Time and the influence of railroads, Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest

(Frank) Today Around Kansas shares a story about Time and the influence of railroads on establishing standardized time zones. Next mark your calendars for the final round of the Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest coming to the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with the touching story about Comanche, the only survivor from the Battle of Little Big Horn.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at agpromosource.com.

(Frank) How about that? It’s the middle of the week again? I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m still Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. Good morning. (Deb) Good morning everybody. And Spring has arrived early. (Frank) Ah yes! (Deb) Grass is green and birds are singing and I guess the pollen is out. (Frank) And the snow storm will be due anytime. (Deb) Exactly, exactly. I don’t trust it til we get through. You know, right before I moved to Kansas in 1992, this is very unusual for back home, it was I think, I moved out here May the 19th, May 7th, we had seven inches of snow back home. Which is very unusual. The latest I remember snow before that was maybe April 14th or something and we had like ten inches one year. But it can happen. It can happen. And so I hate to be Debbie Downer today but I don’t trust Spring this early. I just don’t trust it. (Frank) Yea, somewhere in April we’ll probably have a snow storm. Who knows. (Deb) I know. Big blizzard. Shut down everything. Yea. (Frank) Well the thing is we have really here in Kansas and especially in northeast Kansas, cause we didn’t get the snow that the west did. (Deb) Right. Yea. (Frank) And we have not had the floods, we have not had the tornados, and I mean there have been some places of course in the country that have just been hammered. (Deb) I know. For one year, it’s like we sort of…I’m not going to say anymore. I don’t want to jinx it. Because the season’s just starting now. And with the season just starting we’re going to have the storm chasers out. We just did the segment on weather last week, so storm chasers are going to be out before long. And the weather trainers. And I saw the other day where they were testing sirens. They were testing them at different places and so all of that will come up. When I moved to Topeka the thing that scared me to death, like I said it was the middle of May, so again, storm season. And I go to Dillons and I get a sack of groceries and on the sack of groceries is printed what to do in case of a tornado. Freaked me out! I mean, it’s like oh no, duck and cover, here we go! And then the first storm that I was in Kansas storms are different than back home in the mountains. They’re lightning strikes all the time back home. I can tell you stories forever about lightning striking. But out here it’s like the lightning is everywhere. It’s just like the air is electrified. It’s a different…it’s different. (Frank) Yea, cause I worked for a time out in Norton, Kansas. A friend of mine put a radio station on out there. And so, shortly after Linda and I were married, we thought hey let’s go to Norton and do radio. And anyway, in the tower field, it was very, very flat, and the tower was a thousand foot tower. And stupidly during storms we’d go out there and look up and watch the lighting hit the tower. (Deb) Key word being “stupidly” here. (Frank) Yea, well I was 20-something at the time and invincible. (Deb) Young and stupid. (Frank) Young and stupid. (Deb) Redundant. Young and stupid. Yea, redundant. (Frank) So anyway, I think we have to take a break here and then we’ll come back and actually tell you some stories. (Deb) We got some great ones today. Stay with us.

(Frank) Well, I think we’re back. (Deb) Time, you can never tell, you know. (Frank) Time, tick-tock-tick-tock. (Deb) I HATE Daylight Savings Time. I absolutely hate it. It is my greatest fear that I will lose that hour in the Spring and I will die before Fall when I can get it back. It messes up your biological clock for…until they change it back. (Frank) Uh huh. (Deb) And then you finally get adjusted and they change it back. So I absolutely hate it. And when I was a kid, we went to church. Daddy was a, he pastored a church, yes I’m a preacher’s kid and all those things they say are true. The guy that was the deacon of the church that had the key said that God was on Eastern Standard Time. So, he would not switch to Eastern Daylight Time. So he opened the door of the church at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning Eastern Standard Time, though the rest of the state had switched to Eastern Daylight Time. Given the fact that the people on the Virginia side of the line were not observing Eastern Daylight Time. They refused to switch for a long time. And we were right on the line with North Carolina, Virginia. It was a mess. It was an absolute mess. And I can’t tell time anyway. We were talking about that with the gal that does my nails. I can’t wear a watch. They die. They just die. So, I struggle with time Frank. I really do. (Frank) Well, I didn’t want to say anything, but it explains a lot of things. (Deb) It explains a lot I know. (Frank) But now we have atomic time, cause at the radio station and the studio we have an atomic clock and it keeps precise time. It also has the temperature. So, I always say, “Our atomic thermometer says it’s 57 degrees.” And how can you be wrong when it’s atomic and everything? (Deb) Atomic thermometer. So, you’re not worried about radiation or anything for this thing? (Frank) No, no of course not. (Deb) That would explain a lot too. (Frank) So, anyway you have a story about time. (Deb) Time. And my friend Chris Gable, I gotta give a shout out to him. He retired from the History Department at Fort Leavenworth Command College. And Chris is the person who first introduced me to this whole topic of how the railroads basically created time. They instituted time. And Chris does a fabulous presentation about that. And it’s just so interesting. I used to interview him on my radio show. Every time the time would change I would ease my resentment by calling up Chris and interviewing him on the radio show. Yea, I hope you’re watching Chris. (Frank) But it is true. People don’t understand that the railroads created the time zones. (Deb) But you will now. Stay tuned. For thousands of years, humans observed what is officially known as Apparent Solar Time, or true local time. In other words, they measured time by the position of the sun. It worked fairly well. Then trains came along, and the sun just couldn’t keep up. The Brits were the first to establish a standardized time. The Great Western Railway began using London Time in 1840. Other railways followed suit. Back in the US, the time of day was a local matter, and most cities and towns used some form of local solar time, maintained by a well-known clock, on a church steeple, for example, or in a jeweler’s window. Shortly after 1800, at least one individual lobbied for standard time in the US, but his suggestions were not acted upon, nor was the initial proposal of one Charles Dowd many decades later. Dowd revised his proposition, and it was finally adopted by U.S. and Canadian railways in 1883. Like it or not, there were advantages to standardized time zones, especially for travel and commerce. According to webexhibits.org: “Standard time in time zones was established by U.S. law with the Standard Time Act of 1918. Congress adopted standard time zones based on those set up by the railroads, and gave the responsibility to make any changes in the time zones to the Interstate Commerce Commission, the only federal transportation regulatory agency at the time. When Congress created the Department of Transportation in 1966, it transferred the responsibility for the time laws to the new department.” Since time was standardized and time zones established, the boundaries had changed, over time, and continue to evolve. Kansas, of course, crosses two time zones — Central in most of the state and Mountain Time in the far western counties.

