Kansas City’s World War I Museum, Lady Luck Ironworks of Stockton

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a surprising tale of officers from the United Kingdom on a tour of Kansas City’s World War I Museum. Next learn about Lady Luck Ironworks of Stockton, a unique business that caters to REAL cowboys and cowgirls. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with the story of Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., a lieutenant general in the US Army during World War II.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) I’m kind of chuckling because it’s going to be one of these here we go again or here we are again. And I’ll tell you why I’m chuckling is because that was an opening line to “The Drunkard.” Here we are again, in spite of our good resolutions we find ourselves once again at the Sickle and Sheaf. (Deb) That’s great Frank. (Frank) I can probably still do the whole show. (Deb) What a classic. You know I saw “The Drunkard” not long after I first moved to Topeka. I saw a production of it. So welcome folks again, it’s Wednesday, it’s Around Kansas. I’m still Deb. (Frank) And I’m still Frank, I think. (Deb) The Skype, the teleportation from last week and rearranging molecules and and all that good stuff. We’re still and so far 2016 is working out OK. (Frank) 2016-yes, good year. (Deb) It’s looking…you know no doomsday prophecies. It’s all working out OK. Yea, so far, so good. But we’re only a couple of weeks in. But so far, so good. (Frank) Yes, yes, yes. So, anyway, you’ve been traveling around. (Deb) Honey, I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful time. I love to travel. If I couldn’t travel I guess I would just have to read all the time. I love to travel. I love…and I’ve always loved touristy places. I used to work in Fancy Gap, Virginia, not far from where I grew up and I was the Tourist Information person. And I loved telling people where to go. But I also, I’ve always loved that atmosphere of people traveling. Because anybody can walk in the door. They can be from anywhere. Like I remember in Fancy Gap one day I had a kid come in; he was a fighter pilot from Cherry Point Air Station. And he was visiting his family’s home up in Fancy Gap. And we sat and talked for a couple hours about his experiences as a fighter pilot. And then the next person that comes in he’s a businessman from Ohio. So, I’ve always loved airports. I love running into people at airports. I met a guy waiting for a plane. He was a business man from Canada and works in grain energy. And so I love that, you just never know who you’re going to run into. I love that. (Frank) Fancy Gap, Mount Airy, where you come from. They have such names for places and towns. No wonder people where you come from have good humor. (Deb) And such colorful people. And I’m going to do a segment soon. I grew up Mayberry RFD, so just outside of Mayberry. And Andy Griffith doesn’t come close to touching all the characters that really lived there. Most of whom are related to me. But one of my friends drives the squad car and does the squad car tours of Mayberry. He is a retired law enforcement officer. His Dad was. His older brother was police chief in Mount Airy, or Mayberry. So, I’m going to do a segment on that. Figure out what I can really share with people and then do a segment on that. Show you all the hillbillies back home. (Frank) Yea, bring back pictures. Film and all of that. That would be fun. (Deb) I will. (Frank) Anyway… (Deb) We’ve got a lot of great stuff for you today, so stay with us.

