19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Distant Memories

Helen West, now 89, along with her late husband Ralph and their 6 children were the last to occupy this grandiose limestone home in Kansas’s Republic County in the mid 70’s. At the time, Helen worked as a nurse aide in nearby Belleville, while Ralph ran a mechanic’s shop in neighboring Cuba. Through word of mouth, they discovered that the home was for rent and they both agreed that the large structure would be a suitable space for their family.⁣ ⁣ The Wests only spent one winter here, citing the lack of insulation in the stone walls and a struggling gas furnace as the catalyst for leaving. Despite their short time in the house, Helen shared fond memories of her oldest daughter’s wedding in the front lawn, her children being awarded a purple ribbon in the county fair for raising a duck on dog food, and the innocence of her youngest daughter as she attempted to inspire the planted corn to grow faster by speaking to it. “We had a lot of good times.”⁣ ⁣ Helen, still residing in the nearby town of Cuba, agreed to meet me at the home for her first time in many years. Swipe left to see a photograph of how the home appeared during their stay over 4 decades ago.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 06.2021
Date Uploaded: 11.2021
Photo Location: Cuba, Kansas, United States of America
Camera: NIKON D810
Copyright: © Erik Johnson