Our last night in town also happened to be the night of a HPPR Living Room Concert Series. We watched Randy Elmore play some mighty fine Western Swing on his fiddle. Pictured below are HPPR hosts Mary Palmer and Allen Bailey. Bailey, who sang and played guitar as part of Elmore’s band, also happens to be Marshal of Dodge City (check out that badge if you don’t believe us). The concert turned out to be the biggest draw in town!
The next morning, we packed up the booth, clicked our heels a few times and said our goodbyes to Western Kansas. We knew that we couldn’t leave Kansas without making at least a passing reference to the Wizard of Oz , but we had no idea we would drive right past Dorothy’s House in Liberal, KS. Does anyone else think those munchkins look familiar?
No, you’re not seeing double, participant Consuelo Sandoval came to the StoryCorps MobileBooth twice to participate in four different interviews. On Saturday, she interviewed her friends Janie Perkins (top, left), former mayor of Garden City, and Carol Taylor (top right), a lifelong Garden City resident who helps organize and host "Back to the Garden", a reunion weekend for African-Americans who grew up in Garden City.
She also came in with Penney Schwab on Thursday, who interviewed Consuelo about her family’s immigration to the United States and their struggle to obtain citizenship. Then Consuelo interviewed Penney about United Methodist Mexican American Ministries, a social service agency that has been serving communities of need in Garden City since 1974. Penney has been the Executive Director for over 20 years and Consuelo currently works there as a Community Developer.
On our day off, participants Darrel and Marilyn Miller invited us to their farm in Scott City, 40 miles north of Garden City. The Millers use center pivot irrigation to make their corn grow so tall, since western Kansas averages less than 2 inches of precipitation per month.
We ate lunch at the Majestic, Scott City’s most famous restaurant. Marilyn’s parents used to run the Majestic back when it was a 600 person theater that showed silent films and brought traveling shows. Today, the well preserved Majestic serves lunch and dinner and occasionally hosts live performances.
Marilyn is the president of the Scott County Historical Society, which is housed in the recently opened El Cuartelejo Museum. The museum features exhibits on local history, geology and culture. During a tour of historical farm equipment, facilitator Ryan Murdock put his nose to the grindstone (finally).
Before we headed home, the Millers brought us to Monument Rocks. Locally known as the Chalk Pyramids, these large chalk formations tower up to 70 feet over the otherwise flat prairie land surrounding it. The rapidly eroding spires formed when Kansas formed the bottom of the Western Interior Niobrara seaway, over 80 million years ago. The site is known for its fossil deposits as well as its role as a landmark for travelers on the Butterfield Overland Dispatch trail.
Duane West (pictured above right) brought in his
friend, artist Jack Kempton (above left), who recently
turned 98. Duane says Jack is the most
creative person in Garden City.
Jack’s creativity also comes through in his sense of
humor (see above) – that S.O.B. on his hat stands for
“Sweet Old Buzzard”, and it was given to him by one
of his former art students. And his button reads
“Damn Near Blind”.
Duane is a former mayor of Garden City and was lead prosecutor in the Clutter murder case made famous by Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”. He invited us to his house for a delicious lunch made by his wife Orvileta. He then showed off some of his own artwork (pictured left).
We also got to see some of Jack’s artwork. This piece (pictured right) was hanging in Duane’s kitchen. Jack formed the flowers by blowing on the paint through a straw.
Clark Harris (far right) drove 90 miles across time zones just for the chance to interview his father, Charles Harris (second from left). When Clark found out we had an opening at 10:30, he stayed to interview his mom Verna (pictured second from the right). Pictured at far left is Clark’s wife, who helped entertain the parents between interviews.
Several members of High Plains Public Radio (pictured right) came out to support us on opening day. The MobileBooth is parked in Finnup Park, right outside the zoo.
Unfortunately, no animals are allowed at StoryCorps, which really upset our neighbor the camel (pictured below), seen here hanging his head in shame and sorrow.
Instead, our first interview of the day was Clifford and Delores Hope (pictured below), long-time Garden City residents whose son Quentin was one of the founders of High Plains Public Radio. This same picture appeared on page A3 of the local newspaper, the Garden City Telegram, with an article about StoryCorps.
The night before opening day in Garden City, we drove over to Dodge City. The historic downtown still looks a lot like “Gunsmoke” (if you ignore the Applebee’s across the street), but our main reason for coming was to experience the Dodge City Days Rodeo, which included bull-riding, bareback bronc and saddle bronc riding, and our personal favorite: mutton bustin’.
Earlier, we visited the Barbed Wire Museum in LaCrosse, KS, where we were warmly greeted by Mary (pictured above). Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long, but we did do a quick run through to admire the over 2000 samples of barbed wire (see below)
Day 2 of our road trip to Garden City, Kansas: We stopped by Lucas (pop. 436) – the Grassroots Art capital of Kansas.
Facilitator Ryan Murdock, pictured above, prepares to enter the Garden of Eden. The house and surrounding sculptures, made of concrete by S.P. Dinsmoor in 1907, began Lucas’ reputation for outsider art.
This car, made entirely out of pull tabs by grassroots artist Herman Divers, is one of many of the pieces made of found or reused materials.
We swapped stories of our travels with Tom Sherman and Judy Sagara of Columbus, Ohio during our tour of the Grassroots Art Center. Tom and Judy were finishing a two month road trip across Alaska and the U.S. and kept a blog of their trip.
Day 1 of our 660 mile trip from Ames, Iowa to Garden City, Kansas: We decided to swing by Brooklyn (Missouri, not our hometown in New York) for some lunch. All we found was some farmland, a few houses, and this one abandoned building.
Still hungry and feeling a little homesick, we pulled over in Manhattan, Kansas, home of Kansas State University. It’s not an island and there’s no subway, but we did enjoy a nice dinner in the Aggieville neighborhood – home to several shops, bars, and restaurants near campus.