Page 1

Backstage Stiefel tour

Homeschooling stories

Kassem stages the Blues

Richard Bergen A lifelong legacy of art ‌

without an end in sight.

Salina area’s premier Magazine on People, Places & Style fall 2010 $3

Underthecover volume 01 / issue 03

From there to here Richard Bergen arrived in Salina as a stopover en route to California but remained for decades. Glenn Headley planned to spend his years in Nebraska until an unexpected business call brought him back to Salina. These two events, told in this fall issue of Sunflower Living, are reminders that sometimes you are born into your home, sometimes you choose your home and sometimes you make it from the chances and opportunities that arise. Whatever path brought you to Salina, for decades or for a short stay, we welcome you to these pages and invite you to share with us the stories about the people of our region. All of us are defined by our past journeys, but ultimately it is more important what we currently bring to others, what we share with a community. In these pages, we follow the paths and explore the present interests of a rural Kansas farm boy who came to Salina following the flight of bees, a local woman who walked many roads in creating her goal of a haven for children of working families, an entrepreneur who took her dream of a toy store to our city and a transplanted Louisianan who made Salina a center for preserving and performing the blues. As with each issue, the photography and articles in this edition are what we want to share with the Salina region. We hope you enjoy these stories from the comfort of your home or alongside you on your next journey. Nathan Pettengill Editor

Publisher Tom Bell advertising director Kim Norwood advertising sales managers Christy Underwood Kathy Malm Linda Saenger for advertising rates and information (785) 822-1449 Sales executives Matt Browne Tina Campbell Brian Green Leah Plumer Jamie Stroda Edward Welch Erica Wiseman Tiffany Modlin Sue Austin Debbie Nelson Debbie Porter Ad designers Jamie Jeffries Natosha Batzler Annette Klein Derek Bergman photographers Lisa Eastman Larry Harwood Contributing writers Patricia E. Ackerman Melinda Briscoe Chelsey Crawford James R. Godfrey Cecilia Harris Sarah Hawbaker Karilea Rilling Jungel Nancy Karst

Production and editorial services for Sunflower Living provided by: Editor Nathan Pettengill Designer Shelly Bryant Copy Editor Susie Fagan Art Director Darby Oppold General Manager Bert Hull Coordinator Faryle Scott e-mail Comments to • a division of The World Company

Subscriptions to sunflower living $15 (includes tax) for a one-year subscription for subscription information, please contact: Salina Journal Circulation Department Mollie Purcell 333 S. Fourth, Salina, KS 67401 (785) 822-1467 / (800) 827-6363 ext. 347



Fall 2010




sunflower spaces 6 A Secret Stiefel Tour

Gary Reynolds is All About the Bees For nearly five decades, a local beekeeper studies, observes and gathers sweet rewards from his hives


Bill Tuzicka shares his backstage view of the Stiefel Theatre

10 Home is Where You Hang Your Canvas Artists-in-residence find room to live and work at The Warehouse of the Salina Art Center

sunflower resumés 15 Glenn Headley Owner, Headley’s Clothing

16 Cathy Gabay Owner, The Toy Parade

local profiles 17 Blues is Blues … and ‘Good is Good’ After reconnecting with music through old LPs, Chad Kassem puts Salina on the blues-world map

Dr. Steampunk

for the family

For Richard Bergen, a cheeky childhood sculpture heralds a life of threedimensional art inspired by gigantic ideas and scale

20 Home for the School Days


24 ‘One Big Family’

Three families discuss the ideas, ideals and reality of their homeschooling education

Since its founding in the early 1970s, one organization has seen child care change from a new need to a part of daily life

health & fitness on the cover:

26 In the Bag

Simple, quick recipes help create an ideal packed-lunch menu, even for the most finicky eaters

local flavor 30 Schoolhouse Dining Two restaurants go back to the classrooms (and the gyms) for atmosphere and spacious dining Artist Richard Bergen, wearing his Steampunk-influenced costume, poses in his Salina studio.

out & about 32 Haunting the Highways

If there’s a chill in the air, it’s the perfect time to spend the day touring ghostly sites in and around Salina Sunflowerliving




Secret Stiefel Tour Bill Tuzicka shares his backstage view of the Stiefel Theatre



Fall 2010


taging 21st-century productions in a 1931 theater building “is like squeezing a size 12 foot into a size 6 shoe,” according to Bill Tuzicka, technical and facilities director for Salina’s Stiefel Theatre. Though most everyone in Salina recognizes the bright marquee exterior and the Art Deco interior of the city’s landmark theater, Tuzicka knows the tight fits, nooks and back corridors of the Stiefel perhaps better than anyone else.

story by Patricia E. Ackerman

photography by lisa eastman


After consulting for the Stiefel Theatre renovation committee when its efforts began in 2001, Tuzicka formally joined the theater staff prior to Stiefel’s formal reopening in 2003. He oversees building maintenance as well as the arrival and setup of productions. When the plumbing needed repairs and when the small loading door was redesigned to bring in the Steinway grand piano, Tuzicka was the person who looked out for the historic building. Among the many challenges of accommodating as many as 24 contemporary productions each year in a National Register of Historic Places structure is the fact that the Stiefel was not designed to have truckloads of equipment and props unloaded onto the 45-foot-wide by 20-foot-deep stage. “We actually unload each act’s equipment in the parking lot and move it into the building,” explains Tuzicka.

Major challenges occur when the Stiefel hosts a dance production and the theater’s limited amount of lighting equipment must keep pace with contemporary choreography. “Lighting is the most technically challenging part of any dance production, because it’s all about imagery,” says Tuzicka. “Lighting has to be very precise, and dance companies want everything to appear ‘just so.’” The Stiefel’s status on the national historic register— as the Fox-Watson Theater building—limits what can be done to change the building’s façade and much of its interior. Tuzicka says at the top of his production wish list is to have “the entire stage house rebuilt and brought up to date with 21st-century equipment.” But don’t misunderstand Tuzicka’s feelings for this theater. On a tour of the auditorium and backstage area,

Bill Tuzicka and theater staff preserve this Fox movie marquee as part of an agreement with the National Register of Historic Places.


Sunflower paces


Tuzicka knows the tight fits, nooks and back corridors of the Stiefel perhaps better than anyone else.

his pride in the building becomes apparent as he points out details perhaps overlooked by the public. There are two original 30-foot wooden curtain tracks preserved in the basement storage room. Behind the curtains, Tuzicka notes the old fly system, which originally came from Armstrong Studios in Los Angeles and remains in use with its original counterweights. And farther backstage, Tuzicka shows the 4,000-pound movie marquee being preserved as part of an agreement with the national historic register. Looking out at the auditorium from the stage, Tuzicka notes that the theater is “very acoustically alive” because it was built prior to sound reinforcement. “There is not a bad seat in the house,” says Tuzicka. “The farthest you can get from the stage is clear up against the back wall of the balcony, and that’s only 85 to 87 feet away from the stage. In some large arenas, that’s about as close as the audience can get. We don’t need video screens off to the side for the audience to see performers. It’s a very intimate setting, and most of the performers enjoy being closer to their audience—the way it used to be.” [6]







Fall 2010


Sunflower paces CEILING DETAIL Art Deco design and sound insulation combine in the textured ceiling.

DRINKING FOUNTAIN One of a pair of matching, historical fountains original to the Stiefel Theatre.

