It’s all about …
the Flower Girl
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editor Nathan Pettengill Designer/art director Shelly Bryant Chief Photographer Jason Dailey advertising representative John W. Kramer (785) 865-4091 ad designer Jenni Leiste copy editor Christy Little contributing illustrator Lora Jost contributing Photographer Jennifer Montgomery contributing writers Mick Braa Becky Bridson Katherine Dinsdale Amber Fraley Mary R. Gage Barbara Higgins-Dover Susan Kraus Cheryl Nelsen Julie Tollefson general manager Bert Hull
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Lawrence Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of The World Company.
When we release a publication with the name Lawrence Magazine, we often stop to ask: “Whose Lawrence? Which Lawrence?”
In our genre of city/regional publications, the tendency is often to give a loud and definitive answer to that question with stories such as “The City’s 5 People who Matter” or “The Top Restaurants in Our Town.” Personally, I’m never convinced. Over the past decades, Lawrence has grown so much in size and scope that, like many mid-range or large cities, it is actually several small communities and sections. Lawrence’s center of gravity and most essential locations are different depending who you ask. It could be Downtown, Allen Fieldhouse, the University of Kansas campus, the levee, a favorite restaurant, the Museum of Odd, Bloomington Beach or any of hundreds of places. Sure, Lawrence has must-see locations and venues. But, even those are different depending on who is doing the seeing. And that’s where, I think, we try to earn the use of “Lawrence” in the title of our magazine. Our magazine brings a different focus each quarterly issue, but it is basically a variation of “my essential Lawrence,” as told through the eyes and particular experiences of people who live in it. In this summer edition, we bring you several aspects of Lawrence as interpreted by the people who live or have lived here, including a self-taught sage of the Kaw River, an arts educator tapping Lawrence’s resources to introduce rural students to the humanities, and a dancer working with a range of amateurs and semi-professionals across the city. Their Lawrence might not be your Lawrence. And we’re not saying it should be. But the experiences are there to explore and inform as you select the best choices for your own life here, at home. Nathan Pettengill
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68 | King of the Kaw
Ten years after the death of Thomas Burns, his legacy endures as one of the region’s greatest fishermen and self-taught river sage
78 | All About the Flower Girl
Sorry, brides. Sorry, grooms. Your big day might actually turn out to be all about someone else.
How could we go wrong with a flower girl? As we began work on this issue, we thought the cover image selection would be the simplest process in the entire production. But things are never simple when you’re facing a final choice between cute and adorable. Art director Shelly Bryant worked up several variations from our three flower girls before settling on the final cover—a little red wagon and a lot of flower girl style. And then there were the mudfish—the Lawrence magazine native Kaw River catfish that feature so prominently in our second feature story about the fishing life It’s all about … of Thomas Burns. the Flower GIrl They are probably on the other end of the beauty scale, doing for Lawrence magazine ugly what flower girls do for cute. But Lawrence artist Lora Jost’s scratchboard image does away with the notion that their beauty is only in the eye of another mudfish. Her work, inspired by Burns’ written description of mudfish migrations, shows the fish abandoning the habitual comfort of their bottomdepth shelter to fling themselves up the Kaw, obeying instincts of regeneration and natural wonder.
on the cover At nearly eight months, and with the help of a wagon and her father, Evan B. makes her first appearance as a wedding flower girl.
14 | Odds Are
46 | Fishing for Life
If it’s old and unusual, Randy Walker’s home museum probably has it
Pok-Chi Lau studies the world through photography and fishing
51 | LM Fit Dance Steps
20 | ‘Starting Point’ A collaboration between the Lawrence arts scene and Elk County students aims to provide a vital link in the lives of young Kansans
26 | LM Gallery An Artistic ‘A-Team’ Angie, Anita and Annola start off our contributor’s A-name listing of Lawrence artists
32 | LM Bookmarks New books courtesy the mermaid, landscapes and early mornings
Lawrence studio provides instruction for adults at range of levels
and I wanted to be ... 56 | Greg Williams President and CEO, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce
58 | Lynne Green Executive director, VanGo
journey 60 | Susan’s Straight Talk on International Travel Insurance Because, sometimes, things do go globally wrong.
34 | Steve’s House of History
Museum director and staff unveil core exhibit as part of long-range plans for reviving city institution
38 | Anything is Possible The visual, linguistic world of Stephen T. Johnson
42 | Revelation An artist puts his former career on hold to create what he sees as sacred works with an urgent appeal
in every issue in every issue
86 | Summer 2013 Event
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This issue of Lawrence Magazine contains one of our most interactive lineup of department stories (not the “click here” type of interactive— though we have that in our online version—but rather the “hey, get out and see this!” approach). In the following pages, we have introductions that will allow you to set up your own tour of a sock monkey haven, prepare a fabulous fish recipe or even integrate some dance moves into your fitness routine—all near home and with Lawrencians as your personal guide. Enjoy the tour … hopefully these pages are only the first stop for some rewarding Lawrence explorations.
14 Odds Are 20 ‘Starting Point’ 26 LM Gallery: An Artistic ‘A-Team’ 32 LM Bookmarks 34 Steve’s House of History 38 Anything is Possible 42 Revelation 46 Fishing for Life 51 LM Fit: Dance Steps 56 And I Wanted To Be ... Greg Williams 58 And I Wanted To Be ... Lynne Green 60 Susan’s Straight Talk
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de p a rt m e nts Margaret Weisbrod Morris of the Lawrence Arts Center will work with community, business and university partners to host rural Kansas students in an art exchange program this summer.
Odds Are Randy Walker lives with a troop of sock monkeys at his home/ museum in East Lawrence.
If itâ€™s old and unusual, Randy Walkerâ€™s home museum probably has it story by Amber Fraley
photography by Jason Dailey
elcome to the Museum of the Odd. Your extremely knowledgeable docent will be Randy “Honey Boy” Walker, who happens to be the museum’s curator and owner. First up on the tour is an impressive collection of sock monkeys, of varying sizes and ages, resting on an “I collect antique couch in the front room of WalkAmerican kitsch. er’s home/museum in East Lawrence. “I’m known more for the sock mon- Anything in bad key collection than probably anything taste or godelse,” says Walker. “I got my first one in the late ’70s. These are all basically made awful, I’m pretty by women—mothers, aunts, grandmoth- much into it.” ers—for their kids. What attracted me -Randy Walker to these is not only are they iconic, but they’re all like me and you—made of the same stuff and yet so, so different from each other—which is always so weird to me.” He says this with a sparkle in his eye, and the listener understands that in this context, “weird” means “fascinating.” “I collect American kitsch. Anything in bad taste or godawful, I’m pretty much into it,” admits Walker. He likes the atypical, the strange, the freaky and yes, the odd. To that end, Walker has collected everything from naughty salt and pepWalker has more than 500 per shakers fashioned in the likes of nude women (you can sock monkeys, probably guess what the “shakers” are) to Elvis memorabilia— each highly including a lock of hair he purchased from Elvis’ former barindividualized such as this one, ber and a toenail Walker himself found in the carpet at Graceabove left, in a land—to Ray Charles’ used toothbrush. He also likes folk-art sequin dress. Walker says his trends that captured the imagination of Jane and Joe Average goal is to gather America who, as Walker says, used their ingenuity to “create in the “weird.” This deer-leg something from nothing.” Hence his collection of bottle cap lamp, left, men, figurines in garages across America from the 1940s to certainly meets the early 1970s. that standard.
Randy “Honey Boy” Walker’s list of … The 10 best environmental folk-art sites of Kansas 9 2
Paul Boyer Museum of Animated Carvings, Belleville Whimsical figures and musical instruments—all with moving parts. “Great artwork from a real genius,” says Walker.
Kracht’s Castle Island, Junction City Residential castle and moat built by Don Kracht. Tours by appointment.
Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, Chanute Tells the story of native Kansans Martin and Osa Johnson, pioneer photographers, explorers and naturalists.
World’s Largest Cow Hairball, Garden City Be warned—it’s exactly what you think it is.
Big Brutus, West Mineral Bucyrus-Erie electric shovel, which was the second-largest of its type in operation in the 1960s and 1970s
Ron Lessman’s Truckhenge, Topeka Folk art and display of old trucks. Tours by appointment.
M.T. Liggett’s Political Sculptures, Mullinville There’s something to offend everyone in this display.
World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City There’s heated debate as to who holds the claim to the “world’s largest,” but this one is gargantuan.
Garden of Eden, Lucas Concrete-art home presents the progressive environmental and political ideas of Union Army war veteran S.P. Dinsmoor, whose corpse is also preserved at an on-site glass mausoleum “looking pretty green,” says Walker. This is not to be missed. Walker says that as long as you’re in Lucas, stop by the Grassroots Art Center, the Deeble House and the World’s Largest Collection of World’s Smallest Versions of World’s Largest Things by Erika Nelson. “It’s a great oneday road trip.”
Glenn Stark Art, Kingman A collection of drive-past folk yard art with home museum of small wood sculptures.
More information about most of these sites can be found at www.roadsideamerica.com.
These hula dancer figurines were located individually and gathered to form an ensemble in Walker’s home. “There’s always room for 10 more,” says Walker.
One of Walker’s prized collections is his cow hairballs, or “bezoars.” Almost perfectly round and of varying sizes, these hairballs collect in a cow’s stomach after years of licking itself and other cows. Most large slaughterhouses just throw them away, but occasionally a private butcher will keep one. Thus, they are fairly rare and very sought out. Right now, Walker’s interest is in sideshow memorabilia, particularly old postcards. “A lot of people think that the people in sideshows were exploited,” says Walker, who asserts that at least in the cases of the most famous sideshow people, that’s not true. People like General Tom Thumb, he says, were actually quite business-savvy. When Walker was only 4 or 5 years old, his Lutheran minister father moved the family to Europe for a couple of years while doing some post-graduate work. Walker figures his interest in the old started then. “I got a real heavy dose of history at that point, and it really made an impression on me.” Walker’s grandparents were another major influence. Having lived through the Great Depression, they acquired a habit of saving everything at their home. Once, while visiting a local landfill with his grandfather, Walker found a pile of discarded daguerreotypes, one of the earliest types of photographs. Walker, 8 or 9 years old at the time, insisted that they pick up every single picture to save them from destruction. “I really got bit at that point,” he says. Nowadays, of course, daguerreotypes are highly collectable and worth much money. Originally from Kansas City, Walker was a chef in an earlier professional life. He cooked
Highbrow? Hardly. And that is exactly why this tiara-wearing stuffed raccoon fits perfectly into Walker’s home décor.
on the Plaza as well as in Lawrence, running the former Tin Pan Alley for about 10 years and cooking for local fraternities for 18 years. Now, he owns two booths at the Antique Mall downtown and maintains another booth in Kansas City. “I’ve got to keep them stocked, so I know every flea market and mom-and-pop operation and every huge antique mall there is in the Midwest.” He also runs estate sales, but surprisingly, doesn’t glean much museum fodder from them. “Usually, I’m trying to sell things to make money,” he explains. So why did Walker turn his house into a museum? Because it’s just one of those offbeat things that he thought would make for an interesting experiment. “How cool is it to turn your house into a museum?” he says, laughing.
