Roberts family, James Reynolds

(Frank) Around Kansas starts with the story of the Roberts family who founded the Chase County Rodeo in 1938, now called the Flint Hills Rodeo; the longest running rodeo in the state. Next learn about James Reynolds from Oskaloosa, best known for his work on Days of Our Lives. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and finish up with a story about recent festivities honoring Orin Friesen.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) It’s Wednesday again already. (Deb) Gosh it comes every week, you notice that? (Frank) Yea, it’s Around Kansas time. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And so today. (Deb) Great to… (Frank) Today, of course we do this at the Dillon House in Topeka, which is available for all kinds of events. So, call them if you would like one. Today we’re in Rick Kready’s office. He had to run some errands and so he said, Oh go ahead use my office. So we thought OK. (Deb) Really? Isn’t this nice? And he’s got this gorgeous view of the Capitol out his window. It’s a beautiful place. And of course it’s an event every time Frank and I show up. Isn’t it Frank? (Frank) Yes, it is nice that we show up, at my age. Just getting up in the morning is a good thing. So… (Deb) So, we’ve got some great stuff for you coming up. And I want to let you know that I am writing a column in Grass and Grain. And Grass and Grain has tens of thousands of subscribers around the state of Kansas and has been serving folks interested in ag for a long, long time, many decades. So, I’m just really thrilled to be a part of that. And if you’ll watch for my column, my good friend Jim Gray has a column in there, and Baxter Black does, so I’m in great company with those folks. And looking forward to being a part of that. And we’ll talk about in the column some of the stories that we cover every week on Around Kansas. So, if you happen to miss a story or maybe need a few more details, you can look for it in Grass and Grain. (Frank) Ha, cool. And me, well every Saturday of course I’m on WREN radio, which is at wrenradio.net. I’m Frankie C. on the air. So, now you know a little bit of the… (Deb) Cleverly disguised as Frankie C., yea. That was really… (Frank) I play music from the 50s and 60s and they kind of let me sneak over into the 40s and I also play some folk music and it’s kind of a fun time. So, that’s what I do. (Deb) Hey, you know what’s coming up this weekend? (Frank) What? (Deb) The State Fair starts on Friday. (Frank) Oh yea. Right. (Deb) So, hoping to get down at some point. September is just so incredibly busy. But hoping to scoot down to Hutch for a day or a few hours or something. It’s just the best that the state has to offer. So, if you get some time spend as much as you can. But a little while anyway, a day or two. Take the family over to the State Fair. Always some great entertainment. Talking about, I know you know a lot of the folks who played at the Fair, so always a good time. (Frank) I’ve gotta tell a story on this. Back when Linda and I were recently married and young and all that, we had this giant jar full of pennies. And we went to the State Fair and we paid for everything with pennies, which we thought was funny, but not too many other people that helped us thought it was too humorous. But anyway… (Deb) I had a cousin back home in the hills, who paid his county taxes with I think it was a wheelbarrow full of pennies. But he rolled pennies into the courthouse and I don’t think they were real thrilled with that either. But they took ’em and by golly they counted ’em too. (Frank) The State Fair is a lotta, lotta fun and you have to of course see the butter sculptures. You can’t not see the butter sculptures and have a corn dog. (Deb) Making me hungry just thinking about it. (Both) We’ll be right back.

