Memories! Memories! Memories!
Dr. Carlisle DeAtley has a lifetime – 89 years to be exact – of precious memories, many of which the practicing chiropractor shares in his memoir entitled “Precious Memories of Little Blue and Raytown, Missouri.
Now a longtime resident of Kansas City, North, Dr. De, as some patients affectionately call him, begins his story with his parents, Carlisle and Elizabeth DeAtley, settling in the tiny, unincorporated community just south of Independence when he was a year old.
Located off Noland Road, “Little Blue, Missouri, was just a small place,” he writes, “with some eight to nine houses, a gas station and O'Flaherty's Grocery Store.” Then at the the crossroads of Noland and Little Blue Road was the tiny white-framed Little Blue Baptist Church where young Carlisle was baptized and attended off and on.
Four years after settling in the Little Blue community, “We moved to my uncle's farm in Grain Valley. It was during the Depression days, so my father worked the farm for my uncle,” he explains, adding: “1934, '35 and '36 were dry years and we lost everything.”
During a recent interview at his office in Northeast Kansas City – where he practices four days a week – Dr. De leans forward in his office chair and emotionally tells about his remembrances of two favorite people – his grandparents, Rob and Florence Gilroy – who lived in a log cabin at the top of Ricky Road, the first road north of the church on Noland Road.
“'Sometimes I would stay with my grandparents and sleep in the attic on a feather mattress,” he says, recalling a stormy night – when the rain was pounding hard on the tin roof – “I curled up on the feather mattress; it was a great night for sleeping.”
Also great were those unforgettable times when young Carlisle and Grandpa Gilroy would sit in the front yard at night looking up at the twinkling stars. His grandfather smoked a pipe, which he says helped keep the mosquitos away.
Noting his grandfather raised corn and cereal, Dr. De writes: “I rode with my grandfather in a (horse-drawn) wagon with cereal grain going through Little Blue to the old-age home. Truman Medical Center is on the site now. They had a steam engine that made the cereal grain into sorghum. The old-age home took half of the sorghum for making it. The Sorghum sure tasted good on grandmother's biscuits.”
As for other Little Blue residents, there were Bill and Herbert Settler, neighbors of Carlisle's parents. The Settlers left a lasting impression on young Carlisle, he recalls: “They always wore bib overalls. Their overalls were always so clean, just like they came out of the wash. They also had a Model-T with a canvass top.”
Then there was Bernice Burgess, an “older and nice- looking girl” who came over to his house to play, Dr. De recalls. “I have a picture of us standing in the middle of Little Blue Road. She had me dress up in her doll clothes.”
Other memorable folks in Dr. De's childhood were the Clarks – Anna, Sally and a brother – who owned the log cabin in which his grandparents lived. “They lived at the bottom of Rickey Road and sometimes would walk up the hill to visit with my grandmother,” he writes. “It would sound like an old tent revival in that log cabin. They loved the Lord so much.”
This small, quiet community suffered a huge economic setback when Mr. O'Flaherty moved his grocery store to nearby Raytown. The move forced Dr. De's grandfather, who never owned a car, to walk to Raytown back and forth, carrying groceries in a gunny sack.
Dr. De's fondest Raytown memory was taking his first airplane ride in a Piper Cub as a 10-year-old at Richards Landing Field, which was an open field airport. It later became Ong Airport. Later, he went up four other times – two in a Piper Cub, one in a four-seater Stinson and another time in a bi-plane.
“Sometimes a Piper Cub would make a pass in the open field behind Little Blue Baptist Church,” which he now attends. “One flew very low by the log cabin ,” he says, “close enough I could see the pilot and passengers wave to me.”
Are there any retirement plans in Dr. De's future?
“I don't have any plans for retiring as long as God gives me the strength to be here, “ he says. “There is an old saying, 'You can't step into the same river twice, because it is always moving. We don't have today twice because tomorrow is another day. We do have our memories of yesterday and how precious they are. So I take one day at a time and try to do my best.”
When asked what he thinks his legacy will be, the soft-spoken doctor with the big smile who calls everyone “My Friend,” opens a desk drawer in his office, lifts out a paperback book given to him by a patient with the following inscription on the inside cover:
“Dear Dr. DeAtley, We just wanted to thank you for all you have done to so many people. God has blessed your hands to heal and bring relief from pain and suffering to those who cross your path. You have helped those who could not afford a doctor anytime in which it is so expensive to live life. We know you will be honored abundantly with many virtues in eternity because of what you have done. Thank you for giving countlessly when you didn't have to. Lots of love.”
-- Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.