Stuff Comes and Goes

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I’ve been walking Bromont over at the Menninger Foundation grounds the last few days. The Menninger Foundation was one of the most prestigious psychiatric facilities in the nation up until 10 years ago when they closed up shop and moved to Houston Texas. Lots of famous people have come and gone through Topeka because of it. It has been a part of my life from a very young age. I grew up with a ton of the Menninger kids. I was even college roommates with Fritz, during my short stay at KU.

Anyway, it was strange walking around over there while Bromont was running crazy in the woods. The place is so barren. 10 years ago it was nearly a thriving little city and now just a grassy field. A local hospital, St. Francis, bought the grounds and intended to build their new facilities there. I think a twist in the stock market might have put that on hold, but they did raze all the buildings, but one.

I graduated high school early. I lost interest in it nearly before it started. I used to skip out whenever a class would be doing library study, or anything when I wouldn’t be missed, get on my bike and ride over to the Menninger Campus and train. It is on a hill and there was a hard mile circuit there. Sometimes I would throw my bike over the fence and do hill repeats on a paved road that went down to the river. I’ve ridden up and down that road 1000’s of times. Walking there, the road is only gravel, just a few patches of asphalt here and there. It is amazing how fast the planet reclaims what is its.

Bromont and I got in the van and drove to Texas. I’m going to be installing, in theory, a ceiling fan at Sue’s mom’s in Richardson, plus I wanted to fix a post of the fence I built last year that has moved, then go down to Austin and put in a dog door for my friend Ann. She got a new puppy and wants it able to get in and out of the porch. Plus, obviously train. I’m kicking around maybe trying to race a local training race this week, we’ll see.

I went for a 15 mile spin last night when I arrived. Richardson has changed too, but exactly the opposite. It takes forever to get out of town here. When I first came here in the 80’s, it was the country. Now it’s an hour to get out to the country. I rode by The Richardson Bike Mart. It was closed, there were no cars in front. I might be wrong, but I believe it is the largest, by square footage, and probably sales, of all bike shops in the country, most likely the world. I first met Jimmy Hoyt, the owner of the store when I rode from Schwinn and he was a Schwinn dealer. It was a little shop, nothing at all like he current business.

I guess this is just a part of life. I usually don’t attach much emotional feeling to changes initiated by humans. But, the stark different between the Menninger Campus just disappearing into a field and then the next day coming down to Texas and seeing what was just a field, become landlocked and the center of urban sprawl, got me thinking. All this change is sort of disturbing for some reason. It seems so wasteful. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m just in one of those moods.

The last remaining building on the Menninger Campus.

The last remaining building on the Menninger Campus.

What it looks like now.

What it looks like now.

10 years ago it looked like this.

10 years ago it looked like this.

Richardson Bike Mart.  It is huge.

Richardson Bike Mart. It is huge.

The road where I did intervals in high school.

The road where I did intervals in high school.

Just a few spots of asphalt left.

Just a few spots of asphalt left.

Bromont looking all proud and happy after running around Menninger's.

Bromont looking all proud and happy after running around Menninger’s.

His normal position driving to Texas.

His normal position driving to Texas.

Stanley and Lulu on an outing.

Stanley and Lulu on an outing.

I found this bird flopping around on my walk at Menningers yesterday.

I found this bird flopping around on my walk at Menningers yesterday.

Boromont was concerned of course.

Boromont was concerned of course.

I took it here and the lady there does bird rehabilitation.  She said it was a full grown Barn Swallow.  It had a broken wing.  She said she could probably fix it.  That surprised me, but I gladly left it with her.

I took it here and the lady there does bird rehabilitation. She said it was a full grown Barn Swallow. It had a broken wing. She said she could probably fix it. That surprised me, but I gladly left it with her.

I took this out of the car window driving out of Topeka.  It is finally Spring.

I took this out of the car window driving out of Topeka. It is finally Spring.

8 thoughts on “Stuff Comes and Goes

  1. Darren Sherkat

    Wow. 14 years ago I almost took my daughter to Menninger when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. My colleagues at Vanderbilt said it was one of the two best places in the nation, and in the end I chose the University of Iowa because I liked that Nancy Andreason was the head of the program. I’m very sad to see this. We need more high quality mental health services, not to move them around so someone can make money.

     
  2. Clifford Allen

    Fond memories of the Menninger service road – it looks really cool with all the additional vegetation now. God I miss those trails… my dad works at Menninger and is now in Houston. I still want to be scattered off of “Horseshoe Cliff” (which I guess is on former KANU property?) when that day comes.

     
  3. Clifford Allen

    Oh, and Darren, I’ll add that Menninger was in danger – very real – of shutting down and the move was a result of merging with Baylor College of Medicine. Insurance companies being unwilling to pay for healthcare costs + a high-overhead campus resulted in some severe financial problems. Perhaps there would have been other options that could have been pursued locally (I think some were and deemed unrealistic). I remember how dire things were in the ’90s for Menninger and in some ways it’s amazing they survived at all, even if it is mostly in name at this point.

     
  4. The Cyclist

    Don’t even start me on disturbing changes. Where I live there’s not a single road left undamaged by road furniture making it almost impossible to have a decent road ride anymore. Why is no one asking cyclists before they deconstruct things?

     
  5. dave

    I like the timely installation of Christmas lights on the house in the last picture…or are Spring lights a Topeka phenominon???

     
  6. Bryan

    Interesting post. I’ve ridden all over Topeka and the surrounds but never up to the old Menningers grounds. Last night I decided to give it a go. It was pretty nice – if only they could get rid of the gates on the roads. That would make it even better. I came flying down the hill towards Security Benefits only to have to slam on the brakes to walk around the gate. Oh well, it was nice to see new scenery!

     

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