"When I Was a Boy in Kansas"


                  MISS JULIA RODMAN, c. 1916

Julia Elbridge Rodman graduated from Paola High School
and studied at Columbia Christian College in Missouri.

"Accomplished, with many graces of mind and heart,
she is versed as well in the gentler arts of home making
and housekeeping."
                                 -Miami County Republic, 1916

    C.H.'s father, Charles Howard Mullen, Sr. (Howard) of Eureka, Kansas, was born in 1894, the son of
    Charles David and Belle Mishler Mullen, and grandson of Irish immigrant William Seabright Mullen,
    who came to America in 1852 as a stowaway onboard ship.

    Howard Mullen, pictured here, taught manual training at Paola High School at the time of his meeting
    Julia.  He received his education at Kansas Teachers' College in Pittsburg, and took summer courses
    at the University of Chicago.  He was also a maker of fine furniture.

                                                     JULIA RODMAN MULLEN, 1918

                        Baby Charles Howard Mullen, Jr., born June 11, 1917, in Paola, Kansas.

After Howard and Julia and baby C.H. moved to Marion, Kansas that same year, they purchased the
former Faust General Store.  "This establishment, which became the Mullen Racket Store, was one of
Marion's most progressive businesses for ten years."   -Marion County Record, May 19, 1960

In 1927, Howard entered the insurance business and became the Marion representative for Equitable Life Assurance for over forty years until his death in 1960.

                                               HOMAGE TO AUNT MOLLIE & UNCLE CHARLIE
                                                Mary "Mollie" E. Haughey Kelk, c. 1938
                                                Photo taken on the front porch of Julia and
                                                Howard Mullen's home in Marion, Kansas.

Mollie Kelk (1861-1940) was the wife of Charles Thomas Kelk (1859-1931) of Paola, Kansas.

Let us pay tribute to Charlie and Mollie Kelk.  They took in their niece Julia Rodman at an early age,
and raised her as their own for fifteen years.  This wonderful aunt and uncle gave Julia away at her
wedding to Charles Howard Mullen on June 27, 1916, at the Kelk residence, 701 East Wea Street,
in Paola, with 80 guests in attendance.

From this photograph, one could surmise that Mollie was a lady in every sense of the word, who, together with Charles, taught their niece Julia the art of living-- surrounded by beauty, the love of nature, good works, learning, faith, friends and family.  These qualities lived on in Julia, and were passed down to subsequent generations of the Mullen family with our deepest gratitude.

                                       JULIA AND HOWARD'S WEDDING PARTY, June 27, 1916
     Excerpts from the Miami County Record, June, 1916:

"The bride wore a handsome gown of ruffled net, with a hoop skirt, and
her tulle veil was caught in her hair with lilies-of-the-valley...
After taking their places before a mirrored background, enclosed in a 
lattice work of daisies and smilax [vines], the ring ceremony
was read by Rev. Benjamin E. Ogden..."

Music for the wedding included the songs "I Love You Truly",  "Believe me, if all those endearing
young charms", and "A Perfect Love".

                                                                          BABY C.H.
                                                          First picture in C.H.'s baby book.

Julia and Howard Mullen became parents in 1917, with the birth of their eldest son Charles Howard, Jr.,
born on June 11, 1917.  Three more children were born:   Myron "Woody" Mullen (1918-1938); Molly
Katherine (1920-1997); Barbara Gene (1922-1969).

                                                              C.H. MAKES HIS DEBUT
                      Baby C.H. makes his debut as a "centerpiece" at a ladies' tea hosted by his mother.  


                                     4 GENERATIONS OF C.H. MULLEN JR.'S FAMILY  
    Left to Right:  Belle Mishler Mullen, C.H.'s grandmother;  C.H.'s father Charles Howard Mullen, Sr.,
    little C.H.; Rachel E. Alexander Mishler, C.H.'s great-grandmother.    


                                 C.H. (far right) is all dressed up, having had his formal picture
                                 taken.  He is seated with his little cousins and their dog on their 
                                 porch in Eureka, Kansas.

            C.H. and his "bride" Mary Gross, c.1921.   

                                 The Mullen children are featured in the rotogravure section of
                                 the Wichita Sunday Eagle, November 13, 1927.  C.H. (left) is
                                 ten years old, stands with Woody; Molly (left) & Barbara (right).

                                The Mullen family home at 225 Locust Street, Marion, Kansas.   
                                              (Note the original placement of the front door) 

                 The cut-out animal cards are from the Cases, who lived next door to the Mullen family.  
                 The Christmas card is from Taylor Riddle Smith.   

SETTING THE STAGE:  Elocution ~ Magic Tricks ~ Violin ~ Sunday School ~ Shakespeare

                                            C.H. in the backyard with his dog Blackie, c. 1925

C.H. was active in so many things as a school boy, that he sometimes turned in a mixed report card at year's end!  Marion, Kansas had a number of dedicated music, speech and drama teachers who exposed young C.H. to classical music, theater and literature.  It was in the 1920s when he gave his first speech, (Lincoln's Gettysburg Address) and learned the fine points of elocution from Mrs. Matlock.  He excelled
in spelling and starred in an operetta.  Here is a gallery of some of his accomplishments as a boy:

                          Spelling contests and readings were both edifying for C.H. and his 
                          fellow participants, and entertaining for the audience of proud parents. 
                          C.H. won 5 lbs. of candy for finishing third in a county-wide spelling

                                        C.H. attended Sunday School at the Christian Church, 
                                        and later at First Presbyterian Church in Marion.  He
                                        knew Bible verses and old time hymns by heart.

                           First prayer from C.H.'s baby book, and an early Sunday School project.

