Topeka Magazine | Winter 2021

Page 1

WINTER 20 21

Bringing the


also in this issue

Top Tier BBQ Side Dishes + Tina Turner’s Rhythm Man + Giving New Life to Old Drums + Tips for Senior Travel in 2022 + Dory the Champion Herder + What’s Happening This Winter

InIn Your Your Community Community InIn Your Your Community Community

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In aInlivable a livable community, community, people people of all of all ages ages cancan …… In aInlivable a livable community, community, people people of all of all ages ages cancan …… • Live • Live safely safely andand • comfortably Live • comfortably Live safely safely andand comfortably • comfortably Enjoy • Enjoy public public places places

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Learn Learn more more about about AARP AARP Livable Livable Communities Communities byby visiting visiting Learn Learn more more about about AARP AARP Livable Livable Communities Communities byby visiting visiting


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Editor Nathan Pettengill Art Director/Designer Alex Tatro Copy Editor Leslie Andres Advertising Representative Angie Taylor (785) 832-7236 Ad Designer Alex Tatro Photographers Bill Stephens Nick Krug Writers Tom Averill David Clouston Jeffrey Ann Goudie Susan Kraus Bill Stephens

Photograph by Bill Stephens

WELCOME TO THE WINTER ISSUE OF TOPEKA MAGAZINE. We have been here before, right? Entering the holiday and winter season with uncertainty hanging over the future and optimism our most valued resource. In this winter edition, we celebrate optimism and resourcefulness as a strength of longevity and reinvention. Three of our stories focus on Topekans in official or secondjob retirements who have transformed their lives and career to embrace changes and opportunities of service and purpose which they have created. We also bring you a corgihuman sheepherding pair and a new section on Topeka Top Tier selections (see more about that on page 9). We have been proud to celebrate our 15th year of publication in 2021, and we look forward to continue exploring Topeka and sharing stories about the people, places and spaces that make all of our lives better. May your 2022 be full of joy, good health and optimism. — NAT H A N P E T T E N G I L L , E D I T O R

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Please contact us at for all comments, subscription and editorial queries.

Topeka Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of Ogden Publications. Director: Bob Cucciniello Publisher: Bill Uhler Ogden Publications 1503 SW 42nd St Topeka, KS 66609

W I N T E R 2 0 21

Bringing the


also in this issue

Top Tier BBQ Side Dishes + Tina Turner’s Rhythm Man + Giving New Life to Old Drums + Tips for Senior Travel in 2022 + Dory the Champion Herder + What’s Happening This Winter

On the Cover

Publisher Thea Rademacher with some of the books released by her Topeka-based company, Flint Hills Publishing. Photograph by Nick Krug.

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WINTER 2021 | VOLUME 16, NO. 1

Tom Averill

Jeffrey Ann Goudie

Susan Kraus

Nick Krug

Bill Stephens

An O. Henry Award winner, Tom Averill is retired from Washburn University, where he taught creative writing and Kansas literature and founded the Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection.

Jeffrey Ann Goudie is a freelance writer and book reviewer whose work has appeared in many publications, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Huffington Post. She has written for Topeka Magazine since 2007.

Susan Kraus is an award-winning travel writer and the author of a Kansas-based mystery series.

Nick Krug is known for photographing University of Kansas men’s basketball for the past 15 years. When he doesn’t have his camera in hand, he is likely at home in Topeka with his wife and children.

A regular contributor to Topeka Magazine for the past 14 years and to KANSAS! magazine for the past 30, Bill Stephens runs his own photography studio and plays guitar and mandolin for bluegrass ensembles.

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WINTER 2021 | VOLUME 16, NO. 1


D E PA R T M E N T S 11 T H E D RU M D O C T O R

Retired band director Jerry Reiman provides a lifeline to return beaten drums back to the beat


H E R D A R O U N D T H E FA R M As adorable as she is hard-working, Dory the corgi returns to her herding roots


A senior Topeka musician looks back on a career of traveling, playing, backing the legendary Tina Turner, and listening to what an earthquake might be trying to tell him


T R AVE L … T H I N K I N G A H E A D As we look to 2022, we can make personal, responsible decisions for leisure travel based on our age, risks and destinations


E L E C T R I C H I G H WAY S Legislation, new trends and a Topeka-based company are expanding possibilities for drivers of electric vehicles to access charging stations across the nation


‘ K I C K I T A N D D R I VE I T ’… T H AT ’S W H AT H E D I D

I N E VE RY I S S U E 32 W H AT ’S H A P P E N I N G

Our recommendations for the winter

F E AT U R E S 34 … A N D T W O S I D E S

Writer and food critic Tom Averill singles out some of the city’s top BBQ side dishes

42 T H E ( P U B L I S H I N G ) H O U S E T H AT T H E A B U I LT

From torts to jewelry to books, Thea Rademacher, founder and owner of Flint Hills Publishing, has consistently been open to fresh challenges


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WINTER 2021 | VOLUME 16, NO. 1

FALL 2021


Topeka Faces + Public Places + Private Spaces + (Mostly) Furry Friends

Topeka Family Magazine In 2022, we will launch a new title, Topeka Family magazine. This is a twice-yearly publication covering themes and stories for those with children in the house. We plan to release our first issue around May and our second issue in early September.

Previous Edition SHUNGA TRAIL SEE TOPEKA Parks & Green Spaces

Next Edition

Topeka Top Tier In this edition, we proudly introduce a new project, Topeka Top Tier. While our magazine has always sought to write about and photograph what we believe are some of the best aspects of the city, we have never formally recognized what we think are the standouts in any particular field. That changes with Topeka Top Tier as we seek to honor exemplary dishes, items, achievements, performances and more. We begin this series with Tom Averill’s selection of some of Topeka’s best BBQ side dishes. The award-winning writer and food enthusiast presents seven BBQ sides that define standards of excellence. We’ll continue the theme of food and drink for our upcoming spring edition, as we expand our selections to cover other culinary highlights of the city. We will then

Thank you to everyone who wrote in with compliments and congratulations on our 15 years! We were pleased to feature some of the photography and stories that have defined us over these years. We look forward to doing it again in 2031 for our 20th anniversary!

present new themes with each subsequent issue of 2022. As always with Topeka Magazine, our writers and staff contributors make their editorial selections without any commercial relationships or sponsorships affecting their choices. That does not mean that all of our choices are perfect or that we believe our tastes should be the standard for everyone’s tastes, but it does mean that we are transparent about what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why we are presenting it. We do this out of enthusiasm for finding and acknowledging what is good in the city. Our selections for “top tier” might not be your selections on any particular category, but we hope to share a common motivation and common interest in supporting what we are grateful to see and enjoy in Topeka.

The spring 2022 edition of Topeka Magazine arrives in early March and includes our next installment of our Topeka Top Tier selections as well as our usual range of stories concentrating on arts, culture, people, places and spaces of the Kansas capital.

Park Posters Just a reminder, the parks and green spaces photos that we commissioned and featured in this year’s summer edition are available to purchase as prints and postcards through our partner, Parks & Green Spaces, LLC. Proceeds from sales are shared with the Topeka artists and a local charity. For more information and to place your order, go online at

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The Drum Doctor Retired band director Jerry Reiman provides a lifeline to return beaten drums back to the beat STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Bill Stephens

Jerry Reiman repairs drums from his home studio in Topeka.





