Sunday, June 29, 2008

Online, Offline

Folks, I have had so much trouble getting online, and staying online, the blog has just been impossible. I apologize to all y'all who have emailed and I've failed to respond. When the storms interfered with our computers, we lost some stuff, reprogrammed internet, etc., etc., but I'm still not steadily connected.

Had a wonderful visit with Durwood Ball, professor/editor/historian from the University of New Mexico. We showed him the sites in Topeka, Lecompton, and Leavenworth, and he gave us the benefit of his expertise and research.

I have some great guests lined up this week, so listen in, give me a call, and hopefully, sometime soon, I will re-enter the 21st century.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good Times

Tom's cousins, Ezzie and Arthur, stopped by this weekend and brought photos of their trip to Springfield and Hannibal, Missouri. Arthur, who is a knowledgeable railroad buff, took the above photo. The bridge in the upper right hand corner is the Hannibal bridge over the Mississippi River.

Professor Durwood Ball, University of New Mexico, is visiting us this week. Friends of the Free State Capitol, Ghost Tours of Kansas, and a few odd history nerds are hosting the author at Blind Tiger Brew Pub on Wednesday evening. Email me for more information or visit

Dr. Ball is writing a biography of Edwin "Bull" Sumner, the army officer who kept the lid on Bleeding Kansas. I've always believed that Col. Sumner's shining moment occurred right here in Topeka. (see other blogs by myself or Tom.) We're so excited that he's coming to visit! He'll be on my radio show, Topeka Talks, KMAJ 1440 AM, Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., and will appear on Channel 27 with Ralph Hipp on Tuesday afternoon. Let's all make him welcome!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Nights of Twisters

Cheryl Logan passed these photos along to me and I wanted to share them with you. It has been a scary week in Kansas. We sat in our basement, which is finished and has sofas and a TV, watching the progress of the storms each night this week. When they were describing tornadoes on the ground in Salina, then Chapman (above), then Junction City, then Manhattan (below), we had no idea the destruction would be so great. There were two deaths--one of which occurred just north of Topeka. The little town of Chapman was devastated, almost as badly as Greensburg last year. Being a native Kansan and not easily sent to the cellar, Tom instructed me to grab my valuables and head below. I went to my jewelry drawer--thought again and then just grabbed a few photographs. A picture of your kids or your grandparents is worth a thousand baubles.

Have been looking at images of tornadic destruction here and in Iowa, as well as the flooding in Cedar Rapids. Mother Nature remains unconquered.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Vern, etal

It has been an interesting week.

This morning, I interviewed via the phone, former Kansas Attorney General Vern Miller. In case you never heard of the General, he once raided an Amtrak train and arrested the folks for serving liquor. He jumped out of car trunks and surprised felons; he wrestled murderers and robbers. He is pictured above, second from left, in the midst of KU student protesters. While campaigning, Miller promised to "leap into the drug-ridden hippie communes of Lawrence with both feet." Truth is, he leapt into EVERYTHING with both feet. He earned his law degree while serving as sheriff of Sedgwick County and was in Topeka readying for the bar exam when the devastating tornado of 1966 struck the town.

I also interviewed this week: TV journalist Bill Kurtis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a scientist from NASA, an herpetologist, the guy who publishes Mother Earth News, the guys who produce Sunflower Journeys on KTWU, politicians, fundraisers, friends, and relatives.

This is why I always wanted to be a reporter. I can't wait for the next week when I interview former governor Mike Hayden, a novelist from Colorado, CEOs, CFOs, and maybe a few UFOs.

Basil's Birthday

Today is the birthday of Basil Rathbone (left), born in South Africa in 1892. He served as a captain (intelligence officer) in the British Army and was cited for bravery. His younger brother died in the Great War.

In an interview with Edward R. Murrow in 1957, Rathbone related the story of how he disguised himself as a tree to get near the enemy camp to obtain information.

"I went to my commanding officer and I said that I thought we'd get a great deal more information from the enemy if we didn't fool around in the dark so much . . . and I asked him whether I could go out in daylight. I think he thought we were a little crazy. . . . I said we'd go out camouflaged -- made up as trees -- with branches sticking out of our heads and arms . . . . We brought back an awful lot of information, and a few prisoners, too."

It just stands to reason that Sherlock Holmes would have been an intelligence officer. Don't you agree?