(Frank) And we’re back again. (Deb) So Frank, have you ever been over the Liberty Memorial, the World War I Museum? (Frank) I have. Yes. Well, not since it’s been redone. But it’s been many years ago. And they decided we really need to completely renovate this place. So, they have. (Deb) It’s incredible. It’s incredible. And of course, both of my Grandfathers were World War I veterans. My Grandpa Coalson fought in France. And for again, talking about folks back home, for a boy coming from the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia first time he’s ever been away, first time he’d ever seen the ocean. And then he found himself on a boat headed over to Europe. Or on a ship. And the sea was full of ships. I think he sailed out of New Jersey. And it’s just unimaginable. And my Grandpa Bowman, my Mother’s Daddy was stationed at Gettysburg. He was at Camp Colt and guess who was the commander at Camp Colt in World War I? (Frank) Pershing? (Deb) Dwight David Eisenhower. (Frank) Oh really? (Deb) So, Eisenhower, my Grandpa was a coal miner and he had lung problems and got a medical discharge because of his health. And so Eisenhower signed his discharge papers. So he had to go in and see, and I can’t remember what Ike’s rank was at that time whether it was a Major, I can’t remember. And Grandpa’s discharge is signed by Eisenhower. (Frank) Hmm. Wow. (Deb) Yea, and I got to share that with Ike’s granddaughter Ann at the Eisenhower Center a couple of years ago, which was really wonderful and I know she gets stuff all the time about somebody who served with her Grandpa. But you know it was really wonderful to be able to share that. And I interviewed World War I veterans. I did a story on one in our community who had again, served in France. And he talked about how hard it was, how people buried pots, so they wouldn’t have to melt down their pots for ammunition. I mean it was a really incredible time in world history. And with the popularity of “Downton Abbey” and a lot of the shows, there is a renewed interest in the 100th anniversary of World War I. So, there’s a lot of renewed interest. So, visit with us today the Liberty Memorial and go in person after you see this. It’s phenomenal. A few years ago, my friend Scott Porter, retired colonel and instructor at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, asked me to join him in hosting a unique group of tourists. Scott is also a trustee for the Liberty Memorial and World War I Museum and he had about 200 officers from the United Kingdom coming for a tour. They were expecting Dorothy. Most of those officers were visiting Kansas for the first time, and it was visions of flying monkeys and swirling houses that filled their imaginations. They scoffed that this facility would be worth their time. To their surprise, they found the pre-eminent World War Museum in the world, one offering not only the American experience, but the experience of soldiers throughout the world. That focus made an impression on more than one foreign officer. Majors Alex West and Dick Taylor, as I recall, were struck by the international scope of the displays. It’s not just America in the Great War. Because of the balanced approach in presenting the complex issues and experiences, it’s meaningful for their countrymen as well. The officers were visiting Fort Leavenworth as part of an exchange program with the UK’s equivalent military institution. After weeks of immersion at CGSC–after sharing ideas, doctrine, and tactics–the Brits had the opportunity to explore beyond the walls of the Fort and I had the amazing opportunity to see the Liberty Memorial through their eyes.

(Deb) So, I see you’ve been reading again Frank. (Frank) Yes, I have the readers on here. Oh yes, Kansas Living, which is a Farm Bureau publication. It has some really cool stuff in it. (Deb) They do a really nice job. Really nice. (Frank) Anyway, I was kind of reading the story here about a couple of artisans that they decided to also feature. These couple of young guys have really kind of started, you know, hammering around on a forge and all of that and I don’t want to get ahead of the story very much, but in the magazine is a more expanded story on what we’re going to tell you about in this next story about these young men here, Tyler Brown and Dan Atkinson. So anyway… (Deb) You know just when you get down on the next generation, or whatever generation, or young people or whatever, you see young men like this you are…look at these great looking guys. But they’re working hard, doing really creative stuff, and making a business out of it. And I was looking at your story and they seemed to be really well-rounded and have real business ethics. So next time you start complaining about what kids are coming to, you gotta remember there’s a lot like this. And there’s a lot of ’em in Kansas. Aren’t there Frank? (Frank) Oh yes, yes there are. Definitely. (Deb) We’ve got so much talent and so many good things going on. Proud of ’em. (Frank) Let’s take a look. Good friends since childhood, Tyler Brown and Dan Atkisson combine their artistic skills and love of the western life into a unique business. Lady Luck Ironworks of Stockton was recently featured in Farm Bureau’s Kansas Living Magazine. What started as bits and spurs soon mushroomed into metal work including belt buckles, bracelets, conches, knives, and buckles for horse headstalls. Folks from all over the country buy their creations. Dan said that most of their customers are working types, REAL cowboys and cowgirls, and they keep that in mind when pricing their one-of-a-kind works. They want real people to be able to afford their wares. Nickel, silver, polished steel, brass, copper, sterling silver, the metals are combined in unique and functional ways and their original artwork has become their hallmark. For nearly five years these young men have been building their hobby into a thriving business. You can find them on Facebook and our own Ron Wilson proudly wears their spurs. There’s no better endorsement than that!