MANAGER’S SAFE The original manager’s safe is built into the wall of what was an office built over the theater entry.

BACKSTAGE LIGHTS Lighting for Stiefel performances relies on masterly and creative use of a limited amount of equipment.




Backstage stars Bill Tuzicka’s view of Stiefel Theatre performances is usually from backstage, but that allows the theater’s technical and facilities director a unique perspective on the artists and performing legends whose posters cover the walls of the theater’s green room. Tuzicka has memories of Willie Nelson, whose own band couldn’t get him off the stage. He gained personal respect for B.B. King for having one of the best, friendliest road crews. Tuzicka knows which musicians don’t blink an eye at having to readapt their performance for a smaller stage. When asked which performer stands out most in his memory, Tuzicka speaks fondly of George Carlin. Tuzicka’s impression of the private Carlin is quite different from the stage persona of the oftenirreverent, explosive comedian who died in 2008: “He was the kindest, gentlest man I have ever met.”

[ 1 ] The Stiefel Theatre’s concert hall seats 1,286 people. [ 2 ] The ornate stairway leads to the theater’s balcony. [ 3 ] The old fly system from Armstrong Studios continues to raise and lower the Stiefel’s stage curtains. [ 4 ] The Stiefel’s box seats were originally intended for premium spots at vaudeville performances and then to hold pipe organs for silent movie performances. Neither plan was realized and the box office seats remain picturesque, but empty, space. [ 5 ] Even the reception area of the Stiefel is decorative and elegant. [ 6 ] Bill Tuzicka relaxes in the theater’s seating, but come performance and rehearsal time, he will most likely be on the other side of the curtains. [ 7 ] A historical chandelier hangs over the performance hall. Sunflowerliving



Home is where you

Hang Your Canvas Artists-in-residence find room to live and work at The Warehouse of the Salina Art Center


ou can easily imagine it as a ceramics studio, a performance venue, a gallery or even the furniture warehouse that it once was. But even when it stands relatively empty— with only a bed, couch, desk or bike—there is an electricity in the air at the cavernous space at 149 S. Fourth St. Since 2008, this venue has operated as The Warehouse—an extension of the Salina Art Center and a home away from home for national and global artists invited to the city. “We wanted to bring artists from other places,” says Wendy Moshier, director of community development for the art center.



Fall 2010

story by Nancy Karst

photography by Larry Harwood


“And the apartment was critical to bringing folks in for an extended stay. That way they could become more immersed into the community.” The Warehouse’s layout reflects the art center’s goal of providing guests a comfortable living arrangement and an inspiring workplace. There is a small, functional 520-square-foot bedroom apartment, and then there is the main attraction: a generous studio of 4,000 square feet with high ceilings and necessary tools and supplies to create art. Since The Warehouse opened, 10 artists have lived and worked there for an average of seven weeks. “Every artist,” says Moshier, “makes that space their own.” Jeff Schmuki, an artist originally from Gulfport, Mississippi, transformed the interior with sprinkling sys-

tems and plants to create a sprawling, organic installation. Topeka-based artist Marguerite Perret filled the space with a collaborative crocheted/knit granny square throw. “In terms of other artist residencies,” says Perret, “it is unusual to have that much open area dedicated to a single artist or project. I spread out and was able to really assess different aspects of the installation in a way that was not possible in my own studio.” The diverse art projects—each involving community collaboration—are exactly the type The Warehouse was meant to host, says Moshier. She also notes that unlike the selection of artwork for a gallery showing, choosing an artist to come into The Warehouse involves careful consideration of the artist as an individual and how each will work with and involve Salina in the project.

The Salina Art Center created The Warehouse program to host artists in residence after receiving the property as a gift from Brad Stuewe of Salina.


Sunflower paces


Past artist-in-residence Jason Peters, for example, worked with teams to transform discarded items into an art installation. The community and residency also helped expand his artistic focus, he says. “Walking in and having an empty space like that was luxurious,” says the Brooklyn-based artist. “You were in a liberating environment where you were able to do anything … and there really are no other residency places with spaces available like The Warehouse.” The Warehouse, transformed with the arrival and influence of each artist, reverts to its original, blank-slate status between visits. The art center’s goal, explains Moshier, is to have the studio be “entirely empty … to fill or not” depending on the current artist-inresidence’s vision. The only physical legacy of past artists is their signatures, left

“Every artist makes that space their own.” — Wendy Moshier the bicycle story While some jobs come with a company car, the position of artist in residence at the Salina Art Center comes with the company bicycle. The blue Schwinn has been handed down from artist to artist since the beginning of the residency program. “The bike has many practical purposes in terms of logistics, health and a certain level of independence,” says Art Center Director Christopher Cook. “But you could look at it as a metaphor for the artist in residency program itself, to have the artists infuse a new energy into the community. … And being visibly mobile throughout the community is one way to project that artists are here, out in the community.”



Fall 2010

on a small 4-foot by 8-foot piece of wood, and one domestic modification. The warehouse originally had plain brick interior walls, but art center staff members have since adapted these bare slates so that guest artists are able to place artwork—their own or others’—on the walls. Home, it seems, truly is where you hang your canvas.



Sunflower paces

The art center’s goal, explains [Wendy] Moshier, is to have the studio be “entirely empty … to fill or not” depending on the current artist-in-residence’s vision. [5]




[ 1 ] The Warehouse’s central location in Salina, 149 S. Fourth St., helps make visiting artists accessible to the community and the community accessible for the visiting artists. [ 2 ] Red doors in The Warehouse mark the division between the private apartment and the public work space. [ 3 ] The small apartment comes with a bed and a small couch for artists and guests. [ 4 ] The large interior working space is for artists such as Jason Peters, who noted that open spaces this size are a rare find in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. [ 5 ] A skylight brings the sun into the living quarters of the warehouse. [ 6 ] The Warehouse’s front entrance and exterior are visibly marked, making it an easy location to find for guests and collaborating artists. [ Below ] The artists are free to decorate their living space as they wish, but the most dramatic transformations come in the warehouse that hosts their individual and community projects.



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eaving Downs, the small north-central Kansas town where he was born and raised, Glenn Headley arrived in Salina in 1954 to attend Kansas Wesleyan University, work for Stevensons Clothing and begin a lifelong career in the clothing business. After graduating and getting married in 1958, Glenn and his new bride moved to Nebraska but returned shortly after a call from Stevensons. “I learned how to ‘fit’ people at Stevensons and how important service is,” Glenn explains. Glenn opened his own store in 1977, and 33 years later Headley’s Clothing is the only menswear specialty store in Salina. Glenn summarizes his approach for staying open through three decades: “Service, service, service. Make the customer comfortable, ensure his clothing is fitted to him and let him know he is appreciated.”

Glenn Headley Occupation: Owner, Headley’s Clothing Job Location: 1829 Ninth St., Salina Name:

What was your first job?

Working at a filling station and washing cars, besides helping with the dry cleaners [business] my family owned and operated in Downs. Glenn Headley What is the most overlooked, but important, men’s fashion accessory? What are your outside interests?

Cuff Links

Fishing Hunting

Dress shirt



Tie Clips Other

Sport coat

Golf Woodworking

I love woodworking. I built all the displays in the store.