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usic can provide a lifetime of enjoyment for musicians and audiences. However, the lifetime of instruments is limited, particularly percussion instruments since they are literally beaten when played. That is where Jerry Reiman comes in. A retired band director and working instrument repairman, Reiman volunteers some of his time by visiting with local school band directors, taking their damaged percussion instruments, restoring them from his basement studio, and then returning them to schools for another season of music. These repairs often involve adding on parts salvaged from other instruments. “My basement is full of stuff, and there seems to be a never-ending supply of more broken drums coming my way every week,” Reiman says. Reiman works year-round to replace broken drumheads, small parts, stripped tuning mechanisms and screws. “Once I get the drum back in good physical shape, I tune the drum, lubricate it, and bring it back to almost-new condition,” he notes. Reiman uses standard workshop tools for his repairs—an electric drill, a few screwdrivers, mallets, and sometimes a tap and die set to cut new threads if a tuner or screws are stripped. The repairs rely more on Reiman’s experience and knowledge than on any hardware. Over the years, he has taken several instrument repair courses and repaired instruments for himself and his students. But his expertise also comes from knowing drums and knowing how to care for them when they aren’t broken. “I started taking drum lessons in 1957 and always kept my drums clean and in good working order,” Reiman says. “Repairing and maintenance are an integral part of drumming,” he explains. Reiman donates the labor and the parts for his repairs, and to recoup some of the material expenses, he holds an annual driveway drum sale at his southwest Topeka home. It is always the second Saturday in May and has been going on for over 10 years. Percussionists from all over the area have marked that date on their calendars and they start lining up bright and early to see what he has for sale each year. One of the most recent sales included 20 snare drums, 3 complete drum sets, and set of kettle drums. The drum sale earnings are enough to allow Reiman to purchase more drumheads, stands, tuners, and a myriad of hardware required to return a collection of broken drums back to the classrooms, stages, concert halls and parade routes where they belong.



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Herd around the Farm As adorable as she is hard-working, Dory the corgi returns to her herding roots STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Bill Stephens


Kelli Bausch and her corgi, Dory, compete together in herding competitions.

orgis are often associated as the favored pet-breed of the Queen of England. In the United States, they are a popular house dog because of their size, intelligence, loyalty and generally friendly (to owners, certainly) disposition. But one local corgi, Dory, is working hard at her farm home near Hoyt to master the skills that corgis were once bred for—herding. “Corgis were bred in Wales to be drovers or push dogs,” explains Kelli Bausch, Dory’s owner and trainer. “They were naturals for herding cattle because they are so low to the ground that their height, or lack of it, helps them avoid being kicked while working.” There are two breeds of corgis, the Pembroke with no tails and the Cardigans with tails. Dory is a four-year-old female Cardigan Welsh corgi. “I feel that, for me, Cardigans are easier to live with, and in my opinion they have less drive,” Bausch says. “Less drive” means that the Cardigans are not as intense in their interactions with the sheep as other breeds of dogs, such as the border collie, a popular and well-known herding breed that can intimidate herd animals with their intense stares. Compared to corgis, collies can also be a bit harder to keep as pets since they have such a strong need to work. “Herding is new to me,” Bausch says. Bausch is a professional dog trainer and operates a dog-



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training facility in Topeka where she teaches several other dog sports. “I have a border collie named Steel who was trained in herding by my father, Kent Herbel. Steel is very skilled and he is actually teaching me the methods that a herding dog uses to control small and large flocks. I assimilate what I learn from working with him and apply those lessons to teach Dory what she needs to know. Steel is teaching the teacher, and Dory benefits in the process,” Bausch adds with a grin. Bausch, who coaches 30–40 competitive dog teams in the areas of scent work, agility, and rally, showed Dory at the Cardigan National Specialties competition near St. Louis. At that competition Dory received a first and second place ribbon for scent work in exteriors and containers, second place in advanced rally (similar to obedience), and second place in junior showmanship with Bausch’s sons, Clayton and Colby. Dory also qualified in herding and earned highest champion scores, an additional award given to dogs earning the most points in at least three different show events. As part of the herding competition, the dog is required to control a flock of sheep and move them along a pre-determined path, turning corners and moving through obstacles. The dogs are timed and scored on how well they control the flock. Though a prize winner, Dory is still improving her work with sheep, and overcoming their advantages as a herd and as comparatively long-legged mammals. “Because of her short legs, she cannot outrun the sheep, so she is learning to become skilled at anticipating their moves and staying one jump ahead of them to control where the flock goes,” Bausch explains.



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Common Commands When Kelli Bausch and Dory herd sheep, they communicate with signals and body language more than verbal commands. Bausch holds a stock stick to indicate direction and to guide Dory. These commands are based on traditional verbal commands, which include some of the following: “Come by”—The corgi moves clockwise around the herd to cause the animals to pivot toward the desired destination. “Away to me”—The same as “come by,” but the corgi moves in a counter-clockwise direction. “There”—An indication to the corgi that the animals are now facing the correct direction and should be herded in a straight path toward the destination. “Walk up”—A command to apply pressure to move animals forward. “That will do”—An equivalent of “well done” and “at ease.” A call to move away from the herd because destination is reached.


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Dory, the prize-winning corgi, poses with her show ribbons and her people. Photograph courtesy Kelli Bausch.

“Herding is difficult to learn because as you are teaching the dog, the sheep are learning too, and their goal, as a prey animal, is to avoid and escape the efforts of the dog,” Bausch explains. “We work with the concept of a Flight/Fight Zone—the sheep are in the center of a ‘bubble.’ If the dog is outside the ‘bubble,’ the stock are not affected by his presence. If the dog is inside the ‘bubble,’ the stock will react either by moving away or confronting the dog, depending on how much trust and respect the stock have for the dog.” What started with a corgi and an idea to learn herding has grown into acquisition of an additional trained dog, ten sheep, and a new training arena, all within the first year. But Bausch and Dory are not retiring after their initial success. “I plan to continue learning the herding techniques and gaining enough experience to be able to help others enjoy this sport,” Bausch says.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi According to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America, the breed is descended from a line of dogs related to the dachshund and has been living and working in Wales for more than 3,000 years, possibly first migrating to the territory along with Celtic tribes from Central Europe. Traditionally, the Cardigan was used as a guard dog to scare off predators from cattle, and then began work as a cattle herder. Its size and disposition, along with its hunting instinct, also meant it was an ideal dog to bring into homes as a companion and vermin hunter.

