Backward Glance: Images from Marshall County
Many people who grew up in rural communities across Kansas have fond memories of their hometowns. Civic pride displayed at sporting events and parades and through neighbors helping neighbors are qualities that come to mind. Knowing most of the people in the community and even their family histories was common for many. I remember listening to Sunday dinner conversations about one person and hearing my parents and grandparents talk also about that person's parents and brothers and sisters. There truly was a "sense of community" for most people.
These photographs by Omar Hawkins offer a glimpse into one such commnity Marysville, Kansas. He was both an amateur and commercial photographer and took these images from 1912 through 1945. They provide a snapshot of life in Marysville -- people, community events and businesses -- that is reminiscent of many Kansas communities. These photos also provide historical documentation for Marysville and Marshall County.
Today, many small Kansas towns continue to lose residents. Businesses close as people shop in larger towns where there is more selection. Declining school populations and school closings contribute to a sense of loss. The daily newspaper has been replaced by a weekly paper, if there is a newspaper at all. Yet, many communities remain vibrant. They use the benefits of technology to stay connected with the rest of the state and the world. They work hard to provide for the needs of their residents through local theater groups, programming at public libraries, and even volunteer produced newspapers. Those of us that grew up in similar communities in the 1940s and 1950s are nostalgic about our hometowns. We didn't know that they were small. I remember my brother-in-law pointing out one day that my hometown of Russell had only five stop lights. My sisters and I were reluctant to admit it until we counted them together from memory and had to admit he was right. To us, these towns were the center of our universe and contributed to making Kansas a great place in which to grow up.