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Lawrence magazine

millions of americans have lost a close friend or relative to cancer.

Mario chalmers is one of them

(and here’s what he’s doing about it).

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Lawrence magazine

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Lawrence magazine

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Cheri Drake

Thinking of making a


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summer 2014

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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 Deron Lee contributing writers Mick Braa Becky Bridson Katherine Dinsdale Mary R. Gage Susan Kraus Maggie Lawrence Paula Naughtin Cheryl Nelsen Kate Blatherwick Pickert Katy Seibel Nick Spacek Sureva Towler Bethaney Wallace Liz Weslander CONTRIBUTING ARTIST Lana Grove CONTRIBUTING Photographers Larry Harwood Nick Krug general manager Bert Hull Subscriptions $ 2150 for a one-year subscription For subscription information, please contact 645 New Hampshire St., p.o. Box 888 Lawrence, KS 66044 (800) 578-8748 | Fax (785) 331-0633 E-mail comments to

Lawrence is receiving a face-lift this summer.

With the planned unveiling of the city’s new library, the raising of the hotel on New Hampshire Street, the opening of the Rock Chalk sports park, the trafficway construction and other projects, Lawrence is acquiring a new look, a new spread and somewhat of a new skyline. These are the obvious changes that can be missed only if you close your eyes or stick to very limited portions of the city. And then there are the developments that we cover in our magazine. For nearly 10 years now, Lawrence Magazine has been devoted to stories on local people, places and events that do not necessarily grab the usual headlines but do form the core of people’s lives, interests and pursuits. From our cover story on Mario Chalmers’ answer to helping people fight cancer, to our regular recipe section, we focus on timeless stories that intersect with our daily lives. Always mindful that we’ve borrowed the name of our publication from the city, the stories and photographs in this issue are a reflection of the community. And that means not only a presentation of its new look, but hopefully a more nuanced and more faithful portrait of the community than what one might see at first glance. If these pages ring true but introduce some insight into the city, then we’ve passed our “Lawrence” test.

Lawrence Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of The World Company.

Nathan Pettengill Detail from Verona by Steve Graber, featured on page 28.

editor’s letter



summer 2014

features alternate covers

your cover, you don’t pass it up. But even though we were 99.9 percent certain the Jayhawk legend and NBA champion would be our cover, we still considered other variations such as these images. Pull up our digital edition online at magazines to see all of art director Shelly Bryant’s picks for alternate covers.

Lawrence magazine

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When you have a chance to place Mario Chalmers on


on the cover

77 | Mario’s Other Miracle

An NBA star and Jayhawk legend honors a family friend and her fight against cancer

84 | Legends of Douglas County Demolition Derby

Mario Chalmers stands with a portrait of Pauline Peterson, an inspirational family friend who died in 2001 after a prolonged battle with cancer. The photograph of Chalmers was taken by Jason Dailey. The portrait of Peterson was supplied by the Chalmers family, adapted to the required format for printing, and inserted into the cover composition.

The county fair is no longer all about a prize pig, as demolition derby drivers claim a central spotlight in the annual event



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

living 14 | Opening Ohio A family breaks down a duplex to create a spacious home on Ohio Street

World champion spreads the gospel of airness

19 | Aunt Maggie Overstuffed and Oversniffed

A Kansas State loyalist shares her family’s deep, dark shame: her cousin, the standout Jayhawk

Dog owners seek advice on excessively friendly greetings


community 22 | LM Fashion & Style Why not look your best for those seasonal downtown jaunts?

24 | LM Gallery The human face inspires … and leads viewers to search out their own stories in the works of these artists

30 | LM Bookmarks Flow, flirt and sleuth this summer, with books from local authors


33 | LM Sounds Three festivals show the depth of Lawrence’s seasonal events

identity 37 | Hometown Heroes We all need one, and fortunately Lawrence has an abundance of them


42 | The Littlest Trashman

52 | Twirler Infamy

wellness 59 | LM Fit Bold Dogs Chew Flicks Diving dogs and hurling humans team up in this sport of spectacular leaps and snatches

62 | Italian for ‘Self-Defense’ … and More A launch into the kitchen at a young age propelled John Colombo to relleno perfection

67 | The Heirlooms Late summer brings some of the region’s tastiest authentic tomatoes

journey 70 | Jersey Summer You can leave Lawrence in the morning and be in the Atlantic, cavorting in the waves, sand between your toes, by mid-afternoon. That’s the Jersey way.

Trash collector protégé forms friendship with the crew of Truck No. 473

46 | Bamboo Meditation, in Motion


50 | Eric Melin’s 11 Commandments of Air Guitar

When hard met boring, Lance Rake designed a bike

in every issue in every issue

94 | Summer 2014 Event

summer 2014

Desmund Hart might not grow up to become a trash collector. After all, he is still only 5 years old and has only one day of job shadowing under his belt. You can read about that day and his friendship with a city trash truck crew in Sureva Towler’s story in this section of the magazine. Whatever Desmund decides to become, he’s already proven that he has a gift for detail and an ability to identify the small parts of a project, job or uniform that define its essence. That is a talent shared by others in this section: Lance Rake, whose meditations on bamboo led to an innovative bike design; Steve Graber, whose observations of a historic personage create an archetype of the human form that has resonated through the art world; and Shannon Livengood, who has spent hours studying the physics and balance of a small baton in order to become a champion twirler. We hope you enjoy these and all the other stories in this section of Lawrence Magazine.

14 19

Opening Ohio Aunt Maggie Overstuffed and Oversniffed

22 LM Fashion & Style 24 LM Gallery 30 LM Bookmarks 33 LM Sounds 37 Hometown Heroes 42 The Littlest Trashman 46 Bamboo Meditation, in Motion 50 Eric Melin’s

11 Commandments of Air Guitar

52 Twirler Infamy 59 LM Fit 62 Italian for ‘Self-Defense’ …

67 70

and more

The Heirlooms Jersey Summer

de p a rt m e nts Desmund Hart holds up the toy truck he was given by his friends, the crew of Trash Truck No. 473.



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Opening Ohio A family breaks down a duplex to create a spacious home on Ohio Street


story by Kate Blatherwick Pickert

photography by Jason Dailey


summer 2014


eorge and Tammy Sabol love their current home, but it took a creative team to transform what was once a duplex into the modern house they live in today. The Sabols had originally bought the duplex at 815 and 817 Ohio Street in 1985, after a real estate agent and friend encouraged them to buy it. The idea was that the couple would have a place to live and a rental unit to generate income. “I was kind of sold on it from the get-go,” recalls George. But when the agent told George there was a basement, the deal was done. The Sabols moved into one side of the duplex and rented the other side. Over the years, they lived in both sides, even renting out the basement at one point thanks to some agreeable tenants. Tammy says the location, at the heart of Old West Lawrence, is really what appealed to people and helped them always keep it rented—right up to the time when they were ready to transform it back into their home.

“I was kind of sold on it from the get-go.”

-George Sabol

The Sabols turned to architect Janet Smalter, who says the project came with its own set of challenges. “I like to call them transformations,” Smalter says. Though the duplex was not considered a historic house, it was still located in a historic district. Smalter and the couple had to work with the city to ensure any changes made to the house fit in with the neighborhood and that the home could be converted back into a duplex to keep in line with building rules. The duplex division did, however, make the renovation slightly easier. Contractor Mark Engleman, who owns Mark Engleman Builders and is also married to Smalter, says he staged the renovation so the Sabols could live in one half of the property and

Opposite Tammy Sabol and her family converted a duplex into their home. Above The home’s original structure means that it offers double the porch space.


Bruce and Kris Barlow relax outside their home with their dog. Color and style flourish inside and outside the Barlow home.



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

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the crews could work in the other. Once Engleman’s group finished the kitchen, the family moved to the other side and the wall between the two homes came down. “It was a really fun challenge, and they were spectacular working with us,” Engleman says. Originally, the plan called for taking out all the existing bedrooms and bathrooms and reconfiguring the home. But in order to come under budget, the crews instead eliminated one bedroom, leaving three of the existing bedrooms, and a central, open living space was created by adding two large support beams, which Tammy insisted would remain uncovered. “The sheet rocker couldn’t believe I didn’t want to cover them. I kept saying: ‘It’s going to be OK; it really will be OK,’” Tammy laughs. The exposed beams, which turned to a gray color once they were sealed, added to the contemporary feel of the place. In the kitchen, the owners chose to forgo upper cabinets because of the small space. “We didn’t want it to feel like a kitchen. It’s more like a community gathering spot,” Tammy says. A steel bar was brought into the kitchen to match the steel beams. And this metallic feel, in turn, inspired a magnetic spice rack. “I think we were able to prove that you can have a more modern look on a building of that nature without gobs of money,” Smalter says. Indeed, many small, inexpensive features contribute to that modern feel. Bamboo flooring flows throughout the home, giving a wonderfully simple pattern to the floor and creating the illusion of a much bigger space. A small tub was installed in the front bathroom. One benefit from converting a duplex to a single-family home is heating and cooling. The Sabols hung on to both units, which they say has made climate control more efficient. And if one unit breaks down, they always have a backup. The home also became more energy-efficient after the contractor discovered something was missing; Engleman says there was no insulation in the walls, just in the ceilings. Now that insulation has been added in the walls, he says, “I am sure today it is a much cozier house.” The couple also installed awning-style windows, which allow good airflow on those days when they want to open up the house. Once the two units became one, the address had to change. Tammy says she picked one of the street addresses and dissolved the other one. She says it was funny explaining to the utility company that there was no longer an 817 Ohio Street. At least on paper, the Sabols lost a home—but they say they couldn’t be happier with the space they created.

Tearing down the central wall between two duplex units allowed the Sabols to create an open kitchen (with plenty of space for a spice rack) and open sitting areas (opposite and above) with an expanded bathroom (top).


summer 2014

Overstuffed Oversniffed Dog owners seek advice on and

excessively friendly greetings 25 5 10

Please don t feed the

Dear Aunt Maggie, My girlfriend and I have a basset hound named Burroughs. We take him everywhere we go: Clinton Lake, Campanile, the levee and, especially, the awesome bank where drive-thru tellers provide doggie treats with deposit slips. In summertime, our favorite place to take Burroughs is the outdoor drinking and dining areas downtown. We loop his leash around a parking-meter pole, fill his Frisbee with water, and find a table where we can keep an eye on him while imbibing with the locals. Burr is an engaging pooch and friendly townsfolk can’t seem to resist sharing parts of their meals with him: pizza, burgers, tandoori chicken with naan, even the occasional sip of craft beer. The problem is, Burr is getting blubbery! His basset belly is starting to drag the sidewalk. Our vet says he is 9 pounds overweight. My girlfriend says we should politely decline all offers of food on the dog’s behalf, but I don’t want to appear ungrateful. People have started to save their leftovers exclusively for Burr. Little kids will toddle for blocks just to share their cookie with him. Besides, the canine enjoys the interaction as much as the humans do. I want to be a responsible pet owner, but how can we deprive Burry–and our good neighbors–of this simple pleasure? Distraught in Deerfield

Dear D in D, It’s wonderful to live in a town full of generous dog lovers. But think of it this way: Nine pounds to a basset hound is like 39 pounds to you and me. Burroughs needs to lighten up for his own good. And since there are no Weight Watchers meetings for the four-legged set, enlist your community’s help to slim him down. The next time you and Burry belly up to an outdoor bar, do what the zookeepers do. Hang a sign on the parking-meter pole: “Please do not feed the animal.” Folks will understand and take those doggie bags home to their own mutts … or to rot in their fridges forever. Then, walk the long way home (avoiding those cookie-toting toddlers at all costs) and Burroughs will be back to a normal BMI in no time.

story by Maggie Lawrence

illustration by Lana Grove




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Dear Aunt Maggie, I recently adopted my first dog, Dr. Wigglesbottom, from the Lawrence Humane Society and couldn’t wait to take him to the Mutt Run to meet new friends. Dr. W. took to the park like an off-leash cruise director, running around, getting to know everyone. It was fantastic! I met more folks in the first half hour there than I have in the last two years. What I need is a quick lesson in dog-park etiquette for humans. I never know what to say or do when Wiggles is introducing himself to a new dog in, well, that special way dogs do. It’s so awkward and embarrassing. Typically, I’ll just stand there, averting my eyes to the ground, waiting for the dogs to check each other out. Sometimes, I’ll look up at the owners and say, “How ya doin’?” but even that seems so ridiculous. Then, there’s the problem of when to separate the dogs, since it seems Dr. Wigglesbottom could examine his new pals for hours. A few guidelines would be appreciated. Mystified at the Mutt Run

Dear Mystified, My vet says we’d be amazed at how much information a dog can glean from putting his nose to the grindstone, as it were. Canines have special glands back there that emit aromas indicating their sex, health status and temperament. Think of it as the eHarmony of nature. Dr. Wigglesbottom is merely sniffing out the good from the bad. Besides, what else is he going to do in greeting a new friend? Give him the old high-five? A fist bump, maybe? Just relax and let Wiggles do his thing. Sniffing often calms the dog. Cutting him off too soon might cause stress, maybe even some aggression. That said, it’s wise to remain attentive. Some dogs are put off by an overly enthusiastic sniffer. And sometimes, sniffing becomes foreplay for—how do I put this delicately?—coupling canine-style. Never a good idea because, let’s face it, you just don’t know where those dogs have been. As for conversationstarters with the humans, try offering an observation about the dog’s breed or the weather. Alternate your glances between the owner’s eyes and the dogs’ behinds. Just don’t get confused and focus on the owner’s rear end or you could (and would deserve to) get into trouble.


