John Leavitt, Bazaar Cattle Pens

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a story about the music of John Leavitt, the composer, conductor, pianist and teacher from Leavenworth. Next learn about the Bazaar Cattle Pens, located on the Kansas Turnpike at mile marker 111. Then enjoy a poem from Geff Dawson and we’ll finish with the Kanza, the People of the South Wind, the People for whom the state of Kansas was named.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Well here it is Wednesday again, already. Good grief! (Deb) The last Wednesday of 2015. (Frank) Yea, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. And today we’re back in the Dillon House and behind us is a beautiful grand piano, which really has incredible sound. There have been several concerts here actually. (Deb) Depending on who plays it, it has incredible sound. (Frank) Yea. There’s only one song I can play on there, and it’s the Tennessee Waltz. And don’t ask me why. (Deb) There’s nothing I can do. Well that’s pretty good. (Frank) Da-ding-ding. (Deb) Well I have a belated Christmas present for you Frank. (Frank) Uh oh. What is this? (Deb) Yes, a Kansas product. All the way. Is this a great country or what? (Frank) OK. But I don’t have my reading glasses, so I have no idea what it is. (Deb) This is Candy Kitchen Values Sugar Free Truffles. And this is from the Russell Stover Outlet, Sugar Free Truffles. But Russell Stover has these little bags of bloopers and I think that’s what this is. It’s a $9 dollar bag of bloopers, but it’s, but the ones that don’t turn out quite right, or whatever. You know, they just package ’em in these little white things and sell ’em as bloopers. What could be better than a chocolate blooper? (Frank) Gee, thank you for the thought. (Deb) It’s the thought that counts Frank. (Frank) That’s true. That’s true. (Deb) You gotta admit though a chocolate truffle blooper, you can’t go wrong. (Frank) Hey they all taste the same. Who cares if it’s perfect or not. (Deb) Well I figure radio, TV bloopers are the perfect gift, you know. (Frank) That’s right. That’s right. Oh, what a surprise. (Deb) So, what are you doing for New Year’s? (Frank) New Year’s? Nothing. We stay home now and say, “Look at all the crazy people on TV.” (Deb) Well, I’m going to be in Philadelphia. (Frank) Awww. (Deb) And I will be in Laurel Hill Cemetery, marking the 200th Anniversary of the birth of General George Meade. And every year on his birthday which conveniently coincides with New Year’s Eve, they have a champagne party over the General’s grave. (Frank) Oh my. (Deb) You can’t make this stuff up, you cannot make this stuff up. (Frank) Oh my. (Deb) So, I will be in Philadelphia having a champagne toast to General Meade in the freezing cold overlooking the Schuylkill River. (Frank) Oh, I don’t know the way the weather’s been this year. (Deb) Who knows what it could be? (Frank) Seventy three degrees, you know. (Deb) It could be. It could be. My friends Andy Waskie and Carol Newman actually got married at the cemetery on his birthday, which also was his wedding anniversary. And Andy portrays General Meade, so he decided that would be a great way for him to remember his own wedding anniversary, so the day they got married, New Year’s Eve a few years ago, it was I don’t know 50-60 degrees. It was a really gorgeous day in the cemetery, champagne flowed freely for hours and hours and hours and hours. And then they have a little potluck in the cemetery office. (Frank) I mean, I have a mental image of this. Does everyone dress in black or what? (Deb) You know a lot of ’em dress in period clothing, from the 1860s or reminiscent of the Civil War and yea, it’s a, yea it’s something. (Frank) Of course though, at that time people celebrated for funerals. You know our funerals now are woo-woo-woo. But then it was a celebration. They handed out white gloves and everybody said, hey!! (Deb) We’re getting back to that I think. You know more and more people are having a celebration of life, rather than a somber, very dark event. A lot of people are doing a celebration of life. And by golly, we celebrate General Meade’s life every year on New Year’s Eve. I get there every year I can. (Frank) With cork’s popping. Oh yes. (Deb) I’ll send pictures, I promise I’ll send pictures to all you folks. (Frank) Oh my. (Deb) Oh yea, you can be thinking about that while you’re home watching the crazy people. (Frank) Say, I know where she is. (Deb) We’ve got some great stuff. Stay with us. (Frank) Do we? (Deb) We do, we do.

