Deines Cultural Center, Ichabod Washburn

(Frank) Today Around Kansas takes a look at the Deines Cultural Center in downtown Russell. Then enjoy the remarkable story of Ichabod Washburn and how that institution became Washburn College and later Washburn University. Next Ron Wilson wows us with another poem and we’ll end with the ballot for the 2017 Kansas Music Hall Of Fame inductees.

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(Frank Chaffin) It’s Wednesday, good morning. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb.
(Frank) And this is Around Kansas. Thanks for joining us this morning. And here we are getting toward the middle of August. You know, there’s a song that I really, really love and I play it on WREN a lot during this time of year, and that’s Lazy Hazy Days of Crum– Summer. (Deb) Crummy Summer. [Laughs] (Frank) Lazy Hazy Days of Summer by Nat King Cole. [Sings] Yes, it’s a great song. So that’s where we are now. It’s the time for soda and popcorn and beer and whatever. (Deb) I’m telling you, summers killing me. Now, not so bad. The mornings are still wonderful, you know? The late afternoon, early evenings are killers. But the mornings are just gorgeous. So you’re just happy to be alive then, and summer — I was thinking the other day how kids don’t go barefoot anymore. When I was a kid, the soles of my feet were seriously like shoe leather, and you can joke about hillbillies, but it’s true. It’s true. I had shoes, I chose not to wear shoes, but I did have some. My mother would be very irritated if I lied about having shoes when I was a kid. Flip flops though, I lived in flip flops. If I was wearing shoes, it was just flip flops. But I could walk over nearly hot coals, I think. I mean fields and dirt and roads, rocky roads, everything. (Frank) It really was that way, yes. I mean, your feet finally got enough callous that you could walk over about anything. Of course, that’s it, I mean, my generation, it was before air conditioning was kind of starting, but the thing is during the summer time, you got up in the morning, said, “See you” and you went out and jumped on your bike, and you usually had a ball glove on the handle bars, and you took off. And then you played all day, and nobody really worried about you. You had friends in the neighborhood. You’d go to the schoolyard and play baseball, play work up and the whole thing, and then in the evening you’d play kick the can, and hide and go seek, and then the street lights would come on, then everybody’s parents had a different way to call us home, and we’d all go home and next day do it again. (Deb) Well I grew up out in the country, so there weren’t kids just everywhere. Cousins would come over sometimes, so our playhouses were in the woods mainly, in the barns and in the woods, and we’d head for the woods and maybe walk down to the creek that was a pretty good way for a way in the woods. But like you said, there were no cell phones, and people just knew we’d be home when we got hungry or whatever. (Frank) And you’d eat what was there. (Deb) You ate what was there and then laying out at night looking at the stars. I can remember laying out in the yard or in the fields of brome straw, and just looking at the stars at night as a kid. Those were good times. (Frank) Anyway, we really do have some real stories today, not just us yakking and stuff. (Deb) Much as you love it. Yes, we’ll be back with some great stuff. Stay with us.

(Frank) And we’re back again. So you’ve been traveling and you went to a Cultural Center, so you talk about it. (Deb) [Laughs] Yes, I needed some culture. Obviously, the little girl that grew up going barefoot needed some culture. The Deines Cultural Center in Russell. Have you been there Frank? (Frank) No. (Deb) I had not either, I’m embarrassed to say, until the other day. And Charlie and Pat and Carson Norton, the talented Norton family, and their daughter Tanya had an art exhibit. And Charlie did the bronze Buffalo Bill, that of course is one of my favorite statues in the world at Oakley. He’s just done some amazing stuff, and his wife Pat is an incredibly talented artist, as is their son Carson, and their daughter Tanya works with fabrics, and is a potter, and Pat is also a potter. They’re just amazing. So we went to see that exhibit, I think they’ve already taken that exhibit down, but there’s always something going on there. They have different exhibits throughout the year. Russell is a lovely town, not only home to Bob Dole and Arlen Specter for which it’s famous, but lots of other cool things going on in Russell as well. Downtown Russell has interesting antique stores, specialty shops, the usual insurance and business offices mingled with cafes. It is a lively downtown, no doubt made more so by the presence of the Deines Cultural Center which hosts a variety of events throughout the year as well as being the permanent home of the namesake’s artworks.
All of the wood engravings done by E. Hubert Deines as well as various works he collected during his lifetime have a home here. His artwork is shown on a rotating basis at the Center. According to the Center, E. Hubert Deines was born in a rural section of central Kansas, near Russell. Even at preschool age, he was enthusiastically making drawings of things imaginary or observed in a rustic scene. Later, after the usual courses, he attended the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design at Kansas City, Missouri. This art study was interrupted I by military service in World War I. After serving overseas with the 109th Engineers of the 34th Division, he spent some time in France. Under a special government arrangement for qualified servicemen, Deines studied at the famous Julian Academy in Paris. Upon returning to the States, he held a position for twelve years on the art staff of a metropolitan daily newspaper. Following newspaper work he established himself in a studio in the old, historic Westport district of Kansas City, Missouri, where he did book and magazine work that required both typographical knowledge and artistic execution. During these commercial assignments a long-desired ambition was also undertaken, to enter the field of Fine Arts. Printmaking had always been his underlying goal, and after many experiments in various media, wood engraving became his principal medium. Many rewards came in the form of fine recognition and pleasant associations. Twice, in 1955 and again in 1961, he was awarded Fellowship grants at the Huntington Hartford Foundation in Pacific Palisades, California. Early in his career, along with two artists of national reputation, he was invited to act as a member of a Regional Jury to select graphic art for the World’s Fair, held in New York in 1939. Deines exhibited widely, in this country and occasionally abroad.

