Washburn University, Picnic, Silver Shoes

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a story about Washburn University, one of the oldest universities in the state. Next we wind up our series about the movie Picnic with a tale of all the obstacles that had to be overcome during the filming. Then learn about the book Silver Shoes written by Lawrence based author Paul Miles Schneider; and we’ll end with a poem from Ron Wilson.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Good morning. Is it morning again already? (Deb) Oh my gosh, I guess so. (Frank) It’s hard to tell with the clouds and all that. But, you know anyway, I’m Frank Chaffin, and… (Deb) And I’m Deb Goodrich. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. (Deb) And we are Around Kansas. Tonight I am staying at the Landmark Bank, which is now a bed and breakfast in lovely Oberlin, Kansas. They’re putting me in the Buffalo Bill room, it’s my favorite room there. And I’ll be speaking there at the Brown Bag Lunch series tomorrow. And then tomorrow night in Fort Wallace, at the Fort Wallace Museum, which is just incredible. So, you all come out to see me. And I’ll be staying with my friends Jane and Cecil Pierce, out at Fort Wallace. (Frank) Wow. (Deb) Sunday is the concert Michael Martin Murphy is doing for the Home on the Range, so I’ll be in Smith Center. And then Saturday of course, they’re having Prairie Days down at the Little House on the Prairie down at Independence. I can’t be down there. But can’t be everywhere I guess. (Frank) That is the thing this time of year, there’s something going on everywhere. (Deb) Everywhere, every day. (Frank) There are markets. There are festivals. It’s unbelievable. People think, well let’s just drive on through Kansas there isn’t anything to do. Believe me there’s something to do here. (Deb) Stop. Stop, stop, stop. Get out of the car. Get off of I-70 you know and just travel a little bit. You know Heather and I stopped at the Kansas Originals. Is that like the Russell exit? They’ve got two stores in Kansas, one is at the Turnpike, is on the Turnpike just outside of Topeka. There’s a service center just outside of Topeka. So one of the Kansas Original stores is right there. And of course, these are all Kansas, homemade things. And they’re wonderful. You’ve got books and you’ve got crafts, you’ve got a lot of the school things, KU, K-State, whatever your school is. You’ve got just really beautiful, like little windmill carvings, and then they’ve got stuff that’s reminiscent of the Post Rock part of Kansas. So you’ve got little limestone carvings that look like little bitty post rocks. And of course, where they couldn’t put up fences with logs because they didn’t have any trees, they had to actually carve ’em out of rocks. So, we need to do a story on that. (Frank) There’s a whole scenic byway in the Flint Hills, where it’s called the Post Rock Drive. So, it’s really beautiful because you get up in there and wow, you can see for like 26 miles. (Deb) Absolutely. (Frank) And then you see all of these nicely carved fence posts, all along the way. (Deb) You know… (Frank) It’s very nice. (Deb) I grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains and fortunately we had lots of trees. So, putting up fence is hard work. I don’t know. Putting up hay, we actually put up a hay field one time with pitch forks. I don’t know what in the heck… course we didn’t have big farms like you’ve got out here. This was small. It was just like a four-acre field or something. So my uncle enlisted one of his old Army buddies and my aunt and myself. I was 15 maybe. We put up that four-acre field of hay with pitch forks. I understood…things became so much more clearer after that. I understood how people got to bed at night after a hard day’s work and how they didn’t have to diet. It all became perfectly clear. (Frank) OK. (Deb) Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas and you know Frank we were talking about sort of like, nepotism. If you’ve got a TV show like we’ve got here, you can just talk about your friends and the places you love and of course one that’s really dear to me is Washburn University. And that’s why I stayed in Topeka actually was I was a student at Washburn, a very non-traditional student. I had graduated from high school 20 years before that. But Washburn changed my life, it really did. It’s a wonderful university and it’s celebrating its 150 year anniversary this year. (Frank) Yep. Went there myself. And it is a remarkable university. And the growth now with the addition of several buildings on the campus. The new KBI forensic science building. (Deb) I can’t wait to get inside that. I just can’t wait. (Frank) It’s a beautiful building on the outside. (Deb) It is beautiful. (Frank) And of course, the new Living Center over by what used to be fraternity row. There’s still one there. And I mean it’s amazing. The new Reception Center that was Morgan Hall. It’s just going on to incredible heights. What they need to do next