Dress pants

Who is the definitive menswear style icon? Elvis

John Lennon

The Blues Brothers


Sport coats, dress shirts, pants and ties. I make light of it, but I intentionally wear a coat, dress pants and tie most everywhere so that people will say, “Oh, there’s Glenn Headley!” I do that to have my own signature style.

What’s the most popular line of clothes at Headley’s?

We’re more like Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter style—good twobutton and three-button sport coats and suits. story by James R. Godfrey

The Big & Tall line definitely. We actually carry more of the larger sizes than the traditional regular sizes. We carry suits all the way up to size 66 and jeans to 68 inch.

photography by lisa eastman






athy Gabay has loved toy stores since her childhood on a dairy farm outside Riley. As an adult, she and her husband followed her dream and opened a toy store when they moved to Abilene in 1998. Relocating to Salina in 2007, they brought The Toy Parade with them. There are no fancy computer simulations at The Toy Parade. “We sell special things you won’t find elsewhere to help children not just play, but expand their imaginations and explore the world around them,” says Cathy. Visitors are encouraged to touch and play with items on the shelves at The Toy Parade. Grandparents will rediscover many of the same toys they had when they were young. Children will find props and fun items to encourage imaginative play. “Our ‘pretend line’ is the most popular store selection,” says Cathy, “but just simple blocks attract young and old.”

Cathy Gabay Occupation: Owner, The Toy Parade Job Location: 119 S. Santa Fe Ave., Salina Name:

What did you do with the first dollar you earned? Spent


I have it framed.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

Complete a college degree, probably in a field like pediatrics. Or open an ice cream shop.

Cathy Gabay

Besides Christmas, what time of year is the busiest? Christmas

What’s your most popular item? “Pretend Play” Items

Thomas the Train

Family Games

Items that promote “pretend play.” Where kids can “pretend” to be doctors, nurses, mommies and daddies, builders and train engineers; and games the whole family can play together. Thomas the train is very popular. What is one nearly forgotten product you would like to see come back in popularity? Tops

Building Blocks

summer months

Model Airplanes

The summertime. The kids are out of school and grandparents come to visit. If a fire broke out and you had the chance to save one thing down on the floor, what would it be?

Our large stuffed animals. Building blocks are the perfect toy, for any age. You can learn so much from playing with them. Their only limit is your imagination. 16


Fall 2010

story by James R. Godfrey

photography by Lisa Eastman


Blues is Blues … and ‘Good is Good’ After reconnecting with music through old LPs, Chad Kassem puts Salina on the blues-world map


had Kassem makes no bones about it: He came to Salina in 1984 in order to “get sober.” Period. But he needed something more than sobriety. After securing an hourly work position while living at a halfway house, Kassem spent much of his free time reviving his interest in music. He listened to songs, particularly by those aging blues legends who, one by one, are passing away. He haunted the House of Sight & Sound and began to search out vinyl records across the region. This was the time when the music industry was urging people to discard LPs in favor of CDs. The industry argued the new technology promised better listening through “digitally mastered” recordings, but Kassem thinks that terminology was used to “bamboozle” people. He was among a niche group of aficionados who valued the older vinyl technology precisely for its superior sound quality. Kassem doesn’t recall a precise moment, but he eventually realized that the bunch of old records he had been purchasing had tipped him beyond being a collector. “Somehow,” he says, “it became a business.” He formally established Acoustic Sounds Inc. in 1994. When he would find two or more records—alike and underpriced—Kassem would scoop them up and sell one or more through classified ads at market prices. Calls started coming in from around the world. “It was all buy, sell, trade,” recalls Kassem. Some of those dollar buys on vinyl traded for $300 apiece.

Chad Kassem sits in the pews of the church that he has turned into Blue Heaven Studios. This studio, left, hosts an annual blues concert that brings some of the most legendary and promising blues performers each October. Studio photograph courtesy Siep Veldstra, Blue Heaven Studios.

story by Karilea Rilling Jungel

photography by larry harwood




local rofiles [1]

Acoustic Sounds Inc. remains one of Salina’s best-kept secrets. There is no sign over the door for Kassem’s office at 1500 S. Ninth St., which still looks very much like the former grocery store turned tractor supply outlet that it had been. There is no board of directors, no outside funding nor artistic grants for the business that now distributes vinyl records, amplifiers and turntables to a reported 40,000 customers throughout the United States and around the world.

He listened to songs, particularly by those aging blues legends who, one by one, are passing away. And few people realize that a vast warehouse of old and re-recorded records plus a photo studio, bookkeeper, business manager, equipment salesmen, computer print and design engineers, marketing and shipping/receiving staff numbering 32 overall are behind the glass doors at the headquarters. With his business growing, Kassem purchased the vacant First Christian Church in 1997 as a cavernous space intended solely for storage and operations. His mother noticed how the sound of the church might convert to a studio format. “I should have noticed it myself,” Kassem admits. Following Mom’s advice, Kassem hired “the best people” to maintain the original structure of the pews, windows and other intrinsic architecture in the 87-year-old edifice. The restoration blended historic preservation and practicality. For example, the church pews are moveable so musicians from solo to several can spread out and down onto the floor. And if there are drums? Why, just put them on a riser set up over the baptismal font. Once completed that same year, the space became Kassem’s second business, Blue Heaven Studios, dedicated to preserving blues music. Blues guitarist Jimmy Rogers christened the studio with its first one-man concert in 1997. He was followed by legends whose names were and are


Blue Heaven Studios

13th Annual Blues Masters at the Crossroads October 22-23 Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Show starts at 7:15 p.m. All seats general admission $45 Order tickets by calling (785) 825-8609



Fall 2010


local rofiles as lyrical as their music: Little Hatch, Weepin’ Willie, Wild Child Butler, Pinetop Perkins and others. In 1998, Kassem assembled a group of musicians for a Blues Masters concert. It has since became an annual event each October featuring legends such as Honeyboy Edwards, Classie Ballou, T-Model Ford and others who make new memories on the old church stage. Kassem says it has become increasingly difficult to bring in the original group of blues legends that he initially targeted because each year they grow older and fewer. A wall at the studio witnesses Kassem’s battle against an invisible deadline and honors the genre’s pioneers who have died. “I think blues is most in need of documentation because the artists are older and validate rock ’n’ roll,” says Kassem. “Rock ’n’ roll and jazz are better documented.” Kassem is changing that. And while he ensures that the music of his idols is recorded, Kassem does not fret that good music will die out with any one generation or any one genre. His recent concerts have highlighted younger musicians such as the award-winning 19-year-old blues guitarist Marquise Knox and the 28-year-old rhythm and blues guitarist Noah Wotherspoon. “Good is good,” says Kassem, “and I like all good stuff.”



