African American Kansas History Trail, Miami County Wine Trolley

(Frank Chaffin) Today on Around Kansas our first story is about the African American Kansas History Trail with historic sites all across the state. Next see how the Miami County Wine Trolley was started by Brian and Michelle Roberts. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a tribute to Cally Krallman, a Kansan who does it all, paintings, photography and songwriting.

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(Frank Chaffin) Good morning in the middle of May. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) This is Around Kansas. People, places and things that make Kansas a great place to live and work and travel and see great things. (Deb) We’ve got a bunch of them. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) We’ve got a bunch of them today. Frank, are you – Jake was just sharing something with me the other day on the motorcycle ride. So, have you gotten out on your bike yet this spring? (Frank) Yes. Seeing Kansas on two wheels is so much different than from a car. It really is. Anybody who’s a rider understands that. It’s whether it’s motorized, like a motorcycle; and of course, there are getting to be more and more bicyclists too. (Deb) Yes, lots of them, lots. (Frank) Yes. And it’s amazing the number of miles that some of these people will ride in a day. I have some friends, of course, on Facebook that are bicycle riders. “Well, I did my 60-mile ride today.” I’m like, “What?” [Laughs]. (Deb) I used to. I need, obviously, I need to get back in it. I think the most I ever did in a day was 35 miles. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) I thought I was pretty proud of myself for that. (Frank) [Laughs] I used to ride at the Shunga Trail and I’d figure Hey, 11 miles; I’m done! (Deb) I did too, yes. And then getting there and back, I think that would be 15 miles. I used to do that about every day. But I just don’t have a good – this is my excuse – I don’t have a good place to ride. You know we live right on the dirt road. I just don’t have a good place to ride. I do get out and – (Frank) Excuses! (Deb) My workout is out in the corral, picking up stray objects in the corral [Laughs]. Trying to chase horses to get them back in the corral. (Frank) Wherever you would go, yes. (Deb) Yes. People asked me if I ride a horseback. And I’m like, “No, I’m just the caretaker. I’ll feed them. I’ll chase some [laughs]. And I haven’t been horseback riding in years. I don’t want to unless I can keep it up, just to get on and ride every now and then but having the time to keep it up every day. The one that we’ve got would be good enough for me to ride, who’s old enough [Laughs] slow enough for me to get back on, to get back in the habit. She’s a mare that just got this new filly and so I don’t want to interfere with her momma time. So, that’s another excuse. I’m just full of them today. (Frank) Just a real short story; when my kids were younger, we used to go horseback riding in one of the farms around here that had horseback rides and learned that the time of the day is important, because if you go in the afternoon and you get on the horses and you go out, the horse would say, “I’m done for the day.” And they’ll turn around and go back to the barns. (Deb) Feeding time. (Frank) Yes [Laughs]. (Deb) Feeding time. (Frank) Oh, man. (Deb) They want a break. They want to feed, yes. (Frank) Yes. It’s like, “Let’s go [Laughs].” It’s like, “No I’m going to the barn.” (Deb) Jake is getting ready to do a big horseback ride. This is a 135-140 miles, he’s going to recreate. (Frank) Who? (Deb) He and some other guys are going to recreate the Kidder ride from 1867 all without the massacre at the end. They are not going to die at the end. (Frank) [Laughs] (Deb) But, yes. So, he’s recruited some other guys. They’re going to start up at Julesburg, Colorado, and cut through Nebraska and down northeast of Goodland or a little east of Goodland where Kidder and his guys were killed in 1867. (Frank) Speaking of trails and rides and all that, we’ve got a story about a trail. (Deb) it’s pretty cool. (Frank) In Kansas, yes. (Deb) Another one. Next is all kinds of trails. (Frank) That will be coming up.