Aunt Maggie, or Maggie Lawrence, is the pen name of a longtime Lawrencian who remembers way back when the entire town was a mutt run. She’ll pet your dog, but draws the line at licks and kisses.

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Story, Styling and Modeling by Katy Seibel

Feel the breeze. Voluminous, airy attire is ideal for this time of year. For a daring yet down-toearth feel, don a pair of patterned palazzo pants. If your essence is a little more ladylike, a full, high-waisted skirt will fit the bill. Be tongue-in-chic. Don’t take your style too seriously, especially during carefree vacay days. Comfortable tees with cheeky sayings are all over the place—find one that speaks to you! Or, dig out that perfectly worn concert tee, and pair it with your favorite denim or even a skirt and heels. Notice the details. Amp up your favorite staple with accessories. Add excitement and versatility to, say, a simple sundress with a bejeweled bib necklace, stacked rings, mixed-metal chains, an airy patterned scarf or a pretty pastel mani. The possibilities are endless.

Photography by Jason Dailey

Tip your hat. Hats aren’t just for providing shade; they’re also a chic accent to any ensemble. Embrace the athletic trend with a sporty baseball cap. For a hint of hippie, opt for a floppy sun hat. Or, for timeless appeal, try an iconic Panama hat.

SUMMER STREET STYLE Why not look your best for those seasonal downtown jaunts?

Kansas summers are not always conducive to keeping up with current trends. As the mercury rises, sartorial inspiration is prone to plummet. Luckily, there are endless ways to stay cool and look hot during the dog days. To beat the heat, I got out nice and early for a downtown walk. My comfortable, casual combination of a classic white tee, leopard scarf, camo shorts and edgy sandals was a breeze to throw on and go. Photo location courtesy Winfield House


Be a shoe-in. When it comes to summer sandals, comfort is key. A former go-to, the gladiator is back in a big way. Find a flat version of this strappy style for a laidback everyday look. For a more put-together outfit, set aside the stilettos and try a square heel. These mod styles are utterly of-themoment and easier to wear than their blisterinducing counterparts. Let it shine. Glam metallic finishes aren’t just for nighttime anymore. Break out some sassy highshine heels or experiment with iridescent fabric for a futuristic feel. These dynamic duds will catch the sunlight in a cool way. Keep it classic. There are certain fashion favorites that will never go out of style. Nautical stripes are positively fail-proof. Or, chic matching separates (especially a crop top with coordinating skirt) give a nod to prim suits in a modern way. While the high temps and humidity may get old, there’s just something about summer. Get out there and enjoy the mellow mood, playful pastimes and surplus of sunshine ... and do it with style!

summer 2014




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014


About Face The human face inspires … and leads viewers to search out their own stories in the works of these artists

aintings with faces are very different to look at than a pretty landscape. Faces beg explanation and urge a viewer to remember or find out something more about the subject. Artists use faces for different reasons, but what ties many portraits together is a search for self, identity, meaning, shared emotion. A portrait is an introduction to a story going on inside or outside the confines of the face portrayed in an artist’s work—and that story often begins with the artist. Susan McCarthy About 20 years ago, Susan McCarthy noticed something odd about the series of famous-person busts that her husband had collected at their home in Old West Lawrence. Apart from Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe, there were hardly any women. “When I was a kid taking piano, I really loved those little white composer busts, and I’m obsessed with women’s history, so I decided I should do something,” says McCarthy. Though she was known—and continues to work mostly—as a landscape or parkscape artist, McCarthy figured out how to sculpt busts and then started a Great American Women series, beginning with a Kansan, Amelia Earhart. She began to model her busts in Plasticine clay, and she found a mold-maker in Kansas City to make rubber molds and cast her figures in plaster. She then cleaned up the plas-

Susan McCarthy’s series of enamel busts includes, from left, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman and King Kelly.

lawrence magazine gallery

story by Mick Braa

summer 2014

ter figures and refined them so the mold-maker could create ceramic molds that McCarthy would pour porcelain into and then fire in a kiln. McCarthy also wrote short biographical notes for each bust. Eventually, the series would include about a dozen figures. “I decided to pick women from different fields— a couple writers, a couple artists, a couple political figures and a couple African Americans like Harriet Tubman,” says McCarthy. “I just wanted people to want to know who these women were.” After she finished the series of famous women, McCarthy switched to creating famous baseball players, producing nine busts before finishing the last of them around 2004. For the past decade, McCarthy has now concentrated on her parkscapes in oil and pastels, but she says she might return to busts. “If I could have done all the work myself, I would have liked the process better. That’s partially why I haven’t continued them, yet,” she says. “The busts were completely separate from what I paint, and I approached them not so much as artistic statements but to just get a few more great women’s faces into the world. I’ve always collected biographies of women and could have gone on for years, but marketing the women was a struggle.”


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summer 2014

Creating a naturally beautiful smile designed specifically for you!

Henri Doner-Hedrick From her home north of Lawrence, Henri Doner-Hedrick talks about her mother, who was of mixed European and Native American descent, and of her father, an immigrant laborer from the Philippines who died when she was 4. For many years while she raised a family and worked as an illustrator and graphic artist, Doner-Hedrick says she had little time to think about her background. But it was a theme she explored when she began her MFA in painting and embarked on a series of portraits. For some of her works, Doner-Hedrick allowed herself to be the model. For example, Half Breed is a harlequinesque self-portrait of Doner-Hedrick gripping a pistol, ready for a shoot-out, her half-cowboy self surrounded by Asian, Native American and European icons.

“It’s like an actor. you study a part and you can become that character.”

-Henri Doner-Hedrick, on portrait painting

While on sabbatical in the Middle East, she also created a long series of portraits of Filipino domestic workers. In Jordan, with assistance from the Filipino ambassador, a Filipino labor representative and a Catholic priest, DonerHedrick established connections and trust with domestic workers who were living in a shelter after effectively escaping from abusive employment, where they were either locked in houses, beaten or raped. The resulting series, The Runaway Maids, tells these stories of abuse, in which these maids were treated as less than human, with low pay and no easy way out to a better life. It was a demanding project both artistically, as Doner-Hedrick sought to capture the essence of her subjects’ struggles while changing facial features to protect their identities, and emotionally, as she immersed herself in the lives of her subjects in order to understand what they felt. “It’s like an actor,” she explains. “You study a part and you can become that character.” In one such work, Deliver Me From Evil, Doner-Hedrick portrays herself hiding behind one of those maids. “In some, I used my face as the model to protect their identities. Their stories are frightening and revolting, but there is also humor, sometimes funny stories and laughter to cope with their situations,” says the artist. “I think that it could be me, or even my own granddaughter. So I often put myself in my canvases to try to speak for common people in difficult situations.”

Henri Doner-Hedrick’s portraits include, clockwise from upper left, Last Samurai, Half Breed, Deliver Me From Evil (from the series The Runaway Maids) and Aging With Attitude.


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Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Steve Graber Known nationally for a series of quiet and dreamy landscapes, Lawrence artist Steve Graber includes in these works the image of solitary females looking away from the viewer. But in his strikingly close-up portrait faces, like Finistre, the mysterious women might look directly at the viewer with a tension that begs a more intimate acquaintance. Steve’s figures and faces are reminiscent of Jamie Wyeth, Gustav Klimt, Manet and the British Pre-Raphaelite painters, for whom women, stories, mysteries and metaphors were the muses. One version of his Wyeth-like portrait painting Bordeaux has a certain stark modern American realism, while another version of the same painting has a more classical, more dramatic feel, as the woman is now partially reflected in the edge of a gilt mirror. “People are intimidated by faces in art, and it takes a confident person to be comfortable with them,” says Graber. “I like the dichotomy of female strength and fragility. With a face, you’re giving a lot of information, so I’m always trying to do an expression, an enigmatic smile. It’s not a happy or sad expression, but so many things in between are possible. I like art that takes you away from where you are, not sure if it’s a dream image or a memory.” Graber doesn’t really do portraits, but he uses them to start an idea. He uses models from nearly any visual source, including the freeze frame on a video that he sketches and develops. His subjects are developed without any particular identity, and a Graber painting doesn’t necessarily become an exact likeness of the model. “I try to create a springboard to connect viewers to their own emotions or perceptions of the story. It’s a key to unlock something within us.” A self-taught artist who has always been fascinated by history and style, Graber commands a strong old-master draftsmanship that gives a very European flavor to many of his portraits and odalisque-like reclining figures. A fascination with antique post-card images of Cleo de Merode, a famed French dancer and social figure, led Graber to create many stylizations of her face. In Principium, Graber presents de Merode in exotic operatic armor, but the character may also be found in a Viennese-Klimt-style portrait called La Turrene, and then again perhaps hidden in the eyes, nose and lips of the modern-appearing blonde in Fyorovich. “I collected the postcards and started drawing and painting her, and by the time 10 years had passed I really knew her face. In every female I do, she starts to appear and I have to be careful to make it new or fresh,” says Graber. But for this artist, it is the essence of womanhood, rather than one particular woman, that he seeks to portray. “The thing that I’m pleased about the most is that so many women say to me, ‘You understand. You get it.’ That’s really great. That’s what it’s all about.”


Steve Graber’s works include, from top, Finistre, La Turrene and Bordeaux (variation with mirror).


Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

LM Bookmarks

Flow, flirt and sleuth this summer, with books from local authors Hall’s original research was based on data from 5,000 users of the online dating site eHarmony, with approximately 10,000 follow-up interviews from men and women of all ages providing the basis for the book. “Knowing your flirting style tells you a lot about what kinds of messages you’re sending out to other people, and why sometimes those messages aren’t getting out the way you want them to,” Hall says. “It’s really meant to be a solid dose of self-awareness, with some good research and science to back it up.”

