Page 1

12 History: The

Beat coffee houses of College Hill and Downtown’s vanished skidrow.

4 College Hill’s north side finally gets a fountain to call its own. And this one glows in the dark.

Take me to the river: Crew coach is a College Hill resident but a Riverside regular.






The Way We Were Acclaimed photographer and neighborhood native David Hornback rediscovers his earliest work. The photos are personal, innocent and pure College Hill. PAGE 14

Patrick in the Old Shed, 1978, by David Hornback.






yatt Earp, the blessed old cuss, was still alive when the first owners of our old house walked across the threshold. So we fully expected there to be a few cracks in the plaster, perhaps the 300th generation of a mouse family behind that, and maybe even a ghost or two in the attic when we moved in 100 years later. Fine, we thought. We can survive a few creepy crawlies until the exterminator arrives. But then there was the encounter last month with not one, or two, but maybe 200 spiders in the backyard. Now, I’ve since been told that one is never more than six feet away from a spider. Again, fine. But, friends, these weren’t Daddy Long Legs. These were Wolf spiders, robust and evil looking things sent from another planet to colonize my backyard and feast on the bones of our household pets. Their ground level webs ran the length of our fence line, silked over the wood pile and most dastardly of all, draped across the door and windows of our back, semi-enclosed, porch. A few of them were just hanging there, fat as thumbs, waiting to snare thier next meal. It might have been me, but I stopped short, went cold to the bone for a few moments, composed myself and then walked backwards into the house (you can’t turn your back on those things). I don’t know if there was a hardware store on the corner when Wyatt Earp was still kicking or what his notions about killing mildly toxic, mostly harmless, but definitely scary looking spiders might have been, and I don’t care. I bought the biggest black jug of bug poison that I could carry, told ma and the younguns to duck underneath something inside, and went out the door, spray guns blasting. Friends, it wasn’t pretty, but I got them all. All that is, but the one I left alive to tell the tale. You see him come around, you spiders out there listen up good. BARRY OWENS EDITOR

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Published monthly by The College Hill Commoner 337 N. Holyoke Wichita, K.S. 67208 316-689-8474




It’s a Business Waiting to Happen


his neighborhood really needs a grocery store. Since the little Dillons decamped from its location at Central and Oliver a year and a half ago, it’s been a major inconvenience, not just to me but to the folks who used to rob it. Now we all have to drive instead of walk. Yes, I’m aware of that ice-cream truck working the streets – tolling out its strangely discordant version of “Turkey in the Straw” – but man does not live by pudding pops alone it doesn’t carry DAVE KNADLER and much cash. No, in these troubled times, every neighborhood needs a corner grocery. Of course, a corner grocery is the last sort of business we’re going to get at the corner of Central and Oliver. The grocery game is a tough one, with razor-thin margins. If a retail giant like Kroger can’t make the numbers work, who can? A few months ago there was talk of the Delano Bakery going in there, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t be selling cat food and coffee. Anyway we haven’t heard anything more about it. When commercial buildings

As the old saying goes: If you build go vacant in Wichita, it seems, the it, they will come and punch holes in safest strategy these days is to paint the Sheetrock. Yes, there will always them beige and hope a sucker hapbe the sullen few who mill around pens by. outside and vandalize other businessHey, I’m not criticizing; I once es, but at least they’ll be off the sold a trailer house that way. But street. And that pop maybe it’s time we machine will be a gold come together as a I’ve been kicking mine. community and start around a number of No? Well, it’s just thinking out of the business plans for one idea. I’ve got severbox. I’ve been kicking around a number of that location, and it al. Picture this: The business plans for that comes down to this: International House of Greenbacks. What you location, and it comes If everybody in down to this: If every- greater College Hill do is give poor people cash, in exchange for body in greater sends me $1,000 or their checks for a much College Hill sends me so, I may be in a larger amount. Or in $1,000 or so, I may be position to make exchange for their car in a position to make something happen. titles, or future incomesomething happen. tax refunds or what have Assuming the City you. This business would Council also comes also loan small mounts through with the tax of money at exorbitant interest rates break and interest-free loan, and Mr. and … oh, wait. Perusing the city Etheredge doesn’t charge me too records, I see that there are already much for his advice. 187 businesses just like that in a The most obvious choice, of course, is a teen center. As we can all three-mile radius. Back to the drawing board. Sorry, poor people. You’ll remember from our youth, a teen just have to walk that extra couple of center is a snap to set up and run. blocks. Basically, you install a beat-up A themed casino would be nice. Foosball table and a pop machine and wait for the disaffected youth to wan- While not strictly legal, it would certainly be a boon to the neighborhood, der in and start having a great time.

