The whole of Salemsborg was my playground.  The trees, the ditches, the fields, fences, and the tombstones in the cemetery seemed especially designed to entertain me as a youngster growing up.  Accompanied by my dog, I roamed all over our reduced village and claimed it as my own.  I made dancing girls from the hollyhocks, dolls dressed from catalpa tree leaves, caught fireflies in the field in the cemetery, and captured tadpoles  from the ditches in canning jars.  I made fast friends with any animals I would find except snakes.  I would “adopt” a young steer at my Uncle Carl’s farm, feeding it until it was sold, along with others, to become steaks and hamburger.  Unlike those who lived on farms and had chores, my job seemed to be to stay out from under the feet of my cooking mom and pole-climbing dad.  Occasionally Dad would take me with him to check the lines, but mostly I managed to entertain myself when not occupied with going to school.  

A school bus always took me to school.  The elementary school was in Smolan and I went to Assaria for high school.  The bus gathered kids from the farms in two routes.  I always seemed to be on the first route which meant that I always arrived very early.  And I was always on the second route going home.  I would be gone from the house from seven in the morning until five in the afternoon.  I never minded the long hours away from home.  Being with other kids was a treat and, to the day, I love school.  

Everything about growing up in the house on Burma Road was unique.  My parents managed that twenty-four hour, seven-day-a week business until they retired from one of the last small, independent, magneto operated phone companies in the US.  Everyone that lived anywhere around it has a story or two to tell involving my folks or the company.  The Salemsborg Farmers Telephone Company was our Internet, cable TV, and newspaper; a communication with neighbors and the world and I was never alone.  

I missed the war years being that I was born in 1944.  There are stories told of families coming from other parts of the country to live in the community, including the telephone company, renting rooms while the men trained for overseas duties.  The soldiers marched the country road in front of the house.  That’s how it became known as the Burma Road.  

I believe that I slept through anything really exciting that ever happened in Salemsborg except for the time or two when we went to the basement because of a tornado.  (Who in Kansas doesn’t have at least one of those experiences involving a basement or a storm shelter?)  I guess the only difference from others was that my dad was at the switchboard making a line call letting everyone know a tornado had been sighted.  The weather warning would come from one of the larger towns around Salemsborg.  Receiving the news, Mom or Dad would begin to make the line call, alerting one and all.  

I slept through many accidents.  The curve in the road just past the house was notorious for catching drivers unawares and the result was that Dad would get up from bed, summoned by a knock at the front door and find a way to pull the vehicle out of the ditch.  There were a couple times when Mom or Dad would get notification of a accident elsewhere in the country and would make a trip to a neighbors home to notify the family.  The telephone company handled just about everything from accidents, to illnesses, to planes crashing in the bombing range west of the house.  It was used as a way of spreading word of events in the community including births, deaths, marriages or any event involving the school or churches.  It was central to the community and was aptly called “central”.  

I can remember only a few times when we went on vacation.  It was always in the summer.  Our operator was hired to spend the night.  Dad would begin preparations by creating a camper for the back of the truck with a wood frame and canvas tied together with rope.  He had a ready supply of tools in the event of a breakdown.  Then there was the fishing equipment to be packed up.  Mom would handle all the food preparations.  Along with blankets and pillows, pots and pans, we were set for an overnight trip to Kanapolis Lake.  Uncle, aunt, and cousins joined us the adventure.  It was quite the upgrade when Cousin David graduated from sleeping in the trunk of the previous car to the backseat of the new Studebaker station wagon.  Cousin Miriam, sister Emmie, and I had beds in the truck under the canvas.  All went well until it rained and someone touched the canvas roof creating a mini waterfall.  God only knows where the adults slept.  The men probably fished through the night and the women slept in the autos.  

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