(Frank) And we’re back. (Deb) And there’s still time for you to fly to Philly with me, and you too could be drinking champagne in the cemetery in Philadelphia. (Frank) That’s gonna take a while for that image to go somewhere. But anyway… (Deb) Alright, speaking of music….(Frank) Were we? (Deb) Well we will now. You and I have talked a lot before about all the talented musicians that we have from Kansas and we’ve got Kansas Music Hall of Fame coming up in the spring, so we’ll talk about that later on. Mark your calendars, first weekend in March. We have people from so many different genres of music. And classical music, you know we’ve done a couple of episodes. But we have John Leavitt, who is originally from Leavenworth and as we spoke before, Leavenworth has just produced some amazing musicians. (Frank) Well Randy Sparks of course, who founded the New Christy Minstrels and was the opening act for, oh now I can’t think of his name. (Deb) What’s his name? You know, he was a big star. What’s his name? (Frank) Well he really was a movie star too. But anyway, Randy Sparks is from there and of course Leavenworth is not always… (Deb) Our theme show. (Frank) Leavenworth was not always called Leavenworth you know, it was called River Bend. (Deb) I didn’t know that. (Frank) Did you know that? Yes. (Deb) No. (Frank) In fact for a very short while he had a radio show before he went on the road again after he re-formed the New Christy Minstrels here, oh gosh, almost 15 years ago now. And he did a song called River Bend and it was about his hometown of, what became Leavenworth. (Deb) Well, you know Melissa Etheridge is also from Leavenworth. (Frank) Right. (Deb) And so is the amazing John Leavitt. And throughout the Christmas holiday, listening to NPR and you know looking for recordings in the store, he is a conductor and there is a degree in conducting. Who knew? (Frank) Huh. (Deb) And he is absolutely amazing. So, let’s take a look at the career of another incredible Leavenworthian. Is that a word? (Frank) Yes, River Bendian. (Deb) River Bendian. Throughout the Christmas season, the music of John Leavitt filled the air, but the same could be said of every season. The composer, conductor, pianist, and teacher, was born and raised in Leavenworth. He received his degree in music education from Emporia State, a master’s degree in piano and composition from Wichita State, and the Doctorate of Musical Arts, which translates to conducting, from The Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Among his many honors and appointments, was a year spent with Concordia College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where he was Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music. In 2010, Dr. Leavitt was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Art’s “American Masterpieces,” to write a new choral work in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the State of Kansas. His music has been performed in 30 countries across the globe and his recordings have been featured nationally on many public radio stations. An extraordinary composer, performer, and clinician for church and school music literature, Leavitt continues to teach, lecture, and guest conduct numerous workshops, festivals, and symposia. He serves as a regular guest conductor in major venues throughout the United States including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has served as artistic director for the National Capitol Choral Festival in Washington DC and the Chicago Sings Choral Festival. His compositions are represented in nearly every major music catalog in this country.

(Frank) We’re back again. These people are going to think we’ve been into the champagne or something. (Deb) Already. I know, I know. We’re celebrating a little early today. (Frank) But why not. You know, the English language is so much fun and I’m gonna talk about words that sound the same, bazaar and bizarre. And bizarre and then the other one bazaar. So bizarre. Anyway, so we’re gonna talk about a place that’s bazaar, but it’s not bizarre, it’s bazaar. No we’ve been bizarre. Now we’re going to go to Bazaar. Yea. (Frank) And I didn’t know this was here either til I did the story. (Deb) It’s just amazing. You know we’re talking about Bazaar Cattle Fence along the Turnpike. And Michael Goehring, our handsome camera boy, we call him Hollywood because he’s so pretty. We stopped there on the way down to do something one day. No matter what time of year, no matter what is going on, whether it’s burning the Flint Hills, just a pretty spring day, or the Harvest moon in the fall, that is the most beautiful spot in the Flint Hills. You’ve just got nothing but the Flint Hills, you know, and cows. That’s it. You know, it’s gorgeous. (Frank) Cows are beautiful. (Deb) It’s gorgeous. So, yea and the Turnpike is a wonderful road. It’s a wonderful road. We advocate getting off the highway all the time, but if you’ve got to be on the highway, it’s a wonderful road. (Frank) Yea, it really is. (Deb) It’s beautiful and what a scenic piece of highway that is. (Frank) And 75 miles an hour. (Deb) Yea, none the less, you’re riding with Heather and then it’s 85 miles an hour or something. (Frank) But the Kansas Turnpike is also beginning to now identify places that you can stop. And they do it with enough time so you can slow down. I’m sorry. (Deb) Good plan, good plan. (Frank) It’s almost New Year’s Eve. (Deb) Yes, it’s almost New Year’s. Probably wait til the New Year to do that, get out and do any traveling. (Frank) OK. Let’s hear about Bazaar. When you just have to arrive quickly, the Kansas Turnpike is a safe, smooth, scenic ride. One of the most popular sites is the Bazaar Cattle Pens, 16 miles southwest of Emporia and 60 miles northeast of Wichita at mile marker 111. If you take this exit, you will find cattle pens, and a spectacular view of contented cows grazing. You will not find the Chase County township of Bazaar itself, founded in 1857 between Cottonwood Falls and Matfield Green. To get to the real Bazaar, you must venture off the Turnpike, but that is a story for another day. Earlier this month, a groundbreaking was held at the Bazaar Cattle Pens. Plans call for improvements to the popular scenic overlook, just one piece of improvements all along the highway. Turnpike CEO Steve Hewitt told the Emporia Gazette staff that the Kansas Turnpike Authority was increasing public outreach efforts. He said that the agency would like for customers to know that projects are upcoming rather than just finding out about a project as they drive by. “We want people to know we are in the process of doing projects, not just all of a sudden the project is in their lap,” Hewitt said. Hewitt stressed the importance of keeping the public informed on how their dollars are being spent. There are a number of ways for KTA customers to receive communication updates regarding travel and upcoming projects. KTA maintains an up to date website at Website visitors can sign up for KTA alerts sent via email and text message. Additionally, Twitter updates from KTA can be received by following @KansasTurnpike.

