Probably, It had to do with Copeland, KS.
Or at least, it started there. The story-telling, risk-taking, adventure-seeking sort of personality that began to take place in the life of my dad. There has to be some explanation for why he is the way he is, so I suppose it has to do with Copeland.
Copeland is in western Kansas about an hour southwest of Dodge City. It has a population of around 300 or so now but back in the 1930’s and 40’s when my dad was growing up, it probably was smaller.
It was a boring little dust bowl town with very little to do but watch the tumbleweeds blow through main street. Maybe a couple of cats would get in a yowling match or there might be a brawl down at the pool hall. Certainly there was not enough to entertain a little boy with a vivid imagination.
So, Ernest Charles Frazier Jr. read. He read about anything he could get his hands on, which often were encyclopedias. He built up quite a vocabulary and coupled with some colorful characters that lived in the small town, he began to formulate great tales that have served as entertainment at many a friendly gathering.
Several years ago there was a class reunion in Copeland. My dad was invited but he reminded them that he had graduated in the class ahead of this one. “Oh that doesn’t matter” was the reply “you’re the only one who remembers all the good stories around town and can tell them the best!”
Copeland was probably the reason dad had an adventuresome spirit as well. He told me once that he had no idea why on earth out of all the beautiful places in the world that a person could live, his family homesteaded around Copeland. A little boy wouldn’t have understood, but the reason was wheat. The flat plains of Kansas are perfect for wheat farmers and that is what his grandparents were.
Dad counted the days until he could grow up and move on to bigger and better things.
That day came and he joined the army. Some of his best stories come from that era of his life. Although being in the service offered its own contributions to boredom at times, he got to visit some interesting places and learned some valuable lessons.
Dad came back and married a girl from Bucklin, Kansas, a little town east of Dodge City. Ready to leave those dusty Kansas plains behind, they started life in Phoenix AZ. Within a few years, they had two children, my brother Kyle and I.
Dad worked hard to provide for his family and there were times that jobs were scarce. We moved often to wherever the job was. He wasn’t afraid to take on a new opportunity or challenge and selling life insurance provided him with a lot of travel time.
Because he had many contacts in western Kansas, our family landed there for several years again until we found our way to Wichita.
Dad was an honest insurance man and believed in what he did. He won trips to Europe and other places with the companies that he worked for. He took time for family vacations to Colorado and local fishing trips and even drug me pheasant hunting a couple of times.
One of his dreams came true when he was able to finally pursue owning a franchise as a business broker. When the whole company went bankrupt and it ended his franchise, I watched my dad start all over from scratch. As hard as it was to have risked and taken such a hit, I don’t know that he would have done it differently.
I watched my dad have a heart attack in 1995 after he and mom had moved to Dodge City. He didn’t let that stop him from writing “The Boot Hill Coffee Club” war veteran interviews or keep him from moving back to Arizona to write the “Black Hand Over Kansas” trilogy.
He is always ready for a new challenge and a new adventure.
He and mom moved a year and a half ago to Branson, Missouri and bought a condo. He has taken up trout fishing and is working on writing another book.
I am proud of my dad and he has been a good one. I have learned a lot from him about being willing to step out of my comfort zone and find the adventure in life. He has taught me to not fear moving or changing jobs. He has handed down to me his love of story telling, because every experience in life has a great story behind it!
Dad has instilled in me a love for history. His patriotism has stirred a deep respect in me for our veterans and the sacrifices they have made. He has modeled faith in God when I have seen him at his lowest. In fact, those were the times that he had faith the strongest.
There is probably not another man on earth who says “their heads were bobbing like toads in a hailstorm” or calls a tricycle a ‘velocipede’. But Dad does.
He is one of a kind and no doubt some of that is all because of Copeland.