Stetson Hat Company, Emporia’s Clint Bowyer

(Frank) Today Around Kansas makes a look at John B. Stetson and his Stetson Hat Company, now marking its 150th anniversary. Next learn how Emporia’s Clint Bowyer got his start in racing and how he keeps close ties to his hometown; and then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson. We’ll end with a story about “The Oil Field that won World War I” located in El Dorado.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) It’s Wednesday again. (Deb) Oh my gosh. Hump day. Hump day for sure. Will we make it til Friday? (Frank) Who knows? I don’t know. (Deb) What are you people doing up this early? (Frank) Yea, does anybody out there have coffee? Please bring us some coffee. (Deb) Rick Kready was supposed to. He is falling down on the job. (Frank) If you hear noise in the background that’s because we’re at the Dillon House in Topeka and it’s a place that you can rent for meetings and seminars and weddings and all kinds of things. And there is a group here today, so it’s not ghosts, it’s real people. (Deb) Yea, you’re hearing real people in the background. (Frank) Oh my. So anyway, we forgot to tell you this is Around Kansas, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. Good morning again. (Frank) And we’re all over the place Around Kansas, actually Deb is, I get to sit at a desk and pretty much do it. But Deb’s all over. So where have you been now? (Deb) Well, I have to tell you, you know I grew up in the mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. So, I’ve always considered myself a mountain girl, but now I live on the prairies of Kansas. I was in Georgetown, Colorado. If you’re familiar that’s on I-70, just 40 miles or something west of Denver. So, I was out there for the weekend. I have never been so glad in my life to head back east and see the prairies open up and just the wide open space. The canyon…it’s beautiful. It is beautiful. And we’re gonna do a segment on the weekend I had, cause it was all about Buffalo Bill. It’s great. My dream man. But you’re in that canyon, in that narrow canyon. The town is down at the foot of the canyon and it’s just gorgeous. But I’m like… (big breath) …I don’t know if I can breathe. Just let me out. So when I was headed back home and drove four and a half hours, just to get around Denver because of the Broncos traffic, I’ve never been so grateful to see the prairie open up in front of me. That wide open space. I’m like, oh my gosh, I’ve become a prairie girl now. (Frank) Uh oh. Now, you know we need to do a story sometime about when Kansas was still a territory and Denver was actually part of Kansas. (Deb) And so was Georgetown. (Frank) Colorado was part of Kansas. (Deb) Yea to the Continental Divide. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) And we lopped that off. Do you know why we did that Frank? (Frank) Well I have a couple stories but you tell me yours. (Deb) Because it was full of Democrats. (Frank) Oh, OK. (Deb) So all the miners and all the guys who were out there; it was predominantly Democratic. And of course the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, controlled Kansas politics. And so we don’t need all those Democrats voting out there . (Frank) Well there was some fight about you know, should Denver be the capital or Topeka. And of course, Topeka was the capital at the time. And they said, well you now what, nobody is going to travel that far, so let’s just not have that part in Kansas anymore. And of course after that it was like, guess what we found silver and gold out here and they went, oops. (Deb) Darn the luck. Darn the timing. Stay tuned.