                      Excellence in Spelling Certificates for 1925, when C.H. was in the 2nd Grade.

                                              Certificate of Promotion from 4th to 5th Grade   

                                                     C.H. as a junior high school student.  

                                   Setting the stage for future gags... it started with magic tricks
                                   and vaudeville jokes!

                                        C.H. played the role of Demetrius in Shakespeare's
                                        A Midsummer Night's Dream.

                                         C.H. played the lead role of Tommy in the operetta,
                                         "The Forest Court", April 27, 1927.  

                                               C.H. played a Waltz by Hans Sitt on his violin.

                                                  C.H. played the role of Prof. Weinhaben
                                                  in "Mrs. Flynn's Lodgers".     

                                        Marion Junior High School Promotion Exercises, 1931.  
                                        C.H. was a featured violin soloist, and played two numbers.

                                                       C.H.'s high school graduation photo,

                                                           Mullen family photo, c. 1935.  
                                   Front row, left to right;  Woody, Barbara, Molly, C.H., Blackie
                                                            Back row:  Howard and Julia 


                     Barbara, Molly, Julia & Howard, 1938.          Molly, Barbara and Julia, c. 1962.    

                                           Howard and Julia Mullen, New Year's Day, 1938.

                                       Mullen family members, spouses, and grandchildren, 1940s
                              Back row:  Don Hollar, C.H. Mullen, Julia Mullen, Howard Mullen
                              Front row:  Barbara with Linda, Alice with Martha, Molly with Don.

                                                      Howard and Julia Mullen, Easter, 1951. 
                                                                   (Kodacolor Print) 

"Howard Mullen was one of Marion's most dedicated boosters... He was active in the civic life 
of his town, always at work for those projects which would advance the prestige of Marion."
                                                                                   -Marion County Record, May 19, 1960

He was a charter member of the Kiwanis Club, the Marion Country Club, and canvassed for St. 
Luke's Hospital.  He helped out when a flood devastated the library's collection of books, and 
campaigned to replenish the volumes lost.  He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and
was involved in a rebuilding project and many other activities there.  He was a member of the 
Blue Lake Lodge of the Masons.

Howard Mullen shared Julia's love of gardening and yard work at their corner lot on Locust at 
Denver Street in Marion.  He collapsed while mowing the lawn on May 13, 1960,  and died at 
home that day. 

"One of Howard Mullen's outstanding characteristics was his love of beauty... Many are those 
who have been the recipients of the flowers which he and Julia produced..."
                                                                                    -Marion County Record, May 19, 1960.  

Howard's memorial service was held on Sunday, May 15, 1960. 

                                                                    article continued...
                                                   First Presbyterian Church bulletin and
                                                   Marion County Record article.


Julia Mullen, a person Martha Stewart would have found inspiring, was never without a 
creative project up her sleeve or in her apron pocket.  It usually involved something delicious, 
or visually appealing, or both!

Her intricately decorated Christmas cookies were well-known in the community.  With frosting guns
and food coloring at the ready, she worked her magic and brought classic cookie cutter shapes to colorful
life:  Santas, bells, reindeer, sleighs, angels, camels, and wreathes were delivered by hand, or mailed out to far-flung family members.  

Flimsy shoe boxes overflowing with cookies carefully wrapped in wax paper arrived in Kalamazoo, much to the delight of her son C.H., daughter-in-law Alice, and her two grandchildren who thought she was the grandmother from "central casting" (who even looked like Mrs. Santa Claus)!  

This photo, from a 1975 feature article on Julia Mullen that appeared in the Christmas eve issue of the Marion County Register, shows her poised and ready for another delivery of cookies, jams, jellies, and knitted creations.  "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas" without Julia's presents-- or presence!

   C.H. and family spend Easter at home in Marion, late-1950s.  Charming photo of C.H. with his dad.

Easter at Julia and Howard Mullen's was as eventful as the Christmas season.  Once the New Year's Baby had knocked on the door at 225 Locust Street, thoughts turned to Spring, which meant one thing-- the Easter Egg Tree!  

Julia got the idea from her grandmother, whose Pennsylvania Dutch neighbors had decorated trees with Easter eggs more than a century ago.

After the Christmas cookie cutters were put away, it was scrambled eggs on the menu for the next few months, to build up Julia's collection of eggs for the tree.  

Pin pricks on either end of an egg and a good blow on one end would force the yolks out, and leave 
the hollow shell intact, ready for coloring and stringing together in clusters. Bushel baskets were 
brought out of storage, filled to the brim with eggs that had made it through last Easter's spring storms, ready to join their new counterparts on the branches of the magnolia tree in the front yard for another season.  

                        C.H. poses with the Kalamazoo iteration of Julia's Easter Egg Tree, 1960s. 
                        The egg tree became a Waite Avenue tradition of the Mullens.

                     Julia's Easter Egg Tree followed her to Terrace Gardens seniors' residence in
                     Wichita.  She was photographed here in 1989, just after turning 100 in February.


                            Photo montage of Julia Mullen with C.H. and Alice, 1970s and 1980s.

                               Julia Mullen on July 4, 1976, in a dress and bonnet she made for
                               Marion's bi-centennial celebration.                                                   


                               Julia Rodman was born in Paola, Kansas, on February 21, 1889.

             Julia Rodman Mullen died peacefully in Wichita, Kansas,  February 18, 1992,  just three days
             before her 103rd birthday.  She is interred in Marion Cemetery.


         C.H. returns to his boyhood home at 225 Locust Street in Marion, at the time of Julia's funeral.
                                                   (note the new location of the front door)                                                                         

                            Julia Mullen obituary in the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, February 19, 1992.