Bat Masterson, Dennis Hopper, Memorial Hall

(Frank) Today Around Kansas has some great stories for you, starting with one about the life and times of the legendary lawman, Bat Masterson. Then learn about a Dodge City native, the talented actor Dennis Hopper. Next is the story of Memorial Hall in Topeka, built to be a memorial for Civil War veterans. We’ll end with a poem from Ron Wilson.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Good grief, it’s Wednesday again, can you believe it? (Deb) This year is almost gone, it is half gone. (Frank) It is. (Deb) It’s half gone. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) What have we done Frank? (Frank) Well, we’ve been having fun going around Kansas. Hello, I’m Frank Chaffin and this is Deb Goodrich. (Deb) Good morning. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. And you really are around Kansas. I mean, I know you are from North Carolina, Mount Ida and all that. But you really love this state, don’t you? (Deb) I do. I do. It was so funny because I was back home in the hills of Virginia, and North Carolina, just last month. And then the next week I was in western Kansas. So the elevation, this is so strange, the elevation, the mountain top there is right around 3,000 feet. And you’ve got these mountains just rolling beneath you. And so, we’re standing there at the top of Cumberland Knob, which is, I think 2,800 feet and it’s a
mountain. And I told my sister, I said, western Kansas is higher than this. And it’s, I won’t say flat, but it’s not mountains. And I was out there and I woke up at Fort Wallace and Cecil and Jayne Pearce’s house and it was a cool, rainy morning and looking out. And I asked Cecil, I said, what’s the elevation here? And he said, it’s about 3,400 feet. And it’s just so bizarre, that. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) So, you’ve got that altitude, I love the altitude, the high prairie. (Frank) Yea, pilots used to tell me, if you take off in Topeka and don’t adjust your altimeter, you don’t even have to put flaps down to land in western Kansas. (Deb) Yea. Right. (Frank) Yea, it’s just a steady, from the west bank of the Mississippi River I guess, it’s just a real gradual incline until you hit the Rockies. (Frank) Hey, you know another fun place, I was just there last weekend because it was First Sunday at Cassoday and I don’t know if you’re familiar with Cassoday, but it’s a town about the size of this mansion. (Deb) This building, yea. (Frank) But several thousand motorcycles ride in there on First Sunday, between April and October. And I haven’t been down for a couple years, so a buddy and I decided, let’s go. So, we did and it was fun. And we’ll talk about that on some show. (Deb) Drive through the Flint Hills. (Frank) Oh yea, ride through the Flint Hills, get over to 177, go down through Council Grove and Cottonwood Falls. And then on down to Cassoday. It’s a great ride. It’s about two hours. But it’s a fun ride. (Deb) You know Council Grove, I think the 31st of this month Michael Martin Murphy is doing a concert in the Flint Hills at Council Grove. His road manager, Frank Goodrich, no relation, he’s really my brother, he ranches down there and so Michael’s going to be doing a concert. He does so much for Kansas. I mean so much. He’s so generous. You all come out and see him down there at Council Grove. (Frank) Hmmm, so, we’ll be back.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas, I’m Deb and Frank is with me this morning. And you know Heather and I were just out in Dodge City a few weeks ago, one of my favorite places because the history is so cool. And we were in the offices of the High Plains Journal out there, which you know has been around for a long time, and just a really wonderful publication. Very impressive staff. And it was very interesting because you know they’ve got a lot of Wild West figures hanging in the office, but the one that they had the most of was Bat Masterson. Do you remember the TV show? (Frank) Oh yea. Yea, yea. (Deb) That was my first introduction to Bat Masterson. (Frank) But you know he hid behind the piano in the fights and then the way he got his name is he would get out and whack somebody with his cane. (Deb) Whack ’em with his cane. You know, he didn’t really have a cane. Why don’t we take a look and see what he was really all about. From Dodge City to New York City, Bat Masterson lived a life of adventure, surviving the violence of the Wild West that had claimed his brother, Ed, who was gunned down in Dodge. Gene Barry played the sophisticated lawman and gambler in the television show, Bat Masterson, that ran from 1958 to 1961. Bat became as famous as his legendary friend, Wyatt Earp. William Barclay Masterson, forever known as Bat to his friends and enemies alike, was born Bartholomew Masterson in Henryville, Quebec, Canada, on November 26th, 1853. The family moved to Illinois and eventually, to Wichita. Leaving home at 19, Bat became a buffalo hunter and Indian scout, working out of Dodge City. Masterson had his first shootout in 1876 in the town of Sweetwater, later Mobeetie, Texas. When an argument with a soldier over the affections of a dance hall girl named Molly Brennan heated up, Masterson and his opponent resorted to their pistols. When the shooting stopped, both Brennan and the soldier were dead, and Masterson was badly wounded. Some accounts say the girl jumped in front of a bullet meant for Masterson. Found to have been acting in self-defense, Masterson avoided prison. Once he had recovered from his wounds, he apparently decided to abandon his rough ways and become an officer of the law. Though wounded in the hip he recovered, and did not need the use of a cane as portrayed in television. For the next five years, Masterson alternated between work as Dodge City sheriff and running saloons and gambling houses, gaining a reputation as a tough and reliable lawman. However, Masterson’s critics claimed that he spent too much as