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‘Kick it and Drive it’ … That’s What He Did

A senior Topeka musician looks back on a career of traveling, playing, backing the legendary Tina Turner, and listening to what an earthquake might be trying to tell him STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Bill Stephens


Jim Robinson has played with many bands and influential musicians, including Tina Turner and Tony DiPardo.

im Robinson’s formal exposure to music began when he was given a drum at three years old. His mother, a minister of music at their Bethel AME Church in Leavenworth, would have him sit by the piano while she practiced at home, encouraging him to pick up on the rhythm of the songs she was playing. The young Robinson stayed with percussion instruments and went on to play in many garage bands throughout junior high. By his late teens he was being asked to fill in for professional drummers in local bands. When Robinson was just 20, in the late 1960s, a musician friend by the name of Speedy Huggins suggested that he audition for an upcoming gig with Ike and Tina Turner, set to perform in Kansas City. “I remember there were five drummers who showed up for the audition,” Robinson recalls. “Tina Turner was there and paid close attention to the musicians. When it was my turn she said for me to ‘kick it and drive it,’ meaning I would kick off the song and be the engine driving the whole group. I gave four clicks of my drumsticks and we were off and running!” The song he auditioned with was “Proud Mary,” one of Tina’s longtime standards. He got the job. Buoyed by that initial success, Robinson moved to California in the early 1970s, joined the local musicians union, and was placed on the availability list. His phone started to ring with jobs, including



a chance to perform as drummer for Lowell Folsom, one of the most important figures in West Coast blues at the time. In 1974, while still in California, Jim was asked to reunite with Ike and Tina Turner, this time traveling for a six-month tour. “A hard six months,” Robinson emphasizes with a laugh. “We were on a bus through all the southern states and in so many towns.” He was there to fill in for another drummer who was unable to finish the tour. The band and back-up singers had their own tour bus, but there were no roadies. The musicians had to pack and unpack the bus at each stop, schlepping their instruments to and from the performance, usually thorough the back door of the establishment because of racism and de facto racial segregation that continued into that time. “Ike and Tina were known,” says Robinson, “but we weren’t.” From that tour, Robinson signed a contract with the Turners, and took his place behind the stars with an incredible responsibility for a young musician. “The drummer had to follow every movement and signal from Ike and Tina,” he explained. “Every hand gesture or twitch of the shoulder or twist of their instruments signaled a change in tempo or dynamics that the band members had to follow along. Most of the band members got their cues from the drummer—me!” he said. If anyone missed a cue during the performance they could be, and were, docked Every hand all or part of their pay for the performance. Since the gesture or twitch drummer was the key to the of the shoulder whole musical engine, the horns and guitarists knew that or twist of their if they stood in a place that instruments blocked the drummer’s view signaled a of the leads, they could be penalized for that infraction change in tempo also. These fines would go or dynamics into the band’s killpot, so named because if a cue was that the band missed the performer would members had to usually wail ‘You’re killing me!’ follow along. The money would be used to cover incidentals costs that the band would encounter such as instrument repair. The years on the road were an eye-opener for Robinson, who found the musicians’ life a far cry from the close-knit family life he knew in Leavenworth. “I loved the drive and the excitement, but couldn’t see a future,” Robinson says. “Financially, it wasn’t bad, but what scared me the most was I knew I wanted the type of family life I had growing up in a close family, but for musicians it was a single life. A couple of guys were

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married, but being on the road meant it was more tension than love.” Robinson says he knows the exact day and time he decided to get out of California— August 10, 1979, just a few minutes after an earthquake. “Now they said it was a tremor, but I was standing in front of my mirror in the bathroom and could see the palm trees outside swaying like crazy. And by the time that had passed, I had a crack in the bathroom wall that I could put my fist through. I had made up my mind, California was not my cup of tea.” It was hard to leave the adrenaline of the road tours, but he went to Denver for a while and resumed playing without touring. Eventually, he followed a day job with Polaroid back to Kansas, met his wife, Mary, in May 1980 and settled in Topeka, where he began playing with local and Kansas City bands, including the Boulevard Band, and then Tony DiPardo’s band—the official band of the Kansas City football team. Robinson had heard they were looking for a drummer, so he came to an audition that turned out to be a live children’s Christmas concert in the Overland Park Convention Center. With no rehearsals, DiPardo took up his signature red trumpet and signaled Robinson to play. It went well, because Robinson continued playing with the band until it folded in 2011. “He was a generous person,” Robinson says of DiPardo. “He always did a lot of fundraisers for various organizations around Kansas City. I still have the leather béret and black jacket with my name on it. We wore those at all the football games when we played,” he recalls. For the past 10 years, Robinson has been playing with the PenderBlast Red-E-Mix Trio. He also wants to assemble a senior citizens musical group to play around Topeka. “We would play music that you’d like to hear—jazz, swing, pop, a little bit of everything,” he says. Robinson says his years of playing haven’t dulled his excitement for music but have taught him a lot about working with musicians, being a drummer who plays to rather than along with others. “At this age, I am concentrating more on making sure a song is delivered properly,” Robinson says. “I am more aware of the musicians around me. The best compliment from another musician is, ‘Wow, you got into me.’ Listen to what the soloist is doing. Listen to the levels. Don’t overpower them, but push them just a bit. When they are building excitement, build with them. And when they are coming down, come down with them.”

Electric Drummer For the past years, Jim Robinson has been an allelectric drummer, playing on his Zendrum, a versatile guitar-shaped percussion instrument. Each button on the Zendrum produces a different type of drum sound: bass drum or snare or cymbal or any of hundreds of other types. The amplifier and speaker in the background amplify and condition the sounds. “To carry all those components around with me as individual instruments, I’d have to carry a semitruck,” Robinson says. “Now I have an array of percussion instruments and as a singing drummer I can actually hear the band and see the crowd.” He says another advantage of the Zendrum or instruments like it is that it frees him up from some of the physical exertion of the drum, playing can be just as intense and exciting, but more finesse striking than pounding. But it does have its critics. “My buddies say they love the sound, but they don’t like me playing it. When I ask them why, they say it’s because they don’t see me sweat anymore,” Robinson laughs.

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Travel … Thinking Ahead As we look to 2022, we can make personal, responsible decisions for leisure travel based on our age, risks and destinations Susan Kraus


hese past two winter holidays, we have had to make significant and sometimes difficult decisions about whether or not traveling to visit family members or loved ones was worth the risk. And as we look ahead to 2022, we have to plan again with uncertainty hanging over us. Travel—one of the great freedoms and benefits for all, but particularly for those of us in or nearing retirement years—has been severely impacted. And it is important to understand that having concerns about travel does not make you fraught or anxious. These are still legitimate concerns shared by many, including seasoned travelers. A recent national survey (November 2021) by Destination Analysts indicated that approximately 64% of recent travelers said they believe Covid will continue to affect our lives and travel plans for the indefinite future, and 72% of these travelers said it was important or very important to them that destinations address Covid safety protocols. For everyone, especially for us seniors, traveling has become more uncertain. However, waiting for a return to normal is also uncertain. And, at age 71, I can’t wait years to do some of the travel that I’ve spent my entire adult life saving for and dreaming about. What Covid-19 did teach me, harshly, is that my illusions of perfect control are just that—illusions. So, now, I’m faced with this conundrum: Do I stay home to protect myself from infection? Or do I assess the risk and plan a trip, being as cautious as possible, while still enjoying the experience of travel? I’ve decided to travel, but I intend to take steps to minimize risk. Each one by itself is not sufficient, but, collectively, they make travel viable, for me at my age. They might do the same for you. Shutterstock