(Frank) And we’re back. We’re so glad you can join us at our party this morning. (Deb) We’ve just got the giggles today. It’s just a fun day here in Topeka. (Frank) Yea. It is. (Deb) Hope it is around the rest of the state. So, there’s all kinds of anniversaries going on, a hundred years of this, a hundred fifty years of that. You know, we just got out of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, or we’re just getting out of it this year. So, 150 years of Stetson. (Frank) Yea. This is not a Stetson. (Deb) I was just gonna ask. Yea. I didn’t think so. But all the cowboys I know wear Stetsons. I did an informal poll, my friend Cowboy Culbertson up in Easton of course wears a Stetson. And I asked my buddy Frank Goodrich and Jim Gray and just all my buddies wear Stetsons. So, if it was good enough for John Wayne, by golly, it’s good enough for everybody else. (Frank) Ok, but, I know you’re gonna do the story on Stetson hats, but you also…we need to do a story on the fact that cowboy boots essentially I mean, there’s a little bit of a dispute, but they were really invented and made in Olathe. OK, and so this really is a cowboy state. (Deb) It absolutely is. (Frank) Because you’ve got your Stetson hats, you’ve got your cowboy boots, because they had them specially made because you know with the pointed toe and all that and that’s because that way they could fit ’em into the stirrups and their feet wouldn’t slip out and all that. So, anyway we’ll do a story on boots too. (Deb) We will. And you know, I was just thinking the other day when I was working on this story about the Stetson hats, you know, one of the sure signs that the Legislature is in session in Topeka, is the cowboy hats crossing the street. Have you noticed that? Because Topeka is not a town of cowboy hats. You know, you go to Wichita, you go to Hays, a lot of towns in Kansas, Dodge City of course. You know, they’re cowboy hats all the time. But Topeka, not so much. Until the Legislature is in session and then you get all the cowboys coming in from all around the state. So, have you noticed that? (Frank) I have noticed that. So, anyway, oh my. (Deb) Alright, celebrate 150 years of Stetson. We were at the Kansas Sampler Festival where Jim Gray and Dennis Katzenmeier were manning a booth for the National Drovers Hall of Fame. Jim had set up a saddle on a frame just to give folks a feel for it. My grandson, Devyn, climbed on again and again, and asked Jim if he might borrow his hat so he could be a real cowboy. As generous as Jim is, he said no. “You just don’t loan yer hat.” Devyn was bummed, to say the least, that he had not brought his own cowboy hat from home, and we spent the rest of the day searching for a hat. Lots of ranchers do the same, putting in a considerable amount of time looking for the just right hat, one that fits, keeps out the sun and the rain, and just feels right. For lots of folks, that hat is very often a Stetson, the iconic hat that is marking its 150th anniversary. In 1865, with $100, John B. Stetson rented a small room, bought the tools he needed, bought $10 worth of fur and the John B. Stetson Hat Company was born. A year later the “Hat of the West” or the now famous “Boss of the Plains” hat was born and the name Stetson was on its way to becoming the mark of quality, durability, innovation and beauty. John B. Stetson experienced trying times in his life but after it all he relied on the one thing he did exceptionally well, making hats. He was trained by his father, a master hatter, and applied his skills and knowledge to a trade that, at the time was not held in high regard. Back then, a hatter was seen as unreliable, lazy, or aloof, only looking to make his money and go have fun. John B. Stetson changed all that and built one of America’s most well known and successful businesses. The longevity and history of the Stetson Company is based on innovation and quality. John B. Stetson led the hat industry his entire career by designing new hat styles for fashion and function. Stetson has become the standard in hats, the essence of the spirit of the West and an icon of everyday American lifestyle. Because of its authentic American heritage, Stetson remains as a part of history and for the same reason will continue into the future. Jim said his chocolate, Will James style hat is a Stetson. Bill Cody wore a Stetson, as did his Little Sure Shot, Annie Oakley. Will Rogers and John Wayne wore Stetsons. You just can’t get more American than that!

(Frank) And we’re back. So, we are gonna do a story on the cowboy boots too. We’ll have to do that. You know, Kansas has a lot of famous people and they do a lot of neat things and that’s why they’re famous, I guess. (Deb) (Laughs). (Frank) But anyway, we’ve done musicians, and we’ve done actors and so, we also need to talk about all the people that are in racing. Did you know that actually drag racing started in Kansas? (Deb) No, I did not know that. (Frank) Yes it did. After the war, World War II, and now I’m gonna have to think of what the city is, but it was in south central Kansas, guys started getting together with their souped up cars and they would drag race. And that actually then turned into the National Drag Race Association. (Deb) That’s awesome. (Frank) NHRA. (Deb) You know I come from NASCAR country because of course, moonshining and NASCAR went hand in hand and probably still does. So, I grew up racing NASCAR and all those guys, Richard Petty, you know The King, who was out here. You know Richard and…Richard Petty was out here and his son were out here, they stopped at Dodge City a few months ago, when they were doing some kind of just cross country tour so yea, we’ve got…. (Frank) Yea, NHRA really did get it’s start… (Deb) Wow. (Frank) When I was in high school there was an eighth mile track over across the river in North Topeka. And it was the old Brickyard Road. (Deb) Oh sure. (Frank) The Brickyard bridge went down in the ’51 Flood well there was an eighth mile drag strip there. And so we’d go there and in Lawrence there was a quarter mile drag strip over there. So, anyway, where we’re going with this is we’re going to do a story about NASCAR and Kansas’ own Clint Bowyer. Let’s take a look. Emporia native Clint Bowyer has excited racing fans since he was five years old, first in motocross, then in Nascar. He is in transition, as his relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing comes to an end, but his racing career is far from over. In 1996, at the age of 17, he left a successful showing in the motocross world and began racing street stocks at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kansas in the modified championship there in 2000. Bowyer racked up 18 wins and 32 top-five finishes on his way to capturing the 2001 modified championships at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas and Heartland Park in Topeka. In 2002, he began racing in the Nascar Weekly Racing Series posting 9 poles, 12 wins and 32 top-five finishes en route to a second place finish in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series national point standings. He was also crowned the 2002 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Midwest Champion after another modified championship at Lakeside Speedway and a late model championship at the famed I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Missouri, his first attempt at racing on asphalt. In 2003, Bowyer raced a full season in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Midwest Series, scoring one top-ten finish in 11 starts. He also would make his first ARCA starts in 2003, and caught the eye of legendary car owner Richard Childress after leading 47 laps and finishing second in his debut at Nashville Superspeedway driving for Scott Traylor out of Kansas City. After the second place finish, Richard Childress called Bowyer by phone and offered him a job. Bowyer thought he was joking and hung up on him. Childress called back soon afterward and with a not-too-happy tone he still offered Bowyer the job. Bowyer realized it was for real and accepted. He remained with Childress for eight years. Throughout his racing successes, Bowyer has maintained close ties to Kansas and his hometown of Emporia. In 2008, Bowyer attended and hosted the first annual Clint Bowyer Charity Golf Event. It raised $160,000 for the Emporia Community Foundation to “make Emporia a better place.” He also raised the money for a new community center, dedicated in 2012. The new Bowyer Community Building is located at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, on Highway 50. Fans of Duck Dynasty were treated to Bowyer’s limousine drag race against Willie Robertson a couple of years ago. Bowyer won. Unfortunately, there are no Nascar cup points for beating a Robertson.