(Frank) Here we’re again. This is Around Kansas. (Deb) In case you just tuned in. (Frank) Yes. At first we do a lot of nonsense. But then we really get into some pretty cool stories. (Deb) Yes. Kicking and screaming we’re dragged in to some pretty good stories to get away from all the nonsense. This is a really great one, African American History Trail in Kansas. And, of course, being a historian this is one that’s very close to my heart. Because, Kansas was founded in the very heart of the matter whether or not we’re going to be a free state or a slave state.; at the time when whether or not slavery would be expanded into the western part of the country. Of course, that ripped the nation in two. Kansas is right at the heart of that. But, it’s not just at the heart of the controversy. It’s at the heart of black people finding a home in the midst of that and then after the war. And so the Exodusters – it’s a very famous story and all of freed slaves coming out of the south; the First Kansas Colored, the Buffalo Soldiers, we’ve got all that early history. But then it goes on and on and on. This is about bringing together of all those eras and all those different stories. Yes, I love the story. The Kansas African American Museum, formerly the venerable Calvary Baptist Church, was once the cornerstone of Wichita’s vibrant black community. It was built in 1917 when the congregation’s leaders worked nights and weekends, separate and apart from their jobs, to finish the church. That community featured restaurants, businesses and homes. It hosted jazz artists, Negro League Baseball stars, and was the home of America’s first African American Academy Award winner and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lawyer among others. Its newest project is the African American Kansas History Trail. As recipients of the Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant, the museum will collaborate with partner sites to distinguish and tell the story of the African American contributions to Kansas at its various historical sites, chronicling the people, places, and events that created this rich history. The sites and the stories they tell are varied in location, era of time and cultural influences. It truly encompasses the entire state. The sites include Nicodemus, African American Township; The Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Ft. Riley and active in Ft. Scott and Baxter Springs; The Richard Allen Museum and Cultural Center, Leavenworth; brown vs. Board National Historic Site; home of Langston Hughes, Lawrence; home of Gordon Parks, Ft. Scott; several sites on the Underground Railroad including the John and Mary Jane Ritchie House in Topeka; the John Brown Memorial Park in Osawatomie; the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; George Washington Carver exhibits in Minneapolis and many others. It is the intent of the partnership to form an alliance to support and sustain the sites along the Trail, to elevate public awareness, to develop educational programs and to celebrate and share this history throughout the nation. Visit the Museum’s website for more information on this exciting partnership.

(Frank) We’re back. This is Trail Day today, I guess. So, anyway [Laughs]. Well – (Deb) There’s another trail idea close to my heart. (Frank) This is another trail. But, this is a newer trail. Because at one time Kansas was number four in wine making in the United States before prohibition. (Deb) Isn’t that wild? (Frank) Yes. Because the climate, the land and all that was just right for really raising some really good grapes. Well, they disappeared. But as we know here – (Deb) They became raisins, before that’s what happened. (Frank) Yes [Laughs], right. The wine making industry started again. And, of course, this is Kansas and there’s a lot of resistance to alcohol and all of that. But, it has blossomed in the state. You may be familiar with the Wine Trail over in Missouri. Well, there’s a Kansas Wine Trail as well. That’s what this next story is about, because some people got together with the wineries. They went over to visit – (Deb) Hermann, Missouri. (Frank) – Hermann, Missouri and spent six months there learning how to do this. Anyway that’s part of the story. So, we’re going to talk about the Somerset Wine Trail. This is Kansas Profile from Ron Wilson, Director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University. Let’s hit the trail. It’s not a biking trail or a hiking trail, this is a wine trail. Now it is possible to hit this wine trail by trolley. There’s a growing wine business in Miami County, Kansas. One element of that growth was the creation of the Somerset Wine Trail. A trolley service is now available for wine trail travelers and others. Brian and Michelle Roberts are owners of Miami County Trolley. Brian, a Kansas native, worked in sales and marketing in Iowa for 17 years before coming back to Kansas near where his wife’s parents live in Miami County. “My wife and I were looking to start some business of our own,” Brian said. In 2010, he and Michelle visited the town of Hermann in the heart of Missouri wine country. They noticed a trolley service, which provided transportation to the local wineries. It was an appealing idea, considering the growing winery industry developing back home in Miami County, but Brian wasn’t sure there were enough wineries to support it. “We had three wineries in the county,” Brian said. “In 2012, a fourth winery opened, and we decided to go for it. Brian and Michelle met with Janet McRae, the Economic Development Director for Miami County. “Janet was huge for us,” Brian said. She helped with business planning and more. They consulted with each of the wineries. In order to fully learn the business, Brian and Michelle went back to Hermann, Missouri, to the guy who owned the trolley service there. “We spent six months with the guy in Hermann and learned the business inside and out. He sold us our first trolley.” Brian and Michelle established Miami County Trolley. One of the wineries, Somerset Ridge, had taken the lead in establishing a highway route called the Somerset Wine Trail, which linked the wineries in the county. Miami County Trolley is available for weddings, corporate events and parties, but the primary business is the wine trail. “If they stay in Miami County, we can pick them up and return them right to their lodging,” Brian said. Miami County has the Paola Inn and Suites plus several bed and breakfasts. The trolley can go to each place and shuttle people to the wineries. The business has grown to the point that Brian purchased a second trolley in September 2014. “It’s become a full-time job for me,” Brian said. He has even hired four other drivers. The trolleys themselves are the classic vehicles, fully enclosed with heat and wood interior seats. There is even a bell for the driver to ring. One trolley is diesel and the other has a gas engine. One can hold twenty passengers and the other can hold thirty. “We can shuttle up to a hundred people in a day,” Brian said. It is such a convenient and worry-free way to travel, and especially to enjoy the wine trail. Seats on the trolley are booked by reservation. “We generally fill up,” Brian said. He also has a fourteen-passenger van, which can pick up other passengers and bring them to the trolley. “I like meeting new people,” Brian said. “It’s a lot of work but it doesn’t feel like work. We’re continuing to grow the business.” Miami County Trolley is based in the rural community of Paola, population 5,033. Now, That’s Rural!