sheriff, and he lost a bid for reelection in 1879. He made occasional visits to other western towns, including Tombstone, Arizona where he briefly worked with Wyatt Earp at the Oriental Saloon. He ended his Western days in plush Denver gambling houses, until reform-minded citizens asked him to leave. Bat moved in interesting circles. So many of those legendary characters were his friends, enemies or acquaintances. From his early hunts with Tom Nixon, Bill Tilghman, and Billy Dixon, with whom Bat lived through the siege at Adobe Walls, through his scouting days with Colonel, later General, Miles, to his friendship with Teddy Roosevelt and
the Earps, he saw or heard of the exploits commemorated in hundreds of books, stage plays, television shows, and movies. Bat’s later years were spent in New York City, where he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as Deputy U.S. Marshal for the southern district of New York. He was a feature writer for Human Life Magazine, and a prominent sports editor for the New York Morning Telegraph. In 1921 he died at his desk of a heart attack. It was a quiet end for someone who had known such exciting times.

(Frank) And we’re back. Well, we were talking about Dodge City of course and Bat Masterson. But you know, there’s another Kansan from that area too, and that would be Dennis Hopper. (Deb) What an impressive actor. I mean, he was a little nuts, but he’s a really impressive actor. (Frank) Well, yea he was a Hollywood bad guy and all that and he really played a lot of really bad guys… (Deb) He did. (Frank) …in his movie roles. (Deb) Very well. He played ’em very well. I was in L.A., oh it must have been in the ’90s, I was visiting friends out there. And an article came out in the paper about Dennis Hopper and it was right after the movie Speed had come out and he was sort of back on the map, after a hiatus. And the reporter who had interviewed him had gone out to his little apartment at Venice Beach and he walks into the apartment and Hopper said, Hey do you know anything about dryers? And he’s like, Dryers? And he says, Yea, my dryer won’t work. And he’s like, I don’t know. And he said, I didn’t know
anything, but heck, it’s Dennis Hopper, I’m gonna take a look at his dryer. And he said, Well have you cleaned the lint vent? And he says, Lint vent? So, the reporter goes over and he could barely pull the lint vent out because it was just crammed full of stuff. And he pulls it out and then they put it back and push it and it starts working. And Dennis is like, WOW, man! (Frank) Yea. So, well another Kansan of course, made it big in show business. So, let’s take a look. Younger audiences got to know the actor Dennis Hopper when he appeared as the crazed and cunning bad guy in the movie Speed, with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Older
audiences recall his work in television and movie classics. Wherever people saw his face, it became familiar to generations of fans. Two months before Hopper died, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For the kid voted most likely to succeed, it might have seemed inevitable. For Hopper, though, who had struggled with addiction most of his life, it must have seemed a final validation of his talent. Much of Hollywood, wrote a critic, found Hopper a pain in the neck. Hopper was born on May 17, 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, and expressed an interest in art and acting from a young age. When the family moved to Kansas City, Hopper attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Hopper was a teenager when the family moved to San Diego. Hopper had guest appearances in numerous television shows including Medic,Cheyenne, Bonanza, the Rifleman, Sugarfoot and Gunsmoke. He was a villain in the Clint Eastwood classic, Hang ‘em High and John Wayne’s True Grit. He appeared in Gunfight at the OK Corral and the Sons of Katie Elder, as well as many other classics. James Dean became a close friend when the two worked together on the films Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. Dean had encouraged Hopper to pursue his obvious talent for photography in addition to acting. Hopper was devastated by Dean’s death. In early 1969, Hopper, fellow actor Peter Fonda and writer Terry Southern, wrote a counterculture road movie script and managed to scrape together
$400,000 in financial backing. Hopper directed the low-budget film titled Easy Rider, starring Fonda, Hopper and a young Jack Nicholson. The film was a phenomenal box-office success, appealing to the anti-establishment youth culture of the times. It changed the Hollywood landscape almost overnight and major studios all jumped onto the anti-establishment
bandwagon, pumping out low-budget films about rebellious hippies, bikers, draft dodgers and pot smokers. His own struggles with legal and illegal substances affected the quality of his work, he acknowledged, and when he went through drug and alcohol rehab, his work improved. His performances in Apocalypse Now and Out of the Blue signaled a renaissance of interest in his talent. Many notable performances followed and, interestingly, the offbeat Hopper was selected in the early 1980s to provide the voice of The StoryTeller in the animated series of Rabbit Ears children’s films based upon the works of Hans Christian Andersen! As well as his acting/directing talents, Hopper was a skilled photographer and painter, having had his
works displayed in galleries in both the United States and overseas. He was additionally a dedicated and knowledgeable collector of modern art and has one of the most extensive collections in the United States. Dennis Hopper died of cancer on May 29, 2010, less than two weeks after his 74th birthday.

