(Frank Chaffin) Today Around Kansas looks at the Brown Mansion, a wonder of Kansas architecture, built in 1906. Then learn about Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor, a deaf-mute Major League pitcher born in Oskaloosa in 1875. Next relive the terrifying invasion of grasshoppers in July 1874; and we’ll end with a story about the Declaration of Independence.
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(Frank Chaffin) Well, here we are. It’s Wednesday. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) This is Around Kansas. We have some nice easy chairs here. Gosh, it’s the 5th of July. Tell you what, talk amongst yourselves. I’m going to have a little nap. (Deb) Yes, you can see Frank just got here from a 4th of July celebration, casual Wednesday. I’m just too short to put my arm up on the – I can’t be cool and casual like Frank. I’m just too short for it, too short to be cool. (Frank) I’ll scrunch down. (Deb) All right. Well, I’m in the middle of big events. We’ve got all the stuff that we’ve been planning for a year and a half up at the Wallace and Western Kansas; Logan and Sherman, and every county out there I think is involved somehow in Wallace County. But we had the round up for the Kidder ride on Monday out at Goodland. Then tomorrow is our bus tour of the Western Vista Scenic Byway. Tomorrow would be Thursday, Friday is our, Friday is nerd day Frank. My personal favorite for all the history symposium, for all the nerds out there. Then Saturday is the big encampment and Michael Martin Murphey concert. The encampment is free. You’ll come out and see us right there on the Fort Wallace Museum grounds. You can’t believe how many people this has taken to pull off and all the work that’s gone into it. That night, of course, no better way to end than with Michael Martin Murphey. Then on Sunday we have a really special memorial service at the Fort Wallace Cemetery. When those western post were de-commissioned mostly in the 1880s and ’90s, many of the graves were moved to Fort Leavenworth or Fort McPherson, other national cemeteries, but there’s still some very interesting graves there. Of course, not all of the soldiers were gotten. There is a beautiful rock wall around the cemetery. There is cenotaph or an obelisk that the seventh cavalry out up to its own men in 1867. It’s pretty awesome. We worked real hard. Then of course, the museum will be open with a new edition, which we’ve just been working so hard on, so many people. The statue of Scout William Comstock will be placed. Life will be good. (Frank) [Laughs] Okay. (Deb) What have you been doing Frank? [Laughter] (Frank) Well, it’s summer time. I chill out in the summer times, so pretty boring what I’ve been doing. Actually, we did launch another radio station. (Deb) Seriously? (Frank) Yes, we did. Now we are two. Well, because WREN Radio is the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Well, we launched Lazer, and it’s lazerlive.com. It’s ’70s and ’80s music only. (Deb) Awesome. (Frank) We’ve got several decades of music covered now, so take your choice, listen in, and enjoy. (Deb) Super. (Frank) Yes, so been a little busy there. (Deb) My goodness. We just got so many cool things going on. (Frank) [Laughs] Yes, anyway – (Deb) Cool, being the operative word. We be cool. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) We be cool. We got a great show. Stay with us.
(Frank) Here we are again. Surprise. (Deb) Real surprise we came back – they thought we would leave. Stay down. Sneak out the back door while we were gone. Some people have trust issues, don’t they? Hey, there’s so much going on, and I want to give you a heads up. We’re going to do the next story on the Brown Mansion down in Coffeyville, but this Sunday, I believe, if I’ve if my dates right, July 9th, there is a big event going on at the Brown Mansion, so a great time to go over there. Find them on Facebook or on their website, Visit Coffeyville or whatever their Visitor’s Bureau is. The Brown Mansion is – we throw that term around – this is a real mansion. It is spectacular. Of course, that’s the southern edge of Kansas especially – what is all over the southern edge of Kansas? A lot of gas, a lot of oil, and that’s the money that built this really spectacular mansion. It’s just crying for a party. We got to go have a party there. See you there! William Pitzer Brown, with a fortune accumulated through natural gas, commissioned the Kansas City, Kansas, firm of Wilder and Wight to design his home. Situated in a commanding position atop a hill, the 16-room neoclassic mansion was completed in 1906 at a wholesale cost of $125,000. Inviting first and second-story verandas supported by Tuscan columns grace the entire south and west sides. Patterned railings found in Jeffersonian architecture adorn the balcony. An ornate portico tops the two-story porte cochere. Unlike the classic exterior, the interior of the home is an example of the era’s most up-to-date conveniences. Nine fireplaces of different design – most burning natural gas – augment the central heating. Gasoliers – using both electricity and natural gas – illuminate the home. Both the main doors have Tiffany leaded-glass panels featuring Fleur-de-lis. The main floor includes a two-story entry, living room, parlor, music room, library, conservatory, dining room, billiard room, kitchen, and maid’s quarters. A Tiffany chandelier hangs in the dining room. Five bedrooms and three full baths are on the second floor. The entire third floor is a ballroom. The walls in several rooms have hand-painted canvas coverings. A full basement houses the butler’s quarters, laundry, heating system, walk-in icebox, wine cellar, and storage rooms. The 20-inch-thick brick and concrete walls serve as insulation for the gas heating system. The Mansion is in essentially the same shape as when it was completed in 1906. It’s also a rare case that all of the china, silver, crystal, linens, rugs, and furniture found in the house were all possessions of the Browns. The terraces of the Brown’s formal garden still grace the south lawn. The Brown Mansion is truly a wonder of Kansas architecture as it offers a glimpse of our roots, individuals, and events contributing to and shaping Kansas. The Coffeyville Historical Society acquired the Brown Mansion and the surrounding grounds in 1973.
