(Frank) Today Around Kansas journeys to Georgetown, Colorado, to experience Buffalo Bill Daze, an art show with a Buffalo Bill theme. Next we learn about Jeff Kready, a Kansan with many successes on broadway and also recently in television. then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a story about Carrie Nation and her life in Kansas.
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(Frank) Good morning. It’s Wednesday again and here we are on the second floor of the beautiful Dillon House in Topeka, in the shadow of the State Capitol. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. So… (Deb) There’s just all kinds of places to show off in this building. (Frank) Oh yea, I mean pretty soon, we’ll even be in the basement maybe. Halloween? (Deb) Oh yea, really. It still looks great. (Frank) Really don’t get me wrong. It is not creepy here. It is absolutely beautiful, every corner of it. (Deb) Every corner. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) So, October, can you believe it? And of course Fall. Everybody is doing something because it’s fall of the year and of course, we get that great stretch of really temperate weather and everything is just…leaves are turning in towns and it’s just really beautiful and what a great time to get out and see the state and if you can’t find an event, I’m sorry. It’s just…I am struggling to get to every…well not even get to everything. To just get to the highlights of all the events that are going around. (Frank) Yea, and especially get into the Flint Hills this time of the year, it’s just absolutely gorgeous. I was over at K-State several days ago, but on my drive over in the morning there was kind of a mist over the hills and the trees were beginning to turn. And it was just like WOW, this is just ethereal. (Deb) You were speaking to one of the journalism classes there? (Frank) Yes, yea. Dr. Steven Smithers has a class in Mass Communications and Journalism and they invite me over to talk about internet radio, the advent and future of. (Deb) Awesome. (Frank) And so it was an honor to go over, speak again to his classes. He has a very large class this year, let me tell you. (Deb) Well, I’ll be speaking this weekend in Fort Wallace, one of my favorite places in the state. So, they have a big event going on at the Fort Wallace Museum. And I’ll be the guest speaker so I look forward to seeing all you folks in western Kansas out at Wallace. (Frank) Western Kansas…are you going Highway 36 or…? (Deb) No that’s sort of, that’s south of that. (Frank) Oh yea. (Deb) But I always get off the main road whenever I can. I want to go through Oakley and there’s just a lot of other places. So, but I always get off the highway. And sometimes it takes a lot longer, but it’s really worth it. Because there’s just so many little places to see and the scenery especially this time of year is just gorgeous. It’s beautiful. (Frank) If you’re watching this on the internet and you’ve never been to Kansas and you think, well isn’t that kind of flat and prairies and all of that. Well, there is some in the high plains. But it’s really beautiful. But Kansas has an extremely varied topography and geography here. (Deb) Incredible. (Frank) And you really have to get off the beaten path as you do and take a look around. It’s a beautiful, beautiful state. (Deb) We’re very proud of it. We’ll be right back.
(Frank) And we’re back. (Deb) So, a few weeks ago, I got to go to Georgetown, Colorado. And of course, if you know your history Georgetown used to be a part of the Kansas territory before we lopped off everything that went to the Continental Divide when we created the state line. And I went out for a Buffalo Bill themed art show. And of course, Buffalo Bill I…this is my purpose in life, folks, I am the missionary for Buffalo Bill. So, I got to remind these people in Colorado that even though he is buried on the mountainside just a few… (Frank) Cheyenne Mountain, yea. (Deb) No, he is buried in Golden. He’s overlooking the Coors Plant. (Frank) Oh, OK. (Deb) Yea, fittingly, he’s overlooking the Coors Plant. But I got to remind people that he is in fact a Kansan, through and through. So, that’s what I was speaking about there. And in the meantime got to enjoy some great folks, and great scenery, so let’s take a look.
I had never been to Georgetown, Colorado, and was thrilled when invited by Kyle Banister, organizer of Buffalo Bill Daze, an art show with a Buffalo Bill theme at the Georgetown Loop Railroad. It will become an annual event said Kyle so get ready for next year! Artist Thom Ross had come up from New Mexico with five ten-foot high figures from more than a hundred he had done for an installation on the beach in San Francisco a few years ago. Steve Friesen, director of the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain where Cody is buried, was on hand to visit with tourists and to share copies of his book, Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary. I highly recommend it, and a visit to the grave and museum. On Friday morning I went with Thom down to the lower railroad station where his figures were displayed along the creek, situated to greet the tourists as they alighted from the train. We were waiting for the rising sun to illuminate them. We found local photographer Gary Haines already set up and waiting for that moment himself. While we were waiting, Thom and I began the “Buffalo Bill diatribe” and poor Gary looked as if he wished the ground would swallow him up. Once we get started we can’t stop, none of us western history fanatics. Later that day we road the train while Ralph and Barb Melfi, portraying Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, regaled the tourists with the tales of their colorful lives. The sun was shining, though it took hours to reach the depths of the canyon, and people were smiling. It was good. We spoke to the tourists about Cody’s life, the ordeals of Bleeding Kansas, his time as a scout, a showman, a husband and father. It’s an incredible life story and one with many Kansas connections. That evening we drank a toast to the man who had brought old friends together and acquainted us with others, soon to become good friends, Buffalo Bill Cody.
