Eisenhower Presidential Library, Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a story about the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene. Next learn about the Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy, the oldest continuously running community dinner theater in the country. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a story about a very special painting.

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

(Frank) (Frank) Well, here it is Wednesday before Christmas. How about that, already? (Deb) I can’t believe it. (Frank) Usually for Around Kansas, we’re in the Dillon House which is across from the State Capitol. But today we thought hey, let’s go to the Capitol and do our show in the rotunda of the State Capitol where the State Christmas Tree is. (Deb) Isn’t that beautiful? (Frank) It is. (Deb) Yea and the grounds look so pretty. You’ve got the big tree outside too. So, drive through if you get a chance and see the Statehouse. And while you’re on break over the Christmas holiday… (Frank) Uh huh. (Deb) …it would be a nice time to come to Topeka and see the Statehouse in all its glory and all decorated for Christmas. (Frank) And climb up. You can go up to the top of it again. (Deb) Yea, you can climb if you want to. That’s right. (Frank) So, if you hear background noise, or people walking through it’s because it is a busy place and they do conduct tours. (Deb) Your tax dollars are at work here. (Frank) Yes, they are. (Deb) People aren’t just sitting around in the Statehouse. They are working. (Frank) And it was also too cold outside, so we moved in here. (Deb) Hang out. Really. So, what do you want for Christmas Frank? (Frank) Oh gosh, just to be together with the family. You know at my age now, there isn’t anything like presents and all that, that you really need, except maybe a motorcycle or a box of cigars. You know. (Deb) Well, at my age I still want presents. Hey, ya I like my family and all but yea I really want some presents. I go around the state and I see all these cool things and gift shops and I love collecting Christmas ornaments. So, I have some wonderful Christmas ornaments from places that we’ve visited on vacation. So, I love getting those out every year and having a memory that goes along with it. You know here’s one from the Library of Congress. You know, I’ve spent a lot of time researching there. And so a wonderful Christmas tree ornament from the Library of Congress or Lane University. They’ve got the Christmas tree ornament in Topeka. But all over the state. I’ve gotten them from, oh I think, I’ve got ’em from Hays. I’ve got ’em from everywhere. I love getting them. Send me ornaments, yea. (Frank) So, if you have an ornament send it to her. (Deb) That’s right. I love ’em. We’ll show ’em all on TV. Talk about ’em. (Frank) Yea, that would be good. (Deb) Yea. Plus I need some new boots too. (Frank) OK. (Deb) I really need some new boots. I wear boots all winter long. So, you know just whatever, just knee high boots all the time. Once it gets cold I’m in ’em everyday. So, I wear them out frequently. (Frank) Now, I gotta ask you. When you were a kid and you always went to see Santa and he said, “What do you want?” And you listed off things, did you ever get it? (Deb) Occasionally. I think I asked Santa for a Barbie doll one time and I got a Barbie doll. Hmmm, I wanted one of those 36 inch high walking dolls. I don’t know if you guys remember those, but I wanted one of those and I got it. So, every now and then Santa brought me what I wanted. And we also had back in, he was on a local show, kinda like the WIBW show here, the news station in Greensboro had Marco the Polo Bear. So, we had the old rebel in Marco the Polo bear. You know. So,those were the good old days. (Frank) Hey, we’re gonna have to do some stories here pretty quick. So, I guess we’ll be back. (Deb) We’ll be back.