(Frank) And here we are again. (Deb) So proud Ichabod sitting here, and when I came to Kansas many moons ago, of course I was a student at Washburn. I can’t say enough good things about Washburn University. And you know, I love graves, so at one point I spoke in Worcester, Massachusetts, and went to the grave- (Frank) Worcester? Worcester. (Deb) Worcester, or something like that. I can’t quite say it the way they say it, but went to the Wire factory that Ichabod Washburn owned, that’s converted into shops and stuff now, and visited Ichabod Washburn’s grave, and now Ichabod Washburn has his very own statue. And it’s not the Ichabod that is the Washburn mascot, but the actual man Ichabod Washburn, who has an incredible story. (Frank) There’s a statue of course, Downtown Topeka’s been in revitalization, and there’s several notable person statues, and one of them is Ichabod Washburn. And the story we talk about that he gave $25,000 to the university. Now when he did that, that was probably worth about half a million dollars, so it was a substantial gift to keep what was then Lincoln University going. (Deb) A big deal. So lets take a look at the life of Ichabod Washburn. (Frank) He never came to Kansas. He never set foot on the university campus that bears his name. So how did a small college in Kansas come to be named for an industrialist from New England? Founded by the Congregationalist Church, Lincoln College opened its doors to students in 1866, offering free tuition to veterans of the Union Army and to the children of federal soldiers killed in action. It admitted men, women, and blacks. The college was struggling. Horatio Q. Butterfield, a professor and lead fundraiser, went to Worcester, Massachusetts, to seek help. Washburn, a church deacon, pledged $25,000 to the college. The following month, the one-building institution was renamed Washburn College, at Butterfield’s recommendation, in recognition of the pledge. Ichabod’s story is as remarkable as the school he supported. According to the university’s website, Washburn worked his way from indentured apprentice to captain of industry. The businessman was also a fervent abolitionist and philanthropist who believed in the rights of all people to an education. Washburn was sent before the age of 9 to learn leather harness making because his widowed mother could not provide for him. He later became an apprentice blacksmith and learned machinery. By the time he was 33, in 1831, Washburn had developed a machine and technique that made wire stronger and easier to produce, which ultimately led to his fortune. His innovations in wire led some to call him a father of the industry. His company, Washburn and Moen Wire Works, named for Ichabod and his son-in-law and partner Philip Moen, was the largest wire producer in the world for a time. It was the primary domestic producer of piano wire and crinoline wire, which became an affordable alternative to whale bone in the popular hoop skirts of the 1850s and ’60s. Washburn and Moen produced tons of telegraph wire and after Washburn’s death the company secured a patent for and mass-produced barbed wire, which fenced the homesteads of the American West. Washburn died Dec. 30, 1868 after complications of a stroke.

