The way to a girl’s…make them laugh, kindness, honesty and killer abs.

by admin
"Marcus Allen"

Marcus Allen

The best thing about heaven is that Mark is going to be there and he won’t have aged.  I still have dreams about Mark and I’m not sure what awakens me to remember ?? Maybe I shouldn’t say too much more about that, except that at the end I am always laughing.  The killer abs phrase is from Marthe whose specific memory is from grasping Mark’s torso from the rear of his motorcycle.  He was one of those real guys who drove a motorcycle for the real reason in the 70s which is that no father or family was going to supply him with a car. It was paid for with labor, in Mark’s case, construction for Chuck Stratford as well as measuring with Dave Wood for my father Dean Graves.

Marthe, Mark and I pal’ed around together sometimes. This threesome was in part because we all had volkswagen beetles.  A few tangent notes about those:

  • Marthe’s was lemon yellow and had no radio because Dick Dreher thought that a radio would promotes reckless driving. I think Marthe later thwarted this by hanging a transistor on the temperature control knob.
  • Mark’s white, I am thinking, was probably his brother’s car or his mom’s that he would have on occasion.
  • Mine was a 1967 white beetle that had been painted “hippie green” to make it palatable for my older sister, Gina, to drive when she turned 16 in 1974. This was the first “second car” that my parents bought.

a cultural sidenote: Prior to this time, my mother, as did many women, existed by either doing without a car during the day or driving their husband’s car to work so that they could use the car that day for their grocery shopping, to take a child to the doctor, or for their wash and set. Remember that our mother’s mothers still had those embroidered tea towels that said “Monday, ironing, Tues. washing…etc.”.

This was actually pretty common and one of reasons social psychologists explain the sharp rise in divorce of women in the early and mid-70s. Women now had wheels. That is, with freedom of movement, came freedom to work. As men lost physical control over women, they lost control over the children and that is when our society just went straight to hell, at least as some may see it.

Plus, vacuum sweepers and all the appliances (supposedly) meant there was less housework for women (NOT) to goof around and go buy stuff. Or, in the case with the women in my family, to go do some work other than housework which used their education so they could make money to have a little fun using their own cash and pay someone else (provide another woman with a job) to do the work for which they now needed help.

so back to car cultural sidenote: I don’t really believe that the car was the downfall of men’s and women’s societal roles. Barbie may not have had or wanted a Dream House, but in my mind there was always a Barbie throughout history who had her wheels, even if it was in her mind.

…and back to volkswagen beetles: One time in the SME parking lot we put all their noses together for a kiss. Mark was kind of joint property, even among the best of women friends. And the laughing we all would share….a man among men and a stud among women, both liking him equally well.

And back to Mark. Mark’s mother, who raised two wonderful sons alone, had to have been an incredibly strong and independent woman. The only memory I have of Mark speaking of his father was a  memory about A.I.’ing cattle in Texas with him one summer as a young boy. A.I’ing is artificially inseminating. So, I now think this is interesting and curious, having lived on a ranch.

Mark related notes

Mark related notes

My life is recorded through notes to my mother and kept them all. If I wrote a note to my parents telling them where I was and with whom, and this guy was responsible and watched my back, I had very a long leash. Mark spent a lot of time hanging out at our house and staying for dinner, long after our brief period of dating. My family thoroughly enjoyed him.

Mark was hanging around at my house the night of the Kansas City Flood. While we were at the top of 67th St. (a relatively high point), a later addition to our house prior to a later drain caused a foot high lake of water in front of our home.  Mark helped my father release the floodgates by opening the garage and bucketing thousands of gallons of water from the front to the back of our house. A good man.

"Prom 1977"

Prom '77: he's got the body stance, the tux, and I'm still quite pleased with my dress.

Here is a note from Mark:

"Paul Lenard GO AWAY"

Paul Lenard GO AWAY

Contrary to what everyone always wrote in my yearbook, I was not that nice. This was a date that I accepted because this is what I thought my mother was telling me was the thing to do. That is, to say yes to the first invitation. I do not agree with this, by the way, and in this case, it is not nice to accept and then to complain dearly about having to fulfill the commitment behind the person’s back, in this case the date with Paul Leonard. I always had a fear of boys liking me for which I had no really jazzy feeling in return if you get what I mean. My daughter explains how to handle this by advising, “even the nice nerdy ones still think there is always a chance. So to be both kind but to not shun an overture of friendship, “you just need to keep clarifying from the very beginning that if you hang out with them nothing is NEVER going to happen.” In this case in hindsight, I realize it wasn’t even an issue. In fact, this is the male company with whom today I am very, if not most comfortable.

Anyway, Mark came over to help me prepare for the dreaded date, and when I went to the door to greet Paul, I found that Mark had stuck this on the front door. As I left, Mark yelled from my parents bedroom (he spent lots of time here with various people when we had parties before tee pee’ing SM South when my parents did their 3 week trip to the southwest every fall), “she doesn’t want to go with you!” and other hurtful things that I maybe had been saying but I really think not that bad but just maybe something like, “I REALLY am dreading going” but regardless now I don’t like to admit to having said or thought mean things or laughed at the much meaner things that Mark (boys in general) said.