(Frank) Marco the Polo Bear! (Deb) You know and one time he was coming up to to Fancy Gap, Virginia. He was going to be at Sunnyside, which is a little store there, a wonderful store. It had a little bit of everything and they got special shipments of Christmas toys in. So, Marco the Polo Bear was gonna be there. So, I was going to go meet Marco the Polo Bear. And it snowed and we couldn’t go because the roads were too bad and they cancelled Marco the Polo Bear’s visit because of snow. (Frank) Oh no. (Deb) I will never forget that. I must have been six or something. I was so disappointed I didn’t get to meet Marco the Polo Bear. (Frank) As you know we’re in the State Capitol today. And of course, Kansas was the 34th state to join the Union and the 34th President of the United States was Eisenhower, from the state of Kansas. And you… (Deb) Well, that worked out well, didn’t it? (Frank) It did. So, but you took a trip over to the Eisenhower Museum which is in Abilene. (Deb) I love the Eisenhower Museum. I love taking friends there. So, this is another great place over the winter break or whenever you have friends come to town. Take them to the Eisenhower Museum. I’ve also researched in the library there, which is really incredible and a phenomenal research facility. We forget Frank because you and I lived through so much of it, but kids don’t even realize Ike was responsible for essentially winning World War II and freeing the world. I mean there’s so many of Ike’s accomplishments other than the presidency that a lot of kids aren’t even aware of. So, make sure you get all the young folks over there to see the Eisenhower Museum. It’s incredible. (Frank) Do you still have an “I Like Ike” button? (Deb) Of course I do. (Frank) Everybody has an “I Like Ike” button. (Deb) And my Grandfather served with Ike. He served under Ike in World War I at Gettysburg. And so when I tell people my Grandpa served with Ike in Gettysburg and they’re like, boy has she got her history messed up! You know, but he really did. So, that’s another facet of Ike’s history you can learn about. At the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home in Abilene, visitors can explore the extraordinary life and legacy of the only 5-Star General who became President of the United States. The Eisenhower Presidential Library is home to a world-class research facility that caters to scholars and history enthusiasts from around the world. The vast holdings of the Library consist of millions of pages of historical records and photos, thousands of feet of film footage, and tens of thousands artifacts. It is one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives. They preserve the documents and artifacts of our Presidents, providing insight into the times in which these Presidents lived and served the nation. The Eisenhower Museum and Boyhood Home allow visitors to explore Ike’s boyhood years growing up in America’s heartland, his years as military leader, and his presidency. Through December 2016, the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum presents World War II Remembered: Leaders, Battles & Heroes, an inclusive commemoration of the pivotal events of World War II, marking the 70th anniversaries of the war. What makes this exhibit stand out from other interpretive WWII exhibits is the focus on personal stories. The exhibit strives to honor the unsung heroes and tell the lesser-known stories of the time. The accounts of such groups as the Tuskegee Airmen, Native American Code Talkers, the brave contribution of the Ritchie Boys, and the heroic stories of women at war and on the working home front are shared. Also on exhibit through December 2016, is Be Ye Men of Valour: Allies of World War II. While it was major industrial powers like the United States, England, and the Soviet Union that provided the bulk of manpower and resources, dozens of other Allies selflessly spent blood and treasure of their own to defeat the Axis powers. This exhibit explores the important victories, defeats, personalities, and causes associated with the lesser known Allied nations and resistance groups. Check the website for more information on these and other special exhibits as well as programing. Make sure you pick up an “I like Ike button” while you’re in the gift shop!

(Deb) OK, another present I would really love are season tickets to Topeka Civic Theatre. So, if you could work on that for me Frank, I would appreciate it. (Frank) Oh OK. Now, this was eons ago, but the first show I did for Civic Theatre was “Here’s Love” which was kind of a Christmassy show. In fact it was done in the Woman’s Club which is right across from the Capitol as well. (Deb) Oh ya. (Frank) And by the Dillon House. And in “Here’s Love” there’s this big parade and the stage at the Woman’s Club was kind of limited, so the people that were in the parade actually had to be outside and come across the stage and go back out and the whole thing. But anyway, Civic Theatre did many seasons at the Woman’s Club. (Deb) I didn’t realize that. (Frank) And rehearsals were in an old church and I can’t even remember now, it’s been so long ago, where that was. And we would rehearse there and then come down, of course, and do the dress rehearsal in the auditorium at the Woman’s Club. So, it was a great time. Dale Easton was the Artistic Director at the time and of course, then he started “The Drunkard” and the whole nine yards. But Topeka Civic Theatre now is so much more. It has so many opportunities for children to get involved with theatre. They have several shows going on at the same time in their current facility. And it’s just absolutely fantastic. (Deb) When they did “Les Miserables” talk about the great, they had the revolving stage. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) That was amazing and so it looked like people streaming by and it was just the revolving stage. Oh, they’re amazing. Shannon Reilly is just one of my favorite people. (Frank) And of course, I hope you get the opportunity to see “A Christmas Carol.” It’s a fantastic production and so I’m sure tickets are available but you need to check. So anyway….(Deb) Let’s take a look.
(Frank) Founded in 1936, Topeka Civil Theater and Academy is the oldest continuously running community dinner theater in the country. The Topeka Civic’s productions have remained consistent through decades of staff and venue changes. In July 1999, Topeka Civic completed construction of its new home in the former Gage Elementary School. The school was built around 1929 and is rich in architecture and design. It also affords two stages, the main stage for larger productions and the Oldfather’s Theatre, which is a more intimate setting. Over the years, Topeka Civic has been the recipient of many awards and honors. Shannon Reilly has been creative director for more than two decades. He has brought enthusiasm as well as vision to the post. Topeka Civil offers after school programs and workshops that encourage children to become involved in the theater, an opportunity that has bloomed into a lifelong relationship for many of them. In 2013, Topeka Civic began a partnership with Shawnee County to manage the Helen Hocker Theater in Gage Park, enabling this community landmark to continue and thrive. The 2016 schedule includes the musical Memphis as well as the Aristocat Kids.