[ 1 ] Marquise Knox and Honeyboy Edwards perform at Blue Heaven Studios. [ 2 ] Many of the legendary blues musicians who recorded with Kassem are honored in a wall of photographs at the studio. [ 3 ] Sherman Robertson, center, plays with drummer Johnny Rees and bass guitarist John Frederick. [ 4 ] Marquise Knox takes center stage at the Blue Masters at the Crossroads concert. [ 5 ] Blues pianist Marcia Ball cues the crowd during her performance. [ 6 ] Award-winning vocalist Diunna Greenleaf sings to a full house. Photographs 1, 3 and 5 courtesy of Mike Oltz, Blue Heaven Studios; photographs 4 and 6 courtesy of Siep Veldstra, Blue Heaven Studios. [5]




for theFamily

Home for the School Days Three families discuss the ideas, ideals and reality of their homeschooling education



Fall 2010

story by Sarah Hawbaker

photography by larry harwood

for theFamily


Rivera Family Years homeschooling 10


enee Rivera says she and her husband have always been committed to a “Christcentered education,” starting their children in a private religious school when living in Garden City. But after moving to Salina, becoming pregnant with her fifth child and working as a child-care provider, Renee realized something wasn’t quite right. “I was taking care of other people’s kids and having a wonderful time but also paying someone else to take care of my kids,” Renee says. In the nine years since, the family has been homeschooling and enjoying what Renee describes as many unanticipated benefits. Breakfast time, for example, is no longer a hurried, stressful rush. The children enjoy one another’s company and the kids are able to spend more time with their dad, who has a demanding work schedule. Renee says it has been a process to figure out their daily school schedule. She mainly uses a literaturebased approach to teaching her children and spends three to four hours each morning on instruction. Renee also taps the local homeschool co-op classes and even teaches some herself. In the afternoons, the Rivera children have free time but aren’t allowed to watch television or engage in any other multimedia until a typical school day would be over. Another pleasant surprise, says Renee, has been the chance to learn new things alongside her children. “I am at a time in my life where I can really appreciate it,” she explains.

who’s who Parents:

Renee and Geronimo

Children: Micah - 18 attending Central Christian College, McPherson Jordan - 15 Caleb - 13 Cristiana - 11 Katalina - 8 Sarah-Lynn - infant granddaughter

OPPOSITE PAGE: Cristiana Rivera spends her school days with her brother and sisters studying at home. TOP LEFT: Renee Rivera helps daughter Katalina with her lesson while she cares for granddaughter Sarah-Lynn. ABOVE: In homeschooling, hats are allowed—at least for Caleb Rivera as he studies geography at the Rivera home. CENTER LEFT: Renee instructs the children in groups but more frequently in one-onone tutorials, such as this session with daughter Jordan. LEFT: Homeschooling multiple children means that several levels of academic study are conducted within the same room. Sunflowerliving



for the amily


heaton Family Years homeschooling 21

Who’s who Parents:

Chuck and Lana

Children: Tyson - 26 involved in youth ministry in Texas Tanner - 22 in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and a student at Kansas State University, Manhattan Tara - 19 attending Academy of Hair Design Travis - 18 Tami - 16 Tucker - 11 attends Salina Christian Academy

More than 20 years ago, Lana Heaton was set to send 5-year-old son Tyson to school. But the first day of school arrived, and Lana kept Tyson home, convinced that it was not yet time for him to head to classes. Soon afterward, she heard about a new approach—a homeschool group—and decided to learn more about it. That decision has led to more than two decades of homeschooling for five Heaton children, with some variations: two children, Travis and Tami, have attended an area public school a few days a week for elective courses while the youngest, Tucker, has always attended Salina Christian Academy. Though she has taught five of her children, Lana varies her approach for each child and each year of instruction. “You make all your choices based on what’s best for that child, that particular year,” Lana says. Lana continues to teach Travis and Tami at home. But there is no typical day for these two. Travis is more productive later in the day or even at night, while his sister works best during the day. “Whatever works, as long as the work gets done,” Lana says. With all this work, homeschooling multiple children does not necessarily become easier each year. “To put teaching school into a normal, hectic life is a challenge,” Lana says. “Your kids will see the best and the worst of you as a homeschool mom.” Without the safety net of substitute teachers or colleagues, Lana says she has doubted her choice to continue homeschooling—“about every other day.” But her family’s commitment and the support of a local homeschool organization encourage her to continue doing what she thinks is best for her kids and their relationship as a family. “I feel like I really know my kids,” Lana says.

Above Right: Lana and Tucker look on as Tara models the gown she wore for her homeschooling graduation ceremony. Above left: Tara, Travis and Tami Heaton, from left, complete their academic studies at home and join a homeschooling co-op group for activities or sports such as basketball. The Heatons were charter members of one of Salina’s most active homeschooling groups, Smoky Valley Home Educators. The organization continues to organize events and support for families ( Left: Tami integrates algebra computer lessons into her home curriculum.



Fall 2010


for the amily


“It has been even more than I expected, for the better.”

creer Family Years homeschooling 14

— Velda Creer Velda Creer knew that when she had children, she would homeschool them. But when she became engaged, she wasn’t sure her husband-to-be, Eddie Creer, a public school teacher in Salina, would support her plan. “At the time, homeschooling wasn’t even on my radar,” Eddie admits. Rather than convincing him with words, Velda thought it best to show Eddie what influenced her. She invited him for a visit to Oklahoma, where she was living and babysitting at the time for a family who homeschooled and had introduced Velda to the idea. The family made a strong impression on Eddie, and he was able to see how much Velda admired them. “They prayed together, enjoyed being together and had a special love and honor for one another,” Velda says of the family. It was the type of family the couple would hope to become one day. And it’s the type of family Eddie and Velda have worked to create. The Creers begin their day around 6:30 a.m. for family devotional time before Eddie heads to teach at Salina South High School. Velda remains home to begin lessons with Grace and Joshua from a room that holds a school desk for each child. Velda receives input from Eddie on the weekends, when they draw up lesson plans. The children meet with other homeschooled students in a local homeschooling co-op for field trips and activities such as choir or sports. “It has been even more than I expected, for the better,” says Velda. “As we saw the results in the children, mainly in spiritual character, we have been more encouraged.”

who’s who Parents:

Salina homeschooling in context According to the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education, most homeschooling families made their decision based on religious or moral conviction while a significant minority chose to homeschool in order to address a child’s school-readiness issues, learning disabilities or illness. Virtual education and online high school degree programs are also having an influence, according to Gary Lewis, head of the Lawrence Virtual School, which has 28 of its 1,100 homeschool students enrolled from Salina. “We do see families perhaps who would never have chosen to home educate their children doing so with the help of a virtual school,” says Lewis. The Kansas State Department of Education requires all homeschooling families to register with the state as a “nonaccredited private school.” Beyond that, however, there are no regulations on curriculum, instruction or testing. Lewis says Kansas is “one of the most homeschool-friendly states in the country.” He strongly recommends families considering homeschooling to ask themselves these questions: “Is your child’s education your primary interest? Are you committed to your child’s education?” For Lewis, these convictions, rather than experience or natural teaching ability, are the most important for a child’s long-term success. “If you’re committed,” says Lewis, “then you will make it work.” The most recent state data available, which does not require families to update their status, lists 19,152 homeschools throughout Kansas, including the following regional listings:

Velda and Eddie Jr.

Saline County


Children: Michaela - 19 - (graduated in 2009) Joshua - 17 Grace - 11

City of Salina


McPherson County


Dickinson County


Joshua Creer studies the piano as part of his homeschooling. Grace Creer has been homeschooled her entire life.

