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MAGAZINE

Wild Ride McNeese Customs builds rolling works of art

Winter 2012

From Ordinary to Extraordinary Roasting for Generations A Storied Home


Editor’s Note By Chris Walker

Welcome to Emporia Living magazine. At The Gazette, we have wanted to do a magazine for many years, but the timing was never quite right. But with things looking bright for 2012 we thought this would be the year we would produce a high-quality, full-color magazine for Emporia. We have been amazed with the response and it has been a fun challenge to produce an 80-page magazine for the first issue. Emporia Living will be delivered to every doorstep in Emporia. Copies will be available at local businesses, Emporia Main Street, and the Emporia Chamber of Commerce will also have copies available. We have some interesting stories inside that will help you learn about some of our community’s friends and neighbors who make Emporia a great place to live, work and play. We invested in a quality publication, so we hope you will keep this magazine out on your coffee tables, displayed in your businesses for months to come or pass it on to someone new to town.

This magazine would not be possible without the hard work of many people, so here are our “thank yous”: First and foremost is a thank you to the advertisers who made this magazine possible. They believed in the project and took part to help give Emporia a quality publication. We hope you will thank them by spending your shopping dollars at their businesses. Second, we want to thank the advertising staff that consists of Sales Director Crystal Williams and sales representatives Ronda Henery, Bruce Knaak and Leann Sanchez, all of whom knocked on many business doors to show off the type of product we would be producing. A big thank you goes to our production department, where the lion’s share of the work fell. Headed up by Production Manager Justin Ogleby and flanked by his team of designers, Margie McHaley, Jennie Loucks, Bradley Rice and Dan Ferrell, they produced all of the ads for the magazine, designed it and laid it out. They had a big challenge because we wanted the product to look like a magazine and not like a

Downtown Emporia Corner of 6th and Commercial Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9-6 Thurs. til 7 pm Sat. til 5:30

newspaper. As you can see, they rose to the challenge and delivered a quality, professional look. What would a magazine be without interesting stories? And to that we thank the writers who painted pictures with their words: Bobbi Mlynar, Russ Morgan, Jan Huston, Morgan Chilson and Regina Murphy. You will see some amazing photography in Emporia Living, that would be the work of acclaimed local photographer Casey Wilson. Again we want to thank everyone for their contribution to make Emporia look great in print. We had fun doing this magazine and we look forward to producing a second edition for you.

Chris Walker Editor & Publisher

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Brown’s Shoe Fit Co. turned 100 years old in 2011. Brown’s has 80 stores in 14 states and they all gathered to celebrate this summer. Jim Ayers was recognized as being the first ever Life Time Achievement recipient. Brown’s Shoe Fit in Emporia was selected by all the other store managers as Store of the Year in 2010.

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MAGAZINE

Publisher Chris Walker A rt D i r e c t o r Justin Ogleby A d v e rt i s i n g M a n a g e r Crystal Williams

Table of Contents 5 6

Advertisers’ Index.

42 Shopping Emporia’s newest consignment shop offers an eclectic mix of repurposed goods. Owners Kari Crump and Michele Boyce are happy with their success.

48

Chase County Calendar for 2012

Unique perspectives on Emporia.

Before Starbucks there was the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. EVCO’s coffee is the thread that connects the company to its origin a hundred years ago.

16 Homes

50 Art

59 History

John and Sophie Mallon’s Southwest-style ranch home features unique design aspects and historical artifacts.

Emporia Living’s featured photographer has found success with his art and enjoys traveling the country to display his work.

A look back on entertainment in Emporia’s early years.

Try to locate these features of Emporia’s landscape.

62 Food Area bakers find success with their creative cooking skills.

69 Helping Others A mission trip to Mexico leads to a life-long commitment to helping communities through faith.

73 Community What started with a small investment has grown into an organization dedicated to helping Emporia.

77 Destinations 30 Transportation

Emporians experience a rare chance to visit Italy.

Charles McNeese uses his mechanical skills to build one-of-a-kind custom choppers. McNeese’s bikes have been featured in magazines and competitions and have earned him an international clientele.

On the Cover:

Charles McNeese, left, was commissioned by Kelly Barnard to build a chopper featuring K-State. 2 | Emporia Living

Copy Editors Russ Morgan Bobbi Mlynar Ashley Walker Contributing Writers Morgan Chilson Jan Huston Bobbi Mlynar Russ Morgan Regina Murphy

10 Business

28

Designers Dan Ferrell Jennie Loucks Margie McHaley Bradley Rice

Contributing P h o t o g r ap h e r s Casey Wilson Eric Benjamin Online emporiaksliving.com For more information, please contact: 517 Merchant Street Emporia, KS 66801 620.342.4800 Emporia Living Magazine is a publication of

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Advertiser’s Index ESB Financial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Cover Brown’s Shoe Fit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 White Glove. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Reynolds & Anliker Eye Physicians & Surgeons. . 3 Emporia USD #253. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Jones Heating & Air. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Guion’s Showcase. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The Bennett Dental Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Re/Max Select Realtor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 PrairieLand Partners. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Stanley Jewelry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Regional Development Association . . . . . . . . . 15 Edward Jones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 City of Emporia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 The Medicine Shoppe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Evergreen Design-Build. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Ek Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Lyon County Title, LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Grimmett Masonry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Thurston’s Plus Autobody & More. . . . . . . . . . 24 Scheller’s Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 First Start Rental . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Mark II Lumber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Farm & Home Real Estate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Lore & Hagemann, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 abc New Dimension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 BG Consultants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Emporia State University. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Modern Air Conditioning, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Longbine Auto Plaza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 CKEC Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 C & J Woodworks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Redline, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Williams Automotive, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Longbine for Senate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Planet Sub . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Cassell Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Geo. Groh & Sons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 KISS 103.1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Crawford Building. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40-41 Newman Regional Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Emporia Motors, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Tallgrass Art & Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Bluestem Farm & Ranch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 BobbyD’s Merchant Street BBQ. . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Jim Bell & Son. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Brown-Bennett-Alexander Funeral. . . . . . . . . . 48 Grand Central Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Emma Chase Cafe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Fiber Factory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Griffin Real Estate & Auction . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Brock’s Boot & Saddle Repair. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Prairie Past Times. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Golden Living Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 The Exchange National Bank. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Emporia Community Foundation. . . . . . . . . . 52 John North Ford, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Barden & Thompson, LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 S&S Oil & Propane Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Emporia Arts Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Walmart. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Flint Hills Eye Care Association. . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Sacred Heart School. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 L&L Pets. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Hill’s Pet Nutrition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Newman Regional Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Charter Funerals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Holiday Resort. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Brady Optical Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Hospice Care of Kansas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

Pit Stop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Groh Printing Co., Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Flint Hills Pointe Apartments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Peggy Mast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Broadview Towers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Thomas Transfer and Storage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Hannah Orthodontics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Horizon Plaza. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Floyd’s Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Flint Hills Technical College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Ashley Estates. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 TFI Family Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Kansas Radio. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Vektek, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Sauder Custom Fabrication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Emporia Radio Stations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Presbyterian Manors of Emporia . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Internal Medicine Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Coffelt Signs of Emporia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Old Rum Liquor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Persimmon Forge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Subway - Scott Hollar, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Flinthills Mall Merchants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Emporia Christian School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Emporia Orthodontics, LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 GeoTech, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Plumbing by Spellman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Four Seasons Apartments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Emporia Main Street . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Emig & Associates Architects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Sutherland Lumber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Lyon County State Bank . . . . . . . . . Inside Cover Emporia CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back Cover

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A view of Emporia State University from the top of Plumb Hall.

6 | Emporia Living


The Bennett Dental Group... DRS. Bennett & Bennett Are proud to welcome ...

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Call 620-343-9220 for an appointment Specializing in General & Family Dentistry. Heather Hardin & Leanne Burris Registered Dental Hygienists

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The Veterans Day Parade progresses down Commercial Street on Nov. 11, 2011. Emporia is the founding city of Veterans Day.

8 | Emporia Living


Roasting for Generations A look at EVCO’s beginnings Story by

I

Russ Morgan

t’s close to the end of the process. A worker fires up a roaster, and soon the room is filled with the aroma of fresh coffee. Over 100 pounds of beans are being roasted before being ground and packaged. It sounds like something out of a coffee commercial, but it’s not. It’s local. Though the company has evolved and expanded its services over the years, coffee is the single thread that connects the EVCO Wholesale Food Corp. to its beginnings a hundred years ago. Even as the company has diversified to become primarily a food distributor, it still roasts its own coffee on-site and ships it out labeled with the company’s original name — the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. The company has been a fixture in Emporia since it opened its doors as the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. in 1912. The coffee com-

10 | Emporia Living

Photos by

Casey Wilson pany has a rich history that traces through both world wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War and continues today. Though coffee is only a small part of the business now, EVCO continues to roast and package its coffee using equipment that dates back to the company’s early years. “It’s a very small part of the business,” said Skip Evans, who took over control of the company from his father, Wally, in 1975. “Coffee consumption has dropped over the years, and we’ve had all this other stuff that we sold to our customer base.” The Evans family’s involvement with the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. began in 1955, when Wally Evans bought the company after its previous owner, Mose Neill, died. The timing was serendipitous, as Wally had just sold his farm and was casting around for a business to buy. “My father got into the business by accident,” Skip Evans said. “He sold our dairy herd, and was looking for something else to get into.” It happened that one Saturday afternoon as Wally Evans was


out on the farm, a stranger stopped by and asked if he would be willing to sell. The farm was near Elmdale, and was so well-maintained that it caught the man’s eye. “A guy drove into the driveway one Saturday afternoon, Fankhauser was his name, from down around Madison, and he was admiring the farm and how good a farmer my dad was, how neat he kept the fences and all the buildings were all painted up and everything, and he came in and asked my dad if he would sell the place,” Skip Evans said. The man, Fankhauser, explained that he had three sons and whenever one of them got married he bought him a farm. His last son was just getting married, and Fankhauser said the Evans farm was one of the nicest he’d seen. Wally Evans came up with a price, and Fankhauser said he’d take it. “That night at supper, my dad said, ‘I may have sold the farm today,’” Skip Evans said. The following winter, the family had an auction to unload the dairy herd and farm machinery. Though the auction took place in February, it turned out to be a beautiful day. “We had a huge sale,” Skip Evans said. “Farmers came for miles for it.” After unloading the farm, Wally Evans was footloose and unencumbered. So he went looking for a business to buy. It happened that there was one in Emporia for sale. The process begins with samples of beans sent from a coffee broker in New Orleans. The beans primarily come from Central or South America but sometimes from as far away as Vietnam. Jan Evans, Skip’s wife, is responsible for testing the samples to determine the blend, making sure the flavor conforms to the formula Wally Evans had maintained since taking over the company. “My father-in-law taught me, and he had a process of using his own personal blend of different coffees that we order,” Jan Evans said of the sampling process. A miniature roaster sits in a back room of the company’s coffee operation, and Jan uses that to roast the samples, which are then cooled and ground before being tested. “If we like those (samples), we blend, you know, two bags of this and three bags of that and two bags of the other to make our own blend,” Jan said. Though not a coffee drinker himself, Wally Evans learned how to taste the samples to determine the blend. He continued the process until he taught his daughter-in-law the secret to the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co.’s particular formula. The only change made over the years, Jan said, has been the blend the company uses for its decaffeinated coffee.

