The “real” Cherryvale

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The question I was asked most when visiting Cherryvale, Kansas, for the rescheduled 2013 Blossom Fest was “how does the “real” town measure up compared to the fictional one?” Well, I have to say, both Gary and I agreed that we felt genuinely welcome, and as if we had arrived home. EVERYONE in Cherryvale was friendly, warm, genuine, funny, smart…well, I’m gushing, I know, but honestly, we had THE best time getting to know all of you. And if we didn’t get a chance to meet you, rest assured Gary and I fully expect to visit as often as possible.

To all our new friends who already feel like family, thank you so much for the warm welcome, we cannot wait to return!

Special thanks to Tina Cunningham, Joyce and Marvin Long, Louie and Donna Celaya, April and Alan Read, Andy Taylor, Crystal Harper, Elizabeth Bohr, Tracy Cunningham, Don Richardson, Jim Hogben, and of course, Richard Stevens for making our “adoption” weekend a success. Also, gracious thanks to the Montgomery County Chronicle, the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce, the Cherryvale Blossom Fest organizers, New Hope Christian Church, and the Cherryvale Library. (Special thanks to Alan Read for providing some of the photos.)

Backstory: About a year ago, I got a message from a friendly guy, Richard Stevens, who had found me when googling “Cherryvale.” Because of my books set in fictional Cherryvale, I appeared again and again. So when he contacted me, I was curious about the “real” town, and when I clicked through,  imagine my delight when I found out it was a Facebook group who all had roots in a town none other than Cherryvale, Kansas!

Richard graciously invited me to join their private group and I became an honorary Cherryvalian! 

I scrolled through their posts and pictures as if I’d stumbled on a long lost friend. When I was imagining Cherryvale for my books, I pictured a quiet community where folks cared about each other, and had pride in their shared history, working shoulder to shoulder to make theirs, and their children’s, future better. And when I visited, that’s exactly what I found!

“Cherryvale, where neighbors care, gardeners share, and God allows do-overs.” is the motto for the fictional town, but could fit either one.

Here’s what I wrote BEFORE visiting:

May, 2013

The Kansas’ town’s iconic symbol, the cherry tree resonated with me, as did their motto, “Working for a better tomorrow today.”

Cherryvale is proud to be the birthplace of Vivian Vance (Ethel from “I Love Lucy”), so even both town’s Hollywood ties are similar. And to prove it really is a small world, Mary McDonough and I wrote of her experience taking “shoes advice” from Ms. Vance in Lessons from the Mountain. 

I was struck by how similar the real town of Cherryvale and its folks seem to my characters, and I look forward to getting to know them.

– Bev

Here are some pictures, and a bit about how all this came to pass (the photos are in no particular order.)

Cherryvale, KS Library

Cherryvale, KS Library

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Joyce and Marvin Long treated us to a lovely dinner at “Just Us.” (photo, Alan Read)

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Main Street decked out with the Blossom Fest logo.

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At the Blossom Fest book signing.

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We attended a friday night High school game. The team’s jerseys all say INAM=It’s Not About Me…I love that!

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Beautiful Kansas sky

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The Cherryvale Chargers!

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Go! Chargers!

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My new friend and fellow author, Joyce Long, and I shared a table.

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Betty’s the chairman of the Cherryvale Library Board, and we never had a shortage of things to chat about.

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L-R Joyce Long, Betty Bohr, me

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We had a lovely tour! Our guide, Pastor Celaya, took us all around Cherryvale, into the Amish settlement and to lunch.

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Keep an eye out, Cherryvale was the location for the based-on-a-true-story movie, “The Bloody Benders,” due out next year. The museum staff helped the script writers get the details right. We’ll see how well they do.

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Here I am with the honorable Mayor John Wright.

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L-R Pastor Louie Celaya, Donna Celaya, Bev and Gary

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We got a tour of the Leatherrock Hotel, a wonderful building being restored to its former glory. L-R Jim Hogben, Bev Nault

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The model RR is being built in one of the Leatherrock rooms for permanent display. Don Richardson showed us how much detail goes into the project.

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At the Cherryvale library. Good friends, good talk!

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I think this looks a lot like the CherryPath!

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The Cherryvale museum has some interesting displays about Vivian Vance, early Kansas, and of course, The Bloody Benders. L-R Bev and Tracy Cunningham

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Main Street decked out with the Blossom Fest logo.

 

 

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L-R Crystal Harper, Bev Nault, Gary Nault in front of the Leatherrock Hotel, Cherryvale, Kansas

 

 

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Joyce and Marvin Long treated us to a lovely dinner at “Just Us.” (photo, Alan Read)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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– photo credit, Alan Read

 

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Got the T-shirt!

 

 

Click on the paper to expand.