The Captivating Kaw Peer over the Kaw River Bridge next time you cross and ponder this: There’s a natural treasure flowing below. That appreciation is shared by Craig Thompson, whose connection to the river goes back years through his work as a biologist with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “I used to take samples off the bridge and just look at the river,” says Thompson. “I got to know the river pretty well and understand the water-quality issues.” Thompson then became involved with Friends of the Kaw, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the ecology and accessibility of the river. He would join other members of the group for educational float trips and make presentations about the river that the group called “sandbar talks.” Thompson began combining his collection of river photographs into a book that would capture the essence of the Kaw through a voyage along its 173-mile length. He tapped Laura Calwell, director of Friends of the Kaw, to help him reach out to the river’s fans for additional insight. “I started getting this flood of people giving me comments about what they liked about the river,” he says. Several Lawrence natives—including Lisa Grossman, Carey and Steven Maynard-Moody and Elizabeth Schultz—contributed to the project. Matching their lyrical words to his luminous photos, Thompson released Along the Kaw in 2012. The Kaw River has been designated as one of the National Water Trails by a consortium of government groups led by the National Park Service. Thompson hopes his book will encourage Kansans and visitors to get off the bridge and into their backyard river. “I want to tell people it’s a great river to recreate in. It’s a beautiful river. Let’s protect it. Let’s take care of it.”


story by Mary R. Gage

a better flirt It’s summertime and the romancin’ is easy ... or is it? For many, no matter what the season, communicating attraction to a potential amour can be challenging, if not downright intimidating. Take heart: Jeffrey Hall’s new book is here to help. With the 2013 release of The Five Flirting Styles, the professor of communications at the University of Kansas attempts to unlock the mysteries of mating. The book’s subtitle, Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want, might intrigue those who doubt that science and love can possibly intersect. Hall explains: “The whole flirting-styles concept is that there are five different ways to communicate attraction: physical, traditional, polite, playful and sincere. Each of these comes with a unique way of communicating attraction. So this is not a one-size fits-all way of approaching communicating attraction— there are lots of ways of doing it.” Hall suggests in the book’s introduction that readers go online to and take an assessment to receive an individualized report that can be used in conjunction with the book.

Meet Grace Susan Kraus—Lawrence Magazine’s regular contributing travel writer—is set to release two mystery novels this summer. Both books are part of an ongoing series featuring Grace McDonald, a young grandmother and therapist who lives in “Kaw Valley”. This Kansas university town is a literary stand-in for Lawrence, featuring familiar coffee shops, campus locales and neighborhoods as well as the disruptions of an anti-gay family protesting military funerals. That last theme plays large in the second book, All God’s Children, where Grace seeks to mediate between a member of the family and her estranged college-years, war-veteran boyfriend regarding the custody of their biological son. Look for Fall From Grace and All God’s Children beginning this May.

SHORT TAKES The new library is opening. The last time Lawrence opened doors on a new library was 1972. And the only other time in the city’s history was in 1904. The opening date of the building at the corner of Seventh and Vermont streets is projected for July 26. Despite having to move all those books and materials over to the new building, the library will continue its Summer Reading Program with a kick-off on May 31, and go through July 31. Join the University of Kansas’ first-year students in reading The Center of Everything this summer. The book, by local author and KU professor Laura Moriarty, is KU’s Common Book choice for 2014.

photography by Jason Dailey

Craig Thompson, upper left, searches for the soul of the Kaw, and Jeffrey Hall, upper right, goes knocking on love’s door in their recent books.

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summer 2014

Three festivals show the depth of Lawrence’s seasonal events

Lawrence magazine

So un dS

Homegrown happenstance Cameron Hawk, a musician with local bands the Dead Girls and Stiff Middle Fingers, is busy preparing the third year of his Field Day Fest. It’s a more raucous event on the scale of Lawrence music festivals, and it came about through a bit of happenstance. Cameron and Quinton Cheney, who plays with Something and the Whatevers, had two back-to-back dates booked at the Bottleneck in the summer of 2012. And their mini-festival became an event when Stephen Egerton, guitarist for legendary punk act The Descendents, agreed to lend some star power to the local lineup. “Right away, I think we all felt like this was a special thing, and we are treating it as such,” says Hawk. Field Day Fest is a way to introduce a lot of people to a lot of bands, in an era of declining show attendance and multiple distractions.

Musician Cameron Hawk is preparing for the third year of the Field Day Fest, featuring local rock, indie and hip-hop talent.

story by Nick Spacek

“Not as many people make it out to just regular shows anymore, but if you get a lot of bands, some art or other things together and make it an event, people will take the time to notice,” Hawk says. “That was the main thing—to reintroduce this community to the musical and artistic talent in their direct vicinity.” This year, the festival is planned for June 27-28 and the focus is on homegrown talent. “Every band is going to be at least local or regional—maybe some Missouri bands—but that’s it. It’s going to be a party for local townies,” says Hawk. “There is enough great regional talent that deserves to have more of a platform around here, and that’s what this whole thing should be about.” Hawk says he also plans to spotlight hip-hop artist Ebony Tusks, in order to make this incarnation of the Lawrence Field Day Fest “the most versatile one yet.”

photography by Jason Dailey




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Members of the Lawrence City Band prepare to continue a 160-year tradition with their summer concert series.

Happy 160th, Lawrence City Band! Each summer, for two months of Wednesdays, the gazebo in South Park rings out with music as the Lawrence City Band starts playing around the end of May and continues through the middle of July, before things get too hot. The band traces its heritage to Free State settlers who left Boston for Lawrence in 1854 singing “The Kansas Emigrant.” That makes this the 160th anniversary of a group of Jayhawkers making music for the benefit of their fellow citizens. Robert Foster, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, and former director of the KU bands, has been conducting the band since 1992, when he replaced William L. Kelly. But Foster’s connection with the band goes all the way back to his arrival in Lawrence 20 years prior, when he was a member of the trumpet section. (Read more about Foster on page 38.) The conductor’s plan for choosing which compositions are played each year is simple: music that the band enjoys playing and the audience enjoys hearing. The only standard works that are repeated every summer are “The Star Spangled Banner,” “1812 Overture,” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” The band plays a children’s concert each year and patriotic music around the Fourth of July. It’s a testament to the talent of both Foster as conductor and the band as musicians that they rarely meet outside the confines of South Park. “The band rehearses from 6 to 7 p.m. before each Wednesday concert,” says Foster. “This is the total amount of rehearsal time.” In addition to the concerts at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays during the summer, the Lawrence City Band also performs each year during spring’s Art in the Park and at the Fall Arts and Crafts Festival.


The picks of Kansas It seems to effortlessly come together the fourth weekend in August, but the Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships are set in motion more than half a year in advance, with meetings beginning in January, says coordinator Gayle Sigurdson. The festival has continued for 33 years and has grown to include eight categories of competition, including mandolin, fiddle and flatpick guitar. All competitors register the day of the event, making for a wide-open field. Weather has sometimes been an issue, says Sigurdson—not rain, but the heat. “Rain has caused only one cancellation in 33 years. We have been the hottest spot in the country and heat is usually more of a concern.” Organizers reserve the community building for severe weather. In addition to the competitors, four acts are selected to perform in between the different instrumental events. Last year’s performers included bluesman Pat Nichols and rowdy Lawrence folk ensemble MAW. “We like to feature past competitors who have gone on to play professionally, local musicians and bands from Kansas, but outside the northeast corner of the state,” says Sigurdson. “It is always fun to find an emerging band early in their career.” The 34th annual Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championships take place in South Park on Sunday, August 24. For a complete lineup, go online at Contests and concerts are free and open to the public.

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summer 2014

Hometown Heroes We all need one, and fortunately Lawrence has an abundance of them

story by Liz Weslander

photography by Jason Dailey




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

The Band Director Robert Foster wants people to know that South Park is the place to be on Wednesday summer evenings. Of course, thousands of Lawrencians already know this, and faithfully set up their lawn chairs in front of the South Park gazebo during the summer months to hear the Lawrence City Band play under the direction of professor Foster. This summer, the band celebrates its 160-year anniversary (see story on page 34). It will also be Foster’s 22-year anniversary as Lawrence City Band director, though he’s been a member of the band since he moved to Lawrence in 1971 to take a job as a professor of music at the University of Kansas. Here, Foster talks about the joys and challenges of his role as band director.

The best part about being the Lawrence City Band director is having the opportunity to work with a really talented group of musicians that gets to play in a great Lawrence location. I’ve conducted a number of the musicians since they were students, some as early as 1971, so there is a strong tradition and a good, healthy continuity that I think contributes to the excellence of the band. It is a great group of players that takes pride in what they do, and the quality of the band has continued to improve. The biggest challenge is programming the concerts so that we don’t play the same literature over and over. We want the audience to enjoy what they are hearing, and we want the band to enjoy what it is playing. I work on the programming all year long. I worked for three hours on it just yesterday. Lawrence is a vibrant arts community, and I think everybody recognizes that. The City Band is a musical reflection of this unique community.


the pool person The County Fair Swim Club, a neighborhood swimming pool at Maple Lane and Clare Road in East Lawrence, has been living on love for a long time. A good chunk of that love has come from Missi Pfeifer, who lives across the street from the pool, which was donated to the neighborhood by developers Bob, Bud and Al Moore in the 1960s. For the last 15 years, Pfeifer, who works full-time as a hairdresser, has overseen the annual fundraising of the $14,000 it costs to operate the pool each summer. With the help of a small group of dedicated East Lawrencians, she has also hired lifeguards and maintained and cleaned the pool throughout the summer so that neighborhood kids have an accessible and affordable place to swim. Here, Pfeifer talks about the future of the pool and what it means to the neighborhood.

It really has a hometown feel. Anyone who doesn’t live over here just doesn’t understand. I get to know 90 percent of these kids. We’re a magnet for the neighborhood. We have trailer courts on each corner, we have Edgewood, we have a lot of low-income kids, and this is the place for them to come during the summer. The joke is that we are the cheapest day care in town, at $2 per day. I’ve never raised that admission price in all these years. If money were no issue, I would continue to do this as long as I could, but I’m guessing I have two more years tops. The pool is really special and I don’t want to see it end, but I’ve been doing this almost 15 years, and trying to find someone who could put in all the time it takes would be hard. My guess is that if I drop off, it probably dies with me.



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

the valley manager Hidden Valley—an oasis of prairie, woods and creek beds situated just northwest of Kasold and Bob Billings Parkway—is no secret to local Girl Scouts. Less well known, however, is the work that Durand Reiber puts in maintaining the buildings and grounds of this 40-acre primitive camp, all so that Girl Scouts have a local spot for camping and outdoor education. Durand, a lifelong Lawrence Girl Scout with a background in environmental studies, has been the Hidden Valley camp manager since Friends of Hidden Valley (a local nonprofit that manages the property) created the quartertime position in 2002. A typical week for Durand can range from working with volunteers on eradicating invasive honeysuckle, to meeting with solar energy experts, fencebuilders or carpenters on specific projects. She also puts in time at her desk researching current methods of habitat management and writing grant proposals. Here, Durand talks more about her job and the ways Hidden Valley contributes to the community.

Most important are all the kids who get to use the space. A lot of kids are hooked up to electronics or are in activities from right after school into the evening. The opportunity to spend time outside just doesn’t happen as much anymore. Hidden Valley provides a niche for this in Lawrence. I’m always thinking of ways to get the Scouts to explore the grounds even more. A secondary part of my job is to balance the human use of the land with needs of the wildlife. That requires a lot of research to implement, but it keeps the job challenging. Hidden Valley is a 40-acre wildlife treasure in the middle of Lawrence. This is a great place for groups and individuals who want to volunteer to do some outdoor work. When I first started this job, I was alone most of the time, but volunteering has taken off in the last decade. People who come always seem to enjoy it and leave feeling pretty good. This is basically my dream job. I love it. I am lucky to have a husband and kids who are tolerant of my work. It may have been impossible for me to have this quarter-time job without them.


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The Littlest Trashman Trash collector protégé forms friendship with the crew of Truck No. 473


story by Sureva Towler

photography by Jason Dailey

summer 2014



esmund Hart is going to be a trash collector when he grows up. Or at least that has been the plan for a good portion of his 5-year-old life. Desmund’s acquaintance with trash trucks began when he was still a baby. His grandmother, Darlene Hart, initiated a Tuesday morning ritual wherein she and Desmund would go out and greet the gentlemen of Trash Truck No. 473 as they arrived each Tuesday morning to collect the family’s refuse at their home in southeast Lawrence. Soon, the crew developed a special, two-note whistle greeting for Desmund, who would try to mimic their call as he walked out to say “Hello.” By 2012, as Desmund turned 3, he knew exactly who he wanted to be when he grew up … but Halloween was much closer than adult life, so his first goal was creating a trashman trick-or-treat costume. “He told us: ‘a trash man’—that’s all he wanted to be,” recalls Desmund’s mother, Laurie. “He loved those guys, so why not? It was great that he decided what he wanted to be on his own.” Desmund also had strong ideas about his costume. It couldn’t be just any outfit, but an authentic Lawrence Public Works Solid Waste Division outfit. “He wanted everything. The gloves—it was very important that everything looked exactly like the men on the trash truck,” says Laurie. So Desmund and his mom—in the capacity of costume designer—paid a visit to Lawrence’s trash-collectors’ headquarters on Haskell Avenue. There, Craig Pruett, the operations supervisor of the city’s Solid Waste Division, allowed them to photograph the shirts and uniforms and study the division’s emblem so that the costume could be a faithful replica. Craig also gave Desmund an authentic Solid Waste Division stocking cap, showed him where the crews met before going out on their routes, and allowed the potential recruit to sit in a trash-truck cab as it stood in the garage.