Some of the equipment for EVCO’s coffee operation dates back to the early 1900s. This roaster heats the beans up to 400 degrees before the beans are cooled.

“Decaf normally has a bitter taste, I think, compared to normal coffee, and we did this one thing and Wally said, ‘You know, I think you were right, I think that tastes better,’” Jan said. When Jan determines the right blend the beans are mixed in a large cylindrical blender labeled “The Coffee Mixer.” Historical archives show that the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. began with a partnership between two local grocers, David Stone and Morris Maib, in the first decade of the 1900s. In 1915, C.J. “Mose” Neill bought the company and operated it throughout the first half of the 1900s. Aside from coffee, the company also roasted peanuts, and was known for the chocolate peanut clusters it produced. At one time the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. employed up to 20 women to produce and package the chocolate peanut clusters. “Candy was a big seller,” Skip Evans said of the company’s earlier days. “We had candy in one pound, two pound, three pound sacks. Customers, I assume, were calling on five-and-dime stores that sold them.” In the days when the company was still making candy, Skip Evans said he was allowed to eat as much of it as he wanted. That didn’t last long. “They’d let you go in and eat all the candy and all the peanuts you wanted, and after about two days of eating that you wouldn’t want to look at it anymore,” Evans said. “And they never said a word. After two or three days it got to where I didn’t want them anymore.” The company stopped


making its famous chocolate peanut clusters shortly after Wally Evans bought the company. According to Skip Evans, one year there was a shortage of quality chocolate, and Wally didn’t want to diminish the company’s name with inferior ingredients. That fall, no one was hired to make the clusters, and after that the product fell off the company’s manufacturing side. “My dad couldn’t get the good, sweet chocolate that he used to make the peanut clusters that year, and so he said ‘I’m not going to make them, then,’” Evans said. “That was our reputation, that we had really good peanut clusters. He didn’t hire anybody for that fall to make peanut clusters, and he never started it back again.” The company has been a family operation since Wally Evans bought it in 1955, and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. Wally passed it on to his son, Skip, in 1975, and Skip intends to pass it on to his son, David, when he retires. David is currently the general manager of the company. Skip’s daughters also have been involved with the company throughout their lives. And as family goes, Skip, his wife and his children have had a large hand in the operation. “I started out doing everything as a kid,” Skip said of his involvement with the company. “I swept floors, I filled orders, I did whatever I needed to do. I went out on deliveries with drivers to help them unload.” Back then, the company occupied four storefronts on Commercial Street. In 1965, Wally Evans bought the company’s current building at 309 Merchant St., a building that first was a grocery company and then was used as a factory to make batteries and spark plugs. “It couldn’t have been a better fit for us,” Skip Evans said. “For our type of business it was like going from a Model T to a modern car, because we pretty much got onto one floor. We weren’t wasting time going up and down elevators because that’s so time-consuming. So with this

building, we’ve adapted pretty well.” Since acquiring its current building the company has built onto it 12 times. After the blend is determined and the green coffee beans are mixed, they are fed into a hopper that leads into a roaster that dates back to the company’s beginnings in 1915. Though the company’s coffee operation has fallen off over the years, EVCO still employs one person, Ann Hernandez, to oversee the production of the coffee. She fires up the roaster, filling the room with noise and the smell of coffee. The beans are heated to 400 degrees before being cooled with water, sending billows of steam out of the smokestack on the roof of the building. “We’ve had people call the fire department about the steam,” Hernandez said. After roasting, the beans are transferred to a cooling bin where the piles are smoothed out before being transferred to another hopper to sift out impurities. After that, the beans are fed to one of two vintage grinders, and then the grounds are packaged to be sent out to the hospitals and nursing homes that order coffee from the Emporia Wholesale Coffee Co. “It’s all about sound,” Hernandez said about the process of roasting, grinding and packaging the coffee. “I was trained to hear what’s going on to know when to do certain things.” As the beans cool, Hernandez takes time to package a case of one-pound bags of unground beans the company sells through special orders. “It’s nice up here,” she says. “I like to be alone to do this.”

After the beans are roasted and cooled, they are fed through hoppers into grinders.

Though coffee consumption has decreased Sparks fly during the roasting process. through the decades and that side of the business Heating the beans takes about twenty has fallen off, one thing that EVCO hasn’t changed minutes , followed by a cooling process. is the blend of its coffee. “We’ve never cheapened up our blend,” Skip Evans said. “Coffee on the retail side gets footballed. When the manufacturer is getting pressured to cut the price, he gets tempted to try to cheapen the blend, and I think that may have occurred with some of the famous labels we see in grocery stores.” Unlike other coffee manufacturers, EVCO doesn’t have a “cheap” blend and a “quality” blend; it only has one: the blend it has held to for a century. At the time the company saw its beginnings, there were at least six other coffee companies in the region, all of which have either closed or been bought up by larger coffee companies. “We’re kind of the last of the Mohicans,” Skip Evans said. ¶

EVCO has used the same equipment to roast its coffee for almost 100 years. 12 | Emporia Living


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John and Sophie Mallon show off the interior of their home. Mallon designed this Southwest-style ranch house.


A Storied Home Written by Morgan Chilson Photos by Casey Wilson


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The house’s many windows take advantage of the light and the view.

he home of John and Sophie Mallon is full of stories. Not necessarily the kind that require stairs, but the kind that offers quirks and pieces of history and turns a building into a home. The heart of this Southwest-style ranch at 711 Road 200 lies in the detail and care taken with each step of its construction. Mallon’s decades of building experience came into play, starting with his primary question: “How do you make a simple ranch house interesting?” John was already in love with the property, which he’d driven by for 20 years and always considered a great place for a home. When the couple finally bought it, one of the first things they did in 2000 was put in a 20-acre stocked pond. That became the focal point for designing the home. Construction began in 2003 and went on for about a year. “He designed it for the light and view of the water,” Sophie Mallon said. With a back wall bursting with windows of all sizes, Mallon created a gradual curve in the house – three 22-degree angles – to offer clear views of the pond from every room. For the outside, the Mallons

decided on a Southwest stucco with a tile roof. Creating a maintenance-free home was another priority, he added. Steel and concrete construction, radiant flooring with a propane-fired boiler, an air heat pump system with coils in the pond, and extra insulation all added to the house’s R-value, the rating that indicates energy efficiency all work together to make the house efficient. The warm tile floors are one of John’s favorite things in the house, even though putting them in required a double system for the air conditioning. “Our boiler was out for a while in the fall and all the nice tile floors were cold,” he said. “I grew up really poor and we had really bad houses, often with the wood stove on the first floor. It’s a really rude awakening; as a kid, I just hated that.” As the structure came together, the details that make this home spectacular began to emerge. Three stained glass quatrefoil windows – intricate floral-looking architectural elements – on the front of the house greet visitors with a splash of color, both inside and out. Through the iron-clad front door, which was ordered from Mexico to maintain the Southwest theme, visitors walk into a home that achieved John Mallon’s goal of “not looking” like a ranch. The first impression is of light – it pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows and reflects throughout the open floor plan. The center of the house is open to the lower floor, with an iron and wood stairway curving through the space. To the

Emporia Living | 19


right is an office space that John said he rarely uses, and to the left is the kitchen and a family room area. Also to the left is a sitting area, complete with a baby grand piano. The modern interior features white concrete used for the columns and surrounds on the fireplace, Mallon said. Cherry wood cabinets and granite countertops warm the kitchen area, which Sophie Mallon says is her favorite part of the house. Throughout are the personal touches that make up the stories of this home. The Mallons can walk visitors from one story to another. The stories begin with a huge gilt mirror that sits dead-center over the downstairs fireplace and can be seen over the railing as soon as you enter the home. “Col. Hiram Whitley owned the Whitley Hotel and Opera House, and this was brought from Cambridge, Mass.,” Mallon said. Whitley was a Civil War veteran and head of the Secret Service under President Grant. The three stained glass windows on the home’s front wall were created by local art teacher, Harry Hart, who taught John Mallon in school. Hart died in 2009. Another long narrow stained-glass window, positioned over the Whitley mirror, shoots browns and golds into the room. It came from an antique store in Wichita and John Mallon said he believes it was from a church. A three-panel painting over the doorway surprises visitors starting down the stairs to the lower floor. It was created especially for the space by Stan Herd, internationally ac-

The stained-glass windows on the home’s front wall were created by local art teacher Harry Hart, who taught John Mallon in school.

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The baby grand piano came from the former Broadview Hotel. The piano’s curves inspired certain features of the home’s design.