(Deb) Welcome back. We are in Topeka, of course. Right here in the Dillon House, close to the Capitol. And it’s just one of the beautiful buildings that surround the Capitol Square. (Frank) And of course, we’re also across from First Presbyterian Church, which of course, is famous for its Tiffany windows. We’re gonna have to do something with that. (Deb) We are, because they are truly a treasure. They are incredible. And you’ve seen stained glass, most of us have in a lot of places. But when you go in there and see the light come through those, they really are a work of art. (Frank) It’s amazing. (Deb) So Capitol Square’s just got gorgeous buildings around it. And one of the really beautiful buildings is Memorial Hall. Now, some of you may be old enough, like me, to have have been in Memorial Hall when it housed the Kansas State Historical Society. And there are a lot of people who were school kids that used to come up and go through there when it was the Historical Society; they would do tours. And now of course, it’s the Secretary of State’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office. And the Historical Society has moved out to the west coast of Topeka. But Memorial Hall is Memorial Hall because it was built as a memorial to the veterans of the Civil War. So right now, while we’re celebrating, we’re marking the end of the Civil War, 150 years ago in 1865, it’s really fitting to take a look at the memorial that came from that. Per capita, the state of Kansas contributed more soldiers than any other to the Union in the Civil War. Following the war, so many veterans moved here that Kansas earned the nickname, The Soldier State. Early on, the idea of a Memorial Hall began as a movement to honor those Civil War veterans from Kansas. In 1906, Captain P.H. Coney of the Kansas Grand Army of the Republic suggested that the state construct a soldiers’ memorial. The following year, Coney and Governor John D. Martin, himself a veteran and considered the father of the Kansas National Guard, suggested the construction of a sailors’ and soldiers’ monument hall. Meanwhile, the Kansas State Historical Society was running out
of space for its collection. In December, 1876, the Society was located in a small room of the Capitol, and over the years it grew to eventually take up the entire fourth floor of the statehouse’s south wing. Then in 1908, it was announced that Kansas would soon receive a large sum of money when the state’s war claims debts were paid by the federal government. This was reimbursement for funds used to raise and equip troops. Public sentiment favored using the money to construct a memorial building. A bill was passed the following year to create the Memorial Hall Building Commission, and a total of $200,000 was appropriated for the building’s construction. President William Howard Taft laid the cornerstone on September 27, 1911. Construction of Memorial Hall continued off and on throughout the next few years, until on May 27, 1914, a dedication ceremony was held, attended by an estimated twenty-five thousand people. During that ceremony, GAR Commander John N. Harrison summed up the building philosophy: It’s magnificent walls of pure white marble are more eloquent than articulate speech — its very silence is impressive far beyond and above the words of man, for it assures my comrades living, that my comrades living and dead, are held in sacred memory
by the great, patriotic liberty-loving people of Kansas. Memorial Hall continued to house the Historical Society until its move to a new building on the west side of Topeka in 1995. Memorial Hall underwent an extensive restoration effort. A rededication ceremony was held on January 28, 2000, and the building became the home of the Kansas Attorney General and Kansas
Secretary of State.

(Ron) There is a group called the Kansas Barn Alliance, which promotes and preserves barns as a vital part of the rural lifestyle of Kansas. This poem is entitled Barns are Beautiful. I think a barn is a beautiful thing, surrounded by grass in the early spring. It’s a place of shade to store some hay, with stanchions for milking cows from bygone day. Or perhaps a tack room or stalls of course, where you can stable a cow or a horse. Or maybe its converted to some modern use, which a rural landowner will come to choose. It may have a gable or gambrel roof to maintain, topped off by a cupola or a weather vane. It may be built of stone or old wood, but it brings back memories when times were good. It’s a symbol of our nation’s rural legacy. A part of our landscape for all to see. And when you’ve worked hard on the range and you’re all in, just waitin’ for the workday to come to an end, it’s sweet to hear those words when the boss says, Oh, darn. I guess it’s quittin’ time. Let’s go to the barn. Happy Trails.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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