(Ron Wilson) A cowboy has a lot of dirty messy jobs and oftentimes that involves the south end of a cow going north but when we’re sorting cattle, there is a very important job and that is the job of the gateman. It’s a thankless job because he has to make some split-second decisions. In his honor, this poem is entitled The Gateman. There are certain thankless jobs that you encounter in this life like a policeman given parking tickets or perhaps the farmer’s wife who is sent to town for parts, “It’s about yay big. We don’t know the model number but it looks like a thing of a jig.” Those jobs are truly thankless. But among the cowboy clan there is no job so thankless as that of The Gateman. When we go to sorting cattle, and the gateman’s simple job is to open and shut the gate when we separate the mob. But that task ain’t nearly as simple as it sounds. He must decide in a split-second with chaos all around. He may have angry steers barreling straight towards him or a crazy cow that will dodge, or jump or kick upon a whim. He gets splattered by manure and will have the gate tore from his hand but he must do the job just right to meet the boss’ demand. His head may be spinning from the contrary directions about when a cowboy says to stop the calf and the other says, “Turn him out.” The gateman’s job is thankless but he can always protect his fate by saying to his critics, “All right. It’s your turn to man the gate.” Happy Trails.

(Frank) Here we are again. We really haven’t said anything about where our studio is today. We, of course, are at the Dillon House, which is right across from the State Capitol and an historic home that’s been converted into actually a meeting venue. (Deb) Yes, an events center. There are offices for Pioneer Group upstairs. (Frank) Yes. And so they allow us to come in here and do our shows. (Deb) Yes, bless their hearts. (Frank) Sure. (Deb) And it’s beautiful. I believe the arrangement behind us, I have to give a shout out to David Porterfield; Porterfield has just an amazing talent and creativity. Speaking of talent and creativity, that leads to our next person, Cally Krallman. Cally has been my friend for a long time. A few weeks ago I was the speaker for the annual meeting at the, gosh, don’t let me get this wrong, the Prairie Museum of Art and History; I hope that’s the right name, in Colby. But it’s the museum there. Cally’s art is on display there right now and it’s in galleries just all over the place, not only in Kansas, but also in other places. If you do First Friday Artwalk in Topeka, you will see Cally’s art at Beauchamp’s or at the – (Frank) SouthWind. (Deb) – or at SouthWind with her friend Gary Blitsch, or just any number of places. She’s just amazing. She’s prolific and just an amazingly talented person and a singer, songwriter and just incredible. Just another one of the amazing people we know Around Kansas. Cally Krallman is a storyteller. Sometimes her stories are told through paintings, sometimes through song, but the message is always clear. This is a woman who is connected to the world of nature and its creative muse. She grew up as far west in Kansas as one can get without creeping over into Colorado and has lived the last several years in Topeka, a totally different landscape and people-scape, for those unfamiliar with our geography or demography. Her art reflects how she doesn’t just understand Kansas, she feels Kansas – the high plains, the Flint Hills, the expanse of prairie, the intimate groves, the struggles, the victories. Cally was inspired by her aunt who was an artist. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Washburn and worked in graphic design, and is experienced in screen-printing and photography. Now a prolific songwriter, she has co-created six albums, including Prairie Glimpses: the Kansas Song Project, an album celebrating the history of Kansas with her friend, Diane Gillenwater. In a recent interview, Cally told John Pototschnik, When painting, I know within minutes if the piece is going to work. There is a flow that just happens naturally. I guess you could refer to that as inspiration. Early in my songwriting experience, the songs would just “come”. I would wake in the middle of the night and have to get up and go write the darn things down! I have many songs that are scrawled on bank receipts, napkins, and scraps of paper that were handy when lyrics would pop into head. There probably was medication for it, but I chose to embrace it instead of medicate it! Now when I write it is in more of a controlled intentional way. The beauty of my songwriting is that I don’t have to write to survive, so I can just do it when it comes. In songwriting, most of the time a chorus comes first, then I build the song around that. In painting, I look for something of beauty that I think others will relate to. Cally’s paintings are a testament that she has indeed found something of beauty we can all relate to.

(Frank) Well, already we have to go. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere – (Frank and Deb) – Around Kansas.

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