Hatteberg's People - Maria Bumgardner

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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January 2nd, 2011

On Hatteberg's People, when history is written of small Kansas towns, Maria Bumgardner will most certainly have her own chapter. She lives in Elmdale, Kansas -- still works in Elmdale, Kansas with a little help from her friends.

"I go over to the house and help her out of the house and take her over here."

That's Bill Fillmore helping Ma-rye-a Bumgardner across Elmdale's main street.

"I pour her a cup of coffee and we sit here and visit till 6:30 and then at 6:30 I leave."

It's an arrangement that has worked well over the years.

"See how many people I see by being over here?"

"Have a good day 'hon'."

"Thank you!"

"And Bummie has been gone almost 13 years."

Bummie, was her husband Glen's nickname. Together they began this little Elmdale store back in 1947.

"I wished it was still like it was 60 years ago."

Since Bummie's death Ma-rye-a has kept the store going. Some say Ma-rye-a is in her middle '90's -- she says she's past 39...her age to remain a secret."

"It's just a small town, all gone except for a few places."

Elmdale is a town of yesterday. The gold of the morning sun are the only riches left in the old bank building. This Flint Hills town has no morning rush hour -- the post office flag warming itself in the sunrise only disturbed by a wrinkle of wind. It's quiet here...

"I'm not all that busy, but it gives me something to do."

With sparse shelves neatly stacked, Ma-rye-a sits close to the heater near the window.

"Oh it's you!"

Folks stop in for the constant coffee....no one ever asks for change.

"Maybe somebody drove up now."

Because of Maria's failing eyesight, Georgia Hailey, the postmaster of Elmdale, stops in to write checks for Ma-rye-a before she goes to work.

"So I enjoy everybody who comes in."

Surrounded by pictures of the past, Ma-rye-a sits among the history in this little place....never moving far or fast. Bummie's old soda fountain goes unused...it is a place full of memories...a living museum....and Bummie's words decades ago echo true today.

"I don't think either one of us could retire and be happy."

He was so right.

He's gone but Ma-rye-a continues --

"I think it's going to be a quiet day."

"We'll see you guys around."

"Uh-huh."


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