Ottawa County


Ellsworth County




for theFamily



Family’ Since its founding in the early 1970s, one organization has seen child care change from a new need to a part of daily life



Fall 2010

story by Chelsey Crawford

photography by larry harwood


for theFamily

henever kids wanted to get somewhere and we didn’t have a way to get there, everyone would say, ‘Call Miss Briscoe, she’ll take you!’ And she would take you wherever you needed to go,” recalls Olivia Banks-Price. For the past eight years, Banks-Price has worked at the Martin Luther King Jr. Child Development Center, an experience that has only increased her respect for the woman who drove her in times of need and then founded the nonprofit institution in 1973. Geraldine Briscoe’s center became the second licensed child care facility in Salina—the first, Salina Child Care, opened in 1970. Briscoe referred to her center as the “God Project,” a safe place for latchkey children of hardworking, financially strapped families. In the early 1970s, more families found themselves sending both parents into the work force, and greater numbers of children were raised by a single parent. Briscoe had noticed children as young as 4 left alone at home—not from neglect but necessity. Her center, she said, would become a comfortable spot for children to “have a hot meal and love” as their parents worked long hours to pay the household bills. Even though Briscoe died on Christmas Eve of 2008, the center still thrives with the support of donations from the Salina community. It cares for children as young as 2 weeks. Director Karen Henderson offers a tour of the center, now based at 1215 N. Santa Fe Ave., and shows the improvements and modifications to the facility. In more than 35 years of service, the center has grown into four rooms: one for infants, one for toddlers and two for preschoolers. A play yard is being redone with labor and supplies donated by Lowe’s of Salina, and every classroom has a pet such as a fish or turtle that’s cared for by the children. Over the decades, the center also has helped set a model for resolving the same pressing questions faced by working parents since Briscoe first opened its doors: How do you balance work and family? That is a dilemma Henderson understands well because she has not only directed the center since 2006 but has her 5-year-old and 2-year-old among — Karen Henderson the approximately 50 children at the center. “We all know you just can’t live off of one income anymore,” says Henderson. “Child care is a greater need for everyone.” Sarah Vincent, the center’s lead teacher in the toddler room, explains that the transition for kids at any child care center seems to go better if they and the parents have time to create a relationship with the caregivers. “It is really neat seeing the kids as they grow and the relationships that are formed with them,” says Vincent. “We really check in with the parents when the children are dropped off and picked up.” And Vincent knows she is successful, and parents can rest easy, when she encounters her charges beyond the center, happily spending time with their parents but excited to see their caregivers. “I just love it when you see the kids outside of the center. They are so shocked to see you out of school,” laughs Vincent. Henderson adds: “Some of them look at you funny, because you’re not in the ‘right’ environment. But just as the parents are relieved and comforted to have a good place to drop off their children, we’re happy to see everyone together. We all become one big family.”

“Child care is a greater need for everyone.”

LEFT: Esmeralda Jimenez plays with Legos and friends at the Martin Luther King Jr. Child Development Center. Established in 1973 as one of Salina’s few licensed child care centers, the program now represents a common solution for families to balance earning a living and providing a safe, loving environment for their children. ABOVE: Kaidan Wachs explores a tunnel on the playground while Slade Smith draws on paper and decorates himself with a sticker. ABOVE RIGHT: Karen Henderson directs the center that her two children attend. RIGHT: Dante Smith demonstrates the workings of a robot that he created during open playtime at the center.




In the Bag Simple, quick recipes help create an ideal packed-lunch menu, even for the most finicky eaters story by Melinda Briscoe

All recipes pictured were prepared by Ann DoocyWalker of The Dish, Abilene. The Zesty Chicken Sandwich above includes the addition of ½ red onion, 2 stalks of celery, ½ cup of chopped red grapes and 1 teaspoon each of paprika and curry powder.



photography by lisa eastman


or parents, lunch can often be the most difficult meal. You either have to hear from your children about the unappealing school cafeteria food or rack your brains for food to pack in their lunch bags that will actually get eaten and not traded to another kid for a pudding cup or, worse yet, thrown in the garbage. You want something healthful and practical. To help in this search, we’ve queried three wise lunchpackers for their ideas on bag meals that are quick to prepare, easy to pack and delicious. Zesty menu Angela Rogan is a mother and grandmother who has lined up a repertoire of school favorites from packing two generations of school lunches. One of her favorites is the inexpensive Zesty Chicken Sand-

Fall 2010

Zesty Chicken Sandwich

1 Red Delicious apple 1 navel orange 2 10-ounce cans chicken breast 1 cup Miracle Whip or Miracle Whip Light 16 slices multigrain bread Core and seed apple and cut into small bite-size pieces. Peel orange and cut into small bite-size pieces (if needed, pull out seeds). Open cans of chicken breast and drain all water. In a large glass bowl, mix apple, orange and chicken and stir. Add Miracle Whip to ingredients and mix. Spread mixture on bread and slice. Makes about 8 servings. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Pioneer Chips

3 cups dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, banana chips, dried apricots, etc.) 1 cup mixed nuts 1 cup low-fat granola mix In a medium bowl, combine the fruit, nuts and granola. Mix well. To store trail mix, place in an airtight glass container and keep in a cool dry place. Makes about 8 servings. Keeps for one month. Pour mix into snack-size airtight bags for each serving.

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

½ cup 100% sugar-free natural peanut butter 1 tablespoon honey 1½ cups crispy oats ½ cup raisins ¼ cup dark chocolate (optional), chopped Combine all ingredients, including chocolate if using, in a medium-size bowl. Roll into bite-size balls and place on platter. Refrigerate for at least one hour before eating. Makes about 8-10 large balls.

wich that she says “packs a punch because it is full of fiber, vitamin C, and the different textures give it all-around goodness.” She also likes the sandwich’s versatility: It can be stuffed into a pita, rolled up for a wrap or served as a salad on a bed of lettuce. As a side dish, Angela recommends Pioneer Chips as a healthy and fun alternative to potato chips and Peanut Butter Energy Balls, a sweet but protein-powered dessert that keeps kids fueled for the school day. A soup for all tastes April Shaw is the mother of six children and runs Kid’s World Sunflowerliving




Child Care from her home, so she understands how different each child’s tastes can be—and how hardpressed a parent might be to accommodate them. Her answer to this dilemma is April’s Quick Veggie Soup. This recipe is relatively simple to make, and parents can vary ingredients to accommodate a child’s likes and dislikes while still offering a base of healthful ingredients. “It’s an easy way to sneak a couple of servings of vegetables into your kid’s lunch,” says April. “I usually serve it with a multigrain muffin or wheat crackers. My kids like to sprinkle shredded cheese on top, or I’ll send it with them to school in a thermos and include a string cheese.”

April’s Quick Veggie Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained 1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked 1 10-ounce package frozen cauliflower 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli 1 teaspoon dried basil any additional veggies desired In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the garlic, cooking for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juice, plus 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, broccoli and basil, stirring occasionally to break up the frozen vegetables. Return the soup to boiling. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

Adaptable wrap Susan Wilson wants to be clear that she thinks school lunches deserve a better reputation. As food service director for USD 306 Southeast of Saline, she ensures that cafeteria meals meet the guidelines for providing 600-700 calories, no more than 30 percent of which can come from fat. But she also believes that learning to enjoy and create a healthful lunch is an important lesson for students. “We should all start teaching our children the importance of establishing good habits for themselves, such as healthy food choices and regular exercise,” says Susan. “We can all benefit from that.” Susan provides this wrap recipe as the centerpiece for a nutritional lunch.


