Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:



For more than 11 years now, my dear readers, I have dragged you along with me on the gravel roads of Kansas. Willingly, I trust.

Eleven years? Even I find that hard to believe somehow. My first column was published in The Emporia Gazette for Kansas Day 2003, and since then I have been putting miles and dust on my car, and sharing Kansas with you as best I can.

But there comes a time to move on, and that time is now. I am ending the Flyover People column. My biggest sadness with this comes from a feeling of separation, because it has been you who kept me going. Each Tuesday evening, I knew that you were settling in with The Gazette, reading the front page news, page 2, 3 and then on to page 4.

I was pleased each time one of you stopped me in Reeble’s to share with me what you remember about your own grandmother’s farm or your small-town childhood. When you told me your own stories, that’s when I felt I had done my job.

And many of you have suggested places for Dave and me to visit. Early on, someone recommended Frannie’s in Yates Center. The place is closed now, but in 2006 Frannie was selling $1 lunches in her second floor restaurant, as she had for 20 years. Another reader suggested Courtney’s in Toronto, still a fabulous place for an upscale Italian dinner.

I’ve always enjoyed touring Kansas, but with the column I had a perfect reason to do so. And it got to be a fun obsession, rolling into a town I had never visited. I began to crave the next town and the next and the next.

Driving down a highway, Dave and I chased road signs. We’d see a sign pointing to Neosho Falls or to Dexter, and we’d veer off the highway onto a county road to see what those towns held for us. What made a community most memorable was when we had a conversation with a resident or two. Even after visiting more than a hundred towns over the past 11 years, I still remember towns and faces and how welcomed we felt by the locals.

When I began writing this column, I wanted my pieces to show the beauty of the world around us, to raise the everyday scenes of Kansas to a place of attention and glory.

There are unpleasant things in and about Kansas, no doubt about it, but I wanted to keep the column positive. I tried to stay realistic; I also wrote about decaying and shabby towns in Kansas, but I wanted to show that even though a town may not be shining all the way through that there are still good things in each town, good people and stories, interesting history, a great little café or a library or a park. Each community has worthwhile things to offer. And I’ve noticed that when residents nurture a place, the town improves.

What’s up for me now? Well, I’m about to release my second book of columns. In the next month or so, “Waiting on the Sky: More Flyover People Essays” will be published and I’ll be traveling around the state promoting my new book.

Although I will no longer write the weekly column, I’ll still be writing, just without the burden of the weekly deadline. Deadlines can be wearying. There’s something about being creative on demand that takes some of the fun and the magic out of writing.

I will write books that will be different in style and content than these columns, although Kansas will likely be the backdrop for future books.

I’m proud to have contributed to The Emporia Gazette over the years and my sincere thanks go to Chris Walker, and to everyone at the paper. Chris told me that I can still send in pieces if I want, and I may do that. So, a Flyover People column may show up in your evening paper from time to time.

But for now, it’s time to go. And for you, my beloved readers, this heart is filled with gratitude.


  1. What a joy it’s been to read your columns, Cheryl, and to find a kindred spirit who loves & appreciates the unique beauty & soul our dear Kansas holds. Here’s to your wonderful adventures yet to come. Well done, you! And thank you. ♡

  2. Thanks, Cheryl. I do hope you write occasionally for the Gazette. Best wishes on the new book and future publishing.

  3. It’s been an excellent run, and I’m grateful for the places and the times you’ve taken us to, the shared memories, the backroads journeys. We were in good hands with you and Dave at the wheel. Though this is a bittersweet column, I know there are words still yearning to be written, and read; they will come, in time and without the stultifying constrictions of deadlines, for you are a writer, and we are readers, and together we make the perfect match.

  4. Cheryl, thank you for all your beautiful words. I know you will keep on with bigger things…but I’m not sure that better is possible. How do you better best? From one who supports you with enthusiasm, JH

  5. You will certainly be missed Cheryl but I know you will continue to delight us with you second book and the others yet to be created. Kansas is a better place to live because of you Cheryl. Thank you!!

  6. Wow! What a great ride it has been. You have changed my life and my family’s life profoundly. I am glad and proud to say that we became friends because of these writings. Can’t wait to read your new book!

  7. Cheryl, I wish you all the best and am very excited to be reading your new writings. We always enjoy the adventures that you and Dave bring to us! Miss you much.

  8. Cheryl this is so sad but exciting at the same time. We have certainly enjoyed reading your Flyover People Columns for these past 11 years. You are a wonderful writer and so entertaining with your style. Congratulations on each of your unique writings Cheryl, and we are looking forward to your books and whatever else you surprise us with. Thank You for sharing your wonderful talent with each of us.

  9. I feel blessed to have discovered your writing and your wanderings. I can’t wait for your book but I will miss your column. Stay true and keep wandering off the beaten path.

  10. Hi Cheryl:
    You created a Kansas epos worth rereading once in a while. I am looking forward to your new approach. I hope you are willing to read from your new book either in The Bank in Matfield Green or in The Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs. Soon!
    Ton Haak, Matfield Green

  11. Thank you so much for your love for place and Kansas and the power of words. You’ve been a beacon for many of us, and I wish you all the best as you travel around the state (you have a place to stay with us too). All good wishes every which way!

  12. So many people have lived and breathed Kansas through the imagery of your words. Here’s to safe travels and wonderful future writings.

  13. NO!! Say it’s not so! But I do understand, Cheryl. Felt the same way when I decided to end my column in the Capital-Journal. It’s a bittersweet decision, but I know that weariness from a weekly deadline you mention. I’ll still be reading your blog and looking for more books and savoring every sentence you write and send out into the world, my friend!! What a joy it has been to read you through the years and I look forward to your new chapters in life!

  14. Hi Cheryl – Even tho I’m not an Emporia Gazette subscriber, I have enjoyed your columns. You have that special talent for describing
    places and people in a unique way. Looking forward to your new book and anything else you may write. Tell your mom “hello” for us and hope to see you down the road!!! from your Topeka cousins………………

  15. Cheryl, I have so enjoyed reading your column over the years, and I certainly will miss it. You create wonderful descriptions of Kansas, and even though I haven’t been there, I can see it through your eyes and feel the wind and the sun. I also enjoyed sharing your growing up experiences, and I could say to myself “I did that too!” Best of luck with your new book and best wishes and blessings to you and Dave. Thank you!

  16. Cheryl….I’m not sure if you will remember my husband (Steve Beylon), but he was the morning meteorologist at KSNT many moons ago. 🙂 thank you for sharing Kansas with us. Kansas will always have a special place in our hearts. May God bless your journey.

  17. Oh my gosh Cheryl
    Who am I going to get my weekly Kansas fix from? I really enjoyed reading your stuff on Wednesday mornings on line. Is there going to be someone else who will be writing about Kansas life?
    I also gotta get a copy of that new book of yours. Keep us in the loop on that.
    Kansas is the most wonderful state in the nation. In my opinion that is. Hope everything goes off great for you and Dave for your future endeavors.

  18. Thank you for helping me stay in touch with my Kansas roots. Good luck with your book and your future writing.

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