(Frank) Oh, we’re back, hello. Hey, you know here several weeks ago, we talked about going first Sunday down to… (Deb) Cassoday. (Frank) Cassoday, that’s it, yes. Now I can remember. Well, you go through a little town called Strong City. It’s Strong City and Cassoday are about oh, 30-40 miles away, but you go through Strong City on the way. (Deb) In the lovely Flint Hills of Kansas. (Frank) Right, so anyway, Strong City has some history with a famous family. So, we’re gonna talk about that a little bit this morning too. (Deb) Yea, some horses, and some famous folks, and a little rodeo. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Stay tuned. (Deb) In Kansas, the Roberts Family is synonymous with rodeo. That rodeo tradition began in the Roberts pasture near Strong City. That’s where Emmett, his son Ken, and his son-in-law Eddie Boysen put on what they called the first Chase County Rodeo in 1938. It was dubbed the Flint Hills Rodeo the next year and is still going strong, the oldest consecutive rodeo in the state. Emmett became a legend in his own time. Promoting rodeo by being a contestant and, contractor, producer, and director of the Flint Hills Rodeo board for 37 years. He was the father of three outstanding champions: Marge, Gerald, and Ken. The Roberts other children, Cliff, Gloria and Howard worked in the background. Marge became the women’s bronc riding champ in 1940. Ken was the world champion bull rider in 1943, 44, and 45. Gerald was the first Kansas cowboy to become All Around Champion cowboy of the world in 1942 and again in 1948. He is the only cowboy in the world to win a championship as a member of the Turtle Association and again as a member of the RCA. Gerald recalled that his dad used to buy young colts by the carload. Ken, Marge and I used to break them while riding to school. I guess that is how we really learned to ride. The awards and Halls of Fame accumulated by the Roberts Family could fill a corral. To honor this rodeo family who founded the rodeo in Strong City, a six by twenty foot mural was erected and dedicated on the Flint Hills Rodeo grounds in June of 1994.

(Deb) Frank you know when I as growing up even though it wasn’t in Kansas, people all over the country were like me grew up watching the stories everyday and Mom and my Aunts, and especially some of the guys hated to admit it, but they were watching the stories too. And those soap operas have just become such a piece of our culture and just so ingrained. It’s like family, really that you feel about. And you’ve got a great story today about a soap opera star from right here in Kansas. (Frank) Yea Jim Reynolds, of course his professional name is James Reynolds, but Jim grew up in Oskaloosa. And Linda and I, my wife and I, were involved with the Dale Easton Players for about 26 years, and Jim was part of the Dale Easton players at one time. We did shows downstairs in McFarland’s, if you can believe it or not. We did regular shows and we did The Drunkard there. Then we went to Apple Valley Farm. And those were the years that Jim was involved in the Dale Easton Players. I remember because I laugh about it every time I think about it, he played Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. And I just remember cause he has this big deep voice. And there’s a line that Miles has, Step back, I take big steps. And I can just see Jim saying that today. But Jim joined the cast of Days of Our Lives, I believe in 1983. They’re celebrating 50 years on the air, this year. And Jim’s been with them for about 30 of those years. Of course, he’s Abe Carver on the show and he left the show for a little bit, but he has come back. And he’s been mayor, police chief, the commissioner of police, and everything else on there. (Deb) Well he’s one of those stalwarts on the show too. And like you said that voice and everything. He has a great, commanding presence, the trust worthiness No doubt because he’s a native Kansan. Let’s take a look. (Frank) Oskaloosan. Jim Reynolds. Millions have been viewers have been following the tangled storyline of soap opera Days of Our Lives for fifty years. For many of those, James Reynolds has portrayed Abe Carver, policeman, mayor, commissioner and all-around decent guy and heartthrob. The Oskaloosa native graduated high school and then joined the Marines where he worked in information services and was a reporter for the Windward Marine. Back in Kansas, he attended Washburn and worked as a DJ at WREN Radio. He reviewed films for the Topeka Daily Capitol giving him the opportunity to interview the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michael Douglas, and Peter Fonda. He found a passion for theater and was part of the Dale Easton Players, who performed in Topeka and at the Apple Valley Playhouse. So did his close friend, Marilyn Schreffler, who paved the way to Hollywood. She and Jim shared the same theatrical agent. Marilyn appeared in several national TV commercials. And, just before her untimely death due to cancer, she was the ghost in the inn in the Bob Newhart Show. Jim and his wife, actress Lissa Layng, own and operate the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. Jim heads Free State Productions, a film and TV production company involved with documentaries, movies and music videos, as well as making occasional appearances on stage in Los Angeles. He starred in Buffalo Soldier, a drama about black U.S. Army troops in the American West following the Civil War for which he was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award. He also starred with other Vietnam veterans in the acclaimed drama Tracers. Reynolds tours colleges in his one-man show, I, Too, Am America. The show, written and performed by Reynolds, is a commentary on the African-American experience from the time the first slaves were brought to this country up to the present day. Reynolds’ charitable work includes raising money for South Pasadena’s High School basketball team and for the Pasadena chapter of Ronald McDonald’s House. Reynolds has also toured with the USO to the Mediterranean, Kuwait and Afghanistan to meet and show support for our troops overseas. He also participated in the first USO Celebrity Education Program. One of Reynolds’ greatest honors was being added to the Kansas Historical Society’s list of famous Kansans. Another honor came in 2003 when Reynolds was awarded the Heroes and Legends TV/Film Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions made in the entertainment industry.

