Rosalea’s Big Seven Ohhh!
Donate and help restore Rosalea’s Hotel!
1883 & 1968
Rosalea's Patterson House Hotel
Were you a traveling hippie in the 1970s?
Perhaps you stayed at the famous Rosalea's Hotel in Harper, KS. Now you
can help restore it as an historic prairie icon of the 70s! Goal:
100,000 at $10 each and it is preserved for future generations
IS A NUISANCE
My favorite quote is one I conjured up in the
70s when the local folks were trying their damndest
to destroy me and run me out of town (Harper): “If I can just get
through life, I’ll have it made.” I had it taped on my kitchen stove
for years, always a reminder that I could endure “one more thing.”
Today, as I approach the other end of life’s spectrum, I can now look back and
see that I have done a fairly commendable job of “getting through life,”
learning to overcome one obstacle after another, while blazing un-chartered
territory in this minute corner of the world. I’ve always felt it was
important to live a life to the best of my ability, not caring about the impact
on history or others, and being honest with myself, so I could fall peacefully
asleep at night with a clear conscience, and feel that in some small way I
made a tiny bit of difference towards a better world. Much to my naivete,
I’ve learned that most people can’t sleep at night with that kind of
I’ve also finally figured out that as long as there are men in this world with
an abundance of testosterone, we are going to have nuisances of one sort or
another. Think about it. Testosterone causes war, violence and
murders. It causes power struggles and control
freaks. Testosterone creates one upmanship,
bullying, slapping, hitting, beatings, conniving, ridicule.
This list goes on and on. That’s not to say that some female hormones
don’t surge at times and create similar destructive tendencies, but over all,
it’s the males, not the females, who cause the chronic havoc in our world.
Until scientists want to figure out a way to “control” testosterone
production in males, The Balmer Fund must be prepared after I am gone for
anything that might come down the pike.
Too much testosterone is a reason to strive for
balance of females/males on The Balmer Fund board. Females tend to save
historic buildings, rather than taking the easy
way out: “Oh hell, just bulldoze it. It isn’t worth saving.”
That is not a dumb person saying that--it is only someone with too much
I travel thousands of miles a year to small towns all over the prairies.
I observe a lot. Mostly what I see is a bunch of smug,
self-righteous communities that think they are the center of the universe, and
they are not about to reach out and connect with folks in a
neighboring community. They don’t want outsiders moving
there, even while they are loudly crying, “Our small towns are dying. We
have so many empty houses.” DUH!
Surely, that smugness and self-righteousness of “we’re
the only ones” is the kiss of death. In this age of global
communication and travel, how can we be so staid and
smug as to shut out our neighbors in the next community? If we don’t
start to intermingle and support one another, we will cease to exist within 25
years. Don’t believe me? Where’s
Corwin and Waldron, KS? Who stops at Nash, OK? Where’s Deer
Creek? Or Cairo? The list goes on
and on. But you can bet it was testosterone that kept those communities
“enclosed” so no outsiders could move in and help them grow again.
As I’ve been traveling since 1994, I know
quite a few people. What is shocking, and sad to me is that in all
these years, almost none of these friendly folks have ever come to Harper and
attended any event of The Balmer Fund, even when I personally invite them.
(I can count on one hand those that have made reciprocal visits.)
The excuses are repetitive in every community: “Oh, I just never
travel.” “I just stay around town. I don’t even shop in
Wichita (or Enid, Dodge City) much.” “I am so busy with sports,
I don’t have time to do anything else.” “I don’t have time.”
It’s as if they are proud to be narrow and
limited in their thinking! Proud to be in-grown.
Proud to shut out their neighbors down the road.
And for women, proud to have their husbands
tell them to stay at home and cook, and never travel alone. (There
goes the testosterone again)
OFF YOUR FAT FEET AND TRAVEL
Well, wake up and smell the fresh cow manure, people....if you can’t get off
your fat feet and see what’s 30 or 75 miles
down the road, none of your little towns are going to be long for this earth.
Your epitaphs should read: “Whining All the Way to the Grave: My Feet
So what is the future Balmer Fund Board to do when the small towns have
disappeared, and there aren’t any buildings left standing to save? Well,
it can become big, corporate and corrupt, milking estates for excessive gifts
with slick talk and paying huge salaries to the officers. Let testosterone
I am being facetious, of course. (You’d be surprised at the people
who don’t grasp my humor!) There will still be plenty of projects
for future generations. It isn’t easy maintaining an
historic building. There must be continual education of children to
keep history alive. Maintaining the properties and education of the young
should be paramount projects for the organization. Also, keeping
this publication going would also be a valued project, as it continues to
enlighten, educate and entertain. There are plenty of staid and formal
preservation journals out there for purists. We believe that our
laughter and fresh thought keeps the wheels of humanity running smoother.
For example, can you see a publication from the Kansas State Historic Society
having an article about testosterone being the root of historic preservation
problems? You will remember the gist of this article longer than one of
theirs, I expect.
Harper is in a choice location to have some sort of future in 25 years, if they don’t blow it the way they have the past
fifty years. Sadly, the rampant testosterone excess, or lack
thereof, has blinded their long term vision. But due to the proximity to
Wichita, Harper will likely survive by default, but possibly only as a boring
bedroom community with a “toxic” landfill nearby to keep the cancer rate
high. It could have a thriving little downtown shopping district
with entertainment to attract plenty of visitors, but we all know those
sad testosterone-laced attacks that The Balmer Fund has been working hard to
surmount for the past 12 years.
But other small towns probably aren’t going to fare as well as Harper as they
are not in the right location. It takes astute leadership, clever
marketing to bring new people to a “destination” location, and an
open-minded community to promote growth. Remember the restaurant
covered with vintage metal signs that operated for years in Sitka, KS?
I first heard about it when I lived in Kansas City--it was known far and wide.
But since it closed, and the signs were removed, who even knows where Sitka is
any more? Brookville had a famous restaurant for almost a century but once
it moved, who drives to Brookville anymore?
LET THE DREAMS LAPSE
What The Balmer Fund can learn from these lessons is that they better keep
churning the dreams and do not let them lapse. Vote in one lazy
leader, and it’s all over with. Ideally, to survive in the future, The
Balmer Fund Board must continue to have active
members that can kick behinds, cooperate, help with fundraising, gives a
damn, and has fire under them. Yes, it is very hard to find people with
that kind of zeal, honesty, vision, time, energy and personal commitment,
but at least it is a goal to work towards; it is better than not trying at all.
As long as the Board stays true to its roots and remains realistic, it can
overcome all of the nuisances that life offers. That has been
proven. And trust me, there will be plenty more nuisances
coming down the pike, as long as men produce
testosterone and women pretend they don’t.
“Preserving the history, art & culture of the prairies
for future generations. since 1994 -- despite