Odd Hours … The Museum of the Odd is located at 1012 New York Street by appointment only. Call 843-8750 to schedule your personal tour. A donation of 50 cents per child and $1 per adult is suggested.
And why the nickname “Honey Boy?” That’s because Walker simply wanted to emulate the tradition of nicknames given to many of the creative eccentrics who founded “environmental folk-art sites,” such as the Garden of Eden in Lucas. “I love those,” Walker says of the sites. “They’re all over the United States. Probably I’ll end up doing something like that at some point. I’ve done it in an interior way, and I’ll probably expand to the exterior.” Lest you think that Walker is overly attached to his acquisitions, he’s actually not purchasing much for his personal collection right now, just because there’s not much left that piques his interest. Walker amasses some collections only to sell them and move on to something else. It’s not so much the actual objects themselves, but the idea behind the objects that seems to capture his imagination. “I like that idea of the human creative spirit just busting out,” he says, “just because it has to.” The cow hairballs, or “bezoars,” above left, hold a place of honor under glass display cases. The large one with the swami hat on top of its display case came from a butcher’s shop in Montana. Not only do these skull shapes, above right, hold matchsticks, but their jaws bob in rhythm when tugged. Meals at Walker’s kitchen table, right, never lack for conversation-piece starters.
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â€˜Starting Pointâ€™ A collaboration between the Lawrence arts scene and Elk County students aims to provide a vital link in the lives of young Kansans
story by Katherine Dinsdale
photography by Jason Dailey and Jennifer Montgomery
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argaret Weisbrod Morris, director of programs and partnerships for the Lawrence Arts Center, got caught skipping school from her suburban Washington, D.C., junior high. When her principal called her on the carpet, Margaret was hardly contrite. She had missed a day of class to hop a bus to the National Gallery of Art to see Vermeer’s Girl with a Red Hat. Happily, the life trajectory Weisbrod Morris’ truancy set has not proven a spiral of delinquency and crime, but quite the opposite. Her early enchantment with art and its powers for broadening horizons and fueling imagination powered her through a degree in art therapy and influences her still. Weisbrod Morris and like-minded colleague Laurie McLane-Higginson, curator of education at the Arts Center, and Liz Kowalchuk, associate dean for the School of the Arts at the University of Kansas, will host the third annual Elk County Summer Art Institute this June. The five-day program, funded by a grant from TradeWind Energy, which runs the Caney River Wind Project in Elk County, will provide about 30 students in grades six through 12 a wide variety of participatory art experiences they would not likely have the opportunity to enjoy in their sparsely populated and economically struggling southeast Kansas hometowns. Many of the students’ schools lack even basic art classes. While the program cannot replace regular exposure to the arts, it does aim to provide an intense exploration. Art Institute students stay in KU dorm rooms and begin each day with the quintessential college dining experience, breakfast at Mrs. E’s, the dining commons in Lewis Hall. Morning sessions are spent at KU, with time in the departments of Visual Art, Dance, Theatre and Film & Media Studies. In the KU theater department, students marvel at the endless closets of shoes and costumes and are invited to ham it up with props. The students also have been treated to demonstrations of the hydraulic lift used behind the scenes on stage. While visiting the KU dance department in summer
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Margaret Weisbrod Morris works with the Lawrence Arts Center to host students from Elk County.
2012, the kids did a “Thriller Workshop,” giving them a chance to practice moon walking and zombie-styled moves from Michael Jackson’s famous music video. An African dance workshop led by faculty member Willie Lenoir seemed pretty edgy for many of the students, but that is precisely the point of first exposures, says Weisbrod Morris. “The goal of this particular education program is giving people tools to open their minds to innovation and invention. When kids are growing up and looking for jobs, employers are “The program going to be looking for people is a huge who have creative skill sets, innovators who can think on opportunity.” -Margaret their feet.” After a morning at KU, Weisbrod Morris students spend the afternoon downtown at the Arts Center. There, they rotate through studios and get their hands dirty with a variety of projects that have included metalsmithing, filmmaking and lessons in theatrical makeup. Evening activities include time to watch short films produced by KU students and, last summer, a dress rehearsal of KU Theatre’s My Fair Lady. The typical week also includes a behind-the-scenes look at Murphy Hall, a South Park City Band concert, a tour of the Spencer Museum of Art and a
Photograph courtesy Lawrence Arts Center
Elk County Commuters … Calista Case Calista Case began eighth grade at West Elk Junior/Senior High after attending the Elk County Art Institute last summer. She and her family live along the highway in Moline, and Case says the Art Institute provided her first visit to Lawrence. “I knew Lawrence is big compared to Elk County, but just how big was a shocker. When I was walking downtown I thought, ‘Wow, I could have walked all the way from home to Howard by now.’ I’m thinking about attending KU now. I liked being on the KU campus. I liked doing the theater makeup. We learned to apply theatrical scars, bruises, wrinkles. I learned to do different makeup to make myself look like a clown and then, another day, a panda. I can even do facial hair.”
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Elk County Commuters … Brittany Ollenborger Brittany Ollenborger lives in Grenola and has plenty to say about her experience in Lawrence. “The people were great. I made several pair of silver earrings. I kept some and gave away some. I made plenty of new friends and found the dancing part of the camp a lot more fun than I expected.” Brittany says she hopes to return to camp this summer. “I like trying new things and since I’m from a small town, I think it’s important. I was nervous at first, but I made plenty of new friends. I had a blast.”
ticket to an opening night performance of the LAC summer youth theater. The program’s goal of bridging rural youth with arts and creativity became more pressing in spring 2013, when Elk County budget cuts led to the elimination of its youth development programs. It is now dependent on grants and volunteers, including Elk County adult chaperones who stay with the students in Lawrence. But Jennifer Montgomery, the county’s economic development director, believes the cuts have made the program only more essential. “One of the school’s art programs has also been cut,” says Montgomery. “These students are not being exposed to the arts, and the program is a huge opportunity.” Weisbrod Morris says she hopes the summer institute might prove essential to the students’ future as well. “Experiences with the arts can really change lives,” Weisbrod Morris says. “Certainly that’s been true in my own life. No matter who you are or where you grow up, someone sometime has to open a door for you and show you some possibilities. Sharing art is one way to open doors for young students. Certainly we can look at art and study it online and in books, but the main focus of this camp is actually being there, seeing and doing art. The Art Institute is all about opening doors. There’s a whole world out there and for these students, Lawrence is a starting point.”
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An Artistic ‘A-Team’ Angie, Anita and Annola start off our contributor’s A-name listing of Lawrence artists
awrence is rich in artists whose engaging body of work defies easy classification. The three artists on these pages have created well-crafted compositions and expressions that others can recognize and find meaningful—while remaining entirely individualistic in their personal explorations of subject, composition and visual expression. What they happen to share is the first letter of their name and a well-earned place on Lawrence’s ever-growing list of visual luminaries.
lawrence magazine gallery
story by Mick Braa
Anita Markley’s layered works of art are often shaped by locations and large ideas such as, from left, Latin Quarter, Art and Science III and Barcelona III.
Anita Markley Bits and pieces of abstracted landscape, invented imagery and digital prints are thinly layered together into carefully collaged, overpainted and in-painted compositions that suggest surreal or allegorical places and subjects. Anita Markley describes her paintings as projects arranged and rearranged until they all fit properly on a canvas or board. It’s a process where something that doesn’t really exist is built from thinly layered pieces of things that do. “My paintings develop as I do it. Sometimes I include realistic renderings of things, but I don’t really do a realistic painting,” says Markley. “I love the layering and the textures. The things that get overlapped or painted out leave edges and textures that add to the surface. Some of what I add changes to the painting’s structure, and this opens up things I didn’t see at first.” It wasn’t until after a long career as an art teacher that Markley began putting together a body of personal works to show. Her early training in mostly monochromatic printmaking perhaps adds a bit of graphic impact to her images. “I’m still not really sure how to handle color so I work and play around until it all seems to fit. The Paris paintings seem to have a lot of bluish sky and light, but my Barcelona paintings have a lot more warmth and intensity in the colors.” Markley usually works in series of paintings, and diptychs and triptychs seem to just happen when some paintings in a series seem to connect together. “Sometimes I work on a piece so long that I don’t immediately see how it works with another that I am doing. I usually work in series knowing that it gives me the motivation and momentum to continue on to the next paintings. I always know when the series is done when that energy fades.”
Angie Jackson “In our world of quick imagery you have to sometimes look or ask if it’s a photo or digital print or what. I want people to know that my work is hand-painted and to see the brush marks and the layers.” In an Angie Jackson portrait, the underlying strong draftsmanship, layered brushwork and texture of the paint on the canvas add to the sensation that, hey, this is a real painting. “Drawing always came easy, but I don’t use line a lot. I’m more about laying down tones and colors. Light and contrast are important.” Inspired by a Catholic upbringing filled with bold art, she began her ongoing efforts to elevate the common person or object to the same visual status as the saints and medieval icons. Her sketches and finished portraits are often reminiscent of important old master works. “I’m uncomfortable with an empty canvas, so I start with a neutral brushed-in background. Even if I know I’m going to do a portrait of a specific person, I need that randomness as a place to start. I lay down lights and darks working from the inside of a painting outwards.” More recently Jackson has concentrated on filling a composition with the single portrait, but she explains that she doesn’t really do portrait commissions and prefers to paint faces that are familiar and interesting to her. “But,” says Jackson, “an artist’s expression of something can’t become so personal or internalized that no one else can see who or what it is about. Faces are the most expressive images I know, and at the place I am now, they are a focus that allows me to hone all my skills. I see no reason right now to paint anything else.”
Angie Jackson has begun focusing her art on portraits that proudly carry the telltale brushmarks and other indications of a handmade painting. Some of these include, from top to bottom: detail from Adam, Eve and Steve; Face for a Box, and detail from Waterlily Ophelia.
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Annola Charity As a child growing up in Lawrence, Annola Charity always loved creating art, but when her mother taught her the secrets of sewing doll clothes it spurred a passion for fabrics, fibers and color that shows in her textile art, watercolors, prints, art cards, collages and mixed-media works. In the late ’90s her strikingly complex art quilts garnered several awards and commissions, but like many artists, she has moved into smaller and more digitally marketable art as patrons moved toward more portable works. “I always have a portfolio of ideas that I want to try. Like I always wanted to do designer pillows as little canvases of art that people could collect and toss around,” says Charity. In Charity’s recent works, even a watercolor might have stitched lines of thread to add texture and define a feather, leaf or the horizon in a softly abstracted landscape. The fabrics arranged in the background of her digital scanographs are foils to the carefully composed objects and images placed on the scanner’s glass. “On the flat-bed scanner, everything is composed and layered in reverse, and it all still has to fit in the scanner’s focal range. I’m also working with ways to stiffen fabrics without changing how they look too much—to get them to appear to drape and hang in different ways.” For most of Charity’s career she has created art as a supplement to her income, but she still found time to study fiber and textile design at KU, complete a degree in drafting and raise children. As a young grandmother working with specialneeds middle schoolers, she works hard to find and take time for art. “I just have to keep making art, and I don’t really think about the aesthetic or cultural things in my work, I just focus on each piece until it looks right and move on to another. Like all artists, I work with images and forms that are familiar all around us.”