Opposite Desmund Hart tries on Trash Truck No. 473 for size. Now 5 years old, he decided to become a trash collector at age 3.



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

That Christmas, the crew of No. 473 pitched in with their gift, an authentic Tonka trash/recycling truck. “We were going out to take cookies to them, and the driver got out and had it underneath his shirt and took it out and gave it to Desmund,” says Laurie. “He was overwhelmed, so excited, so happy— like, ‘Oh my gosh, the trashmen “It was great gave me a trash truck!’” that he decided Since that time, Desmund has grown to develop other what he wanted interests. His mom describes to be on his her son’s fascination with trash trucks as “not as brash as when own.” -Laurie Hart, he was 3,” but still present. on her son’s early career decision When she told Desmund that people were asking about his friendship with crew No. 473 and the uniform he made, his response was simple: “I need to dress up again as a trashman sometime.” And he did, at least one last time, for this story. Desmund poses with, from top, the crew of Trash Truck No. 473, his mother and the parked cab of No. 473.


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Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

summer 2014

Bamboo Meditation, in Motion When hard met boring, Lance Rake designed a bike


Opposite Lance Rake stands on the University of Kansas campus with a Semester Bike, a bamboo-structure bike he developed with his design students.

n the fall of 2012, Lance Rake sat at a Vipassana Center in India meditating—10 hours a day for 10 days. He could see his wife, Deb, across the room, but he couldn’t talk to her. He couldn’t talk to anyone. “It was hard. It was boring. It was physically painful,” recalls Rake. So the University of Kansas design professor decided to stop trying to empty his brain and at least confine his thoughts to one subject—bamboo bikes. “I thought OK, what I’m going to do is in my head, I’m

Rake’s interest in bamboo bikes began approximately four years ago, inspired by a chat with fellow designer John Bielenberg, who had been working in Greensboro, Alabama, and noticed how much bamboo grew in that region. Bielenberg suggested that perhaps the bamboo could be used for something like building bikes. Bamboo bikes have been around almost as long as bicycles themselves, but the challenge has been in making them aesthetically pleasing and more func-

going to design and build a bike. I’ve got a lot of time. I can just sit here and think about bicycles.” Mentally, he designed component after component, tested them out, and made necessary changes. “As I got better at concentrating I could actually visualize these things pretty clearly and see where things weren’t going to work or where they might work.” When the retreat ended, Rake began getting his ideas down on paper. “I was drawing hard for a few days.” He was about halfway through a long process.

tional as a bike. Rake knew he didn’t want to make a bike that looked and rode like it was roughly constructed by a castaway on an island. A good bike, Rake notes, has to have a balance. “You want it to be strong but very lightweight,” says Rake. “You want stiffness but you also want a softness in the ride. If it’s too stiff, it will just vibrate and it will make your hands numb and your feet numb.” Thinking back to his father’s Orvis fishing rod, which was bamboo with a core of steel, Rake started

story by Paula Naughtin

photography by Jason Dailey




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

wondering how he could translate that bamboo fly rod into a bike frame. His solution? Cut the bamboo into strips with beveled sides that could be taped together and rolled into a hexagonal tube. The bamboo is laid around an inflated bicycle inner tube that is, in turn, covered with a carbon fiber mesh tube. The tube is inflated, a catalyst is added, and once the inner tube is deflated and removed, you end up with a hexagonal tube lined with carbon fiber mesh—strong yet light, flexible yet rigid. Rake took a group of students to the HERObike factory in Greensboro to turn these hexagon tubes into bicycles. Together, they “spent a few weeks building bikes and breaking them and riding them and testing them and got something that we were happy with,” says Rake. The first 50 models of the “Semester Bike” were manufactured in March 2013. In January of this year, Rake took another group of KU design students to Greensboro, this time to work with woven bamboo to build skateboards. “We go out to bamboo stands, cut down bamboo, split it, then weave,” he says. He and his design students have a variety of weaves that they used, one more like herringbone, another a simpler one-over oneunder pattern. The sheets of woven bamboo are laminated together with or without a core of ingrain balsa and coated with a fiberglass epoxy to form the deck of the skateboards. The skateboards are still a work in progress, Rake notes. “We’re not quite done. We tried a lot of different things. I think we have a design that’s pretty tested. We want to make one that’s the definitive skateboard.” The prototype for the bike that Lance mapped out during his time at Vipassana, is now complete. Like the Semester bike, the “Flatpack Bike” has a frame formed from hexagonal bamboo tubes, anchored by a cherry red metal triangular plate that allows the bike to be disassembled, shipped in a flat box and then simply bolted together for assembly. The metal bike chain has been replaced by a plastic belt drive. This innovation makes the bike “super quiet and you don’t have to oil it,” Rake says. Rake hopes to fine-tune the designs on the Flatpack bike, along with the skateboards, and perhaps add them as products for the workshop in Greensboro. If those go well, Rake says he might need another meditation stint. “It was amazing. It was 10 hours a day thinking about design stuff and everything worked just like I had meditated.”


“You want it to be strong but very lightweight. You want stiffness but you also want a softness in the ride.”

-Lance Rake, on designing a bamboo bike

Lance Rake holds a prototype bamboo skateboard in his KU office, which also stores a prototype of the Flatpack Bike that stands behind him with the cherry-red anchor frame.

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story by Nathan Pettengill

photography by Jason Dailey

1 his August, Lawrence resident Eric Melin will defend his title of Air Guitar World Champion at the international finals in Finland. Performing as “Mean Melin” (pronounced muh-lean), he describes his stage persona as “the opposite of who I really am. I’m always smiling and am a happy person, but that doesn’t work for air guitar, so I put on my mean face and get into character and become the angry teenager I was when I was in high school.” Though his thrash-metal doppelganger is busy tightening a stage act for this summer’s competition, the genuinely smiley Melin has spent the past year as the sport’s official international ambassador, spreading the philosophy of “Make Air, Not War” and donating his time to charitable and educational events. He’s also developed a weighty philosophy to accompany his art, which he describes as something “inherently ridiculous that involves practice and creativity.” Like any discipline, says Melin, air guitar demands constant innovation grounded in a mastery of old-school techniques. “Every year now, there is always something new. And if you don’t have something new you’re not going to win—you’re not going to the second round.” Melin thinks air guitar will continue to evolve, particularly as artists move from classic heavy metal tunes to self-created musical collages integrating costumes and stage personas. Melin describes his current approach as framing the 60 seconds of performance with a beginning, middle and end, anchored by essential moments. “You have to have these moments in the song where you are leading the audience somewhere, then you do something they’ve never seen before. It’s a combination of the music going with the motion, and if you can make that moment happen—if you can do that three times in the song and have the biggest one be number three—then you’ve got a really good chance.” For the benefit of budding young air artists, Melin has boiled down his philosophy into these 11 Commandments of Air Guitar. But, cautions the world champion, not even the king of air can set things down in stone. There is a higher command—the indefinable essence of awesomeness that air-guitar devotees call “airness.” “Air guitar represents a freedom to do something ridiculous,” says Melin. “There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you have that X-factor, airness, you could break all my 11 Commandments and still win.”


summer 2014


pick a song you love with every fiber of your being.





develop a character that is a heightened version of you.


adhere to the threebeer minimum.



practice with a mirror or a friend.



leave your shame at the dressing room door.

6 7


look at the crowd, not your hands.


go beyond the limitations of a real guitar.


lose yourself in the music, the moment; you better never let it go.

Eric “Mean” Melin’s


11 Commandments of Air Guitar THOU SHALT … support your fellow performers


THOU SHALT … go big. And, when you thought you couldn’t, go bigger.

THOU SHALT … achieve airness!

9 11

“I’m embarrassed to admit that, ugh, I’m kind of proud of cousin Shannon.” -Kansas State grad Bethaney Wallace on her cousin Shannon Livengood’s phenomenal success in twirling for the rival Jayhawks … in public.

summer 2014

Twirler Infamy A Kansas State loyalist shares her family’s deep, dark shame: her cousin, the standout Jayhawk


y cousin, Shannon Livengood, was 6 years old and she wanted a trophy. For two years already, she had been twirling a baton. And when she saw her sister win a batontwirling honor, noticed its sparkle—and apparently, its allure—Shannon couldn’t stop until she had one of her own. As I see it, that moment set her on a path that would lead her toward the simultaneous best and worst decision of her life. Seventeen years later, Shannon is a national-champion twirler with more trophies than she can even count. But in taking up the sport, she has also run into the open arms of the University of Kansas—or as I like to call it, the mortal enemy. In 2010, I was months away from graduating at Kansas State and EMAWing* my Willie-loving face off. I couldn’t have been Wabashing, Elite Eighting, or Aggievilleing** any harder. And the best news of all—Bill*** was back. But a year later, the bombshell fell. Shannon told us she was not only going to KU as a student, an act that would have been appalling on its own, but would represent the school. In public. As the band’s feature twirler, she’d don the crimson and blue, cheer on the team with pride, and out herself as a Jayhawk-loving individual. She was going to support the birds. To a family of purple-breathing fans, it wasn’t exactly good news. Sure it was a “great opportunity,” and offered “scholarships that no one else had.” And, when we felt charitable, we would concede that she was getting “awesome life experience” and “making loyal friends,” among other traitorous excuses. But that didn’t change the fact that she’d chosen the wrong team.

Editor’s note: *Some type of school slogan in Manhattan, sexist in wording: “Every Man a Wildcat.” ** Obscure K-State sporting terms, presumably involving a tractor. Or maybe livestock. ***Bill Snyder, apparently a K-State football legend who did not refuse induction into the Sports Hall of Fame … of Missouri. Shannon Livengood performs with the University of Kansas Marching Band at Memorial Stadium, left, and stands with her Miss Douglas County crown, above top and bottom, before performing at a KU men’s basketball game.

story by Bethaney Wallace

photography by Jason Dailey & Nick Krug




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

“But that’s just your fallback school, right?” we’d ask her. “You’re not really going to ‘Pay Heed’?” We were in denial. “RCJH? Nice acronym,” I’d snark. “Jayhawk is one word.”* “You know what other campus has limestone buildings? K-State’s. Rock that chalk.” But Shannon made her allegiance clear. Later that week, she signed her letter of intent and was off to search for rancid, bird-themed clothing—salt in an already burning wound. Ever since that 50-years-to-life of an announcement, we’ve been forced to haul ourselves into enemy territory and clap for the wrong team—at least during halftime and pregames; once the game starts, my pride always leans purple. Which is why I’m embarrassed to admit that—ugh, I’m kind of proud of cousin Shannon. She’s a great performer. She was the 2013 U.S. national collegiate champion! She’s talented, independent and paving her own path—with a scholarship to boot. And she’s the only one doing it. She has to choreograph her own routines, make her own practice schedule, raise her own funds and network her way to making performances. She’s twirled at soccer games and men’s and women’s basketball games, in addition to every home football game and local events. With every tingling of pride, I—and the rest of my purple-loving family—are met with a deep feeling of hypocrisy. How can we deny her the opportunity to succeed? Not only is she a full-time student (a junior studying applied behavioral science with a specialty in community health and development, and a minor in dance), Shannon also has a job, and juggles all of her twirling responsibilities. She’s even 2014’s Miss Douglas County. (Just thinking about her schedule makes me want to crawl back into my safe Manhattan bubble.) She’s not only doing it all, she’s kicking it square in the rear. So what’s her take on the transition? It was all about the twirling … at first. “I honestly wanted to go to college to twirl,” she tells me. “I knew I needed to further my education and that was important, but that wasn’t my main focus.” And of course, she knew her entire family and her twirling coach wanted to see her in purple. In fact, Shannon’s coach of 17 years, Koralea Slagle, was the feature twirler at K-State from 1979 to 1983. “She’s a pretty, showy twirler; your eyes are always drawn to her,” Slagle says of her former student. “It was hard to see her go to KU because my family has always been big K-Staters. Now we’ve softened a bit as long as K-State can beat them. But I still wish she was wearing purple.”

