Washington County Museum, Cairns on the Beach

(Frank) Today Around Kansas begins with a story about the Washington County Museum; then learn about Stan Herd’s latest project, “Cairns on the Beach”, an exhibit at the Beach Museum of Art in Manhattan. Next enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a look at Rod Beemer’s new book, The Notorious Kansas Bank Heist – Gunslingers to Gangsters.

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

(Frank) Well it’s early in the morning. It’s Wednesday. This must be Around Kansas. I’m Frank. (Deb) I must still be Deb. (Frank) So good morning to you. And here we are in the historic Dillon House, all decorated for Christmas since we’re getting close now. (Deb) Getting closer. (Frank) And behind us is one of the many fireplaces in here wonderfully decorated of course, by Porterfield’s Flowers. (Deb) David and his crew were just amazing, aren’t they? I would love to have them come to my house. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Well since we’re in the middle of December, already the month of giving, I wanted to talk about giving and we’ve been giving you some gift ideas for the last couple of weeks, and we’ve got some more for you today. There was a lot of talk about Small Business Saturday after Black Friday and everything. So, I wanted to share, give you some ideas about small businesses. You know we’re small business. As an author, you know, I’m small business. Frank with WREN radio, small business. You know the community of small businesses, there’s a lot you may not think about. So, we wanted to remind you of some of those. A lot of our friends are authors and crafts people, artists, you know all small businesses. And Frank for some reason people just give me stuff. (Frank) Just reenacting Black Friday here. (Deb) Yes. Give it. (Frank) Give me those. I’ll hold these for you. (Deb) Thank you. Thank you Vanna. So, my friend Ian Hall, who is originally from Scotland, and he is married to the lovely Karla Hall, who does our social media stuff for us at AGam in Kansas. And Ian is an incredible, incredibly talented and prolific author, so these are some of his titles. And yes, they are fiction. We hope, you know, the “Clockwork Killer.” It’s all really made up people. This Jamie Leith series, this is Scottish history. So, he knows the history really well and incorporates that. He’s got a new series of books on the “Penny Dreadfuls.” Have you watched the “Penny Dreadfuls” that’s on, I think it’s on HBO. I’m not sure what network it’s on. It’s kind of dark. He has taken the original “Penny Dreadfuls” and that story is really cool because when people during the industrial age, more people were literate and able to read. They started writing this trashy literature for ’em. Just for the masses. And that’s what the “Penny Dreadfuls” were. They were just these cheap novels and Ian has taken those originals and incorporated them into the text of the new novel. So, you can go online and find him on Amazon or just ianhallauthor.com, I think. Aren’t those beautiful? This “Connecticut Vampire,” oh man, this is great. You will love these books. (Frank) OK. And where can we get ’em? (Deb) At Amazon and they’re available as eBooks. Or I think it’s ianhallauthor.com and he’ll be happy to sign ’em for you. So, yea these are just wonderful. (Frank) OK. I think I’m gonna go read. (Deb) If you want to give us some more stuff, we’ll talk about that. Won’t we Frank? (Frank) Yea. Amuse yourself. I’m gonna go read. (Deb) Alrighty. See you later Frank.

