Archive for July, 2016

The Essence of Acquisition….#165 (80’s)

July 30, 2016

7720 John Deere Combine

Gary’s participation in the harvest season decamped with the wheat bedded in the silo’s,  another resolution completed,  the full complement of the John Deere service personnel once again able to perform autogenous,  no longer a paid subscriber to the needs of the beckoning of the Custom Harvesters.   The service department staff having been enlarged with the inauguration of the new assembly shop,  continuing with Larry Foster as service manager,  Jim Pulliam,   Denny Callison,   Keith Hoffman, all mainstay diesel practitioners and an addition of Bill Duval and Ron Zahnter.   The fall season having arrived upon the kindred land, the stubble of consequence remaining but finding its earthen substance orbited  by  eight, twelve and sixteen bottom plows.  The tilling of the soil a  prerequisite before  commencing  the winter wheat drilling process, the insertion of the seed with the tractor-pulled  seed drilling implement.  Gary always amazed at the wheat adorned landscape during the winter months,  the frontal winds venturing down from the north,  displaying  a biting chill,  casting a cold infraction. Within the domain of the city limits the lawns of bermuda grass laid brown and dormant  but the bounding fields of winter wheat were nor,  giving notice to all,  the seedlings arising painting the winter landscape with a blanket of green, a prerequisite sign spring would prevail again.

John Deere 8300 Drill

The greenery of Winter Wheat

Gary turning the key to the entrance of  the Service Company  at  7:00 a.m., opening the store five days a week and  alternating Saturday with Jerry Whitney.  On arrival,  a normal day  would find  farmers seated in pickups waiting but this morning was different, Steve Miller and brother John, who normally didn’t come in until later were already there.  Steve taking Gary aside promulgating that a sign be placed on the door that they would be closed between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. this morning.  Gary’s curiosity being aroused ventured a questioning expression, Steve prescribing that they were having a company meeting.   At 8:10, everyone assembled in the service bay area,  the group standing in silence,  Steve Miller beginning his dissertation addressing the gathering about customer service, their responsibility as representatives of the company when dealing with the public.  Moving on he addressed the shop personnel about adhering to the prescribed flat rate time especially when servicing the sales departments combines, tractors and implements.  Continuing he said he was well aware of the extended break time that many took, he realized that the mechanics couldn’t just stop in the middle of a project to take a break but reminded them there were only two  break periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and although he hadn’t yet, he wasn’t above having them clock out for their breaks.  In conclusion addressing everyone, his voice raising spewing that he had noticed  the tendency of workers standing about while on the clock with a soft drink in one hand,  then  sternly reprimanding all with a statement,  “I can’t recall hiring any one hand employees”.  The meeting adjourned, the employee giving witness to Steve Millers  appropriately  stated petition.

Jerry Whitney

It was hard to believe if the rumor was true, an unbelievable account, an occurrence that would resonate thru the Kiowa community.  Gary first hearing about the event from John Miller, it concerned Jerry Whitney and of all things, Cattle Bale Feeders, Jerry having ordered the bale feeders as part of the sales inventory.   As the drawn-out story read, a farming customer purchased several bale feeders,  meeting Jerry where they were stored at Fred Dumlers barn northwest of town.  When confronted with the non-payment,  the person came forward with a cancelled check for the full amount, the only disparaging quagmire being, the check was not made out to Kiowa Service, but to Jerry Whitney.  It became apparent after being brought to Steve Miller’s attention there was more to the story as Steve called John Blunk, the Barber County Sheriff to investigate.  Jerry renowned for his integrity, Gary having witnessed Steve in attesting to Jerry’s trust worthiness,  that he could leave his wallet with Jerry.   The whispered rumors around town persisted, that  Jerry’s wife Teresa, who was the administrator for Dumler Cattle Company was someway involved leading to Jerry’s  indiscretion.  Gary opening the store Monday morning, being told that Jerry wouldn’t be in,  the word surfacing  that Sheriff John Blunk had visited with Jerry  admitting his indiscretion,  Steve Miller willing to let the matter drop in lieu of restitution and Jerry’s immediate resignation as parts manager.   Gary was perplexed, finding it totally unbelievable, there was more to the story, a person of Jerry’s unquestionable character would never commit such a degradation, but his absence as an employee spoke for itself.

Several days later Steve Miller  convoking Gary to his office and as was his habit probing for conviction, questioning and asking the employee to give a self appraisal in fulfilling the position vacated by Jerry.  Gary was realistic, not altogether surprised at being thrust into the management position given the fact that harvest was fast approaching and it would be difficult finding a more experienced person.  Donning his best stature of  self-assurance he expressed his confidence, aware of  the responsibility and was up to making the parts department ready for the upcoming harvest season.  Steve suggesting that if he had any questions  he might visit with Larry Foster the service manager about the inventory for harvest.   With the new responsibility also came an increase in salary and he began a concerted transformation with new concepts for the parts department, no longer bulk stacks of five gallon drums of oil and hydraulic fluid,  indiscriminate barrels of miscellaneous tools and item.   An organized presentation of Deere’s products, the initiated life-time guaranteed John Deere tools,  a display of clothing, wanton miniature replication for the young, a paradigm of tillage and lawn and garden applications, the store now providing an accepted family accouchement.

New to the parts department, Craig Brattin

Parts department clerk Barbara was leaving, Gary having hired Kathy Rathgeber to replace her, Kathy having originally worked for Larry in the service department desiring a change and was already skilled at pricing service work orders and cataloging sales for inventory control.  Another new person coming aboard was Craig Brattin, a very personable good nature addition who would work well up front in customer service.  While under Jerry Whitney’s direction Gary addressed the shop service window, having to be exact in acquainting their needs, a mistake for service call parts would find the person returning with a barrage of expletive-deleted,  a mistake was a disservice to them and the customer,  costing both the flat-rate scaled mechanic and down time to the customer.    Gary when first employed had experienced the tribulation working the front counter, not knowing a plowshare from a drill boot, giving Brattin assurance, if he needed assistance Gary was always available and if alone and not sure, give the customer the parts manual, letting them decide their needs, finding the farmer knew their equipment and implements.  In essence the acquisition of knowledge in itself is more than a learning experience, it’s an act of certitude.