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Annola Charity’s art includes scanned images such as, right and far right, Five Eggs and Peacock Feathers, as well as stitch work such as Morning Mist, center.
Megan Kaminski The poems gathered in Megan Kaminski’s debut book, Desiring Map (Coconut Books, 2012), reflect time spent under immense prairie skies and beside deep, infinite oceans. An adventurous spirit and a thirst to see the world shaped Kaminski, who lived on both coasts and in Europe before landing in Lawrence several years ago. “I came here for the first time in April of 2006, and it was just a beautiful day,” she says. “Everyone was so friendly and we ate lunch at Free State, and I just fell in love.” Kaminski teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Kansas, and she spent six years writing the poetry for Desiring Map. “I started writing it when I lived in the Bay area and Portland, Oregon, but I moved here and suddenly Kansas became part of the book.” She goes on to describe it as “a book that explores human possibilities in nature. It explores the landscape of many regions—the grasslands of the Midwest to Paris and the suburbs of Los Angeles. It’s about basic human emotions and longing and the desire to be connected to other people and to place and to feel like we belong.” When Kaminski isn’t writing her own poetry, she’s promoting the poetry of others by acting as curator of the Taproom Poetry Series at the Eighth Street Taproom in downtown Lawrence. “The goal is to bring in interesting and innovative writers with a national reputation to share their writing and also to share the stage with the wonderful writers in Lawrence so it opens up a dialogue.”
New books courtesy landscapes, early mornings and the mermaid
Louie Galloway When Louie Galloway read selections from her book Tappings at the Raven Bookstore recently, her poems rang out with the energy and elegance of her childhood in Louisiana, of city life and wildlife, of the cycle of the seasons and the cycles of life. She’s been writing for many years and has developed a routine. “I would always get up early in the morning and be at my desk and write,” she says, “then get the kids off and go to work. I still do write early in the morning. It clears your mind up a little bit and helps you get in touch.” Galloway taught at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and she says that she loved the students and teaching poetry to “visual artists.” After retiring and moving to Lawrence to be close to family, she found time to create and self-publish Tappings. “The poems were written over the years,” she says. “When I looked back, I saw the theme.” Galloway says that her new hometown is reflected in her work. “The last section of the book is really Kansas poems,” she says. “I feel very comfortable here in Lawrence. I like to walk a lot. I walk on the levee. I enjoy the river and the trees.”
story by Mary R. Gage
Laura Hobson Herlihy To get to the village of Kuri on the Honduran Miskito Coast, Laura Hobson Herlihy navigates her way first by jet, then by small plane, next by canoe, and finally, for the last several miles, by foot, carrying her belongings on her back. It’s become a familiar journey she’s made many times over the last 20 years. An anthropologist and lecturer at the University of Kansas’ Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Herlihy has coalesced years of field study and her interest in the native Rio Platano Miskitu people into the recently released book The Mermaid and the Lobster Diver (University of New Mexico Press, 2012). This surprising and informative book presents a female-dominated culture that Herlihy describes as relying on “commodified gender relations and sexuality” in which, she says, “the women manipulate the men and use their sex magic to get money.” In Miskitu culture, the powerful magic of the native women emanates from the Mermaid, the dominant Afro-indigenous goddess who owns the sea’s wealth. She controls the men by allocating the gift of the lobster, and at times, she punishes them for overharvesting by afflicting them with the debilitating effects of what they call “mermaid sickness,” commonly known as the bends. Herlihy has begun further projects based on her work, such as a documentary film with Hispano Durón, an independent director from Honduras and doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas. In the future, they hope to produce a musical. Herlihy has already commissioned Miskitu musicians for the score and is writing lyrics in the Miskitu language based on the songs, poetry and experiences she’s had with the indigenous people of the Miskito Coast— a people who, she confesses, have bewitched her.
SHORT TAKES Downstairs at the Eighth Street Taproom, 801 New Hampshire St., poets from across the country and around the world participate in the Taproom Poetry Series. Megan Kaminski and Jim McCrary organize this monthly, free event that offers local poets a chance to interact with nationally recognized writers. For more information go to www.taproompoetry.blogspot.com.
photography by Jason Dailey
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Steve’s House of History Museum director and staff unveil core exhibit as part of long-range plans for reviving city institution
O Steve Nowak, executive director of the Watkins Community Museum of History, sits at the edge of one of the museum’s more unusual pieces—a private bathtub that was in the office of the historic site’s builder J.B. Watkins.
n any given weekday, Steve Nowak might be his three staff members, three interns and as many as 25 volfound behind his desk. But he is just as likely unteers, some of whom, Nowak notes, have graciously assisted to be found shuttling among the three floors “for years and years and years.” One of the museum’s biggest projects and Nowak’s largof artifacts and displays at the Watkins Community Museum of History in down- est undertaking since his arrival revolves around a large, town Lawrence, working on exhibit text preparation, budget permanent, core exhibit on the second floor that was funded by a $100,000 Douglas County Natural and Cultural Heriissues, newsletters, promotions and public collection. Navigating the stairs and responsibilities of Watkins has tage Grant. Opening in August 2013, this display marks the 150th anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid on become Nowak’s job since he accepted the Lawrence and incorporates artifacts and post of museum director in February 2011. “It was a time stories from events that forced the region Arriving from a position as head of educainto the center of national strife. It’s an tion and community outreach for the Tole- for rethinking exhibit that requires telling a complicatdo Museum of Art, Nowak was charged by how the public ed history in an informative way—and Watkins’ governing board—operating as keeping an eye on the nuts and bolts of the Douglas County Historical Society— experiences welcoming visitors into a historic buildwith a mandate for “dramatically trans- their visit and ing. “We’re doing some restoration on the forming” the museum’s presence and conhow to make ceiling and improving electrical work as tribution to the community. well as placing text panels and displays “It was a time for rethinking how the improvements in around the room,” explains Nowak. “We public experiences their visit and how to that area.” make improvements in that area,” says -Steve Nowak are taking the opportunity of installing the exhibit to upgrade the facilities.” Nowak. The St. Louis native hopes the The building itself, completed as the community has noticed the changes and points to the museum’s new initiatives of joining in as a host Watkins National Bank in 1888, is “probably our best artifact,” of Final Fridays art events, launching a series of family pro- notes Nowak. “It was beautifully built, and we want the renovagram events such as a series on summer games, partnering tion to showcase rather than cover up the details.” That renovawith University of Kansas museum studies programs to host tion philosophy could also serve as a metaphor for the mission of exhibits and introducing a new series of rotating community- the museum, its new director, and his approach in sharing counthemed exhibitions. It’s an overhaul that Nowak shares with ty history.
story by Barbara Higgins-Dover photography by Jason Dailey
Steve Nowak’s Take On … 5
Essential Facts that Every Visitor Should Know About Lawrence History
City was founded in 1854 largely by settlers sponsored through the New England Emigrant Aid Co.
Lawrence was considered the capital of the free-state cause during the territorial period of 1854-1861.
The original “Jayhawkers” were guerrilla warriors who fought pro-slavery factions along the Missouri-Kansas border.
William Quantrill and his pro-Confederate gang raided and burned Lawrence on August 21, 1863.
James Naismith, inventor of basketball, was the University of Kansas’ chaplain and first basketball coach.
Surprising Facts about Lawrence’s History
Lawrence was the “Barbed Wire Capital of the West” in the late 1800s as several industrialists manufactured the product in what is now the city’s downtown region.
Lawrence’s Bowersock Dam began producing hydroelectric power in the 1880s.
The city held a German POW camp during World War II.
A roller coaster once ran in East Lawrence’s Woodland Park.
Lawrence hosted a Hollywood movie premiere, Dark Command, in 1940.
Fascinating Objects in the Watkins Community Museum of History
X-ray machine used to measure people’s feet in a shoe store in Lawrence in the 1950s (radioactive materials now removed).
Pike made for John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.
“Old Sacramento,” a cannon used in the sack of Lawrence in 1856.
Early-1900s electric Milburn automobile driven by Eleanor Henley, wife of Lawrence’s barbed wire baron.
Sword presented to Union Gen. James Lane to honor his service in the army.
History Mysteries (Large
5 and Small) of Lawrence 1
Who was killed in Quantrill’s Raid? We don’t know exactly the names of all the victims. There were people visiting town at the time, and all the remains were not identified.
What was the damage in Quantrill’s Raid? We don’t know the full extent of the damage. For example, many buildings were recorded as being burned, but we don’t know if this means burned to ground or partially damaged.
Did Clyde Barrow rob Lawrence? Clyde Barrow, the “Clyde” in the famous bank-robbing duo of “Bonnie and Clyde,” might or might not have pulled off a bank robbery in Lawrence. An early associate of Clyde Barrow, Ralph Fults, claims that he assisted Barrow in robbing Lawrence’s First National Bank in 1932, but no other record or report of the robbery exists.
What’s the story with J.B.’s Bathtub? Nestled between the third floor and the mezzanine level of the Watkins Community Museum is a bathtub surrounded with wood paneling. Staff and local experts assume this was part of small hideaway for J.B. Watkins, who built the building and owned the bank—but the building’s original blueprints have never been found, and the position of the bathtub places it behind an area that would have held documents and working papers.
What happened to Hugh? Why, in 1881, at the age of 55, did Lawrence resident Hugh Cameron suddenly choose to stop cutting his hair and beard, withdraw from society, live in a tree house near the Kaw River and become the “Kansas Hermit”?
A storage area in the Watkins Community Museum of History holds documents as well as business and organizational signboards from the city’s past.
ranging and all his own. He has delved into a myriad of projects, including the writing and illustration of several award-winning children’s books, public art and even teaching a class at the Kansas City Arts Institute. “I’ve been freelancing since 1987,” he says. “It’s a roller coaster ride of difficult times and successful times.” While Johnson’s most high-profile public art pieces are mosaics in subways in New York City and Los Angeles, his work can also be viewed in Lawrence. In the entryway of the Lied Center is Johnson’s Arrangement in Red, Blue and Gold, a metal wall sculpture made up of manipulated musical notes that call to mind an image of fire. And perhaps his most recognized work in Lawrence is Freeform, the red and orange torch-like metal sculpture that sits across from City Hall and in front of the city’s flagpoles on the southwest corner of Sixth and Massachusetts streets. Johnson explains that the pieces making up the flames are based on the letters f-r-e-e. “They’ve been abstracted into a flame of resolve, which is a nod to Langston Hughes’ quote on City Hall: We have tomorrow bright before us like a flame. It also echoes the burning of Lawrence.” Outside the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum near Clinton Lake are Johnson’s Freedom Rings. “This piece is about freedom, too; it’s all about the Underground Railroad. Each ring also represents one of the 10 communities that were destroyed to create Clinton Reservoir.” In fact, if one were to look down at the rings from an aerial view, one sees that the rings look very much as town dots on a map. “The circles represent quite a lot of different things, from the shackles of the slaves to the flotation devices of the kids on the lake to just the idea of unity and community,” explains Johnson. For many of the public artworks, Johnson conceives the design but must leave the fabrication to someone else. Local metal fabricator Cotter Mitchell provided the work for Johnson’s public pieces in Lawrence, while the mosaics were executed by a
Stephen T. Johnson, opposite, unveils his mixed media work Blueberry Blues at his studio in Lawrence. This work was the “B” entry for Johnson’s book A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, which was selected by The New York Times as “Best Illustrated Book of the Year.” With a formal education in painting and illustration, Johnson’s career work includes, above from left, book illustrations, mixed media and paintings.
