Rudy Wendelin, Cyrus K. Holliday

(Frank) Today Around Kansas introduces Rudy Wendelin, the man who helped make Smokey Bear famous. Then learn about Cyrus K. Holliday, originally from Pennsylvania, who made Kansas his home and the center of his many business ventures including the founding of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Next enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a look at a mushroom called the Puffball!

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(Frank Chaffin) Well, here it is, early Wednesday morning again, I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. Of course, we really haven’t put a plug in for the Dillon House in some time so we’ll do that this morning. This is our set. We come to the Dillon House and do this show but we move around all throughout the house. Of course, the various seasons, the décor changes and what have you and it’s a beautiful place to have – If your club is having a meeting, it’s a great place for wedding receptions or weddings or whatever and so you can also take a look at it. It’s right across from the state capital so you can come in and take a look at this place. It’s a beautiful house. (Deb) You better give them a call soon because with fall coming on and then the Christmas season, a lot of people are going to be wanting to have their events here so you’d better call them quick to get on the schedule. It is lovely and the facility is so comfortable no matter what the season is. It’s always pretty, it’s always comfortable and we’re just thrilled that we can be here every week because it’s really nice. (Frank) Yes, so anyway, you’ve been up to stuff as usual. (Deb) Oh man, just all over the place and I’ve got to put in a plug. I know we talked a little bit a couple of weeks ago about July 4th but I didn’t get a chance to mention Dr. Jake has a cavalry tribute group, I think more than reenacting might be more appropriate. It’s a bunch of guys and gals depending on the time, whether or not they’re in the middle of harvest like they have been and so they do all kinds of events. They do the Memorial Day things but Dr. Jake used to work with another veterinarian, Dr. Heath Hayden at the Oakley Vet Clinic before they both went out on their own. Dr. Heath went to Texas and he is a vet in Canadian Texas so he invited Dr. Jake and his cavalry group to come down for the rodeo and to present colors at the beginning of the rodeo. Well, Rodney Mays was the only guy who did take time off from harvest to go with him. When they got there, they recruited this little girl to carry the flag. It was Dr. Jake and Rodney and this little girl, Taylin Wright, 10 years old, that big, I swear, she’s just the tiniest little thing. She put on the cavalry garb and carried the flag for them. She was amazing. Jake, on July 4th led the riderless horse into the arena and the announcer was awesome and it was just the most beautiful way to start the rodeo. All kinds of folks from Kansas down there competing so the folks in Kansas they’re riding rodeos not just in the Kansas rodeos, they make us look good all over the place. I can tell you, Dr. Jake and Rodney really made Kansas look good that day down there. Everybody in Texas knew that they were from Kansas and at the 4th of July parade, they won a trophy for the best-costumed horse and riders and it was – kudos, kudos. (Frank) [laughs] (Deb) Yes, I was so proud. (Frank) All right. Hey, we have some great stories today so stay tuned. (Deb) We do, we do.

(Frank) We’re back! (Deb) Were you a Smokey Bear fan? (Frank) [chuckles] Well, yes. The reason I’m chuckling is because for so long, so many people, me included called it Smokey the Bear. (Deb) The Bear. (Frank) The Bear. (Deb) Right. (Frank) But no, it’s Smokey Bear. (Deb) Smokey Bear. (Frank) That’s right. (Deb) That’s right and I did the same thing. Kansas has a very unique connection to Smokey Bear, do you know what that is, Frank? (Frank) No, I do not. (Deb) The artist that primarily drew Smokey Bear, not the first time, but that drew most of the images that we’re familiar with, humanized him, is from Herndon, Kansas and he went to KU. (Frank) Oh. (Deb) I know, who knew? And he, Rudy Wendelin, wound up living in Virginia and in the DC suburbs and just a phenomenal artist and Smokey Bear, my God, there’s hardly a more recognizable figure, icon, advertising personality, whatever the term. You’re an advertising guy, what do you call those? What do you call them? (Frank) A spokesperson. (Deb) Okay, a spokesperson. (Frank) But it would be an icon in this case, yes. (Deb) Let’s watch this segment about one of Herndon’s most famous sons. (Frank) And remember, only you can prevent forest fires. (Deb) Good job. Rudolph “Rudy” Wendelin was a United States Forest Service employee and the best-known artist behind Smokey Bear, according to the Forest Service’s website. Beginning in 1944, Rudy became the full-time artist for the Smokey Bear campaign. He was considered Smokey Bear’s “caretaker” until his retirement in 1973. Rudy was born in Herndon, Kansas, on February 27, 1910. He studied architecture at the University of Kansas, and studied art at several art schools. He went to work for the U.S. Forest Service in 1933 as an illustrator and draftsman. He served in the United States Navy during World War II and returned to the Forest Service after the war. He completed hundreds of paintings of Smokey Bear. He was not the first to draw the icon, but in his hands Smokey morphed into the more “human” image that most Americans recognize. In 1944, Smokey appeared on a poster with the slogan, “Smokey says — Care will prevent 9 out of 10 forest fires!” Three years later, Smokey’s mantra had been amended to the now familiar “Remember — Only you can prevent forest fires!” In May 1950, a fire started in the Capitan Gap of New Mexico’s Lincoln Forest, destroying 17 thousand acres of woodlands. Among the survivors: a 3-month-old black bear cub discovered clinging to a singed pine tree by a crew of firefighters brought in from Texas. A game warden and his family nursed the injured cub. The Forest Service saw in this orphaned bear the opportunity to bring the cartoon to life. The small bear was named Smokey and went to live at the National Zoo in Washington, D. C. His illustrator, Rudy, received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1998 for his work on the Smokey Bear campaign. Rudy also designed several commemorative postage stamps. Among these were a stamp honoring John Muir, one honoring John Wesley Powell, and a Smokey Bear stamp in 1984. Rudy died from injuries suffered in a car accident in Falls Church, Virginia in 2000, but what an amazing legacy he leaves America!