22 | Emporia Living

claimed artist, and was done after Herd and Mallon rode around capturing snapshots of the Kansas prairie. Ornate wood movie poster cases, bought from a theater being torn down in Nebraska, were covered in paint. John stripped them and then made a mold to replace intricate carvings that were broken off. He used a Dremel tool to clean out all the little pieces after pouring the mold, he said. The baby grand came from the former Broadview Hotel and Mallon got inspiration from it for one of the home’s unique features. The cutaway from the floor, which opens to the basement, has a curve to it that mimics the curve of the baby grand, he said. In fact, curves are prominent throughout the home. Walls ignore sharp edges and sweep in gentle curves – even the staircase curves down to the basement. It’s there that the TV area takes up a small space, and a pool table and bar offer options for entertaining. It’s also there that Mallon leads the way to his favorite part of the house – a three-car garage to house his car collection. The garage is crowded with a fiesta red 1956 Thunderbird, a 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette, a 1963 Chevy Impala Supersport 409 (made famous in the Beach Boy’s hit “409”) and a 1937 Cord Phaeton. But almost as intriguing as the cars is a huge neon FOX sign hanging on the far wall. It does, of course, have a story. John and Sophie Mallon have been crucial elements in the restoration of the Granada Theatre. They purchased the building, then donat-


The house was designed to take advantage of the view of a 20-acre pond. The pond was the focal point in Mallon’s design of the home.

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ed it to the non-profit group organized and dedicated to the theater’s restoration. At one point, Mallon said, the Granada was a Fox Theater, and during the restoration he got the old Fox marquee sign. “I blew out all the birds’ nests and stuff out of it, stuck a new cord on it and it worked,” he said. It’s just such “wow” touches throughout the house that highlight John and Sophie Mallon’s personalities and contribute to their home’s beauty as surely as the design. It is, after all, the stairless stories that make a house a home. ¶

The lower garage consists of collectible cars and a neon sign that used to hang on the Fox Theater, now the Granada Theatre in downtown Emporia.

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An original Judith Mackey painting hangs in the Mallons’ home. Prints of this painting were sold to help finance the restoration of the Granada Theatre.

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28 | Emporia Living 1) The Emporia Gazette front door handles. 2) Part of the Emporia Farmers Market sign. 3) The bronze Corky in front of Plumb Hall on the ESU campus. 4) Burnap Brothers Building. 5) The Anderson Library on C of E drive. 6) Experience the Flint Hills sign on South Highway 99.

1

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Do you know where these items are located? Many unique features can be found hidden in plain sight on buildings in Emporia.

Photos By Casey Wilson

What is it? Where is it?


Kelly Barnard commissioned McNeese Customs to build a one-of-a-kind chopper as a tribute to K-State.

30 | Emporia Living


Wild Ride Written by Bobbi Mlynar

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Photos by Casey Wilson

C

harles McNeese shies away from talking about his successes.

However, a growing collection of trophies and plaques, as well as customers, do the talking for him. McNeese, who owns and operates McNeese Customs, started building custom motorcycles from his family’s garage on Del Oso Drive. He’d already had plenty of wrench time as a youngster, helping his father on street rods and other projects. “Once you learn to turn wrenches, you can turn wrenches on anything,” he said, minimizing his natural talent for transforming parts and metal into fastmoving works of art.


He learned to weld and to build gas tanks through trial-and-error, as he learned to design tanks and bodies that looked well together. The fact that each custom-made motorcycle has its own look and personality is especially satisfying for McNeese. “I never build the exact same bike twice,” he said. Initially, McNeese would build one bike a year, sell it, and finance his next year of classes at Emporia State University. Two years after graduating with a degree in business, he opened his own business.

“I had a vision of opening a shop when I first started school,” he explained. He credited his mother for teaching him not to go into anything without a plan; the university experience strengthened that opinion. “One hundred percent of the businesses that fail kinda fail to plan, so I didn’t want to jump into it too soon,” said McNeese, who recently turned 29. “I like to have a pretty good game plan.” The plan is working. In addition to custom cycles, McNeese regularly attends Harley-Davidson auctions to bring in low-mileage standard motorcycles for customers not ready to move into custom bikes. The store he opened on Eighth Avenue in 2007 grew quickly; within three years, he

moved the business to 622 W. Sixth Ave., where he’s filled the spacious display area with bikes, accessories and clothing. The large shop area in the back is filled with lifts and bikes under construction or in for maintenance. His bikes have been featured in Wide Open magazine and have won awards at numerous shows, including Easyrider magazine’s national competitions. The latter shows’ trophies include first place in class and a second place in Best of Show overall, which covered about 20 classes of bikes. McNeese bikes have won in modified stock, spectator, antique, shovel, old-school and builder chopper categories. McNeese Customs bikes have sold steadily online through eBay to customers across the country; one of the bikes was shipped to a buyer in Switzerland. McNeese has found, however, that most of his time now is spent designing for individual customers’ preferences rather than online buyers.

Bikes and accessories are on display in the showroom of McNeese Customs located at 622 W. Sixth Ave.


Charles McNeese uses a grinder to make a repair in his shop.

Winning awards

One of his customers, Shane Bell of Olpe, attributes that to McNeese’s growing reputation as a top custom-bike builder. “He went to Sturgis and he was rated one of the top builders in the country,” Bell said. “He’s a pretty talented kid. He can build anything anybody wants.” Bell said McNeese’s products are equal to those built on TV’s Orange County Choppers show. “He would be just the same as Jesse James or any of those other kinds of builders,” Bell said. “He knows how to do stuff like that. If he was in California or Texas or Florida, he would be just as famous as the stuff you see on TV. He can build anything anybody wants. If you can tell him about it he can build it. … We’re just fortunate he lives here.” McNeese, however, plans to stay in Emporia, where he was born and reared. McNeese’s family still lives here and his wife, the former Kim Redeker, has family living at Olpe. They want the same family-centered environment for their son, Jax Ryder McNeese, who was born in August 2011. Family plays a large role in McNeese Customs. Kim McNeese came in to help do inventory during her Christmas break from teaching at the Flint Hills Technical College, and his parents, Bob and Karen McNeese, and brother Chance all help out regularly. “It’s still like when I was building out of the

“I never build the exact same bike twice.” Charles McNeese

Barnard’s vision of an “outlaw Powercat” was brought to life by Jeff Hisey of Air Attitude in Topeka. Emporia Living | 33


“I love Harleys, I really do, but you might have a guy that has the same bike as yours pull up next to you.” Shane Bell

McNeese’s custom work includes features such as this ornate air filter. garage,” McNeese remarked, smiling. The difference is the amount of business coming through the doors, whether for traditional ready-made motorcycles, parts and accessories or for custom-made bikes. Bell collected photos of different motorcycles

he liked, to illustrate certain parts or nuances he’d like to put on his own custom design. Then he took them to McNeese to get his suggestions and a design. “You know, I kind of got to that age where, OK, I’m not getting any younger and I always

loved choppers,” Bell said. “I just loved the longness of them, how they ride and how they look.” McNeese worked with Bell to incorporate the features he wanted and gave advice on what needed to be done to turn the ideas into a one-ofa-kind bike that not only would look good, but

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The K-State theme of this bike continues with this logo on the rear fender.

would ride well. “I love Harleys, I really do, but you might have a guy that has the same bike as yours pull up next to you,” Bell said. “When I go on my bike, nobody else has one like it. There won’t be another one like it. That’s what I love.” Bell knew that in addition to the aesthetic design, he wanted a big motor, big gears and an Air Ride suspension. It needed to be powerful, reliable and comfortable — and it needed to be something he could ride anywhere, unlike some custom bikes that owners need to haul to destinations before riding them. “I’m not afraid to jump on it and ride from here to California if somebody wanted to, and there’s a lot of guys who have custom bikes that can’t say that,” Bell said. “ … I’ll ride mine anywhere anybody wants to go. I have that much faith in what he’s done. I ride it hard. It’s a soundbuilt product and I test mine. I put the throttle on it all the time.” Bell’s bike is about 10-feet long, with an air compressor that allows him to set the bike on the ground or to adjust the air in-transit, to make a rough road more comfortable to travel. When his wife, Kim, wants to come along, he adds a removable suction-cup seat and pops down a pair of foot pegs for her feet. The cup seat is designed not to mar the bike’s special paint job, which turned out to be everything Bell had hoped it would be. “I wanted some old-school kind of ghosted flames on it,” he said. “If you’re standing away from the bike, it just looks solid black. You start walking up to it, you can actually start seeing

36 | Emporia Living

flames in the black.” The flames, depending on sunlight and angle, seem to shimmer in and out from gray to cobalt to purple. Jeff Hisey of Air Attitude in Topeka for the past three years has painted all of McNeese’s custom bikes. Hisey, who retired as a Hallmark artist, can paint anything “from mild to wild” and excels at freehand art, Bell said. McNeese laughed when the conversation turned to Hisey and a picture inside a specimen jar the artist had painted on his own motorcycle. “And it’s got my Dad’s head blown up on a baby’s body,” McNeese said, pleased that the face inside the jar is easily recognized. Hisey also has painted a recognizable but caricaturized “face” on another McNeese Custom bike.

Pointed Powercat

Kelly Barnard of Madison envisioned a custom bike with a Kansas State University theme. With permission from KSU and the talents of McNeese and Hisey, the vision became a reality. Barnard, who had done a little bike-riding as a young man, rediscovered just how much he enjoyed the up-close, gorgeous sights of the Flint Hills and the freedom of “taking in the wind” when he resumed riding about five years ago. Barnard, who is an independent oil producer and raises registered polled Brahma cattle, had spent some time building and racing cars as a hobby. That mindset that carried over when he returned to motorcycles.


“I’ve always kind of been a fan of building things, designing things,” said Barnard. The impetus to try his hand at designing his own motorcycle was an outgrowth of watching “Orange County Choppers,” which custombuilds bikes for different companies. “We’re huge K-State fans,” he said. “I’m the fourth in my family to graduate K-State. I’ve got a son going there right now. … You know what? I’m going to build a bike with a K-State theme.” Barnard respected McNeese’s abilities to build custom bikes, and sat down with him to go over what Barnard wanted his finished bike to be; McNeese gave his professional opinions and ideas and together, the process began. Barnard first contacted the licensing department at the university, to gain approval to incorporate the K-State name and logo into the bike’s design. “It’s not going to be out there to be re-sold. We’re not going to make money off it, so they gave us their blessing,” Barnard said. “That was one hurdle we had to get over.” Barnard’s vision soon came to life. He’d wanted an “outlaw Powercat” head, with skulls and purple flames, and Hisey brought the idea to life. “It came out perfect,” Barnard said. “Jeff airbrushed everything on the bike. It’s phenomenal work. … When Jeff Hisey brought the tank down, my jaw almost hit the floor. It was just everything I wanted.” McNeese painstakingly put the bike together piece by piece, with the parts chosen individually to make the bike everything Barnard wanted it to be.

