Kansas 105

Today’s Trivia (May 1)

Few African-Americans had access to high society and wealth during the first half of the 20th century. Wichita veterinarian Monroe Balton and his wife, teacher Edith Ruth, had both.

The couple rubbed elbows with Wichita's rich and powerful. Yet, they couldn't eat in the restaurants where Wichita's elite ate, join the Wichita Country Club where he treated animals, or attend movies where whites watched Hollywood's latest.

Monroe Balton, one of the first black veterinarians in Wichita, ran a practice from 1938 to 1965. It took him to the Wichita Stockyards, where he castrated and inoculated livestock; to the Riverside Zoo, where he surgically removed monkeys' eye teeth; and to the Wichita Country Club, where he treated polo ponies.

Aviation magnate Olive Ann Beech brought her pet collies to his clinic. Longtime city park employee Emerson McAdams, for whom McAdams Park was named, brought his raccoon. Pet skunks were the rage, and Dr. Balton specialized in removing skunks' scent glands.

The only Wichita theater that allowed minorities to sit where they pleased was the now-closed Dunbar Theater at 1007 Cleveland, on Ninth Street near where I-135 is now. Other theaters restricted them to the balconies.

Blacks had separate YMCAs from whites — the Water Street Branch and Hutcherson Branch — and separate schools, including L'Ouverture, Dunbar and Frederick Douglass elementaries.

Because so much of Wichita social life was off-limits to blacks, the Balton family was among a handful of families to host book clubs, bridge and Christmas parties in their home.

When they would travel, Monroe Balton would rent a rail coach car for the family, which couldn't ride with white passengers.

Question: What was the name of the Monroe Balton’s clinic?

Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 in landscaping services from Hillside Nursery.

Answer to Saturday’s question: The name given to African-American settlers who fled the racial discrimination and poverty of the South during the Reconstruction years after the Civil War were “Exodusters.”

Check Kansas.com on Monday for the answer to today’s question.