MIDDLE AMERICA

A Peek into the In-Between

A Peek into the In-Between

It’s that in-between time again.

Not quite winter yet not exactly spring, late February and early March sometimes feel like a waiting game. We even have a whole holiday dedicated to watching a small fuzzy marmot come out of a hole to predict whether winter will continue or if spring will start.

Why do we always want to rush things? The in-between times hold magic. Like seeds planted in soil or bread baking in the oven, there’s always something interesting going on under the surface even if you can’t always see it. Things take time to grow, incubate and blend. Your favorite stews and sauces always taste better the second day after the flavors marinate, right?

So let’s collectively take a breath, and agree not to worry so much about what’s up next. We might not have any say over whether big box stores will ever stop putting out Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving, but we can encourage everyone to simply embrace and enjoy these quirky times of the in-between.

Half-Way History

Looking Back at America in 1897

To celebrate the middle we decided to take a look at … well, American things in the middle.

Timewise for America that’s the year 1897.

Right now, America is the ripe age of 243. That’s really not very old in the scheme of things. Here’s what was happening 121 years ago when we were half-way through our run as a country.

The President was Grover Cleveland, the only president to serve two nonconsecutive terms as both our 22nd and 24th President. Born in New Jersey and raised in upstate New York, he was first elected President in 1885 and was re-elected to office in 1893. He’s also the first and only president elected as a bachelor. He married in office, making him the first to hold a White House wedding ceremony as well. He was married in the Blue Room, knocking one thing off the bride’s something borrowed list.

Right, Left and Center in 1897

On the east coast, the first subway was built in Boston, Massachusetts. Partly due to a deadly blizzard in 1888 that dumped over 4 feet of snow on the city, underground tunnels and elevated railways made their American debut.

Another first took place in Beantown that year, too: the first Boston Marathon was raced on April 19th.

On the west coast, the Klondike Gold Rush brought thousands through ports in Seattle, San Francisco and other coastal towns. After the steamship Portland docked in Seattle on July 17th with “a ton of gold,” the frenzy officially started.

The west coast buzzed with gold seekers who trekked across the pacific northwest toward Alaska in hopes of striking it rich.

In the center of it all, the Olds Motor Vehicle Company – or Oldsmobile – was founded in Lansing, Michigan. The first American car made using an assembly-line system, the curved-dash Oldsmobile become an American classic. After Oldsmobile merged with General Motors the brand was eventually discontinued. When Oldsmobile stopped production 7 years after its 100th birthday, it was America’s oldest continuously running car factory.

In 1897 The New York Times first used the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” and the National Organization of Mothers was formed, kicking off modern day Parent Teacher conferences across the nation. Notable Americans born in 1897 include one of the beloved three stooges, Moe Howard, literary giant William Faulkner and explorer Amelia Earhart. In fact, Amelia Earhart was not only born in the middle of America’s timeline, she was born in the middle of America.

Literal Middle America: Lebanon, Kansas

Geographically, Kansas gets to call itself the center of the United States.

More specifically, based on a survey performed in 1918, Lebanon, Kansas is the literal in-between point of our country. A stone pyramid and plaque commemorate a spot where visitors can stop and reflect on being at the center of it all, but the actual middle is on a private pig farm a few miles down the road from the monument.

Kansas is flat as a pancake, and leaves a lot of wide open spaces for wind to pick up. Chicago be danged, Dodge City, Kansas has average winds of 14 miles per hour making it the actual windiest city in America. It’s also ranked second in the nation for tornadoes. There’s a reason The Wizard of Oz was set in The Sunflower State.

Wheat is a big crop in Kansas, so it’s not surprising that the state is also home to the Graham Cracker. Named after Reverend Sylvester Graham and before gluten free was a thing, graham crackers are proof of the minister’s passion for believing whole-wheat flour kept you healthy.

Since America and burger joints go hand in hand, Kansas can be proud to say it’s home to the first national hamburger chain in the country. White Castle was started in Wichita back in 1921, and is still going strong today. We don’t sell burgers or cookies here at 50ROOTS, but Kansas is on our mission map. Keep checking back with us for new goodies from the heart of America.

We know how easy it is to go, go, go and focus on the next big thing, but we miss so much when we go too fast. Here’s to slowing down and enjoying all parts of our space and journey, especially those spots right in the middle.