“When Jeff Hisey brought the tank down, my jaw almost hit the floor.” Kelly Barnard

Charles McNeese, left, designed the K-State-themed chopper for Kelly Barnard.

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It’s powered by a 127-cubic-inch Ultimate engine; the frame is from another company, and the parts and accessories come from still other companies, all combining into a sharp-point look that complements the outlaw Powercat theme. “The wheels are like sharp points, knife-looking things … handlebars, shifter levers all kind of have that sharp-point outlook,” Barnard said. “This is pretty much what you call a custom chopper. It has tons of power.” Perhaps more importantly, the bike is a joy to ride. “A lot of times you see in these custom bikes, they look like they’re so uncomfortable to ride,” Barnard said. He wanted a bike that would consistently give a good ride, not punish his back. McNeese fit the bike to Barnard like a tailor fits a suit, letting him sit on it and making adjustments as the parts were added. The finished bike, with its air-ride system, fits as good as it looks. Barnard plans to take the Outlaw Powercat to Manhattan this year for K-State’s annual Bike Day, when between 200 or 300 motorcycles circle the stadium in front of an audience of about 50,000 people. “They go around the stadium and it sounds like the stadium’s rumbling,” Barnard said. “I tell you what, that bike turns heads everywhere you go. I’ve even seen a lot of OU and KU fans pretty fascinated by it.” ¶

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From Ordinary to Extraordinary BY MORGAN CHILSON

“Making junk look good” is the stark proclamation Co-owners Kari Crump, left, and Michele Boyce are pictured amid the merchandise at Sudio 11.

on the window of the new Studio 11 store, listed right underneath 10 adjectives that simply beg a shopper

PHOTOS BY CASEY WILSON

to take a look.


Words like funky, inspired, retro and recycled form stripes down the big front window at 606 Commercial St. The reward for curiosity about the new location of this eclectic, artsy store is a meeting right inside the front door with Rusty Rooster. The waist-high, colorful piece of yard art isn’t for sale, said co-owner Michele Boyce, although they could have sold him more than a few times. Instead, this unofficial mascot launches shoppers into a store that would be right at home in downtown Chicago. Emporians and many out-of-

“I was like the schlumpy stayat-home mom and here’s Michele in high heels and fancy jewelry,” Crump said. The differences in their personalities feed their energy, and sparks of joking and laughter contribute to the store’s atmosphere. They finish each other’s sentences, their thoughts in obvious accord. “I’m ADD and she’s OCD,” Crump said, adding later, “She’s like the little sister I never wanted.” “Really we are lucky. It’s more like a marriage than a friendship,” Boyce said.

“I’m A.D.D. and she’s O.C.D. She’s like the little sister I never wanted.” — Kari Crump towners are proving Studio 11 has appeal outside a big-city arts district. Business is so good, in fact, said co-owner Kari Crump, that the two artist-owners don’t have time to make their own art. “Everything in it has sold,” Crump said, waving her arm at the front window, which looked like it was ravaged at a Black Friday sale. “Usually our windows are amazing.” She paused, and smiled. “But you can’t complain about what feels like success,” she added. Success has been hard-won, coming steadily for the two women who met through their children at school.

The two women began sharing their artistic talents – Crump is a mosaic artist and Boyce makes jewelry, although both toy with other arts – and going to juried art shows together in 2009. Then they rented a small spot near Fourth Avenue and Commercial Street, primarily, Crump said, to get her studio out of her garage. They were open odd hours, working around Boyce’s full-time and Crump’s part-time work schedules. But then one of their good customers, Kristi Mohn, encouraged them to expand their space and get directly on the main street. They took the leap, opening the store on Nov. 11, 2010. Mohn became their landlord, working

43 | Emporia Living


The Active Medical Staff of Newman Regional Health

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with them to convert the former Crawford building into the kind of space that would show off Studio 11’s funky style. Exposed brick walls do the job at setting off the women’s designs and also those of other artists who consign their products to the store. “It’s like the best place ever,” Mohn said of the store. “I think that what they do makes so much sense for where we are economically, which is recycling and repurposing.” All items sold in the store – and Studio 11 is up to 77 consignors – are recycled, reused, vintage or retro. There are colorful bags made from layers of plastic bags ironed together; women’s strapless shirts made from men’s old shirts (and really, don’t they look better now? Boyce asked), and former liquor bottles grouped together in very mod lighting displays. Bacon-scented soap is selling fast, along with their popular mosaic belt buckles. The biggest stress is that Boyce and Crump have been too busy to keep up on their own art lines. A beautiful mosaic art piece over the front door is Crump’s handiwork, and it’s that kind of thing she’d like to have time to work on again. It’s a dream that may be coming true soon. In August, Crump quit her parttime job to handle the new, bigger store and numerous consignors. They extend-

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ed the store hours, too. Now Boyce’s fulltime job has been hit by the economy, and she’s taking an upcoming layoff as a sign to focus on Studio 11. “I’m ready to be happy,” Boyce said. They’re still learning daily about the ins and outs of running a business. Boyce’s job skills led them to believe she’d be the better Quickbooks bookkeeper, but turns out that was a wrong assumption. Crump’s more ADD personality took to the books like an accountant to tax season. “We’ve just been very fortunate that

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everything has found its way and settled into the right spot,” Boyce said. The two fill in each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The move to their current location was a good one, a business lesson that they truly understand now. “What a difference a location makes,” Crump said. “We tried to fight it. We thought that we were different and people would come because of that.” They participate in all the local events and utilize the help of the resources like the Emporia Area Chamber

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of Commerce and the Kansas Small Business Development Center. “Emporia’s Main Street is amazing,” said Crump. “They bend over backwards for businesses.” With things flying out of the store faster than they ever expected, the two women plan to focus

on making their own art and sharpening their vision for Studio 11. One challenge is keeping ahead of the art trends. When something they’re selling is starting to be seen in other stores, they know it’s time to look for the next cool, funky piece of recycled junk their customers will want to take home. They’re also considering offering

classes to share their unique approach to recycled and reused art. Their excitement over the future is palpable, filling Studio 11 with the feeling that are few limits on what these two entrepreneurs can do. After all, it takes a touch of magic to make junk look good. ¶

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2012

Calendar of Events Chase County, Kansas JANUARY

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. “Music at the Emma” at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Mon., Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple Sat. Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Victorian Statehood Ball

FEBRUARY

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. “Music at the Emma” at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple

MARCH

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. “Music at the Emma” at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Mar. 12 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple

APRIL

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. “Music at the Emma” at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Apr. 9-14 PrairieFire Festival at Emma Chase Music Hall and Prairie PastTimes, Cottonwood Falls Sat. Apr. 14 Flames in the Flint Hills Mon. Apr. 16 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple Sat. Apr. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Victorian Spring Ball

MAY

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. “Music at the Emma” at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Mon. May 14 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple May 26-28 Camp Wood Family Camp Sun. May 27 Cottonwood 200 Mon. May 28 Memorial Day Ceremony at Swope Park, Cottonwood Falls Thu. May 31 at 8 p.m. 75th Flint Hills Rodeo at Flint Hills Rodeo Arena, Strong City

JUNE

Fri. Jun 1 at 8 p.m.

75th Flint Hills Rodeo at Flint Hills Rodeo Arena, Strong City 75th Flint Hills Rodeo Parade from Cottonwood Falls to Strong City 75th Flint Hills Rodeo at Flint Hills Rodeo Arena, Strong City River Suite Dinner & Concert at Historic River Bridge, Cottonwood Falls

Sat. Jun 2 at 2 p.m. Sat. Jun 2 at 8 p.m. Fri. Jun 8 at 7 p.m.

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317 Broadway, Cottonwood Falls, KS (620) 273-6020 www.emmachasecafe.com Open: Mon-Sat 9am - 2pm • Sun 8am - 2pm Breakfast & Lunch Dinner Every Friday night 5 to 8pm with Live Music at 7:30pm

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Fri. Jun 8 at 7:30 p.m. Sat. Jun. 9 Jun. 9-10 Mon. Jun. 11 at 5:30 p.m. Thurs. Jun. 14 Fri. Jun. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Fri. Jun. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Jun. 22-24 Fri. Jun. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

15th Annual Flint Hills FolkLife Festival Tallgrass Pickinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; on Courthouse lawn Symphony in the Flint Hills Flint Hills FolkLife Festival at Chase County Court house lawn, Cottonwood Falls Community Night at Masonic Temple Flag Retirement Ceremony at Swope Park, Cottonwood Falls â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Chase County Alumni Weekend in Chase County â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls

JULY

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Sat. Jul. 7 at 7:30 PM 2nd Annual Independence Day Concert & Ice Cream Social on Courthouse lawn followed by Fireworks Display at Swope Park, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Jul. 9 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple Jul. 29-31 Chase County Fair at Swope Park, Cottonwood Falls

AUGUST

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Aug. 1-2 Chase County Fair at Swope Park, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Aug. 13 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple

SEPTEMBER

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Sept. 1-2 Camp Wood Family Camp Mon. Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple Sat. Sept. 22 Broomweed Bluegrass Festival at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Sept. 22-23 Purina Dream Ride in the Flint Hills in Chase County Sat. Sept. 29 Joyful Noise at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale

OCTOBER

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Sat. Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. Masquerade Ball at the Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple Sat. Oct. 13 Pioneer Bluffs Fall Festival, Matfield Green

NOVEMBER

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Sat. Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. Bazaar Bazaar at Bazaar Schoolhouse, Bazaar Sun. Nov. 11 Veteranâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day Ceremony at Swope Park, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple Fri. Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. Strong City Seasonal Express at Caboose Park, Strong City Sat. Nov. 24 at 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Chase County Country Christmas, Chase County

DECEMBER

Every Friday Night at 7:30 p.m. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Music at the Emmaâ&#x20AC;? at Emma Chase Music Hall, Cottonwood Falls Mon. Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. Community Night at Masonic Temple

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Made in the Kansas Flint Hills

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We invite you to come over and enjoy the natural & historic beauty of the Flint Hills. While youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re here, we encourage you to shop and dine with our Chase County Merchants. www.enbkansas.com P.O. Box 310 Cottonwood Falls, KS