Intrepidity In Resolution………….#166 (80’s)

July 28, 2016

Ron and the Chevette

Ron Zahtner was new to the Kiowa and the Service Company,  an experienced  diesel mechanic, having worked at R & H Implement, the John Deere dealership in Syracuse Ks.  Gary found him to be a quiet person, sociable when spoken to but never one to instigate a conversation.  Once you got to know him, he was a very likable person, but at times did come across as one with an attitude Ron’s abbreviated stature at  5 ft. 4 inches might have contributed to his demeanor.  Gary could identify with Ron, especially the difficult time he encountered ameliorating acceptance from his newly acquainted work constituents, it was similar to his experience until discovering a workplace adversary,  Larry Swonger.   Larry having observed the hesitant acknowledgement of the out-of-town stranger, welcoming Gary like a longtime friend.  Gary deciding to enact as adversary scheduling his breaks to coalesce with Ron and the other mechanics and before long a semi-congenial acceptance began to evolve.

It was Saturday morning Craig’s weekend off,  Gary aft of the Service Company parts counter when the telephone rang,  it was his wife.   Jan had taken leave earlier that morning to drive to Waynoka Oklahoma,  her Chevette full of hand crafted ceramics  to participate in an arts and craft festival.  Gary somewhat puzzled about why she was calling considering the time,  she responded that she had car trouble but what was able to make it to Waynoka and set up for the craft show.  She related that about two miles from town the Chevette made a loud noise in the engine as if something had broke but it remained running so she continued,  the engine temperature gauge registering H by the time she got into town.  Gary first thought was a fan belt had probably come off, explaining the noise and the temperature gauge reading, assuring her he would be on his way after closing the store at noon.  Arriving in Waynoka  ascending the hood of the Chevette, he was confronted with a surprise,  not only was the fan belt missing , but the pulley on harmonic balancer had departed too, explaining the loud noise Jan had heard.

Approaching Waynoka

Returning home with Jan, the Chevette abiding in Waynoka,  Gary realizing there was but  two resolutions, towing the car with a rope or calling Keith at D&W Auto,  having their tow truck accomplish the delivery.  Mulling over the two considerations, the first being the least expensive, deciding to find someone willing to accompany him and drive his car back towing the Chevette.  He immediately eliminated calling his father-in-law, as Bud had been through this once before with towing ‘Ole Blue.  His second choice was Larry Swonger, but then someone else came to mind, someone who not only could tow, but someone who could remedy the harmonic balancer pulley problem, Ron Zahtner.   Gary calling, finding Ron at home, briefly explaining the situation, Ron agreeing to help, but came up with a far better alternate solution. The Service Company possessing both a pickup and trailer, advocating Gary call and ask the about borrowing both to retrieve the car.   Gary placing a call to the Steve Miller residence  getting  no response, placing  a second call to John Miller,  John answering telling Gary that he didn’t see a problem with him borrowing the pickup and trailer.

The company pickup with the attached trailer set-out for Waynoka,  Jan having related to the best of her knowledge the mile section where the experience took place.  Ron and Gary halted at the side of the road embarking from the tandem walking what they believed to be the designated mile section searching both sides of the highway for the departed pulley, but to no avail.  The two secured the Chevette in the trailer,  Ron agreeing to make some phone calls to see if he could find a used pulley but it being late Saturday afternoon and tomorrow being Sunday it would probably be Monday before he could find one.  Arriving in Kiowa Gary deciding to roll the Chevette off the trailer and leave it parked at the Service Company yard.  Ron lifting the hood taking a second look noticing that the car had air conditioning and that he wasn’t sure whether it required a double pulley or single with an add-on  accessory pulley, Gary leaving everything up to Ron.   Later Ron had discovered it took an add-on accessory pulley for the air conditioner compressor, but telling Gary all he could find was a used single pulley being told that it would be almost  impossible to find an accessory pulley new or used because very few of the 1.4 liter Chevette were AC equipped and in probability it would have to be ordered from Detroit.  Gary concluding that the Chevette having propagated its appropriated duties, it was time to hand of it’s baton of  servitude to someone else, telling Ron to go ahead and put the single alternator fan pulley on, at least the car would run and he would trade it without a belt for the  air conditioner compressor.

1979 Chrysler New Yorker

The Willson’s having traveled in the Chevette allocated to spend Friday night in Wichita, the fall morning enticing a  journey on Kellogg Avenue renown automobile row, the couple seeking to trade the Chevette.  Their search just getting started when  Jan acknowledging a pristine looking pre-owned blue Chrysler New Yorker positioned on an elevated ramp extending above the other displayed automotive enticements.  Gary taking notice of the large luxury Chrysler but continued on Kellogg desiring to investigate the inventory of the other dealerships but  Jans exclamatory of the blue New Yorker persevered.  Attempting to interject some logic but to no avail, Gary finally realizing  that any endeavor to examine another vehicle before the Chrysler would be futile,  the Chevette reversing course,  back to the displayed exposition.    Halting at the dealership Gary was more attentive to the echelons of smaller  less luxurious vehicles on the lot,  practicality of usage envisioned, but  an inspection of an assortment finding a disinterested Jan, always  returning to the blue Chrysler New Yorker.  The sales person no doubt having sensed Jan’s interest having the New Yorker removed from its lofty perch to the street level.  Without hesitation the lady of the household seated herself in its enhancing leather interior, Gary realized that this closer inspection was contiguous awaiting the next prescribed  event from the sales person,  the demonstration drive.

Gary asking his wife if she wanted to be the one to test drive the car, but she decline, telling him to go ahead.  Gary pulled the long luscious New Yorker onto Kellogg knowing  any dissuading comments would be ineffectual,  Jan had already made a decision.  The price accord session that was about to begin was a lost cause, the sales person knowing he had a sale, Gary’s only bargaining chip was the trade-in amount for the Chevette.  A company shop representative returning with the Chevette after a brief trip around the block the block giving the salesman an okay except for mentioning  the air conditioner wasn’t cooling.  Gary was hesitant with a moment of concern not sure of what to say, deciding  not to confer the complete extent of the missing pulley problem, but still to be honest,  stating the air conditioner worked find but was missing a belt, the statement technically correct.  The New Yorker prevailed,  Jan, who turned down the offer to make the in-town test drive was more than willing to make the rural highway drive back to Kiowa.

