Mid-America Air Museum, Old Jefferson Town

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a look at the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas, the 5th largest aviation museum in the country. Next we’re off to Old Jefferson Town in Oskaloosa, Kansas. This 10-acre park includes period buildings, a bandstand, a native grass prairie and much more. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with Mound City’s National Cemetery.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

(Frank) Hey good morning. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. Hooray, hooray it’s the month of May. (Deb) I want to tell you, this friend of mine back home, back in the hills, this is how sad life was back in the hills, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He was like my Dad’s generation and he was telling me about all their May Day traditions or their one May Day tradition. All the kids would go running from house to house shouting “May Day!” (Frank) Yea. (Deb) And then the other kids would run out and they would run to another house and shout, “May Day!” I’m like, and then what? Well, that was it! (Frank) No May baskets? Really? (Deb) That’s all you did. I guess, you know, wasn’t that sad? (Frank) Yea. Well now when I was in grade school, we would make little baskets. They would be like a cone and then you put a little staple on a little handle and then you would put candy and maybe some dandelions or some sort of flower in that. Then you actually went around to your friend’s houses and you hung them on the door, rang the bell and ran. (Deb) See that’s how they did things in the 19th Century kids. That’s what they did back then. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) We had in grade school, I think I actually do recall a May Pole celebration one time. But I must have been in first grade. I don’t remember it after that. So, yea. We may just be knocking on your door for May Day, but I ain’t leaving a basket! (Frank) As you can see, we’re so happy it’s May we’re outside at the Dillon House today. So, if you hear a roaring it’s not lions, it’s probably the wind. (Deb) Or bears. Or bears. (Frank) There are lions behind us. (Deb) Yea, tigers, bears, yea. (Frank) So anyway, of course the Dillon House is where we do this show and if you’re not familiar with it, it’s right across from the State Capitol. It’s right over there and so when you’re in Topeka, and you’re going to go to the Capitol, why also come by and take a look at the historic Dillon House. (Deb) Because if you’ve got a great event, this would be the place to hold it. (Frank) Absolutely. (Deb) It’s gorgeous. And of course, they kicked us out today because they have events going on. So that’s why we’re stuck outside. (Frank) That’s the other reason we’re outside today. (Deb) That’s why we’re outside getting a tan today. (Frank) They said, “Go away!” (Deb) Yea, get out, get out. (Frank) We’re out in front of the Dillon House. We do have stories today other than our goings on about the month of May. (Deb) One of the things obviously with May that means Summer is just around the corner and people are going to be traveling a lot. And so a lot of attractions around the state are opening or they’ve just opened for the season. So, we’ll be sharing a lot of those with you. If you’ve got something, share it on our Facebook page. If you’ve got something going on, or your museum is just opened, let us know and we’ll let everybody else know. (Frank) Another thing in May is graduations. I think proms are pretty much in April but then the graduations start and all that and I have…my youngest granddaughter will be graduating from Washburn Rural this year. (Deb) Awesome. That’s exciting. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) That’s very exciting. Congratulations. (Frank) Congratulations to all of you graduates, whether it’s high school, middle school, college, so go for it. (Deb) That’s right, go for it.

(Frank) I think we’re back. (Deb) I think we’re back. (Frank) A beautiful day here in front of the Dillon House. (Deb) And of course a great time to travel and while you’re checking off the things on your Kansas bucket list, make sure you get out to Liberal to the Mid-America Air Museum. Of course, we’ve got some wind here today and we’ve got some big sky in Kansas and it’s not a mistake that people love the air in Kansas. I remember honestly the first time I went to Amelia Earhart’s home in Atchison and standing there on that bluff I thought, you know if you just let go, the wind would sweep you up anyway. There’s so many times I think that, whether it’s on the High Plains or one of the bluffs or just out in the middle of the Flint Hills, when the wind gets up, just wherever it’s said, it’s like some days the wind is going to pick you up whether you want to go or not. (Frank) OK, story. As you know, ad nauseam, I talk about working for Alf Landon and his radio stations and he owned the radio station also in Liberal and one in Dodge City. And Bob Fromme and I would fly out to those stations and Ernie Mosher was our pilot. Rest in peace Ernie, he was one heck of a pilot. Anyway, one time he said, if we take off in Topeka and fly to Liberal and we don’t adjust the altimeter and I fly at 3,700 feet, we’ll land. (Deb) Wow, isn’t that cool? (Frank) Either that or crash, because you’ve got 3,500, you’re 3,500 feet from Topeka to western Kansas. (Deb) I posted a picture of…I think it was just looking out the door at Fort Wallace and I posted it and it’s not flat, but it’s not the mountains either. I sent that to my folks back home and I said, this is the same altitude as Fancy Gap mountain, which is…and they’re like you’re kidding! And I’m like, no, no. So, let’s take a look at the Mid-America Air Museum on the High Plains of Kansas. Liberal was once home to a major Beech Aircraft manufacturing facility and was a B-24 Liberator pilot training base during World War II. The Mid-America Air Museum was established to help preserve a proud local and national aviation heritage. The late Colonel Tom Thomas, Jr. donated his personal collection of over 50 planes to the museum. The Mid-America is the largest aviation museum in Kansas and the 5th largest in the nation. It is home to more than 105 aircraft and serves as an interactive educational resource for all visitors. In addition to its engaging collection of historically significant aircraft and related artifacts, the museum interprets aviation history through its public programs. Self-guided tours are available but guides are there for the benefit of school, church, corporate, and other tour groups. Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more and must be booked in advance. For visitors with mobility issues, there are two electric carts available. So be sure you put the Liberal Air Museum, the Mid-America Air Museum, on your Kansas Bucket List.

