(Frank) Today Around Kansas has some great stories for you, starting with one about the founding of Herndon, Kansas in 1876. Next we’ll learn about Patsy Cline’s last performance at Memorial Hall in Kansas City; and enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson. Then we’ll finish with a story about the buffalo and how they used to roam the state from horizon to horizon.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Frank) Hey, it’s early in the morning. It’s Wednesday, it must be Around Kansas. Hi, I’m Frank Chaffin. (Deb) I’m Deb Goodrich, good morning. (Frank) So, you’re all over the state. Course, I’m more of a homebody, but anyway, where have you been? (Deb) Dodge City, one of my favorite places on earth. I just love Dodge City. I love the high plains. So, I just love that high prairie. Oberlin of course. Herndon, Atwood. Just all over the western part of the state. Hays, Hays City. (Frank) Hays City. (Deb) I was telling a friend of mine who went to Fort Hays State, I said, I’m headed out to Hays City. And she said, Hays, America. I said, No in the century I live in it was Hays City. Later on it became Hays America. But in the century I work on it was Hays City. (Frank) My brother was a newsman and sportscaster out in Hays and it was always Hays, America. (Deb) Hays, America. In the wild west it was Hays City. So, just all over the place, yea. (Frank) Hey, here we are in July too and you know there’s a famous day coming up, Joe Tinker Day. (Deb) Oh sure. (Frank) Have you ever heard of Joe Tinker? (Deb) Not til I met you. (Frank) Yea, OK. Well Joe Tinker is from a town called Muscotah. (Deb) And I have been to Muscotah. (Frank) And anyway, here’s something that in 1910, a Chicago sportscaster wrote. OK. These are the saddest of possible words, Tinker to Evers to Chance. Trio of bear Cubs and fleeter than birds, Tinker and Evers and Chance. Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, making a Giant hit into a double. Words are heavy with nothing but trouble-Tinker to Evers to Chance. Cause it seems like, well I don’t want to tell the whole story but back at the turn of the century it was always the Giants and the Cubs, deciding which one would go to the World Series. And Tinker to Evers to Chance was the double play that the Cubs were famous for. (Deb) So, you know I’ve heard, It’s a Sad Day in Mudville. But I’ve never heard that one. (Frank) Well Joe Tinker is from Kansas, he’s from Muscotah and we’re gonna have whole story about that. So, it’s gonna be a fun time. (Deb) That’ll be fun, that’ll be fun. And I’m teaching too. I’ve got the Osher classes that I teach, so if you want to take one of my classes, we have a lot of fun, you might even learn a little something. I do Civil War stuff, and first ladies from the Civil War and Kansas soldiers and just all kinds of cool stuff. So, let me know. Get you in on a class. (Frank) We’ll be back.
(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas and we were talking about the places I’ve been recently. Well, I got to go to the Herndon Ox Roast. So, we’re going to give you a little segment on Herndon. Have you ever been out to Herndon? (Frank) No. (Deb) I had not either. It’s the northwestern part of the state, Rawlins County. And I have to tell you, and I wrote a blog about this actually, but I was staying in Atwood. I was spending the night in Atwood so I thought, well I thought I’ll go up to Herndon and see if this is something I really want to go to tomorrow and check it out. So, I go up to Herndon, it’s dark and Herndon is a little town, full of people, motor homes everywhere, people on their little four-wheelers all over town. I promptly…I back off into a culvert, cause I couldn’t see. I mean have not been in town five minutes. And this big guy comes running over, Ma’am, do you need some help? Yea, obviously I do. Five minutes-in and out of the ditch in five minutes. I mean, he just hooked his truck and his chain up and pulled me out and then it was like he felt like I was his responsibility from there on out. So, Nolan Draper, God bless you. And Nolan showed me around town and met lots of great folks, hung out in the Herndon pool hall with people and it was just great. And so the next day at the parade, I met the rest of Nolan’s family, his girlfriend and their kids and stuff and lots of other great folks. But, it was a wonderful time. And the Ox Roast only happens every five years. (Frank) Hmmm. (Deb) So, I was really fortunate to be out there while that was going on. (Frank) Now, wait a minute, Ox Roast. (Deb) Ox Roast. In fairness, they don’t bury an ox anymore. They used to. They started a 100 and some years ago. They used to bury an ox. But now they bury, I don’t know, 1,500 pounds of beef, or something that somebody donates. But they dig a big pit. (Frank) That would be big pit. (Deb) I know. It’s a big pit. Let’s take a look. The story of Herndon is truly one of pioneers in the West. This corner of Rawlins County was founded by folks from Smith County in 1876. They first lived in a cave on the banks of Ash Creek, on the edge of what would one day be a town. The next year, the first of many Austrian-Hungarian immigrants homesteaded a mile west of town. A couple of years later, a merchant showed up with a wagonload of merchandise. He put up the first store in Rawlins County and later, he became the postmaster of what was called, Pesth, for Buda-Pest. It was this same merchant who changed the name of the hamlet to Herndon in 1880, honoring Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, Billy Herndon. According to local historian Frank Cox, a boom began in 1884 when a flour mill was built on Beaver Creek, south of town. The railroad linked Herndon to the rest of the world in 1887. The railroad went on to build up its division point at Herndon, putting up a two story depot, section house, round table, windmill and water tank, coal shed and 2 miles of siding. Most early day trains made Herndon a regular meal stop where passengers