(Geff) There’s no alarm clock needed to get me out of bed, for today I’ll be a cowboy. Now let’s get them horses fed. The chores are done before the sun tops the eastern hill and I saddle up my horse and up my back there goes a chill. For this life it does excite me. My dream it has come true, for today I’ll be a cowboy, a cowboy through and through. Well, I load my horse and start my truck and down the road we go. We’re headed for the pastures, where the greenest grasses grow. We gather steers bunch by bunch and take ’em to the pen. We implant, worm and vaccinate and turn ’em out again. We drive ’em back to where they came to graze the summer through, where the grass is green, the water’s clear and the sky’s a deep, deep blue. Works all done. We trailer up and head back for the ranch. The day it passed so quickly. I never had a chance. A chance to thank my maker, the Lord from up above for giving me the life, the life I really love. Well I get back home and I do my chores just like the day began. And I ask the Lord, please give me one more chance and let me do it all again.

(Deb) Well that was a bizarre good time, wasn’t it? (Frank) Yea, well now it’s time to get a little more stoic. (Deb) Yes. (Frank) Because now we have an historical story we’re going to tell you about. (Deb) We need some kind of theme music that let’s us know, you know like the laugh track or something. Or like those old spy movies where you knew from the music whether it was going to be scary or whether it’s gonna be funny. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) We need to work on that. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Can you find us something? (Frank) Either that or somebody that comes in and slaps us and says straighten up. (Deb) Don’t tempt Heather she might come down. OK, so we’re working on this documentary on Charles Curtis. And that’s what this next segment is about. So, I have minions. And like I said before I have people that just give me stuff. So, one of my friends Dana Anson, who like me loves old stuff, she found this little diary. And most diaries, sad to say, are boring. You know this is the kind of stuff people write, “Blizzard, cold, nine degrees below.” You know and you can go online or whatever and find any of this information. People rarely write the juicy tidbits that you really want to know. So, Dana found this diary and what’s funny is this is a diary, a day-by-day for years, but this lady kept several year’s worth in it because she would just write you know, “Cold today, rain today, 1932 it rained, 1936 it was a blizzard.” And so, it’s interesting. And mostly family notes. But on February 11, 1936, Charles Curtis funeral at Topeka, age 76 years old. (Frank) Hmm. (Deb) So, the one thing that was not part of the family lore was the death of Charles Curtis, who of course had been Vice President and was not reelected. Of course FDR rolled in…who was FDR’s Vice President? Do you remember? Who did you vote for in that election? Do you remember? (Frank) I’m old. But I’m not quite there. No. (Deb) So, you just never know where these little things will show up. And people, you’d think that you’d found…like the Civil War, people think everything’s been found about the Civil War that could possibly be found. No. A letter will turn up, a diary will turn up, just all kinds of things. You never know. So, if you go to an estate sale and you find a little box of papers and junk, go through it and if you don’t want it, send the stuff to me, I’ll go through it. So, let’s take a look at the documentary that we’re working on. It is one of the great tragedies of history that the people for whom the state of Kansas is named do not have a home here. The People of the South Wind, the Kanza, the Kaw, return for ceremonial events at the state historic site in Council Grove. The tribe recently purchased land near the Morris County town, a way of reclaiming their roots. Kaw Nation Chairwoman Elaine Huch becomes emotional she speaks of members returning to that land to dance and commune. Around Kansas visited with Elaine at the headquarters and museum of the Kaw Nation in Kaw City, Oklahoma. The Kaw were removed to what was then the Indian Territory in 1873. “The Kanza People lived in Kansas, they started out with 20 million acres, they had a treaty, they were removed to Indian Territory in Oklahoma and it was a horrible, horrible Trail of Tears for them. A lot of their People starved, had smallpox, didn’t have food to eat. It was very bad for the People.” Elaine’s interview is featured in a short documentary film on the life of Vice President Charles Curtis, Son of the Kanza Nation, as it proudly proclaims on his tombstone. The Shawnee County Historical Society received a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council to produce the film and Trinity Marketing is handling the production work. Other historians featured in the film are Ken Spurgeon, award-winning filmmaker in his own right, and yours truly, Deb Goodrich. A January premiere is planned at the Jayhawk Theater in Topeka. Though the Kaw Nation makes its home in Oklahoma, its heart and roots remain in Kansas. This documentary film, Our Charley: The Early Years of Vice President Charles Curtis will convey a piece of that deep connection.

(Frank) Well, the next time we see you, it will be 2016, so Happy New Year. (Deb) Wow. Happy New Year everybody, be safe. (Frank) I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) 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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