though is build more parking space. (Deb) Maybe a parking garage. (Frank) A parking garage that goes up. Yea. (Deb) Underground parking or something. So, let’s take a look back at 150 years of Washburn University. (Deb) One of the oldest universities in Kansas, Washburn University celebrates its 150th anniversary this year and what a history it has! From its founding on the heels of the Civil War to the 1966 tornado to the 21st century institution it is today, Washburn has endured, persevered, triumphed. Washburn University was founded as Lincoln College, a private Congregational school, on Feb. 6, 1865. A group of church members had been trying since 1857 to get a college established, but various obstacles and the Civil War hampered their efforts. During the summer and fall of 1865 a two-story building took shape on lots donated by John Ritchie on the corner of 10th and Jackson streets in downtown Topeka. The front door faced west and had a good view of the state capitol under construction. Since few young people had a high school education at that time, the founders decided to offer a three-year high school course along with the college curriculum. Classes began January 3, 1866 with 38 high school students. According to church sources, one of these students was African-American. The first two college students enrolled in the fall of 1866. The high school was a part of the college until 1918, when it became Washburn Rural High School. Washburn has always admitted women and minorities. There are several well-documented episodes in early athletics of conflicts with opponents forfeiting the game because Washburn refused to play without their black player. In addition to the lots at 10th & Jackson, John Ritchie also gave the present campus of 160 acres to the college for a permanent location. Under the leadership of the second president, Peter MacVicar, the college sold the Jackson St. building to the city of Topeka in 1872 and began construction of a larger building on their property which was 1 1/2 miles southwest of the city limits at that time. They rented space in downtown buildings for classes until it was completed in 1874. The main building (later named Rice Hall) stood by itself on open prairie that was of higher elevation than the city proper, so the area as it developed was called College Hill. Besides classrooms and a library, the building had dorm rooms for male and female students (on separate floors), a kitchen, dining room, chapel and several apartments for staff. The 1966 tornado devastated the campus and many classes were held in mobile homes while the university was rebuilt, but Washburn came back and is more beautiful than ever. It is undergoing yet another renovation, all of which has continued the founders’ vision of providing an education to any student with the desire to learn. The university is hosting events throughout the year so visit their website to learn more. And Go Bods!

(Frank) We’re back. And I have been chided again about another shirt that I have that looks like a picnic, that would go on the table. And speaking of picnic, we’re gonna take one more look at what happened with the behind the scenes of the filming of Picnic in 1955. It took place in like six different locations, six different towns actually in central Kansas-Hutchinson, Halstead, Salina, Newton. And of course William Holden and Kim Novak were the primary stars in it. But anyway, there was a lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes during the filming. So… (Deb) Don’t you have enough now to write a book now Frank? (Frank) Oh, I do. (Deb) Couldn’t you just put out a book with all the stuff you’ve done? And it’s really cool stuff. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) So really, stay tuned, we’re gonna have a book on Picnic. (Frank) OK, this has been fun of course, bringing you all kinds of interesting trivia about the movie Picnic filmed 60 years ago in and around several towns in the state of Kansas. Insisting on authenticity, director Josh Logan filmed in several Kansas towns including Hutchinson, only 75 miles from Udall the town that was leveled by a tornado days after filming began. It’s gotta look like Kansas and it will if I have to kill every last one of you, Logan said. Anyway, his cast William Holden suffered a leg gash on a railroad signal light, Kim Novak was stung on the hip by a bee underneath her $500 dollar John Louis gown, and Rosalind Russell was bruised from ear lobe to toenail during a wild gamble across a suspension bridge. A local 70 year old spinster saw her film debut cancelled when she broke both legs and several ribs during a fall down an embankment. Filming was interrupted almost daily by hail storms and wailing tornado warnings. The actual picnic was on a muddy fairground at Halstead, Kansas. Cast and crew were half consumed by carnivorous bugs. Phone calls had to be made from old time on crank telephones in Halstead’s Baker Hotel. That’s the way it was in 1955 during the filming of the movie Picnic.