(Frank) Are we back again? (Deb) We have not yet run out of time. (Frank) Time, time. (Deb) See I don’t need a watch because Michael just tells me what time it is. Somebody will always tell you where to go and when to be there, won’t they? (Frank) Yea. OK, now we’re going to talk about cowboys. Now, as you know Randy Sparks who created the New Christy Minstrels back in the 1960s is from Leavenworth, Kansas. He now lives in California on a ranch. And he has written a lot of songs and poetry about cowboys and about the West and all of that. In fact, I think I’ve done a couple of poems that he has since turned into songs and all of that. So, anyway, gonna do a story on cowboy poetry, but you also are pretty good friends with our Poet Laureate, as we call him. (Deb) Ron Wilson. What an amazing guy! He’s the nicest guy in the world. Seriously. We ought to just put up a sign, Ron Wilson, nicest guy in the world. And his poems, and I know all of you are fans too, they’re just so much fun! And I love his take on things, you know, the one about the trailers the other day, and the wind blowing. He just takes the simplest things and they’re fun and you’ll never see it quite the same way after Ron Wilson talks about it. So, he is…he’s the…mover and the shaker with the cowboy poets and the Western Music Association in Kansas. And so these events are coming up this Spring and it will be a lot of fun. And Ron makes everything fun. (Frank) And Ron is a cowboy over in the Flint Hills too. (Deb) Yes, he’s the real deal. So, he’s not just picking up books or watching old movies on TV, he lives the life. He’s the real deal. And we’re so pleased to have him part of the show every week. (Frank) So, I’m going to tell you about cowboy poetry and the fact that a competition is coming up and you can go see it and hear it. (Deb) You too can be a cowboy poet. (Frank) The final round of the Kansas Cowboy Poetry Contest is moving to Manhattan. For the first time in the six-year history of the contest, the contest finals will be hosted at the Flint Hills Discovery Center. “We are delighted to partner with the Flint Hills Discovery Center to host this event,” said poetry contest chair Ron Wilson of the Lazy T Ranch near Manhattan. “The Kansas Flint Hills are a wonderful center of working ranch culture and cowboy life.” The finals will be Friday, June 10 at 7 p.m. on the night before the Symphony in the Flint Hills. Those who finish in the top tier at one of three regional qualifying contests will compete at the state finals. The dates, times and locations of the qualifying contests are as follows: Friday, April 29, 7 p.m., J. H. Robbins Memorial Library, 219 N. Lincoln Street, Ellsworth; Saturday, May 7, 4 p.m., Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper, 15231 SW Parallel Street, Benton; and Friday, May 20, 7 p.m., Rollin ‘Red’ Vandever Memorial Park, home of the “Wilson County Old Iron Club,” 10392 Jade Road, Fredonia. “We encourage current and aspiring cowboy poets to enter one of the regional contests,” said Wilson. “Everyone who loves Kansas and good entertainment is invited to come out and listen as well.” Contestants can enter to present a serious poem, humorous poem or both. Awards will be presented in all categories. There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend all of these events. State champions at the finals will receive the Saddlejack Bradrick Award, the coveted Governor’s Buckle, discounts and gift certificates from leading western wear stores, and two tickets to the Symphony in the Flint Hills. In addition, the state winners will have their entry fees paid to compete in the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo. For more information or to enter the regional contest, go to www.cowboypoetrycontest.com.