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Emporia Living | 49


Wilson Takes His Art on the Road

Story by

Bobbi Mlynar Photographs by

Casey Wilson


P

hotographer Casey Wilson may have winced when he saw his class schedule at Andover High School in 1995, but a course requirement pointed him toward a career path he’d never have expected. “I had to take an art class to graduate high school, and they threw me into photography,” said Wilson, then a junior and already involved on the basketball and track teams. “Then I took photography the second semester. … It just came naturally, and it was something that was fun.” From the photography classes, he branched out into becoming photographer for the school yearbook before graduating from Andover in 1997. “Two or three months after that, I was in art school in Colorado,” Wilson said. “I turned down sports scholarships for college and went to art school. … I enjoyed the dark room and being creative, and that’s really what keeps me going, it’s the creativeness that keeps pushing me to try new things.” Now, Wilson is sharing his unique perspective on the world

around him at art shows from coast to coast. Wilson’s early interest in sports had seemed destined to be linked to the new, overriding interest in photography. Shooting landscapes bored him at first, while sports offered a comfort zone he knew well. At the art school he honed his photography skills, practicing with all sorts of lighting and technical processes to complement and enhance his natural eye for art. “It wasn’t necessarily the creativeness at the art school, it was technical-driven, so I would re-do assignments three or four times,” he said, explaining the need to be able to consistently produce the photo envisioned. “You might get lucky twice. But if you can do it four times, you know what you’re doing, and I think that shows in my artwork today. They’re not just snapshots. … They’re very technical-driven.” Wilson soon earned an internship at Rich Clarkson and Associates, photographers for the Denver Broncos, the Colorado Rockies and other high-profile clients.

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Clarkson had been an editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal and is well-known for his work with National Geographic and Sports Illustrated. “He took me under his wing,” Wilson said. Wilson followed that learning experience by freelancing for the Kansas City Royals and K.C. Chiefs, and taking jobs at newspapers to fill in the gaps in his sports photography assignments. He later worked full-time at The Emporia Gazette before going out on his own, all the while photographing weddings, babies and other subjects in his spare time. Along the way, he developed his own style and technical expertise — and perhaps most importantly — his eye for seeing a subject differently than casual observers and other professionals, as well. “I basically kind of started shooting for myself and started playing around with landscapes and decided to go into business for myself,” he said, “but I was still trying to find why would somebody want my artwork versus somebody else’s. “What’s going to make me different? And that was that creative bug … That’s what started driving me. It’s not about taking a pic-

Hills Pet

ture of a bobwhite quail, it’s trying to shoot it differently.” Wildlife and scenery — especially Flint Hills images — dominate Wilson’s recent works as his technique evolves. For a time, he’d waited patiently for hours, taking perhaps a thousand photos, to produce the image he wanted. Now, he is more methodical, though one of his best-known shots came from a spontaneous encounter with the family cat. “It was one of those things where that shot took me five minutes to get,” Wilson said. “It was one of those spur-of-the-moment things.” He had been on his way to an appointment when he spotted the cat playing with a field mouse. He took shots for several minutes, went on to his appointment and was pleasantly surprised later, when he had time to look at the photos. “The cat tossed the mouse up in the air, and I took a picture of it,” he said. The resulting photo shows the cat on its hind feet, forelegs upstretched toward a mouse that appears suspended in air. “I didn’t add a mouse in Photoshop. … It was the shot I was hoping to get,” Wilson said. Storms and lightning, too, are a favorite with the photographer,

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as is the prairie. work. After several years at Tallgrass Art & Frame, Wilson went “Unlike Colorado, where you have the mountains that slap to work in January at the Emporia Arts Council as the gallery you in the face, the Flint Hills are subtle,” he said. “You might manager and art education coordinator. not get it driving the Turnpike, but once you step out into the Sometimes he stays longer to work in a show area, such as in Arigrass, start looking at the different types of grass that are there, zona, to photograph other types of landscapes and environments. once somebody explains to you Occasionally, his wife Deena and what’s going in to it, it’s amazing. their 3-year-old daughter, Ella, travel For me as an artist, it’s challenging with him. He credits Deena Wilson for me to grasp the Flint Hills. … for all she does in support of his career. It’s very hard to capture the vastness “Not only for the photo-taking, of the horizons in that little bitty elbowing me when my alarm goes box of a camera.” off, get up at the crack of dawn and Wilson’s interest now has turned go take pictures, but also taking care to nighttime light painting. He sets of the house whenever I’m gone the camera on a tripod, controls exfor weeks at a time, and giving me posure times and may use strobe or the opportunity to chase down this flash lights off-camera to achieve the dream,” Wilson said. effects his mind envisions. It’s something Wilson is willing “I basically ‘paint’ what’s alto work for. Shows and travel time ready there,” he said. “For this one often extend his work day to 15 or picture, I might spend a couple of 16 hours at a stretch. A rare snowhours setting it up. And it’s one of Wilson prepares to photograph a cabin closed highway both east and west of those things where I would say a few that was once used to store gunpowder Albuquerque resulted in his sleeping years back, I would have spent all for a coal mine near Gunnison, Colorado. in the car. day trying to take a thousand differ- Wilson’s final artwork is the center photoNo matter the travel circumstancgraph on page 51. ent pictures. es or type of show, however, Wilson “Now I’m to a point where when has found one common thread from I see something I like, I will spend all state to state. day trying to get that photo the right “Every single show that I’ve done, way, the way I want it,” he said. “Inthere’s been some connection to stead of going and getting 100 difEmporia, whether it’s ESU or a famferent subjects, I’m focusing on one ily member that lives here,” he said. and spending my time getting that “People know about this town.” one perfect.” At Crested Butte, Colo., he talked The strategy seems to be effecwith people who were trying to get tive. The Emporia community and tickets to the Symphony in the Flint arts patrons already have provided Hills. on-going support that Wilson said “There was a guy who did Dirty he much appreciates. Within the Kanza that was there and came up past year or two, others across the and went, ‘Ah, dude, you’re from country have taken interest, too. Emporia,’ and that took me by surIn 2010, Wilson connected with prise in Crested Butte.” a glassblowing friend, who helped Wilson’s photos are selling well. him prepare for exhibits at juried Wilson in a self-portrait displays some of The Flint Hills pictures are well-acand other arts shows. He quickly the gear he uses for his art. cepted in Colorado, he said, as well branched out beyond Kansas, showas in Texas and Arizona. ing in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, Arizona, Minnesota and other “A lot of time it’s someone who grew up here; that photo relocales, depending on the season. minds them of home,” Wilson said. “There might be 1,000-plus people that apply to these shows “There’s other people that go, ‘Wow, it’s gorgeous,’ and buy it for maybe 150 slots, some more, some less,” he said. “But it’s fairly for what it is, not for sentimental value.” tough competition. … Just to get that invitation in the mail makes And, for the sake of his art, those are just the kinds of reactions you feel good.” that Casey Wilson’s artistic eye wants to see. ¶ Wilson often manages to take long weekends from Thursday through Sunday night for most of the shows, to avoid missing Wilson’s work may be seen at www.caseywilson.com. 56 | Emporia Living


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Aerdome, shown in 1912 or 1913, open for the summer season.

What was the Aerdome? Emporians Flocked To Aerdome To Enjoy Contortionists, Comedy, Vaudeville Acts

T

Story By Jan Huston

en free tickets enclosed in toy balloons sent aloft in 1915 allowed the finders to take their best friends to the latest showing at the Aerdome, Emporia’s own open air theater located right across the street from The Emporia Gazette offices. Averaging 650 persons per showing, the Aerdome concluded its 1909 season with a total attendance of 65,000. The largest The stage of the Aerdome in 1907, its second season in attendance in one night that year operation. was 1,122 during the baby contest. Amazing as this sounds, the tainment published on June 14 booking traveling acting troupes. Aerdome was a thriving entertain- of that year stated that the bill at Corbett first built his outdoor thement venue in the early days of the Aerdome was “rattling good ater right north of The Gazette, vaudeville, full of snap from start moving it to its 514 Merchant St. 20th century Emporia. Acts featured during the open- to finish!” One of the vaudeville address in 1908. With its ample ing week of the new Aerdome in actresses, Myrtle De Loy was even stage to the east, the seating was June of 1906 included the Wells born in Emporia “to which she arranged so that all in attendance Brothers in novelty musical and owes her comeliness,” the reviewer would have a good view. The numsinging comedy, the juggling Par- added. In addition, two moving ber of dressing rooms on the stage rots, Dollie Wells, a female con- pictures were shown at the Aer- was increased from four to six, tortionist, and authentic mov- dome that week: “Please Help the and every precaution was taken ing pictures of the San Francisco Blind” and “Where Are My Eye to ensure that the stage would be absolutely fireproof. The building earthquake. An Emporia boy, Har- Glasses?” The owner-promoter of this was covered with steel, and a fire ry Freeman, was scheduled to sing “illustrated songs,” songs backed “new” entertainment in Emporia hydrant was located on the stage, was Fred Corbett, who also man- along with its needed hose and fire up by well-developed slides. A review of the week’s enter- aged the Whitley Opera House, extinguishers. (Had other aerdo-

mes experienced tragic fires?) A line was stretched across the Aerdome from north to south denoting that those closest to the stage would pay twenty cents while all others would pay a dime for the show. Specially painted scenery accommodated most acts, and lighting both inside and outside the theater was superb. In addition, the ground was covered with gravel so that wet weather would not interfere with performances. A refreshment stand offered soft drinks. Each year Corbett booked stock companies, with each company playing for two weeks, changing their plays and vaudeville nightly. Mr. Olker and his full orchestra furnished music for the entire season of 1908. Some of the entertainers booked for that year included The Kress Company, the Majestic Players, Frank Readick and Grace Hayward, besides Robert Sherman and James Fulton. By 1909, Corbett knew he had a winner so he invested in more improvements in his theater. A new system of lighting involved incandescent lamps suspended over the audience by ornamental brackets. A new paint job on the walls of the building enclosing the lot on the south whitened the adjoining Emporia Living | 59