In the visual, linguistic world of Stephen T. Johnson …
Anything is Possible
t might be somewhat unfair to cite Stephen T. Johnson’s upbringing as the explanation for his extraordinary artistic ability. The fact of the matter is that the man’s talent is most definitely his own, forged through years of study, hard work and deference for the exceptional. Still, his background couldn’t have hurt. Johnson was born in Lawrence and lived here for most of his childhood. But his family moved to France a couple of times as his father, Theodore “Ted” Johnson Jr., was a University of Kansas professor of French. In France, the younger Johnson became bilingual and established a sort of connection to his grandfather, J. Theodore Johnson, an American painter who attended the Art Institute of Chicago, studied art in Paris and was a Guggenheim Fellow. “He died right before I was born, but we have many of his paintings and drawings,” says Johnson. “Growing up there was art all the time. My dad always took life drawing classes and he went into language as opposed to art, but he is also very talented and creative.” Johnson graduated from KU with fine arts degrees in painting and illustration in 1987 and went where the action was. “When I was at KU I really wanted to do covers for publications like Time as well as illustrations for record covers and things. I moved directly after graduation to New York City.” Three months after arriving, Johnson landed a cover illustration for Forbes Magazine. He continued to create illustrations for Time, GQ and the New Yorker, among many others. He also picked up illustrating jobs for book covers, children’s books and yes, album covers. The experiences, Johnson says, were useful for his formative years. “The illustration made sense because there was a cause and effect—there was a job,” he says. “And it also made sense in my development as an artist. I didn’t yet have a voice in terms of style or what I wanted to say with paint; I didn’t know.” But those 13 years of studying and doing illustrations in New York laid the groundwork for Johnson’s recent work, which is wide-
story by Amber Fraley
photography by Jason Dailey
Pop Quiz, Johnson’s “P” entry in his A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet book (photograph courtesy Stephen T. Johnson and Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Book). Johnson, right, grew up in Lawrence and makes the town his home when he is not teaching on sabbatical or traveling for a work installation.
German company. The public art, Johnson explains, requires many hours of proposals and planning, and is ultimately about “solving problems in public spaces.” Johnson’s foray into children’s books has been hugely successful. He’s written and illustrated several honored titles such as Alphabet City, My Little Yellow Taxi and My Little Red Toolbox. His methods for creating the illustrations for his children’s books range from drawing and painting, to photography, to photographs of his collages and installations, to digital manipulation. For his book A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, Johnson pushed his skills to the limit, creating a unique collage or installation for each individual letter of the alphabet. The result was not only another highly acclaimed book, but multiple pieces of art for shows in museums and galleries. For the letter “P” Johnson created a brightly colored multimedia collage called Pop Quiz containing such P-words and concepts such as pouring purple paint on
pancakes, pink paperclips, peanuts, peas, pointed pencil, potato chips, polka dots, popcorn, puzzle pieces … and it’s all in the style of pop art. After more than 30 years of creating art, “I’m still honing in on the artist that I’m meant to be, but I think it’s happening with collage,” says Johnson. For this journey, Johnson thinks his early training was paramount. “I feel as if it’s important to paint well and draw well and have an academic background and love of beautiful drawing and painting— realism—and then from that I can expand and do this abstract work.” But the new abstract work has really captured his and a lot of other peoples’ imaginations. And if you could peek into the artistic schemes that fill Johnson’s head, it might be like looking into a kinetic kaleidoscope: ever-moving, ever-evolving and with colors that would blow your mind. “The art world has expanded to include such a huge definition of what constitutes art,” says Johnson. “Anything is possible. Nothing is not not possible.”
An artist puts his former career on hold to create what he sees as sacred works with an urgent appeal
Lawrence native, the son of a Haskell Indian Nations University track-basketball-football coach, a Vietnam War veteran, a Potawatomi-Creek American Indian, an avid downhill skier—Barry Coffin drew on many identities and combined them with wicked satire to become a rising artist in the 1970s and 1980s. Honored by the Santa Fean Magazine as the 1982 “artist of the year,” detailed in the encyclopedic Contemporary Western Artists and included in the Institute of American Art’s Three Decades of Contemporary Indian Art, Coffin was singled out by critics and collectors for his approach to ceramics and social commentary. After all, in the explosive years after Wounded Knee and the Leonard Peltier arrest, very few artists could match Coffin’s mastery and audacity to pull off a ceramic portrait of a lynched Native American and call it Another Good Indian or to combine Native American religion and Hollywood hype to create acclaimed works such as Wallykoshare Meets Rambo, a towering clay figure holding a rubber chicken. “That was my way of showing how the Indians had been treated, but adding humor,” says Coffin. These works allowed Coffin to live the dream of many young artists. He garnered awards, took up an artist residency in France, went to parties and left behind a series of gallery pictures where he plays the role of the smiling, acclaimed, mustachioed painter with his arm around the most beautiful woman at the exhibition. But then Coffin, born in 1947, arrived at a point where he says he lost enthusiasm for his work. In part, he welcomed the burnout, because it also meant an end to the anger that had flowed just under
story by Nathan Pettengill
the surface of his artistic creations and had fueled his work’s biting humor. He returned to Lawrence in 1999 and for one year he created nothing that he particularly enjoyed until, in a period of 14 days, he fired a series of 14 clay sculptures unlike anything else he had made. He called them “the space plants.” Alternatively squat or stem-shaped figures with trunklike necks and glowing colors, these whimsical ceramic sculptures would fit in with the cast of a cheery children’s cartoon show. And their purpose, Coffin thought at the time, was simply to bring joy. At the least, they revived their creator’s interest in art. “I started making these, and I just couldn’t wait to make another one,” says Coffin. Approximately two years later, Coffin was inspired to create a very different series—muscular and robotic-shaped figures that he named “The Ancient Warriors.” With these creations, Coffin realized his artwork had been moving away from satire and American Southwest traditions, but he didn’t understand his inspirational source until 2002, when he reached out to a spiritualist in Arizona who explained to him that the space plants and the warriors were the first celestial spirits who would be contacting him in order to open a bridge with humans. “She told me that I had agreed lifetimes ago that I would do it when I was born, when I came into this life, that this was my purpose. And it just made sense, it was right that this was what I am here to do. I never doubted that this was my purpose,” says Coffin. The spiritualist instructed Coffin to begin a new series, The 7 Masters of Truth, followed by more groups of sacred sculptures. And she told him he should begin performing on a drum in ceremonies to honor these spirits. Coffin says he didn’t know why she assumed
photography by Jason Dailey
The work of Barry Coffin, center, includes ceramic creations of whimsical figures such as Wallykoshare, upper left, sacred works such as the White Buffalo grandparents, above right, and figures inspired by his “sacred beings” series, opposite.
‘Purest and Most Powerful Expression’ From one artist to another, kudos for Barry Coffin’s ‘Celestial Spirits’ Barry Coffin’s work—both for its spiritual focus and artistic approach—has enchanted key collectors and fellow artists, including rock musician Steve Miller (“Take the Money and Run,” “Abracadabra,” “Fly Like an Eagle” and other mega-hits). Lawrence Magazine invited Miller to comment on Coffin’s “Celestial Spirits.” One of the most interesting aspects of knowing Barry over the years has been watching him grow from an immaculately skilled and talented young artist with a great sense of color and space into a mature and brilliant artist with a unique ability to simplify all the complicated elements need to create great sculpture. He has learned how to take the complexity of life and the yearning for grace and turn that yearning into tranquil, beautiful, simple work with great power. Like Matisse did when he simplified his work to fewer and fewer lines to gain greater strength and emotion into his work, the more experience he has gained over time the more he has focused on purity and simplicity in his work. I have over 50 of his pieces in my studio and home, and they have all been messengers from a higher space encouraging my own creativity. All of his work has been wonderful to live with and it has changed dramatically over the years as Barry’s vision and skills have grown with the gaining of knowledge and experience and the passage of life. His latest “Celestial Spirits” series is the purest and most powerful expression of his vision and philosophy to date. Steve Miller
he had a drum or could play it—maybe it was just because he was an Indian and people assumed Indians played drums—but he had, in fact, made a drum some 20 years previous and had set it aside, thinking he might have a reason for it. “I didn’t know what I was doing, I just started beating it, but it channeled through on how to play it.” Since beginning The Seven Masters of Truth in 2002, Coffin has cycled through several groups of celestial figures, sometimes conferring with a new spiritual consultant but often receiving messages directly. “I’ll get this thought,” says Coffin. “It will be clear and accurate: ‘You should do seven new statues.’” Recent messages have directed him to create a series of buffalo-image figures as well as a series based on Christ, Mother Mary and Hannah (also known as Saint Anne). Coffin is intentionally non-canonical about the celestial beings and their message. He knows they exist, that they are part of connections to a God represented in Native American, Christian and other religious traditions, and that they are deeply concerned about the plight of Earth. And he believes that they can assist people and help restore the planet. But Coffin does not see it as his role to explain precise beliefs, nor is he certain that their entire message has been revealed. “I’m a tool to create the vessels so they can come do their work,” says Coffin. “Sometimes I receive a message of their purpose, and sometimes I don’t.” From the perspective of Coffin’s financial-artistic career, the celestial sculptures are probably a setback. After all, this isn’t the traditional type of American Indian art sold in posh, Southwest galleries. And though Coffin sells artwork that has been inspired by his revelations, he doesn’t sell work created from the revelations or related to the original figures that he describes as “sacred statues” and takes out for special ceremonies once a month. In addition, the figures—and the granular, thirsty Kansas clay that Coffin currently uses to make them—demand layers and layers of paint and painstaking replication to a particular form. Coffin acknowledges many people will reject his work and the spiritual core behind it. Nonetheless, he says it as an honor to receive the message and he plans on continuing this series of works as long as the revelations continue. “There’s no going back,” says Coffin. “But this is much more exciting.”