¼ cup fresh broccoli, chopped 1 tablespoon low-fat ranch dressing 1 tablespoon light whipped cream cheese 1 large whole wheat tortilla 2 ounces thin-sliced smoked turkey 1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese Chop broccoli into small pieces and mix with ranch dressing. Spread cream cheese on tortilla. Layer turkey and cheese and place veggie filling in a row off to one side of tortilla. Tuck ends of tortilla over filling, fold remaining long end over filling and roll up tortilla. Change the vegetables depending on a child’s taste. Try adding shredded carrots or some finely chopped onion or green pepper. Or layer lettuce or fresh spinach atop the turkey and cheese.



Fall 2010


Schoolhouse Dining Two restaurants go back to the classrooms (and the gyms) for atmosphere and spacious dining

Renaissance Café

210 N. Center St., Assaria (785) 667-5535 Lunch served 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday Dinner served 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday


t’s that time of year when children are back in the classroom, but it is backto-school year-round for diners at two area restaurants based in former high schools. Those in attendance at the Hickory Tree Restaurant in Smolan and Renaissance Café in Assaria are there for the A+ food instead of lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic.

Renaissance Café The former Assaria High School, which houses Renaissance Café, is also a three-story brick building. Constructed in 1919, it served as a school until closing in 1978. Great Plains Manufacturing purchased the building and served lunch to employees in the former school cafeteria. Taking over the same kitchen and dining area, Renaissance Café began serving the public Italian cuisine three nights a week in 2006 from a menu created by award-winning chef Kevin O’Brien. Kevin, who has a degree in culinary arts, got his first lesson in authentic Italian cooking while working at a fine dining restaurant in Oklahoma. “I met a 75-year-old gentleman from Tuscany they brought in to teach me the real-deal, old-school Italian,” says Kevin, who decided to feature that cuisine when he became Renaissance Café’s executive chef and manager. “I serve a northern Italian style that is heartier and a lot more about the key component. For example, the pasta is just barely sauced.” Another favorite is the Steak Venato, a rib eye dredged in seasoned bread crumbs that’s grilled and smothered in a savory sauce of brown mustard, shallots, mushrooms, cognac and cream. “I wanted to stay away from spaghetti and meatballs and serve Italian food we typically do not get around here, like Steak Florentina, a rib eye quickly dipped in a marinade and grilled over a super hot flame,” Kevin says. The favored salad is Gorgonzola Romaine, flavored with spiced pecans, dried cranberries and a rich blue cheese dressing. Of the desserts, most customers prefer the Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding. Customers are seated in the dining area that extends around the balcony overlooking the school’s sunken gymnasium. Nearly every inch of wall space is filled TOP: Assaria’s Renaissance Café is in the town’s old high school building. CENTER: Life-size statues of the Blues Brothers greet visitors in the restaurant foyer, providing guests with early clue of owner and executive chef Kevin O’Brien’s approach that the food should be as unusual as the atmosphere. INSERT: A grilled salmon dish is one of O’Brien’s specialties. BOTTOM: O’Brien, who is also the restaurant’s manager, has an extensive background in preparing northern Italian cuisine.



Fall 2010

story by Cecilia Harris

photography by larry harwood

LocalFlavor with matted and framed views of faraway places, old maps and posters, portraits of famous people and documents of historical significance. “The atmosphere is unique, and we want to keep the food the same way,” Kevin says. Hickory Tree Restaurant and Catering The three-story, red brick building that houses the Hickory Tree Restaurant and Catering was constructed in 1925 and served as a school for 61 years. Lee and Kathy Holzwarth purchased the former Smolan High School to house the offices of their commodity brokerage firm. They later sold that company when Lee decided to return to his first love—cooking. With 15 years of experience in chain restaurant management, Lee had dreamed of operating his own catering and barbecue restaurant. The couple renovated the school’s kitchen and parked a new smoker outside the kitchen door to establish the Hickory Tree Catering Service in 1993. Three years later, they opened the Hickory Tree Restaurant by serving a buffet dinner three days a week inside the school building. Lee hand-rubs a special mixture of spices into each

The Hickory Tree Restaurant and Catering 304 E. Walnut St., Smolan (785) 668-2164

Lunch served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday Dinner served 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

portion of meat before placing it inside the smoker, where it roasts for several hours. He says his rub and special sauce merely enhance rather than overpower the flavor of the smoked pork, chicken and beef. Kathy prepares vegetables, salads and desserts from her favorite recipes to complete the buffet served in the gymnasium. Because the building was empty when the couple purchased it, Kathy began collecting school-related items such as world maps, microscopes, books, sewing machines and musical instruments. Colorful tin lunch boxes now surround diners who sit at tables on the basketball court, in booths that line one wall or on the stage. Private parties are served on the third floor in the home economics room, science room, library, music room and study hall where each classroom resembles its original purpose, thanks to memorabilia the Holzwarths have amassed. “I told Lee, ‘This place always was a school and it always will be a school, so let’s decorate it as a school,’” Kathy says. “What you see are things we’ve collected to give it the same school atmosphere it once had. Many of the people that come through here have a lot of memories of going to a school just like this.”

Left, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP INSERT: The long row of pies and desserts is a key attraction at Hickory Tree Restaurant in Smolan. Themed rooms, such as the music room, are available for group reservations. The main dining hall fills what was once the high school gymnasium and stage. Lee and Kathy Holzwarth left the world of finance to serve diners and cater events. Sunflowerliving



Haunting the Highways If there’s a chill in the air, it’s the perfect time to spend the day touring ghostly sites in and around Salina


he cool mornings, mild afternoons and glorious color changes of typical fall days in central Kansas make perfect conditions for a road trip, and in particular a journey that picks up on a fall favorite—Halloween. This season you can enjoy the region’s beauty and its “haunted” history by making a day’s journey for a tour of some of the area’s spooky sites. It’s a perfect fall outing, even if you don’t believe in ghosts. The Spirits in the Old Hospital One of the most haunted sites in central Kansas can be found in the Butler County town of Augusta. The old Augusta Hospital has been extensively investigated by Nick Spantgos, founder of Paranormal Research Investigators (PRI), a Topeka-based scientific research team. Out of the 225 locations PRI has investigated, it has found possible paranormal activity at only 45 locations. Spantgos notes the PRI motto is “Logic first, paranormal last,” meaning that most paranormal activity can be explained away by using simple logic and knowledge on how different things work. But old Augusta Hospital is one of the exceptions. The investigators heard footsteps and voices and had an encounter that Spantgos describes as “one of the most amazing personal experiences” of his career. “We were sitting down running an EVP [recording] session and taking fullspectrum photographs and running an ultraviolet light down the hallway,” recalls



Fall 2010

story by Melinda Briscoe

photography by lisa eastman


Spantgos. “We then noticed that the ultraviolet dimmed a bit and [we] investigators turned to look down the hallway. We both saw a larger shadowy person roll out of one of the rooms and then vanish before our eyes.”

Haunt: Old Augusta Hospital, Augusta Spooky Factor: Scenic Drive Factor: Access: The hospital is currently a closed storage facility, but you can see it at 2101 Dearborn St. For the skeptic: Enjoy the back roads to Augusta, catch a show at the Augusta Historic Theatre.