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KNOW THE LIMITATIONS OF YOUR COVERAGE FOR DOMESTIC VS INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL Medicare does not extend internationally, so a supplement policy that will cover medical treatment and hospitalization overseas—always a wise choice—is now essential. Many Plan B policies do have such provisions, or supplements can be purchased. Ask questions: Will the policy cover flying you back to the U.S. in a medical evacuation plane to a hospital of your choice? Or just cover medical expenses overseas until you can fly home on a commercial flight? If you are planning multiple trips, enrollment with private organizations such as MedJet Assist covers a year of medical evacuation. You can get another policy for inconveniences like lost luggage or missed flights, but medical evacuation is your top priority. Go to for info on diverse coverage options. LOOK FOR OPTIONS WITH KITCHENS Whether that means renting a house through a service such as AirBnB or booking hotels with kitchen facilities, preparing your own food means you do not have to expose yourself if you are in an area where the restaurants are not safe enough for your standards. This is also especially helpful if it’s raining or cold, and outdoor dining is unavailable. Having a home base, and taking day trips instead of changing rooms every other night, means less worry about sanitizing. CONSIDER TRANSPORT A rental car is your bubble, an environment you can control. If you can afford it, hire a driver for a private tour instead of taking a crowded bus or subway. Walk whenever walking is an option. PLAN AND PACK Pack a collapsible cooler or buy a cheap one when you arrive. Stock it with fruit, snacks and drinks to minimize stops. BE DELIBERATE ABOUT DESTINATIONS Choose destinations based on their vaccination rates. As of fall 2021, Portugal was 85% fully vaccinated, Spain 78%, Canada 73%, Chile 75%, Uruguay 75%, Iceland 77%, Qatar 78%. These might not be at the top of your bucket list, but a little research or reading a guidebook might change your mind. For domestic travel, rates differ within a state, so check out websites that break down infection and vaccination rates by city and county. In some states, one county will have a 75% vaccination rate while another only 35%, or mask mandates versus no visible masking. It is impossible to predict what will happen in the next year, but some research can tell you how an area is likely to respond to any unexpected waves or changes.

What’s a Vaccine Passport? And is it Different from Proof of Vaccination? A vaccine passport refers to an app that collects your vaccine data on your phone. You can have a paper trail—the CDC vaccine card—but apps can also contain test results when negative tests within a certain time are required for entry to a country. There is no one internationally respected app, and different airlines prefer use or certain “passes.” Examples include: Common Pass, VeriFly, IATA Travel Pass, Airside and VacYes. With Clear Health Pass, you upload a photo ID, your CDC Vaccination Card, a selfie, and answer questions. The European Union has a “Green Pass.” This all may feel intimidating, but with time I think it will simply be another familiar necessity in taking a trip.




You say goodbye,

AVOID THE RUSH Timing matters when it comes to crowds. Call and ask museums when their slowest days and times are. Fly non-peak days of the week and look for off-time flights. An outdoor concert in a park is a go. But a jam-packed music festival? Perhaps not this year. REMEMBER PROTOCOLS Be relentless in maintaining prescribed protocols: mask up, sanitize, observe social distance, and keep with outdoor dining or events when possible. Always carry sanitizer. During Covid, regular flu rates and even colds dropped significantly due to protocols. Protocols work.

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Being aware of danger and risks to traveling is not paranoia—rather it is the sensible approach to being able to Call Linda today at 785-273-6847 for enjoy your decision to travel. I think only by knowing you a personal tour have done what you can do to minimize danger to yourself Andrea Graham, Executive Director and others, can you allow yourself the relaxation and joy of Linda Clements, Director of Business Development visiting new places. In the summer of 2021, for example, my husband and I 4200 SW Drury Lane • Topeka flew to Alaska for three weeks. I’d booked the flights, a car and AirBnBs months in advance, the night after I received my first shot, in fact. At that point, I needed a dose of hope, something to anticipate. I made sure everything was refundable, just in case it did not work out. There were glitches, mostly due to labor shortages and supply chain complications—inconveniences that are now a predictable part of travel. But there was the delight in seeing new places and natural beauty. Before we left, a friend asked, “Are you scared? What if you catch Covid?” “Well,” I replied, “We’re vaccinated. We’ll follow protocols. We don’t want to postpone. The risk factors now are different than pre-vaccine.” And I had done my research. And we vacationed sensibly. That is my answer for now. And it might be different as This chuckle brought to you by Arbor Court Retirement — Topeka events progress, hopefully to improve. Travel—when and where and how—is a personal choice, as well as a responsibility to others. Conditions will Linda today at 785-273-6847 This chuckleCall brought to you by Arbor Court Retirement – Topeka change, and some trips might be reasonable at one time for a personal tour! and not in another. But the more prepared and informed Andrea Graham, Executive Director Call Linda today at 785-273-6847 for brought tohave you by Arbor Court of Business Development you are, theThis morechuckle likely you are to memorable andRetirement – Topeka Linda Clements, Director a personal tour healthful journey. Andrea Graham, Executive Director

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Electric Highways Legislation, new trends and a Topeka-based company are expanding possibilities for drivers of electric vehicles to access charging stations across the nation David Clouston




he stretches of I-70 and I-470 that loop around and through Topeka are not only a symbol of the history and development of the modern interstate highway system, they represent one of the nation’s biggest transportation challenges moving forward—the feasibility and accessibility of developing a support network for electric vehicles (EVs) to travel across the United States. For most drivers who’ve switched to full plug-in EVs, 90% of charging happens overnight at a Level 2 charger installed at their home. Those chargers—significantly more powerful than a regular outlet—are fast enough to power up most EVs overnight. But as dozens of new battery-powered plug-in car models prepare to come to market, road-tripping motorists and apartment-dwellers unable to charge at home increasingly need more powerful Level 3 stations,

also known as DC (direct current) fast chargers, in common locations in the same manner as gas stations. DC fast charging stations work quickly enough to mostly charge an EV in as little as 20 to 40 minutes—long enough for a restroom break and a cup of coffee or a meal. This shortage is reflected across the United States. As of June 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy reported there are more than 46,000 public EV charging locations in the U.S., with more than 110,000 charging outlets available. Only about 5,000 are considered DC fast chargers.