Editor’s note: *True, technically. And while one should always indulge any K-Stater who takes to proper grammar and spelling, this particular case of purple pedantry might have more to do with the fact that if “Wild Cat” were given the same two-word acronym treatment, it would become W.C., the common acronym for European toilets. Ewww, EMAW that.


Shannon Livengood is cheered on by family members, several of whom are die-hard Kansas State loyalists such as the author—her cousin Bethaney Wallace, dressed in K-State purple and standing just behind Shannon’s left shoulder. EMAW, forever, Bethaney.


Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Three football seasons later, Shannon has continued to twirl with Jayhawk pride. And, in the worst outcome of all time, she’s learned to love her school. From the rich traditions, to the diverse band she’s now a part of, to the wonderful feeling of running onto the field pre-football game—all her words—she just can’t get enough KU. “I didn’t even know I wanted to come to KU, and it was a big step out of my comfort zone,” she says. “I’ve just grown so much as a person, and it’s opened my eyes to so much. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.” Never one to sit still, this June Shannon will compete for the Miss Kansas title, a far bigger crown. If she wins, she’ll set aside a year to represent the entire state of Kansas as a role model, and as a twirler. Winning would certainly be a huge honor—one I’d be proud to support—but I’m behind anything that’ll get her out of all that red* and blue.

Editor’s note: *Crimson, actually. It’s an advanced stage of purple.


Twirler’s Bio Shannon Livengood has been twirling for 17 years. Her title highlights include: • Kansas Dance Twirl Champion, 2006-2013 • Kansas Solo Champion, 2006-2010, 2012 and 2013 • United States Twirling Association (USTA) Central Region Dance Twirl Champion, 2007-2010 • Top Seven Placer at USTA Nationals, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 • Three-time International Cup Qualifier • 2013 U.S. National Collegiate All Around Champion Shannon practices 10 hours per week on average. More on game weeks. The best days for twirling are cloudy, calm days, Shannon says. Weather factors like wind and sun force her to alter her twirling routines. Shannon missed K-State’s twirling auditions by a few weeks. “I know a lot of people were disappointed that I didn’t even get the opportunity to try,” she says.


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story by Becky Bridson

photography by Jason Dailey


Diving dogs and hurling humans team up in this sport of spectacular leaps and snatches

Bryce Ostrom with Oscar and Rigby “There’s a lot going on,” says Bryce Ostrom, who competes with Oscar and Rigby. “It’s good mind and body exercise for the dogs and the humans.” For dogs, the 20 minutes of catching Frisbees equals about a 90-minute walk, but the sport is more than hurling, jumping and catching. Owners accumulate countless separate solo and pooch practice hours. Ostrom practices throwing more than his hounds do catching. “It’s less exhausting if you can put the Frisbee in the right spot for them,” says Ostrom. “It’s quality practice, not quantity practice.” Strength and conditioning exercises can be as elaborate and creative as some of the routines and tricks. A contraption put together by Ostrom includes a bucket and a stability ball so that his dogs can strengthen stabilizer muscles, receive some cross-training and be stimulated during winter months. Ostrom, a University of Kansas theater and film graduate, trains himself and his canines like seasoned athletes, with the work resulting in numerous medals and awards. But his main intent is simple. “If you take it too seriously, your dog’s going to lose interest, espe-


Bold Dogs Chew Flicks

atching a Frisbee, or disc, is hard enough. Try running at full speed, leaping and then snagging it in midair with your mouth. That is the essence of the sport known as disc dogs, but local sports-dogs Oscar, Rigby, Harley Sue, Towser and Killian handle this challenge with grace and a bit of well-deserved tail-swaggering. Disc-dog competitions typically involve a main event—the throw-and-catch portion where points accumulate depending on how often and how far the Frisbee flies before the dog catches it—as well as a freestyle section in which humancanine combos dazzle judges with a barrage of incredible tricks and creative catches. Lawrence hosts a smaller competition that coincides with Art in the Park every May, as well as one of the major competitions, The Land of Oz Quadruped, in June. None of it—the competitions or the sport itself—would be possible without the mutual exchange of athleticism, dedication, trust, time and love between the humans and dogs.

summer 2014



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

cially when they’re engaged and revved up and having fun,” says Ostrom. “They key into that nervousness and feeling pressure and stuff. That’s the number one rule in doing Frisbee dog stuff competitively: Keep it light and have fun. “You may have driven 12 hours to Louisville, Kentucky, to play Frisbee for a weekend with your dog, but for your dog it’s no different than the backyard,” says Ostrom. “As far as he’s concerned, you’re just playing.” Ann Wilhelm with Harley Sue Like many athletes, Harley Sue has a day job. On the clock, she accompanies special education teacher Ann Wilhelm to Shawnee Heights High School and works with teenagers who have Down syndrome, autism and Asperger’s. “When I got her, I found out that she was super, super good with people and had a wonderful personality, so I actually started training her first to be a service dog in my classroom,” says Wilhelm. The sport came later, after Wilhelm watched a discdog competition on television and became intrigued. She likes the sport because it appeals to her competitive nature and gives her quality time with Harley Sue. “I just enjoy spending a lot of time with her,” says Wilhelm. “She is constantly wanting to please me to figure out what I want her to do, which is really helpful when I’m teaching her new tricks and things to do.” Wilhelm’s not just teaching her tricks. Currently, she’s working to improve Harley Sue’s level of conditioning too. “What I’m trying to do now is take her biking with me to build up her endurance, because I think when it’s super-hot outside it’s actually going to help her to have more stamina longer,” says Wilhelm. “Her endurance and her speed have actually increased because I’m now not just working on short stints with her, I’m working on the longer running with her too.” For Wilhelm, the process of discovering Harley Sue’s hidden talents represents the best aspects of the sport. “These dogs are super-talented. It just takes somebody loving them and spending time with them and seeing what they can accomplish,” she says. One thing that has also changed over time is Harley Sue’s name. A Boy Named Sue she is not. Harley Sue started out as Harley when she was adopted as a rescue dog. Wilhelm later added “Sue” to the name after people continually inquired about the dog’s gender. In disc-dog competition, however, the gender distinction is irrelevant—dogs compete in categories, but are divided only into novice, intermediate and advanced levels. A few contests also include micro-divisions for dogs under 25 pounds, but mostly it’s the boys versus the girls and the Chihuahuas against the mastiffs in open competition.



summer 2014

Jeff Scheetz with Towser Rescue. Rescue. Rescue. That’s the mantra of Jeff Scheetz, president of Kansas City Disc Dogs. Scheetz, whose club of 55 members includes several from the Lawrence area, says rescue dogs make up a large majority of those that compete. “The interesting thing is that a lot of dogs end up in the shelter because they are so active and people might not know what to do with them,” says Scheetz. “But this is what Frisbee dog people love—a dog that jumps, a dog that runs.” Scheetz and his wife, Jackie Rodeffer-Scheetz, adopted their first disc dog, Towser, six years ago, before they were involved with disc sports. “We didn’t know he was going to be such an incredible bundle of energy,” says Scheetz. “I had a little floppy Frisbee, threw it and— boom!—he went and caught it.” So in 2009, Scheetz took Towser to Lawrence’s disc-dog competition at Art in the Park, where the mixed-breed rookie won the contest, to his delight and surprise. And Towser won for four years in a row, until 2013 when he was beaten by another newcomer—Scheetz’s younger pup, Killian. Scheetz says not every dog can be a competitive disc dog. Some dogs do prefer sitting on a couch and being low-key, loveable companions. Scheetz advises against categorizing a disc dog by breed; a dog’s personality and relationship with his or her human are the most important traits for the sport. “We’ve seen every kind of dog you can imagine go out there run and jump and catch Frisbees,” says Scheetz. “You’re a team with your dog. You’re communicating on a different level. Ultimately, the most important thing is it really helps create that special bond between the person and their dog.”



Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Italian for ‘Self-Defense’ … and More A launch into the kitchen at a young age propelled John Colombo to relleno perfection


ohn Colombo says his reason for learning to cook was simple: “self-defense.” He was 12 years old when his mother went back to work. That left him and his younger brother with a choice: eat meals prepared by their grandmother or make their own. Because their Italian-born grandmother had an approach to cooking that basically involved “boiling things for very long periods of time,” Colombo chose to learn cooking quickly. He turned to his mother, who helped him unlock Bolognese specialties, northern Italian recipes that had somehow passed a generation with his grandmother. Colombo continued adding to his collection of recipes as he left home, continued his education and arrived in Lawrence in 1982 to begin a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Bureau of Child Research on the University of Kansas campus. He has been director of the Life Span Institute since 2008 and, though he didn’t plan on staying so long in Lawrence, has remained here for more than 30 years. Over the years, Colombo has returned to Italy, where he has explored family roots and food—and encountered considerable disbelief from some of his older Italian relatives when he told them about the popularity of polenta in American restaurants. “There it’s considered a garbage food; it’s what you would have when you didn’t have anything else,” says Colombo. “I told them that polenta is something that rich people eat in America. They were certain that something had been lost in translation.” Colombo and his wife, Dale Walker, entertain guests at their home west of campus, often tapping old Italiandish specialties. “When we’re throwing a dinner party, there’s nothing better than the lasagna,” says Colombo. “It lets you enjoy the people.”


story by Paula Naughtin

photography by Jason Dailey

John Colombo and Dale Walker frequently prepare Italian and Southwest dishes from their Lawrence home kitchen.

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Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

John Colombo’s Salsa

John Colombo’s rellenos



12 fresh ripe tomatillos, husked and washed 1 medium-large onion 2-4 fresh jalapenos (stemmed, seeded and chopped coarsely—quantity to taste and tolerance)   Salt (to taste) 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 Anaheim or Big Jim chiles (pick chiles that are firm and aren’t starting to wrinkle) Cheddar or jack cheese, cut into ½-inch by 3-inch sticks 1/2 to 3/4 cup oil (I like canola for this) for frying  6 eggs cup flour plus a little extra (for dusting chiles) 1 teaspoon salt 1-3 tablespoons water

Instructions: 1) Fire up a grill to medium. 2) Cut onion in half and brush cut side with oil. 3) Place onion (cut side down) and tomatillos (stem-side down) directly on the grill. 4) Watch as they begin to char and bubble; turn over once to char both sides. 5) Remove from grill with tongs and place into food processor with jalapenos. 6) Run processor until smooth. 7) Salt to taste.

Instructions: 1) Wash chiles. 2) Roast them on medium barbecue grill, watching them closely until skin pops and chars. 3) Turn chiles so skin is blackened all over. 4) Place blackened chiles in a paper bag and allow to steam (approximately 1-2 minutes). 5) Pull chiles out of bag and remove skin. 6) Cut a slit in each chile toward top (stem) and slide a stick of cheese inside each one. Dredge in flour just before cooking. 7) Separate eggs, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. 8) Put yolks in bowl and mix with 1/3 cup flour and salt; beat until smooth, adding water if necessary. 9) Gently fold yolk mixture into beaten whites, making sure that the mixture stays fluffy. 10) Put oil in pan (only needs to be about ¼ inch deep), and place over medium-high flame. When hot, spoon out a long trail (1 inch by 6 inches) of the batter into the oil. 11) Dredge stuffed chiles in flour quickly and place on top of batter trail. 12) Spoon more batter over the top of the chile, and then turn to cook other side. 13) Prepared chiles can be kept warm on a cookie sheet in the oven. 14) Replenish and reheat oil as necessary while cooking. 15) Top with salsa, sour cream, green chile stew or guacamole.

