Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 20:19:07 -0500 (EST)
Dear Mr. Bottorff,
I was quite interested to locate your web page, particularly the images and information concerning Winfield, Kansas. My Grandparents lived there from before WWI. My Grandfather, Emmett C. Pugh, owned a plumbing business, located around the NE corner of 13th and Main. Emmett Pugh was born in 1898 and died in 1976. My Grandmother, Florence Pugh, was also born in 1898, a little farther South in what was then the Indian Territory, later called Oklahoma. She died just a few years ago in 1995. She was a Gilcrease, the next younger sibling of Thomas Gilcrease, the Tulsa Oilman and founder of the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art. Sometime after my great-grandfather Gilcrease was shot and killed in a rather shadowy incident after a poker game, some of the family moved to Winfield. Uncle Tom was already pretty well involved in the oil business, primarily located in San Antonio at that time, I think. My grandparents lived in a house East on 16th, but I cant quite recall how far East. East of Fuller and Millington, I know that. As a matter of fact, the street running North and South by that house, which was on the SE corner, used to fill with water during heavy rains. The street could have been Bliss. I believe it was constructed for that very purpose, as drainage. Millington, as I recall, was generally referred to as Church street since a number of churches seemed to be situated on it.
I dont want to bore you with a lot of details in which you might not be interested, but Ill risk it anyway. My Mother, Bette Pugh, was born in 1922 and grew up in Winfield until she married my Father, Edgar King, from Burden, Kansas and moved up to Wichita. I was born in 1946 and lived most of my life just South of Wichita, close to Haysville. I spent a good part of my life in Winfield hanging around with a bunch of cousins, a mix of Kings, Pughs and Gilcreases. I left Kansas in 1971 to continue my education at the University of Washington in Seattle.
My Mom, while not in the best of health, still remembers quite a bit of Winfield, and just last fall took a trip back. She and my Father live here in Washington now. Lately Ive been doing more research on Winfield for a little project of my own, and have been questioning her every chance I get, since her memory naturally goes back farther than my own. This research led me to your web site.
I grew up hearing stories of Winfield and Cowley County and some of the more colorful inhabitants, such as Hippo, from the hospital we called 3rd Hill, who, usually on Saturday nights, decided to direct traffic at the intersection of 9th and Main. Hippo also went to any local fair or carnival and danced with what my Grandmother called Hula Girls. Im sure you know about 3rd Hill. As I recall, there was another citizen named Hercules, also from the hospital, with the stature and musculature of a giant, but the heart of a lamb. Sounds stereotypical, I know, but still true. And of course there was The Sheriff, who carried a toy badge. Hap, or Happy I believe was his name. I was about 9 before I discovered that he wasnt actually the Sheriff, but simply the product of a somewhat suspect gene pool.
At an early age, my Cousin Jeff Page (son of Jewel Gilcrease and James Page) and I spent some wonderful times exploring the town, usually ending up at Island Park. In those days, there was a separate swimming pool for the black folks, located just SE of the current pool at Island Park. That other pool got torn down sometime after Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, I think. We typically spent Saturdays at the movies, usually the Fox, less frequently the Regent, and very rarely the Nile, located a couple of blocks East of Main on 9th St. Attendance at the Nile was generally sparse, since rats tended to scurry across the stage during movies. For, I think, twenty cents at the Fox, we could see a couple of movies, usually featuring John Wayne or Randolph Scott, a serial, and a bunch of cartoons. This was a superb investment for the adults, getting rid of hyper-active children for a mere twenty cents. Later I think the price went up to twenty-five or thirty cents, still providing an excellent return on investment.
I spent a lot of time just wandering up and down Main Street, sometimes with cousins, frequently without. This was pure exploration, not applied, since I was basically just loafing without any real purpose other than to just discover any interesting thing I could. Occasionally this activity led to what I might call an adventure. In those days my friends and I traded personal adventure stories, just like baseball cards and marbles. I had a Beagle at that time. Dogs, especially Beagles for some reason, will naturally lead one into adventures that are a little more stressful than one would wish.
Im interested to know if you have access to any photographs, especially from the fifties, that you havent posted on the web. Later this week Ill be visiting my mom to investigate her collection. Im especially interested in any photographs of my Grandfathers plumbing shop, and all the train depots. I seem to recall there being a total of three train stations in town, two of which were just South of Island Park, on either side of Main, and another one West of Main somewhere.
