Memories of John Knaak Sr.

My generation is definitely in transition, some are becoming ill and some are dying.

In the past two weeks, two of my generation who lived most of their adult lives in Hillsboro have died: John Knaak, 79, and Johnnie Liles, 75.

John Sr. and wife Wendy came back to Hillsboro, where John managed the Ben Franklin store following in the footsteps of his father, Tony.

For those of you who are old enough to remember, John added electronics and CB radios, which he sold out of a storefront to the north of the Ben Franklin store. I think he must have sold nearly everyone in the county a CB radio. I had one and also purchased a Marantz car radio and tape player for our car.

When Ben Franklin closed, John sold NASCAR memorabilia on the Internet and via mail. (The Et Cetera Shop is located in the old Ben Franklin store location now.)

He was practically a fixture on the Hillsboro Muni­cipal Golf Course and ran the men’s steak night on behalf of the club for many years.

I will never forget him, nor I will never forget the first time I saw him. I was probably in about fourth grade and he was in high school at the time. I used to run around the town and the blocks between Adams and Jefferson­­­­ with his brother, Richard.

John was a big guy then and had what I remember as being a loud, booming voice. Richard and I walked in the kitchen where John was getting a drink of water and he says, “Richard, do you have to bring the whole (blankety blank) neighborhood in here?”

We made a quick trip to the KU Medical Center last Thursday for me to have my third injections of botox in my face to try to calm my hemi-facial spasm that I have been dealing with for the past two and a half years.

On the way there, we passed a hilly, grassy area next to I-35N that had literally hundreds of American flags with staffs in the ground and a sign honoring our veterans. It was very impressive and I thank all veterans for their service all year long and not just on Veterans Day.

There is a surgery to correct the spasm in my face, but I am hoping to avoid that. I am told they drill a hole about the size of a nickel behind your ear and go in to your brain stem and slide a piece of foam between a nerve and a blood vessel.

We appreciated the Thanksgiving dinner put on by Parkside Homes this past Saturday. The food was excellent and so was the company. Three nice women at our table admitted to reading my column, which always makes me smile.

I am thankful for many things, but not cranberry sauce. This will be my 71st straight year without it.

If you wish to share your comments or ideas, my e-mail address is joel@

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