He prepares his lasagna with freshlymade noodles layered with a long-simmered Bolognese sauce that he learned to make from his mother. “The tomato base sauce is not a light sauce, it’s a little heavier,” he notes. Roma tomatoes are a key component of the sauce, and Colombo claims to have a corner on the farmers’ market—his growers call him as soon as the Romas are in. Topping the lasagna is another sauce, a béchamel, or “balsamella.” Colombo describes this traditional creamy, milkbased topping as “sort of a nod to northern Italy … to keep the gods happy.” Through their years together, Colombo and Walker have also developed a love for New Mexican cuisine, inspired by their travels in the Southwest. In fact, they love the area so much that they were married in Santa Fe in 1993; and Colombo says that having a relleno dish, for example, is always a nice reminder of their wedding. Other New Mexican cuisine at their home includes enchiladas featuring Colombo’s homemade sauce. Colombo’s salsa, made from tomatillos and the peppers he grows in his backyard, is also an integral part of most of the dishes. Dark olive brown with a deep, complex flavor and a smoky underlay, this salsa is seriously addictive stuff that can be eaten by the spoonful. And though it doesn’t belong in a strict canon of New Mexican cuisine, guacamole is often served by the couple as well. This dish is strictly Walker’s purview. As a native Southern Californian, she firmly believes that she is the only one in the household who is qualified to prepare it correctly. With practice, though, anyone can approach perfection using Colombo’s recipes for his chili rellenos and addictive salsa. Prepare and eat them this summer for the perfect seasonal meal, or set aside some salsa for when the winter wind blows and you crave heat inside and out.

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The Heirlooms Late summer brings some of the region’s tastiest authentic tomatoes


elcome back, heirlooms! One of late summer’s culinary stars, heirloom tomatoes have exploded onto the fresh, local veggie scene with a rainbow of colors ranging from purple and green to yellow, orange and pink. They often have odd shapes, might be ribbed or fluted, and can be crooked or cracked, but without fail, they have that singular, unmatched homegrown flavor every time. Linda Cowden, longtime produce manager at The Merc, says the supply and demand for heirloom tomatoes has risen sharply over the past years. Her co-op sold some 2,224 pounds of heirloom tomatoes last year, in the season between July and the first hard freeze. “The flavor is just so amazing,” says Cowden. “People really look forward to them.” Heirloom tomatoes can be found at a few of the larger grocery stores, as well as the local farmers’ markets. Many vendors are experimenting with different varieties, offering samples and welcoming feedback. And the choices are dazzling. With exotic and romantic names like Super Snow White, Gold Rush Currant, Green Zebra, Wapsipinicon Peach and Golden Jubilee, taste-testing for the tomato connoisseur promises to be ambrosial. Gardeners who grow heirloom varieties often believe they are not only helping to maintain genetic diversity, but also keeping a bit of history alive. Some varieties can be traced back to the country, region or backyard garden where they were first grown. For example, according to Toby Musgrave’s Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables, the Orange Strawberry tomato was initially “raised from a rogue seed in a packet of ‘Pineapple’ by a Mrs. Morris of Indiana.” And the Zapotec variety is centuries old, originating with the Zapotec people of Oaxaca, Mexico. Unique stories and mind-blowing flavor aside, heirlooms can be a bit tricky to grow.

story by Mary R. Gage Douglas County heirloom tomatoes come in a wide range of sizes and color.

photography by Jason Dailey

summer 2014

Three awesome ways with tomato Growing up, one of my favorite snacks revolved around tomatoes. I would smear a saltine with cream cheese and plop a slice of fresh, homegrown tomato on top. A sprinkle of salt, a shake of pepper, and voila! So simple. So good. Later in life, I discovered that my friend, caterer Evan Williams, had created a grown-up version of my favorite snack. She’s kindly permitted me to pass it along: Spread goat cheese on homemade crostini, top with a slice of vine-ripened tomato, and drizzle with pistachio pesto. Even better. One of the best summertime treats ever is a fresh Caprese salad; it’s the perfect recipe for a flavorful tomato. You simply layer slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella, and then sprinkle it all over with fresh basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper. In my family, we add a little crunch to the equation by alternating cucumber slices with the tomato and mozzarella slices. Fantastico.




Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

What makes an heirloom? Though there is no official certification board or government agency for “heirloom” status, producers and suppliers generally agree that for a tomato to be labeled an heirloom, it must meet three criteria. 1) It must be openpollinated, which means pollination is occurring by natural means, not in a lab somewhere.

“They’re really susceptible to the weather,” says Cowden. “If it’s been really dry and then it rains, they’ll split. Since they do split easier than a regular tomato, they sometimes don’t look as good.” Stephanie Thomas, owner of Spring Creek Farm near Baldwin, is one of The Merc’s suppliers. Thomas has been growing heirlooms for nine years and knows the challenges. “From a farmer’s perspective, you still run the risk of diseases and you’re not going to get quite the production,” Thomas says. “That’s why the hybrids were developed—to produce more and to be disease-resistant. But on the other hand, if you’re good at growing heirlooms, your payback is a tomato that you can’t buy in a grocery store, unless you buy something raised locally.” Over the years, Thomas has whittled down the number of heirloom tomato varieties grown at Spring Creek Farm from 14 to five. They’ve


dropped the Green Zebra variety from their repertoire because they find it a bit too tart (though some heirloom fans say this is precisely why that variety is good). Thomas will be concentrating this season on two types of Brandywine (White Tomesol and Plum Yellow), as well as Green Moldovan. “We think these are the best tasting and most dependable on our soil,” she says. Navigating the narrow window of time available to pick, transport and shelve the tomatoes can also be a challenge. Thomas picks her heirlooms when they’re vine-ripened, or at most, two days away from ripe, “so you can put one on the windowsill.” The freshly harvested heirlooms are transported to the store the same day. When gathered together in season, for those few precious months, the heirlooms are a feast for the eyes, a cornucopia of size, color, shape and texture. “And the flavor!” Cowden adds. “You can’t beat the flavor.”

What do you get when you combine Douglas County heirloom tomatoes with Italian culinary tradition? This Caprese salad.

2) The seeds must have been passed down from generation to generation in a family or community. 3) It must have originated by the 1940s.* *This is not used as a criterion by all growers and organizations. Steve Carlson, communication coordinator for the nonprofit Seed Savers Exchange, says his organization applies only the first two criteria in determining heirloom status.

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Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Jersey Summer You can leave Lawrence in the morning and be in the Atlantic, cavorting in the waves, sand between your toes, by mid-afternoon. That’s the Jersey way.


ansas is a lovely place to live, but it lacks one essential feature for those of us who have migrated from a coast—an ocean. Not to worry. You can now get to an ocean quicker than driving from Lawrence to Hays. One of my favorite ways is to grab a nonstop flight from Kansas City to Philadelphia (often $250-$300 round-trip), rent a car and drive southeast for 62 miles—or take a direct train from downtown Philadelphia right into Atlantic City.


Why Atlantic City? Admittedly, this town has received a bad rap: first that awful reality TV show, and then Superstorm Sandy, which led to incessant media coverage of destroyed beach towns and upended piers. It looked like it would take a decade to recover. But the Jersey shore’s key city is back, better than ever, and open for business. then From the first trainload of tourists in 1854, Atlantic City has been a destination. The very first boardwalk, now the signature landmark of the area’s beaches as well as the inspiration for that 1964 Drifters song (sing it with me if you’re my generation), was built in 1870 not for entertainment but for practicality—to keep sand out of hotel lobbies. And this framework led to the building boom of the early 20th century, as Atlantic City became home

story by Susan Kraus

to some of the largest and grandest hotels in the U.S. as well as an expanded, 7-mile boardwalk. Wicker wheeled rolling chairs (imagine rickshaws) have been a Boardwalk staple since the 1800s. With beautiful beaches, refreshing salt air (considered back then to be very beneficial for a number of ailments), luxury hotels and fine dining, the nickname “The World’s Playground” seemed fitting.


summer 2014

Photographs courtesy ACCVA

Fast forward past Prohibition, when gambling and drinking in back rooms was ubiquitous and corruption flourished, to the post-World War II era. With more cars and less dependence on trains, the funnel into Atlantic City disappeared. People could take planes to Miami. The regal hotels fell into disrepair and occupancy rates plummeted. As hotels were converted into nursing homes, senior residences and low-end apartments, the city struggled. But a turnaround began with the opening of the first legal casino on the East Coast, and by the end of the 1980s it was once again a top tourist destination. Atlantic City now boasts a thriving downtown outdoor outlet store district and attractions in other sections such as the Marina district, Chelsea, Gardner’s Basin and Bader Field.



Tip 1) Avoid driving towards the shore on a Friday or Saturday in summer. Best to drive down on a Sunday or weekday and depart on a FridaySaturday (never Sunday) or weekday. Otherwise it could take four hours instead of one. Taking the train circumvents traffic issues. Tip 2) Check the calendar before booking, as there are festivals and rallies and celebrations year-round. For example, avoid “Roar to the Shore” weekend unless you like motorcycles.

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Historically, Atlantic City has been a destination for tourists and convention-goers. And though the city has a reputation for highstakes, big-glitz events, the lower-key beaches, restaurants and other attractions are equally appealing.

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Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

Now There are now a dozen big casino hotels. What the casinos offer tourists like me, with zero interest in gambling, are competitive room rates, vacation packages and lots of restaurants, some with those super-sized buffets. You’ll also find a plethora of boutique hotels and B&Bs that have sprung up around the city. Summer is great in Atlantic City, and it gets even better in September when the ocean is warm, kids are back in school, midweek is less busy, and offseason hotel rates are very reasonable. I stayed at The Chelsea, a historic/boutique hotel just feet from the Boardwalk and ocean. One lovely perk: The Chelsea provides complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas and towels on the beach, with staff to do the work of setting up. With no competition, I could stake out a lounger and shade umbrella early in the day and hoard my corner of beach even when I wandered off to lunch at a café lining the boardwalk. Atlantic City can feel a bit like a foreign culture. Take the accent among the locals. Even though I grew up there, it comes a shock. Like, “They really talk like that?” Yup, some do. And the pace is quicker, as is the down-to-earth-nosmall-talk-get-to-the-point approach to communication. It can take some adjusting. But then you stroll along the Boardwalk in the evening, licking a frozen custard, or walk along the edge of the ocean at sunrise, barefoot over packed sand, as the froth of the waves swells up to tickle your toes … and it feels really, really good.


My 10 Atlantic City Highlights

one two

Gardner’s Basin. This harbor region offers dolphin watching, deep-sea fishing, pier-side fishing, kayaking, parasailing and surfing. Big-time sports. Boxing, Atlantic 10 basketball, air shows, triathlons, countless Boardwalk runs, and the biggest rodeo on the East Coast are all held at or near Atlantic City. Go online to search for your favorites and book accordingly.

three four five six

Golf. There are 30 courses within 30 miles, offering sea views and Scottish-style greens.

Spas. This is where a big casino hotel can come in handy: Caesars, Revel, Borgata—they all have spas that are themed and very chichi. Nightlife. Comedy clubs, dance clubs, jazz, blues, high-end entertainers—Atlantic City has them all and within walking distance, so drink all you want. Architecture. Gather brochures from the tourism office (conveniently located right on the Boardwalk) for your own architecture walking tours (art deco, Romanesque, Greek, Flemish, etc.). Take in Boardwalk Hall, where Miss America rightfully belongs. Check out the Artlantic murals and sculpture along the Boardwalk and around the city. Join the locals who bike, jog or walk the 4-mile, one-way Boardwalk every morning.


Amusement parks. Cut loose on the rides and carnival games on the Steel Pier, where there are plans to debut the largest Ferris wheel in the U.S. One drawback: The tickets are overpriced, so make sure all rides are operating before you buy. Best options are for little kids.


Eat. Atlantic City has become a foodie destination, with celebrity chefs all staking out their turf and surf. You could try a different “celeb-chef” restaurant every night for a week and still have leftovers. But then you’d miss out on where the locals go, which can be even better, cheaper and more fun. Everyone you meet will have an opinion, so just ask. Listen to debates about meatballs or ravioli in Tony’s Baltimore Grill vs. Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern, the best pho in Little Saigon, and how some of the old places aren’t what they used to be, but as long as you’re asking .… Another option is taking a cooking class in a casino. I did Southern Italian at Harrah’s from a very patient retired master chef; the class includes eating everything you prepare.

nine ten

Festivals and parades. There are street parties almost every month. Check the calendar and consider planning your weekend around one event. People-watch. Sit with a latte (or a White House Subs hoagie) in one of the many strategically placed Adirondack chairs along the Boardwalk to people-watch. It’s like Mass Street, but with more variety.





