The Chelsea Kid – Monte Manka


Gail Lee Martin and Monte Manka first met on the Our Echo website. Gail served as the webmaster and encouraged everyone who posted there. She commented on every poem and each essay. Monte was the same generation as Gail, an octogenarian, who grew up just a few miles from where Gail lived in Kansas. Now he lives on the west coast, but through the serendipity of the Internet, they met online. Learn more about him below.

The kids at the Chelsea, Kansas school in the 1930s. 

Sharing an Octogenarian’s Poems and Memories of the Great Depression

Monte Manka grew up in Chelsea, Kansas in the 1930s. Now in his eighties, he records his memories in poems and essays for future generations to understand what it was like in those days.

This webpage is just one in a series that features Monte Manka’s poetry of the Great Depression. This octogenarian retains vivid memories of Kansas farm life and his youth. He still writes poetry and posts it on the Our Echo website. Don’t miss the other webpages with Monte Manka’s poems. They include such old-fashioned topics as pie suppers and chivarees.

(photos used with permission from Monte Manka)

The Old Homestead

a poem by Monte Manka

As I travel across the State

I had to see

The place where I was born

Out there on the prairie

The old house is still standin’

Out there in a pile of dust

The windmill still upright

Now just a tower of rust.

That lone post in the front yard

Where once hung that dinner bell

To call Dad in from the field

To eat and rest a spell

Is slightly leaning

Warped by wind and heat

To hear that bell ring one more time

Would make my life complete.

That old front porch

With that bench swing

We’d sit there in the evening

And hear the locusts sing.

I remember fields of green grass

That yielded tons of prairie hay

To feed the livestock

On a cold winter day.

Then Mother Nature

With a twist of fate

Turned on a four-year drought

Just when things were goin’ great.

A cyclone blew down the barn

Ripped shingles off the roof

Dust started blowing in

Doors and windows, not dust proof.

Nothing but drifted soil

Now and then a tuft of grass

If only those happier times

Could last and last.

Dad had a part-time job

Working for the State

We moved into town

Before it was too late.


Monte Manka’s Dust Storm Memories

“We held Chelsea School outside the schoolhouse. The air in the Schoolhouse hung heavy with the dust. We would go to the pump and wet our handkerchiefs and hold them over our nose as we read out of our Bobs Merrill Primer”. …

He continues on telling about having to dust off the paper before writing the lesson. You’ll enjoy his memories.

(Excerpt from Lost in the Front Yard by Monte L. Manka. There is more on the Our Echo website.)

Monte Manka’s Poems and Essays on the Our Echo Website – Visit the site to read all of Monte Manka’s writing

Our Echo provides a supportive community online for writers to share their family memories and other writing. It’s a great site to post your memory pieces on for your whole family to enjoy.

our echo

Monte Manka with an Oliver Hart-Parr tractor.

Monte Grew up on the Farm

Monte Manka: “Me and the Oliver Hart-Parr after it was converted to rubber–There is a tractor.

This tractor had steel wheels and was a rough riding machine. When the wheels were changed and rubber tires were put on it was a pleasure to ride down a gravel road to the field.”


One thought on “The Chelsea Kid – Monte Manka

  1. What Marty paints so cleanly with his uncluttered words is very like the Kansas of my youth as I remember it, though I came along well after the Dust Bowl years. Decades since I’ve been back, and I wonder how it’s changed. Thank you for introducing his work. Hopping over to see more now.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s