A Deafening Silence……………#167 (80’s)

July 26, 2016

The Cessna 172 was making an approach to Kiowa, the flyover was heard within the confines of the Kiowa Service Company, Sandy Palmer, the office manager mentioning that it was probably Steve returning.  Steve Miller,  the John Deere dealership owner an accomplished pilot as was his brother John,  the flyover was an unspoken notice given for the need of assistance at the airport to berth the plane.  Steve having served notice that when available, Sandy could send a service company employee to assist the housing of the aircraft  at the  Kiowa airstrip.  Gary having assisted Steve on several occasions had recently acquired a new  responsibility,  the Miller brothers being  the primary consumer of the aviation facility was resolute in its upkeep and appearance, assigning the service company parts manager this added assignment.   Miller and several other local aircraft owners bestowed their craft in the small hangar facility.   Beside the mowing,  Gary found himself adjudging and replacing runway light bulbs, never observing a night landing,  having no idea that dirt runway even had lighting. Steve was adamant about keeping  the outer grounds mowed and manicured,   having good reason with his and Johns piloting of prospective customers from adjoining states to the John Deere dealership, it was good business sense, as a prospective customer’s first impression might be a lasting one.

The Kiowa Airport

The Kiowa Airport



Steve Miller wasn’t a home-grown local, Gary sensed that he wasn’t overly  appreciated by the Kiowa community,  his success in capturing a small rural John Deere Dealership known as Schubach Implement may have been the reason. Changing the name and building the business into the largest combine sales dealership in the United States may have inhibited some within the community to be invidious of his accomplishments.  The sales department demonstrating phenomenal prestige and success, the Miller Brothers,  Steve, and John and salesperson Larry Swonger having obtained  prominence with Deere & Company as the most prodigious company combine salesmen,  the three and their spouses being awarded for their marketing expertise with an all expense paid European vacation.  Gary discovering that the volume of  success required progress and alteration, installation by John Deere of an inventory control computer system,  a product of Texas Instruments.  The large encumbering apparatus, its size even dwarfing the service company’s Western Union teletype machine and with its installation came the time consuming  process of downloading all of the prevalent inventory.   Attendance in a classroom educational programs at the John Deere school facility in Wichita introduced Gary to the operating aspects of the new computer innovative application,  the era of a new age having arrived in this small rural agriculture community, no more inventory flagging  on the hand written parts index cards.



Ron Zahnter was a small in stature, but the only Kiowa John Deere serviceman that accomplished replacing a combines hydro-static transmission in the field,  its size and weight  normally requiring the formidable pulleys and chains of a shop application.   A request finding Gary mounting the forklift,  securing a pallet with the heavily laden  hydrostat from the warehouse,  transporting the burdensome transmission of all places, to the airport.  On arrival, the forklift driver finding Steve Miller and a number of the service shop personnel waiting.  Their purpose was to attempt to load the hydrostat into the rear of Steve’s 172 Cessna.  The improbable  became probable, a partial temporary disassembly of the passenger seat giving just enough clearance and with four stout mechanics maneuvering the bulky transmission to a placement in the rear seat area of the aircraft.   Bruce,  the newly acquired company pilot and Ron Zahnter preparing for a journey to Garden City to rendezvous with a custom harvesting crew awaiting the replacement and installation of the 7720 hydrostatic transmission.



Gary finding the events of Ron and Bruce’s flight to Garden City interesting,  not only because of the transporting of the transmission but because  it was Ron’s first flight in an aircraft and he was extremely apprehensive about flying,  even with a multi-engine rated pilot of Bruce’s stature.   The take off from the short dirt landing strip of Kiowa completed,  the Cessna 172 attaining a cruising altitude of 10,000 feet,  encompassing the 160 air mile journey,  the supercharged Cessna able to approach a cruising speed of  140 mph.   Ron was beginning to relax, the anxiety of his first flight starting to recede,  questioning Bruce about the remaining time to Garden City,  Bruce replying,  it would be another twenty minutes before reaching their destination.  Then it happened,  the steady consistent drone of Cessna’s engine coming to a halt,  Ron suddenly realizing a deafening silence and that the sound resonating from the plane’s engine  having stopped,  the only audio sound  he could accord was the presence of the wind,  its echoing whispers contacting the winged airborne structure.  Bruce’s first concern  was not the gliding craft,  but Ron,  his appearance now void of any skin color,  his eyes wide with panic.   The pilots first response was to calm  Ron,  a recollection of  an instructional  class about a similar  situations when a passenger loses all sense  and  attempted to open the door.  Bruce in a  sequestered voice,  not totally truthful,  telling Ron not to worry,  because of the altitude we have plenty of  time to appraise the situation, but to Ron it seemed like a life-time before a familiar sound came to life, the restarting of the engine.   Bruce having accessed a supercharger malfunctioning causing the engine to shut down,  Ron gaining some assurance as they descended, the Garden City Airport coming into  view.


The John Deere mechanic again on the ground,  a shaken but now an experienced flyer,  vowing,  his first flight would be his last flight in  a small plane.   Ron completing his assignment,  the hydrostat installed, Steve sending a service pickup to retrieve the now non flyer,  Bruce remaining with the Cessna  172  awaiting  the supercharger repair.  The pilot later relating the events, having an opportunity to pen the account of his episode with the aircraft and Ron,  submitting the article to the Aviation Safety, a monthly avionics  magazine,  the venture published for all to experience.


Kathy’s Dilemma…..#167a (80’s)

July 25, 2016


The  parts department at the  Kiowa Service Company wasn’t without its humorous moments,  especially when provided by a good natured parts employee and her attempt to drive Department Manager Gary Willson’s 1950 Dodge pickup.  An afternoon found a need arising to encompass a fan belt for one of the service pickups,  Gary initiating a call to the Jarvis Auto Parts store informing Gerald Elwood about the belt,  and adding that Kathy would be arriving to realize the purchase.

