Each generation of our
children had the delightful opportunity of visiting the candy factory at
Dexter, Kansas. The experience is always new for the children and although
we have seen it many times we still enjoy watching. Adults plug along with
the dogged determination of a turtle. Children, on the other hand, do not.
They are always busy. Their minds are ever searching for learning. Kids see
so much on television, it's true, but this is not the complete meal for
them. In fact, the tube is a little like having a sandwich without bread. On
this day the children stand looking through wide, long, windows while the
workers go about their business.
One of the workers is
watching a large vat of bubbling green liquid. She keeps a constant vigil
over the thermometer. When she is satisfied with the proper degree she
calls another worker. The woman who comes to help her has thick gloves on
her hands. Together they lift the large crucible looking pot off its place
on what looks like a giant Bunsen burner. The table they pour the boiling
liquid onto is about four feet wide and ten feet long. It is a heavy metal
material and is only about three inches deep. The green liquid quickly flows
across the top. One woman has a long flat tool resembling a flattened tire
The other woman uses a small, flat, spatula-looking tool.Each woman begins
to turn the edges of the candy into the center of the table.
“Oh wow!” The
children are amazed to see the candy beginning to harden.
The two women
continue this turning of the candy and it gradually become a large, soft,
ball. By now it is cool enough for one of the women to begin folding it over
and over like a large piece of dough. One works for a time with it and then
transfers the great glob to another table. Again the two women lift it from
that table to a machine with cylinders which look like fingers to hold it.
The machine is beginning to spin like a miniature roller coaster pulling
the taffy candy into a long ribbon of glistening opaque material. It is no
longer transparent syrup.
After only a short
while, the women remove the sweet ribbon from this machine and transfer it
to a different table. The table has a long row of small flames all along it.
The flattened candy cylinder is cut into numbers of foot long pieces. Each
is run through a machine which is much like a pasta maker. It rolls the
cylinder into a flat strip. The strip also has individual markings on it
creating small pieces of one half inch squares. Another woman picks these
long strips up and lines them in a long flat row across a table. After the
candy has been there for maybe three minutes she simply picks them up, drops
the strip and it breaks into identical pieces of candy squares.
The children are all
indulged with purchasing whatever favorite candy they can find in the great
selection. We are then off to Winfield, Kansas which is only a short drive.
Our driver follows the directions given to us onto what was described as
an island surrounded by a moat of water. After crossing over a bridge to
come onto the small island, we immediately are able to drive directly up to
an individual picnic spot. The place is a simple nine feet by twelve feet
slab of cement. There is a table. Overhead a small wooden roofed arbor is
our shady place. There are four brick posters supporting this covering.
Our lunch of egg salad
sandwiches, pop, and potato chips are wolfed down by our hungry children
before they are off to play in the gigantic castle playground.
The castle is built for
children, but we find ourselves walking through with enjoyment as well.
There is a delicate mist of water coming over our heads to cool us. The
light spray comes from a door frame, which is an arch. A group of
cylinders, hung together so we can play melodies on them, is whimsical and
the minor notes lend themselves to the enchantment of the castle.
While we drive around
on the edge of the moat, the ducks, wild geese and tame geese all proudly
display their goslings for us to enjoy. A rather large, man-made waterfall
adds to the nostalgia of the scene. We decide the small house toward the
center of the park has to be a restroom. At a distance it looks like a cozy
little brick residence. As we walk closer we can see it has been hand
painted by an artist to look like brick. Actually it is no more than a
cinder block structure of cement blocks. The artist has lovingly decorated
it not only with realistic bricks, but with windows through which we can
see scenes of family life going on inside the house. There is a mother
carrying a pie to the table, children are reading a book together and a
father is on his way to the kitchen. On the brick walls of the house, the
painter twined live-looking ivy. When we enter the restroom there is an
immaculate room waiting. The floors have been painted and are as clean as
any restroom in someone's house.
Close to the restroom
is a small circle of a secret garden called The Peace Garden. It is
surrounded by tall flowing grasses through which we must pass to enter the
private space. Lovely rich colors with numerous varieties of blooming
plants are nestled beneath the tall grasses. Small stone markers hold quotes
by great men such as Gandhi, one of which said:
You must be the change
you wish to see in the world. There were others which were equally as
We take a few moments
to sit on the cement benches to discuss the messages.
In the car on our way
home each one of us samples our own private stash of candy purchased at the
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