(Frank) We’re back again. This is Around Kansas. I’m Frank; she’s Deb. He is Michael, over there. Anyway, it’s Wednesday again, and we’re into July. This is another one of those years that just seems to fly past. (Deb) If it weren’t for all the anniversaries, 1867, this is how I remember what year it is Frank because we’re marking the 150th of so many things. Otherwise, I can’t keep it straight that it’s 2017. It’s like, “Where was 2015?” I mean can’t – much less last year. I just can’t grasp it. (Frank) Yes. Of course, we’re in the good old summer time: baseball, hot dogs, and all of that. The next story is going to be about another baseball player, very famous one from the state of Kansas. He was deaf. (Deb) I love it. (Frank) It’s in the story, so I’m going to give it away a little bit. But you know how the catcher behind home plate will give the pitcher signs? Dummy Taylor, that’s who the story is about, is really the one that created that because he was a pitcher. They needed to communicate – (Deb) Oh my goodness. (Frank) – and also then developed signs that the various players use. They still use them today on the field. We don’t really see it, but they do. That’s how they talk to each other. Anyway, this is really a cool story about Dummy Taylor. (Deb) Awesome. (Frank) This is a story suggested to me by Ben Coates, a player for the Topeka Westerns. Vintage baseball team. Luther Haden “Dummy” Taylor was a deaf-mute American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1900 to 1908. He played for the New York Giants and Cleveland Bronchos and was one of the key pitchers on the Giants’ National League championship teams of 1904 and 1905. In 1901, his first full season in the major leagues, Taylor led the National League by pitching in 45 games and ranked second in the league with 37 complete games. In 1904, he won 21 games for the Giants, and in 1906 his 2.20 ERA was the lowest on a pitching staff that included Baseball Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity. Taylor was the only successful deaf pitcher in Major League Baseball and was regarded, along with Dummy Hoy, as a role model and hero in the American deaf community in the early 20th century. In the 1900s, Taylor was reported to be the highest paid deaf person in the United States. He was also known as the comedian of the Giants teams, waving a lit lantern when an umpire refused to call a game due to darkness and coaching at third base in rubber boots when an umpire refused to call a game due to rain. In 2000, author Darryl Brock wrote the historical novel Havana Heat about Taylor’s experience in professional baseball. The book won the Dave Moore Award in 2000 as the “most important baseball book” published that year. Taylor was born in Oskaloosa, Kansas in 1875. He was the son of Arnold B. Taylor, a farmer, and his wife, Emaline. At the time of the 1880 United States Census, Taylor was living in rural Jefferson County with his parents, two older brothers, and two older sisters. Some accounts indicate Taylor was born deaf. However, at age four, Taylor was not listed as being “deaf and dumb” or otherwise handicapped in the family’s U.S. Census record. By age 10, Taylor was living at the Kansas School For the Deaf in Olathe. He was listed in the 1885 Kansas State Census as a pupil at the Deaf and Dumb Institute. Taylor continued to live at the Kansas School for the Deaf through his high school years. He was a pitcher for the school baseball team and participated in boxing. Interviewed in 1942, Taylor recalled he had dreams as a boy of becoming a great boxer, but his parents objected. At the time of the 1895 Kansas State Census, Taylor was living in Olathe. After leaving the Kansas School for the Deaf, Taylor began playing semi-pro baseball with a team in Nevada, Missouri. He then played at Lincoln, Illinois, and with minor league teams in Wabash, Crawfordsville, Danville and Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1897, he played for a minor league team in Mattoon, Illinois. He played for the Shreveport Tigers of the Southern League in 1898 and 1899. In 1900, Taylor began the season playing for Albany, New York. At the time of the U.S. Census in June 1900, Taylor was residing at a boarding house in Albany; his occupation was listed as a printer. In August 1900, Taylor was called up to the major leagues to play for the New York Giants. He made his major league debut on August 27, 1900. In his first game for the Giants, five Boston players tried to take advantage of Taylor’s deafness by trying to steal third base. Interviewed in 1942, Taylor recalled with pride, “I nailed each one. I walked over to Herman Long, the last man caught, and let him know by signs I could hear him stealing.” Appearing in 11 games for the 1900 Giants, Taylor compiled a 4–3 record with a 2.45 ERA. In his second season in the major leagues, Taylor was a workhorse for the 1901 Giants. He led the National League with 43 games started and appearing in a total of 45 games. In nine seasons in the major leagues, Taylor compiled an overall win-loss record of 116–106 and 767 strikeouts. He threw 237 complete games and 21 shutouts. He had a career ERA of 2.75. Taylor was profoundly deaf and communicated on-field with his teammates in sign language. He is credited with helping to expand and make universal the use of sign language throughout the modern baseball infield, including but not limited to the use of pitching signs. Taylor was inducted into the American Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame in 1953. He was also inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
