The years pass, and a community changes

Ken Garten
Legal perspectives

I have lived and practiced law in Blue Springs for more than 30 years now.

Much has changed.

When I was younger, it seems like there were a lot of people in my situation – younger, starting families, raising kids, and getting their careers underway.

Ken Garten

Now that I am older, it also seems like there are a lot of people in my situation, older, having or hoping for grandchildren, kids raised, and thinking about retirement.

Instead of starter homes, senior housing seems to be the latest development fad.

I get it. I’m ready to be finished with home and yard maintenance, not that I ever indulged in such things with any enthusiasm whatsoever.

We still have a lot of elementary schools in Blue Springs, brimming with kids running around. But go to Raytown and see all the repurposed uses for unneeded elementary schools after all the kids and young families have grown old.

That couldn’t happen here, could it?

I remember when they built the Winstead’s on 7 Highway, with its iconic architecture and its delicious steakburgers and shakes. We were big time.

Now, they’re about to tear down that abandoned Winstead’s and build a Whataburger.

Amazing what an MVP quarterback can get done. Pass the ketchup, please.

I remember when they built Jose Miquel’s on the South Outer Road.

At long last, a sit-down restaurant where you could order good food and libations, and hang out and mingle with the in crowd on a Friday and Saturday night.

It was about all we had for years before Applebee’s, Little Blue Parkway, and all of its restaurant choices came to be. And we were so glad to have it. It’s a vacant lot now.

I use to be one of the young lawyers in town, with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and always trying to land good clients.

Now my business booms, but my energy and enthusiasm are perhaps not what they were in my 30s, 40s and even my 50s.

But as an old lawyer once told me: “Old age and treachery will defeat youth and exuberance every time.”

I prefer to say: “There’s no substitute for experience.”

It’s really the same thing, but one is funnier and the other is nicer.

Yes, 33 years ago, I could have stayed with a downtown law firm representing insurance companies for the rest of my career.

There are some benefits to that, perhaps, but some downside too.

I will always remember when I was a young lawyer in the downtown firm representing insurance companies, then Independence lawyer Mike Manners, who has since come to be recognized as one of the finest lawyers and circuit judges the area has ever known, referred to himself in a letter as “a simple country lawyer” in a classic stroke of self-deprecation in settlement negotiations. He went on to clean our clock in a subsequent federal court trial.

So, I lifted that description from him when I came out to the suburb of Blue Springs, and often refer to myself as a “simple country lawyer.”

If that was good enough for Mike Manners, it’s good enough for me.

And Blue Springs has been a great place to be just that.

Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at