Kathy,  skilled at pricing work orders and cataloging sales for inventory control having worked for Larry Foster in the service department,  was about to leave when it was discovered the only company pickup available was the one requiring the fan belt.  So without hesitation,  Gary handed Kathy the keys to his 50 Dodge pickup stationed curbside, asking if she had driven a manual shift.  Kathy assuring him she had.  He observed from inside as she positioned herself behind the steering wheel, inserting the key in the ignition,   she remained seated,   the seconds ticking away, then stepping out,  returning inside.  With a bewildered look,  questioning, “alright where’s the starter?”.


Gary explaining, the starter was on the floorboard adjacent to the accelerator ,  just step on it and the gas pedal at the same time, making sure you engage the clutch pedal before starting  Kathy approached the parked vehicle for a second attempt, successfully starting the Dodge  but immediately shut it off once again returning inside with a question, “where’s reverse?”. Gary holding back a smile,  informing her that the floor-shift reverse was located all the way to the right and in the down position.

A return to the pickup finding the young lady again starting the Dodge,  attempting to back out, trying to turn  the steering wheel, then abruptly letting the Dodge coast back to the curb turning off the engine,  returning once again,  handing Gary the keys with a look of frustration mumbling as she walked away  “I can barely turn the steering wheel”.


 Gary realized her dilemma,  the pickup didn’t have any  power assist steering and unless moving it took a concernable  amount of strength to turn the steering wheel,  especially when parked on a downhill slant against a curb,  Gary with an inward smile deciding to pick up the part himself, applauding Kathy’s perseverance and determination in her attempt to drive the Dodge.

Upgraded Accomplishments…….#168 (80’s)

July 24, 2016

The household heat provisions at 324 N. 11th St. was being upgraded, the floor furnace was  out,  a gift from Richard Guthrie,  a used central heat unit removed from his barn finding a new home,  Richard having found a more suitable barn fixture.    The central heating unit location being position in Jan’s craft shop area, adjacent to the kitchen, the air intake and heat output vented through the dining room wall.  Gary having formulated how to  fabricate the duct-work to accommodate the two-story homestead noting that with ten foot ceilings there was plenty of clearance for installing eight inch duct.  The center trunk line would extend from the top of the heater through the dining room, the living room almost to the front door.  Branch duct-lines  would be run to each of the two downstairs bedrooms walls with openings for registers.  The upstairs was less complicated, the flexible duct teed into the main trunk line and up to floor openings cut for registers in the upstairs bedrooms and hall.  With the duct-work completed and fastened, the next project would be the installation of the metal framework for the drop ceiling acoustic tiles.   Gary by chance making a discovery, rummaging thru the upstairs attic storage area of the  Service Company, he came across several partial containers of 24 x 48 inch white ceiling tiles, remnants from the office remodeling addition.  A believer in ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’,  he approached Steve Miller asking if he could utilize the leftover tiles found in the attic for a ceiling project at home,  Steve not giving it any thought affirmed his request.   To Gary’s amazement with a small addition from Hood Lumber the panels  numbered enough to encompass the two rooms, the ceiling now lowered to eight feet.

Robert with Ben Franklin

Jan was rather upset, Gary having just returned from spending a winter Saturday night in Oklahoma City having visited his estranged family and friend Jerry Willis.  Jan wasn’t upset about the visit but the weather, the temperature in Kiowa having dropped into single digits,  informing him that the temperature got down to 61 degrees in the drafty non-insulated house and that was with the central heat running continually.  Apparently the central heating unit wasn’t up to what was needed, Gary pondering whether to invest in a bigger unit but came up with an alternative for those extreme cold days, a wood burning stove.  Having never experience the use of a wood burner or consulting someone he bought what he thought was a proven reliable stove, one that had sufficed for hundreds of years, a classic Ben Franklin.   With its installation he thought it would provide the needed additional heat,  but in reality  it produced more smoke than heat and there was a chimney problem, there wasn’t one,  having run a hazardous single wall six-inch stove-pipe up the side of the house that the wind played havoc with.

The Ultimate – a Hurricane

 Gary discovering that Humphrey Implement was a local distributor of fireplace and wood burning appliances  and accessories.  Visiting with Jim Humphrey, the dealer giving testimonial that he had just installed an air-tight Hurricane wood burner, with an electric blower system in  his residence and was totally satisfied with it performance.   With the purchase of the Hurricane,  Gary address the chimney, Jim recommending  triple wall eight inch insulated pipe enclosed by simulated chimney looking metal panels.  Gary just couldn’t picture a new looking 25 ft.  false metal chimney running up the side of the two-story old house,  having another alternative plan in mind.  Father-in law Bud Murrow when being told of the idea shook his head, but agreed that it would work,  Gary deciding to run the insulated flu inside rather than outside of the house.  He would install it against the outer wall,  thru the ceiling,  addressing the upstairs floor at the far corner of  Sandi’s upstairs  bedroom and continuing  thru the ceiling to the roof above.  The pipe residing in the outside corner of the second floor bedroom requiring only a square foot of room space which would be enclosed with Sheetrock.   The project finished, not exactly kosher,  Gary concluding that someone was right when they said “necessity is the mother of invention” and adding,  “at least the wind won’t play havoc with it”.

Hosting the Apostolic Church Sunday night Bible Study & Singing

 Jan having made it known that sometime in the future she would like to host the Apostolic Churches Sunday night Bible Study & Singing,  Gary assuring her the time would come, he was doing the best he could in getting the house presentable.  The Roth residential heirloom face-lift seemed like a never-ending project, Gary having improved the interior,  the residence outside posture beckoning having set for years enduring the Kansas environment it’s  present being worn and weathered.  Gary somewhat perplex about the undertaking the outside painting project, whether to brush it or apply it with a spray gun, deciding to approach Tom Wells, the recent hired Service Co painter about the use of a compressor and spray gun.  Tom instructing him on some basic  principles and during the process Gary discovered that when spraying you could vastly increase the amount of paint required if you didn’t know what you were doing.  Not being an experience spray painter he had second thoughts, especially on his salary,  the extra amount of paint would prohibit the use of a sprayer.   The brushing of the ship-lap endowed two-storied  structure  commenced, as it progressed Gary discovered with the steepness of the roof  a ladder was required to be laid upon the pitch to enabling him to reach the throws of the gables, not a secure experience and somewhat  time consuming,  but once again innovation coming to mind.