(Frank) We’re back again. Did you ever see the movie [chuckles] Invasion of the Giant Grasshoppers? (Deb) No. I would be afraid to see that now because I fear it’s happening in my yard. You walk outside and it sounds like hail. They’re eating the lilac bushes again. Jake said, “Maybe they won’t come back this year”. He lied to me Frank. He lied to me because they are back in full force. (Frank) Well, I had a caller at the radio station now we take requests. She lives in New York now, and then called and said, “I used to live in Kansas”, said, There were a lot of grasshoppers”. “Okay, that’s what you remember about our fine state”. (Deb) She may have had a year like we are having now or like they had in 1874. Let’s take a look. (Frank) It came without warning. In July 1874, the skies darkened, and the hordes descended, devastating everything in their path. They sounded like a violent summer storm. They ate crops, but they also ate the tools used to raise them. They ate the wool off the sheeps’ backs and the clothes off the humans. People literally waded through the creatures, inches deep on the ground. Locomotives could not get traction because the insects made the rails too slippery. They stayed from a couple of days to a week, just long enough to devour everything. Then they rose on the wind, just as they had come. Those who suffered most were the newly arrived settlers in the western areas of the state. They needed grain for their next year’s crops and to feed their work animals. They also needed provisions and clothing to make it through the coming winter. Governor Thomas Osborn called a special session of the legislature, which convened on September 15, 1874, hoping to find a way to help Kansans survive the calamity and relieve the destitution. The legislature approved $73,000 in bonds to provide aid. The plea for help went across America. The rest of the nation responded to pleas for aid by sending money and supplies, which were often hauled free of charge by the railroads. Soon aid for the destitute Kansans began to arrive. Railroads provided free transportation of the barrels, boxes, and bales of supplies such as beans, pork, and rice. America’s farmers even donated rail cars full of barley and corn to assist Kansans with the next year’s planting.
(Frank) Back again. I really like our easy chairs. (Deb) But you can’t be still. You noticed that? It’s just like a kid on a piano stool or a bar stool or something. He’s over there swinging. (Frank) If I wouldn’t I’d hope that Mike would probably spin around. (Deb) I know you would. I’m like, “Lord”. (Frank) You and Mike can go somewhere. (Deb) This next story is really special to me, very dear to my heart. Of course, we marked July 4th yesterday. This is a July 4th story talking about the Declaration of Independence. Of course, the Declaration of Independence took a while to be signed and ratified. We use the 4th as the date, but it wasn’t quite that succinct or that efficient. It took a few days. I think it’s appropriate that we mark the 4th with this story. It’s about the time that Norman Lear visited Kansas with a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I want to preface this story by saying my grandfather, that I was very close to, World War One veteran, served under Eisenhower in World War I at Gettysburg, a Camp Colt, Gettysburg when Eisenhower was the camp commander there. I think it was a tank unit in Gettysburg. My grandfather was stationed there; met Ike and Ike signed his discharge. Grandpa got a medical discharge, and he signed his discharge. That’s the little preface to this story. I think you’ll like it. In 2000, Lyn and Norman Lear purchased a rare, original copy of the Declaration of Independence with the goal of bringing “the people’s document” directly to the American people. During the decade that the Lears owned and toured the document, it traveled to some 100 cities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, with special stops at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the Super Bowl in New Orleans, the Daytona 400 NASCAR race, Mount Rushmore, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial, along with visits to more than a half dozen Presidential libraries. I saw it in Abilene. At the opening reception at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Norman Lear spoke of his experiences as a young marine in the South Pacific during WWII. He spoke of his admiration for Eisenhower. Then, Ike’s granddaughter Ann spoke eloquently about her grandfather. After the program, I made my way to her and said, I know you are tired of hearing this. My grandfather served with your grandfather in WWI. Of all the things I have done in my life, none would make him prouder than to know I am standing here with you. She hugged me, was gracious, and replied, I never get tired of hearing these stories!! Tears ran down my face as Norman Lear, who had not heard our conversation, turned to join us. He thought the exhibit had caused my tears, and while I was moved, it was the thought of my Grandpa that had turned me to mush. Norman Lear said, Look at you!!! He took my face in his hands, brushed the tears, kissed my cheeks, again and again. I was too touched by his gesture to speak. The man who brought us All in the Family and Maude was standing in the Eisenhower Presidential Library brushing the tears from my face and comforting me. This is a great country.
(Frank) I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) We’ll see you somewhere – (Frank and Deb) Around Kansas.
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