attracting the sort of upscale clientele who currently enjoy smoking and feeding their grocery money into machines in Oklahoma. The theme would be this: It’s a place where you can smoke and put your grocery money into machines closer to home. All we need to make a casino work are elected officials who will get off the dime and start accepting bribes. And no public vote this time. Failing that, a fast-food restaurant is the last, best hope. I envision something along the lines of Cowboy Dave’s Calorie Corral: Home of the mile-high pizza taco all-beef chuckwagon, now with extra cheese and gravy. Trouble is, there are already quite a few restaurants nearby. They might get a little annoyed when the entire east side starts getting breakfast, lunch and dinner at Cowboy Dave’s convenient drive-through. Some people feel threatened by the success of others. There’s just so much negativity in the world. OK, some of these ideas might need a little fine-tuning, but at least I’m trying. Which is more than anybody else is doing. Got a better idea? Let’s hear it. Just don’t suggest a grocery store. That’s way too obvious.

Writer Dave Knadler lives in Crown Heights.



Simon Savanna West Williams and her mother Melanie Galyon seated at a new fountain, designed by artist and architect Kent Williams, installed last month at Parkstone.


Freya Eicher plays in the Fountain Street fountain. It regularly suds over with poured in bubbles. “My hunch is that it would bubble like crazy, but I just don’t know,” Williams said of his fountain, at left. “I hope that it bubbles beautifully and no one gets it in their eyes.” SHARON EICHER

There is a New Fountain in the Neighborhood BY BARRY OWENS College Hill’s north side finally has a fountain to call its own. Last month, Kent Williams, a local artist and architect, installed a megalithic, seven-tiered fountain in the pocket park on Victor Place at Rutan, just in front of the new Parkstone town houses. By day, it is an impressive new feature on the neighborhood landscape. By night, it glows. Lights between each tier cast a warm glow between the stones, which softens the primal edge of the piece. “It is a totally different experience at night,” Williams said of the fountain. “People have described it to me as being like sitting around a campfire that is making rain.” The tiered fountain is ringed by nine huge, 10,000 pound concrete stones. There might have been 10 stones, but one was left out to make an entry way into the fountain. It is designed, Williams said, to be viewed at any leve from any direction. “We wanted it to work at a variety of scales, from people driving by to people walking by. We wanted to come up with a design solution not


only looking from ground level but from nine or ten stories in the air, that is what drove that shape. It sort of looks like a blossoming flower from above,” Williams said. While the core of the fountain is installed and the water and the lights are on, the work is not yet complete. Yet to be installed is “a flock” of more than 300 stainless steel bird sil-


houettes. The birds, Williams said, were inspired by the trips he made through College Hill while researching incorporating concepts for the work. “You can’t choose any one thing, there is such a rich history in the College Hill neighborhood. I had maybe too many things to find inspiration. But in virtually every batch of

photos, I would find photos of birds flying in the sky,” Williams said. There may also be music. Local musician and composer Kit Craig is working on a piece for the dedication ceremony (a date for the ceremony has yet to be set) and he and Williams are giving some thought to incorporating a sound installation into the piece. For example, perhaps tiny cymbals could be installed that would softly chime when struck by the drops of falling water. Or, maybe, Craig is thinking, music from the dedication piece (he is composing for bamboo and American Indian flutes, pan drums, and sleigh bells a piece of music meant to evoke an atmosphere of pre-civilization) could be downloaded to an MP3 player and triggered by motion detectors when people approach. Or, maybe, no sound at all but “the sound of the water itself, that’s the music,” Craig said. “It’s like an alter over a spring,” Craig said of the fountain. “I really enjoy going there and just being there with it. It’s a real soothing, mediative kind of experience.”

