Davis Creative Publishing

Time for the Great Expression

My grandmother was the second of 13 children born around 1904 (no official birth certificate) in a 3-room wooden “house” out in the middle of the Kansas Prairie. It was in an area originally populated by the Cherokee Indians during the Trail of Tears (1830s–1850s). The original house had dirt floors, no running water, no bathroom, no kitchen — simply two bedrooms (one for all the kids) and a sitting room where you ate meals and “sat.”

When the children were very young, my great-grandmother, Nancy (a Cherokee descendant), cooked those meals just outside the back door, on a fairly large, flat, wooden “stoop,” or porch (about a 6’ x 10’ space and 6-10” above the dirt), covered with a roof but no walls. It was called the stoop because the adults had to stoop (bend their heads down) as they stepped up on the porch to keep from hitting their heads on the roof. Just beyond the stoop, in the backyard, was the outhouse, and just beyond that was a set of train tracks.

The story that’s been passed down in our family is that Nancy loved to cook, can her crops, and take care of people (and bottle her grape and plum wine). Years later, that stoop area was eventually expanded, built in with walls and plumbing, and became the eat-in kitchen and bathroom. During the Great Depression (1929-1939), with most of her children having moved out as adults, she became known for leaving bowls of soup on the steps of the “stoop” for the homeless train travelers (aka hobos). She’d wake up in the morning to empty bowls and, by evening, would refill them and set them back out. As the hobos would find occasional work, she soon started to find small coins left alongside the empty bowls of soup — their way of paying what they could.

Nancy saved all those coins, and as the economy grew and the depression faded, she opened her small restaurant in what was then the small, vibrant, growing town of Dexter, Kansas —complete with Post Office, school, grocery store, church — AND a candy store, home of the O’Henry candy bar! That restaurant is long gone, the family home is gone — as is most of the town of Dexter.

As a small child playing with my friends at the corner park in the hot summer Kansas heat, Mr.Henry would call us all into the candy store, invite us into the ICE-COLD walk-in refrigerator (somewhere along the right when you look at the photo), and let us pick out our favorite piece of chocolate candy! That must be why Henry’s Candy Store is still around — although they have long since updated their equipment and moved out to the edge of the state highway that runs past Dexter. Check out their Facebook page and order some homemade candy for yourself! https://www.facebook.com/henryscandies

I recently heard someone discussing the current economy as the “new” Great Depression. I beg to differ. As a GIVING COMMUNITY, we can turn this around! One never knows what kind of ripples a small gesture, such as leaving Soup on a Stoop (OR letting a small child pick out a FREE piece of chocolate!) will create. Here we are, over 60 years later, and I’m posting a LINK, asking you to please go buy some candy from Henry’s Candy Store!

What’s YOUR Soup on a Stoop?!


PS: Are you thinking about sharing your wisdom and making a difference in this world? Reach out. Let me know your budget. We’ll create a customized book program just for you. We can even set you up with installments.

Together, we can create a Great Expression of Community and Service!

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