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summer 2014

There is an abundance of statistics about cancer in the United States. Through the work of organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the American Cancer Society, we can examine reported rates of the disease by age groups, ethnicity, geography, time periods, etc. But none of these statistics can tell us how many lives are impacted by each individual case. It is simply impossible to count the ripple effect that one cancer diagnosis has on children who might lose a parent, on parents who might lose a child, on family members who depend on a cancer patient, on close friends who might lose a trusted companion, on church groups who might lose a member and so forth. In fact, one single cancer case might represent all of these scenarios and more. Of course, the same is true in reverse. The inspiration of one person’s fight with cancer or an action that one person takes to honor someone with cancer—both of these also spread out through circles of family and friends in ways that are impossible to count, but no less important. That was the case with Pauline Peterson, a woman who fought, and ultimately lost, an extended battle with cancer. She was grieved by a large circle of people, and her life inspired others, including basketball star Mario Chalmers, who chose to honor her with a gift to the Lawrence community. His gift, in turn, became a focal point for others who face the disease, whose lives continue to enrich those around them. There is no easy consolation after losing someone to cancer. Nor should there be. But after the loss, there is still memory and a love that can continue to spread through the lives of family, friends and strangers. Here is a story of a disease, a loss, a friend, a gift, a legacy and a growing love.

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Mario’s Other Miracle Legends of Douglas County Demolition Derby

fe a t ures Mario Chalmers prepares for a photo shoot at the Lawrence Magazine photo studio.



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In Lawrence, Mario Chalmers will forever be remembered for “Mario’s Miracle” during the 2008 NCAA Championship game. That

amazing three-point shot sent the University of Kansas men’s basketball squad into an overtime victory and left a sporting legacy with the Jayhawk nation. More quietly, however, Chalmers—now a professional basketball player with the Miami Heat—has left a different, equally vital legacy in the form of a small store at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where he has chosen to honor a family friend and her personal battle with cancer.

“Helping people in Lawrence is a great opportunity to give back to a town that welcomed me with open arms.”

-Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers played for the University of Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball squad from 2005-2008. The university retired his jersey number, 15, in 2013 to honor Chalmers’ key role in the 2008 championship and his overall contributions on the court. Photographs by Nick Krug.

With a $25,000 donation from the Mario V. Chalmers Foundation, “Mario’s Closet” opened in July 2011. Located in the main lobby of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the store features gift items with an emphasis on accessories for cancer victims. The store has one goal: to help make cancer patients feel like themselves again. It is a mission rooted in Chalmers’ childhood and the experience of Pauline Peterson, known to all as “Miss Pauline” and the mother of one of Chalmers’ best friends. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and died from the disease in November 2006.


Cheryl Taylor holds one of the wigs she wore during her battle with cancer. Taylor chose to mark the shaving of her head with a special ceremony attended by friends and family. “You can’t and don’t want to have a party in your chemo room, but this is something you can do,” says Taylor. “By setting my appointment and doing the head shaving, it gave me a little bit of control over what is inevitable.”

A ‘Celebration Into the Next Step’ Cheryl Taylor vividly remembers learning in 2013 that a lump in her breast was cancer. “It was quite a shock,” says Taylor. “When I left the mammogram office, they told me that the radiologist thought it was just hard, dense breast tissue and it was probably nothing.” But after a biopsy, she learned that she had cancer. Waiting for her next appointment at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Taylor noticed that her husband had suddenly disappeared. “Where did he go?” Taylor says, recalling that moment. He soon came back with two cancer-support bracelets from Mario’s Closet and handed one to Taylor, signifying the fight they would face together. After her appointment, Taylor and her husband found themselves wandering around the small gift shop, with its array of scarves and hats and a private salon-like area where patients can try on wigs. They passed mastectomy bras, skin-care products and other items designed to help with the effects of cancer treatment. The volunteer in the store asked Taylor if she would like to try something on. Taylor says she was still in shock and found it difficult to accept that she might require some of the things sold at Mario’s Closet. “At the time, it was vaguely in the back of my head I might need a hat, maybe a scarf,” she says. She just wasn’t ready. But when Taylor began losing her hair, she received a referral through the hospital for stylist Emily Willis Chahine, who works at Salon Hawk in the Kansas Union and has helped cancer patients ever since her best friend was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 27. It can be very emotional to lose your hair, Willis Chahine says, and each patient deals with it differently. “Some people come in and need to cry. And we let them do that,” she says, adding that others will laugh through it.

Shelly Hoggatt, a stylist from Shear Savvy who also volunteers her services, says she tries to make the process of shaving hair and accepting a wig as private and comfortable as possible—if that is what the patient wishes. The payoff is when clients put on their wigs. “Oh my gosh, the biggest smile goes across their face,” says Hoggatt. Sometimes, though, a public ceremony is the answer. Willis Chahine often encourages what she calls “an in-between haircut.” With these, clients pick a wild haircut, something they would never do, take pictures of it and send them to family. It brings some laughter to the women as they look back on their journey. When Taylor was deciding how to deal with her hair loss, she really didn’t know if she could do a wig. “I knew nothing about wigs,” she says. So Willis Chahine helped her through the process, encouraging her to go with a piece that was close to her natural hair color and style, one that wouldn’t draw attention. “You don’t want the looks,” Taylor explains, “and you don’t necessarily want the sympathy or pity.” When it was time for the wig, Taylor made the decision to have a head-shaving party. Willis Chahine set up an evening appointment, and Taylor’s friends and family joined her at the salon. As family and friends were enjoying the party, Willis Chahine asked Taylor if she was ready to shave her head. She was, so Willis Chahine began the cuts, turning Taylor away from the mirror. When Willis Chahine was finished, she turned Taylor to see her bald reflection—a moment Taylor describes as heart-stopping. Taylor was given a moment to take in the change before her group gathered around her. “I didn’t want to cry in front of all these people,” she recalls. But her shock was met with cheers from those who had gathered around to support her. “It was a celebration into the next step,” says Taylor.


“Miss Pauline was always there for me and always had a kind spirit,” Chalmers says. “I also remember that she always had words of wisdom. She was like a second mother to me.” Robert “Pete” Peterson, Pauline’s husband, says Chalmers is the one who had the project in his mind. No one told him to do it. “Young people generally don’t think about doing things of that nature,” Peterson says. During Pauline’s illness—when both families lived in Alaska and Mario was still playing basketball with the YMCA—the two families, already close, grew even closer. The Chalmers’ family stepped in and helped with the Peterson children while Pauline was undergoing a bone marrow transplant out of state. Peterson says Mario’s Closet is a great way to help people who are going through a tough time and navigating new territory. “When you’re sick, it is a crisis,” Peterson says. “You don’t know where it will take you.” Allyson Leland, director of volunteer services at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, says the Chalmers family continues to stay involved and check in with the shop. Chalmers’ mother, Almarie, has visited the store several times. Others have rallied to support the store’s mission. Many of the volunteers at Mario’s Closet are either cancer

Other activities in and around Lawrence • The Mario V. Chalmers Foundation Golf Tournament. This is an annual event with involvement from the University of Kansas Athletics Department, coaches and staff, band members, cheer teams and community members. This year’s tournament, the sixth annual event, will be held on July 28, with funds raised going to support breast cancer research and Mario’s Closet. • The Miracle Shot Basketball Camp. Held at Olathe East High School for students grades 6-12, this annual event runs from July 28-31 and includes training, talks from Chalmers and invitations to a celebrity all-star game featuring Chalmers and other Jayhawk alumni. More information about these events, as well as registration forms, are available online at





Chalmers talks to the press during a reception for the Mario V. Chalmers Foundation at Lawrence’s Cider Gallery in 2013.

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Mario Chalmers, in an exchange of emails through his communications office, tells us about his enduring ties with Lawrence, Mario’s Closet and his charitable initiatives. Lawrence Magazine (LM): What do you hope people who come to Mario’s Closet come away with? Mario Chalmers (MC): My hopes for Mario’s Closet is that it helps those with cancer to make their everyday lives a little bit easier, restore confidence, dignity and hope. I also hope people will see the importance of giving back. LM: You could have started Mario’s Closet at any hospital. Why LMH? MC: Lawrence Memorial Hospital has always been there for me whenever I had an injury or an illness while at KU. They were always there to help me, plus my son was born there. With the help from the wonderful volunteers at LMH, it was an easy decision to have Mario’s Closet there. They have been really amazing, and it could not have been such a success without them and the support from the community. LM: What is it like to help so many people in a town you had such great success in? MC: Helping people in Lawrence is a great opportunity to give back to a town that welcomed me with open arms. Lawrence has always showed support for me on and off the court throughout my career.   LM: After basketball, do you have any plans on coming back to the Lawrence area? MC: Lawrence will always hold a special place in my heart. So I will be back for visits as much as I can.

Mario Chalmers, sister Roneka Chalmers and Kim Weinberger look at Camouflage by Stephen T. Johnson during a 2013 reception for the Mario V. Chalmers Foundation in Lawrence.

survivors or have been touched by cancer. Leland says the store’s customers find support from these volunteers and often stop by simply to talk. “We didn’t plan for this to happen, but people come and tell their stories, and that has been a real benefit,” notes Leland. “I say this to everybody. It’s not so much about the bottom line, it’s about the one person who walks through the door and needs us.” Supporting others was important to Miss Pauline. Peterson says that even when his wife was being treated in the hospital, the tough Air Force veteran would encourage him to go talk with other patients because she was worried that many were without family. “She would tell me, ‘Just go say hi,’” says Peterson. It has been difficult for Peterson losing his wife of 24 years. “I had to rebuild,” he says. “Because when you lose that half, that is a lot to lose.” But he is comforted by the tribute to Pauline represented by Mario’s Closet. “She would think it was fantastic, that it was God-sent help for people who need it,” Peterson says, adding that his wife would also be proud of Mario’s role in it. “He’s doing things not just to make money for himself. He’s doing this to help other folks, and that is what she would appreciate.”


Story by Cheryl Nelsen

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Photography by Jason Dailey

d o u g l a s

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The county fair is no longer all about a prize pig, as demolition derby drivers claim a central spotlight in the annual event


The fans line up two hours in advance, the experienced ones carrying blankets to fling up and hide behind when the demolition derby cars will spatter mud into the stands of the Douglas County Fair Grounds. Outside the open arena, 40 or so drivers scan the rival cars they will soon be dodging or—better yet—pulverizing into automotive recycling. And they nod acknowledgment to the other drivers, most of whom they’ve run into one way or another from years of derbying around the surrounding counties. “In the derby driver community, once you’ve done it for awhile, you know who the drivers are,” says Andy Booth, vice president of the Douglas County Fair Board. “There’s a lot of secrets and rumors and stuff. It’s funny to hear the guys talk about it. They try to intimidate each other.”

Demolition derbies have been part of the Douglas County Fair in Lawrence since the late 1960s or early 1970s according to organizers, but long enough for some of the participants to be third-generation drivers. Originally a side attraction to the more serious business of judging prize pigs, the night of demolition derby, the sport that is basically a parking lot brawl with civility and yield signs left behind, has grown in popularity with at least 4,000 spectators expected to attend this year’s derby night. And as the sport has grown, so has the cost in time and money to the drivers who now spend months preparing their cars for battle. For that reason, says Booth, the number of entries has nearly halved while the sport’s popularity grows. Only the serious derby drivers remain to take on the costs and learn the regulations for engines and design. And

in the world of smash-or-be-smashed, it’s not uncommon for some drivers to enhance their cars in ways that risk disqualification. “I’ve seen concrete placed in the frames. I’ve seen frames stuffed with extra iron to make frames solid. I’ve seen extra plates welded on all the weak parts of the car,” says Booth. “Some of that is allowed, and some of it is not. These guys have gotten really good at hiding the ones that aren’t.” The incentive for all this rust, sweat, tears and occasional trickery? It isn’t trophies or cash, though those are rewarded. The drivers say it is about the fun with friends and family—the months they spend perfecting their cars and the crucial seconds they race in a small arena, slamming their rivals with all the power, grace and motorized fury they can summon with the sharp turn of their wheels.