(Frank) Here we are again. And we talk about famous Kansans and all that. And we really have a famous Kansan with us because his son happens to be a really aspiring Broadway star, TV star and that would be Jeff Kready. And this is his father. (Deb) Rick Kready. And I think that Jeff has past aspiring. I think he is actually…he’s at the top of the food chain now. So, we’ve got the proud Papa and we get to shoot every now and then in Rick’s lovely office here in the Dillon House. So, congrats. You must just be proud as punch at this kid. (Rick) Thank you. I happen to be that. (Deb) Oh man. So, did you feed him like Wheaties and you know, play musicals at breakfast? I mean how do you get a kid that talented? (Rick) For the most part, I stayed out of the road and let his Mom take good care of him. (Deb) Good plan, good plan. (Frank) You’re gonna love the first part of the story that I get to do, because he talks about when he was in the womb he heard his Dad in the Barbershop Quartet singing. So, anyway… (Deb) So, it’s all genetics isn’t it? It’s all genetics. If you’ve got talented parents, you’re gonna get some talented kids. (Rick) Well, thank you. (Deb) Yea. I’m sure that’s it. Let’s take a look. (Frank)
Actor Jeff Kready said in an interview, “I grew up singing barbershop in a chorus directed by my dad. When I was still in the womb, I’m told that I kicked really hard when a bad quartet got up to perform at a concert. From that moment, my mom was convinced I had perfect pitch.” His mom was right. Jeff made his Broadway debut as the youngest Jean Valjean ever while understudying the role in the 2006 revival of Les Miserables, and met his future wife, The Book of Mormon star Nikki Renee Daniels. Jeff is currently starring in the lead role of Monty Navarro in the Tony Award winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. He has been a member of the original Broadway company since November 2013. The production received nine Tony Award nominations, winning four, including Best Musical. Jeff was in the original Broadway company of Billy Elliot The Musical, The Broadway production opened in fall, 2008. The production received fifteen Tony Award nominations, winning ten. Jeff took over the lead role of Tony, Billy’s brother, in 2010 and then toured in the role. Jeff has appeared in numerous productions off-Broadway and can be found guest starring in the Emmy-nominated HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Jeff has also performed voiceover work in the UMPQUA Bank television commercial campaign. He also sang on his wife, Nikki Renée Daniels’ debut album Home. A 2000 graduate of Washburn Rural High School, Jeff earned a degree at Washburn before heading for the Great White Way. He and his wife have a daughter, Lena. While Jeff admits it is very different raising a child in NYC, the couple can spend most days with their daughter, reading and taking her to the park. He said he feels very blessed.
(Ron) The best cowboy poetry is based on true stories and unfortunately this one is a true story. It’s titled, “Never Kiss a Wasp.” The cowboy climbed the ladder one pretty day in June to fill the diesel tank so he could bale some hay real soon. When suddenly aroused an insect came angrily buzzing by and he swatted at that bug cause he thought it was a fly. He didn’t like those insects inside his personal space, so he went to brush that bug off the center of his face. Then he learned with consternation that it was not a fly he had, instead it was a wasp and that wasp was fighting mad. That mean wasp’s response to this perceived hardship was to sting that poor old cowboy right smack upon the lip. The cowboy howled in sudden pain, he jumped down from the ladder while his hay crew all broke up, thinking it a laughing matter. The lip began to swell, as howled curses rose to another decibel. He went up to the house, relief to seek thereafter but one look at his swollen lip set his family into laughter. Dad you look like a duck his laughing son advised, because the cowboy’s lip had doubled up in size. The cowboys garbled reply, he could not ascertain as he mumbled like a dental patient full of Novocain. In between the bouts of his families hilarity, his wife applied baking soda paste as her home remedy. Now the cowboy has recovered but the baling time is lost. He always tells his sons, boys never kiss a wasp. Happy trails.
(Deb) Welcome back and we’re going to talk about one of the most interesting Kansans in history and that would be Miss Carrie Nation. (Frank) Carrie Nation. (Deb) You know and I said the worst thing about her one time. We had a Kansas Day party and we had everybody dressed up as Kansas characters. And one of my friends dressed up as Carrie Nation. And I said, I’m sorry, she’s just too ugly to impersonate. And I feel so badly for saying that about her. But you know the days before Maybelline and Mary Kay and all that stuff. God bless her. But she was an incredible woman with an incredible legacy and a hatchet. (Frank) And a hatchet. Yes. (Deb) A woman with a hatchet, you… (Frank) Chopping at bars and breaking bottles and chasing guys out of the bar. (Deb) Chopping up bars. (Frank) Go home. (Deb) She had good reason. She really did. Let’s take a look at her life and legacy.
Carrie Nation arrived in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, after her first husband died of alcoholism and her second husband failed in farming. David Nation was a minister and she operated a hotel, very well according to most accounts. She organized a chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and that is when she began to make history. She campaigned to enforce liquor laws, having observed first hand the destructive impact of excessive drinking on families. Nation and her “Home Defenders” raided pharmacies, saloons and bars as far away as Wichita and then headed for Topeka. When Carrie arrived in Topeka in January of 1901 she found the legislature in session and plenty of saloons operating illegally, often patronized by the legislators. The Kansas Christian temperance Union was holding its state convention in the capital city as well, providing a supportive crowd for both sides of the issue. Carrie was a curiosity and most were anxious to watch her in action. She visited the governor, imploring him to take actions against the sale of liquor. He was non-committal at best and said that women should remember their place and not create disturbances. Saloons were barricaded and braced for her attacks. Those attacks came a few days later when the hatchet-wielding Carrie started with the Senate Saloon and hit others in its wake. She was arrested. In fact, she was arrested 30 different times during her career and her husband filed for divorce on ground of desertion. Eventually she dropped the hatchet and picked up a pen, campaigning for women’s suffrage and enforcing liquor laws as editor of the Smasher’s Mail. She found great success on the lecture circuit and sold souvenir photographs, hatchet pins and “Home Defender” buttons to fund her cause. She died in 1911, just a year before women got the right to vote. Her tombstone reads She hath done what she could. Her home in Medicine Lodge was named a National Landmark in 1976.
(Frank) And so it goes. We just have too much fun here. We hope you enjoyed it. So anyway…I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere…. (Both) Around Kansas.
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