Homecoming bittersweet
Editor’s note: In celebrating Iola’s Sesquicentennial occasional stories are being written about Iolans.

Register Reporter

Barbara Shafer Beine

Barbara Shafer Beine moved to Iola in 2005 to take care of her ailing mother. Since her mother’s death last year, Beine has found new reasons to stay — again, family-related.
A little over two years ago, their youngest daughter, Jessica, moved from the Kansas City area to be closer to them. Now the family includes granddaughter Alyssa, 2, as well.
Beine grew up in rural Iola, as did her parents and grandparents.
Barbara Shafer was raised on a farm five miles north of Iola. “It was Rural Route 2 back then,” she said of her address.
Her father raised Herefords and she and her siblings tended 4-H pigs. When the wind blew the smell of the swine to the house, her father told them, “That’s the smell of money.” She didn’t like the odor, but the cash after selling the pigs was nice, she admitted.
Barbara attended Iola schools and graduated from Iola High School in 1968.
“We had to wear dresses to our knees,” she said of the school’s dress code. “The next year, they got to wear jeans — I missed out.”
In addition, she said, living on a farm at that time was socially isolating. Highway 169 didn’t exist for easy travel. With parents busy with farm work and other siblings to care for, “We didn’t get to go out very much,” she said. “At that time five miles was too far to go into town but once a week.”
After high school, Barbara moved to Yates Center to work at the Newtex sewing factory. There, she met Phil Beine.
Phil had already enlisted with the Army to pursue his chosen field, avionics. The couple married and moved to Georgia where Phil was based.
When Phil was sent to Germany, Barbara, then pregnant, returned to Iola and lived with her parents, Harry and Juanita Shafer.
In December 1973 their son John was born. Two months later, Barbara and the baby joined Phil in Germany, where they spent the next year.
Back state side, the family lived in several Kansas towns following Phil’s career in aviation electronics, including stays in Ottawa, Wellsville and Olathe.
With the airline industry particularly susceptible to a downward economy, steady employment was hard to come by for the Beines. When he was last laid off in 2005, job prospects were primarily in Kansas City. City life had never appealed to the couple and when Phil’s car was vandalized in a parking lot, it made the decision to move to Iola to help her mother who was suffering from kidney disease, all the easier.
Phil found work in Gas at Microtronics. Daughter Jessica works there now, too, as a secretary.
“I’ve always been a stay-at-home mom,” Beine said of her job.
For fun, Beine said she likes to ride scooters with friends on Iola’s streets. “We just take off and ride all around town. The traffic’s a lot better here than in bigger towns.
“When we moved down here, they had the cheapest houses and property taxes and utilities than where we came from,” she said. Now, however, she noted those prices are all on the rise.
“One thing that’s neat is the drive-in,” she said. “My daughter was 30 years old and had never been to a drive-in movie.”
Beine also likes the fall here. “I love it when it’s cool,” she said. But winter’s ice she could do without. “They don’t scrape the streets,” she said of the city’s lesser-used avenues. “I was shocked when I first came here that they don’t do that.
“But I do like the fact they go around and spray for mosquitoes,” Beine said. In addition, “I like the Bowlus Fine Arts Center and the Christian events there.”
Plus, Beine said, “It’s neat they kept the Funston Memorial up. It used to be out in the country,” she said of the historic home, “and it’s condition was so bad.”
Beine said she would like to see some improvements in Iola.
“The hospital needs to upgrade,” she said. “If anything major happens, you have to go to the hospital in Wichita.”
Also, she hopes the community will rally around providing transportation for dialysis patients.
“I’d ride up there and sleep in the car for four hours,” while her mother received treatment, Beine said of her thrice-weekly trips to Chanute. Beine had to have her mother at her treatment at 4:30 a.m., she said. She said she saw others from Iola doing the same thing, and thinks a van service might be helpful for patients in need.
Beine said she was encouraged by the recent TEA (Turn Everything Around) party and that they were allowed to pray. “But more people should have turned out.”