Bundtlettes Available at Dillons Bakery.



Properties Leased Along the Avenue—Finally BY BARRY OWENS There are signs of life, finally, at three commercial properties on the south side of Douglas between Clifton and Rutan streets. The storefronts and restaurants spaces that formerly housed The 2nd Place, Breezy’s (in the former Taco Tico location) and Krazy Kaz Gourmet, a burger and sandwich joint, were leased last month by a boutique, sandwich shop, and catering kitchen and deli. The Bag Ladies, a boutique, leased 3429 E. Douglas late last month. The boutique, owned by business partners Anita Eck and Misti Langhofer, had been located just down the street west of Hillside in the 2900 block of Douglas. “More space, and lots of light,” Eck said of the new shop, which used to house The 2nd Place, a clothing on consignment store. “It’s a more open space, and it’s bigger. The location is a lot better, too.” The Bag Ladies sell purses, women’s clothing, sunglasses, candles and fragrances and “a little bit of everything,” Eck said. “We’re hoping to expand with mens’ items, too.” The openings are a boon for the block. The storefronts there had been vacant for years. Last summer, painters applied a coat of beige over the sky blue Breezy’s, but it didn’t help. There were

Above: Kassem Yassin is opening a catering kitchen and gourmet deli at 3407 E. Douglas. Below: Three commercial properties along Douglas, long vacant, were finally leased last month.


no takers for the building until now. Josh Crowe plans to open an upscale sandwich and hamburger restaurant there called Dolci & Joes. Crowe did not return calls from The Commoner seeking comment. He told The Wichita Eagle that he hopes to open in September with a menu of burgers and traditional and veggie style deli sandwiches. He also plans to put in a patio. Next door in the former Krazy Kaz Gourmet space, there are plans for another restaurant. Owner Kassem Yassin is moving his catering and restaurant operation to 3407 E. Douglas. His Old Town Martini restaurant in Old Town closed late last month. Within a couple of months, he said, he plans to put out tables and serve gourmet sandwiches and entrees that might be familiar to diners of his former east side restaurant, Marbella. “We’re still looking for a name. It will probably be—but we’re not sure— Marbella Deli and Catering. Something like that.” While it will be at least another month before the two cafes open, The Bag Ladies are open for business. “We’ve got our sign going up next week,” Eck said. “Misty and I will be up there. Hopefully we’ll stop traffic.”



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Above: Elliot Dreiling grabs a set of oars during a recent practice. Top center: The team prepares to hoist a shell called “Moby Dick,” the largest of its boats. Top right: Will Haver-Strong and Rebecca Goltry skim the river. Photos by KATIE GORDON

ROWING ON THE RIVER Crew coach is College Hill resident but a Riverside regular. BY BARRY OWENS The Arkansas River does not run through College Hill. But the road to a crew scholarship, or just a lesson or two in how to ply the water, runs down Yale Street. That is where Brian Adamson, high school coach for the Wichita Rowing Association makes his home. But you’ll often find him on the river bank shouting encouragement or lending a hand with newcomers unfamiliar with the delicate practice of climbing in and out of a shell. The rest? He can show you the technique, as he demonstrated the other day at the boathouse on the backside of the Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center. “Arms, shoulders, shoulders, arms,” he said, demonstrating the rowing motion, in a practice rig for the benefit of a first timer. It is not as simple as all that, but he was just covering the basics. “Don’t be intimidated,” he said. “It’s not a natural thing. The rule is, time on the water, again and again and again.” Adamson hopes to find more students eager to get on the water, learn to row, and to join the team. “You don’t need any experience,” he

Wichita Rowing Association high school coach Brian Adamson demonstrates how to row during a recent practice. The father of three was joined by children Beau, Summer and Skyler.