Around Kansas The locations of DC fast chargers in Kansas stretches outward on a map like a bony finger mirroring Interstate Highway 70 as it snakes



What to Expect? There are several signs that future public electric vehicle (EV) charging access in Kansas will only improve: west from Topeka to the Colorado border. In eastern Kansas, across the Kansas City metro area in all directions, there are many more Level 2 and DC fast chargers. Today’s typical EV range is about 200–250 miles at highway speeds, so public charging stations are crucial for road trips. But they also serve a psychological benefit by assuring drivers thinking about a switch to electric vehicles that charger availability will not be a problem. The Biden administration is making EV growth a centerpiece of its strategy to deal with climate change. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order targeting half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030 to be zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles. For now, public EV charging networks today are financed by electric utilities, automakers, fleet operators, state and local governments, and ambitious private charging network operators, so it is no surprise that charging infrastructure is more available in areas, such as eastern Kansas, where automakers sell more EVs. Outside of highway corridors along I-70 (and to a far lesser extent I-135 outside of Sedgwick County), the additional chargers rural Kansas needs to make road-tripping EVs as carefree as driving gas vehicles will be built, the experts say, only when EV registration numbers increase. So far, the numbers are low. In 2020, there were just over 3,000 fully electric vehicles registered in Kansas. That’s about 0.2% of all vehicles registered in the state. The notion of sub-1% utilization on a charging plaza that’s going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to install and operate is a big issue, says Dan O’Shea, director of utilities strategy and business development for ABB, a technology company that sells EV charging equipment and services to EV charging plaza operators. “That’s one of the reasons why there are gaps in these corridors in the U.S.,” O’Shea noted on the podcast InsideEVs. “If electrification had happened at John Deere and Caterpillar before it happened at Nissan and Chevy, this would be a different story,” he said. “It’s that the vehicles aren’t there … It’s a very hard thing to go to your [utility] membership and say we’re going to spend this much money on the chance that a couple of cars might show up on Labor Day weekend.” But there’s a potential difference-maker waiting in the wings. Ford has unveiled its fully electric F-150 pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning. Together with startup pickup and SUV-

• The recently signed infrastructure bill includes $7.5 billion to build a national network of EV chargers, both along highway corridors as well as in “rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities.” Tax credits will also encourage businesses to make customer charging available and individuals to install home chargers. The plan is set to bring $3.8 billion to Kansas to overhaul the state’s roads and bridges and to improve rural broadband internet and public transit. It also includes $40 million to boost the state’s network of EV charging stations. The federal funds will arrive on top of a plan by the Kansas Department of Transportation to spend $2 million of the state’s share of funds from a lawsuit settlement with Volkswagen to add charging stations at 12 sites along major highways, including I-70. • Electrify America, a nationwide charging network funded with $2 billion paid by Volkswagen as punishment for its diesel model emissions cheating scandal, says it will double the size of its current network by 2025. The announcement represents an increase in the number of charging station locations to more than 1,700 with 9,500 individual chargers by the end of 2025. Electrify America already operates charging plazas at locations in Topeka, Salina, Hays and Colby. • Tesla, which has its own private charging network of 25,000 plugs in 1,200 Supercharger locations, says it plans to open its charging network to other vendors’ cars by using a special connector and a phone app. Some national networks, including EVgo, have already been wooing Tesla drivers by offering Tesla-style connectors on their chargers as an option. Tesla Supercharger plazas in Kansas are in Topeka, Salina, Hays, Colby, Wichita and Emporia.



maker Rivian, and its R1T and R1S, as well as Tesla’s Cybertruck, and similar offerings promised from Chevrolet and Dodge, Kansans will have a growing number of fully electric options for the future. In Oklahoma there are about 3,400 registered EVs, in Missouri just over 6,000, and in Colorado, with stricter vehicle air quality standards and EV incentives, there are nearly 25,000 EVs registered. Leading EV maker, Tesla, is growing—sales rose 78% through June 2021—and new offerings from Ford (Mustang Mach-E) and Volkswagen AG’s ID.4 helped push sales of EVs to more than 3% of total U.S. vehicle sales in May and June, the highest yet recorded. Some Wall Street researchers project nationwide EV market share rising to 25% of all vehicle sales by 2030, pushed along by government incentives and President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The International Council on Clean Transportation says the United States would need 2.4 million electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 if about 36% of new car sales were electric.

Topeka Connections For now, even with the lower numbers of charging stations, it is possible to drive from New York to Los Angeles—by way of I-70 through Kansas—in an electric-powered vehicle. The Kansas Turnpike Authority alone also operates DC fast charging stations at the turnpike’s Topeka, Lawrence and Towanda service areas. In addition, charging plazas in planning and under construction now are filling in gaps based on user demand, says Stephen Osborne, president and CEO of the Osborne Company, a Topeka-based general contractor who builds charging plazas throughout the state and across the U.S. Osborne estimates new charging plazas are averaging three to nine months to build, and the cost can range from $10,000 for a couple of small Level 2 chargers to several million dollars for an installation of DC fast chargers to charge a fleet of vehicles. But as expensive as those charging stations might be, they represent a future investment. Time alone is going to substantially reduce or force gasoline vehicles out of the new vehicle sales market altogether, he thinks.

“There’s a lot of money being pumped into EV charging networks,” Osborne says. “We’re growing steadily. We were introduced into EV charger construction in 2017, and our capabilities have grown every year, both the number of sites we’re building, and their [size and capacity].” Utilities, as well, aren’t oblivious to future increases in the demand for power as more drivers switch to EVs. “I would say we are prepared for near-term adoption, and we have the processes in place to do things we need to do, both on the supply side and on the grid investment side, to evolve the grid along with transportation electrification,” says Nick Voris, senior manager of products and services for electricity provider Evergy, which serves the eastern third of Kansas. The company’s transportation electrification plan forecasts energy demand loads as much as 20 years into the future. The Kansas Corporation Commission is considering a plan by Evergy that would provide electric vehicle owners with rebates, educate consumers on the benefits of EVs, and expand utility-owned charging stations outside the Kansas City metro area. One incentive could be rebates to businesses to help offset the cost of installing public charging infrastructure. Another would be offering residents a lower cost rate for charging their EV at home during set off-peak hours. Industry studies have shown that as much as 82% of all charging takes place at home, says Mike Morley, director of communications for Hays-based Midwest Energy. “Workplace charging is another important one when we think about enabling EVs,” Voris says. “If you’re not charging at home, the workplace is a logical second location that a person might be looking to charge.” “It highlights the need for utilities to play a central role because we are a key stakeholder,” Voris says. For example, utilities can help private developers design and locate EV charging plazas so that their location and use minimize the day-to-day impact on the electrical grid. “The utilities today are the oil fields of tomorrow,” says O’Shea. “They are generating and sending the fuel everywhere. They’re now in the transportation business … the automotive industry has to talk to the utilities, and they have to talk to everybody in the value chain of this new fueling system that’s upon us.”

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December 1–31

A Topeka tradition—two miles of holiday lights strung across the Lake Shawnee campgrounds for families and friends to enjoy. Ticket proceeds benefit the mission of TARC, the city’s nonprofit dedicated to assisting individuals with intellectual, developmental and related disabilities. For more information, go online at A model scene recreates Chevy Chase’s iconic moment in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Shutterstock.

December 1–19

Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn The Topeka Civic Theatre brings this beloved musical to the stage, with dinner and brunch performance options. For ticket reservations and more information, go online at or call 785.357.5211.

December 3–18

Songs of the Seasons

Artist Louis Copt creates a painting with the new YinMn blue pigment. Photograph by Jason Dailey.

A range of musical groups– including choral circles, flute ensembles and jazz bands– perform seasonal songs in the rotunda area of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. All concerts are free. For more information, go online at or call 785.580.4400.

December 4, 11 and 18 NOTO Holiday Market

Arts district merchants offer antiques, crafts and original art for holiday gift purchases. For more information, go online at

December 13

New to Medicare

Members of the Mannheim Steamroller group perform a Christmas concert. Photograph courtesy Mannheim Steamroller.