+ The Sacred Art of Barry Coffin Barry Coffin’s current artwork is inspired by what he describes as “sacred beings.” He describes his knowledge of them as coming through a series of revelations from 2000 to the present. At times, Coffin says he receives information about the purpose and nature of the beings, but at other times he says he is directed to create statues of them in order to facilitate their communication with other individuals on earth. Though Coffin has created a few statues of individual sacred beings, most of them are members of a group, whose arrival or purpose is revealed at one time. Some of them include: Space Plants Bright figurines created, says Coffin, “to bring joy and innocence back to people on the planet so their hearts can open in a gentle and easy way.” Ancient Warriors Figures whose purpose is to make way for the more revelatory beings. 7 Masters of Truth Powerful figures whose full purpose, Coffin says, has not been revealed to him. He believes they exist to create connections with individuals and to make way for the 13 Grandmothers. 13 Grandmothers Some of the figures that have communicated to Coffin in more length. Messages from each of these grandmothers are described on Coffin’s website www.thespiritualgrandmothers.org 4 Creator Beings Created in 2008, after Coffin received a message that these beings were asleep at the four corners of the United States and should be awoken. Coffin traveled approximately 10,000 miles to the four extremities of the U.S. continental border to conduct drumming ceremonies to wake them. Tree of Life Statues Figures representing the children of Hannah, also known as Saint Anne.
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Fishing for Life Pok-Chi Lau studies the world through photography and fishing
uch of Pok-Chi Lau’s life has been as a combination art- and research photographer, documenting human behaviors such as political strife or population migration in a very scientific way, but with the beauty of his keen photographer’s eye. “I always knew I wanted to be a photographer,” Lau says as he begins to trace the long route that led to his dream profession. Born in Hong Kong, Lau’s first job as a teenager was in a factory, sorting electronic parts for 10 hours a day. It was drudging work, and at 19 he moved to Canada where his jobs as a cook in Asian restaurants qualified as a better opportunity. Lau then moved to California and enrolled in the Brooks Institute of Photography before doing his graduate work at the California Institute of the Arts. He was hired in 1977 as an assistant professor of photography by the University of Kansas, right out of graduate school. He stayed at KU, recently retiring after 35 years. Looking at Lau’s photographs (many of which can be seen at his website, www.pokchilau.com), it is apparent that he studies even the most mundane scenes with a scrutinizing gaze. And he brings this same approach to his hobbies, such as fishing, where every step of the process—from catching the fish to preparing it—is given his full attention. As he scales a white bass in his kitchen, Lau explains that while fishing is a relaxing pursuit for most, it isn’t for him. That’s because Lau and his longtime fishing buddy Ned Kehde have honed their fishing skills to such a degree that up until just a few years ago, it was not uncommon for them to reel in as many as 100 fish—each—in a single Kansas fishing outing. “We never have a chance to sit down,” he says. Lau adds that he fishes with just a pole, without using technology such as sonar, and he throws the vast majority of the fish back, keeping only what he is able to eat or fix for friends. The number of fish he’s able to catch has slowed in recent years, though, due to pollution, drought and overfishing. “I’ve seen guys catching 200—and keeping 200. Why would anyone want to keep 200? Greed. And ignorance. And to make it worse, it’s a very common practice in—I hate to use this term—Western culture. You don’t want to eat the skin. You only fillet the fish out and throw away the rest. That means there’s only about 30-35 percent of the fish being used. It really hurts me when I go to Alas-
story by Amber Fraley
photography by Jason Dailey
Pok-Chi Lau prepares a white bass fish from his home kitchen in Lawrence.
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Lau’s fish stir fry with veggies and brown rice Preparation time: approximately 45 minutes Serves 3-4
Fish 1.5 pound fresh fish fillets, ½- to ¾-inch thick, skin on, cut into 3-inch lengths for easy turning and marinating (Lau recommends white bass or wiper fish—a hybrid of white bass and striped bass— for the Kansas region) 2-square-inch cube ginger, julienned 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 tablespoon cooking wine 1 tablespoon olive oil for marinating 1 teaspoon olive oil for frying (if Teflon skillet is used, if not use 3 tablespoons) 2 fresh scallions, chopped
Fish sauce ¼ cup raisins, soaked/microwaved in ½ cup hot water to soften 1 pear, peeled and chopped 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Roasted ginger & almond topping 1 teaspoon olive oil 3-inch length of fresh ginger, peeled & julienned 10 almonds, roughly chopped
Lightly sautéed veggies 1 pound asparagus, chopped in thirds 2 red peppers, diced 1 tablespoon cooking wine 1 teaspoon sea salt 1/8 cup toasted sesame seeds 1/8 cup fresh peeled & julienned turnip (Lau recommends washing conventionally grown vegetables in a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda per ¾ gallon of water to remove pesticides.) Hot, cooked brown and sweet brown rice mixture
In a bowl, toss fish fillets with ginger, salt and cooking wine. When fish is thoroughly coated, add olive oil and toss to seal flavors into the fish. Set aside for 15-20 minutes. 1. In small frying pan, heat one teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add ginger and chopped almond and roast over medium heat to turn brown for two minutes or so, taking care not to let it burn. Set aside. 2. In medium frying pan over medium heat, add raisins with soaking water, diced pear and soy sauce. Sauté over medium heat, allowing sugars to develop. Add a tablespoon at a time of water as needed to keep mixture from drying out. Sauté for two or three minutes, until mixture develops a slightly syrupy sauce. Place in a bowl and set aside. Wipe out frying pan. 3. Heat frying pan over high heat. Place asparagus, peppers, cooking wine and salt in pan. Sauté for about 1 minute, then place lid on pan and allow veggies to steam for another two minutes. Place veggies on serving platter, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and set aside. 4. Heat frying pan over high heat. Add teaspoon of olive oil. Place fish fillets in pan skin side down. Cook for 11/2 minute or so with the lid on, turn fillets over and cook for another 11/2 minute with lid on . 5. To serve fish, place cooked fillets on platter, spoon raisin and pear mixture over the top (with the sauce) then sprinkle with roasted ginger and almonds and chopped scallions. Serve fish and veggies with rice.
Lau suggests setting aside the head, the bones and the belly of the fish to use in a soup as fish stock. wellness
ka or Canada and I see people catch halibut the size of a barn door—500-pound fish—and see how much fish they actually waste, per fish. I think it’s a crime,” he says. Though his fishing interests started in Kansas, Lau has now fished all over the world. Last year he traveled to eight countries, including Russia and Cuba. His goal is to gain an understanding of the way natural and political environments affect the ways in which people live. When he travels, he takes photos, but also studies what people eat and why. He makes sure to fish the rivers, ponds, oceans and reservoirs. This is to not only sample for himself what species of fish are left in the area, but also to take note of their size and health. And he talks to locals, asking them about their lives, their diets, and when he can, the way they are treated under their respective governments. In his retirement, Lau takes fishing trips where he catches and prepares a variety of fresh water and sea fish. At home, Lau eats local fish less often, about once a week at most, because of the high levels of toxin in most fish. For that reason, each dish becomes more important, more deliberate in the way it is prepared, served and consumed. For Lau, who says he works to be as cognizant as possible about recycling, composing and minimizing waste, this careful consideration in the kitchen fits perfectly into the idea of a responsible life. And that includes the dishes—because when Lau cooks at home for himself and his wife, Daphne Johnston, it’s the chef who cleans up the kitchen.
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LM FIT Dance Steps Lawrence studio provides instruction for adults at range of levels
The Approach After she simultaneously whips her left arm across her body and plants her left foot, Cathy Patterson shifts her weight back, powers off her right foot, raises on her left foot and swings her right leg and arm forcefully, gracefully high in the air. The right side of her body smoothly melts toward the ground before she finishes with a sharp shoulder pop. Four flawless seconds later, she moves out of the choreography as casually and naturally as she stepped into it. “I just love that it’s an art that’s also physical,” says Patterson, owner/dancer/ instructor at Point B Dance. “I think people love dance because it’s so physical and so expressive.” Like many dance studios, Point B Dance instructs children through classes offered by Deena Schaumburg. But the studio is fairly rare in concentrating on adult courses—and that presents an inherent challenge. Whereas children generally start at the novice level and work upward, adults looking for dance classes might have years of instruction—or none— behind them. Patterson, working with assistant director Carly Malsom and seven instructors, devised a range of courses for all levels. One class, for example, is strictly for fitness. Some classes follow a four-week progressive pattern where students build upon the choreography they learn the first class. Beginning classes provide novice dancers the opportunity to get their shuffling feet wet, while the technique classes provide an opportunity for more experienced students to sharpen their skills. At the first levels, the point is anything but perfection. “When you come in here and you’re dancing, you don’t think about anything else,” says Patterson. “It’s the same with exercise. My goal is for them to have a place where they can just for an hour feel like they don’t have to worry about anything.”
The Range Kim Lybarger, a stay-at-home mom and Point B client, had no formal training when she started at Point B two years ago.
story by Becky Bridson
photography by Jason Dailey
“There’s all these lovely, young dancers who are technically skilled and inspiring,” says Lybarger. “I was just bumbling along. I’m still sort of in that space where every time I go I bumble through a little bit better than the last time.” Patterson recommends taking two or three rounds of the four-week beginning courses before jumping into an open class, but that fusion of experienced and new talent on the same floor is exactly what Patterson says she is trying to achieve in particular classes. “In our open classes, we have all ranges of abilities,” says Patterson. “We have people who have danced on cruise ships or music videos to people who have not danced very much.” Michelle Stewart, a litigation attorney and Point B client, is part of that mix. She danced for nearly 20 years and spent much of her childhood at the Dance Factory in Topeka—alongside Patterson. After a 12-year layoff, she’s now been back on the floor for a year. Stewart and Lybarger both have comfortably found a niche and encourage others to give it a try. “It’s not about how high you can kick your leg or how many turns you can do,” says Stewart. “It’s that you’re there. You’re dancing. You’re doing the movements.” “Everybody’s so encouraging,” Lybarger says. “You can totally mess up and not one person cares. Even if you went and flubbed up, and you were the worst dancer ever, you would probably have a really great time. Personally, I find myself giddy after class. You just go, and you have a ball.” The Pro-Alternative The triple threat of dance—technicality, musicality, showmanship—Patterson seeks each quality when forming her AIM Dance Company, which is mostly made up of college-aged, experienced dancers. This past spring, the company consisted of 22 females and four males, ranging in age from 16 to 32. The studio holds auditions at the beginning of each semester. Once chosen, dancers rehearse and train rigorously for the final show, which has a concert dance emphasis in the fall and a commercial dance focus in the spring. “They have to be advanced in something,” says Patterson. “We have people who are stronger in hip hop and people stronger in jazz and people stronger in contemporary, and we try to highlight all of that in our shows.” In the future, Patterson would like to offer a formal program to college students who want to continue their dance careers following childhood and high school while earning a college degree. Most dancers are forced to choose between pursuing their dance careers in New York or L.A. and learning a more practical trade in college. “The college-aged dancers could do a four-year training program,” says Patterson. “Then, when they graduate, they have choices. They can do what they’ve trained to do, or they can try to dance, and they’re not way behind in dance. It’s a compromise.”