Which reminds me: frequently on Saturday evenings we would go out for ice cream then head for the train station West of Main to watch the Streamliner come in. I think this occurred about an hour before the Jackie Gleason show, but Im not sure. Naturally we listened to a lot of radio in those days, too, Jack Benny, Our Miss Brooks, and such. My Great-grandfather (not the one who got shot) sat in front of a big console radio and listened to all the Chicago Cubs games, cussing the Cubs every chance he got. The Cubs gave him plenty of chances, and we kids usually got ushered into another room by the third inning or so.
One marvelous activity on a warm summer evening, and it sounds rather mundane when put into words on paper, was simply sitting on the front porch and listening to the locusts. A cold glass of lemonade added to the enjoyment. Lord, I miss those locusts. My grandfather listened to the St. Louis Cardinals on the radio. He didnt cuss the Cardinals as much as his father cussed the Cubs, but then the Cardinals frequently had better seasons. Consequently, we kids got to stay out and listen to the ball game and locusts later into the evening.
I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your web site. Im curious about your own relationship to Winfield. My memory sometimes is a bit defective, hence the research. It is very important to instill an appreciation of the past in our children, a fact that I believe you mentioned. I remember that during the last year of my Grandmothers life, I put together a small summary of events occurring during her years and was astounded when the list was completed. When she was born, Nicholas II was on the throne of Russia; Victoria was Queen of England, and the Wright brothers had yet to fly. She lived to see the Russian Revolution and the fall of the USSR. She watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and remembered an age before flight. I am proud to have known her. She could actually remember the last time that the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox won World Series titles. I do know that her last thoughts were of both her late, loving husband, Emmett C. Pugh, and of Winfield, Kansas.
Winfield will certainly always be with me. Sorry but I tend to ramble a bit. If you would be so kind, I would appreciate seeing and hearing more of Winfield. If you like, I will certainly pass along any further information I obtain from my Mother and any of my own recollections. If we correspond again, Ill try to be a little more concise.
Victor A. King
More on Winfield
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 19:49:54 -0500 (EST)
I'm enclosing some memories of Winfield from my Mother. Not much yet, I'm afraid, but she's working on some more. Hope everything is going well with your projects.
Bette Pughs Memories of Winfield
Bette Pugh was born March 26th, 1922 in St. Marys Hospital in Winfield, Kansas. She married Edgar King, from Burden, Kansas in 1941. They are both presently living in Woodinville, Washington, having left Kansas in 1969.
"In the mid-twenties I remember going to the cemetery with my parents, Emmett C. and Florence Pugh, early one Sunday evening to put some spring flowers on my Dads Grandfathers grave. As we got to the top of the hill, we could see fire and smoke in a field nearby, and as we got closer we could see a dozen or so figures all dressed in white. It was the Ku Klux Klan, and we left in a hurry.
"There was a poor farm Southeast of Winfield. There was no social security then nor welfare, so if a person grew old or sick and had no family, thats where they went. There was a small cemetery, too, and several graves. Some held young children, I think.
"During these years, late 1920s and early 1930s, a huge wooden building called a tabernacle was built at Island Park. For 2 weeks each summer people from miles around would come and live in tents. There would be sermons, lectures, and music all day long.
"Some summers the Ringling Brothers circus would come to town. They brought the show on trains and stopped on the Frisco tracks on North Main, and what an exciting thing it was as the entire circus marched down Main to 9th and
out to West 9th hill - elephants, tigers, lions, clowns, and pretty girls riding on horses.
"One spring another show came to town and stopped on those same railroad tracks, certainly different from the former show (the circus). You could smell this exhibit long before you saw it! On a huge flatcar was a sort of embalmed whale. There was a tall wooden fence placed around it and it cost 10 cents to go in and get a close look. As I remember just kids went in. Most adults waited with handkerchiefs over their noses and called, Hurry up, lets go!
"In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Stubers Ford Agency sold drivers licenses for 50 cents, no drivers test at all, but you did have to answer no to 2 questions: Do you use alcohol? and Do you take drugs of any kind?
"In 1936 in Birds Drugstore there was a soda fountain and several booths. The popular thing was a $50,000 frozen malt for a nickel, and there were shakers of nutmeg to sprinkle on it.
"In the 1930s on the west side of Main, about midway between 9th and 8th was Candyland Restaurant, with a dance floor, which was a hang-out for high-schoolers. Also, in the same area was a Woolworths 10-cent store, and across the street another 10-cent store, McClellens."
Keep in touch, Bill
If you have comments or can describe or shed
light on details of this picture please email me.