(Frank) And we’re back. While we were gone and while you were watching that story I read all three of those books. I’m a speed reader you know. (Deb) And they were good, weren’t they? (Frank) They were good. (Deb) See there’s your unsolicited testimony from Frank himself. (Frank) So, go get the books. (Deb) Good job. Get the books. Get the books. (Frank) So, museums and all that. We have a lot of ’em in Kansas you know. (Deb) And do not overlook your county museums and that’s one of the things were gonna talk about today because so many of the county museums have wonderful collections. And a lot of folks spend the winter months of course, doing genealogy and family history and other reading. Things you can do inside. And a lot of the county archives, Shawnee County actually has it’s own genealogical society, with a little reading room and museum. So, a lot of the county museums offer that as well. So, yea, it’s a great time to go. They’ve got gift shops. So, go in and support their gift shops because that helps keep the museums going. (Frank) You know, I just have to say here you know you’re getting older when stuff you grew up with… (Deb) Oh man. (Frank) …is in the museum. (Deb) You know the museum we’re going to talk about, Washington County, has this incredible camera exhibit. There are hundreds of cameras. And this collector gave, so, I’m going through this exhibit of collectible, antique cameras and I’m like, “I got that for Christmas one year.” (Frank) I had one of those. (Deb) It’s just like, I had one of those! Oh no, it’s like not just the things where the photographer put his head under the drape and was taking pictures. It’s no, you’ve got your Brownie camera that Mama had and then you’ve got the Polaroid Instamatic. (Frank) But you know the ones that had the little flash attachments and you tried to get the flash bulb in there and poof it goes. (Deb) Can you, Christmas, remember Christmas and everybody was doing that? And the flashbulbs were just everywhere and you’d have to run out and buy flash bulbs in the middle of Christmas because you, “Don’t open that yet, we’ve got to get the flash!” And so yea. (Frank) Yea. So, that’s why I say, stuff you grew up with is now in the museum. (Deb) If only we had not played with that stuff and torn it up, it might be worth something today. Let’s take a look at the Washington County Museum.
One rainy day on Highway 36, I detoured a little off the road to visit Washington. Luckily, the county museum on the downtown square was open and the lady at the desk offered to call John Barley to give me a tour. I hated to bother him, but I sure was glad he was the one who showed me through the buildings. He had been the president of the society for many years and built many of the exhibits himself. I was startled to realize the Washington County Museum wasn’t just the one building but several. Over the years, the Emmons schoolhouse was moved to the site. It was the first one-room school in the county. A jail and sheriff residence were added to the collection of buildings as well. It would take days to view every display. The collection of cameras is staggering, and a gold mine for the researcher. A room devoted to the Pony Express History contains memorabilia and a few artifacts from the era of the Hollenberg Station, including two tombstones, which were found on the Oregon Trail, a pick and gold pan that were used by miners in the California Gold Rush of 1849. A quilt, believed to have been made by Sophia Hollenberg, family Bibles, guns and a tin horn, believed to have been used by a Pony Express rider as he neared the station. It was all quite fascinating. As John showed me through the museum, his passion was plain. He had loved making this museum happen and telling his county’s story. It showed in the great care and attention to detail in every corner. The Otwell Broom Factory was my favorite. Originally in Strawberry Township, is recreated in the Annex. Most of the equipment and supplies in the display are from the original factory started by William E. Otwell in 1892. Mr. Otwell employed as many as five broom makers and had hundreds of customers in several states. He remained active in his business until his death in 1947 when his delivery truck was struck by a freight train at Hickman, Nebraska. The brooms and whiskbrooms were made of locally grown broomcorn, a member of the sorghum family. I had no idea. The humble broom has a remarkable story and this little factory exhibit tells it very well. I had to get back on the road, and so I said farewell to John Barley. I can’t wait to return.

(Deb) Welcome. back. And Frank of course, is our rock and roll man, our DJ. And of course, lately it’s been more rocks than roll, hasn’t it Frank? (Frank) Rock, rocks, rocks. (Deb) Rocks, he’s our rock man. (Frank) You know, stacking rocks, stacking rocks and people do that. They just stack rocks. And I think, I know our producer here also said, it’s illegal to stack rocks now in Colorado Springs. So, anyway because they got dangerous. (Deb) It’s boulders. (Frank) Because they got rather large. Might fall on ’em. (Deb) They weren’t very good at stacking rocks apparently, I guess. There’s an art to stacking rocks, isn’t there? (Frank) There is an art to stacking rocks and that’s what we’re gonna talk about next. And of course, many Kansans are familiar with the name Stan Herd. Because in Topeka, west of Topeka, out by Security Benefit here, a couple of years ago, Stan did a sculpture in the tall grass there. And of course, it survived for a couple of seasons really. (Deb) Right. (Frank) Now, he doesn’t do crop circles that I know of. Those are aliens. Never the less, he is famous for a lot of his art in fields and working with grains and all of that. But, he also does rocks. (Deb) Bless his heart. (Frank) And he kind of teamed up with a group from K-State. Anyway, I’m kind of getting ahead of things here, but that’s what the story is about next. Stan Herd and his rocks. Some people see a pile of rocks. Some people see grass and dirt. Some people see fields, just fields of corn or wheat. Stan Herd sees art. Throughout the fall 2014 semester, Kansas artist Stan Herd worked with students from the K-State departments of Art and Landscape Architecture and Regional and Community Planning to design and install a temporary outdoor installation. Inspired by the artist’s encounter with stacked rock sculptures in woods near Perry Lake, “Cairns on the Beach” highlights the natural beauty of our region’s geology and pays homage to the long history of built stone structures in Kansas. Herd, who is best known for his work as a crop artist—arranging rocks, dirt and plants into compositions best seen from above—acted as lead artist on this collaboratively designed project. He consulted with masons and carvers in the region to learn stacking techniques and source local stone. The second phase of “Cairns on the Beach” featuring a green planting occurred during the spring 2015 semester. The installation will remain on display through the spring 2017 semester to allow visitors to view the work in a full range of seasons. Todd Johnson assisted on the project. Howard Hahn and Katie Kingery-Page, both associate professors in K-State’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional and Community Planning, served as advisors for this project. Participating landscape architecture students are Diane Cocchiara, Beth Krehbiel and Nicholas Mercado. Art students Troy Britt, Hannah Jennings, and Cornelius Hugo also collaborated on the design and installation. This is only one of many outstanding works at the Beach. In the decades since its founding, it has acquired some incredible work and staged some amazing exhibits. In January 1928 K-State dedicated what is now the Hale Library. The building featured a temporary exhibition of over 100 paintings and prints by Birger Sandzén, the Swedish-born painter and professor of art at Bethany College in Lindsborg. The following month students, faculty, and the Manhattan community organized a successful fund raising campaign to acquire two of Sandzén’s large oil paintings. These became the first objects in the K-State art collection. The Friends of the Beach Museum of Art was established to raise funds for the acquisition and care of work in the permanent collection. Check out their website for more information on joining or visiting.

