I was surprised and saddened to see the cemeteries where towns used to be located. As towns in our area continue to fall in population, I wonder what the fate of our towns will be in 50 years. What will remain of our communities if people continue to move out and no one moves back or into town? Are we safe from total loss because of the Interstate? Can small communities not only survive but also thrive? Members of Grainfield have started a website www.lovesmalltownamerica.com to share with people what a small town, especially Grainfield, has to offer. This is done in hopes that it will draw people into town as well as create business opportunities for locals.
Regrettably, it must be so easy for people passing through our state to see the small towns of Kansas and regard them only as ghost towns with no futures. I, too, feel the sadness in hearing the stories of all the long forgotten towns which were once thriving and prosperous. Not having any knowledge of what they once were or who once lived there, passersby now only see vacant storefronts and empty streets instead of their rich heritages. I applaud the citizens of Grainfield for their efforts to keep their community alive, to advertise what they have to offer, and to continue to share their story with others. They have to reenergize and renew their commitment to to their past, present, and future and convince others that they are an integral part of northwest Kansas. It is generational, and young and old alike need to invest their time, talents, and treasures toward keeping their community alive and thriving.
I feel like one way to fight against losing your town is to support the school systems. I know in this area consolidation is a very nasty word and it is because the truth is once you lose your school your town begins to falter. I feel the older generation sometimes forgets about how necessary school support is once their own children are grown. But the school is a staple of any community and a good school system will keep a town in place. Once you lose your school, the end comes much quicker. We want the younger generation to come back to their home towns, but if you don't have a quality school for them to send their kids to, they won't even consider it.
I totally agree regarding good school systems. That is the first thing young people with children and thinking about a family look into when they look for a place to live. Even when moving to a city with more than one school a neighborhood to live in is chosen by which school they feel is best for their needs. It is a pivotal point of survival. A town must also be well-rounded with good things for everyone of every age. There need to be programs and gathering places for young ones of all ages outside the formal school environment and their must be resources for the elderly that allow extended families to stay together in rich community.
I thoroughly enjoyed the stops at the cemeteries. They ARE telling signs. They record and tell the stories of the ancestors. Growing up on the east coast it was a common event for families to periodically visit local and family cemeteries. This was not just on memorial day and 4th of July. We would often have summer picnics on a sat or sun afternoon in the cemetery. Besides good food and childish games and laughter, stories would be told about those who were no longer with us and how we were connected. It gave a depth and richness to our sense of heritage.
The small town cemeteries are wonderful places that are so often overlooked now. In cities where cemeteries are large many rules are now instituted regarding only flat stones that can be mowed over with no epitaphs, etc. It is a reflection of the rest of our world's love affair with technology and anonymity. I was thinking as we toured that I want a large statue on my grave that says something on it. If there is no one to tell my great great grandchildren about me, they will have a place to go.