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build- souri. He retained possession of ing while his Emporia property, but Mr. the entire inte- Paul Zimmerman had charge of rior was repaint- the Emporia interests in Cored in one shade bettâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s absence. The theater in of blue. A border was Moberly had a seating capacity placed around the proscenium of about 1,000, and the town arch of the stage. While the appeared to be a good business Olker orchestra played again town. Mrs. Corbett and family in 1909, a band was also added accompanied her husband to to play during opening week Moberly; their sons attended and at intervals throughout the a military school in nearby St. summer. By the end of the year, Charles. Emporia regretted only eight nights were rained their loss. out of the 108 scheduled perCorbett was admired as a formances. The very first com- hustler who had been in show pany, the Harvey Stock Com- business in town for 14 years. pany, came to Emporia directly Whether the seasons had been from the Calumet Theater in good or bad, he had always conChicago. trived to make money Ever the busiout of his venFred Corbett nessman, Fred tures. He was innovative Corbett again was innovahad a force of tive and adand adventuresome, men updating his venturesome, and all of his theater in May and all of his amusement of 1912. With amusement enthe enormous terprises were enterprises were amount of by his marked by his pushing marked attendance pushing spirit. spirit. at his theYears later, ater in its first research reveals three years, Corbett dethat Corbett had recided to secure a better grade of turned to Emporia. In a 1939 companies during that year, yet talk to an Emporia womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the cost to attendees remained organization, he spoke proudly just a dime. of his Aerdome. Some memoNewspaper articles in 1914 ries might be exaggerated a bit announced that Charlotte when he recalled the seating Bronteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famous novel â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jane capacity as 1,200 to-1,500. He Eyreâ&#x20AC;? was performed as a com- admitted that some of his shows plete dramatization by the might not have had full apGeorgiana Eddings Company. proval of the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s highbrows. This company also transported He also claimed that his Aerspecial scenery for its perfor- dome was the third of its kind mance. The presentation in five to operate in that period in the acts was interspersed with new United States, stating that he novel vaudeville. Although no got the idea from attending a review of the performance was similar theater in Leavenworth. recorded, it makes the writer He described the Aerdome as marvel at such a production. a â&#x20AC;&#x153;predecessor to Kansas Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s As a public service, Corbett Starlight Theater.â&#x20AC;? promised a penny on every tickIn a humorous aside, Coret sold by a member of the Elks bett recalled that The Gazette Club would go to the Elks Band usually published the names of trip to Denver to take part in those who won prize drawings their grand lodge meeting there. when attending the shows. One In June of 1914, 10 young girls night Miss Mabel Smith, head of Emporia enjoyed a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;â&#x20AC;?line of the womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s training departpartyâ&#x20AC;? at the Electric Theatre. ment at the old Normal School Two months later, 11 older girls (ESU), was terribly embarrassed experienced their â&#x20AC;&#x153;line partyâ&#x20AC;? at when her name was called. She the Aerdome. feared that, should her name be But that year was also the printed in the paper, the wrath first year that Corbett and his of the college president would family did not live in Empo- fall upon her for attending ria. Corbett had taken a lease such a questionable show. She on a theater in Moberly, Mis- begged The Gazette to merely


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In 1907, Grace Hayward and her company presented a play dealing with the Indian Wars of 1878. publish M. Smith as winner, thereby hiding her true identify. Corbett also told of the consternation his theater caused T.M. Iden, whose Upper Room Bible class met upstairs in the Gazette building. The proximity of the Aerdome with its hilarity and sometimes raucous laughter was a constant thorn in the flesh of the Bible teacher. Fred Corbett died in 1961. Along with his management of theaters, Corbett had become more widely known in outdoor poster advertising. For a time as a young man he had even traveled with circuses as a billposter on the advance car, meanwhile building an outdoor advertising business on the off-season. He had continued this interest throughout his life. At the time of his retirement in 1957, he merged his outdoor adver-

tising business with another. Billposters of his firm covered a 20-city area, and the merged firm had 50 Kansas cities in its territory. The blue painted fences, the bleachers and stage of the Aerdome stood at the Merchant Street address until 1918 when it gave way to a car dealership. But during its years in that location, the livery stable to the south of the theater and the telephone exchange to the north with the Gazette building across the way framed its existence, absorbed its laughter, and watched its patrons enter and leave in satisfied numbers. Emporia audiences learned that they loved vaudeville, even though they were a bit skeptical at first. Many people stayed through two shows each night, and at a cost of 10 cents per show, why not? ¶

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KARAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CAKES

62 | Emporia Living


By Morgan Chilson

Kara Thomas, owner of Kake Atelier, holds a birthday cake she created for a customer.

Three Emporia women have tapped into their own baking creativity and artistic abilities for their cake and cupcake businesses. Kara Thomas owns Kake Atelier (www.kakeatelier. com), a business named from a play on cake with her initials and the French word for the workshop of a fine artist. Sisters-in-law Rachael and Amy Richardson are the Cupcake Moms (www. cupcakemoms.com). Emporia Living | 63


All three women run their businesses out of their homes, spending hours in the kitchen around their full-time jobs to create confections that please their customers. Thomas started decorating cakes about 10 years ago when she wanted to make an amazing cake for her daughter’s first birthday. She enrolled in a Wilton cake decorating class — and is now a certified Wilton decorator — never thinking that a desire for one cool cake would launch a business. In fact, it wasn’t until two years ago that she got business cards and made the business “official.” Now, she services not just the Emporia area, but makes many cakes to be delivered to Kansas City. “I absolutely love it,” she said. “I had no idea that this business would increase, but in Emporia, I’m pretty much it.” While Thomas appreciates the TV shows like Cake Boss and others that focus on stupendous, artistic cake design, she said she’s focused a

Family owned over 60 years.

lot on making sure her cakes tastes good. “I not only want it to look good, but when you bite into it, I want it

“I not only want it to look good,

but when you bite into it, I want it just as beautiful tasting

— KARA THOMAS, Owner just as beautiful tasting,” she said. The list of cake flavors, frostings and fillings on her website is a tes-

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tament to her desire to offer flavor combinations for any taste. It’s a mouth-watering read: orange blossom, mocha buttercream, chocolate kahlua, whipped cream praline. “Cakes do not have to be the same flavor,” Thomas pointed out. “The bottom tier can be chocolate and the top strawberry. There are endless possibilities. It’s so awesome when I get somebody who will experiment with me and let me go all crazy.” Thomas’ favorite flavor combination is vanilla and orange blossom because it tastes like a Creamsicle, those oldfashioned orange ice cream treats. The TV shows do offer a challenge to Kara’s business — customers come in with ideas generated by what they’ve seen on the show and then are shocked by how much it would cost to do something that extravagant. Much of what is featured on TV is fondant work and that takes a lot of time and is more expensive than buttercream frosting, she said. “I love doing fondant work — it’s like playing with Play-Doh or clay,” Thomas said. “But it costs more to make. Unfortunately, more often than not, they don’t want to pay for that, so I do the best I can with buttercream.” Despite that, the shows help promote Kake Atelier because people have become dissatisfied with going to a bigbox store and buying plain cakes, she said. The result of wanting something more is one of Thomas’ designs, from elegant tiered wedding cakes to race cars and rubber duckies. Rachael Richardson brings that same creativity to her cupcakes, and agrees that her business is pushed forward by TV shows. “We do craft shows with our cupcakes and lots of people come by and say, ‘Hey, do you watch Cupcake

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Wars?’” she said. “I definitely think the reality shows have contributed to us getting business.” Richardson found her way to cupcake decorating in almost the same way that Thomas did. When her daughter started preschool, she was a room mother and wanted to bring in homemade treats for the kids. Lots of people started commenting on the cupcakes and her sister-in-law, Amy, thought the two could make a business of it. “She’s very business-minded and very savvy. She does it all – the decorating, the baking,” Rachael Richardson said of Amy. “I just like to bake.” The key to turning out heavenly designs is practice, practice, practice, Rachael Richardson said. “Over and over and over and over, until you get it,” she added. “Sometimes I just practice on a paper plate until I can get the design right. I pull up YouTube and watch the instructional videos.” The Richardsons bake and decorate their cakes at night, filling the kitchen at Rachael’s house with fabulous aromas. Between the two of them, they have five children, so their schedules get pretty hectic. The business booms at different times of year – graduations in May are crazy, as is the Christmas holiday season, Rachael Richardson said. The business is fulfilling, and not just because of the money they earn.

66 | Emporia Living

“One of my favorite memories is last year, we were at the Burlington craft show, and this little girl came by and got our business card,” she said. “We found out later that she kept it in her purse for two months. We got a call from her grandma, and she said it was her birthday and (the little girl) knew just what she wanted to take to school. That was really fun.” Being part of the cake and cupcake decorating world means you get to join in a lot of celebrations, Thomas said.

“I love doing fondant

work – it’s like playing with Play-Doh or clay

— KARA THOMAS, Owner “It’s just like delivering flowers to somebody,” she said. “It is awesome to see those smiles.” “We’re a part of people’s Christmas mornings. One mother is putting cupcakes under the tree for her kids,” Rachael Richardson said. “We’ve been part of an engagement; we’re part of people’s weddings, birthdays, anniversaries. We’re part of a lot of people’s big events in their life.” ¶

Transportation challenges One of the most fun things to watch on cake TV shows is how they get the multitiered extravagant cakes to the destination. One toppled recently on the Next Great Baker show. Kara Thomas, owner of Kake Atelier, has experienced the challenge of setting up a cake on location. She delivered a seven-tier wedding cake to the West Bottoms in Kansas City, Mo. It's an area where people are restoring and renovating old buildings. “When you get into these type of buildings, the air conditioning is not always good, and the flooring is renovated wood that they brought in and it's not the sturdiest and the most level,” she said. “When you put a round card table on that and expect someone to bring a heavy cake in, it needs to be supported and its needs to have air. “I got it in the room and got it all set up, and we were good to go,” Thomas said. “I told my contact thank you and I walked out the door. Not five minutes later, they were calling my phone and saying the top is falling. When I got back in there, I had three tiers on the floor because somebody hit the table.” Like any good decorator, Thomas doesn't leave home without straws (to insert in the cake for stability) and a survival cake kit. She scraped icing off and put layers back on and recreated the decorating on the spot. Unfortunately, the seven-tier cake became five tiers. Even though it wasn't her fault, Kara was devastated by the experience. “I felt so bad. You've just got to take a deep breath and recreate,” she said.