 Gary once again approaching  Steve Miller, this time asking about borrowing the company’s forklift for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon, explaining he wanted to use it to reach and paint the gables on the roof of his house, Steve looked somewhat puzzled but said  he didn’t have a problem with it.   With a 48 x 40 pallet as a platform, the forklift in position all that was needed was someone to operate the lift and horizontal control levers raising him the proper height and position, so with some thought an answer was found.   Five-year old Robert having been diligently watching his Dad’s preparations,  Gary sitting the young protegé in the operators seat,  providing the astute youngster on how to operate the lift and the forks forward movement levers.   His young son,  apprehensive at first,  but then acknowledging he could do it, the confident Robert sitting at the controls, following dad’s directions enabling the levers when told, Gary acquainting the reaches of the second floor gable.   The resolute Robert  beaming with accomplishment, the residence endowed with two effervescent coats of white paint.  The house now somewhat more presentable Jan able to host a Sunday night Bible Study & Singing.

Automotive Centerpiece….#169 (80’s)

July 22, 2016


69 Chevy with a tractor Ansel cab window.

The acquisition of the 1979 Chrysler New Yorker for Jan wasn’t without adversity,  its disposition wasn’t always amiable for transporting the many boxes containing her ceramic endeavors to the sales events. The 1950 Dodge Pickup having been christened to assist as a means of transportation which was satisfactory until the weather turned detrimental with a forecast of rain.  Gary coming to the conclusion that a search for a more applicable transportation was in order, the beckoning being answered by his friend,  Ron Zahtner who just happened to acquired a 1969 Chevy Cargo Van from his younger brother Chad in lieu of payment for a financial allowance.  Ron having no need for the Van was more than willing to part with it.   The two coming to a conditional agreement, Gary offering Ron $250 for the van but the transaction would have to wait until he could sell the Dodge.   Gary’s  trust in Ron was absolute,  having no reason to doubt his pronouncement of the soundness of van.   The Chevy was  powered by a 327 cubic inch large-bore, shorter stroke V8,  a mainstay for the Corvette in years past,  the endowed engine occupying a cab placement between two bucket front seats,  no other seating prevailing in the van’s shell encasement.   Its inner appearance causing some apprehension, Ron not noted for his attentiveness to neatness,  the cargo area of the transport sporting several old tires and wheels along with miscellaneous used car parts, Ron volunteering that they were in the van when his brother parked it.

Dan Luthi & 50 Dodge

The Dodges new home

With the agreement to buy van concluded, Gary placed a for sale notice in the rear window of the Dodge stationed curbside at the Service Company and within an hour Dan Luthi approached Gary inquiring about the sale of the van. Dan in the wheat and cattle business, his farm on the old Gerlane Rd north and west of Hazelton making a declaration, the old Dodge pickup was just what he needed for running fences.  Gary having given little thought to a price for the Dodge, keeping in mind Ron’s asking $250 for the van, a wild supplication came to mind,  how about $500  and to his amazement Dan reached for his checkbook addressing a check for the $500.  A testament of value to the 50 Dodge,  still having a life finding a secure home with a new owner.   Gary somewhat sadden to see the dodge go, he would miss it’s reliability.

A 2 seat cargo van now a 8 person passenger van with blue carpet, wood paneling and a picture window

 Gary was impressed with the 60 Chevy van, the 327 engine was everything Ron had said it was, but the new owner realized he had his work cut out for him having already pictured what was planned.  His first order of business was a journey to Alva Oklahoma auto salvage, finding two thee passenger  front bench seats from two antiquated cars.  With the seats fastened to the floor in the rear of the van, the two person vehicle was  now an eight passenger convenience and still having an ample rear storage area. The enclosed Chevy with its windowless double side doors was not very desirable from the two rear seated passengers point of view.  Gary evaluating a windows application for his recently acquired van applying an innovative idea to provide enlightenment, it needed a window for those seated in the rear two seats.   On the west side of the Jack’s Ford building was an area over grown with weeds and was dissuaded with old tractor remnants, amongst the rusted remains was the relics of some Ansel cabs.  Ansel a well-known add-on windowed cab manufacturer for the older open-air  tractors included the John Deere 10 and 20 series tractors.  The inward opening Ansel cab window and frame bolted to the cab, Gary finding the framed and window easily removed.   A metal-cutting blade saber saw finding use on  the driver-side panel of the van rendering an opening for the Ansel produced window.  Bolting and sealing the frame with its safety glass window in place, the provisional application ready to provide a panoramic view for those seated.    A further enhancement to the van also decided upon,  a visit to Hood Lumber Company,  the acquisition of wood paneling to address the interior walls with metal screws adhering the panels to the inside structuring metal joist.  Gary questioning Dale Hood if he had any old carpet remnants that he could use for the Chevy’s floor,  Dale once discovering the purpose of the paneling and the carpet relinquished a blue remnant at no cost. The weeks of resounding labor fruitful, the once quotient van now a formidable centerpiece of accomplishment, a final added crowning achievement,  Gary installing a used AM-FM radio, mounting a six speaker sound system.

A Merry Christmas compliments of Steve Miller

Unbeknownst to many in the community,  Gary had come to recognize that Steve Miller in many respects was accommodating and generous to his employees,  one being,  allowing them to purchase the company merchandise at cost and with a retail mark-up of 40% it was a benefit.   The Christmas season having arrived,  Steve funding a holiday company party for the employee’s and their family and besides a token Christmas bonus check each was provided both a turkey and a ham.   Gary never giving much thought to how the seasonal bonus check amounts were determined assuming that the sales and service departments were the real income generating source and were rewarded as such. This was Gary’s first Christmas in a managerial position,  the acknowledgement of a Merry Christmas being accorded by Steve distributing  Christmas cards containing a bonus check.   Opening the envelope expecting a token $35 check as in the past, Gary was thunderstruck not expecting what he found, a $500 Christmas bonus check,  it would be a Merry Christmas.