Volunteer experts with the nonprofit Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging provide guidance and suggestions for those signing up for Medicare for the first time, or for anyone who wants a refresher. The free event is held at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and requires registration. For more information, go online at or call 785.580.4400.

December 18

Old Prairie Town Christmas Topeka’s 19th-century living history park hosts holiday events and even one of Santa’s reindeers for an evening of family activities. For more information, call 785.251.6989

December 18

Lucero Padillo: Put a Bow on It! The gallery space of the Jayhawk Theatre hosts an evening of comedy and seasonal tunes with Lucero Padillo and Norsemen Brewery beer for good cheer. For ticket reservations or more information, go online at

December 10–12

Ballet Midwest: The Nutcracker Ballet Midwest continues its tradition of more than 40 years with a multi-cast performance of the holiday classic. For ticket reservations and more information, go online at or

December 18

Mannheim Steamroller Pop-music meets holiday classics with the famous national touring group. For ticket reservations or more information, go online at or call 785.251.5552.

December 18–19

Nutcracker with Kansas Ballet Kansas Ballet Academy presents two performances of the Nutcracker with professional guest dancers and a live musical performance by the members of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. For reservations and more information, go online at or

December 23

An Evening with Chevy Chase Enjoy a screening of the 1989 classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and then stay for a Q+A with the star of the film, legendary comedian Chevy Chase. For reservations and more information, go online or call 785.234.2787.



January 22

Topeka Symphony Orchestra kicks off the second half of its season dedicated to dance music with a concert featuring Antonin Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds, Gabriella Lena Frank’s Coqueteos (from Leyendas) and more. For ticket reservations and more information go online at or call 785.232.2032.

January 2–February 28 Combat Air Museum

Topeka’s museum showcasing authentic military aircraft and the stories behind them moves to winter visiting hours of noon–4:30 (with entrance closing at 3:30) for January and February. For ticket, exhibition and other information, go online at

January 7 Art Walk

Held on the first Friday of every month, this event allows visitors to enjoy new openings, special shows and ongoing exhibitions at galleries and studios across the town. For a full listing of venues and showings, go online at

January 14–February 5 Out of Order

Topeka Civic Theatre stages Ray Cooney’s comedy and thriller as a romantic rendezvous turns into a terrible mishap. For ticket reserations and more information, go online at topekacivictheatre. com or call 785.357.5211.





January 15

Topeka to Auburn Half-Marathon One of the area’s most popular runs with plenty of hills and camaraderie along the way. For registration and race information, go online at and search for Sunflower Striders Running Club of Topeka.

January 20

TopCity Comedy The Foundry Event Center and TopCity Comedy hosts this regular comedy evening on the third Thursday of each month. Tickets are $10 at door.

January 22

Adventures with the New YinMn Blue Kansas landscape painter Louis Copt demonstrates watercolors using a revolutionary new blue pigment. The free lecture is part of the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery’s ongoing exhibition of Blue, discovering and exploring the depths of this color. For more information, go online at tscpl. org.

January 23 Te Deum

Performance of sacred music by choral group at Grace Episcopal Cathedral as part of the Great Spaces concert series. For tickets and more information, go online at

January 28–March 12 American Farmer

Mulvane Art Museum presents a selection of 45 iconic portraits of American farmers in an exhibition curated and organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information, go online at or call 785.670.1124.



February 4–April 30

This curated collection from the Mulvane Art Museum’s permanent collection explores definitions and perceptions of truth. For more information, go online at or call 785.670.1124.

February 4–March 27 Flora & Fauna

NOTO Arts Center Morris Gallery hosts a juried exhibition of fiber art. For more information, go online at or call

February 8

Boss: The Black Experience in Business Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library hosts a screening and discussion of the PBS documentary on Black American entrepreneurship. Free event. For more information, go online at or call 785.580.4400.

February 11

Bill Engvall’s Farewell Tour Comedian Bill Engvall returns to Topeka one last time for his “It’s Finally Time—Farewell Tour.” For ticket reservations and more information go online at or call 785.234.2787.

February 12 Pas de Deux

The Topeka Symphony Orchestra performs Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe and more in this evening of music celebrating a season of dance and sound. For more information, go online at or all 785.232.2032.

February 13

David Briggs in concert Acclaimed organist David Briggs performs at Grace Episcopal Cathedral as part of the Great Spaces series. For ticket prices and more information, go online at

February 17

Ornate Box Turtle Let’s give the state’s official reptile its day in the sun! Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and the Topeka Audubon Society host a free presentation on the life, ecology and behavior of the ornate box turtle. For more information, go online at or call 785.580.4400.

February 18

Evel Knievel’s Jump Anniversary On this day in 1973, the legendary daredevil jumped a row of 51 cars in Las Vegas in front of a crowd of over 23,000. What better way to celebrate this feat than a visit to Topeka’s Evel Knievel Museum. For ticket, times and exhibition information, go online at

Cattle, Crane, Montana, by Paul Mobley. Image courtesy Mulvane Art Museum.

February 18–20

Topeka Home Show The Topeka Area Building Association hosts the annual showcase of new home features and essentials at the Stormont Vail Events Center. For more information, go online at

February 25–March 26 Kinky Boots

Topeka Civic Theatre presents the story of a down-and-out shoe factory saved from closure by an inspirational drag queen and a vision for fine, fine footwear. For ticket reservations and more information, go online at or call 785.357.5211.

Marry Off (Family Platform Trinity) by William L. Haney, 1987, oil on canvas. Image courtesy Mulvane Art Museum.

A reindeer will greet visitors at the Old Prairie Town Christmas celebration in December. Shutterstock


We selected these 7 BBQ side dishes for “Topeka Top Tier” honors.




Writer and food critic Tom Averill singles out some of the city’s top BBQ side dishes



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rowing up, I often ate pork and sauces, but I also want the best sides I Many people beans for Sunday dinner. My can find. focus only on mother, a great cook, would Over the past several months, the meats and declare Sunday an order-it-out or fix-itI’ve searched BBQ joints for sides, yourselves meal. My father would scrounge concentrating on beans and slaw, but willing the sauces, the cabinet and open cans of pork and to try unique offerings as well. Topeka has but I also want many fine places for barbeque, and I ate at beans, Van Camp’s, if memory serves. My father would pour the beans into a pot nine of them: Black Dog Bar B Que, Blind the best sides and begin to doctor them, adding catsup, Tiger Brewery and Restaurant, Boxer Q I can find. or barbeque sauce, or Tabasco, or brown BBQ, Herman’s Meat and Smokehouse, sugar, or molasses, or all of these, shaking Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q, Iron Rail Brewing, in whatever appealed to him from the spice Lonnie Q’s BBQ, Smokey Dunks, and Tod’s rack. We kids learned to do our own versions, and in years BBQ. I’m going to recommend the side dishes I found most of experimentation I’ve added everything from Wishbone tasty. Of course, as with all food, taste is subjective, so I’ll dressing to Worcestershire sauce, from caraway seeds to confess that my preferences are for sour over sweet, spicy bacon bits, from turmeric to oregano, from maple syrup to over bland, thick over thin, generous over modest portions. molasses, from mustard to pickle relish. I will also confess that among the over 20 sides I’ve ordered Cole slaw was a family favorite, too. My mother’s recipe in the past several months, I would be critical of only a few. was so important to my brother that when he couldn’t That’s good news: you can’t go wrong ordering barbeque find it after her death, he recreated it with the help of all sides in Topeka. of us siblings. Her recipe was simple and delicious, with Each proprietor decides what slaw or beans will best chopped green and red cabbage and shredded carrots, complement the meats and the barbeque sauces they are vinegar and brown sugar, plenty of salt and pepper served with, and each has chosen wisely, and deliciously. and some celery seed, then finished with huge glops of Ordered and eaten in the redolent air of smoke and sauce, mayonnaise. Within 30 minutes of adding the dressing, we barbeque is a lasting pleasure. Topeka-raised poet Kevin ate the fresh slaw, and it remains as bright and crisp as Young, now director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum any savored childhood memory. of African American History and Culture, begins his poem No wonder, then, that when I order BBQ, and my “Ode to Barbeque Sauce” with the lines, “In all the paintings meat comes with two sides, I usually choose beans and of heaven/ there is little/ or no food—and an afterlife/ minus slaw, those most traditional dishes associated with the okra/ or barbeque or your arms/ seems useless.” So, while on cuisine. Many people focus only on the meats and the earth, eat barbeque, and enjoy those heavenly sides.