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A Journey for Jesus The life-changing effect of a single mission trip Story by

J

Bobbi Mlynar

ason Cathcart knows that sometimes God taps you on the shoulder; other times, He enlists a friend to do the tapping. In Cathcart’s case, it was a friend, whose life-changing experience on a mission trip to Mexico has led to Cathcart’s logging 21 mission trips there himself, as of January 2012. Foreign travel had never been high on Cathcart’s to-do list, but he agreed to make a trip to Mexico 11 years ago, when the friend invited him to come along on a follow-up mission trip. “I saw the impact it had in his life and the changes it made in his life and he asked me to go. “At that time I was a believer in Jesus Christ and the friend was not and I was very curious about what experience he had that changed his life,” Cathcart said. “Before that, I had no desire to go to any other country to do mission work. I was pretty much content to stay in my local area. “But God had different plans for me.” Cathcart found himself enriched by the experience, too, helping with construction, serving in soup kitchens, and working with the Mexicans being served through the mission. “God really kind of grew in me at that time, and showed me how he’s all over the world and he wants us to go and serve him and tell others about his love … to help those who are less-fortunate than us,” he said. Cathcart went once a year for the first few years, then bumped the annual trips up to two; for the past five years, he’s made three 10-day trips, one weekend through the following weekend. He often is accompanied by his family — wife Angela Osman Cathcart and their children Bethany, 13; Rachelle, 11; Emma, 9; Hannah, 6; Laura, 4; and Grace Anne, 2. “They very much chip in wherever they’re needed

Photographs by

Jason Cathcart, far right, has gone on over 20 mission trips to Mexico.

Eric Benjamin

to,” he said. “They serve the people.” In October, even the youngest ones, except Grace Anne, helped out at the soup kitchen by carrying food and serving the people. The family’s involvement in missions to Mexico had accelerated eight years ago through Cathcart’s business, Jason’s Auto Sales, which he co-owns with his father, John. In 2003, auto dealers from Mexico were driving to Emporia to buy vehicles from the business. “We communicated the best we could,” he said. “They spoke a little English and I spoke a little Spanish, but we figured out we were both Christians.” The dealer invited Cathcart to Matamoras, Mexico, to meet pastors Marc Loyer and Venancio (Chacho) Jauregui, founders of an independent organization, United in Christ Ministry. The men bonded quickly, cementing Cathcart’s commitment to helping with the mission projects. He now is UCM’s Mission Resource Coordinator for Kansas. In that role, he recruits people to help on the mission trips and solicits funding and supplies, toys, and other necessities – anything from shoes to vehicles – to take to the people in Matamoros. Each trip offers a different opportunity for service, and volunteer numbers vary according to season. About 25 people had committed to Cathcart’s trip in January this year; the spring 2010 trip drew about 50 people. Sometimes numbers are as low as half-adozen, he said. Volunteers recently have been working on an orphanage and were finishing up a kitchen this year. The home will be staffed by Mexican nationals, who will act as parents to not only orphans, but children who have been abandoned or abused. Other trips have been dedicated to soccer camps incorporated into vacation Bible school settings. Some

trips involved construction projects, and others have involved drug addiction and rehabilitation efforts. One trip centered on operating a medical clinic for those who otherwise would not have health care. Three health professionals from Emporia — Dr. Wayne Anliker, ophthalmologist; Mary Lynn Kosinski, nurse; and Melissa McAlister, nurse practitioner — took part in that effort involving clinics at three different locations in Matamoros. The Lions Club there worked with the team on the eye portions of the clinic, using a machine to screen for vision problems, and referring patients to Anliker for physical eye checks when needed. Many of the health problems identified were rooted in nutritional deficiencies, while others involved pregnant women who didn’t have the financial resources for prenatal checkups. A soup kitchen built near the garbage dumps six or seven years ago has shown an especially satisfying progression. “Bringing the church, the Lord, the message of hope through Jesus to those people, you could see a change in their attitudes, their lives,” Cathcart said. “That area has grown up to where they do not any longer meet as a soup kitchen there. It’s a church only. “At one point, there was a desperate need by the people for food. Now, if they get together for food, it’s a church meal.” The key to all of the mission work is to give the people more than simply food or a blanket or a pair of shoes, he said. “They give them the hope of Jesus Christ, which is the real change in their lives, which inspires them to have hope to change their lives in other ways as well,” Cathcart said. “They want to meet their spiritual needs and their physical needs. The great thing about this ministry is that they care about physically Emporia Living | 69


and spiritually. They don’t (supply) one without the other.” Cathcart emphasized that volunteers do not need to have special talents or training to take part. “There’s always something, whatever your ability is, we will use that, put it to work,” Cathcart said. “… You could go monthly probably and there would be something to be done.” The work often lasts late into the evening, but missionaries stay each night in Brownsville, Texas, just across the border. Matamoros draws a high “floating” population of transients, who come to there to find jobs at one of the many manufacturing plants that supply international carmakers and others with parts and accessories. Although the official population in 2010 was more than 400,000, the transient jobseekers add tens of thousands more people to Matamoros. Communities of those hopefuls have sprung up around the city’s garbage dump. “A lot of people are making their living off the city dump, so it’s a very impoverished area,” Cathcart said, explaining that the ministry’s soup kitchen is located near the dump. “They were hoping for factory jobs, a better life. It didn’t end up that way.” The makeshift colonies that have sprung up around the dumps are primitive: there is no running water, no electricity, and no sewage system. Cathcart’s group carries its own water into the complex. And, while tourists may associate Mexi-

co as a land of sunshine and hot weather, the scenario does not fit winters in Matamoros. Climate perception is, if nothing else, a matter of ability to adjust to the climate. “You think of Mexico as being a warm place – it is a lot warmer than Kansas – but when your home is made of scrap lumber and crates and tarps, miscellaneous, that they can come up with, that’s not going to keep you warm … (when) the overnight temp is probably in the 40s,” he said. “Occasionally it has dipped down to freezing but it typically doesn’t get down quite that low. Daytime highs are in the 60s, 65. We’re wearin’ shorts and T-shirts but to them it’s cold and they’re still wearing jackets and coats.” Despite the primitive conditions and inconveniences, a growing number of people from the Lyon County area and elsewhere are joining Cathcart on the trips to Mexico. Gathering volunteers is something he feels called to do, and he’s pleased about results of the ecumenical missions. “Probably, on an average, three or four different churches go,” he said. “It’s a very special thing God has opened up … that more than one church goes on these trips with us.” In addition to his church, 12th Avenue Baptist Church, volunteers have come from the Church of the New Covenant, Life Church, and Calvary Chapel of Emporia, and Christian Church of Council Grove. Volunteers under 18 years of age need birth certificates to cross the border; adults

need passports. Mission trips are not all work, Cathcart said; the group usually takes one day to tour Matamoros, eat a restaurant meal and perhaps get in a little shopping. The work, however, and the planning involved in executing it, takes up most of the time spent on the trip. For Cathcart and others who join him, that work is a reward in itself. “I can’t think of anything else I’ve ever done that’s brought me more joy and peace and changed my life so much, to be with God and others,” Cathcart said. “The serving, giving. Life is something bigger than yourself and I see that in the missionaries we work with. It’s very inspiring. … “I think no matter how many times you see photographs of poverty, it’s completely different if you’ve never seen it first-hand,” he said. “You step into their community and they’re real people and you see their hearts and their struggles. Your heart goes out to them, with compassion, love. … “Sometimes it’s hard to leave. You come back wanting to do more.” More information about volunteering for the trips or donating needed items may be had by calling Cathcart at (620) 344-1202. ¶

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Citizens pooled resources to help community Perkins called ‘moving force’ for ECF — By Bobbi Mlynar —

The germ of an idea and a $5,000 initial investment is becoming just what its founders had hoped it would be: a vehicle that individuals and qualified organizations can use to benefit citizens in Emporia and the surrounding area. As a result of the foresight and planning of the six people involved in the start-up, the Emporia Community Foundation has grown into a $12 million-plus organization with about 75 participating funds. Last year, ECF received acceptance of its practices and protocols from the National Standards for Community Foundations. The accreditation means that the Foundation meets the highest standards of professionalism, an

ultimate measure of success among its peers. That success evolved from small beginnings and good intentions. “The overall thing was to look for ways to get the resources within this area marshaled so the needs of the area could be met better,” said long-time Emporia attorney Elvin Perkins, as he talked of the time when he and a handful of friends decided to form the Foundation. “The idea was to find ways to grow the resources … (create) an entity where individuals and groups alike can pool their investment funds and, benefiting from strength in numbers, grow their assets to be used for the betterment of the people,” he said.

 Social Serendipity  Perkins already had been thinking along similar lines when his friend, Emporia businessman Carl Didde, approached him at a social gathering about 16 years ago. Didde said he and four other Emporians — Barbara White Walker, owner and editor of The Emporia Gazette; Bobbie Agler, certified public accountant; George Osborn, financial advisor; and Steve Davis, attorney — were interested in creating something lasting and self-perpetuating for the benefit of the area and its residents. “He asked if I’d become involved,” Perkins said, recalling the conversation with Didde. “So I said, ‘Well, I’ll be happy to work with you.’ So he got on the Internet and got some information.” Perkins knew that articles of incorporation would be the first official step to setting up the non-profit and took on the responsibility for handling the legal work for the group, at no charge. “I made it a part of the donation, the legal work and all that,” he said. He accepted only some compensation for

travel expenses. Thorough research of other large non-profits nationwide gave the group enough information and enough options for governance and operations that they were able to adapt what they needed into a good fit for the local endeavor. A non-profit in North Carolina provided much of the structure for what would become ECF, as did a similar foundation in Hutchinson, where its executive director — former Emporian Sandra DeBauge McMullen — was eager to help her home town create a foundation of its own.  