I am so sorry Paul Le(o)nard. It was really a very nice date and we went to Pumperniks in Ranch Mart. And I had matzoh ball soup for the first time. I think Paul was Jewish, so that also commemorates this nice date in my mind.

"the bunny fleece jumpsuit"

The bunny fleece sleeper

I’m putting in this photo to document that the fleece sleeper Mark wore at the pep club assembly our Sr. Year was mine and link myself with this fame.  All of the (football players..??? or was it the basketball yell leaders?) dressed up as cheerleaders and pep club girls. And then Mark arrived in the pink bunny sleeper. Hanging out at the Graves, he’d seen this quite a bit, but I can’t quite remember any preliminary try-on or how he snuck it out of my house.  It was quite formfitting on him. Translation: Mark’s @$$ looked great in it, all hard but soft and fuzzy, too.

Mark saw it all with me, was like a brother I never had. The white zit medicine I’d forget I had all over my face when he’d drop by but he’d never mention until I’d been chatting for an hour. Understanding my habit of taping over blemishes so I’d keep my hands off (by this time I wasn’t bothered that he saw this) but then later letting me forget the tape was on my face when I had to go answer the door. (He had no blemishes but I did have a little picking obsession at the time.)

So that is it, or at least a few Marcus “Ottawa” Allen stories. Please post if you have more.

Samouyah, Mark. (“we will meet again” in Taosien).

All the women will be lined up for a kiss, a funny, and those great abs. We have missed you!

Nov. 27, 2011. Memories from the 1st day of 29 years and counting of Paula Graves Adams’ Cowgirl Adventures…

by admin

Just a word of clarification…

I have to qualify the use of the term “Cowgirl.” I use it as a state of mind, not as any profession which could claim me as an associate.  I do ride a horse, can herd cattle without causing a rampage, and I have a hill on the XIT to where I would ride on a regular basis and look back at the river and the XIT Headquarters.

But cowgirls are really born.  They are born to fathers who are cowboys and cattleman who work in the trenches. Not all daughters of these men are cowgirls. Just the ones who worked alongside the other men.  Some rope and tie, others vaccinate and herd and brand. The three real cowgirls I know in the Adams family are Wanda Adams, Chelsea Adams, and Lacy Adams. But that’s another post.

So. Today is 29 years to the day of our wedding day. And I am celebrating another person who in so many ways made me who I am today, John Adams, just as I feel about my parents. I definitely pulled my weight and worked this gift of parents and husband as I have done with other God given gifts. I need to do a bit more of this for myself and cut them some slack from all the burdens that come along with this responsibility, but I am eternally grateful.

So I will try not to talk (too much), but here are some pictures of stuff leading up to the wedding, the big day, and of our honeymoon in Chicago for three days before heading west in a u-haul to begin the adventure.

Grier and Warwick Showers, Wedding Cookbook, Independent Engagement Pic, Ring showoff, Dean laughing at life's burden of "stuff."

Dean Graves is laughing at one of his own jokes in the lower left photo. Probably something witty sensing my fear of this new burden of “stuff.” I inherited this tendency to do big belly laughs at my own jokes.

I just mainly remember that John Adams would look at it all and say, “you are really getting great stuff.” This is translated as, “these things we both will cook and serve off of are yours so you will write the thank you notes” and extended on into wedding gifts. We had some perfectly nice “Paula & John” cards custom designed by the calligrapher for Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, Mary Lou Cook, but I don’t really remember John using these :). But, he had to pack it and haul it and unpack in a u-haul over bumpy roads, not breaking a dish. As he did two more times to Lawrence and Wichita over the course of our marriage, which is more moving of stuff and wife than most husbands would tolerate. So this really counts for much, much more.

Here is a brief concept and history page for my Paula Varsalona wedding dress. Sandra Kenney, former KU cheerleader, the most beautiful Pi Phi at KU in the 50s, former wife of Bob Kenney, was the buyer for The Jones Store at that time.

Beautiful Kenney women: Sandy, Karen, Kirsten.

She was a good friend of my mother, Kirsten my good friend, and the reason why The Jones Store got all the best designers at that time. And, the models to wear them…Terri Sue Walters and Kitty Bliss. Terry’s picture is underneath my head on the Independent Cover and Kitty’s beautiful picture was on the cover when our engagement picture appeared. So, I am honored to be pictured in a magazine with photos of such beautiful and photographed Kansas City women!

A cover, concept, lace mitts and shoes, and two Paulas at a dress fitting. Professional and hobby designing women.

My mother spotted another $1,000.00 shorter lace dress that was also very beautiful and classic with a plunging neckline. It would have been lovely, but I opted for this $325.00 more Victorian number which I styled with the lace mitts, shoes, and dropping the veil for a crown of baby’s breath with some tiny ribbon streamers. Both dresses seemed like a lot of money at that time, but nothing compared to the rest of the party. What our fathers do…

Here are some of the friends who were at the University Club on Nov. 27, 1982.