Destined To Mirror……………..#170 (80’s)

July 20, 2016

A pair of outlaws

Gary discovering although the two sibling were a year apart one would have thought they were destined to mirror the footsteps of the other in the pursuing their academic travel but not thus far in life.  Roberts first introduction to school was abrasive,  he experienced a chastisement from his kindergarten teacher,  Sally Forester,  an involvement in a jostling action taking place in class.  The newly accredited students  in line for an activity,  finding a disturbance among the six-year olds,  Robert accused of the instigation,  the son of a local church minister making the acquisition,  a notification finding Jan traversing to the school,  the matter being resolved.   Sandi’s advent in her school debut not nearly as climactic as Roberts,  her luscious disposition, always amiable and attentive to those around her, finding a total acceptance from her classmates.

A Stateline Crafts visitor

It was a normal winter Saturday afternoon,  the temperature finally accomplishing the 32 degree level,  the sun basking the south side of the residence with its warmth,  Jan having fired the large ceramic kiln in the garage.   Gary stepping outside the craft shop door adjacent to the garage noticing a gray haze emitting from the garage aperture.   Approaching and opening the door,  he was immediately confronted with an intense blanket of smoke, a sensing of heat and a reflected glow of flames.   Hurrying back inside the house alerting  Jan to call the fire department,  the garage was on fire.  Returning and opening the  garage side door entrance, unable to observe because of the dense smoke, dropping to floor level he could perceive flames being emitted from burning boxes across the expanse on the far wall.   Without hesitation he traversed the distance back outside to where a garden hose was connected at the side of the house,  a prayer that the hose was no longer frozen from the overnight temperature.  Addressing the gate valve and dragging the stiff outlay to the garage door, turning on the nozzle his prayers being answered, kneeling beneath the layer of smoke  he proceeded to spray the inflamed containers,  encapsulating them with a mist of water.  The sirens announcing the arrival of the Kiowa volunteer fire department, Roger Robinson evoking a large fire hose toward the open side door. Gary immediately arresting his entrance,  asserting him not to employ the high pressure hose as it would cause havoc with the stored ceramic greenware yet to be fired.  The smoke beginning to clear, Roger and several others of the fire department entering the scene of what could have been, accessing that the fire was out.  It was only then that Gary realized what he had done besides spraying the flames, he had unconsciously stood on a wet floor with a 60 amp kiln still firing and shut it off,  thankful he wasn’t greeted with 240 volts.  On closer inspection it was decided that somehow the kiln sparked the fire.  Its place in the garage was kept totally free from flammable items, apparently there was an electrical malfunction that provided a high energy arc, sending a charge across the width of the garage causing the boxes containing ceramic items stored there to ignite.  Upon a closer examination Gary discovering the tell-tale signs of an arching heating element. A trip to Wichita for parts,  the kiln quandary soon found its production life back in operation.

Bank of Kiowa

The  epoch of the everyday having settled into a normalcy,  Robert and Sandi’s school attendance finding  the residence during the day no longer burgeoning with young ones.   Jan’s Stateline Crafts having reached the pinnacle of success and the acquired addition of the Apostolic Christian Church housekeeping positions that Gary and Jan shared was beneficial.   Marvin Ott,  a major principal and president  of the Bank of Kiowa posting a notice in the Kiowa News for a bank teller position.  With both Robert and Sandi now in school, her job as a stay-at-home  mom  for the most part having come to a conclusion deciding to enter the pool of applicants for the opening at the bank.  Gary wasn’t surprised when; she was welcomed as a new employee.

Gary’s  fulfilling another harvest season at the Service Company, the combines sales having reached an apex and started to decline.   An unexpected new development,  Larry Foster the service manage being replaced, although portrayed as a mutual agreed upon resignation, it was questionable.  Larry wasn’t the only change to come about, Gary being asked to recede from his management position, Steve Miller soliciting Steve McCreary from the Wichita John Deere dealership to assume the parts department managerial position.  McCreary and he and his wife Tudy moving from Wellington were also to open a Mexican restaurant in the recently closed Daylight Donuts building.  Gary finding his replacement as a very personable, good nature and laid back person, portraying himself as a fellow worker to help alleviate some of the burden of the parts department.   Gary discovering working with Steve an acceptable experience, no longer having the responsibility of the lassitude of endless paperwork and oversight of the inventory.  His three years, two in management was an applicable learning experience and he didn’t feel slighted at being replaced, it was more of a promotion since there was no change in his pay check.

Conejo's in Kiowa

Conejo’s in Kiowa

The opening of a Cornejos’ found it resembling a Taco establishment rather than a purveyor of Mexican cuisine.  Steve’s wife Tudy, a member of the Conejo family,  an implied prosperous  name in Wichita,  the owners of a very large and successful demolition and trash transporting concern, plus financing several family own Mexican restaurants.   Gary questioning his own perception of events,  it was well known that Steve Miller had financed the purchase of the house that Steve, Tudy and their two children occupied and in all likelihood it was part of the contract for their relocation.   Needless to say there were always those spreading  rumors of seeing Miller and Tudy together,  Gary chalking it up to small town residual chatter because of Steve Miller’s past notoriety and indiscretions.   The advent of  Cornejo’s  was an overnight success, Tudy having a keen business sense having managed a family establishment in Wellington.  Conejo’s in their rise to prominence promoted a causality, having an undesirable effect on the Dairy Bar, the only other fast food endowment in Kiowa, the  concern being evoked that its operation would desist,  the rumor becoming fact,  its closure inevitable.  With the passing of time the real world persisted and the newness of Conejos tapered off,  returning  like a Phoenix, the Dairy Bar took flight again,  the hamburger and ice cream parlor opening with new management, Monty Blunk and Family, Gary concluding that the surrounding world wasn’t  changing, it was evolving.