(Frank) And we’re back again, aren’t you glad? [laughter] (Deb) I know I am. (Frank) Well, we’re here. One of my favorite series running now is Hell on Wheels. (Deb) Oh gosh. (Frank) I’m sure that – I mean, there’s some history in it and all of that but I don’t know if you’re familiar with it but it’s— (Deb) A bit, it’s about, yes [chuckles]. (Frank) Yes, but it’s pretty much about the building of the Union Pacific and then the Southern Pacific and it’s getting close to the end of the series right now, which is really going to be sad because I love westerns. But anyway, the only reason I’m saying this now is because of course, Topeka Kansas is very famous for the Atchison Topeka and out there Santa Fe Railroad, which of course was built by Cyrus K. Holliday, one of the founders of Topeka, Kansas, USA. (Deb) One of my favorite people. He was mayor of Topeka five times, I think, and he is one of the people memorialized with a statue on Kansas Avenue and the downtown beautification, revitalization, just a shot in the arm. Kansas Avenue is incredible, so you’ve got to bring the kids to see the folks that are being honored. I know that Carl Ice, who is another native Kansan, another native Topekan was on hand. He is the chairman of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, BNSF and he was on hand to dedicate the statue of Cyrus Holliday. Nobody loved Kansas more than Cyrus Holliday, seriously. Tacking Santa Fe onto the name of the railroad, it was so funny because he didn’t know if they’d ever get to Santa Fe but people wanted a railroad to Santa Fe. It had this mystique about it and by golly, they did. They got to Santa Fe and beyond. Let’s take a look at this famous Kansan. (Frank) Cyrus Kurtz Holliday was born in 1826, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He attended Allegheny College and graduated in 1852, with plans to practice law. Instead, he went into business. After making a handsome profit on a short line railroad venture, Holliday joined the throng of westward migrants and was among Kansas Territory’s first settlers. Holliday settled at Lawrence, but not long after his arrival, he thought he should establish another enclave of free state citizens farther up the Kansas River. Holliday organized the Topeka Town Association he and marked off the town’s streets and boundaries. He would play a principle role in the founding of the Free State Party. During the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention of 1859, Holliday served as Topeka’s delegate. He succeeded in having his city officially designated as the future state capital. He was elected to the first of many terms as Mayor of Topeka, and he would help found the Kansas Republican Party, serving in both the territorial and state legislatures. In 1859, Holliday began plans for the construction of a railroad to run from Atchison, along the Santa Fe Trail, his most notable business venture. The ground breaking for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe took place in 1868. Holliday served as the ATSF director until his death in 1900. Holliday received the honorary, though unofficial, title of Colonel, which he carried for the remainder of his life, while supervising a Free State regiment during the Wakarusa War of 1855. During the Civil War, Holliday served as the Adjutant General of Kansas, in which capacity recruited soldiers and insured that supplies were sent to the front. Through this downtown Topeka pocket park with his statue as the centerpiece, generations of Kansans will be able to meet the man whose vision has shaped not only Kansas but also the American southwest.