Not just ‘good old guys’

 Founders decided the best leadership options would be a board of trustees overseeing a board of directors, both with diverse memberships from the community. They drew from the county, city, judicial district, hospital, United Way and other institutions and agencies to ensure all segments of the area were represented. Service terms were staggered and limited, with members rotating off the board after they’d fulfilled their ap-

pointments. “We didn’t want them to be just a group of good old guys getting together,” Perkins said. “… We wanted to keep a growing, living thing that would change with the times.” Perkins then drafted articles of incorporation that included increasing the governing body incrementally through the years until its total membership reached 20. Perkins and the other five who’d gotten him involved became the incorporators for the foundation. He followed through with the legal work, wrote the bylaws, then filed for and obtained the exemption needed for non-profit status. “As soon as we got that, we were in business,” Perkins said. ECF’s service area includes Lyon and the counties adjoining it — Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Morris, Osage, and Wabaunsee. As circumstances changed and ECF grew, the Foundation needed to employ an administrator to oversee the day-to-day business and to work with a growing number of individuals and groups

Emporia Living | 73


interested in investing their funds. Ken Calhoun was asked to take on the responsibility, and remains at the Foundation office as executive director and secretary to both boards. “The best thing that ever happened, to my notion, is when Ken Calhoun agreed to take over,” Perkins said. “He’s done a good job, and that’s been a big part of the success.”  

As you like it

 The Foundation offers four separate choices of funds for participants, who can choose whether they want to be directly involved in distributions or leave that responsibility to the Foundation’s governing boards. The fund types are: — Designated Funds, directed by donors for specific charities. — Donor-Advised Funds, established by individuals who are allowed to advise how the funds may be used; ultimate distribution may be for any legally defined charity. — Field of Interest Funds, for a specific interest, such as arts, scholarships, animals,

74 | Emporia Living

universities, special needs, or children’s groups. — Fund for the Future, which pays not only for general expenses of the Foundation, but allows the Foundation to make grants for innovative and special one-time projects. About 75 entities have invested their monies in ECF to benefit from the investment expertise and pooling the Foundation provides through professional financial managers. The funds have been opened by individuals, like Dale and Carolyn Davis and Clint Bowyer’s 79 Fund, and non-profit groups like the Humane Society of Lyon County, the Emporia Arts Council, Community Day Care, the Emporia Municipal Band, Hetlinger Developmental Services and many others. Perkins said he is “very, very happy” with the results.  

Perkins’ perseverance

 And the ECF trustees and directors are very, very happy with Perkins and the Foundation he helped organize in

1995. Board President Ken Buchele sees Perkins as the father of ECF. “There were other people involved in it, that’s true,” Buchele said. “But I think Elvin saw the need. He did a lot of estate planning. He saw the need to try to figure out a way to keep some of the money …

chele said. “He is appreciative of it. It takes a guy like Perk to make it all work.” Buchele praised Perkins for passing on his philosophy to others. “The thing about Perk is that he was a mentor for so many people because of his ethics, his honesty, hard work and that kind of stuff. He was

‘People don’t figure out they didn’t do everything all by themselves.’ — Ken Buchele in the community in a philanthropic kind of deal. People who are really involved in the community give money.” Perkins has been that kind of a man since he and his wife, Kathryn, moved to Emporia after Perkins finished law school, Buchele said; the young attorney appreciated the fact that he’d made his reputation in Emporia and earned a good living as well. “I think that’s one of the things that’s missing in our society,” Buchele said. “People don’t figure out they didn’t do everything all by themselves. “There were a lot of people around who helped them. … Perk understands that,” Bu-

as good a negotiator as I ever saw,” Buchele said, including Perkins and the late bank president Oliver Hughes as major influences in his own career. “Those are the people I had a chance to work with,” he said. “I could tell they were doing it right. If I emulated it, I could have some success myself, too.” Perkins’ generation banded together to pass on their own successes to the community that helped them succeed. “I really think that he was the moving force,” Buchele said. “You have a lot of people with great ideas but if you don’t have somebody who is a moving force .... I think he’s that kind of a guy. Perk’s the

only one who really stayed involved all this time.” He remains active in ECF as an emeritus member of the board. “The thing about Perk is he’s welcome to come any time he feels like it, basically, and we still appreciate his counsel,” Buchele said. Perkins continues to mentor the next generation on how to strengthen and sustain the community as Calhoun and the ECF board members build on the foundation laid by the six original incorporators. “Calhoun has had a lot to do with the day-to-day operations,” Buchele said. “I don’t think we can underestimate his work.” Like Buchele, Calhoun has benefited from the mentoring passed on through Perkins’ example and, as time passes, they and the others are growing into the roles laid out for them by the founders of ECF. “Calhoun and I are getting old now,” Buchele said, “so our constituency is people who are thinking about estate planning and things like that. “We need to pick up that ball and run with it.” ¶


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An Italian getaWAY STORY BY REGINA MURPHY PHOTOS BY JIM NIX “I had never been to Italy,” said former Emporian Larie Schoap. “I was supposed to go on Sept. 14 in 2001, but Sept. 11 interfered. We never got out of the country.” All of that was resolved with a trip sponsored by the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce in early November 2011. “This trip came up and it was with the Emporia Chamber. ... Everything was wonderful and the price was fabulous,” said Schoap, who maintained her close ties to Emporia, despite having moved to Manhattan in the fall of 2009. So it was off to Tuscany. Tuscany is one of the 20 regions of Italy, and situated along the western coastline just where the penisula begins. It’s the region of Florence, Pisa, Siena and Chianti. The birthplace of the Renaissance and site of a city-state that reigned for centuries. Its history dates past the Romans to the Etruscans and this region is possibly the greatest repository of art in the world, from extraordinary paintings and sculpture to frescoes and architectural masterpieces. “Having a trip where you have tour guides is the perfect way to do a first visit,” advised Schoap, who has traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. The group had a full-time guide and driver, and specialized guides at each destination. The cost was about $2,200 per

76 | Emporia Living

person double occupancy. Air taxes and fuel surcharges were included, but subject to change. Gratuities for driver and guides, baggage charges by the airline, passports, visa, lunch and items of a personal nature were extra. The group stayed in the city of Montecatini, which dates back to the Paleolithic era and is famous for its hot thermal springs. It has been known for centuries as a spa town, and is the perfect “base camp” for touring Tuscany. The group made day trips throughout the Tuscan countryside to destinations such as Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Florence and — of course — made a stop outside Tuscany, in Rome. Schoap said, “The scenery was just exactly what you always thought Italy would look like, the combination of the gorgeous rural areas with the vineyards, the older buildings and ancient ruins ...” The four-star Grand Hotel Vittoria, an early 20th-century Liberty style building in Montecatini, was their home base for six days. The hotel’s restaurant, La Sala dei Cristalli, is lauded for its traditional Tuscan cuisine. The tour price included daily breakfast and dinner at the hotel. “There was of course pasta and then a lot of seafood. We ate very well the whole time we were gone, but we walked so much that it didn’t go to our waistlines,” Schoap said. The group settled in after its trip to Montecatini from Rome, and prepared for the first full day’s excursion to one of the most beautiful cities on


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earth: Florence. Its striking buildings, formidable galleries and treasure-stuffed churches attest to Florence’s position as the birthplace of the Renaissance. It has always been an important center for culture and arts, and even served as Italy’s capital in the mid-nineteenth century. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral of Florence, also called “The Duomo.” It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style and completed 140 years later with an enormous dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The octagonal red brick dome was the largest in the world for five centuries. All of Florence has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next day was spent on the Mediterranean at the Cinque Terre, “The Five Lands,” made up of five medieval fishing ports, — Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore — built into terraces up the steep cliffs and only accessible by sea. Cinque Terre along with the coastline and surrounding hillsides also are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Next for the Emporians was a drive to Siena and San Gimignano, considered the most beautiful of the Tuscan countryside, and full of rolling hills, lush vines and gray-green olive trees. Siena offers much to see, from the palaces that line the narrow cobbled streets to the gleaming marble Gothic Cathedrale di Santa Maria. Siena is also the site of the Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. It is renowned worldwide for its

beauty and architectural integrity and for being where the famed Palio horse race is run. The group continued to San Gimignano, a town originally settled by Etruscans around 200 B.C. It was built on a commanding hill in the Elsa valley, very well defended and part of a major trade route to Florence. The ramparts of the Fortress of Montestaffoli, the tallest of which is nearly 178 feet and dates to 1311, look like medieval skyscrapers. Quenadyne Bucher was impressed with San Gimignano. “You walk in and there’s so much history there. ...The buildings, the architecture. ...It’s like walking into another world. It’s very medieval with cobblestone streets, small shops with artisan producers like leather, cheese, wine and even a real live butcher.” Bucher enjoyed the cuisine. “You always think of pasta, but it’s very simple — and delicious — lots of vegetables, lentils and herbs instead of heavy sauces or creams.” “The gelato!” she exclaimed. “Oh my goodness, my one regret was that I did not have gelato daily and sample all the flavors.” Another day included Lucca and Pisa. Lucca is known for quiet, narrow lanes that wind among the medieval buildings, opening suddenly to reveal churches, tiny piazzas and even a Roman amphitheater. The group finished the day in Pisa and saw the famous Leaning Tower, the bell tower of the 900-yearold Cathedral of Pisa and many fine examples of the Pisan-Romanesque architectural style.

Their country excursion included a drive through the wine country of Chianti. The group enjoyed lunch and wine-tasting and tours of Greve, the seat of Chianti sales, with defensive bastions, castles and elegant residences. Bucher was part of the day trip through the Chianti wine gardens. “It’s like out of a painting — the terracing, the fall colors were outstanding. The cypress trees, the winding roads, the old stone wineries and houses. There were olive trees and fields of sunflowers. Travelling in early November, we had excellent weather,” she said. The group had lunch and wine tasting at one of the vineyards. “We sat at a communal table on a veranda covered with grape vines. We were served beautiful bread with house-pressed olive oil,” Bucher said. “I brought back four tins of olive oil and two bottles of chianti — on the airplane! It was so good.” Bucher was also impressed with Italian coffee. “Coffee is very strong there. I thought, ‘So this is what a real cappucino is like!’” And she can’t wait to go back. “The people were really, really nice. We were sometimes in areas where very little English was spoken, but they always made an effort.” Churches, too, were significant stops on the tours. “When we would tour a church, we would just be ... it was just so ...,” Schoap was at a loss for words. “And some of our party who went to the Vatican ... it looked like it was a life-changing experience.” “Everybody was having such a good time that nobody said, ‘Gosh, I want to go home,’” Schoap said. ¶

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