Tag Archives: Leavenworth

It’s no Disney World, but it still draws a lot of business

federal prison gated community

Hi readers.   Thanks for coming by.

A lot of you have probably never been to a federal prison, so I thought you might enjoy seeing one of our more famous local attractions.   A lot of people come here to see it and decide to stay a while.  It seems almost majestic to me, but of course I have a biased view, being a resident of the town.

People come from all over the country to see this place and hobnob with like minded residents.

Of course, there are five, or more prisons in this community [nobody seems sure] including one other federal one.   In addition to providing food and shelter for hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals, it’s a source of employment for multitudes.   In my coffee group meeting twice a month at the Council on Aging more than a fourth of the 20+ old guys who attend are retired from prison careers.    Interestingly, no long-time released inmates are part of the group.

Five gated communities in a single small urban environment might seem a lot for those accustomed to Santa Fe, Santa Barbara, or Tuscon.   But around here it feels just about right.    After all, there’d be no place for all those inmates to stay if we had fewer gated communities.

Old Jules

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What the heck is a ‘domiciliary?

These were the Domiciliary Buildings…. they we used from the 1880s until after the Vietnam War.    One of the guys I play chess with lived in one of them a few times back in the late 1970s    They were full back then.

There was a time when the Doms had residents from the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and World War 1.   They kept them separated by wards because they all thought their war was the ‘Big One’ and tended to try to injure one another over it.

Back then they fed everyone in a single building, had formations most days with everyone required to wear a uniform and turn out on the streets.   And they were kept busy repairing, landscaping, even digging clay for the bricks to build and repair the buildings on the campus.

The old house I live in was built in 1896 by these old guys, and it’s easy to see they weren’t carpenters.

Beginning January 1, 2018, they began some renovation on the old ‘dom’ buildings.    Some entrepreneur was given a 99 year lease on the buildings and they’ll have the interiors, currently death traps, torn out so’s the buildings can be rented out as apartments.

They’ve already done that to a few others not shown here, and the campus has around 200 residents living in the four buildings.  Maybe more.     When they’ve done the other thirteen old ‘dom’ buildings this place is going to be jam-packed again, but with all sorts of people I imagine.

Time hurries on.

Old Jules

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

These are photos posted after the first time I ever saw this place back in early 2014. Jeanne took most of the pictures and I just walked around amazed at the place. But back then I was still in the process of dying on her couch and didn’t have a lot of energy.

All in all it hasn’t changed much.    Just a bit more run down and crumbling.

Anyway, I sure as heck never dreamed a few years later I’d be living here. Old Jules

So Far From Heaven

IMG_2234 Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

IMG_2237 !895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

IMG_2245 Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

IMG_2238 Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

IMG_2239 The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

IMG_2240 The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

IMG_2243 This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

IMG_2249 Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s…

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Heigh-ho the holly, this life is most jolly!

Lee, one of the lesser lost souls who lives in the house next door to this one, brought to mind a little Shakespeare I was surprised I could still quote to myself the other day.

Lee is a closet alcoholic, a heroin addict, as heavy a smoker as he can beg, or afford after he’s taken care of his other addictions, and not a bad guy if you can put up with him.    He’ll try not to steal from you if he can help it, manipulate you and play on your sympathy to trick you into giving him rides to feed the drug, booze or cigarette hungers, and ignore you, or scowl at you when he doesn’t need anything.

Because deep down, Lee is a white hater.    If there were black robes and hoods and a black KKK he’d be out burning crosses in the front lawns where white folks live.   But he can be fairly personable most of the time if he’s thinking he might cadge a ‘loan’ or a ride somewhere.

Anyway, the first few months I moved here, being one of the lucky few who own cars, I hauled Lee to the food pantries a few times, let him con me into taking him down to KC because ‘there was a guy down there who was going to pay him some money owed him’.   And one day I was dropping some of my better history library off in grocery bags on the porch of James, [another history buff the next house down] when he braced me.

“What you leaving groceries on James’s porch for?    I need groceries!”

Well, I wasn’t about to loan nor give any money to Lee, but I went to the grocery store and picked up $20 worth of food for him I knew he couldn’t resell.   Basics.

But I digressed.

The other day I was playing chess with a couple of buddies in a waiting room up at the hospital.    We meet over there because they’re smokers and they can’t smoke in that waiting room.