(Ron) Howdy folks, I’m Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat. Those of us who live out here in the middle of the country get used to one thing and that is the weather’s going to change. This poem is entitled Just Wait a Minute, It’ll Change. We’ve had lot’s of winter weather so when we got a thaw, the chance to get outside was really quite a draw. It felt like cabin fever so I was glad to get outside, cleaned a feeder, built some fence and managed to get in a horse ride. I stripped down to my shirtsleeves and got a whole lot of good work done and found it was the spring’s first exposure to the sun. The next day I was in the house paying some ranch bills when I heard a clap of thunder roll across the nearby hills. I tuned into the weather and they proceeded to inform that a wave of snow might follow a local thunderstorm. I just shook my head and went back to working on the books when what I saw at the window made me take a second look. Big fat wet snowflakes were falling from the sky, it looked like a full-fledged blizzard passing by. I finished up by paperwork and bundled up to do my chores and found the sun shining brightly across the great outdoors. It made me think about the weather pattern in this Kansas land, it will change so doggone fast that it is hard to understand. And I said to my wife as the weather made its turn, You know you live in Kansas when it snows on your sunburn. Happy Trails.

(Deb) Welcome back, folks, and as I have done various times, been a cooking expert or have played an expert on TV, let’s put it like that. I’m not really an expert in anything; I just play one on TV. (Frank) [laughs] (Deb) I love mushrooms and I had not experimented and I just mean in the culinary fashion, with mushrooms until I moved to Kansas and people ate morels. I don’t – we weren’t into that back home. Now I’ve gotten everybody back home in Virginia and North Carolina to have mushrooms. Once I tasted a morel, I thought, Well, there’s other stuff out there that’s edible, and lo and behold there is and one of them is the common Puffball. Again friends, don’t take my word for it. I’m not an expert on anything but I have read a lot and I have tried them and I love them and Puffballs, not after they are dried up, like Dr. Jake says, I threw them at cows and watch them just explode. No, before they throw them on the cows, if you slice into a Puffball, my daughter said it’s like the tofu of the mushroom family, it’s just this – it’s like white bread almost. It’s like eating silk, the texture is amazing. It’s like eating silk and they’ll take on the flavor of whatever you put it with like I put them in a little garlic and butter but they’ll just take on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. The way you tell a real puffball as you slice it and make sure that there’s no stem forming because if there’s a stem forming, it’s something else, it’s going to be another kind of mushroom. Do your homework before you try mushrooms, but there is a lot of really cool – if you read up and go online and learn a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of really interesting edibles out there and puffballs are everywhere especially with all the rain we’ve had his summer. (Frank): The thing is, is you’re never too old to learn something. I had never heard of these until she just brought it up so this next story is going to be very interesting to me. Puffballs may very well be the favorite mushroom of childhood. What kid walking through the pasture hasn’t stomped the brittle brown ball to watch the smoke puff out in one big whoosh? If the kid is really lucky, there is an entire fairy ring of puffballs for the stomping pleasure. Or, as some of my friends recall, they threw them at cows. Fortunately, they are so light it is not likely the cows even noticed. Puffballs are a fungus, and one of the delicious, edible fungus among us before it is ripe. Once the flesh gets a tinge of yellow, best to leave it for stomping later. Puffballs range from marble sized to the Giant Puffball, which reportedly can get as large as a sheep! Slicing into the puffball is like looking at a piece of white bread, and a true puffball will not have a stem visible on the inside. If it does, it is not a puffball but a stage of another mushroom’s growth. The outer edge of the puffball, the skin, is rough and can appear white to brownish. While it is also edible, it bothers some folks’ digestive systems. It is easily peeled away. The puffball itself does not have very much flavor, but takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. While it is low on taste, it is high on texture and can only be likened to eating silk. They are commonly used in crepes and casseroles. As puffballs ripen, the outer skin becomes thin and brittle and the flesh dissolves into thousands of spores, hence the appearance of dark smoke when the puffball is crushed. As with any mushroom, exercise caution. While there are many edible mushrooms, most are non-edible and some are highly poisonous. Non-edibles are not really poisonous but often upset the stomach and can make you quite sick. Even edible mushrooms can cause upset stomach for people who are not accustomed to them, so when trying a new mushroom, best to do it in small quantities to make sure it sets well with you. Your local Extension office can provide information on which mushrooms, or fungi, are safe, and which ones you can find in your yard or pasture, or perhaps clinging to the tree stumps on the creek bank, and when they are in season. Happy Hunting!

(Frank) Well, that’s it, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere (Both) Around Kansas.

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