganoxie High School and lives in Tonganoxie. She is the mother of Haley, 3. Leah worked as a project accountant for Black and Veatch Engineering firm, Overland Park, before coming here.

Our Kansas City account executive is Tracy Tucker, who lives in Lawrence. He and his wife, Terri, have two children. Tracy comes to us most recently from New York. He has spent the last 20 years working in academic and medical publishing.

Our sports reporter is Matt Friedrichs. Matt, a graduate student in journalism at Kansas University, grew up near Marysville. He and I spent this summer working together as editor and managing editor of KU's newspaper, The University Daily Kansan. Matt is a versatile writer, and one who always has a good yarn to tell.

And then there's me. I grew up here, ran away from home at 15, joined the circus, finally recovered my senses and moved back two years ago. Just kidding. Actually, I was reared here. I am a mother of three sons, J.J., Ted and Harold, and a former weekly newspaper editor in St. John. I have been attending graduate school at KU for two years and am six hours shy of a master's degree in journalism.

P.S. Happy birthday, Dad.

And now, from the this-and-that-at-large file:

When it comes to Monday night football, our Mayor (John Franiuk) says he can't get radio station 81 KCMO at his home halfway up Suicide Hill (Hatchell Road). But he tells us that if he turns the dial, he can usually catch the game on a station out of all places, Louisiana.

Yes the radio reception can be tricky around here. As is the cellular phone reception. Having spent a lot of time on the highways the last two years commuting to KU and trying to keep up with my mother by calling her from my cell phone early in the mornings, I know which dips and valleys cut out the reception. I can understand hills blocking these messages. But what I don't understand is that even when talking on the cell phone while in one location in Tonganoxie, the reception still comes and goes.

Ever looked at the silver tin ceiling in Bichelmeyer's Grocery store? I remember gazing up at that when Fred Zoellner ran his mercantile store there, and the funny thing is, I could've sworn that ceiling was 50 feet high in that seemingly cavernous room. What a surprise when Matt uncovered the ceiling and I discovered it wasn't half as high as I had remembered. Take a look next time you're there.

By the way, I learned to read at Tonganoxie Grade School. But I learned to love to read at Cain's Drug Store, where Holst Pharmacy is located today. Does anybody else recall sitting on the green-vinyl covered chairs at the back of the old drugstore, reading every comic book in the rack? What a gift that was that Sara Mae and Ed Diekman shared with the children of Tonganoxie. That, and of course the five-cent Cokes.

Les Meyer of Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery, says the "Tonganoxie Split" leaves his farm high and dry during the summer months. Areas north and south of Tonganoxie will get an inch of rain, he said, while the area in-between, which includes Basehor, might only get, as Meyer says, "10 drops on a brick."

My question is this: Is the Tonganoxie Split an aberrant phenomenon of nature - or is it just a coincidence? Readers - can you tell us?

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will be making the rounds through Tonganoxie next week. The last time this came to town, more than 35,000 people visited the site.

As we embark on this new version of The Mirror, keep in mind that we want The Mirror to continue to be an integral part of community life. Your news is our news. Without our readers, there would be no need for a newspaper. Let us know what's going on. This is a "happening place," as a friend says, and we want to be sure to be on top of things.

What a pleasure it is to wake up in the morning and know that in an hour I'll be heading to our nice little office two blocks from home. The WorldWest Limited Liability Company has given us a first-class start. Never before have I worked for such generous people. I guess that must say something not only about their faith in us, but also about their faith in Tonganoxie.

When the setting sun turns the view above Hubbell Hill into a heavenly vista, I wonder all over again why it took the rest of the world so long to discover our beautiful city.
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by TS Eliot: "The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time.Welcome to The Mirror. Welcome to us.

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