As we drove into town I was astounded at the beauty of the Neosho River. The river flows serenely along but then makes a 9 foot drop over a man-made dam and from that point bubbles and rushes madly toward the new concrete bridge. It does not look like the entrance to what I'd heard described as a ghost town.
As we drove down the main street I had John stop several times so I could snap photos, and as I stepped away from the car I could hear more than one lawn mower running. A man mowing a large corner lot gave me a careful look, and as I turned to come back to the car I saw a rusty sign that read Neighborhood Watch. "I guess he's the neighborhood watcher," I said, laughing. But a few minutes later two motorcycles appeared at the corner a block away from where I was attempting to photograph the main street that is now overgrown with vines and trees, and I had the distinct feeling that Neosho Falls' neighborhood watch had indeed been activated.
The neatest part of this little side trip is that I found Karola's Community Church! Those of you who have read The Children Are Tender know that the fictional community of Karola has just one place of worship, a white clapboard church where all are welcome. Neosho Falls' United Methodist Church is a ringer for the non-denominational church I imagined for Karola, so much so that I posted the photo below at the Pinterest Page dedicated to creating a visual introduction to the world of Karola.
Neosho Falls' school was abandoned in 1969 and its framework still stands as a testament to what happens over 40 years of time to a building that is not maintained. I took this closeup of a pair of windows in the old school:
|Two former places of business, the one on the left is completely obliterated by greenery. Perhaps the building on the right was a gas station.|
I thoroughly enjoyed this little side trip, and though the citizens of Neosho Falls seem happy with their town just as it is, I am hoping that Karola does not become quite as unpopulated. In my imagination, Karola School stands with open doors, awaiting another school year's influx of students and teachers who will have adventures yet to be told.