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  Field Notes From
Cuba, Kansas

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Cuba, Kansas On Assignment

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From Author/Photographer

Jim Richardson

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Brian Strauss


Cuba, Kansas

Field Notes From Author/Photographer
Jim Richardson

Best Worst Quirkiest
    The single most memorable thing that ever happened to me in the 30 years I've spent taking pictures of Cuba, Kansas, was back in the '80s when I was named an honored citizen. This is something the townspeople do for those who've contributed to the community—usually local folks who've worked hard to keep the town going. It was a big surprise; they conspired with my wife, Kathy, to get me to the Rock-A-Thon where they were going to make the presentation. The Rock-A-Thon is a fund-raising event where people rock in rocking chairs around the clock for a week. I was taking pictures and getting ready to show them to everyone when all of a sudden they made me come to the front and sit in a rocking chair. They did a humorous skit about my time in Cuba, gave me gifts, and presented me with a wooden key to the city. It was really sweet.

    The day of Doc McClaskey's funeral was very sad. He'd been the doctor for 52 years. I remember the day he retired. All these folks came in, either to pay up their bills, or say goodbye, or for one last checkup. That was an extremely nice day. He closed up and walked out the door, across the street, and into retirement. He died less than two months later. The funeral was a tough one even for Rev. Tom Ballard, who did the service. It was really hard for all of us because he'd been so much a part of the community.

    The nighttime blindfolded lawnmower race struck me as truly bizarre. The crowds line the street, and contestants sit on their lawnmowers, with a  second rider seated on a little trailer hooked up at the back. It's a team event: The blindfolded driver maneuvers the lawnmower down the street—which is like a slalom course laid out with hay bales—and the passenger directs him which way to turn, go around the hay bales, and come back. Sometimes they veer off into the crowd, and everyone scatters and runs. Spectators take their lives in their hands to be within 50 feet (15 meters) of the teams. It's a pretty side-splitting sight.


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