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SPOTLIGHT
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Paying homage to the gridiron at library

Published on -9/21/2012, 7:22 AM

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A little more than a month ago, I pulled up stakes and left my hometown of St. James, Mo., to start a new job and new life in Hays.

I can't say I was sorry to leave behind Missouri's muggy, mid-August weather, but as the seasons begin to change, I do feel a bit homesick for fall in rural Missouri.

Growing up in the heart of Missouri's wine country, September always signified the end of the grape harvest and the beginning of autumn in the Ozark foothills. The spicy scent of Concord grapes can be detected for days as harvesters comb the vineyards and my hometown prepares for the annual Grape and Fall Festival.

Though I've made a transition from grape harvests to wheat harvests, from wineries to breweries and from bright autumn hills to bright starry skies, I am learning that September in Hays is really not too different from September in St. James.

In both places, the days grow shorter and cooler, students are back in school and the football fields come to life every Friday night with the sport that makes teenagers rally and adults reminisce. Football is that uniquely American Friday night pastime that gives people the chance to turn off the television, get out of the house and unite with their neighbors. Whether they're going to cheer on the home team, see the marching band's halftime performance or simply to spend time with friends, football seems to bring communities together.

To celebrate September, I have featured local football teams and homecoming celebrations through the decades in the Kansas Room display cases, which are located just outside the Kansas Room in the basement of Hays Public Library. To create the display, I used yearbooks from Fort Hays State University, Hays High School, St. Joseph's Academy, and Thomas More Prep-Marian.

The Kansas Room has an extensive collection of yearbooks. With a few exceptions, the FHSU Reveilles go all the way back to 1914 and continue through 2000. There are Hays High School Indian Call yearbooks from 1948 to 2011, though there are several years missing. Assorted yearbooks from St. Joseph's Academy, TMP, Marian High School and TMP-Marian span 60 years, from 1944 to 2004. The Kansas Room also has a smattering of yearbooks from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Northwest Kansas Trade School.

If you're in the mood to walk down memory lane, or if you're curious about what your parents or grandparents looked like in high school, stop by the Kansas Room at the Hays Public Library and browse through the yearbook collection. You might be surprised by what you find. Make sure to stop by the display cases and see if you recognize any of the faces from bygone years.

I'd love to expand the Kansas Room's collection of yearbooks, so if you or someone you know has high school or college yearbooks they'd like to donate, please contact me by phone at(785) 625-9014 or by email at lflaim@hayspublib.org.

The Kansas Room at the Hays Public Library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Feel free to come in an introduce yourself and share your stories with me. In the meantime, enjoy the cooler temperatures -- and maybe take in the occasional football game.

Lucia Flaim is Kansas Room librarian at the Hays Public Library. lflaim@hayspublib.org

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