Joyce, the Ghostly Actress Less documented, but certainly well-known, is Salina’s favorite hometown ghost at Salina Central High School. There are many stories about the spirit who reportedly traveled along with the old auditorium curtain from the former Washington High School to the new Salina High School in 1952. The reports all describe the ghost as female, blonde and pretty. However, that’s where the stories’ similarities end. One report states that the ghost is a former teacher whose identity is unknown. This ghost is a noisy one, creating sounds like footsteps and bangs, along with opening and closing doors and turning off lights. The more popular version of the story is that the ghost is a former student named Joyce who attended Washington High School and graduated in 1949. It is said that she was one of the most popular kids in her class and played the lead in the spring 1949 production of Death Takes a Holiday. Joyce, the story goes, died in a car accident in the spring of 1950—almost exactly a year after starring in the play in which her character was spirited away by the Grim Reaper. Many students have heard unusual noises in Salina Central’s auditorium. The most common report is hearing a young woman’s voice when no one else is around. In some stories, Joyce is somewhat of a jealous ghost, not wanting other performers to steal her spotlight. In other stories, she is a guardian angel for young thespians and musicians, making sure they don’t fall or run into danger backstage. Some have said that they saw an apparition happily dancing behind musicians playing onstage or felt a cool breeze blow the stage curtains when there were no doors or windows open. Haunt: Salina Central High School Spooky Factor: Scenic Drive Factor: Access: For high school productions or events open to public. For the skeptic: Enjoy the fall colors by taking a stroll through nearby Indian Rock Park.

The old Augusta Hospital, opposite page and above, is recognized by some as one of central Kansas’ most haunted sites. Photographs courtesy Nick Spantgos, Paranormal Research Investigators.

The Literary Haunt Beth Meyer is one of the region’s ghost authorities. She provides tours across the state and runs a website called Sunflowerliving




Haunt: El Dorado Spooky Factor: Scenic Drive Factor: Access: The Creepy, Crawly Tour will officially open in October 2011. Until then, guests are invited to set up an appointment with Lisa Soller through the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum; (316) 321-9333. For the skeptic: Enjoy taking back roads to El Dorado. Visit the Kansas Oil Museum or see works by Birger Sandzén and Frederic Remington at the Coutts Memorial Museum of Art, 110 N. Main.

One of her favorite spooky Salina-area stories occurred in Abilene at the Rivendell Bookstore. “Before it was a bookstore, the building was the fashion museum,” explains Meyer. “Folks believe the ghosts were attached to some of the clothing and then just stayed around after the museum closed.” Current bookstore owner Mary Baer says she has encountered the store’s ghosts numerous times. Most notably was when a book was knocked off the shelves suddenly. The book’s title? Living with Ghosts. The building’s co-owner, Shari Strauss, elaborates, “I haven’t had any experiences with the ghost, but several employees have. There have been several books that were unexplainably knocked off of shelves, and almost all of them had something to do with ghosts.” Butler County Oddities Back in Butler County, Lisa Soller, curator of education and research librarian at the Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum, is setting up tours of El Dorado’s darker past. Her stories include details of the wild, the horrible, the silly and the scandalous. There are jealous frontier lovers, razor murders and heart-breaking tragedies. What makes Soller’s stories so utterly compelling is that everything is documented: Truth can truly be stranger than fiction. Soller often takes guests to both cemeteries in town: Sunset Lawns and Bella Vista. Since being given the title of “Official Creepy, Crawly Tour Guide,” Soller has become skilled in the art of grave dowsing. She holds two pieces of metal, such as wire clothes hangers, and bends them to form 90-degree angles. She holds the rods straight ahead, parallel to the ground and parallel to each other. As she walks over a grave, the metal pieces seem to gradually cross. Soller says this method is often used in very old cemeteries with unmarked gravesites. Some believe this technique’s accuracy is the result of a change in the ground’s magnetic field; others say the metal rods pick up gases from decaying bodies. These are both hypotheses. No solid explanation has been found. Clockwise from top: El Dorado’s violent past leaves a legacy of ghostly, creepy stories. Lisa Soller demonstrates grave dowsing at an El Dorado cemetery; Soller will lead “Creepy Crawly Tours” in El Dorado in time for next year’s Halloween season. El Dorado’s Sunset Lawn cemetery is the final resting place for “Somebody’s Boy,” an unidentified youth who was discovered and mourned by the entire town in 1923.



Fall 2010

Haunt: Rivendell Bookstore, Abilene, 212 N. Broadway Spooky Factor: Scenic Drive Factor: Access: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. (785) 263-9930 For the skeptic: Enjoy the drive to Abilene on Old U.S. Highway 40 and stay for lunch.

Above: Mary Baer shows off a copy of Living with Ghosts, the book that was mysteriously tossed to the floor in the Abilene bookstore. Photograph courtesy of Beth Meyer.

Gary Reynolds is

All About the Bees For nearly five decades, a local beekeeper studies, observes and gathers sweet rewards from his hives

Story by Cecilia Harris


Sunflower living

Fall 2010

Photography by Larry Harwood


nyone who meets “the honey man” finds the conversation abuzz with bees and honey. At farmers’ markets where he earned this nickname— and anywhere else you find him—Gary Reynolds enjoys sharing

stories about the flying insect that changed his life nearly 50 years ago. Back then, Gary planned to earn an agriculture education degree at Kansas State University and was required to take an entomology course. The class he chose included conducting research in the college’s bee laboratory; it was his first exposure to honeybees. “I had never been around bees. I’d never even seen a swarm of bees,” says Gary, who was reared on a farm near Neodesha in southeast Kansas. “I still can’t figure out Sunflower living


why I signed up for that class. But I found I liked working with bees, despite being highly allergic to bee stings.” The class was a life-changing experience. He switched his major to entomology, bought shares in two colonies of bees and began a life of beekeeping. He also continued to conduct research on bees. He spent seven years at Louisiana State University working under William C. Roberts, then one of the top bee geneticists in the world. Gary’s task was to help cultivate strong lines of vigorous worker bees by artificially inseminating queen bees. “By doing that research,” Gary says, “I had a good background, and it helped me to raise queens on my own later.” Thirty-two years ago, Gary founded Rainbow Honey Farms, named for the colors of his hives. Because hive exteriors don’t have to be painted the traditional white, Gary purchased the cheapest paint possible, which led to a variety of reds, blues and yellows, just like a rainbow and thus the name. At one time he operated 1,400 colonies, moving hives from one state to another while following the plants in bloom. And for more than 20 years, each spring he made a beeline to Louisiana State University to raise queen bees. By keeping accurate records and grafting the better genetic lines, he produced thousands of highquality queen bees for himself and other beekeepers.


Sunflower living

Fall 2010

Gary Reynolds, above left, harvests honey from hives he keeps in Concordia and, with a business partner, in Oklahoma.

“I found I liked working with bees, despite being highly allergic to bee stings.”

– Gary Reynolds

Sunflower living


Rainbow Honey Farms honey and honeysticks are available at the Salina Farmers Market, 460 S. Ohio St., 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Saturdays from May to September. The honey treats also are available year-round at Vita Villa, 2041 S. Ohio St., and Waters True Value, 460 S. Ohio St.


Sunflower living

Fall 2010

His greatest pleasure, however, still comes from watching the bees fly into their hives with their precious cargo and seeing the results of their work. Gary says a smoker, a hive tool and a veil are all that is needed to remove the honey from the beehives. “You smoke the hive to let the bees know you’re coming in. It’s like knocking on the door, letting the bees know something is going to happen. And the smoke calms the bees down so they are less likely to sting.” Gary, who now harvests five hives in Concordia and 150 hives in Oklahoma, always checks how much honey is in the colony. The honey must be completely sealed and have a proper moisture level or it can ferment. If conditions are right, he removes the honey from the combs with an extractor and heats the honey to 120 degrees.

