Archive for Thursday, December 2, 2004

Author weaves tales about area

December 2, 2004

Warren Reed knows a lot about Leavenworth County history. But it's not the dry and bloodless facts he likes to recollect. He can tell you about the different smaller areas incorporated into city lines, about the military flavor of the area, about the history of the Veterans Affairs land just north of the Lansing/Leavenworth border. He can tell those facts, but what he really likes are the stories - the people.

"I'm not interested in selling Leavenworth as a city like the chamber of commerce would do because they're not going to tell people what really went on. What I'm after is what happened to the people and what they did. You could write thousands of stories about what went on."

Many of Reed's stories begin with a mischievous glint in his eye and the warning, "I really shouldn't be telling you this, but :"

"Leavenworth has always been a wide-open town," Reed said. "We've had houses of prostitutes, gambling, everything."

Reed's own family story, recorded by him in his first book, "Violet and Warren," has a history almost as interesting as the area Reed loves to write about.

His mother, Violet, was a teenage farm girl who came to the city of Leavenworth to work as a mess hall girl at the Veterans' Affairs building. The director of the VA at the time was a married man named Warren Reed.

Warren Reed

Warren Reed

According to the book, Warren Reed's marriage was an unhappy one and he quickly fell in love with the bright and vivacious Violet. Soon the two were married, and Warren Reed Jr., future storyteller and author, was born in the middle of a brood of six: two older sisters, two younger sisters and a baby brother.

"I took care of my little sister and my little brother when I was home," Reed said. "I had to do the same chores as the girls on my chore day. And they'd sit down and heckle me - 'You missed a spot! You missed a spot!'"

Stories were important to Violet Reed. She passed this conviction on to her elder son. Reed is in the process of getting his second book published, an account of his childhood days in the Lansing/ Leavenworth area. He already has begun work on his third book, which recalls his days as a young man unable to join the service because of a heart murmur.

It's not only his family's history Reed thinks is important, although he said his books were for future generations of Reeds as well as his siblings. Reed also wants to write out of a love for the area and see that its residents are educated - and entertained - about its history.

"The VA land is very important to Lansing and Leavenworth," Reed said. "The federal government is in the process of making a contract to renovate some of the buildings. They've got all kinds of things going on. That will make employment for people in Lansing."

Reed's ties to Lansing are strong. His grandchildren attend Lansing schools, and he is a member of the Leavenworth County Country Club, on the Lansing side of Eisenhower Road.

"I'd like to make Lansing residents aware of the history and more interested in the area," Reed said.

His next book, tentatively titled "Bad Boys," is designed to make residents aware, certainly, but it is also to entertain. Names have been changed but facts are accurate, Reed said. Why the name changes?

Well, Reed said, "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but :"

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