St. Francis, Kansas - An Outsider's Opinion

Bob Shilland, born and raised in Detroit and currently living in Los Angeles, California, has made two trips to St. Francis, Kansas.  He loves the town and wrote about it on  Here is what he had to say:

The odds seemed staggering, but it looks like I'm returning to St. Francis, KS, in a few weeks for my second straight Christmas! Being a "big-city boy," a 5-day holiday stay in small-town America was too good an opportunity to turn down. Thus I found myself in St. Francis, population 1,400 or so (1,400? That's how many drivers cut me off on the freeway during an average week!), during the week of Christmas 1998, experiencing a local family's holiday traditions.

I found a lot more. St. Francis is a place where no one locks their doors (perhaps all the locks are frozen…it was -20 when I arrived), everyone keeps their car keys in the ignition (for quick getaways to the pool hall), and no one seems to notice when a siren goes off at 7:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 6:00 p.m.! Why does this occur? Apparently because it has always been that way! It's a place where you have to beat the noon siren if you want to get a good table for lunch at one of the several local restaurants. It's also a place where you automatically wave at every passing car and typically identify folks as "he was in the class of '72", or "she graduated the year before me."

Let me also point out there was no smog, no traffic jams, no rampant crime, no gangs, no graffiti, no cacophony of helicopters, car alarms, or police and fire sirens…all staples of the "good life" in Southern California. The serenity of northwest Kansas was a welcome change of pace that served as a pleasant reminder that there is a lot more to America than Los Angeles and New York. (Just bring a satellite dish!)

St. Francis, I'm sure, has its share of eccentrics, but an outsider like me met plenty of kind and pleasant people, who should all be thankful that they live in a safe, laid-back community.

If you want to read more of Bob's epinions (including one on Bird City, KS), log into and search for BigBob51.