(Ron) Farming is a gamble. A farmer puts a crop into the ground, a rancher raises a calf, not knowing what kind of weather conditions, market conditions or other factors could affect it in the end. So, farming is a gamble, just like Las Vegas. This is a poem I wrote titled, “Gambling Man.” Did you hear about the guy who went on an amazing trip and hit it rich winning money at an amazing clip, rolling gambling bigwigs, who roll the dice in Vegas and really hit it big. But I am way too conservative or risk averse they say, to take a chance on losing all my money in this way. Maybe the biggest gamblers aren’t in Vegas after all, but rather in the country at agriculture’s call. That’s where a farmer takes a gamble to plant a crop of wheat, never knowing if it will survive the drought or freeze or heat. And just as Lady Luck can snatch a gambler’s money when they win it, a hailstorm can claim a Kansas wheat crop in a minute. A mother cow takes a year to breed and feed and thrive, but that whole year’s income is lost if that baby calf does not survive. The market shows the farmer the value of his crops, but it’s a gamble to sell before the market drops. But rather so maybe the biggest gamblers aren’t here. So maybe the biggest gamblers aren’t the ones with Vegas claims, but rather the farmers and ranchers out here on the Kansas plains. I think I’ll take the risks I know with crops and with cattle. Instead of trying to beat casino odds in some Las Vegas battle. Did you hear about my friend who’s Vegas trip caused such a fuss? He drove there in a $20,000 dollar car, and came back in a $100,000 bus. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And again, here we are on Around Kansas. (Deb) One of these days you’re going to come back and we’re not going to be here. We’re going to be out getting a cup of coffee or a slushy. (Frank) Either that or we’ll be speechless and just be siting here. We’re just going to watch you someday. That would be fun. (Deb) One of my friends, who lives in France, commented on my Facebook page the other day. She was watching me on TV. It was a documentary that I was in on Jesse James, and it was showing in France, and I’m like, “Wow, that is–.” She said, “It’s so good to see you” and I said, “Well, it was good to see you too.” [Laughter] (Frank) So anyway. Well that’s the nice thing too, because not only are we on broadcast TV and then on cable around the state, but we do have a website and so people really all around the world can watch the show. And that’s really what we kind of want, because part of the mission of Around Kansas is to get people that are going to be traveling to stop in Kansas and say, “Hey, there’s some great stuff to go see.” (Deb) Really cool people, really cool stuff, and as we’ve talked before, a lot of talent. So speaking of talent, the Kansas Music Hall of Fame ballots are up and available now for voting. You can become a member of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame by visiting their website and paying the nominal fee to vote for the band that you think deserves inclusion in the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. (Frank) Yes, Bill Lee, the late Bill Lee, pretty much founded that, and I was fortunate to work with Bill at KLWN in Lawrence here, years ago. (Deb) Amazing man, amazing man, we owe him a wonderful debt of gratitude. Allen Blasco, President of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, has announced the ballot for the 2017 inductees. Members of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and those who have been inducted are eligible to vote. You may join the Kansas Music Hall of Fame by visiting the website. The Kansas Music Hall of Fame was founded to recognize the contributions of Kansas musicians and those in the music industry. Prior inductees include the band KANSAS, Martina McBride, Melissa Etheridge, Dawayne Bailey of Bob Seeger and Chicago fame, Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, and Mike Finnigan. Find the Kansas Music Hall of Fame on Facebook, too, and join today to make sure your favorite band is inducted next spring! Ballots are due by midnight, October 1st. The Induction and concert will be held at Liberty Hall in Lawrence on March 4th, 2017. The 2017 nominees are: Alferd Packer Memorial String Band – Lawrence; Bill Bergman – Kansas City; Dana Cooper – Kansas City; Crosswind – Manhattan; Jim Dale – Topeka; Dixie Cadillacs – Kansas City; Caribe – Lawrence; Elk River Biscuit and Gravy Band – Emporia; Embarrassment – Wichita; The Euphoria Stringband – Lawrence; EZ Pieces – Topeka; Get Smart – Lawrence/Chicago; Bill Glenn – Wichita; Freedy Johnston – Kinsley; Magic Kitchen – Pittsburg; Ida McBeth – Kansas City; Julia Lee – Kansas City; Kevin Mahogany – Kansas City; Samuel Ramey – Colby; The Scamps – Kansas City; The Secrets* – Kansas City; The Shyster Mountain Gang – Topeka; The Smart Brothers Band – Wichita; Stone Wall – Kansas City; Tony Teebo – Fort Scott; The Thingies – Topeka; Upside Dawne – Lawrence and Kelly Werts – Junction City.

(Frank) As usual were out of time, so I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Deb and Frank) …Around Kansas.

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