walked over to the Hotel Herndon dining room. The year 1888 brought Herndon’s biggest building boom. Market places were created for farm crops; business houses sprung up – general merchandise, drug stores, restaurants, hotels, livery stables, blacksmiths, implement dealers. Disaster came in December 1905 when fire destroyed nearly all buildings on the west side of Main Street. But the merchants seemed undaunted; most of them rebuilt their stores and opened again by summer. One of the buildings that survives, and thrives, is the Herndon Pool Hall. Built in 1887, the building was purchased by Chris Wood in 1987 and she has run it ever since. She is one of the many people who grew up, moved away, and came back. Her establishment is a popular meeting place when families, friends and former residents return for the Herndon Ox Roast, first held in 1914. Every five years, the Ox Roast turns this town of dozens into a destination. It is a homecoming, class reunion, and festival all rolled into one. Motor homes begin filling the vacant lots and four-wheelers and golf carts and horses become the most convenient means of transportation. There is a parade, out-house race, street dance, great food, and more fun than seems possible in a weekend. This year, the town’s new museum opened to an appreciative audience. Since the school was merged with that of Atwood, the museum contains yearbooks, trophies—the school’s memorabilia, as well as items that belonged to the pioneering families of Herndon. The next Ox Roast won’t happen until 2020. Mark your calendars and be sure to get there early. There’s a long line when they start serving up the ox!
(Frank) And we’re back. You know there’s a place in Kansas City that well, is a concert venue for a number of years and anyway, it also happened to be the venue where Patsy Cline sang her last concert. I’m not gonna give up the whole story right now, but the thing is that’s really what’s notable about this story because obviously Patsy Cline is not from Kansas. But it is kind of notable that… (Deb) Sure. (Frank) …it happened to be her very last concert. (Deb) Were you a Patsy Cline fan? (Frank) I am a Patsy Cline fan, yes. (Deb) I think she had the best voice of any female singer ever. (Frank) Right. (Deb) Just amazing. (Frank) Well, you know I’m on WRENradio.net, tune in, it’s the oldies. And we do play Patsy Cline, even though we’re an oldies station, Patsy Cline was a cross over artist. (Deb) Right. She sure was. (Frank) She was both pop and country. And we have a thing called Juke Box Classic, once an hour and a Patsy Cline song will play there. (Deb) Was it, Crazy Arms? Is that the one that Willie Nelson wrote, that she did? (Frank) Hmmm. I don’t know. (Deb) There was one of her songs, big hit that Willie Nelson wrote and she got the demo tape and of course, Willie Nelson can’t sing. Sorry, he can’t sing. And she’s like, I love him, but he can’t sing. And she’s like, I can’t sing that song. And they’re like, Patsy, don’t pay any attention to him, just pay attention to the song and do it your way. And of course she did it and it was you know, a spot on hit. (Frank) Yea, anyway let’s hear about her last concert in Kansas. It was a sentimental evening that March 3, 1963, at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Beloved deejay, Cactus Jack Call had been killed in a car crash and tonight’s show was a benefit for his family. A virtual who’s who of the Grand Ole Opry filled the stage to pay homage: George Jones, Billy Walker, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Wilma Lee & Stony Cooper, and Dottie West. Patsy Cline became a last minute addition on the bill. She had been touring hard and had a terrible cold. But it was for a good cause, so despite her manager’s objections to working for free, she agreed to join the group of stars. Despite fatigue and illness, Patsy put on an incredible show. She was unable to fly out the next day because the Fairfax Airport in Kansas City, Kansas, was fogged in. Declining a car ride back to Nashville with country singer Dottie West and her husband, she boarded a Piper PA-24 Comanche plane, along with country performers Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas, and her manager Hughes, who was the pilot but was not trained in instrument flying. After making a fuel stop in Missouri and another landing at Dyersburg Municipal Airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee, the plane departed for Cornelia Fort Airpark, near Nashville, against the advice of the airfield manager. The flight encountered inclement weather and crashed in a forest near Camden, Tennessee, on the evening of March 5, 1963, killing all on board. She was 30 years old and was one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century. In 1973, she became the first female solo act to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1985, a full length feature film and box office smash, Sweet Dreams, told her life story and revitalized interest in her music. A postage stamp was issued honoring her in 1993. She received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In 1999, she was voted Number 11 on VH1’s special, The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll, by members and artists of the rock music industry. In 2002, country music artists and industry members voted her Number One on Country Music Television’s The 40 Greatest Women of Country Music and ranked 46th in the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Many artists performing today speak of having been inspired by Patsy Cline. Memorial Hall continues to be an active and respected venue. Yet, there are many claims that the famed performance hall is haunted. Many believe that Patsy’s spirit returns to the scene of her last performance. Others believe the power of her voice and talent just transcends time and space and remains wherever she was. See for yourself. Buy a ticket for a show at Memorial Hall and close your eyes. Maybe you’ll hear Patsy singing, Crazy!