Topeka Top Tier Selections

Lonnie Q’s Cold Slaw

According to Lon Weaver, owner of Lonnie Q’s, the restaurant’s cole slaw recipe comes directly from his mother and is made fresh all day so it’s never soupy, and the cabbage is never wilted. This slaw is indeed crisp and crunchy. The chopped cabbage, with small amounts of red cabbage and carrots, is dressed, but not drenched, in a creamy sauce that has some sugar—only slightly sweet—and celery seeds. Lonnie Q’s slaw reminded me of my mother’s, though without as much of the “glop” of mayonnaise. It’s a great complement to the tender meat. One of Lonnie Q’s “Q Cups” (a smaller-size portion from the menu) is named Turkey in the Slaw, described as “Tender turkey covered with ‘cold’ slaw.” A very nice combination.


38 Black Dog’s Scooter’s Slaw The Scooter’s Slaw at Black Dog is slightly sweet, with a thin mustard/mayonnaise dressing. The mustard creates a nice tang and heartiness. The roughly chopped cabbage is joined by bits of red cabbage and carrot, and enough celery seed to taste. It is a unique slaw and became one of my favorites.

Tod’s BBQ’s Smoked Pulled Pork Beans The Smoked Pulled Pork Beans dish at Tod’s is rich and hearty, thick, with plenty of meat, some bits of sauteed onion and roasted red pepper. The dish is a nice combination of slightly sweet and slightly spicy, providing a tongue-pleasing tang. Owner Tod Peters explains that he always wanted real pork in the beans, and he experimented “until we found the right mix we liked.” His family gettogethers “are the yes or no for our food.”

Smokey Dunks’ Smoked Beans Smoked Beans from Smokey Dunks were sweet, hot, rich, creamy, and well-cooked, with onion, jalapeno, red pepper, and some meat. They have a spicy kick, but not distractingly so, and they complement the BBQ perfectly.


39 Lonnie Q’s Cheesy Taters Some unique sides came my way, too. At Lonnie Q’s, when I explained my search for traditional sides, he generously gave me his favorite specialty, the Cheesy Taters. They were perfectly cooked, very creamy, with bits of green pepper, lots of cheese, and those perfect little patches of crisp, dark crust. He said if he has a line of 20 people waiting for food, and “I tell them I’m out of Cheesy Taters, 10 of them will leave.” I believe him. The potatoes were that good.

Tod’s BBQ’s Smoked Mac & Cheese When I visited Tod’s BBQ, a food truck, he was generous, throwing in a free side of Smoked Mac & Cheese as recommended by his son, who called it their favorite. It became one of my favorites, too, with a slightly smoky taste, perfectly cooked macaroni, buttery and creamy with cheese, and full of generous bits of bacon. This side was, Tod explained, an “experiment for sure.” Three of Tod’s four sides can also be experienced in the sandwiches— for example the Smoked Mac & Cheese and the Smoked Pulled Pork Beans both loaded onto the “Ellie,” a quarter pound all-beef hotdog.

Smokey Dunks’ Collard Greens Finally, when I visited Smokey Dunks, he was out of slaw for the day. Since his menu leans to Southern cuisine—fried catfish, fried alligator, jerk chicken and rice, cornbread—I ordered the greens. An authentic treat, the collard greens were cooked to perfect tenderness, with meat, vinegar, sugar and a bit of cayenne, evidence that Smokey Dunks is not afraid of spice throughout the menu. While he cooked my order of catfish, he made a call for more slaw, the spicy coleslaw and plain coleslaw, delivered before the catfish was fried.



Why are beans and slaw the “must” sides to accompany barbeque? Taste Beans are often complementary in taste with the featured barbeque sauce. Like these sauces, each distinct to the person smoking the meat, the beans can add spice or tang, can be sour or sweet, can sprinkle salt and pepper flavor. Beans, like sauces, enrich the flavor of meat. Cabbage, with its strong earthy taste, enhanced with a bit of vinegar or citrus, along with cream or mayonnaise, leaning either toward sweet or sour, can create flavor contrast to the smoky beans and meats.

Texture Beans and slaw also create variety in texture, the beans softer than meat, the slaw crunchier. In fact, slaw is often served on top of meat, or as part of a sandwich, especially in the mid-South. Chewy meat and crunchy cabbage slaw—loaded into a soft bun able to absorb the juices of meat, sauce and cole slaw—creates a panoply of texture. Finely-chopped cole slaws do not emphasize texture differences, and are thus less apt to be a style served as a barbeque side.

Fiber & Health Barbeque meats are rich in protein and usually high in fat. So, the crunchy fiber in raw cabbage and the soft fiber in baked beans helps create a balanced meal and aids the eater in the digestion of a rich meal. Beans are cholesterol free, low in fat, and high in minerals and fiber. Cabbage is full of antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory food, good for the heart.

Ease of serving & portability Like barbeque, beans are slow cooked, and the longer the better, and cabbage can be cut well ahead, then dressed in a timely way, so both are easy to make in advance and to keep fresh tasting. Beans can be served warm, room temperature, or cold. Cole slaw is best cold or cool, but can be eaten with pleasure at room temperature.



The Connection with American Cuisine Baked beans originated with Northeastern Native American tribes, among them the Iroquois and Narragansett, who soaked what are also known as “navy beans,” indigenous to the Western Hemisphere. The beans were then mixed with bear fat and maple syrup and slowly cooked over a fire. Early Puritans took to baked beans because they could be prepared the day before Sabbath—no cooking on that holy day—and then be kept warm near the coals of a fireplace for a hearty Sabbath meal. Molasses and salt pork were added to the ingredients list in Boston, also known as Beantown, because of the abundance of molasses as a byproduct of distilling rum. Cole slaw is traditionally a simple cabbage salad, from the Dutch word for cabbage salad: koosla. Americans have been making slaw since at least the 1770s, and, beginning in the early 1800s a signature ingredient has been mayonnaise. Though French in origin, and appearing in French cookbooks in 1815 and 1820, mayonnaise was used first in cole slaw by Americans. Both baked beans and cole slaw have spread from the northeast across the United States, ubiquitous not only as traditional barbeque sides, but as favorites at potlucks, church suppers, and picnics. Most every grocery deli will have several varieties of slaw and baked beans to go. The variety of canned baked beans grows each year, with Bush’s beans, in all their different kinds, remaining my favorite. Like my father, I am happy to eat them straight from the can. Simple pleasures, American treasures, these two side dishes.

