Reliving A Grade School Memory

Recently D and I took a drive to another Kansas town called Larned. Once there we drove a few miles more outside of town to a National Historic Site called Fort Larned. It was like reliving a grade school memory.  Way back when I was in school we took field trips once or twice every school year. We went all kinds of places.

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In 1860 the camp was renamed Ft. Larned after Colonel B. F. Larned; paymaster general of the US Army. — 1/1600 – f/5.6 – ISO 400 – 45mm

As kindergarteners we rode a train to a bakery in Hutchinson. Yep an actual passenger train! Sometime in grade school, maybe about 5th grade, we got to go to a circus. In junior high I played in a hand bell choir and we took a weekend trip to Oklahoma where we participated in a competition. In high school I went to a renaissance festival with my British Literature class, and to our state capitol with my senior class. There were many many field trips; all good times.

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Ft Larned was an important post in the Indian wars from 1859 to 1869. It also served as an agency of the Indian Bureau and attempted to provide peaceful solutions to the cultural conflicts. — 1/400 – f/11 – ISO 400 – 105mm
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The buildings were first made of sod but were soon rebuilt with local limestone. — 1/640 – f/5.6 – ISO 400 – 82mm

As D and I headed off on our drive I recalled a field trip that we took more than once while in grade school. Those trips took us to two places in Larned; Fort Larned and The Santa Fe Trail Center Museum. Back then the buses parked pretty close to the old buildings at the fort, we ate our sack lunches sitting on the ground near the flag pole, got a guided tour of the fort, and then loaded back on the bus to go to the Trail Center. After our tour of the Santa Fe museum our last stop of the day would be a tiny little gift shop. Those who were lucky enough to have spending money would buy long sticks of hard candy in all kinds of flavors from sour cherry to sassafras. Yep; good times.

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In the summer of 1878 the fort was abandoned and left with only a small group of guards to protect the property. — 1/200 – f/5.6 – ISO 400 – 105mm

D and I did not make it to the Trail Center this time. Somehow between grade school and now I have gotten old. There’s no way I could have walked around both places in that heat in the same afternoon. If you could have seen how hot I was and how red my face got you just might have called 911! Nope I don’t like these 90, 95, 100, 103 degree days any more.

I don’t think very much has changed at Fort Larned since I was a kid. There maybe a few more things to see inside the buildings, and I don’t remember the re-created cemetery; but basically we found it much the same as it was back then. Well except that you now must park much further away and I had no intensions of enjoying a sack lunch in the sun. We headed back into town to a nicely air-conditioned fast food place instead.

Perhaps another day we will go back and finish reliving this grade school memory with a visit to the Sante Fe Trail Center. I wonder if they still have those candy sticks?


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