Articles By: Joel Klaassen

A tale of two parallel journeys

A few months ago I read an interesting profile in my Kansas Alumni magazine about a man named Waldo Dick

He was born in the Ukraine almost 90 years ago but ended up in Newton, where he worked for a Mennonite paper. I?m guessing it was the Mennonite Weekly Review. The article stated he attended Bethel College and then transferred to KU.

He still goes to work each day at the East Allen Courier, a
free-circulation weekly newspaper in Grabill, Ind., which he has owned
since 1955.

My path has been similar. I worked at the Mennonite
Weekly Review, went to Bethel one year, transferred to KU and have
ownership in a free weekly newspaper. I just have 30 more years to go
to catch up with this guy. I wonder if we are related, since my mom?s
maiden name was also Dick.


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Economies are huge in this nation

It?s hard to put into perspective how big the U.S. economy really is. I found a Boomtown USA blog recently that compares the economies of our 50 states with those of other countries. The piece was written by Mike Harvey of Winfield, who does a weekly newsletter titled ?Flourishing.?

For example, Texas generates as much annual revenue as the entire country of Canada. The Kansas economy is as big as Romania?s. California?s equals Italy?s. If you are interested in seeing a U.S. map showing the relative economies of each state in compared to other countries you can check it out at:

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Early birds make good shoppers

It happens every year, I am told. Someone from near or far shows up a week early for the Arts & Crafts Fair. That?s a good thing, because they usually do a little shopping while they?re here. Haven?t heard of anyone being a week late, though.

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Wranglers a big hit at Florence

A touch of Ameri?cana was on display Sunday night during the Florence Labor Day celebration. We had never heard the Prairie (no longer Rose) Wranglers before, and after talking with others we were apparently the only ones who hadn?t.

It was a genius move on the part of the committee to bring them to town. These cowboy musicians are very talented and put out a great sound. And they are funny to boot. It was my kind of humor.

The crowd was huge with many familiar faces from all over the county and beyond.

And the weather cooperated 100 percent.

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This one’s ‘bigger than the Eagle’

It?s the end of August, which means we have the opportunity to feature area athletes from six high schools and Tabor College in our annual fall sports ?Extra Point? special section in the Free Press this week. Each high school has a minimum of two sports but others have three or four with Tabor having six different competitive teams.

It takes a tremendous amount of effort on the part of our news and sports team as well as our advertising and production crew to make it all come together.

And we couldn?t do it without the cooperation of each of the coaching staffs and the advertisers who make it possible to cover the costs of bringing this information to you. As publisher I thank all who helped make it happen.

The timing of it coincides with the monthly Buyer?s Edge, so this is the one week during the year that we are, as I like to say, ?bigger than the Eagle.?

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It can be too early to travel

Normally I don?t get up at 4 a.m., at least not on purpose. But I did this past Sat?urday. It was necessary to be in Wichita by 6 a.m. to leave for Greens???burg with my cousins to help their brother and my cousin, Paul Unruh, erect his new machine shed.

I didn?t know it would be harder than I thought to find my cousins? house just off of 53rd Street in the dark. And I left the piece of paper with his phone numbers at home on the kitchen counter.

Then it occurred to me I could get arrested for driving slowly through these neighborhoods in the dark of night.

Finally, I found the right street and house?but no one was up, so I waited until the lights came on.

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It’s been 40 years since school days

It will be 40 years this fall since I last attended school full time. It was my senior year at Kansas Uni?ver?sity. Little did I know then that it was my last real vacation. That doesn?t mean I goofed off. It was just that work wasn?t the main focus of my waking hours.

This week as school begins in earnest around these parts, we need to watch out for the kids?on foot and on bikes. They have other things on their minds than looking out for us.

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It’s been nine years already

This week?s edition of the Free Press marks the end of our ninth year of publishing and next week begins the 10th. To celebrate, maybe we?ll start giving them away next year. Wait, we already do.

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Fair brings rain despite new dates

The 77th annual Marion County Fair is in the books. It did its job and brought the rain again, even though the dates changed.

It had its highlights?the parade, 4-H events, a better carnival (according to my grandsons) and the annual favorite demolition derby.

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Adventures in a mobile home

Last week when I wrote about the ?Ice Road Truckers? TV show I was going to segue into a little story about life in a mobile home in our early years of marriage. I didn?t have room, so it goes here.

When we lived in Lawrence in the late ?60s, early ?70s we didn?t feel we could afford to buy an $11,000 house so opted for a $5,300 mobile home, which many young couples did in those days.

Seemed like we always had problems with something. Plastic faucet handles would strip out, and then it took a pliers to open and close the faucets.

Ours had a kitchen in front and the bathroom and laundry were in the back. That made for a drain line from the kitchen sink that was about 50 feet long.

One weekend the kitchen sink plugged up and I thought I would take a garden hose and force out what was stopping it with water pressure. I unhooked the washer hose from the faucet in the back and ran the hose to the front and packed it in the drain with rags.

I then told Nancy to turn on the faucet full blast. The water was really coming fast for a while and then all of a sudden it sounded like it was raining.

Later I learned the drain was plugged because it was frozen solid. The only place the water could go was up through the drain vent and out on the roof.


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