(Ron) We have lots of barn cats here on the home ranch and they seem to get into predicaments. And as we get this, around this time of Easter, it reminds me of one particular cat. This poem is entitled, “The Search” or “The Prodigal Cat.” We had a litter of kittens a year ago spring, then we had to decide what to name the darn things. The kids named one cat Easter Egg, it loved to rub upon your leg. They hauled that kitten all over the ground. Maybe that’s why it liked people around. I’d reach for a tool where it’s put, and that cat would always be under foot. One day Ma noticed the cat wasn’t here, we didn’t know why it would disappear. Then Grandma and Granddad called to say, that cat had become a stowaway. They’d visited us and when they got home, Easter Egg was in the trunk where he’d gone to roam. They put him in the garage and fed him that day, but their dog chased him off and he ran plum away. They called the neighbors and looked around but that cat was simply not to be found. A dead critter by the road was spotted first, for Easter Egg’s fate we feared the worst. But it was not Easter Egg, no sign of that cat. We wondered where in the world he was at. One day I went over to Granddads house to get a load of hay to feed to the cows, Ma went to the barn and called, “Kitty, kitty,” but nothing was found, which seemed like a pity. But then before I could haul that hay home to the cows, I could swear I thought I heard a meow. I followed the sound with curiosity and dread and found the cat on top of their old hay shed. So, I climbed the hayloft and brought him down. Easter Egg the cat was safe and sound. Now Easter Egg’s home and not forgotten. In fact the kids have spoiled him rotten. It’s like Easter Sunday when after church the kids all go on a colored egg search. But my Easter Egg search was different now, cause all I had to do was to follow the meow. Happy Trails.

(Frank) Well, we’re spending a lot of time in the West today so we’re… (Deb) Works for me. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Works for me. We just had Ron with another great poem and yea, this is all about salute Ron today. Salute! (Frank) Yea, and well also 1876 that’s when was Custer’s Last Stand… (Deb) It was. (Frank) …up there in in the greasy grass. (Deb) This is the 140th anniversary this year, so a lot going on. Our good friend Jerry Russell, out in Scott City is actually doing a commemorative painting, so a lot of folks that we know are involved in marking the 140th anniversary of Little Big Horn. So, Dr. Jake was in town the other day and we went over to KU to the Natural History Museum, the Dyche Museum to visit Comanche. And the story we’re going to share today is about Comanche, the survivor of Custer’s unit, at the Last Stand. If you go over to KU to see Comanche, he’s on the 4th floor now. He has been refurbished. (Frank) That’s good. (Deb) Bless his heart. (Frank) Getting a little… (Deb) Actually Comanche died in 1891 and he was, the taxidermy was performed by Mr. Dyche. Lewis Dyche, for whom Dyche Hall is named. And he was put on display at the Columbian Exhibition in 1893, so that’s where he first went on display and then he eventually came to KU where he has been at home ever since. It’s just an incredible, the whole thing is incredible. We could do a story on Comanche honestly, every week and not hit all the facets. (Frank) Her office has this gigantic painting of Custer’s Last Stand. So you come down the hallway… (Deb) Custer’s Last Fight, that’s the official name. It’s the Anheuser-Busch, Custer’s Last Fight and the artist who was commissioned to do that, had just done a painting on the Zulu Wars. So, it is not historically accurate, the Sioux shields are like Zulu shields, so the historic accuracy of this painting leaves much to be desired. But the imagination and the, oh my god, it’s one of my favorites. One of my favorites. (Frank) So, let’s see a story about Comanche. (Deb) He was a buckskin gelding, 15 hands high, with a small white star on his forehead. He was purchased in St. Louis by the 7th Cavalry in 1868 for $90 and sent to Fort Leavenworth. There, Comanche was chosen to be the personal mount of Captain Myles Keogh, commander of Company I. The handsome Irishman had served in the Army of the Pope during an uprising in Italy and had come to America in time to take part in dozens of Civil War battles including Gettysburg and the largest cavalry engagement of that war, Brandy Station. He knew horses so Comanche must have been impressive. It was Keogh’s fate to die with George Armstrong Custer and more than 200 of his comrades at the Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876. Two days later, Comanche was in a ravine badly wounded, very weak and barely able to stand. The horse suffered three severe wounds: through his neck, through his front shoulder and to his hindquarter; and four flesh wounds. Comanche was transported to Fort Lincoln aboard the steamer the Far West. A special sling and stall were built for him to recuperate. In 1878 Comanche was sent to Fort Riley, home of the 7th Cavalry, and Colonel Sturgis ordered that: “The horse known as Comanche being the only living representative of the bloody tragedy of the Little Big Horn. . .his kind treatment and comfort should be a matter of special pride and solicitude on the part of the 7th Cavalry, to the end that his life may be prolonged to the utmost limit. Though wounded and scarred, his very silence speaks in terms more eloquent than words of the desperate struggle against overwhelming odds of the hopeless conflict, and heroic manner in which all went down that day. He will not be ridden by any person whatever under any circumstances, nor will he be put to any kind of work. Hereafter upon all occasions of ceremony, Comanche, saddled, bridled, and led by a mounted trooper of Troop I, will be paraded with the regiment.” When Comanche died in 1891, a farrier was by his side, feeling his pulse and looking Comanche in the eye. The farrier wrote, This night long to be remembered.

(Frank) Well we hope you enjoyed the show today. 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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