(Ron) One of the key pieces of equipment which a cowboy uses in modern times is the livestock trailer. This poem is a tribute to the livestock trailer. I wrote this poem on the back of a sale barn receipt while I was sitting in line at the sale barn getting ready to unload cattle. It’s called Hitch Me Up! There’re red ones and blue ones, silver and gray, some are splattered with manure, some are leaking hay. Some are dark or muddy, some are clean and white. There’s Titans and TravAlongs, Sooner and Featherlites. There’s Trailman and Roughneck, CM and Diamond C. And some of them look downright homemade to me. Most have gooseneck attachments, but some are bumper-pull. Some have a big dent from carrying a bull. Some are riding low from carrying heavy loads. Some look like they’ve banged down too many gravel roads. Some need a paint job, some are coated with dust. Some look like antiques but are nothing but rust. They’re used to haul cattle or horses or hay and they’re going to and from pastures at different times of the year. During County Fair they’re hauling in the show steer. There might even be a time in your child’s search for knowledge that the trailer is cleaned up to haul your kid’s stuff to college. So we salute the livestock trailer, in fact we might say, its a vital support for the cowboy, it’s behind him all the way. Happy trails.
(Frank) Hey, we’re back. I’m sorry, but we just have a really good time here on this show. Now we heard about an Ox Roast, but… (Deb) I’m sure they’re roastin… (Frank) You’re not going to tell us about a Buffalo Roast, now are you? (Deb) Honey, I’m sure they’re roasting buffalo somewhere, right as we speak. (Frank) Oh, OK. (Deb) But you know the buffalo-that’s the state animal, or state mammal, whatever it is, for the state of Kansas. And it’s hard to imagine now what it must have looked like, not that long ago, just 150 years ago when the buffalo covered this place. But you know they’re making a great comeback. When I moved to Kansas, Noel was just a baby, she was like 18 months old. And we go out to the State Historical Society and the gift shop and Noel pulled one of those little stuffed buffalo off the shelf and she carried it around with her. And I’m like, OK she’ll get tired of it. Well, she didn’t. So I’m like, OK, so I got her the buffalo, and little stuffed buffalo. So, that was like her teddy bear. And she called it Bubba because she couldn’t say buffalo, so she called it Bubba and that was her teddy bear. That’s what she slept with and I thought you know, that’s appropriate for a little girl in Kansas to have her little pet stuffed buffalo. So, we became Kansans pretty quick. (Frank) So, let’s see where the buffalo roam. The buffalo. Once these beasts roamed the Great Plains from horizon to horizon. If the Plains Tribes attempted to count them, there is no record. There were enough, more than enough, to supply food, lodging, utensils, sport. When white trappers, soldiers, and freighters arrived, the numbers were staggering, but exactly how many is that and what did it take to diminish those numbers? We are still guesstimating. Some have asserted that there were so many bison roaming the Great Plains, and their demise occurred over such a short time, that hunting could not have possibly wiped out that many animals. Historian Rod Beemer disagrees and has the research to back up his findings. Zoologists say the Plains could have supported 28 to 30 million buffalo. Some historians have said upwards of 60 million may have lived here. While we can never know for certain, the Army likes numbers, real numbers. So General Phil Sheridan put his observation skills to the test. Traveling from Fort Supply (now in Oklahoma) to Fort Dodge, he and his party observed a great herd, extending a hundred miles in width. They had no idea how long it was. They were estimating that it numbered in the billions of animals. Conservatively they decided on 250,000. The demand for buffalo hides created a hunting spree that continued through the mid 1800’s and very nearly left the animal extinct. The hides had many uses, but the greatest number went to industry. They were used as belts to run the great manufacturing machines then dominating America’s northeast. Buffalo also fed the railroad workers and this is where Cody’s hunting skills provided him with a handy living. Sheridan, on the other hand, was pushing for its slaughter, seeing it as an effective means of subduing the warring Plains Tribes. One observer remarked, It is estimated that there are, south of the Arkansas and west of Wichita, from one to two thousand men shooting buffalo for their hides alone. Among those men seeking their fortunes hunting buffalo were Old West legends Bat and Ed Masterson, and Wyatt Earp. Rod said, The Kansas Pacific line from Kansas City to Denver was completed in 1870. These rails cut right through the heart of the big central plain’s buffalo pasture. The Santa Fe reached the Kansas/Colorado line in 1873. This facilitated the movement of supplies and hides to and from the hunters working the southern herd. Though Rod documents disease and other natural factors, it was, in fact, the hunting of the buffalo that resulted in their numbers tumbling from the millions to near extinction by 1900. Conservationists took up the cause, and the animal’s numbers have increased steadily since that time, though they will never again approach the numbers that Plains Tribes would have witnessed in the early 1800s. (Frank) I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Together) We’ll see you Around Kansas!
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.