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and i wanted to be ...
photograph by Jason Dailey
Greg Williams president and CEO, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce In 1972, the Dow Jones index crossed 1,000 for the first time, the Apollo 17 crew became the last men to walk on the moon, NASA announced it would develop a new type of spacecraft to be called “space shuttles,” the Goodyear Blimp took its maiden flight, and Evel Knievel jumped over 35 cars—and broke only 93 bones.
Greg Williams lives out his childhood dream from his office in downtown Lawrence.
I was 10 years old. We lived in Jefferson City, Missouri, where I played a lot of baseball and basketball as well as every other sport known to man at Moreau Heights Elementary School. I had a fascination with speed and would gawk at any fighter jet I saw. And I wanted to be … another Chuck Yeager.
and i wanted to be...
Executive Director,VanGo In 1957, Elvis Presley rocked the nation with “All Shook Up,” German expressionist art exhibits become all the rage at galleries in New York City, a housewife named Betty Friedan began survey work that would form the foundation for The Feminine Mystique, and The Music Man beat out West Side Story for a Tony award of the best musical.
and i wanted to be ...
I turned 9 that year. I lived in Topeka and began auditioning for every civic theatre production I could. In the summer, I helped my parents load up our ’54 Ford station wagon for a cross-country trip back to their home of New York City, where we would stay with our family and catch up on the latest musical and stage performances. And I wanted to be … a Broadway star.
photograph by Jason Dailey
Lynne Green takes the stage at the Lied Center of Kansas.
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s â€™ n a k l Sus a T t nce h a r u g s i n i avel r t l a Strera n natio bally w o l g o g s do on int s, thing e m i t e , som Because
story by Susan Kraus
an Kundin is an independent guy, even at age 89. So, when he decided to go on a round-theworld cruise, his daughters, Liz in Lawrence and Susan in Pittsburgh, didn’t fret about what could go wrong. Until it did. The cruise was only two weeks into the four-month total when Dan came down with an intestinal bug. The ship’s medical clinic could handle a bug. But then the bug triggered heart and kidney issues. The ship doctors kept him going until the next port: Easter Island, smack in the middle of the Pacific, where Dan was transferred to a small island clinic. But they could not deal with the level of required care, so they airlifted him to the nearest big city—Santiago, Chile. The medical evacuation plane (think sophisticated ambulance with wings) flew five hours to get him, stayed overnight on Easter Island, then returned to Santiago with Dan the next day. In Chile, Dan spent two weeks in the hospital with multiple diagnostic tests and intensive treatment. His daughters flew to Santiago to be with him until he was able to fly back to the States on a commercial flight, but he required business class with a personal medical attendant at his side. Fortunately, Dan had a travel insurance policy that covered much of what his normal insurance would not have. And if he hadn’t? “Well, we wouldn’t have left him in Santiago,” says Liz—but he and his family would have been left with unexpected expenses on a global scale. Lawrence resident Beverly Falley was on a bucket-list safari with her mother and husband when her mom tripped over a floor mat … in Tanzania. It was 150 kilometers to the nearest clinic, where a broken hip was diagnosed and they were told Mom had to be evacuated by medical jet ambulance to Johannesburg, South Africa, for hip surgery. She spent weeks in the hospital until she was well
better safe than sorry Award-winning, Lawrence-based travel writer Susan Kraus usually devotes this column to sharing a personalized, feel-good approach to a particular destination. But this time, she wants to scare the bejeebers out of you—for your own good.
enough to fly home accompanied by her daughter and a personal nurse for the entire trip. “The travel insurance was a lifesaver,” says Beverly. “Their medical team was in constant contact with us and the local medical team throughout the crisis.” As an experienced travel agent specializing in custom travel, Beverly had recommended different types and levels of travel insurance to her clients for years. And she’d had her own share of trip interruptions or delays. But personally experiencing a medical emergency and the inordinate expenses involved has altered her perspective. “Of all the insurance available, medical evacuation is now at the top of my list,” she explains. “The worst thing that can happen is not a flight delay or trip interruption. Those are inconveniences. Medical evacuation can mean your life.” Convinced? After stories like these and years of my own international travel, I am.
I’ve talked to more people who worry about losing a bag … but risk their life savings ... by not having medical evacuation insurance. -Susan Kraus
Travel insurance is, unfortunately, often regarded as a nicety, like buying a leather cover for your passport. Or it is looked upon as a tiresome detail. But the phrase “the devil is in the details” applies to travel insurance: You’re not truly protected unless you understand a policy, its parameters and limits. But first, before you start comparing travel insurance policies, research what you may already be paying for and how you already may be covered. • Most health insurance plans cover medical treatment anywhere in the U.S. with provisions and protocol (i.e., preapproval; using providers, both hospitals and physicians, in networks; etc.). But many plans do not cover international travel. It’s essential to know your health insurance’s plan coverage and protocol. Seniors especially need to note that Medicare does not extend internationally and that some purchased policies exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions.
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• “Personal homeowners and renters insurance policies extend liability insurance worldwide, not just at your personal residence,” explains Kurt Goeser, a Lawrence State Farm agent. So, if I accidentally do something that incurs liability (i.e., slam into an old lady while riding a bicycle in Portugal), I’m covered. “But personal property protection,” Goeser cautions, “is limited to ‘named perils,’ and subject to your policy limits.” Theft is covered, and a litany of natural disasters, but deductibles and specific dollar limits apply for everything from jewelry to cameras to computers. If you have a “personal article policy,” then listed items are covered (read the small print for “named perils.”) As for your iPhones, iPads or Blackberries? Sorry, but small portable electronics are not eligible. Jewelry and camera equipment are also often not included. • Credit cards all have varying coverage for cardholders depending on the level of the card. In general, golds and platinums get more bling. But you have to use the card to buy the ticket or pay for the trip. Knowing what each credit card covers can determine which card you use to pay for travel. For example, my local Blue Cross & Blue Shield policy (through state of Kansas) automatically includes a supplemental worldwide program. I can get lists of in-network hospitals and
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What the Terms Mean Each international travel policy will vary and should be individualized, but here are some general terms to know and examine in selecting your own. Trip Interruption: You get sick. A family member back home has a medical crisis. Or something unforeseen happens that requires an immediate return. In sum, an emergency. Natural disasters (on trip or at home). Political unrest (more terrorism, less strikes or labor unrest, at destination, but not just because you start feeling anxious—it needs to be objectively assessed as dangerous). If one person on the trip cannot continue, this can cover the entire family’s return. After all, you can’t ship a kid home with a broken leg and continue on to Amsterdam, so this will help you get home and reimburse for pre-paid expenses. Trip Cancellation: All of the above, but before the trip starts. Trip Delay: Something causes a delay that incurs expenses. Airlines only pay for delay costs if the delay is due to their mechanical issues, not weather, disasters, etc. Baggage (lost, stolen or delayed): Reimburses according to plan. What airlines cover, especially internationally, can be a pittance of what it costs to replace possessions. With delayed luggage, the delay frequently has to be over a certain number of hours. Medical Treatment: You get a bad toothache (like me in Germany) or get a flu bug so bad you need to be hospitalized (me in Paris.) You get hit by a car. You trip on a cobblestone and, ooops, break an ankle. This often covers everything from a doctor visit for an antibiotic to major surgery with weeks of recuperation. Medical Evacuation: Provides 24/7 coordination of medical care, air-ambulance evacuation to best facilities for urgent treatment required and later evacuation to whatever hospital in the United States you choose. Will also pay for family member to be flown to be with you, for translators to explain and navigate treatment, for the myriad incidentals that one cannot predict. It can be purchased per trip, or, for a much better deal, as an annual policy for frequent travelers. When looking at comprehensive travel insurance, the “up to” limits are important. While $25,000 for medical evacuation may seem like plenty, it’s not, especially if you ever need to be brought back to the U.S. (which can cost $50,000 to $100,000). On the other hand, $25,000 for medical treatment goes a long way most anywhere except in the U.S. There are policies that cover “any excuse” cancellation or interruption, but they cost more. But for travelers with unpredictable business demands, it can be worth it.
providers before I ever get on a plane. There are also add-on policies at low cost for extended travel, study-abroad and expatriate living (which I fully intend to use one of these days). But there are protocols to follow, and ignorance is no excuse. So, study up. My credit cards range from the bare basics of trip cancellation insurance and baggage delay to evacuation, death benefits and—the word that makes my skin crawl—dismemberment. So, between my BC&BS, and selecting the best credit card to use to book travel, I have many emergency travel needs covered … except for the most critical and essential: medical evacuation insurance. And this is where I get a little pushy. I’ve talked to more people who worry about losing a bag, paying for a hotel due to a flight delay, getting sick before their cruise … but risk their life savings (if not their life) by not having medical evacuation insurance. It’s like having health insurance for routine medical care, but not cancer or horrific accidents. It makes no logical sense. Frequent travelers can score the best deals for “medevac” insurance by buying an annual policy that covers all travel rather than trip-bytrip. For example, an annual policy with Medjet Assist (which I’ve used for years) for AARP members under age 75 is only $215 per individual or $325 for a family. Regular memberships start at $260 a year. While most “bundled” travel insurance policies have a cap on medical evacuation, Medjet Assist has no caps. A great place to start educating yourself about travel insurance is with the U.S. Travel Insurance Association website www.ustia.org. Word of advice: Never buy travel insurance from a company that is not a member. The USTIA site also has a number of useful mini-articles on safe travel. And there are several websites that compare travel insurance policies based on a particular trip. One final note: Insurance is void if a DUI is involved (and European alcohol limits are much lower than in the U.S.) Or any illegal activity (drugs, arrests, etc.) And some “high-risk” activities are excluded in certain places (zip-lining, bungee jumping, etc.). I love to travel. I love to explore. I’ll take some risks. But I’m not stupid.
At many weddings, a flower girl is an adorable addition to the main ceremony. But don’t say “second fiddle” to a flower girl. In our cover feature story for this summer issue, writer Cheryl Nelsen passes on stories of flower girls stealing the show and recalls the lifelong lessons she stumbled upon during her flower girl debut in 1956. These are universal stories that play out in Lawrence—perhaps coming soon to a summer wedding near you. This issue’s other feature story of Thomas Burns, on the other hand, is particular to Lawrence, and more specifically to the banks of the Kaw River. This is where Burns grew up in the early part of the last century and where he spent most every day of his life hunting and fishing. A self-taught naturalist, Burns became an expert in the patterns of Kaw River fish. Those who knew him say he understood and loved the Kaw like few others. But it wasn’t a naïve love—this was a generation when the Kaw ran deeper and hungrily snagged boats, limbs and souls. The Kaw gave up its life to Burns, but it tried to take Burns’ life time and time again. Now, the Kaw seems tamer. It’s a backdrop for a city scene. It’s the focus of a new state initiative on tourism and economic development. And it is one example of a national tragedy detailed in a recent sobering federal report on the health of river ecologies across the United States. In just one generation, we’ve upended our relationship to one of the region’s most powerful natural forces. The Kaw has more reason to fear us than we have of fearing it. And yet, we still have much to understand about everything that goes on within and around the river. In that sense, Burns was a man generations ahead of us.
