Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Events -- Lecompton and Topeka

Territorial Days coming up in Lecompton this weekend. I'll be set up in Lane University (thanks to Paul Bahnmeier for supplying me with air conditioning!) from noon to 2 on Saturday. Then, thanks to Dick Nelson, I have a signing at the Topeka Barnes & Noble at 2 p.m.
on Sunday. See you somewhere!!

A Real Kansas Weekend

Senator Pat Roberts is the honorary co-chair of our Kansas Hall of Fame. His remarks on the induction of his predecessor, Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker, were funny and sweet. In the photo above he is actually telling me about his Civil War ancestors while Gary keeps Franki engaged. It was a very special evening. At our table, Carol McDowell and her husband, John Bottenberg, who hosted our emcee, Jim Lehrer. What a warm and witty man he is! Gen. Richard Myers, inducted last year into the KHOF, brought his lovely wife, Mary Jo. They joked about changing into their formal clothes at the new Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. We also had the honor of having the incredibly energetic and capable Bette Allen, Executive Director of the GOS, seated with us. She and Gary go way back to high school days together. At the adjoining table, Harold and Patty Stones, Sen. and Mrs. Roberts, Beth and Duane Fager. We were all close enough to visit back and forth which was very nice!

Working with Beth Fager and Monique Pittman was, and is, a joy. Likewise, the staff and volunteers of the GOS are the best!!!

Entertainment fell to me because I have so many talented friends!! My very handsome and talented husband called upon his buds, Ric Barron and Danl Blackwood, who "rehearsed" one Sunday in our music room. They called out a song, played it, wrote it down, moved on. It was an awesome private concert for me! Ric Barron, above, also sang the National Anthem as he often does for the naturalization ceremonies at the federal courthouse. Below, Danl's lovely wife, Sharidy, with one of our laureates, Ed Asner.

After a long and wonderful evening on Friday, we were up early on Saturday for Wheatstock at Old Prairie Town at Ward Meade Park. Doug Ruth is the organizer of this event that highlights local music and honors local musicians. Randy Wills, who is a musician and studio owner, was honored with a lifetime achievement award, and the group Bridges, led by Kenny Smith, were entertainers of the year. Below, my handsome hubby on keyboards with Borderline. Borderline will be headlining the Apple Festival on October 7 at Ward Meade.
(Photos: top three by Danl Blackwood; image below by Bill Blankenship, Topeka Capital Journal)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dodge City Days

In western Kansas, the wheat harvest is under way; the "golden waves of grain" really are golden. It's quite lovely. Especially when the road construction forces you to stop for 30 minutes and look at them.

Beth Cooper Meyer drove so all I had to do was squirm in my seat as we decided to vary the route, just a little, and drive through McPherson and Hutchinson instead of Ellsworth and Great Bend on our way to Dodge City yesterday. We're headed back to Great Bend for a booksigning today. As we waited on traffic, we were concerned about being late to a meeting with her Dodge City tour guides, but, that is the price of adventure!

We reached Charlie Meade by phone and rescheduled to allow us to check into the Dodge House before we headed to Casey's Steakhouse to meet Charlie and Erica. I adore Charlie. Last year, he came to the Kansas Hall of Fame to accept the award for James Arness, who had passed away only days before. In April, he took that award to Janet Arness, his widow. This morning, at 6 a.m., I'm taping an interview with Charlie talking about his trip. I can't wait.

Charlie's life should be the subject of a book. He was delivered in the bank of an ambulance en route to the hospital by the legendary Marshal Ham Bell. The KHOF acceptance for James Arness and the swearing-in by Ham Bell he lists as the highlights of his life. The photo of Ham Bell, above, is in the collections of the Ford County Historical Society. This is the caption:

Hamilton Butler Bell, longest living Old West Sheriff and Marshal. Ham remembered the end of the Civil War and had his name on a WWII Army Air Corp plane. He never shot a man-- and he saved some cowboys from the "Earp gang"--and outlived all of his Western associates. Arriving in Dodge City in 1874, he lived in Ford County until his death in 1947. He was the first president of the Ford County Historical Society, 1931. The bell is from the Union Church, the first church building in Dodge City. All rights reserved. FCHS.

You couldn't make this stuff up. Charlie's life is just another chapter in the story. The photo below, by Doug Ruth, is from last year's Kansas Hall of Fame gala. WIBW's Susie Gilbert presents the award for Marshal Matt Dillon as portrayed by James Arness to Charlie. It was a very special night.

I love Dodge City. Y'all gotta come out here and take a tour with Charlie!

(The ghost tours led by Charlie & Erica will start later on this summer. Visit groovyghost.com for tickets and details. Who knows. . . maybe you'll run into Ham Bell, too!)