said. That comes from doing. Adamson, who was on the crew team at Wichita State University, has coached the sport about 15 years. Crew, he said, could be a fast track to a scholarship. “I always push that,” he said. “If foot-

ball, basketball or baseball doesn’t work out, rowing is a well known sport.” On this day, Mackenzie Cole, a freshman at Independent High School, was trying the sport for the first time. “She’s a natural!” Rebecca Goltry, a senior who is headed to K-State on a

crew scholarship, shouted from the water as the pair returned from a row to the 8th Street bridge and back. “She’s a keeper!” “That’s what I want to hear,” Adamson replied. Cole, 14, had not expected to get on the water her first day at practice. “It was fun,” she said. “And I’m feeling muscles that I’ve never felt before.” Goltry, who joined the team three years ago said rowing is a workout, but a pleasant one. “It’s the most peaceful way to work out,” she said. “There’s a rhythm and there is scenery.” The team is currently working out on the little Arkansas while repairs are being made to the Lincoln Street dam, where the team has rowed for the past three years. Adamson said he welcomed the change of pace. “It’s a windy river. It’s a long river. You can just row and row and row,” he said.

For more information about the Wichita Rowing Association, visit

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College Hill Swim Team Repeat Champions BY BARRY OWENS Maybe it’s something in the water. For the second year in a row the College Hill Heat, the swim team that practices at College Hill Pool and competes in the city league, took home the Marion Wright trophy and broke 5 records along the way to the 2009 city league championship. It could be that the team has grown in numbers in recent years. But parents and swimmers scoff at the notion that superior numbers mean superior scores. As the Heat’s T-Shirts read: “It’s not our numbers that make us champs, it’s our speed.” Or maybe it’s not a mystery at all. The team is well coached by the pool’s manager Laura Rainwater, along with guards Clayton Scholler, Lauren Rust and Chelsea Chavez. The team practices at a small but pristine pool, enjoy good parental support, and seem dedicated beyond their years. “I’m pretty proud of my personal scores,” said swimmer Arthur Eby, 17. “It’s not so much about how I did, but how I improved.” There is little improving on a championship, which the team won last year. So coming into the season Rainwater said she stressed focus. “We thought that we could repeat,”

The Heat, College Hill Pool’s swim team, won the city league championship last month.


Above: Coaches Clayton Scholler, Lauren Rust, Laura Rainwater and Chelsea Chavez. Below: The team held a dinner celebration and award ceremony early this month at College Hill Pool.

said Rainwater. “That was our major goal going into the season. Going into the last meet we talked about the mental aspect of it, and then we just put it in their laps and they delivered.” It was a fine finish for the 10th anniversary season for the team, so they celebrated with a picnic dinner in the park early this month, followed by a free swim and an awards ceremony. “I’ve been teasing them that we would give them a workout when it was over,” said Rainwater. “They probably wouldn’t even mind.”

Subscribe We can’t all live in College Hill. But we can all read about it. Get The Commoner by mail. Call 689-8474 for details.





Top left: Amy Wilds, director of group sales for the Wichita Wingnuts, and manager of the promotions crew during games, keeps an eye on the strike count and number of outs during a recent game at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Top: A locker room behind the dugout holds mascot costumes, including oversized shoes, gloves and heads. Above: Mark Bradshaw, master of ceremonies during on field promotions. Left: Justin Vulliamy dons the Spinner, the Wichita Wingnuts mascot, costume.

‘1,2,3...GO NUTS!’ Three strikes and the mascots are out on the field. Behind the scenes at the old ball park. Editor’s note: This article also appears in our sister paper, The Downtowner. Pick up a copy next time you’re Downtown. BY BARRY OWENS It was the Wichita Wingnuts vs. the St. Louis Canaries the other night at Lawrence Dumont-Stadium, and it was hardly a contest. Wichita 7. St. Louis 0. There was calm in the home dugout. The players seemed relaxed and confident of the win. But just behind the players, through the tunnel and inside Stadium Operations (a mascot’s locker room/concessions office/cleaning supply closet) it was organized chaos. “Hey, Spinner. How many outs?,” asked Mark Bradshaw, the master of ceremonies during on field contests, giveaways and mascot hijinks. “Two,” said Justin Vulliamy, who is the man inside the Spinner (the Wichita Wingnut’s squirrel mascot) costume. Vulliamy was holding Spinner’s furry head in his hands, ready to pop it back on at a moments notice, and watching the field from behind the dugout, just out of view of the fans.