BevNault-Cherryvale

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16 thoughts on “The “real” Cherryvale

  1. Sylvia

    Just a note, to mention that the motto that you mentioned only came about about 5 or so years ago. All the years before it was “The Friendly Little City” which I and many others still love and wish it was our motto again.
    There are still two cousins of Vivian Vance that live in Cherryvale.
    For a city/town our size we truly do have some famous names that orginated here. Vivian Vance, Louise Brooks, Frank Bellamy, another writer Jon Guthrie, that has two books out on Amazon, that contain short stories, many with names of people from Cherryvale, and every story that he wrote, has some truth in it, either the people the place or happenings that he experienced..
    Our small town began as a Railroad and National Zinc Smelter, (at one time the largest in the world was here) town. It grew to almost 7,000 people at one time, and everyone thought that it would never fall like it has. I came back to care for my elders until they passed and haven’t left yet. (The last one, my mother passed 6 yrs. ago) I say I am going to leave…question is to where?
    Sorry if I have rambled, but thought you might like to know that many changes has happened in the last few years and many of we oldster would rather see somethings stay as they were, because We Were the Friendly Little City, as it implies.
    I do plan on purchasing your books, they sound like enjoyable reads.
    Thanks, Sylvia

    Reply
    1. Bev Post author

      Sylvia,
      That is so interesting. “The Friendly Little City” resonates with a lovely charm. Maybe we can still use it as the “unofficial” motto? So sorry to hear about your losses, and that the town is having some economic challenges. From the pictures I’ve looked through, it looks to have beautiful sunsets, lovely architecture, and now I’m finding out, really friendly people! I am going over to Amazon right now and looking into Jon’s books, thanks for letting me know about them.
      Blessings!
      Bev

      Reply
  2. Richard Stevens

    Well Bev, guess we need to get this off the table first thing! Way back when, (my time anyway, 50’s, and before, and early 60’s, we used to be known as “The Fighting Cherries.” Well for the most part we were either too naive or complacent to care about being ‘fighting cherries!’ In the late 60’s tho, the students started coming around and now the Cherryvale High School students are known as “The Chargers!”, Richard

    Reply
    1. Bev Post author

      Richard,
      Wow, I can’t imagine what kind of ribbing people would give a team called The Cherries these days. Was there any pie throwing involved? Sorry…ahem.. How are The Chargers doing so far this season?

      Reply
      1. Richard Stevens

        not well, I think they’ve won one and lost 3
        (BTW, your red moving letters encourages me not to have too many margaritas when posting here! 🙂 )

        Reply
  3. Mary Burge

    I loved the book Fresh Start Summer. I found out about the series from the group Richard hosts for Cherryvale residents past and present. It was a delighful read. I will be finishing the series on my Kindle.
    Thank you for sharing about Cherryvale, Kansas. I am fortunate to have been raised there. Both of my parents were raised there as well as were many of my cousins from both sides. We were truly blessed. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Bev Post author

      Mary,
      Thanks so much for reading, and for stopping by here. It’s so nice to hear from a real life daughter of Cherryvale. The community obviously has many special qualities.

      Reply
  4. Linda Hammer

    Looking forward to meeting you at Cherry Blossom and reading your books. I just now found this website. I am 68 years old, live with my 98 year old Mother in the same house I was born in! You can say I’ve planted my roots! My Dad retired from the Santa Fe Railroad and died at 93 in 2002. My folks had 7 children and all are graduates of Cherryvale High School! All were the Cherryvale Fighting Cherries and proud of it! We had to be tough! LOL! Good luck in all your projects!

    Reply
    1. Bev Post author

      Wow, Linda, how many people can say that? I’ll be sure to contact you if I need any information about recent Cherryvale history. I look forward to meeting you as well!

      Reply
  5. Joyce Long

    I have been reading the comments and am really excited to meet you. Tina Cunningham sent your email to me as my husband and I have the privilege of taking you to dinner on Saturday evening. We are both native of Cherryvale and were also Fighting Cherries. Both our children were born at the Navy hospital in San Diego. I hope you are not too tired, after being at the Cherry Blossom booth all day, to drive around and get an idea of Cherryvale.

    Reply
    1. Bev Post author

      Joyce, I look forward to meeting you, what a treat it will be! Thanks so much for your generous hospitality!

      Reply
  6. Joyce Long

    Time has changed, but out plans have not. My husband, Marvin, and I are still planning to take you to dinner here in Cherryvale. We will get to meet you in about a month. Joyce

    Reply
  7. Bev Post author

    Joyce, I am making my plans, and wanted to let you know I’m bringing my husband, Gary. We both look forward to meeting you and everyone else who has been so kind to invite us to your community.

    Reply
  8. Joyce Long

    The seventh of September is in the near future. It is great that your husband is able to come with you. Several things have been going on in my life and I have not been able to read any of your books. Sorry, I had hope to have read at least one. I have six children’s books The Misadventures of Zortz at Amazon and my nonfiction Be the Jury! Be the Judge! Who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance? My husband and I are certainly looking forward to meeting you. Joyce

    Reply

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