Coming down after a few games I ran into Lee in the hallway.    We gossiped about how cold it was and I thought he was coming to my car with me for a ride home.   But his other lost-soul-mate was parked next to my car.    So he got in a moment, then came back out and leaned over conspiratorial and cagy.

“Hey man!    Do you have a few bucks you can give me?”

“No.”

“Well,” he muttered.  “Next time you need someone to run around with you, find someone else.”

I was dumbfounded.  The only time Lee and I have ever done anything together we were taking him somewhere.     Between times he barely speaks to me unless he’s begging money and I’m refusing.

Which somehow brought to mind who?    William Shakespeare.    Who else?

 

Heigh Ho, The Holly

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly;
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.
Heigh ho, sing heigh ho, unto the green holly:
most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

William Shakespeare

Sounds as though old Lee’s not going to give me the benefit of his company as a consequence of me not giving him some money.  If you want good friends it’s going to cost you.

Best offer I’ve had all year.

Old Jules

Back when the world was young

Lake Jeanette Soldiers Home Leavenworth, KSOriginal Hospital and LakeHere are a couple of historic postcards showing how this place looked sometime between 1895 and 1933 when the original hospital was torn down.   Those trees are either larger, or many have died and their remains stick up here and there from the lake like swords hoping for a King Arthur.

There used to be a group of ‘Christian Indians’ located here before the decision to build a soldiers home here.   But [according to the official history] they ‘left’.   They were called the Muncies.

So when the old hospital was torn down in 1933 and they began excavating to build something else on the location they discovered a number of graves containing Muncie Indians.   I suppose they pondered a while before deciding to bury them in a mass grave in the National Cemetery a quarter-mile away from here.    It’s the only mass grave in that cemetery, so you could say those Muncies got special treatment.

I’ll be posting more about the various buildings, the cemetery, the ghost stories and the current population of old vets here.    But first I wanted to convey that there really is a bit of a saga ……. it’s just not quite what a person might expect.

Thanks for the read.

Old Jules

Moved on to the next adventure

Hi readers.    It’s been a longish while.   So much has changed in my life I’m not even certain I’m the same man who wrote all those other entries ……   Chickens?   We don’t got no cheekens.

I’m living these days in Leavenworth, Kansas.    The house I live in is just to the left of that lake you see in the photo.    Been here just over a year living on the Leavenworth VA campus.    I’m in an apartment, one of four, in an old 1890s vintage house built for the staff serving the original VA hospital here.

The lake, interestingly, was dug by old veterans of the late 1800s for the clay used to make bricks for the hospital when it was going up.

The bricks the house is built of are from the same clay pit now named Lake Jeanette.

I suppose I’m likely to tell you a lot more about Leavenworth, Kansas and this aging VA campus over time.    But for now I just want to break the ice and say, maybe I’m back for a while.

Thanks for coming along.

Old Jules

 

Photos VA Chapel and Weston, MO house courtesy of Jeanne

IMG_2234

Possumly Jesse James, or a Younger or Dalton or someone else lived here, or visited here, or rode a horse by the place and gazed at it as he/she went by.

IMG_2237

!895 Chapel for VA Center at Fort Leavenworth in seriously bad repair. Protestant downstairs, Catholic further downstairs though the signs are somewhat misleading. No harm in a protestant attending Mass or a Catholic racking up some fire and brimstone occasionally, I reckons.

IMG_2245

Interesting stained glass work. Dunno whether it’s Catholic or the other one.

IMG_2238

Gargoyles are shared equally by Catholics and Protestants.

IMG_2239

The VA hospital environment surrounding this seems obliquely appropriate.

IMG_2240

The metalwork on those doors is probably symbolic of something, but everyone who once knew what it was is dead.

IMG_2243

This end of the building is in bad repair threatening collapse in places, but ain’t likely to get any better.

IMG_2249

Directly across the street from the chapel. It’s been through a long series of declines and repairs but we need another World War of considerable duration to bring it back to full bloom. Need to conscript all these young houdilums and get them on track to need a place such as this.

IMG_2250

The sign above the door reads, THE DUGOUT and can still be made out with a bit of squinting. I’m thinking it was a club for the people going through treatment, might have been used as recently as the Vietnam War.

IMG_2252

The Dugout

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