Know your neighbor: Lifelong resident recalls downtown
Mary Ann Kelly’s family has been in the areas since the mid 1800s when they came from Ireland. While never having lived in the city limits, she has always been close to Tonganoxie, just outside of the city on family land or on her farm north of town.
She recalls how things used to be in town like meeting people at the Cain’s Drugstore soda fountain.
“That is where boys and girls would meet at either side of the magazine rack,” Kelly said.
She also remembers how students from rival schools would meet with each other, but would separate when it was time for the two schools to compete during a football game.
Although she never went to school in Tonganoxie her father did. She said he even designed and built the archway at the Tonganoxie Elementary School.
“We learned not to like that arch too well,” Kelly said. “That’s where we got our polio shots.”
She said things have changed in Tonganoxie, but not always for the better.
“In 1970 you could pull up to where Bichelmeyers is, leave your wallet and CB radio in your convertible, hang out for an hour, come back and your wallet and radio will still be there,” she said. “You can’t do that anymore.”
Getting to know your neighbor
Location: Rural Tonganoxie
What clubs or organizations do you belong to?
Former member of the Lacemakers Guild. Volunteers at the Good Shepherd Thrift Store.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“I grew up with the book of proverbs. I didn’t realize it was a book out of the Bible when I learned it. They were just everyday rules of life. My motto is, don’t do necessarily what you want to do, but what you have to.”
What might surprise people about you?
She collects antique needlework books. She has found some herself and has gotten them from people in the area.
“They are so hard to come by that if you find one, take it to someone who likes them.”
What do you do for fun?
“I don’t do fun anymore. I’m disabled and suffer from chronic pain. I go out two days a week more or less. To the good shepherd and to go to church.”
How long have you lived in Tonganoxie?
“Let’s put it this way my family got here before Tongie got here. I’ve been here for more than half a century, but I won’t say for how long.”