Derby Wisdom

From the

Miller Family

Doug Miller: “Don’t drive with your thumbs in the steering wheel.” Derby Miller: “Do one car and finish it before starting another so that you don’t forget something.” Derby: “I had my first derby in 2012, and I’d never had a wreck. I was sitting on the highway and a lady rearended me going 50 miles an hour. If I had never been in a car wreck before I would have been freaking out.” Doug: “There used to be this thing called ‘derby fever.’ Once you got in a derby car and you derbied, you got the fever—you couldn’t stop.” Shelby Miller: “I believe it. This is what we know.” Doug: “I cut my arm in a derby and had to go have stitches.” Derby: “His car was on fire, and he jumped out the window.” Doug: “I was young then. I could move fast.” Shelby: “I don’t think anybody is really in it for the money.” Kay Miller: “These guys do it because these three work together, and they have time together, and they enjoy it.”


The Smash Siblings Shelby Miller, 22, has seen stars after being hit during a demolition derby, but that hasn’t diminished her love of the sport. She and her 20-year-old brother, Derby Miller— named after the family’s sport— build derby cars in what was once their grandfather’s auto repair garage, Glen Miller’s Auto Service. Derby, who ran his first demolition derby at the 2012 Johnson County Fair, says he’ll be driving “as long as we have cars to do it, and there are cars out there.” Because Derby and Shelby are both in college, they say they have to be more frugal in their spending. He is a student at Pittsburg State studying diesel mechanics, and she is working

on her master’s degree in veterinary biomedical sciences at Kansas State University. Their father, Doug Miller, who drove in at least one derby every year from 1981 until 2001, says finding a car inexpensively to wreck is becoming more difficult. The siblings can expect to invest anywhere from $200 to $500 for a car that is set for ruin. But the search for and transformation of a car is part of the fun. “I like taking a car that is basically junk to the rest of society, repurposing it and having fun with it,” says Derby. “And when that’s done, it can always go to the scrap yard, but at least you had some fun with it first before you just shred it away.” Both Derby and Shelby describe the bashing and crashing as an adrenaline rush. “There’s nothing else like it in this world,” Shelby

says. “Some people take it quite seriously and can’t quite be friends afterward. Those of us that do have fun with it, it’s kind of nice. In a roundabout way we’re all connected somehow—all like a big family.” “Some people go camping,” adds Derby. “This is kind of taking the place of that.” Away from the track, Shelby sees derby driving as a way for people to learn about the mechanics of a car. “I’ve learned so much about getting power to the motor, your batteries and how you set that all up, welding, tires,” she says. Shelby and Derby’s mother, Kay Miller, has driven in derbies before, but she no longer drives. Instead, she says, she watches the rest of the family drive, gets food, and does “the mommy thing.” For the Millers, derbying is definitely a family-team sport.


Born With a Wrench in His Hand After a year of competing in demolition derbies, Travis Moyer, 24, won first place in the compactcar division of the 2013 Douglas County Demolition Derby. “Most people, you hear them talk about how they’ve derbied for two or three years and finally won one,” says the newcomer-champion. Travis, however, has years of knowledge and experience with vehicles because of his job as a mechanic at Kansas Trailer Service in Wellsville, and because of his family. Travis’ grandfather owns McConnell Machinery in Lawrence and Ottawa, his father had an automotive repair shop and ran in derby races, his brother owns Midwest Auto Center in Wellsville, and other family members— his brother-in-law, sister and cousin—have all driven in derbies. “I’ve always been around a wrench, I guess,” he says. Travis spends weeknights and weekends in his garage preparing for derbies with help from his friends. “I get off work at 4:30, eat dinner, get here about 5 or 5:30 and then work until 11 or midnight or 1, depending on much we’ve got to get done.” On weekends he starts as early as 7 a.m. and continues “until we run out of beer, or we can’t drink any more beer. “It’s a lot of time. I know that,” he says. Travis says his friends are extremely helpful. “I’ve got one that welds, one that cleans up the shop. That’s probably one of the biggest helpers, so you’re not tripping over stuff. It makes things go a lot faster.” The 1988 Mustang that Moyer drove his first year lasted through six derbies. When he won the Douglas County Derby, he drove a different 1988 Mustang. This year, he plans to race a 1975 Datsun truck. Of course, it’s impossible to know how long a car might last, and sometimes derby drivers like to play mind games with one another. Travis says if he calls up other drivers they might say: “‘Yeah, I think I’m going to take this,’ but they could show up with something completely different.” All the drama that leads up to a derby— who is mad at whom, who is claiming they will “take out” others and whose car is “cheated up”—is what Travis likes the least. For Travis, the real fun begins when he’s lined up in his car, ready to rev his engine to begin a derby.


“Everybody drives different. Some people drive wide open all the time, and that’s the way they function. Some people take their time and are very aware of what’s going on around them. A driver can really set the pace of a derb.”

– Travis Moyer


“There’s so many things that go into winning a derby. It’s skill, luck. It’s not just who you are or how you build a car. You have to have patience when you are out there driving.”

– Richard Neis


A Hit-a-Minute Neis

Richard Neis grew up on a farm near Eudora, cheering on his derby-driving dad, Bruce “Butch” Neis. The first time Richard drove, he won. That was when he was only 19. Every year since, the 32-year-old veteran has competed. Richard prefers a “fresh” car for derbies, meaning he builds a vehicle specifically for derbying, with his own motor, transmission, rear end and other parts. “It’s something fun to do to kill time, even though there’s a lot of work getting the cars ready,” Richard says. Every night for a month or more before a derby, from 6 p.m. until midnight or later, Richard is either building his own car or helping his friends with theirs. “We all work on cars,” he says. “They all build their own cars. I build cars, and we help each other. Even if I’m not going to a derby, I’d still go and help them, and vice versa.” Although finding cars and parts can be a challenge, Richard relies on the Internet and word of mouth from people who know he’s looking. Sometimes a car will last for more than one derby. Last year, he drove his 2002 Ford Crown Victoria in four derbies and won the “weld” class at the Douglas County Derby, but Richard still had to build a fresh car for the team event at the Blizzard Bash in Topeka. Most derbies require that drivers make a hit a minute, and that occasional bash fits in with Richard’s style. “I’m kind of laid back and see how things go, and if I have to drive hard, I’ll drive hard,” he explains. “But if not, I’ll just drive and make my hits every 60 seconds.” Understanding Richard’s love of derbying is easy for his wife, Carrie, who has driven in derbies herself. She has put her driving on hold for a while now that they have two sons— Reilly, 5, and Kasen, 2. That doesn’t mean, however, that Richard is the only one in the family driving in derbies. Last year, Reilly became the third generation in the Neis family to derby—by driving in a Big Wheel derby. For practice and fun, he and Kasen have their own derbies on the front lawn of their home.


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• The Douglas County Derby sponsors derbies in three classes for cars: Full Size, Compact and Hobo. One other classification, called Mowbashers, is a competition for drivers of lawnmowers. In addition to general rules that apply to all classes, each one also has its own set of rules for drivers to follow. Those can be found at under the Demolition Derby tab.

d o u g l a s • Andy Booth, vice president of the Douglas County Fair Board, says the Douglas County Demolition Derby is one of the highest-payout county derbies in the state of Kansas. Total payout for all the classes is $11,000. Individual winnings would be somewhere in the range of $2,000 to $2,500.

c o u n t y

“For the Hobo class, that’s great, because you don’t have that much money tied up in the car,” Booth says. “Now, in full-size class, these guys have that much money wrapped up in just the motor. The thing about those guys, the way those cars are built, they can go to more than one derby. You can get three, four, or five derbies out of those cars. Hobo might not make it past that night.”


• Wakarusa Township Fire Department is always on standby at the Douglas County Derby. Safety measures to prevent fires include requiring the cars to have altered fuel lines with gas tanks placed inside the car. • Bob Newton is the announcer for the derby, and Luke Lang, auto tech teacher at Lawrence High School, will be the head promoter for the first time in this derby. All the officials are previous derby demolition drivers. • The Hobo class, which is being offered for the third year, has become popular. The first year, seven cars competed, and last year that number doubled. “The way people are talking, we expect that number to almost double again this year,” Booth says. “It’s easier to find an old car that’s running. Those guys can build those cars in less than a week versus taking three, four or five months building a car [for other classes].” • In the Hobo class, any of the drivers can file what is called an engine claim, meaning they can buy another driver’s engine for $800. Participants are warned that if they don’t want to sell their engine for $800 they should not enter the Hobo class.

d e r b i e s • Derby drivers often participate in other derbies throughout the Midwest, and the rules will vary in each event. That makes it harder for participants to go to multiple derbies with the same car. They always have to tweak their cars to qualify.

i n

• “Mad Dog money” is sometimes given to one driver out of all the classes who puts on the most aggressive show at the derby.

g e n e r a l • Classes vary from derby to derby, but when a Powder Puff race for women is available, it is a popular one. Women are not limited to participation in this class only, however. Shelby Miller took second place in a race in Atchison in which she drove with male drivers.

• One of the most unusual events that Doug Miller can recall was a soccer derby sponsored for only two years at the Wyandotte County Demolition Derby. Doug and Travis Moyer’s father, Terry Moyer, were on a team that used their cars to push around a 5-foot-tall soccer ball made out of cut-up rubber tumbling mats glued together.

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Lawrence Magazine

summer 2014

see page



Lawrence City Band summer concert series May 30-July 18 South Park | Concerts begin each Wednesday at 8 p.m.

see page


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Miss Kansas Pageant Week June 14 Pratt, Kansas | Miss Douglas County, Shannon Livengood, and other regional title holders compete for the state crown

Land of OZ June 15 Kansas City Disc Dogs hosts state championship| Youth Sports Complex, West 27th Street |Times TBA online at

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Lawrence Field Day Fest June 27-28 A celebration of local indie, progressive rock and hip-hop musical talent | The Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire St. | Times and ticket prices TBA

The “Dewey Decimator” A literary demolition derby car sponsored by Lawrence Public Library and Lawrence Magazine with drivers Shelby and Derby Miller.

August 1 | 10:30 a.m. Derby Car Stories. A Lawrence Public Library storytime event, with Bookmobile demolition derby car drivers Shelby and Derby Miller.

August 1 | 7:30 p.m. See the Bookmobile take on the competition at the Douglas County Fair Demolition Derby. (Tickets sold at the Douglas County Fairgrounds for $10.)

As always, the next “About Lawrence …” events

will be open to the public. We hope to see you at the upcoming events.

calendar We’ll have more information posted at the library and through our online sites: and

Sponsored by Lawrence Public Library and Lawrence Magazine


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Mario V. Chalmers Foundation Golf Tournament July 28 Charity golf tournament benefits Mario’s Closet and research to end breast cancer | Registration and detailed information online at

July 25 | 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Paint the Bookmobile Derby Car! An event for Lawrence teens directed by artists Jason and Lana Grove as well as Darin and Shannon White; advance sign-up through the Lawrence Public Library. (785) 843-3833

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Douglas County Demolition Derby August 1 The Miller siblings, Travis Moyer, Richard Neis and other Douglas County derby legends smash one another in the arena mud | Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, gates open at 6 p.m.; tickets $10 at the gate

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US Air Guitar National Championships August 9 Lawrence resident and World Air Guitar Champion Eric “Mean” Melin hosts an air-guitar showdown to crown America’s top air guitarist | The Midland Theatre, Kansas City

see page Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championship August 24 South Park | Concert schedules TBA online at


Summer 2014

Celebrating 50 years

Family owned and operated for three generations, ES Lighting is the oldest premier lighting showroom in Kansas, serving Lawrence and surrounding communities for 50 years. Thank you to all of our customers, past, present and future, for 50 great years.

ES Lighting 724 Connecticut Street Lawrence, KS 785-842-1634

Mario Chalmers assists fighting cancer | Lawrence Magazine summer 2014