Discharging It’s Raiment……….#171 (80’s)

July 18, 2016

Mother Nature making her presence known

It was a preharvest extravaganza more than an open house, members of the local farming community and others from a distance attaining a presence,  many ferried in thru the avionics of  Steve Miller’s  Cessna 172.   The quantum staff of the Service Company petitioned to participate, each employee assigned as a spokesman in some capacity.   A capacious amount of comestibles,  roast beef,  ham,  a diversity of condiments,  soft drink refreshments,  iced beer acquainting voluminous tubs and a more potent variety of bottled oblation established in the employee’s appurtenant better known as the break room.   The two structured shop buildings encompassing  14,000 sq. ft.,  petitioned to provide stations of presentation for a multiple of John Deere productions including the complete line of 40 series tractors, the 7720 and colossal 8820 combine  with its reaching 30 ft. wheat harvesting header.   Displays of plows, chisels, drills, the 346 baler and the new 8300 drill,  a shop employee commissioned at each station  with literature in hand,  answering the inquisitive questions.   It was John Deere Day at Kiowa Service Company.

4 wheel drive 8640

The distant rumbling of mother nature was perceived within the two metal fabricated buildings  but with little fanfare or acknowledgement, the farming guest in attendance absorbed in the celebration of the gala event.   The intonation of the gathering storms rain could be heard striking the metal canopied roof,  at first a gentle patter of sound,  then an increasing intensiveness,  the resonance of thunder beginning to echo an increasing presence.   Still the ambiguous group displayed an unconcern,  then a change in plangency,  a pinging sound, then another,  the sound of hail striking the metal covering aloft,  lightly at first,  then growing in magnitude,  a noticeable vocal silence from the assembly as the volume of sound increased,  a concern starting to evolve.   Gary standing among the guest, perceiving a comment,  “these hailstorms are of short duration and will soon pass.”   The intensity increased,  the reverberating sound within the metal structure reaching a fervent pitch,  then exclaimed  a fury,  the vigor of the sound asphyxiating normal conversation.   Gary struck with the magnitude of  sound,  his curiosity abounding,  approached the outside door and  with its opening, discovering the pelting hail blanketing the ground, up to two inches in depth.  Then an eerie calming silence,  except for the rumble of the thunder as the waning precarious storm continued to journey, another destination awaiting its destructive ambiance.  The faces of those in attendance,  a silent reflection of consternation,  an aura of uncertainty,  the encroachment of wheat harvest was soon to commence but now a wonderment.   The once festive occasion  digressing to one of solemnization, finding an exiting of the local participants,  their flight to assess the storms adversity to their crops.

A farmers nightmare

The battered wheat a testament to mother natures fury

Jan’s parents and her Aunt Esther and Uncle Charles Terry having left Kiowa to meet with her Aunt Leona and Uncle Melvin Weyeneth from Illinois, the three couple to traversing  to  New York State  to visit  Lewis County and the first Apostolic Christian Church  founded by the Benedict  Weyeneth in 1847.  Included in this visit would be the opportunity to partake of  a scenic journey to address the water expressway, the famous Erie Canal.  The day following the storm, Gary having heard reports of many losing their wheat to the onslaught of the hail, thought it best to drive out and assess father-in-law Buds quarter section.  A concerned Gary and Jan with the children in tow driving the Stateline road approaching the Murrow’s farm,  Bud having  seeded a 120 acres in wheat in the old home place location.   On the way out the family observing the neighboring farms and the havoc inflicted on the already budding out wheat giving testament to its devastation.  Continuing on, a hope for supplication but the view not promising, stopping at he home place acreage, embarking from the car finding a field of despair.    Venturing into the maze of broken wheat stalks the ground laden with the remains of a prosperous crop, a notice of  scrutiny confirming the worst.  Gary ascertaining the path of the storm  had discharged its raiment  paralleling the Stateline affecting  an area five-miles on either side of the boundary.  The Murrow family wasn’t alone with the storms adversity as mother nature plays no favorites.   Later in the week Jan’s folks called to give notice they were on their way home,  Jan informing them of the storm.  Once home, Bud like many others wrote off his crop as a total loss,  but with his crop insurance it allowed some redemption providing a start for next year’s harvest.

A Scouting Experience………………..#172 (80’s)

July 16, 2016
Robert in Uniform

Robert in Uniform

Robert having made a decision, the young man aspiring  to become a Cub Scout.   Gary recalling his venture into Scouting,  according a benediction,  but also remembering the encumbrance  of attendance and participation,  sometimes not always a convenience when other contingencies presented themselves to a nine-year old.   The attire of a uniform always presenting a presentation of self-esteem regardless of the person’s perspective.   The Kiowa Den meetings being embraced in the Scout Hut.  The hut  located across the street from the Grade School  on 10th St., the upstairs utilized by the older Boy Scouts,  the basement pavilion relegated for the younger Cubs.   Keith Hoffman, a diesel mechanic at Kiowa Service abiding in leau of a Den Mother as the tinctured Den Father,  Gary having volunteered as assistant Den luminary, Keith having a son, Danny the same age as Gary’s son Robert.  The young cadre ready to accomplishing the Cub regiment of scouting beginning with the rank of Bobcat, followed by attaining the requirements in the Wolf and Bear Manuals and the final  accolade, a Webelos accomplishment,  the prerequisite before advancing into the plaudits of mature scouting.

Gary finding the Cub Scout guidance was a gratification,  the communion with the younger understudy providing a forbearance of a previous era,  the adventurous ambitions of an insouciant time of life,  his son Robert prevailing with an attitude for accomplishment.  A program to encourage elective projects understandably finding the association of boys not very innovative when left to a decision,  parental guidance was found to be the operative.   Gary recognizing Robert’s  indecision on choosing a project,  likewise  he and Keith realized that most of these first undertakings would probably be parental ideas.  With Roberts indecision Gary presented a proposal, having introduced Robert and his sister to the realm of the night sky utilizing a five-inch reflector telescope he had purchased through a Spiegel catalog.  Submitting his novel idea,  a constellation sphere of the night sky projected by inserting strings of miniature Christmas tree light thru a blackened cork framed board,  the figurative  outline of the sky’s well-known constellations illuminated in a darken room. The two proceeding with this novel idea using illustrations from a star map,  the miniature lights substituting for the stars. The Den displaying their projects, Robert’s project was by far the most unique.