And by the way, what a beautiful man.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bonjour and Beauvoir

From the Vicksburg (Mississippi) Post:

Beautifully restored Beauvoir reopens on Jeff Davis' bicentennial
By Gordon Cotton

BILOXI - Bert Hayes-Davis stood on the porch at Beauvoir and phoned his wife, Carol, in Colorado Springs. Hurricane winds were picking up in the Gulf, and Hayes-Davis told his wife, "I hope a hurricane never hits it."He was the last member of the Davis family to stand on that porch, the last of the descendants of President Jefferson Davis to leave the ancestral home on the Mississippi Coast before Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005.

Last Tuesday, June 3, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis, his great-great-grandson, Bert Hayes-Davis, stood on the rebuilt porch and told a crowd of thousands, "We saw the worst. We've gotten the best. What a birthday present."Though much of the Coast was destroyed by Katrina, after the winds subsided and the waters receded, the house was still standing. The outbuildings were gone, the roof damaged, the porch blown away, many of the artifacts lost forever - but Beauvoir was still there. More than $4.5 million dollars later, and with the help of untold volunteer man-hours from people from all over the United States, the house stands restored, looking as it did the day Jefferson Davis left it for the last time in 1889.Beauvoir is again the jewel of the Coast.

Read the rest of this story, and the other articles in Gordon Cotton's series at the
(photo by Bill Haber * The Associated Press)
KMAJ Line-up for the Week (subject to change):
Listen in, y'all--1440 on your AM dial or online at, and call in with questions and comments: 785-297-1440, toll free 877-297-1440.

mon/june 9
8 Jerry Berger, candidate for DA
8:30/David Kehler, Butler Co. ext agent, wildflower/prairie tour
9 Open Lines
10 Judy Coder
10:30 Jim Hanni, AAA
tues/june 10
8 John Sellers, library of congress
8:30 Steve Baccus, pres. Kansas Farm Bureau
10 Nasa representative
10:15 Louis Kraft, actor, author on Errol Flynn & Olivia de Havilland
wed/june 11
8:30 Beth Cooper
9 Bill Kurtis/Michelle Martin, cookbook9:30
10 Cathy Duncan, Jayhawk Theater
10:30 Randy Floyd, hillbilly

thurs./june 12
8:30 Carol Neumann
9:00 Bryan Welch, Mother Earth News
9:30 Dave Kendall, KTWU Sunflower Journeys
10 Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County, Arizona

friday/ june 13
8:15 Vern Miller, former Kansas AG
9 Larry Tenopir, Local Democratic Party
10:30 Topeka CVB

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rubes and Geronimo

A week full of drama:

Since hosting the morning talk show on KMAJ AM, my schedule has just been turned upside down. But it has really been fun. Author/historian Louis Kraft was our guest last week and what a pleasure to spend time with him. (Louis is the author of Gatewood and Geronimo and Lt. Charles Gatewood and his Apache Wars Memoir.)

Cartoonist Leigh Rubin, creator of Rubes (above), was on the radio with me (along with Mike Myers from Creators Syndicate) and then Louis and I attended Leigh's presentation at the local library. There was a standing room only crowd. In fact, they turned away so many folks that they plan to have him back. That was Tuesday. Wednesday was Civil War Roundtable in Kansas City and Thursday was here in Topeka, with Louis speaking each night. It's obvious his background is in drama. Louis (left, in costume) performs a one-man show as Ned Wyncoop, Indian agent extraordinaire. It is a riveting story -- a decent man trying to stop the Plains Indian Wars. The newly established national historic site at the Washita Battlefield in Oklahoma will host this performance in December so we're organizing a field trip.

Speaking of drama, I also interviewed Tom Smith via telephone from sunny Southern California. Tom and I chatted about the new Indiana Jones film, which I went to see by myself because no one would go with me! Tom did visual effects on the first Indiana Jones--one of my favorite films. His inside dish: Harrison Ford is a great guy and the female lead candidates tried out by baking cookies. Apparently, Karen Allen is a good cook. Locals will recall that the Kansas City and Topeka Civil War Roundtables hosted Tom last year about this time. The topic was the fiction he wrote about ancestor William Clark, Massacre at Baxter Springs.

I haven't been to see Sex and the City yet. Can't take that much drama this soon!