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(Ron) A national magazine reported for all to see what it called The Animal that Changed History. The animal which provided this historic force was the wonderful critter which we call the horse. In the history of man, across centuries of time, we find the contribution of the species equine. Columbus brought horses into the New World, when he landed at Hispaniola with the Spanish flag unfurled. Hernando Cortes came to Mexico in 1519 and conquered the natives with power not yet seen. He brought Spanish-blooded horses into the new land. Across the new continent, they would breed and expand. Those horses gave native tribesmen a whole new front, with amazing new power to roam and to hunt. The horse transformed the Plains Indians’ lives, helping tribes to move and get food to thrive. Those capable riders on their horses back, gave warriors dominant strength with which to attack. For the explorers and cowboys of later years, the horse enabled the conquering of the frontier. So let’s all recognize, through this discourse, the historic contribution of the American horse. Happy Trails.

(Deb) So, there’s just no end to the talented people in Kansas. And this is the great thing about our job, we get to brag about all our friends. So, now that we’ve gotten Jim Reynolds, I want to talk about my friend Orin Friesen. And of course he’s a friend to so many folks. He is the manager at the Prairie Rose Chuck Wagon and a musician himself. And he just celebrated 50 years in music and radio. (Frank) Wow. (Deb) So, they had a wonderful celebration for him down at the Prairie Rose and a little bit of roasting going on too. But I’m not gonna spoil it for you, take a look. Chances are, you have heard Orin Friesen. On the radio or on the stage, Orin has spent fifty years playing and promoting other folks music or making music himself. Recently, his friends and fans gathered to pay tribute to his career and offer some good-natured ribbing in the process. The festivities at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon, where Orin is manager, also benefitted Crosswalk on the Prairie, a faith-based program that helps young men aging out of foster care. The atmosphere could not have been more celebratory as Orin and his wife Bekki greeted guests. Images of Orin and various music legends that he has interviewed flashed on the screen, including Johnny Cash. Then the crowd took their seats to hear from Orin’s colleagues John Speer, Stan Greer, Larry Waggoner, Jim Farrell, Dan Dillon, Scott Piper and Dan Hays. Video greetings came from Riders in the Sky, John McEuen, Red Steagall and many others. Michael Martin Murphey highlighted the evening not by singing but by his tongue-in-cheek praising of his long time friend’s commitment to family values through playing bluegrass and eschewing modern country. He read the lyrics of some particularly violent and maudlin bluegrass standards to illustrate that point. The crowd laughed heartily and often. Throughout the fun and the heartfelt tributes, two comments stood out to me. John McCuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band said to Orin, You made me feel relevant. Dan Hays, past president of the International Bluegrass Music Association for whom Orin and Dell Davis have produced awards shows, talked about all the things Orin is not. Speaking of how Orin was always spotlighting others rather than himself, Dan said, He’s totally free of pretense. He is wholly lacking in debit and corruption. He is a man of integrity. I have never seen someone with more friends. He is so sincere, so enthusiastic and so dependable. Despite these shortcomings, he’s survived in the music industry. We agree. And at Around Kansas join Orin’s many fans in wishing him 50 more years!!

(Frank) Gee this was fun today. It’s fun everyday to be with you here on Around Kansas. So, 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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