(Ron) All of us are familiar with the routine of going to the store to get groceries. But for the cow/calf man, getting groceries has an additional meaning. This poem is entitled “Getting Groceries.” Getting groceries is something we have to do, for supplies from the store, each week or two. There’s milk, bread, cereal, eggs and juice. Plus the snacks and drinks that teenagers use. And right before a holiday or a winter storm, I get amazed at the shopper checkout lines that form. But when I see a cow nursing a baby calf, it reminds me of a cattleman that made me laugh. When he saw a calf nurse, one of his tendencies was to say, that calf is getting groceries. I thought it was a funny saying back in the day, but now I understand it in a modern way. For we all need food to help sustain and grow, just like that newborn calf will undergo. Humans go to the garden or to the store of course, the calf gets his nutrition direct from the source. We’ve had a bottle calf, which our kids think is fun. But it takes time and trouble to get those chores done. So I give thanks for my favorable luck, when I see a new calf that will stand and will suck. Now the wife says our kitchen inventory needs to rebuild. So we’ll be getting groceries for the pantry to be filled. But for the cow/calf man there’s nothing better somehow, than to see a calf getting groceries from a Mama cow. Happy Trails.

(Deb) Well, we’re back and one of my favorite towns because of the art there is El Dorado, Kansas, and we featured a good friend Rod Seel who is the Director of the Coutts Museum of Art down there on Main Street. Go see him. And it’s a great time to go visit El Dorado because they are marking the 100th anniversary of the big oil strike. (Frank) Another anniversary. This time a hundred year. (Deb) Another anniversary. We’re just racking ’em up here. But it’s such a cool town and you know oil and gas have meant so much to the economy of the West and of course then the whole nation. But when the oil and gas industry was really in its infancy, the Stapleton Strike down in El Dorado was just huge. (Frank) Oh, gigantic. (Deb) Huge, huge news. Huge news. And then we’ve had others throughout the state and of course, it remains a big piece of the Kansas economy. (Frank) Yea, and if you go to Wichita on the Turnpike of course you go past El Dorado or is it El DOORAHDO, El Dorado as we call it in Kansas. (Deb) You say El Dorado, I say El DOORAHDO. (Frank)….you do see, I mean you drive through a lot of the oil fields and the refineries and all that and people don’t really…I mean they’ve heard of the Hugoton oil fields, but El Dorado actually is a bigger, bigger strike. (Deb) It’s a great story. Stay tuned. One hundred years ago on October 5, the Stapleton #1, an oil well in Butler County, finally gushed black gold. There had been many tries and lots of discouragement as other communities found gas and oil beneath the prairies. They had even turned to a spiritualist for help, with less than inspiring results. It would be science that won out in the search for oil. In June 1914, El Dorado city fathers contracted with Erasmus Haworth, soon to retire from his position as State Geologist, to perform a geological study of the area. His fieldwork outlined the El Dorado Anticline, which unsuccessfully was drilled a year later. It was abandoned and sold to the Wichita Natural Gas Company who drilled the Stapleton #1 oil well, named for the man who owned the property. The timing of the find could not have been more welcome as America entered World War I and cars became more common. Demand for oil was at a new peak. It is estimated that the oil field was producing 9 to 12 percent of the world’s oil. Some referred to it as the “Oil Field that won World War I”. Since then it has produced more than 300 million barrels. The legacy of the oil field and its transformation of Butler County and surrounding communities is celebrated by the Kansas Oil Museum in el Dorado.

(Frank) El Dorado, El DOORAHDO. MERS DES SYGNE, or Marais des Cygnes. I mean we pronounce them all different here in Kansas. (Deb) We need to like, come up with a guide, we could post that on our website, a pronunciation guide for Kansans. (Frank) Well, nobody brought us coffee, so I guess we’ll have to go get our own. 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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