Editor’s Note: Nikki Patrick is enjoying vacation. Please enjoy this personality profile by Staff Writer Kevin Flaherty while she is out. Patrick’s People will return on Friday.
Phyllis Bitner said Franklin Community Center and Heritage Museum
typically pulls people from far and wide to its monthly polka dance.
Still, two of the attendees Sunday were from farther than most, and they weren’t there to dance. Joy Brennan and Nancy Sherbert with the Kansas State Historical Society, headed down to Franklin to attend the S.N.P.J. meeting, take part in Sunday’s dance activities, take in the museum and explore the region.
Brennan, KSHS folk arts program coordinator, said the opportunity presented itself when Johnnie Zibert, head of the local S.N.P.J. Lodge donated documents from the old lodges to the society.
“He told us a lot of information about polka and the dancing down here, so we were looking for a chance to come down,” said Sherbert, KSHS curator of photographs and special collections coordinator. “It happened that this weekend they were having a meeting and a dance, so we thought we would come down.”
Brennan said they loved to come to events that showcased local heritage and history.
“There’s a wealth of history right there in that room,” Brennan said. “There’s such a connection to that heritage. It’s so fun to see, on a Sunday afternoon, how everybody gets together to celebrate that.
“We’ve been able to talk to so many people, learn more about their stories, and their relatives’ stories.”
Part of that history belonged to Zibert, Brennan said, who had an extensive knowledge of polka music, lyrics and history. The couple plan to interview him today to glean some of that history, she said.
Another part of the history they hoped to learn will come from their tour of the area. Sherbert said they would take a tour of Arma as well as Franklin, before heading down to Pittsburg to see Immigrant Park and Miners’ Memorial.
“This area has such a rich, rich heritage,” Brennan said.
Part of that comes from the music, which Brennan said brought her back to her childhood. Growing up, she said everyone came to take part in wedding dances.
“It brings back memories,” Brennan said. “You didn’t have to be invited. You just went, and everybody had fun.”
Both said they had fun on Sunday, and took in their share of local history. Sherbert said she was impressed with how Franklin rebounded from the tornado that hit on May 4, 2003.
“It really seems like it brought everyone closer together,” Sherbert said.
Sherbert said it was a valuable trip for the two KSHS members.
“I’m just absolutely amazed at the area and how the culture keeps flourishing,” Sherbert said.
“I just wanted to thank the community for opening their doors to us,” Brennan said. “Everyone has been so friendly. It’s been great.”
Kevin Flaherty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 231-2600 Ext. 134.