Sunday, April 26, 2020

 The Morrell/Meisenger House

For many years I gardened for a Jewish doctor who had lived in Topeka his whole life and in Westboro since about 1946.  Being Jewish was being a second class citizen in Topeka (ie. the wife was not allowed to join Jr. League--when I was  a member she was always interested in its's goings on, I think that later she could have been a member but by then she did not bother, she saw it as a young woman's association), or maybe it was that he was from "the wrong side of the tracks", his mother was a shopkeeper downtown, he and his siblings grew up above the shop and helped out as well as sold newspapers, although also at this time, Topeka had a different social hierarchy and doctors were not grouped with the wealthy. I don't know. My first introduction to Meisinger's house was through them.

Meisinger's was one of the early houses in Topeka to have a sprinkler system, these were copper plumbing, just like in houses, except in the yard and buried3 ft or so down.  Many of these were installed by Don Roepke and Skinner's Nursery in the early 1950s. Nelle Carkhuff also had one of these and I gardened for Nelle as well.  Periodically, I had to work on Nelle's sprinkler system, which of course meant digging down 3' or so and soldering the lines back together, etc...  This was quite an undertaking. (Sara/Jason--somewhere the plans for Nelle's sprinkler system may still be around, she saved all of those sort of things, she had a file cabinet in the basement full of them.  This came in handy now and then.).  Needless to say, I was on top of turning off the water in the fall.

Meisinger's had a black couple that lived above the garage.  They were old when I knew them, and they had lived/worked there most of their lives.  His name was Eugene (I can't remember hers).  He was the chauffeur/handyman/gardener, he loved iris.  Eugene and I used to help each other fix the sprinkler systems that were under our care.   After the older Meisnger's deaths, Eugene and his wife were alone in the house and caretakers.  It was during this time that Eugene gave me a tour of the house, this is the only time I have ever been in it.  Later, when I saw the Doctor and his wife, they were interested to hear the details of the house, they had lived a couple blocks away (this was in the 90s?/early2000s) and had never been inside.  The doctor had been to a side entrance room, like a parlor on house calls but never any further.  (This was a room in the front, NE corner of the house, at the time I was there it had a yellow oriental motif wallpaper. I don't know if you want to to hear other details that I remember of the house or not..) The doctors and his wife told the story that the Meisinger house was originally began construction during the 20's for one of the sons of the owner of Morrell's Meat Packing.  The doctor would have been a grade school boy at this time and his memories were stories of very Great Gatsbyish parties and lifestyle.  The son and his wife were early flight enthusiasts (remember Billard and Longgren were here, Morrell's were aware of both and may have been friends) and had their own plane/pilot.  There was also a landing strip on the property.  Morrell dies and later the wife married Meisinger, who was the pilot.  And as you probably know, he was one of the founders of Beechcraft). Both Carkhuff's and Meisingers were great friends of Don Roepke and Ray Browning.  All were great aviation fans, and for another day (I have a great recording of Ray Browning on these days, he wore a scarf).

Anyhow, that is my knowledge/involvement with the house.

No comments:

Post a Comment