The sign was about 25 ft. high and it stood on the N.E. corner of Metcalf and 95th Street when Metcalf was known as 69 hy. It was an iron stucture like a wind mill, tappered to a big round painting of a Black Angus Bulls head. It was 1949 and my family and I had arrived in these parts from a farm 5 miles west of Walnut Grove Mo. My father, mother, two brothers and a sister. Louis (Red) and Ava, James (JD) 13 Rickey (Rick) 2 and Wanda 11 and Me, Larry 9 yrs old. The sign said Dickinson Ranch in big bold letters the owner was Glen Dickinson of Dickinson Theaters, all through the Midwest. My dad was going to work on that ranch and we were going to get an education about city life in Kansas. The house we moved into is still standing about 3/4 of a mile from where I now live. It is on 87th street where a big pine tree still stands on top of the hill, one of the highest points in OP. Bill Angrman who is an OP historian said it was maybe the oldest structure in the area since it was a trading post at or before the civil war. When we lived there it was newly updated to include running water indoor toilets a basement gas furnace, propane stove and a double car garage, which was all new to us because we had none of these on the old Nicholson farm house that we rented in MO.
I started school at the Overland Park grade school and found out I talked funny. The first boy my brother J.D. and I made friends with was Bill Angerman whose father worked for the Kroger Store Co. Then there was Phillip Henry son of the foreman of the ranch who hired my dad then Richard Wilson and his brothers Ebert, Robert and their sister Susann. I’ll skip ahead in time to about 1956 when we lived at 95th and Switzer on the Moody Ranch. It was in moth balls, and Mrs. Moody had past away and her daughter Katheryn Carpenter rented it to us, to keep an eye on it till she retired from teaching in the Panama canal Zone. I had my own car by then and crusin’ down Santa Fe, I saw a sign that says Soda Shop. Nowadays it’s called the Peanut.
I already knew some of the kids who frequented the place, I had been around the area and going to school here for about 7 yrs. One of those schools was Melbourne Jr. high where I made some friends and a few unusual characters. One of these was Ronnie Deafenbaugh whose father owned a small trash pick up service. He already had about 200 houses to pick up trash and garbage and once in a while I would help him out for spending money. One day he said I already know what I’m going to be doin’ for the rest of my life, I’m quitting school and going into the trash business full time; (we were about 16 at the time). Lets go partners on it, we’ll get rich. I said not me I don’t want to be a trash man…….I shoulda said yes. Another character was a guy named Joe Gercone he was of German Italian decent and his Grandma lived in NE K.C. She was the typical Italian Grandmother (think Joe Pesci’s Mom in Casino). We went to visit her one day and sure enough she says hey you boys hungry (in her broken English) there was already food on the table and she brings more, like spaghetti and meat balls, china bones, bread and butter etc. after eating till we could pop, his aunt comes through the kitchen; middle aged and spinster and we talk a while then a man in a suit comes down from upstairs puts on his hat and walks out the door with a suit case in hand. Later in the car I ask who was the old guy with the suit case? Joe says my uncle. What dose he do? Oh he flys out to Vegas and back a few times a week………and ? That’s it, that’s all he dose. I said; ‘ like to have that job…. Most of the kids were just looking for a good time but some were on the verge of becoming juvenile delinquents, just like any other town. Most of these “would be” delinquents went on to be fine upstanding citizens. The owner Mr. Nichols soon banned the trouble makers and Lieutenant Scaff of the O.P.P.D. made it stick and kept it peaceful. But it soon became boring and there was a couple other places opened to explore. Barry’s Barn at 119th in Olathe and the Soc hop in the old Dickinson Ranch Barn where I met my wife in 1960.
My first job was a farm hand around the area where we lived on the Moody Ranch, then the Overland Park Theater, where Larry Griffin (soon to be my brother in law) ran the projector and I took tickets and ushered. Then the Thrift Way store on Santa Fe, and later the Kroger store where ( Mr. Angerman was the manager ) at their new location, across from the theater. All and all it was a great place to grow up a little, before I started a family.