A pinewood model race car

A pinewood model race car

A second opportunity for the young impresario’s of the Cub Scout accumulation, a project more attuned to the Den members approval, a 12 x 4 x 4 inch block of pinewood to be carved in the shape of a racing car and fitted with the packaged provided axles and wheels.  The finished product enabling the boys to enter a competition,  entertaining a raised platform drag-strip,  the Cubs releasing the sculptured models in paired contention, the models racing  down the elongated runway,  concluding the fastest car in an elimination race.  Each participant allowed two attempts, Robert first competitive appearance a loss, taking his disappointment in hand ready for  the second performance. This time  finding his car finishing first, Gary having applied a coating of graphite to the axles,  enhancing the model racing expenditures mobility.  Robert’s car continued to excel, the over-all winner, Gary recognizing that at that age acknowledgement is important but fleeting.

Keith Hoffman and the Kiowa Cub Scouts

Keith Hoffman and the Kiowa Cub Scouts

Gary was apprehensive about the overnight field outing the Den was about to experience.  He and Robert to  journey a mile west of town,  then 3 miles north to a camp ground on the Medicine River,  an area employed by the Scouts.   Arriving they found Jerry McNamara,  the Kiowa District Scout Leader in uniform and expediting the campgrounds provisions, three large tents and a number of smaller canvas shelters providing the overnight accommodations.   Roger Robinson,  his son Paul  a Scout, setting up a spit mounted already partially cooked pig on a hand operated rotisserie, the pork endeavor  final dispatch to be completed over a grill by the ordained scouts.  Gary having just returned from an expeditionary journey exploring the Medicine River, when his attention was drawn by a commotion originating from a group of Cubs in one of the tents,  the attention-getting sounds  deserving an investigation.   Entering the tent, looking about,  suspiciously according its contents, Gary apprehending a magazine fold emitting from the sleeping bag of John Thomas.  The Cubs having exited the tent, Gary not surprised at his find, especially among the ascension of inquisitive boys  when billeted together in the remote countryside, the encompassing  magazine in question,  Playboy, the adult retreating outside, ceding his find as undiscovered.

Gary concluding the world would be a far better place if all mankind would adhere to this oath : On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country and obey the Scout Law to be: Trustworthy, Loyal , Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Advanced Technology…….#173 (80’s)

July 14, 2016

Webstar television communication satellite

Kiowa basic cable television consisted of five channels,  three being the major networks, the other two TBS and channel 13  a public television presentation, HBO and Showtime being offered as a premium. Gary finding the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney presentation paramount to Robert and Sandi, but alas the network dropping the program with the announcement of the inauguration of the Disney channel, but it was not available on the Kiowa  cable network.  Gary taking notice of a quarter page ad in the Kiowa News, C-Band satellite dish television had arrived in Kiowa.   Chuck Graves having established a plumbing service,  occupying the Schupbach Plumbing building on Main St. erected a mobile home residence just south of the water tower on highway 8,  adding an additional small building and positioning several satellite dishes adjacent to the highway for display,   Steve Miller the first in Kiowa to inaugurate the new accord.

C-span satellite dish

Gary having kept abreast of the new technology acquiring an interest deciding to meet with Chuck to satisfy his curiosity of how much a system would cost.   A discussion with Chuck immediately found the total expenditure exceeded what he could afford,  but further inquisition discovering a possible solution.  Graves explaining, the total cost wasn’t in just the application of the dish or its signal reception equipment, but an aggregate of size and other components.  Besides the size, the most cost being the automated motor acquisition and locking features, the system that located the satellite and  halted the dish when acquiring a broadcasting satellite.  Gary questioning,  the standard for a satellite dish being 8 to 12 ft.. in diameter,  did they manufacture an acceptable quality smaller dish,  the answer was an affirmation, there was an acceptable six-foot dish available.  Gary was hesitant with the second question but it needed to be asked.  Do they make  a relatively low-cost manual device for circulating the dish rather than the automated and self locking device. Chuck smiling knowing where Gary was going, again affirming there was a much lower cost manual control available but he didn’t stock the product.  Gary concluding after comparing prices, by substituting a 6 ft. dish for an 8,  installing a manual control opposed to an automated self acquiring application the satellite dish system suddenly became affordable.   Gary also discovering the amenable Chuck having restrained his profit margin in appreciation for being one of the first to come aboard his new  business platform.

Uniden C-span receiver

  Gary recognizing that the geosynchronous satellites were stationed in an area similar to the moving path of the moon and planets,  an unobstructed view of east to west southern quadrant of the sky needed.  He also soon discovered the Willson’s 11th St. residence was unacceptable for a ground level dish,  it seemed the trees on neighbor Jim Looker’s property was an arresting venue,  an innovative application would be required.  Gary fabricating a four-foot square platform on the enclosed porch roof enabling the mounting of a dish stand,  a solvent solution to the obstructed view.  Chucks arriving,  Gary as a provisional assistant, the two firmly fastening the mounting stand to the provided platform, the espousing 6 ft. dish finding a home able to search the heavens,  a receptive introduction to a distant communication provider.

The common 12 ft. dish

A realization having come true, the six-foot rooftop satellite dish acquisition fulfilled,  others including John Miller and  Larry Swonger adding their names to Chuck’s list of advanced technology host.    The satellite presentation providing  a broader spectrum of  programming with 18 geosynchronous  satellites owned by five companies,  offering upwards of 120 channels.  Beside the premium channels like Disney , HBO,  and Showtime was the ability to watch the unabridged network program feeds and behind the scenes footnotes before their scheduled viewing time giving one an insight to the inter-workings of the television networks.  A totally expanse of the television industry was at a person’s disposition, viewing no longer confined to the beckoning selection and cost of the cable company.  Gary concluding the dish wasn’t a symbol of affluence,  but one of accomplishment,  having discovered an unconventional way in fulfill what would in otherwise would have been a high-cost desire.