(Deb) I love, obviously, old places and one of my favorites ever since I moved to Kansas, has been Old Jefferson Town at Oskaloosa and I have taken several tours up there and it’s just so picturesque. It’s a beautiful place to go and have a picnic. I hope they allow picnics because I had one there, right there in the park in Oskaloosa, but it’s just so pretty. (Frank) It is. (Deb) So have you been up there lately? (Frank) Not lately, but I have been there since they improved Highway 59. So, now you can actually get there. (Deb) Roads. Roads are important people. You can’t get around Kansas without roads. (Frank) Now, you know James Reynolds, who plays Abe Carver on Days of Our Lives… (Deb) Yea. (Frank)…and since, I believe, 1983 is from Oskaloosa. (Deb) We did a feature on him, so look back on our archives and find that wonderful feature on him that Frank did. That was a really nice story, really nice segment. (Frank) It was. And of course James did a lot. Of course, we know him as Jim, but now that he’s in Hollywood… (Deb) A big deal. (Frank)…he’s James. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) But no, sorry Jim. Anyway, we did a lot of shows together with the Dale Easton players at Apple Valley Farm. (Deb) Sure. (Frank) Then of course, he was down to the playhouse at Lake Pomona as well. He was the Captain of the boat that went out. (Deb) Wow. Lots of Oskaloosa connections. Of course, right across from the Statehouse, John Steuart Curry, the John Steuart Curry home is in Old Jefferson Town at Oskaloosa. They moved that. He was actually born on the Hickory Point Battlefield a battlefield from Bleeding Kansas. They moved his house in and it’s part of it. It’s got great exhibits. So yea, let’s take a look. (Frank) Yea. I get to tell you this story.
The Jefferson County Historical Society has moved structures from around the county to Old Jefferson Town in Oskaloosa, Kansas, a nearly 10 acre park that includes a blacksmith shop, jail, general store, chapel, school house, Victorian home, and the John Steuart Curry boyhood home & museum. Also housed at Old Jefferson Town are the genealogical research building, a bandstand, and a native grass prairie. Plans for this “Village of Yesteryear” began in 1967 when the Jefferson County Historical Society accepted a gift of four and a half acres from Bill and Betty Leech. The first buildings were moved to the site in 1970. Among the features unique to Old Jefferson Town are: The 1875 Bowstring Bridge was manufactured by the King Bridge Manufactory in Cleveland, Ohio. It originally crossed Rock Creek north of Meriden. In the 1950s, the bridge was moved near Valley Falls, and in 1975 the bridge was finally moved to Old Jefferson Town. The Matt Frazier Wind Wagon sculpture illustrates the story of Samuel Peppard, a local blacksmith & wagon maker who was looking for adventure in 1860. He built a wagon with a mast and sail to take him to the gold fields in Colorado. Oskaloosa residents dubbed the wagon “Peppard’s Folly.” Peppard and others started for Pike’s Peak and made it within 100 miles of Denver before their wagon was broken apart by a whirlwind. The John Steuart Curry Boyhood Home and Museum is devoted to the artist John Steuart Curry, best know for the murals he painted in the Kansas Statehouse. Curry’s 1900 boyhood home was moved from a few miles outside of town to these grounds in 1990. The house features Curry family memorabilia, some of his sketches & ink drawings, and one original painting.