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HOUSE THAT THEA BUILT From torts to jewelry to books, Thea Rademacher, founder and owner of Flint Hills Publishing, has consistently been open to fresh challenges

STORY BY Jeffrey Ann Goudie | PHOTOGRAPHY BY Nick Krug




ne evening Thea Rademacher was hosting the dessert portion of a neighborhood progressive dinner at her Topeka home. Among the guests was Royce A. Fulmer, whom Rademacher knew as a friend and the real estate developer who built their home. But Fulmer, as it turned out, had other identities. That evening he talked about a secret mission called “Operation Carpetbagger” that he had been on in World War II, serving as a flight engineer on a B-24 Liberator airplane, dropping male and female spies and needed supplies to aid the Nazi Resistance in France and other close-by countries. This top-secret mission had been classified until the 1980s. Rademacher told her oldest son that he needed to write her friend Royce’s story. Her son looked at her and said, “No, Mom, you need to do it.” “And it was just one of those touchstone points in my life, and I thought, yeah, I’m gonna do it,” says Rademacher. Rademacher interviewed Fulmer for several months, doing research on her own into Operation Carpetbagger, and in August of 2014, A Drop in the Night: The Life and Secret Mission of a World War II Airman, jointly authored by Rademacher and Fulmer, became the first book of what would become Flint Hills Publishing. Fulmer was the featured military service member in a news story in the Topeka CapitalJournal on Veterans Day after the publication of the book. That article prompted an invitation to Forbes Field, where he was recognized for his military service, including as the flight engineer on the first B-29 air refueling test flight. Fulmer had suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure but was able to sign copies of the book at that event. He died in January 2015. In the 7 years since publishing that first book with Fulmer, Rademacher has gone on to build websites, master print-on-demand publishing and start her own firm. Her longtime friend, attorney Sarah Stratton, describes Rademacher as a “lifelong learner,” a trait that has enabled her to publish more than 50 books, including novels, memoirs, cookbooks, children’s books and more. One of her authors, the prize-winning playwright Marcia Cebulska, says she was impressed with how collaborative Rademacher is. Cebulska had once been at a panel where there was discussion about the storied relationships between authors and publishers



The writer,

in the 1920s. She says she has enjoyed that classes, and received her master’s degree. On publisher, kind of relationship with Rademacher in the day of her graduation from Baylor, she and photographer, and Fredrickson married. When her husband took creating her novel Watching Men Dance, as graphic designer well as Skywriting, a journaling guide. a job at a public accounting firm in the Twin were all competent Cities, Rademacher enrolled in the University Therapist and writer Susan Kraus, whose novel Insufficient Evidence was published by of Minnesota Law School. She says she had women who live Flint Hills in 2018—along with a reissue of known since third grade that she would head within 50 miles of the first two novels in her Grace McDonald to law school. each other. murder-mystery series—also underscores the Rademacher and her husband relocated —Susan Kraus “collaborative process” in what she calls the to the Kansas City area, and she worked for “locally-sourced fiction” of Flint Hills. Kansas Legal Services, first in Kansas City, “The writer, publisher, photographer, and Kansas, then in Topeka, where she specialized graphic designer were all competent women who live within in domestic violence cases, carrying a large caseload. By 50 miles of each other,” says Kraus. the time their fourth son was three years old, Rademacher Rademacher was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where her was ready to scale back, becoming executive director of the father was stationed with the Army. She grew up in Wichita, nonprofit agency Mother to Mother, as well as designing and Lincoln (Nebraska), and Topeka. She says her mother, a marketing her own jewelry through her business, Beading committed feminist, took her children to League of Women Hearts. She has applied the business skills she learned from Voters’ meetings, and on the campaign trail for the first her beading business to her publishing enterprise. woman mayor in Lincoln, Helen Boosalis. Rademacher is also applying her legal background to help At Washburn Rural High School, Rademacher was mentored authors with potential legal issues in publishing and has by the late Bill Davis, a freshly minted Washburn University recently been asked to present on legal hurdles in writing graduate who was her debate and forensics coach. She and and publishing, such as intellectual property rights, copyright her debate partner won major tournaments their senior year, issues, and contracts. She has written an e-book, Authors and she was recruited by the coach at Macalester College in Beware!, on the subject (expanded print version April 2022). Saint Paul, Minnesota. There, in her freshman year of college, When asked how the pandemic, with its shelter-at-home she met her future husband, Steve Fredrickson. order, affected her, she says that despite the challenges, After graduating from Macalester with a Bachelor of Arts in she had the time to throw herself into learning experiences. Law and Society, Rademacher was again recruited for a debate She taught herself to conduct Zoom book launches, revised program, this time at Baylor University, where she spent a her catalogue, re-edited and put new covers on books, and year as assistant coach for college debaters, taught speech worked with a consultant on search engine optimization.




Children’s books 16 / 28% 13

Novels 13 / 23%


Self-Help 10 / 18%


Total Writers

YA Novels 8 / 14%

Other States


International (Australia)

Memoirs 5 / 9%


Cooking 2 / 3% Short Stories 2 / 3%

Total Kansas Writers 8

Poetry 1 / 2%

Topekans 5 Other Locations 3


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Although Rademacher has many authors from outside the region, she has specialized in local authors. “My mom gave me a deep appreciation for the prairie, that it runs in our blood. That it’s a place where we go to rejuvenate and connect. I’m so happy that Flint Hills Publishing is able to showcase so many wonderful Topeka authors with strong roots to Kansas,” says Rademacher, and she adds that technology allows Flint Hills Publishing to have “a very broad platform that extends well beyond Flint Hills.” Rademacher says that one of her philosophies in life, as well as her company is, “I look for connections, I like to help make connections. As someone who moved to Topeka when I was in the 7th grade, I’ve seen Topeka go through several evolutions, but my work with

Flint Hills Publishing has made it so clear to me that Topeka has a rich, creative community which permeates the city.” The most rewarding aspect of Flint Hills Publishing, she says, has “been the connections I’ve made with authors, and being able to help them realize a dream that they’ve had.” Rademacher’s first publishing connection with Royce Fulmer came personally—he was her neighbor and friend and then he built her home. From their collaboration on A Drop in the Night, she built a publishing house, drawing on her skills in rhetoric, law, creativity and an ambitious work ethic to partner with other authors. With more titles slated to be published in 2022, Rademacher will be spending lots of time on the computer at her stand-up desk, helping authors realize their dreams.


716 S. KANSAS AVENUE TOPEKA, KS 66603 785-232-3266

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