(Ron) Howdy folks, I’m Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat. There are many great things that come from our cowboy heritage. One of the very simplest, is one we find on our feet. This poem is entitled “Building Boots.” Many things have been invented and not all have taken root. But one of the greatest inventions was the simple cowboy boot. The cowboy boot is something that won’t cross most people’s minds. They think it’s just a footwear style like all the other kinds, because they’re made a certain way, and that is what I want to explain to you today. The first cowboy boots were made after 1865 to be used by the drovers on the great cattle drives. They were made out of cowhide which is what they had on hand. And these boots were shaped to suit the cowboy’s work demands. They were made heavy duty so that they were good for every season. And every feature of the boot is for a certain reason. For example, why do cowboy boots have round or pointed toes? To get in and out of stirrups fast, when a horse goes. The heels were angled sharply so they could dig into the ground. When a cowboy ropes a calf and it tries to run around. Of course, the boots were made of good old cowhide leather to protect the feet and legs, and keep ’em warm in cold weather. The uppers of the boot protect the lower leg you see from a snake bite or a sticker from a thorny locust tree. The stitching on the leather isn’t just for the design, but it helps stiffen the leather for protection sure and fine. So, you see there is a reason for the way the boot is made. But if we don’t remember, then that history would fade. The styles of boots have changed with time, as fashions ebb and flow, but that’s the reason for the design those years ago. The modern cowboy still wears boots. He likes the wear and feel, but his town boots may have rope or toes and the lower walking heel. So, let’s celebrate this element of our early western roots and thank those designers of the early cowboy boots. And one more thing another benefit most people never catch. When I wear boots, no one will know my socks, don’t have to match. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And, we’re back. Rocks. OK. (Deb) That was, he can just make art of anything, I swear. He’s amazing. And the Beach Museum. You’ve got to go. The oh, what’s our, John Steuart Curry, John Steuart Curry that’s at the Beach Museum. Just incredible, incredible. (Frank) OK. (Deb) Yea, they gotta go. (Frank) Book plug time again. (Deb) Yes. Once more, I have gotten gifts in the mail. My good friend Rod Beemer has a book signing this Saturday, I think that’s Saturday the 19th at Books a Million in Salina from 1 to 3 p.m. This is a the perfect Christmas gift. All about bank robberies in Kansas. You know nice, wholesome family entertainment. This book is fantastic. I got to visit with Rod when he was writing this and he’s written on Kansas weather. You’ve interviewed Rod, you did a whole show with Rod one time. (Frank) Right. (Deb) So, he’s a wonderful author, very accomplished. These stories will blow you away. Like the planes with the machine guns mounted to ’em during the height of the bank robbery era. So, it’s just, you’re going to love it. According to historian Rod Beemer, bank robbers have wreaked havoc in the Sunflower State. After robbing the Chautauqua State Bank in 1911, outlaw Elmer McCurdy was killed by lawmen but wasn’t buried for 66 years. Viewers may see the segment in which McCurdy’s story was featured at AroundKansas.com. His afterlife can only be described as bizarre. Belle Starr’s nephew Henry Starr claimed to have robbed twenty-one banks. The Dalton Gang failed in their attempt to rob two banks simultaneously, but others accomplished this in Waterville in 1911. Nearly four thousand known vigilantes patrolled the Sunflower State during the 1920s and 1930s to combat the criminal nuisance. One group even had an airplane with a .50-caliber machine gun. Yes, bankers and lawmen went to great lengths to defend and repel robbers including rigging safes with vials of poison. Thus, most robberies were foiled and most villains caught, jailed, or killed. There were few successes to report for the bad guys, but then came the Newton Boys. Allegedly, these Texans carried off “more loot than Jesse and Frank James, the Dalton Boys, Butch Cassidy and all the other famous outlaw gangs put together.” The enterprising siblings robbed the bank in Arma, Crawford County, Kansas, by chiseling through the wall. They later admitted to stealing $65,000 but left $200,000 in the safe because they got all they needed. The Newtons were the subject of a best-selling book and then a movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, and Skeet Ulrich. Rod has included the legendary and the little known, and every single story is unforgettable. It is a well-told, colorful tale with more characters than Hollywood could invent. The Notorious Kansas Bank Heist – Gunslingers to Gangsters is the new book by Rod Beemer from the History Press. It is available at Beemerbooks.com or your favorite bookstore.

(Frank) Well, here we are out of time again. Hope you had a good time today. (Deb) We sure did. (Frank) Yea, 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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