(Ron) Howdy folks, I’m Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat. There is one element of Kansas life which is found in the stereotypes that people have about the state of Kansas. And there is an element of truth to it folks. I’m talking about wind. This poem is entitled, “Blowing in the Wind.” The railroad train stopped at a station out west, out stepped a city dude in bowler hat and fancy vest. The wind was a howling as Kansas’ winds sometimes do. And off went his hat as one particular gust blew. This wind is just horrific the easterner said, is it always like this, he wondered with dread? So he looked around and what caught his eye was a Kansas cowboy who was waiting nearby. He approached the cowboy saying, young man I say, does the wind clear out here always blow this way? Nope, said the cowboy. Thank goodness, said the dude. But his relief was short lived, with the comment that ensued. For the cowboy offered this further correction, you see out here the wind blows half the time in the other direction. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And we’re back again and it’s, as we told you it might get a little noisy. There is a tour that will be passing through here shortly, so that’s what the background noise is. (Deb) And the place is full of politicians. So, you know, what do you do? They get a little loud sometimes, what can you say? (Frank) Yea, but again we’ll remind you when you’re in Topeka, be sure to visit the State Capitol. It’s absolutely beautiful. And give yourself some time to really look around and look at the many murals that are on the wall. And how’s that for kind of a segue into what we’re going to talk about now? (Deb) Speaking of art, very good Frank. (Frank) Art, yes paintings. (Deb) Speaking of art, we’ve got our next story is about a treasure that showed up in a very unexpected place. It was donated to the Restore, actually in Topeka. And I love shopping at thrift stores. I love the Restore. I love you know, the yard sales and all these unexpected places. And I have found some really nice pieces of art in the thrift store. I don’t know that mine are as valuable as the one that we’re gonna talk about but I have found some really nice pieces. Do you do that Frank? Do you ever go through the junk stores? (Frank) Not so much anymore, but we had an antique store in Lawrence years ago. But the thing is that even over in the NOTO Arts District there are a lot of stores over there that you might find something kind of outstanding and unusual. (Deb) And unique and you go through the antique stores and some of those people are really knowledgeable and you know, what’s collectible is just amazing. I mean people…my friend Don Weichert, I ran into the other day, the Button Man. And he’ll talk about when he started getting interested in collecting buttons and there are buttons worth thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars because they’re so rare, they’re cellulose, all kinds of, whatever they’re made of, when they were made, what they were made for, uniforms. So, yea there’s just so many collectible things, who can keep up? (Frank) But paintings when you find one of those, and that’s what’s cool about this story because somebody, I don’t want to get ahead of the game, but somebody had an eye. (Deb) Really did. Let’s take a look at this one. It was First Friday Artwalk and my friend and I had popped into Beauchamp’s Gallery at the Westboro Mart. Owners Bob and Kim Swain are old friends and Cally Krallman was displaying her latest works depicting scenes along the Santa Fe Trail. Propped on the floor against some other paintings was a rather large impressionist landscape with an old shed and a tree, a sycamore maybe, since the trunk was so white. I asked Bob about it and he said, oh, you haven’t heard the story? So Bob told me that our mutual friend John Peterson, retired journalist, was volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. He spied this art among the pieces about to be put out for sale and thought it might be worth more than the $50 they were about to slap on. He phoned Bob. “Are you familiar with an artist named Star-key?” he asked. “You mean Phil Starke? Yes!” Bob took a look at the painting and assured them it was worth far more than fifty bucks. Not only does Beauchamp’s display and sell works of art, they offer framing, repairs, cleaning, and appraisals. The folks back at the Restore knew who had donated it and called to make sure he realized his generosity. He said, yes, by all means, sell it and keep the money. Bob repaired the slight damage and put the painting out for sale, for several thousand dollars, with the proceeds to benefit the Restore. Turns out Phil Starke is a very successful landscape painter, and has written books and produces tutorials on techniques. John obviously had a very good eye. For those of us who regularly go treasure hunting at thrift stores and junk sales, this was all the affirmation we needed to keep searching!

(Frank) Well we hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and I’m Frank… (Deb) And I’m Deb. Be safe everybody. (Frank) Yes. And we’ll see you somewhere…(Both) Around Kansas.

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

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