Editor's note: Mary Kane Lancaster related the story of Ragtown to this week's poet, Fred Leimkuhler, Tonganoxie.
Lost in Springtime
Indications were that spring would come early this year, No real signs, you understand,
No word from the Farmer's Almanac would give a hint,
The long, cold winter no doubt, prompted our minds.
This day was an example,
Sun bright, soft breeze, trees budding out,
Geese overhead and strangers going by,
Slower now, the better to see the countryside.
This one so slow, he finally stops,
Between our house and the old rock wall,
I wonder what he wants, he's lost no doubt,
But what better place to be lost, or better time for that matter.
Right where he is would be hard to beat,
The old rock wall covered with vines,
Our house close by the road to give a view,
Of the barn lot, cows, horses, chickens, the whole farm right here.
"Say I'm looking for Ragtown," he shouted across the road,
Much too loud for a calm day in spring,
As though to speak above the din of a bustling city,
But needn't shout down the rock wall, you know.
"Mister, your standing right smack 'dab' in the middle of it,"
"Ragtown, U.S.A., Welcome!"
"But where's the town, the store, the post office,
"It must be identified some way."
"I just identified it for you my friend, Ragtown, U.S.A." "Stores don't make a town, nor post offices,"
"People make a town,
"And people we have, and mighty fine ones, friend."
"Take away the people and you have a ghost town," "This is Ragtown U.S.A.,"
"Time was we did get mail, Ragtown, Kansas,
"But we never had a post office."
"Down the road a bit, we had a school, Brown School,"
"Named for one of the families here abouts,"
"Ragtown wasn't named after people, it is people!"
"But something should carry a name, and Brown School is it."
"You have some time, friend? Let me tell you about it.
Settled early it was, and mostly kin folks,
Came from New York, I've been told.
Settled up and down the road on either side."
"Wait tho', you ask where it is, or was,
Section 35, Range 20,
About as close as you can get, I guess,
Along Fall Creek, would identify,"
"But still, I must insist, people make a town!
Not a road map, or even a creek for that matter,
But as you said, you need to identify,
They call it, or we called it, I don't know which, Ragtown."
"There was a little saying we used to chant,
As children at play, or walking home from school,"
"Ragtown Road, and Winfrey Street,
Larrison Hotel and little to eat."
"This explains it well, I think, the name Ragtown, I mean,
We were all poor -- but proud we were,
We weren't poor because we were lazy, mind you,
We just produced more family than the fields produced crops."
"All down the road, Browns, Winfreys all kin folks,
Fidlers, Thortons, and Goens,
All scattered now, for the most part,
And others taking their places, if that be possible."
"Where's The Larison Hotel?" "
Oh there never was a hotel, just an extra large family,
Seemed like a hotel, they're all gone now,
Three in one week during a flu epidemic."
"But we're happy here, left alone for the most part, No big highway projects, No shopping centers, or lake resorts,
Well, not so far, at any rate,
But who can tell what tomorrow brings?"
"Stop again, now you know where Ragtown is,
And some day, when you have a mind to get lost again,
I'll point you to Stringtown,
Down the road and west a piece."
-- Fred Leimkuhler