(Frank) And again we’re back. You’re gonna get to talk because I’m going to introduce you. There’s something about Silver Shoes that you want to talk about. (Deb) OK. The most famous movie about Kansas? (Frank) Uh huh. (Deb) Is not Picnic. What is it? (Frank) Wizard of Oz. (Deb) OK. It is. Now maybe it’s Picnic but before this series that Frank did it was The Wizard of Oz. So The Wizard of Oz of course by L. Frank Baum, the original book has spawned all kinds of movies, and other books and just…Wicked. I actually got to see the production of Wicked in London with my two girls, with my granddaughter and my daughter. We went to see the production of Wicked. So, it’s just spawned all kinds of sequels and just off shoots and just more retelling of the story. So, one of those is called Silver Shoes. In the original book by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy’s slippers were not ruby slippers, they were silver. But in the movie they thought that the ruby slippers would show up better. So they changed that. The silver shoes were representative…and I think Tom Avril may teach a class in this. It’s all about the economy at the time and they were talking about the silver standard and all kinds of stuff. So, there’s all kinds of political and economic references, that really who cares. But that…the original was silver shoes. So, my friend Paul Miles Schneider who lives in Lawrence. He lived in L.A. for a time, has written this novel that’s incredible called Silver Shoes. So, we’re gonna take a look at that. For years people have thought of The Wizard of OZ as a fairly tale. But Donald Gardner is about to learn the story is true. When Donald Gardner’s parents tell him they’ll be taking an exciting road trip through Kansas, he openly cringes. He is sure it will be a boring summer vacation. But at one of their final roadside stops on the way home, they are approached by a poor woman offering to sell a curious item—an antique silver shoe. While Donald’s mother is initially reluctant, she is ultimately smitten with the shoe and buys it. Donald is skeptical that the shoe is anything more than a relic, but when the new school year starts, he brings it in for show-and-tell, attempting to impress his classmates. His friends liken it to something out of The Wizard of Oz, and his teacher agrees the idea is not far-fetched considering author L. Frank Baum wrote about silver shoes, not ruby slippers, which were strictly in the movie. Yet when he accepts a dare from his two best buddies to try it on, frightening and incredible things begin to happen. Strange animals cry out in the night. Dark, shadowy shapes lurk in distant corners. Scratching sounds are heard just outside his bedroom window. And when he meets George Clarke, a reclusive man who has been in hiding and on the run for many years, Donald finds out there is a lot more to Baum’s story than he thinks. Sound far-fetched? The Wizard of Oz has inspired authors and film-makers alike and this novel by Paul Miles Schneider, entitled Silver Shoes, is surely one of the most compelling. Paul Miles Schneider was born in New York City and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. At various times he has been an actor, writer, composer, singer, and arranger. In 2010, he relocated to the Midwest from Los Angeles, where he spent a decade producing and designing DVD/Blu-ray menus and interactive content for Hollywood films and television shows. Silver Shoes is his first novel, and it was selected as a 2010 Kansas Notable Book by the Kansas Center for the Book and the State Library of Kansas. A sequel, The Powder of Life, was released in 2012. His latest book, More Than Tongue Can Tell, co-authored with Warner Bros. film star Andrea King, was published in 2014. Paul has another interesting connection to Kansas and the West, in that he is, in fact, related to General Nelson Miles. He has appeared at numerous Oz-related events and surely there will be a big-screen adaptation of Silver Shoes, and this time, the little boy will be the hero. Watch out, Dorothy!

(Ron) William F. Cody earned the nickname Buffalo Bill and he had roots in Kansas. He lived in northeast Kansas as a boy. He was a Pony Express rider, went on to be an Indian scout. He created a Wild West Show that toured the globe. And out west of Oakley, Kansas, there’s a big, big statue which commemorates how Buffalo Bill got his name. This poem is entitled, The Legend of Buffalo Bill. In the late 1860s as the railroad built west, as part of our nation’s destiny made manifest. All those railroad workers needed to eat and the obvious solution was buffalo meat. William F. Cody hired on with the railroad then, to hunt buffalo to provide meat for the men. His shooting demonstrated such excellent skills, his friends started calling him Buffalo Bill. But then they found another man using that name, you can’t have two men called the same. So they made a bet, as cowboys do to see who’s claim to the name was true. They had a hunt to see how many buffalo each could shoot. The one who got the most would win the dispute. They rode west of Oakley and started to hunt, the day ended with William F. Cody in front. The other fellow got 46 which was fine, but William F. Cody shot 69. He won that contest and much, much more, and would be Buffalo Bill Cody forever more. He formed a Wild West Show and toured the globe, with wild cowboys and Indians and buffalo rodeos. He had Annie Oakley a sharp shooter like they’d never seen, they performed for the president and even the Queen. Now a monument stands on Oakley’s west side, showing Buffalo Bill on his famous hunting ride. For a history of the west he is riding there still, the legendary showman known as Buffalo Bill. Happy Trails.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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