“And how many strikes?,” Bradshaw wanted to know. “Two,” Spinner answered. Both men knew what that meant. It was almost showtime. They are rarely listed in the program, but the Wichita Wingnuts promotions crew get almost as much time on the field as the players—it just comes in short bursts. Between every inning and half inning of most games, there they are running the bases in a mascot race, hosting a pitching contest to giveaway a grill, or pulling a few flummoxed fans from the stands to participate in a quick round of name that tune. Whenever there is a break in the action—pitching change or other delay—the promotions team is expected to spring into action as well. The hijinks generally end with Bradshaw, the self proclaimed “goofy guy with the mic” imploring the fans to join him in shouting the team’s rallying cry, “1,2,3...Go Nuts!,” before disappearing back into the dugout. “It’s non stop. People don’t realize that. It’s a lot of work,” Bradshaw said,

just after returning from the field where he emceed something called the Arby’s Roastburger Shuffle. His radio continued to crackle with activity from around the stadium as he put his feet up in a Lazy Boy. His break latest just a few seconds. It takes a crew of about six to handle the game time giveaways and promotions, said Amy Wilds. She is director of group sales for the Wingnuts, and during the games manages the promotions crew. Most of the crew are interns. “You really have to be paying attention,” she said. “We don’t watch the score, really. Obviously, we want the

Wingnuts to win. But win or lose, we have to do our job,” she said. When she wasn’t running around the stadium, she stood in the tunnel and kept an eye on the strike count and number of outs left until the inning break. Even after the game is over, she said, the crew would be working to clear the spent fireworks shells from the field. She pointed to the right field wall. “On fireworks nights, we always hope for a wind blowing that way,” she said. Meanwhile, the mascots readied themselves in the tunnel for the next event—a race around the bases between a hot dog, an egg roll, and a taquito. “I’m kind of nervous,” the taquito said, shaking his over-sized mascot gloves in mock fright. “Is that normal?”





A sketched rendering of the buildings which once stood on East Douglas near the railroad tracks. The Beanery was housed in the storefront window at left. No known photographs of reproducable quality exist of the Beanery.

Sketchy Past Bums, Beats and Teenagers, Oh My BY BARRY OWENS


ou would be hard pressed to find a passerby on East Douglas near the railroad tracks willing to admit in broad day light that they miss the seedy side of the street, where the buildings were bulldozed decades ago and replaced with a park and a parking lot. Rightly so. The 600 block of East Douglas was home to an “art cinema” (the former Victory Theatre) which featured adult movies, The Salvation Army building which held the men’s Social Service Department, and a row of bars and decrepit, mostly empty buildings perfect for sleeping it off or squatting long term. Today, it is home to the Spaghetti Warehouse parking lot and Naftzger Park. Sadly, the spaghetti restaurant is closed and the park is usually empty. So it is hard not to be wistful for that short

time in the 1960s when the block housed “the center of the vortex” (more on that later) and was home to Moody’s Skidrow Beanery. Moody Connell was an ice cream man who ran a swap shop on the side. In January 1963, he took over the space at 625 E. Douglas, which had been the Mission Snack Bar, and changed the name. “I thought I’d call it exactly what it is,” he told the Wichita Beacon. Moody’s Skidrow Beanery, Connell told the reporter, would be the kind of place where hobos and beatniks could be comfortable in one another’s company. The down and out would get nothing but respect in the Beanery. Connell even posted a sign: “Through our doors walk the finest bums on earth—our customers.” Poets, folk musicians and Beatniks walked through the doors as well, and never found a hassle—except with the