King of the Kaw All About the Flower Girl
fe a t ures Patty Burns Breithaupt holds a photograph of her father, Thomas Burns, and his haul of fish from one day of fishing.
J by y or
Photogr n aph efs o l yb l yJ To e as Art by Lora Jost li
King of the
K aw Kaw Ten years after the death of Thomas Burns, his legacy endures as one of the regionâ€™s greatest fishermen and self-taught river sage
Shortly after Thomas Burns hung up his river nets for good in 1991, he began working on a book about his life of fishing and hunting in Lawrence. He cobbled together these stories on notepads and scraps of paper, eventually releasing them as the self-published memoir 60 Years on the Kaw River. Burns was known by many, particularly in North Lawrence, as a formidable fisherman before he released that book. Those who spent time on the waters with him say he had an affinity for the river, a sixth sense, a connection to the flathead catfish he called “muddies.” But the six decades of accumulated fishing wisdom contained in his book revealed exactly how deep that connection ran. Burns was a self-taught naturalist who could accurately predict within one day when flathead catfish would migrate up the Kaw River. He was a predator who possessed uncanny abilities, able to spear fish through the ice with a 20-foot barbed pole. And Burns’ stories—the culmination of years studying the river and its inhabitants, every day, in all kinds of weather—are still emerging more than a decade after his death in notes found by his family and in conversations recalled. “When I started fishing, I had no one to show me anything,” Burns wrote in his memoir. “So to get an idea what was going on, I just looked for any movement in the water. I believed in the powers of observation.” Those observations compelled the young Burns into rushing waters, onto thin ice, and across fields guarded by shotgun-bearing farmers whose interpretation of property rights differed from the view young Burns had inherited from hunting legends such as Charles Saunders and other men who made their living trapping and hunting along the Kaw in the late 1800s.
Thomas Burns holds a 91-pound catfish he caught in the Kaw River in 1947. Photograph courtesy Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.
From the writings of Thomas Burns
loner after I was a
Clockwise from upper left: Patty Burns Breithaupt shows a picture of her father, Thomas Burns, standing next to the approximately 60 miniature duck decoys. He carved and distributed these duck decoys to family and friends to celebrate 60 years of marriage to Ozella Burns. Patty’s duck remains with her at her home in southwest Lawrence.
I was always watching and listening when I went to the river with another person, but when I turned loner, I needed to know if anybody was near me. It is a mystery how I found a way to be warned. I am sure I had help from up above and He was always looking after me. Several times I have gone out of my car and would stop and stand on the bank and look around. I couldn’t see anything or hear anything, but I could feel that someone was with me, within onehalf mile of me. So, I would get back in the car and go home. That evening, I would go back to the river and find where the game warden had been. One time, I drove north of Eudora and felt something was wrong when I got almost to the U.P. track. I parked my car along the road and walked about 200 yards through the timber and looked across the U.P. tracks. There, about where my boat was tied, right upstream, I saw two game wardens sitting beside a refrigerator box with a little fire to keep warm. They put the fire out, got in their car and went to Eudora to get some coffee. I went down the bank, crossed the tracks down the river bank, unlocked my boat, rowed it about 200 feet downstream, locked it up and went home. The next morning, I was there about 3 a.m. and they were waiting for me. So, about 4 a.m., they left to get their coffee. I went down the railroad tracks, got my boat, rowed back to where it had waited before. The next morning, I didn’t feel nobody, so I drove to where they had been watching for me. No box. No fire. No game warden. So I went fishing.
From the writings of Thomas Burns
Water Fishing on Thin Ice This winter was an early winter, so I was out of work in November and set a line of traps to get some money when trapping season opened December 1. This was hard to do so nobody would find out when you would catch a skunk or civet. Especially with the smell, it was hard to keep a secret from the game warden. Well, I caught some fur, but it was low quality and didn’t bring much when season did open. Then it got cold enough to fish and it froze a little along the bank, so I quit trapping rats and went spearing. Well, that didn’t last long because the ice froze and I couldn’t use the boat. Also, the ice wouldn’t freeze hard enough to walk on, only about one inch and that wouldn’t hold me. I kept waiting, but the ice would not freeze any thicker or melt out and I needed money for groceries and the doctor. So, I decided to get on the ice some way. After thinking for a day or two, I came up with the idea of building a small boat. But that would take a couple of days to build and I needed the money right now. Another idea hit me. I got two 1 x 8 x 8 feet long, balling wire, staples and proceeded to make me a pair of skies. By driving two staples then looping the wire between them, I made a loop to slide the toe of my shoe in them. I slipped them on and tried them out on the ground, sliding them around in the ground. And they worked pretty well. I was ready to take my skies, two 18-feet spear poles and axe to Mud
Creek and try out my rig on 30-feet of water with thin ice. With all of that weight, it was nerve-racking. But I decided to slide, not pick up my feet as the boards would spread my weight over more ice with my feet held apart. I took my axe and slid out on the ice. I chopped several holes on the upper side of the jetty, then went back to the bank and spliced the two poles together then put my spear on. I slid my pole into the hole, pushing the pole into the hole and walking up to the hole to start fishing. I had cut the holes big enough to pull a large fish out because I knew the ice wouldn’t hold me, pole and fish. When I caught a fish, I would pull it up partway, then start backing toward the bank. It was hard to pull the fish out of the hole standing 15 or 20 feet from the whole. When I would get it out of the hole, I would slide the fish over to bank, kick it off and then hide it in the rocks. Then I’d go back to fishing. I knew what to do and what not to do by now. I caught several nice fish that day and for several days. After that, the river thawed so I could use the boat and move around. But it was still frozen near where the fish were, so I would chop a trench into where I could fish and that sure was a relief from using my board skies. That was the only time I ever used them, but anyway I fulfilled my urge not to be without money for my family. Another day that God looked after me and took care of me.
Thomas Burns always kept a boat along the Kaw River which he used for fishing and, when necessary such as during the 1951 flood, for rescue operations. The top photograph shows him along the Kaw in 1938, and the bottom photograph shows him at his North Lawrence home in 1996, in a traditional flatbed boat he restored. Photographs courtesy Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.
Thomas Burns’ stories in this article are adapted from his original notes, now held by Patty Burns Breithaupt and reprinted with her permission. Some of these stories were incorporated into 60 Years on the Kaw River, available in reprint through The Raven Book Store, 6 E. Seventh St. Copies of Burns’ handwritten notes are archived in the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. The library’s Thomas Burns Collection is open to the public and also includes his instructions for making fishing nets and hand-drawn maps showing fishing spots near the Lawrence portions of the Kaw River. These drawings are reproduced, courtesy of the Spencer Research Library, as background art on pages 71 and 72. The opening art on pages 68-69 is an original scratchboard composition by Lawrence artist Lora Jost, who was inspired by Thomas Burns’ description of a flathead catfish migration along the Kaw River.
Clockwise from upper left: Writer and fishing enthusiast Ned Kehde, standing near the banks of the Kaw River in Lawrence, was instrumental in assisting Burns compile and publish his fishing memoir. Burns shows off a 78-pound catfish he caught in 1947. Patty Burns Breithaupt holds a copy of her father’s book.
“Catfishing was a way of life for a lot of people, especially before we had reservoirs,” says Ned Kehde, who was instrumental in helping Burns finalize his memoir. As Burns grew, his keen eye—or his magic touch—made him one of the most successful commercial fishermen on the Kaw in the early 20th century. He landed fish in astonishing numbers. Records he kept from 1944 to 1993 show he pulled in thousands of pounds of fish each year—14,000 pounds in 1946; 11,500 pounds in 1950; 12,000 pounds in 1969. “My dad wasn’t a big man, and he handled all those fish by himself,” says Patty Burns Breithaupt of Lawrence, who has collected stories, videos and photos of her dad. “Dad could just throw out the hook, grab the net and bring it in, all these fish dumping in the bottom of the boat.” Burns fished in the early morning hours, then headed to work at Lawrence Paper Co. before ending the day farming for his parents on what was then East 11th Street. He cleaned fish during his lunch breaks, then sold them to a roster of regular clients. “Tommy’s way was a tough way,” says Kehde, who became close friends with Burns in the last 10 or 15 years of his life. “Nothing fancy. Hard. Muddy. Dirty. Dangerous.” And, for much of his commercial fishing career, illegal. Burns used hoop nets 3 or 4 feet in diameter baited with cheese to capture catfish. Fish swam in the big open end of the net but couldn’t swim back out. In his earliest days on the river, that was fine. But then Kansas laws changed, banning the
From the writings of Thomas Burns
making home brew This was in the summer and the temperature was very hot. My sister and her boyfriend Clyde had decided to make some home brew. My sister did not have any money, so Mom gave her enough money to buy the malt, sugar and bottle capper to make the stuff with. Mom wouldn’t give me any money to buy anything with, so my friend and I decided if my sister could make a batch, so could we. So we worked hard trapping gophers, moles and crows—10 cent bounty. Finally, we had enough money to get our
yeast, sugar and malt. We went down to the cellar and got a crock, took all of this stuff and put it in a loft in a shed where Mom and my sister couldn’t find it. After we got it made we didn’t realize it would smell as bad as it did. We washed all of our bottles and were ready to go. About that time, my sister smelled the brew and ran to the house to tell Mom. We had to get it out fast and we had to get it out before Mom caught us. We started bottling it as fast as we could. We got it all bottled and capped,
then put it in two gunny sacks and headed to the creek. It was a little wild because some of the bottles exploded by the time we got to the creek. We couldn’t just leave the bottles sacked, because they would find it, so we jerked all the caps off. Jerking the caps and shaking, we got them all empty and threw the bottles in the creek. We never even got a taste. Also, I have never tasted a beer to this day.
“Tommy’s way was a tough way. Nothing fancy. Hard. Muddy. Dirty. Dangerous.” –Ned Kehde For decades, Thomas Burns caught fish before and after a full day of work. And though he seems proud of this 71-pound catfish that he caught and had photographed in 1949, it was only one of the several thousands of fish he caught throughout his life. Photograph courtesy Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.
