Kansas City, Kansas is a treasure of memories. Both Bob and I did our becoming in KCK, wandering the neighborhoods through our grade and high school years. Favorite eating spots, parks, teen hang-outs no longer exist— closed, demolished, victims of urban decay. The city slipped out from under us, moving south and west.
Still, I love the place. Despite warnings that poverty pockets invite problems, I drive the corridor leading to the best of those memories. There was a time that I wanted a home in the Westheight Area and still drive those streets ‘picking out’ my future house. Ward High School, St. Peter’s Parish, Tauromee Avenue, Mom’s old apartment all hold firm on the pull of their magic.
Fritz’s Train restaurant is on that 18th Street run and Bob and I have taken our grandchildren there for about 17 years. The wonder of having food delivered by moving electric trains is a magic all its own. During one lunch break, 3-year-old Sam watched as a fire truck pulled up and the responders came in for lunch. True to my concept of KCK hospitality, one of the fire people saw Sam’s wonder and asked if Sam wanted to see and touch the truck.
I do love Kansas City, Kansas.
A few days ago, six-year-old Frank and I finished an adventure with lunch at Fritz’s. The place was full and the noise level high. At first, we were unusually quiet but Frank never stopped checking out those coming and going. Finishing lunch, Frank was content to sit, observe and talk.
Then it came…the wisdom of a six-year-old child.
“Nana, where are the people with black skins? Why aren’t there any black skins in this place? I don’t see any. Where we eat at my home, we always see people with lots of different skins.”
On this day, at this lunch hour, his observation was correct. Not always so, but this day, in this restaurant, in this integrated city, his observation was correct.
I would not have noticed, taking the mixed neighborhood for granted, knowing that Bishop Ward, Keeler Women’s Center and Donnelly College are rich in ethnicity, in diversity, in acceptance.
Isn’t it pretty terrific that a six-year-old boy is keeping an eye on us making certain that we didn’t mistakenly get in the wrong restaurant?