Moody’s Skidrow Beanery wasn’t the only place in town where Beats, poets, folkies and writers congregated. The College Hill area was home to B.C.’s (formerly on the north east corner of Hillside and Kellogg) and The Green Parrot, formerly at 2618 E. Douglas. The Big Bun, a burger stand formerly at Central and Hillside, was also a hot spot, not for the food so much, but for the recreational drugs that could be purchased from dealers parked there. All but the house, shown above, that was home to The Green Parrot (where poetry was read and bongoes played) are long gone. Wichita writer James Mechem recalls B.C.’s. “B.C.’s, on Hillside north of Kellogg, was definitely a coffee house and a cafe. Gregory Grosbard ran it. He was a soldier of fortune and had been to Cuba. He just blew into town and was into everything. When they furnished it, he had artistic, handmade plates and cups. People were stealing them,” Mechem recalls in O’Connor’s book, Moody’s Skidrow Beanery: Kansas Underground from Hip to Beat. “All his clientele were artists and writers. The damn thing just took off and everybody came in. Anybody who was anybody went there, the intelligentsia of this town.”

cops. “Hobohemian,” is how Beat writer and former Kansan Charles Plymell, described it. The Beanery’s place in the city and in Beat culture and literature is lovingly laid out in Moody’s Skidrow Beanery: Kansas Underground from Beat to Hip, by Patrick Joseph O’Connor (Rowfant Press, available at Watermark Books). The book also explores the coffee houses of the College Hill area, including B.C.’s, formerly at Hillside and Kellogg, and the Green Parrot, near the corner of Douglas and Estelle. What the book lacks in photographs (apparently no one thought to shoot the coffee houses for posteriority) O’Connor makes up for in detail, down to the Beanery’s menu. There was Okie T-bone (toast and creamed gravy); Pea-farm (prison farm) steak; a plate of baloney, fries, onions bread and beans could be had for 25 cents, and the brave could try something called Jail House Chili. “Beans is the main deal, though,” O’ Connor writes, quoting one of Moody’s cooks, Jim Anderson. “It comes with everything you get.” It wasn’t the bums or the beans that brought the police through the doors—it

was the paintings, poetry and books, decried as “obscene trash” (including works by Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Charles Plymell) that got the cops in a twist. No alcohol was served at the Beanery and all ages were admitted. Because juveniles were often there, Captain E.H. Cook, head of the juvenile section for the Wichita Police Department at the time, began passing on the works to city attorneys so they could determine if the material was obscene and unsuitable for the youngsters. Soon, O’Connor writes, Connell was pasting pieces of paper that read “censored by Capt. Cook,” over the parts of the paintings the Captain didn’t like. “Captain Cook said I couldn’t do that either,” Connell told the Wichita Eagle. A good deal of O’Connor’s research comes from the archives of the local dailies. He includes a letter to the editor printed in the April, 1964 Wichita Eagle, presumably authored by a young person. “The only trouble there has been at Moody’s is what trouble the police have created...Where else in the city can we go and hear good folk music, good poetry, and release our thoughts and feelings without fear?...We are a new generation and it will take more than the police to CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

Baha’i Faith “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” -- Baha’u’llah For information on devotional meetings and children’s classes call 686-0151.



cut us down.” That proved to be true. In May, 1964, city inspectors came calling and closed the Beanery down, listing 37 fire and health code violations. It reopened nine months later, but Connell seemed to have grown tired of the fight, and of losing money. In 1965, he got out, and sold the place. The coffee house lived on, though, under a new name: Magic TheatreVortex Art Gallery. It’s place on the literary landscape was finally fixed in 1966 when it was immortalized by Ginsberg in his now famous poem Wichita Vortex Sutra. “...So home, traveler, past the newspaper language factory under the Union Station railroad bridge on Douglas to the center of the Vortex, calmly returned to Hotel Eaton — ...” Ginsberg visited Wichita, he said at the time, because “I wanted to see where everyone came from.” Wichita and Kansas was well represented in the Beat movement, including artists and writers such as Plymell, Eric Ecklor, Loren Frickel, Lee Streiff, Bruce Conner, Jack Morrison, Michael McClure, Bob Brannaman, Alan Russo, Beth Pewther. Many of them converged in San Francisco, which became the center of the movement. And many of them had


