Home Dalton Gang Hideout Meade County Museum About Us Links

Index of Stories Index of Photos  Schools  Cemeteries Maps

The stories on these pages are on loan to us from Vern Zielke (Copyright Vern Zielke) At the bottom of this introduction page you will find links to the individual stories... enjoy!


Prairie Tales

Coming of Age Stories of a Western Kansas Farm Boy

by Vern Zielke



Childhood memories are significant. The experiences of childhood shape us and influence our life choices. Stories about these childhood experiences, even when somewhat imaginatively enhanced, allow the storyteller to share the sights and sounds of bygone years.

 Many years ago I discovered William Saroyan and his little book of stories entitled My Name Is Aram. Saroyan effectively writes about childhood experiences, and his stories vividly bring to life the Armenian community in Fresno, California during the early 1900’s. Mundane experiences become subjects for good stories when seen through the eyes of a child. These stories focus not
only on the child but shed light on the culture that nurtured the child. No one but Saroyan can write like Saroyan, but his stories, as those of other writers, remind us of the importance of sharing our stories.

I write these stories for my children and grandchildren. If they choose to read them, it is my hope that they will have a better insight into how we lived our lives in the Mennonite community in Meade County, Kansas when I was a boy. We may not have been much different than other communities, but each community develops its own personality and often perpetuates its value system from one generation to the next. The Meade community had some unique characteristics. These characteristics are rooted in the circumstances that brought these pioneers to the prairies, and some of these are reflected in the stories contained here.

The Zielkes and the Warkentins developed a unique relationship. Cousins and double cousins, growing up within a few miles of each other, experienced a close bond. As children, we played together, celebrated holidays together, worked together in the harvest fields, and went to school together. We watched our parents interact with each other and we experienced the aging of our grandmothers. We heard some of their stories and understood that our grandparents had been immigrants and pioneers. I have a deep and continuing affection for these, my people, and am grateful for the contribution they made to my life.

The stories I share are, for the most part, not based on profound experiences. Life for a small boy at Meade was not filled with adventure and excitement, for the most part. These stories reflect a time and a place. The time has passed and the place, although no longer the same, is still there. In many ways, this is still “home” for me. Often, as I travel west, I feel that I am coming home as I follow Highway 54. The far horizon seems to beckon, and the prairie seems a welcome relief from the noise of the city. My appreciation and affection for the community that nurtured me will endure throughout my life.

Up, Table, Up  |  The Black Pickup  |  Left Behind  |  Tractors 

  Prince and Dolly  |  Revive Us Again  |  The Cliffs  |  Bragg's Puddle  |  And There Was Light 

 The Cat's Meow  |  The Medicine Men


Copyright 2018 © Prairie Books, all rights reserved