(Ron) Years ago we had a bad fire here on the ranch when our daughter was little. We lost an entire machine shed and it was a traumatic experience for her. I wrote this poem about that day and its titled “You have to Cowboy Up”. Daddy what do we do my little girl said as we stared at the burning remains of our shed. The machine shed on our ranch had just gone up in flames, with the tractors and the trailers and wagons it contained. I looked at my daughter as she cradled her scared pup and said at times like these you have to Cowboy Up. You have to be strong. You have to be tough. You can’t let hard times get you down facing this stuff. When you get bucked off pick yourself up off the ground. And get back up on that horse to try another round. And if life gives you lemons you just can’t be afraid. Turn a negative into a positive and make some lemonade. Yes we’ve lost our old machine shed, but that opens up some space and we’ll be able to rebuild something better in its place. But daddy my daughter said with tear-filled eyes, think of all the work you did on the things inside. Yes, I said, as I thought of what we faced, it is a loss and there are things that just can’t be replaced. But things are still just things. They’re not the people that we love. We still have many blessings thanks to the good Lord up above. So I held my daughter close as I drained my coffee cup and said Be brave my little one, you have to Cowboy Up. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And we’re back. Out of the corner of my eye I see a wasp over there, so I hope it flies on. (Deb) Uh oh. Dog gone it. Every season has its challenges, doesn’t it? It’s like yea, you get the warm and everything’s open and people are out having fun and then you’ve got the dog gone bees and the snakes, all the creepy crawly things and buzzing things. (Frank) Oh well. (Deb) Yea, it’s no Shangri-La. (Frank) Remember, I guess once you get into May then you can do away with your dandelions, but early in the Spring, you do know, don’t do away with your dandelions because that’s the first source of pollen for the bees. Did you know that? (Deb) No, I did not know that. (Frank) I didn’t know that til a couple of weeks ago. (Deb) You know I strongly suspect that one of these days they’ll discover that dandelions are probably the most valuable plant on earth. It will have some miraculous medicinal quality and we’ve been trying to eradicate it as hard as we can go. (Frank) Well you can eat the leaves, you can put it in a salad. (Deb) You can eat the blooms. (Frank) And you can make dandelion wine. (Deb) Yea, oh yea, that’s a redeeming fact right there. (Frank) They’re great stuff. Have you ever taken the top off though and then tasted that white milky stuff? (Deb) Yea, yea. (Frank) Oh it’s nasty. (Deb) Yea and you can paint with them. They used to take the kids out in grade school and just find what ever you could like grass, dandelion blooms, dirt and do pictures and you would learn about the pigment in it and all that, which was really cool. See? (Frank) Anyway, we were off on dandelions. (Deb) The lowly dandelion. (Frank) But I know you want to talk about…we’ve got Memorial Day coming up. (Deb) Right. (Frank) Let’s jump over to that. (Deb) Of course, Memorial Day obviously at the end of the month is a big deal. The Ride for the Fallen of course, will happen again this year. And we’re just so pleased to be supportive of Melissa Jarboe and the Military Veterans Project and all the great things they do. Kansas, as I’ve talked about many times, has a long tradition of veterans and service to our country. And we’ve got several national cemeteries. We want to talk about one of those each week this month and we’re going to start with Mound City. Mound City, of course, a small town in Linn County, has got a beautiful, small-it’s about the size of this yard, a little veteran’s cemetery. It’s just the most picturesque, historic spot, started with men who were killed in action at the Battle of Mine Creek. It’s just a beautiful spot. We strongly encourage you to go visit at least one of those during the month. If you can’t do it on Memorial Weekend, if you’re out of town or whatever, sometime during the month take the kids, especially so that they figure out what it’s all about. Let’s take a look. The first interments were the remains of 30 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Mine Creek, and thus the corner of Woodland Cemetery in Mound City was set-aside for soldiers. The deed for the soldiers’ lot, measuring only 48 by 158 feet, was not officially transferred until 1874. More than a decade later, the remains of other Union and unknown soldiers buried elsewhere in Linn County were re-interred there. In 1940, laborers of the Works Progress Administration, WPA, a depression-era work relief program, erected an enclosing stonewall and post-and-chain fence around the perimeter of the soldiers’ lot. In 1889, the US erected the Union Soldiers monument, an infantryman carved in granite, to honor the 80 Civil War soldiers who rest here. The stone solider holds his musket and looks to the east. There is an artillery monument as well. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, dozens of soldiers from subsequent wars also rest in this quiet corner of the city cemetery, set aside for heroes. One of the more famous burials is Col. James Montgomery, one of the leading figures in the struggle of Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War.

(Frank) Ok, we have to go. (Deb) Happy May Day! (Frank) Yea, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

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