first passed through Moody’s and the Magic Theatre-Vortex Art Gallery. In The Beat Vortex, author Lee Streiff describes the origins of the “Wichita Vortex.” “The Vortex myth was based on the concept that we were held captive as outlaws of another planet. We were deposited annually in Wichita and endowed with fabricated memories at the time of the [W.S.U.] Homecoming game. We could never leave Wichita. All outside of Wichita was an illusion of the Vortex... “When another generation of artists from Wichita arrived in [San Francisco] the myth gathered dimension to the point where native Californians traveled to Wichita on their vacation in order to see and understand why these unusual creative people existed. They were warned of the pull of the Vortex that they might never return.” Ginsberg made it out OK, but by the time Wichita Vortex Sutra was published in 1966, the Beanery and the Magic Theatre-Vortex Art Gallery had closed. In 1977, the building went down with the rest of them on the block to make way for the park. A tragedy? Perhaps not. But if the Wichita Vortex actually exists—ask around, many of the creative underclass in this city claim that it does—then it is tragically unhip that today’s visitors to the Vortex are now shown to a parking lot.





6 Eating Home-made Ice Cream, 1978, by David Hornback.

Patrick Against the Old Shed, 1977, by David Hornback.

5 Working on Dad’s Truck, 1978, by David Hornback.

THE WAY WE WERE College Hill in the 1970s: The photographs of David Hornback

BY BARRY OWENS ne hardly needs a background in photography or even art appreciation to be transported by the work of David Hornback. It is enough just to have once lived in College Hill. That may not be your family in the photographs, but those seem like your wood floors. That could be your porch. Those could be memories of your own lazy summer afternoons spent once upon a time in the old neighborhood. What other place looks like this? Hornback’s family moved from California to College Hill in 1967. At age 15, he picked up a camera. The photos on this and the next page were all taken while he was a teenager Liz Before her First Dance, early 1980s, by David Hornback. when, he says, he had little idea of Geographic, a number of internation- Drive. Aside from visiting with his what he was doing. al newspapers and has shown his parents, Nancy and Terry, the trips “The rest of my life I have been work—including photos from are a chance for Otto to brush up on trying to figure out how to capture College Hill—in galleries around the his English. what I did then naturally,” Hornback world. It was on a such a trip home a few said. “I think that going to school and He and his wife and son now live years ago that he rediscovered some learning, studying photojournalism, I in Europe, where they split time of the photos while going through lost some of the freshness.” between their homes in Bilboa, negatives stored in the attic. He had But he did manage to earn Spain, and Berlin. He returns most forgotten about them. College Photographer of the Year and every summer with his son, Otto, to “Some of them, after taking the later went on to shoot for National the family homestead on Circle picture and making the contact, I’d


never seen again,” he said. There is his brother Patrick hiding in a trash can, or sister Anne brushing her hair, and his brothers pretending to work on dad’s old truck. But there is little question which is the family favorite, Hornback said. The photo of his mother and sister Liz in the kitchen [shown on the next page] takes that honor. “The kitchen still looks exactly like that,” he said. The photos are unique not only because they show College Hill, but because they capture an era in a region that few photographers would have thought to document. “There are a lot of street photographs of New York. There’s photographs of different time periods and different eras. But the Midwest, the way we lived in the 70s? I don’t find that anywhere. So, I’m kind of happy because I feel like I did something without knowing it.” More of Hornback’s photographs from College Hill can be found on Search “David Hornback.”





Mom and Liz at Dinner in the Kitchen, 1979, by David Hornback.

Patrick Hides in a Trash Can, 1978 by David Hornback. Left: Photographer David Hornback in front of the family home on Circle Drive in College Hill. Hornback began taking pictures of his family and home in his teens. The hobby went on to become a career that has sent him on assignment around the globe. But he still returns to College Hill most every summer.


Anne at the Mirror in her Room, 1978 by David Hornback.

The College Hill Commoner  

The community newspaper for the College Hill neighborhood of Wichita, Kan.

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