His greatest pleasure, however, still comes from watching the bees fly into their hives with their precious cargo and seeing the results of their work. “I strain the honey through two thicknesses of fine nylon cloth and let the honey settle; it’s classified as raw honey.” Rainbow Honey has a golden hue and mild flavor because the bees Gary keeps near his home in Concordia gather nectar mostly from sweet clover in early summer. “One problem in Kansas is farmers don’t grow sweet clover as much as they used to anymore,” he says. “Alfalfa is the only other real main source. I don’t use sunflowers because the crop raised commercially is usually sprayed with chemicals.” Gary has concerns about insecticides depleting the bee population, both in colonies and in the wild. Mites and hive beetles also have caused beekeepers to lose large numbers of colonies. “One-third of the foods we eat have to be pollinated by honeybees,” he says, adding that a million colonies of bees are needed to pollinate California’s almond crop alone. “We have to have the honeybees because bees are so important to man.” Perhaps because of his many years also spent working as a substitute teacher, Gary enjoys educating others about bees and the honey industry as much as working with his colonies. “Most people retire,” says Gary, who is now 69 and continues to sell his honey at the Salina Farmers Market. “But I’ll probably work with bees until I die.”

Reynolds removes honey from his hives, left, and sells it at several locations in Salina as raw honey in bottles, top, and as honey-stick treats.

Sunflower living



For Richard Bergen, a cheeky childhood sculpture heralds a life of three-dimensional art inspired by gigantic ideas and scale



Fall 2010

Story by Patricia E. Ackerman

Photography by Larry Harwood



t the age of 12, inspired by a postcard his mother mailed him during her 1937 tour of Europe, Richard Bergen built his first concrete sculpture. After studying the postcard image of a boy “watering” a pond, Bergen dug a mold in the dirt, installed pipes and poured two concrete halves of his sculpture. After securing together the two sections with wires, he strategically placed his sculpture adjacent to the family’s duck pond in time for his mother to view the working fountain upon her return to New Jersey. If not a perfect replica of the famous Mannekin Pis, the welcome-home-mom statue was seminal to Bergen’s future. “That was,” Bergen says with a smile, “my start on three-dimensional art pieces.” World War II put the young artist’s training on hold, but fresh out of the U.S. Navy in 1946, Bergen signed up for one year at a school of fine arts in Newark, New Jersey. While enrolled at that school, he happened to see a Birger Sandzén



Fall 2010

painting that piqued his interest in applying to Bethany College. After he was accepted, Bergen headed off in a car for distant Kansas, letting his family believe he would begin studies in Lindsborg. Secretly, however, Bergen planned to pass through the Sunflower State and motor on to California. And yet … Bergen’s stopover at Bethany turned into full-fledged studies. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Bethany College, met and married a Kansas girl, built his own home, raised two children and worked for 16 years as the public school art coordinator for Salina USD 305. He also owned and operated a commercial sign shop on the corner of Ninth and Crawford streets in Salina. He went on to earn his master’s degree and Ph.D. Prior to semi-retirement, Bergen served as chairman of the Marymount College Art Department for 12 years. In the limited spaces between these endeavors, he continued to paint and sculpt on a grand scale, running his studio and gallery in Salina. “I’ve always liked to do big stuff,” Bergen says. His first large piece was a 12-foot sculpture symbolizing man stepping from the Machine Age into the Atomic Age, created as a class assignment at the Newark School of Fine Arts. As a student, Bergen could not afford to bronze the piece, and it deteriorated over time.

“I’ve always liked to do big stuff.” — Richard Bergen He created one of his largest permanent works in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration. Trifinity, a 2-ton sculpture representing the past, present and future, now stands between the Salina Public Library and the courthouse. “That was my first big bronze piece and my first public art piece. It was major, and I’ve never done a bigger one. It has more bronze in it than anything else I’ve ever done,” says Bergen. “If you put all three pieces of Trifinity together, it would be over 33 feet tall.” A close second in size and probably Bergen’s most-viewed sculpture is Ad Astra, the 22-foot bronze statue of a Kanza Indian aiming his bow “to the stars” that stands atop the Kansas Capitol dome in Topeka. Almost 20 years after proposing this project, Bergen is set to expand it with the installation of a smaller version of Ad Astra on the Capitol grounds. Twelve bronze plaques narrating the story of the Kanza Indians will surround this life-size bronze statue. While this addition makes Bergen’s sky-high sculpture more accessible to the public, it also marks a continuation of his collaboration with his son Richie, who returned to Salina in 1998 after operating his own studio in Wichita for

pages 42-43: Richie Bergen, the son of Richard Bergen, rides his bike—complete with a train of flames—past Bergen’s Studio and Sculpture Gallery. OPPOSITE PAGE: Richard Bergen poses in his Steampunk attire outside his gallery. ABOVE: Bergen works on a clay model of the Bethany College’s Terrible Swede sculpture. RIGHT: Bergen’s Studio and Sculpture Gallery features many of Bergen’s works including, from left, Tattooed Lady, Backdraft and Buffalo. Sunflower


several years. The younger Bergen’s contributions to public art include several large-scale murals and a sculpture, which now stands in Wichita’s Old Town. For the past 12 years, the father-and-son team has filled its studio and gallery with projects in varying degrees of completion. One of their latest interests is Steampunk-genre art, a movement that Richard describes as “a science-fiction, Jules Verne approach.” They had their first Steampunk exhibition in 2009 and are staging a follow-up this fall. Richard also continues to do traditional work, such as a Swedish Viking sculpture for Bethany College. Both artists welcome visitors to their gallery during open hours and First Thursday Art Walks. “I’ve been very lucky to be able to succeed as a working artist in the Midwest. Just like the Bethany Swede sculpture project I’ve been working on for years, one never knows what might be coming around the corner in the future,” he says.

studio & Sculpture Gallery 320 N. Santa Fe Ave. (785) 825-7642 Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and during First Thursday Art Walk Some of Bergen’s public sculptures include: Trifinity – Saline County Courthouse, Salina Buffalo Soldier – Junction City Pioneer Woman – Old Town Wichita Ad Astra – State Capitol dome, Topeka Little Girl In Water – City Park, McPherson Bronco mascot – Russell High School Willie the Wildcat mascot – Kansas State University, Manhattan Martin Luther King Jr. – K-State, Manhattan Trojan mascot – Park Hill High School Blue Jay mascot – Junction City High School Muleskinner, Col. Clem and Keith Duckers – St. John’s Military School, Salina 30-foot bronze relief – Dane G. Hansen Museum in Logan Marianna Kistler Beach – Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, K-State, Manhattan Ernie Barrett – Bramlage Coliseum, K-State, Manhattan Saline County War Memorial – Salina Kansas Korean War Memorial – Wichita Bulldog mascot – Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Perhaps Bergen’s most widely known work is Ad Astra, which stands at the top of the Kansas Capitol dome. In Salina, Bergen’s sculptures on public display include Muleskinner on the campus of St. John’s Military School and Trifinity next to the courthouse.



Fall 2010

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Sunflower Living Fall 2010  

Sunflower Living Fall 2010