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Patty Burns Breithaupt, top, stands with a life-sized cardboard image of her father that was once part of a display at the University of Kansas’ Natural History Museum. Thomas Burns Jr., above, relates his memories of his father.
use of nets and making outlaws out of most of the commercial fishermen— including Burns—who operated on the Kansas River. “That was typical,” Kenny Breithaupt says of his father-inlaw’s illicit fishing operation. “Every fisherman in North Lawrence was doing exactly the same thing.” Eluding the officials tasked with enforcing fishing regulations became a game for Burns. “He had five or six boats on the river, so they didn’t know for sure which boat he was going to be at,” Patty says. Sometimes, when he knew officers were watching one of his boats, he’d wait for them to take a break and then move it a few yards, just to keep them guessing. “You could say he was just a little on the ornery side.” It’s all fun and games until someone gets caught, right? “They did catch him one time,” Patty says with a sheepish laugh. “And my mom was so mad at him, so embarrassed.” Later, his legendary prowess as a fisherman and his intimate knowledge of the Kaw brought an unexpected offer from the same wildlife officials who had tried to put a stop to his illegal fishing: They would give him a one-time permit to set nets in the Kaw again if he would let them watch him work. Burns spent a day showing them how he set his nets—probing the bottom of the river for rocks and other obstructions and maneuvering the hoops into place just outside the main current. A few days later, with the officials watching, Burns retrieved the nets and the fish inside. “Dad was so disappointed,” Patty says. His catch was only about 645 pounds. Burns died in 2003 at age 83, leaving behind a legacy that was more than total tons caught. “The grace of the river was always with Tommy,” says Kehde, himself an avid fisherman and longtime columnist for the Lawrence JournalWorld and In-Fisherman magazine. “He
was an unschooled guy, but he really was a genius. He did show biologists and all of us the ways of the river that none of us really knew.” The stories in Burns’ collection recall everything from how he interpreted moon signs to how he escaped harm when two men shot at him from a bridge while he rowed below. “When Mom was in the nursing home, I’d sit on her bed and read the book,” says Patty. “She said, ‘You know, if I knew he was doing those things, I’d have been scared to death.’” Tommy and Ozella Burns were married almost 64 years, and he always said she was his best catch. Ozella died in 2009. Their four children—Thomas, Susie Taul, Jeanette Hadley and Patty—all still live in the Lawrence area. They also have nine grandchildren and many great- and great-great-grandchildren. After her father’s death, Patty continues to find unpublished notes that Burns left behind, including one that perfectly captures his feelings about fishing, hunting and his life on the Kaw River:
Now when the shadows grow long with the setting sun, take a moment and think of the joy that all of those nights held for me during all those wonderful hours on the Kaw, tangling with its beasts.
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the Flower Girl All About
Sorry, brides. Sorry, grooms. Your big day might actually turn out to be all about someone else.
Childhood memories are evasive, especially now that I am 63 years old. They swirl around in my mind, and as I pluck them out to re-examine them, I wonder if what I am remembering corresponds most to an actual event, photos I saw later in my life or the stories my family told about that day. All three of these apply to my memory of being a flower girl in a wedding in 1956.
Story by C hery l Nel sen
P hoto gra p h y by Ja s on Da i le y
Flower girl Evan B. rolls down the aisle.
The actual event
Growing up on a farm in the Midwest meant there was little need for dresses and sparkling shoes in my closet. On Sunday mornings, my bare feet were washed and my play clothes were put away. I donned my “church clothes,” and as soon as my family returned home from services, I returned to my “everyday clothes.” But at age 6, I was given a fancy new dress and black, patent-leather shoes so that I could be a flower girl in a wedding. I jumped at the chance to wear these beautiful clothes, but I didn’t know I would have to wear them walking in front of a church full of people who would be watching me. Most of the time, I wouldn’t mind. I was a rather rambunctious tomboy. But when I got outside the comfort zone of my home, I preferred to view the world by peeking out from behind my mother’s flowered, cotton dress. The skirt of her dress was gathered at the waist, and its folds of drooping cotton fabric were perfect for me to wrap around myself when anyone approached. In other words, I was terribly shy. At the wedding rehearsal, I learned that I was to walk ahead of the bride in front of the entire crowd, but I was not to walk in a normal fashion. Instead, I was to step forward with my right foot, plant the left next to it, pause, and then repeat that action by stepping out with my left foot. Each time I paused, I was to scoop up rose petals from the basket and drop them. When the time came for me to enter, I was awed by the crowd and the occasion. Suddenly, it seemed that dropping petals on the ground would be too much like littering in the house of God. And those petals were quite pretty in their white, lacey basket. Plus, I was concentrating on how to plant my feet in the aisle without tripping. A few giggles from the crowd caused heat to creep up my throat and into
All smiles, flower girl Penelope S. races around the lobby of popular Lawrence wedding venue Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St. Penelopeâ€™s dress, by Isabella & Chloe, provided courtesy Blue Dandelion, 841 Massachusetts St. Floral arrangements provided courtesy Englewood Florist, 1101 Massachusetts St.
Somehow, I made it to the front of the church, where I joined the most important people of the day. Evan B. proves young flower girls bring magic to a wedding ceremony.
Dress Tips courtesy Kris Bailey of Blue Dandelion
Most importantly, select a dress the flower girl feels comfortable wearing. Check to see if the wedding couple have any preferences for the dress. Flower girls grow up quickly, so wear the dress as often as the flower girl wishes after the wedding. “For some girls, that is every day,” says Bailey.
Flower Tips courtesy Cary Engle of Englewood Florist
Choose arrangements that are in proportion to the size of the flower girl. Choose flowers that complement other floral arrangements in the ceremony (for example, the bride’s bouquet).
For younger flower girls, select simple arrangements that can survive rough handling.
my cheeks, turning them a bright pink. I would have given up that dress and those fine shoes at that moment if only I could retreat to the safety of the folds in my mother’s dress.
Somehow, I made it to the front of the church, where I joined the most important people of the day in a photograph to commemorate the wedding. There, in one of the photos, a bow-tied ringbearer boy I’d never seen before and I stand in front of a wedding group of eight adults getting ready for a photographer to capture another shot. The ringbearer holds a satin pillow, and I think he is cute. It’s as if we are a reflection of the bride and groom and belong together for that day. I’m not smiling because I haven’t been told to do that yet. I’ve placed my left arm on the ringbearer’s right arm, and in my right hand I hold a basket of rose petals, still full. The picture is black and white, but I can see the dress’ apple-green-colored chiffon over a white petticoat. The neckline and short sleeves of my dress are trimmed in white lace, and around my waist is a sash. The dress and new patent-leather, black shoes are so unlike my usual attire that my parents later take me to a studio to have a portrait taken. The outfit, however, wasn’t what gained the most attention the day of the wedding. My Shirley Temple curls cascading over my shoulders are what everyone noticed. One elderly gentleman at my church always touched the longest curl on my head and asked my mother if he could have that curl when my hair was cut. That might explain why I wanted to hide behind my mother’s skirt. Penelope S., upper left, races through the curtains of Liberty Hall— just one of a flower girl’s unofficial duties. Cheryl Nelsen served as a flower girl for this 1956 wedding, upper right. Photograph courtesy Cheryl Nelsen.
The story my family told for years
I might have failed at strewing flower petals in the aisle, but I was determined to stay in my place next to the ringbearer for the wedding photos. I thought he was my partner, and I followed him throughout the reception. Today we might call that stalking. Once we had returned home, my family teased me about traipsing behind the ringbearer all day. I remember I was perched on top of the living room couch, leaning back against the wall, which was not how I was supposed to be sitting. As my siblings teased me about the ringbearer, I said I was in love with him. I thought that explanation ought to shut them up. “How do you know?” I was asked. “What is love?” “Love is like floating on a cloud,” I answered from my perch above the family. That comment haunted me for the rest of my life. Whenever the subject of love came up, I would be unmercifully reminded of my heartfelt response.
The lesson of the flower girl
This photograph of Cheryl Nelsen was taken at a time when Shirley Temple curls were in vogue and a young flower girl stumbled upon what—even decades later—she suspects might be the meaning of love.
The young ringbearer grew up to marry a cousin of mine, but the marriage did not last. Perhaps storm clouds are more descriptive of their experience, or of the fortune of many other couples. I’ve decided, however, that my definition of love at the age of 6 wasn’t so far offbase. It’s what we should feel when we are in love.
Two Wedding Professionals
share their memories of ceremonies where the flower girl stole the show. Earl Richardson, owner of Authentica Images
Right before a wedding, the bride suggested the young flower girl practice throwing her flower petals, which she did. She was so exuberant about throwing the petals into the air and all around, her basket was empty when it was time for the wedding procession to begin. Those in the procession scurried around gathering the petals to refill her basket so the wedding could begin.
Carmen Hocking, Wedding Consultant and Officiant A 5-year-old flower girl was tired of waiting and threw her flower basket on the floor. Regretting what she had done, she picked up the petals and said to the bride, “I am only doing this for you because you look so beautiful in your white dress.” When the bride got to the altar, the flower girl hugged the bride and said, “I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time.” At one wedding there were two flower girls. The first walked five steps ahead of the second and dropped her flower petals as directed. The second girl picked up the dropped petals all the way to the altar. Not one flower petal was left in the aisle, and the guests laughed.
Another 5-year-old walked halfway up the aisle doing a perfect job, but when she got halfway to the altar, she turned around and walked the rest of the way backward. The guest started laughing, and she said, “I’m the flower girl. I look pretty, oh, yeah.” At a wedding rehearsal with five flower girls and five ring bearers ranging in age from 2 to 6, everyone did a great job. At the wedding the two youngest flower girls were surprised at the size of the crowd. The 4-year-old turned to the 2-year-old and said loudly, “Look at all these people who are here to see us in our pretty dresses. We must be real princesses!”
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History of JayHawk fandom Thursday, October 11, 6:30 – 8:30 PM Uptown Mandolin QUartet Tuesday, January 29, 7:00-8:00 PM
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Lawrence Public Library 700 New Hampshire Street Lawrence, KS
Free and open to the public
Free and open to the public
Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lawrence Uptown Mandolin Quartet with a concert and KU Cheer Squad and KU archivist Becky Schulteon team to presentation theup classical and modern influences that have shaped four decades of music. bring interactive demonstrations of Jayhawks’ cheers There will favorite be cake and the chance to participate as a guest performer. Get your mando on! and a historic overview of the rallies, rituals and mascots essential to Jayhawk Nation. Get your Rock Chalk on!
For questions or more information, contact
Lawrence Public Library (785) 843-3833
Lawrence Magazine (785) 832-7257
For questions or more information, contact
Lawrence Public Library (785) 843-3833
Lawrence Magazine (785) 832-7257 “About Lawrence …” is a series of free, public lectures designed for community members to share their interests and expertise in a direct and interactive forum. Informative. Unplugged. Exciting. Archive Photos Courtesy University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Photo of Sydney Thibodeaux & Evan Smith, 2012-13 KU Cheer Squad, by Jason Dailey/Lawrence Magazine
“About Lawrence …” is a series of free, public lectures designed for community members to share their interests and expertise in a direct and interactive forum. Informative. Unplugged. Exciting.
STORIES & THEMES FOR COMMUNITY MINDS This past year, Lawrence Magazine began a partnership with the Lawrence Public Library to create a series of free events highlighting subjects and people featured in the most recent issue of our publication. Our first year of “About Lawrence …” included presentations by graphic novel artists (and a sneak peek into an ongoing book project featuring a family of moonshining werewolves); an overview of the history of Jayhawk sporting traditions, from early cheers to the hatching of Baby Jay; a concert by the Uptown Mandolin Quartet to celebrate their 40 years of original music in Lawrence; and an April Fool’s Day charity comedy showdown featuring a wide range of Lawrence comedians.
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This summer, we will host an event inspired by this issue’s feature story of Thomas Burns, including readings from his works and presentations about the Kaw River that runs through Lawrence. We’ll have more information on the time and location posted at the library and through our online sites: www.lawrence.lib.ks.us and www.facebook.com/lawrencemag
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