(Ron) Howdy folks, I’m Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat. Some years ago I was invited to a statewide festival and it was mostly urban people. And I felt I needed to do a reminder of the great cowboy history of our state, Kansas. Kansas is a cowboy state, it’s in our legacy. Kansas blazed a trail throughout western history. It all started with the Native American Indian as you know, who roamed the open prairie, and hunted buffalo. The new explorers charted the wilderness, braving harsh conditions, Coronado, Lewis and Clark and John C. Fremont’s expeditions. U.S. Calvary soldiers came out west to build forts. Fort Scott, Hays, Leavenworth, Larned and Riley of course. Kansas was a key crossroads of the trails of the day, to Oregon, California, and down to Santa Fe. When Texas Longhorns needed to be shipped east by rail, the cowboys drove those herds up the Big Chisholm Trail. It was the toughest cattle drive those cowboys had ever seen, up to Dodge City, Caldwell, Wichita, Ellsworth and Abilene. The townsfolk knew they better have things all battened down. Cause some cowboys sure went wild when they finally got to town. They gamble and shoot and drink of their fill and a few left their graves up on top of Boot Hill. But like everything else, those times went through change. Homesteaders built fence where there was open range. Brave pioneers came west to make the homestead as their perch, and built the institutions of the home, the school, the church. Now the spirit of the cowboy in our state is living still, from the feedyards out west to the rolling Flint Hills. In the heart of a Kansan the cowboy spirit lives on, and the values our people will still draw upon. They work hard and play hard, are honest and free. Values that matter to you and to me. It’s part of the history that makes Kansas great, so we’re thankful Kansas is a cowboy state.

(Deb) -SINGING- Buffalo Bill…Buffalo Bill…(Frank) And we’re back again. So, you brought toys again today. (Deb) I did. And you don’t know how hard I have to work to keep my Grandsons from opening this? So, this is my Buffalo Bill action figure. Yes, -SINGING-Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Bill. Never missed and he never will. Not in my book anyway. So my friend Deb Buckner sent me that for my birthday a couple years ago. And my friend Deb portrays Libbie Custer and it just happens that my birthday is the same day at Libbie Custer’s. And it’s the same day as Josephine Earp, who was the wife of Wyatt Earp. So yea, I share my birthday, April 8th, mark your calendars…still time to get things in the mail… I share my birthday with two really incredibly interesting women from the West. So, I guess there’s no mistaking I’d be interested in the West. (Frank) Buffalo Bill was an interesting character. He was full of bluster and everything else. But at least he brought the Old West to a lot of the world. (Deb) You know he was full of bluster. I was thinking about this the other day. It’s like, remember that Jack Palance ad where, what was it confidence, or something, sexy or arrogance. He said it’s not arrogance if you can back it up. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) And that was Buffalo Bill. He was full of bluster, but he could back it up. So Deb, being a good friend and knowing how I love Buffalo Bill sent me that. But the next segment is not about Bill, it’s about Deb’s family who, her husband’s family actually, who is just as interesting. It’s a really incredible story with connections to American history for way more than 150 years. It’s a pretty incredible story with some pretty incredible Kansas connections. Sitting on my desk is a Buffalo Bill action figure, a gift from my friend Deb Buckner of Kansas City. Like so many of my friends, history brought Deb and me together. She portrays Libbie Custer. But unlike most folks, Deb and her husband Chip come from a very historic family themselves. Chip’s great granddad was Confederate general and Kentucky governor Simon Bolivar Buckner. Chip’s grandfather was Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., a lieutenant general in the United States Army during World War II, and that’s the story we want to share today. Buckner attended the Virginia Military Institute and was appointed to West Point by President Theodore Roosevelt. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations and commanded the defenses of Alaska early in the war. Following that assignment, he was promoted to command the 10th Army, which conducted the amphibious assault on the Japanese island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. He was killed during the closing days of the battle by enemy fire, making him the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to have been lost to enemy fire during World War II. Buckner, Lesley J. McNair, Frank Maxwell Andrews, and Millard Harmon, all lieutenant generals at the time of their deaths, were the highest-ranking Americans to be killed in World War II. Buckner and McNair were posthumously promoted to the rank of four-star general on July 19, 1954 by a Special Act of Congress. Buckner’s death was one of 12,513 American deaths during the Battle of Okinawa. The Buckner family has not only served America, but is active in preserving its history, and their family history. One of Buckner’s assignments was at Fort Leavenworth, and it was there his son Bill, Chip’s dad, was born and they have remained connected to Kansas ever since. I am reminded of that legacy every time I look at that Buffalo Bill action figure.

(Frank) Well we spent a lot of time with cowboys today, but anyway that’s part of Kansas. (Deb) Cowboys and guys in uniform. (Frank) Yessiree. So anyway, til next time…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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