Dazzling green surrounds the gravel roads through the Flint Hills. My sister, Pam and I exit I-35 at Emporia (KS) and drive south through Olpe. Continuing west and south of Olpe, our three-day journey to Arkansas City begins with adventure. We travel to visit life-long friends, but plan some back-road exploring on the way. Being alone with hills, curving roads, wild flowers and an occasional cow fills us with peace. Four killdeer cavorting in a creek provide the only distraction. We relish the perfect vistas, and soon see a sign to Teterville.
Many years ago Rodney and I drove up the hill to Teterville and marveled at the view. Curiosity sent me to the internet: Teterville, a ghost town is located approximately 11 miles east of Cassoday. No buildings remain of this former community which was founded as an “oil town” sometime after the Teeter Oil Field was discovered around 1920. A post office was opened in Teterville in 1927, and remained in operation until it was discontinued in 1962. Teter Rock, a pile of local rocks erected at a high point served as a guidepost for homesteaders searching for the Cottonwood River.
After miles with no cars, trucks or houses, we turn and bump up a hill on the neglected rough road to Teeterville. We round another curve and gasp as we see a car by Teeter Rock. Unease fills us as we wonder who is there. We breath a sigh of relief when we hear, “Oh good, will you take a picture of us all together?” A couple from Kansas City and another from North Carolina cheerfully welcome us. Pictures all around, then we resume the last eighty-five mile drive to Ark City.
After a restful night in the new motel half-way between Arkansas City and Winfield, we visit our parent’s grave in Riverview Cemetery. The only visible life there includes several mocking birds and the buffalo herd across the street. By now the clock says, “Take Pam to her friend, Terry’s house.”
Friendships are rare treasures and I came to Arkansas City to see Rebecca. Through our growing up years we attended different schools. But our time spent at church, choirs, youth groups, and summer camps, we were together constantly. Soon our non-stop conversation reverberates with tales of hikes, crazy picture taking, stealing out of camp cabins at night, double dating, missing our husbands and current health realities. Her cancer diagnosis flows as an undercurrent throughout our conversation. After a salad at Braums, we delight in a tour of the town – past the old Curry football field (now long gone), Paris Park Swimming Pool, Cowley Community College, Wilson Park, and houses and streets full of memories.
Freeways and highways are never Pam or my preferred route, but we head home on Highway 160 to Independence. The next morning, nostalgia calls for back roads to the Neosho Wildlife Area just east of St. Paul. Not many birds in the heat, but reminiscing floods the car: times of many birds, the time a snapping turtle captured the toe of Rodney’s shoe, the time a tiny fawn walked up to us unafraid.
Next we drive a strange road we have no business traveling. A “dirt road” south of Bronson, triggers questions of, “Where on earth are we?” Finally Highway 54 appears. After a lunch of leftover stuff in the shade of a big tree in the Bronson Cemetery, we hop on Highways 3/31/52 and headed home.
69 to head for home.