George Waugh, Mike Tutera, back of David Kerr's head.

Christie Reed Reniger, Ed Bolen, Kate Nettels Faerber

Julie Connally, Karen Majors Bogle, Alison DeGoler.

Dr. Dick Dreher, head of Children's Mercy Hospital, Marthe's date?, Marthe Dreher Tamblyn.

David Stubbs and my cousin, Wendy Ward.

Alison Weideman Ward, Eleanor Stolzer?

Molly Miller, Lynn Kindred, Susan Grier, Kathy Kindred.

Bridget O'Brien and Elaine Beeson.

Scott Ward and Liz Waugh.

Jamie and John Kane, Carney Nulton.

Mary Beth Simpson, John Simpson, Bradley Grover Simpson.

Mary Stauffer and Sam Brownback.Two Jack's and a Jane: Savings and Home, Dicus and Frost.

? Beta?, Elaine Scarborough, Greg Duvall, John's Patient Pledge Dad.

And here are some family pictures…

 

Raymond Adams and Sandra Dublin Frizzell Adams with her parents. So I am kind of related by (ex) marriage(s) to both McKinley Winter Feedyard, Cindy Brown, and Tripp Frizzell and Alison Miller Frizzell in a way.

David Adams, 12-step Guru across the High Plains. Judy Robert Adams, great-niece of Sally Chisum, a wife on the XI Ranch who never lived there and niece of John Chisum. William Robert, Judy's Grandfather was the former co-owner of the XI Ranch Landholdings before H.G. Adams partnered with him to fence and water, subsequently buying the holdings from Robert.

Ginny Graves, my mother and co-party planner who handled all the details. In a great mother-of-the-bride frock with Allison Ball in the background in a smash pink and black party dress.

And look! Heavy Hitter Jessie Adams and a dashingly handsome man (Bud Helm?) and heavy hitter and my bro Randy Knotts at left.

I’m assuming they all attended the nuptials at 4:00 at Second Presbyterian Church, but I didn’t look around. It was another stage performance where I was gripped with both fear and emotion.

In part, I hold Gina responsible (my maid of honor) as she was beside me crying when I said my vows at the altar at Second Presbyterian Church. This of course precipitated my crying while I said “I do.” John later expressed concern that others would think I was crying because we were getting married. We were both wearing our parents shoes. I actually was sad at the idea of my father giving me away. But as they say, “a son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life.”

At the University Club, someone took these candids in the room where all the food was. It was freezing rain that Thanksgiving Day. So, many of the older guests wanted to get in, wish me well, and get safely back home.

Where did the saying, “Rain is good luck on your wedding day” come from?

YAHOO! Answers.

It pops up through Shakespeare’s works and I imagine it would have to do with a pastoral society, where rain would symbolize fertility-hence it is good luck on a wedding day!

So after having a thoroughly wonderful beautiful month of Paris with rain every day and living on a very dry ranch in western Kansas and a wedding day of heavy rain, Paula the Pisces Water Child is always happy to see raindrops, curly hair and all.

But back to University Club, the point is that I’m putting in this picture at the lower right of this “media page” because it is in the library of the University Club. This was pretty much all I saw of my wedding reception until about 8:00 after which John and I did the bouquet (Beth Van Winkle Ewing, Theta now in Dallas) and and garter toss (Ed Bolen). Then we bolted, socially exhausted. One reason I now adore other people’s weddings!

The length of the writeup in the Beaver is only shadowed by the coverage in the Meade-Globe Press which is not included. They noted every detail of my outfit that I had so lovingly chosen. I was both embarrassed and tickled pink.

We spent the night at the Kansas City Club, arranged by John’s step-mom-at-that-time- Sandra (the Wichita Falls most beautiful party planner and gift wife). She had medium-rare filets with three sauces (a bernaise, hollandaise, and a horseradish cream) delivered to our room.  The next morning we lay around in bed all morning and watched Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman. Then, John had to go back to Lawrence to prepare for his finals and a project with some Brian guy from business school who had transferred from engineering school.

We had a few people to dinner at this apartment in Lawrence during finals. Pat Boppart I do remember, but I cannot remember the others who were still finishing up their college careers. I had chicken breasts stuffed with boursin because it was John’s turn to cook that week. John and Pat argued about how one person of these two felt it was not an even trade for one person to have t-bones and the other to serve spam, though Pat defended this staunchly. I tasted spam later in life, as I have also tasted dogfood, and it is really not all that bad.

Our first Christmas was in Lawrence at Hillcrest Apartments, but I will also do this in a later post in the advent countdown to Christ’s birth. I am more exhausted from this wedding post than I was from the actual wedding.

I will include pictures of our honeymoon in Chicago, a gift from Kevin Pistilli. He and Tina met us there for dinner at the Pump Room. This didn’t happen until later, but honeymoons are a part of the wedding picture so they are included here.

The Raphael, the Cape Cod Room at the Drake, Frank Lloyd Wright's first big residential project in Oak Park and tour of his home.

I am looking forward to the holidays and remembering some very early times with my husband and friends from pictures that I am sure my mother took.

Before a house,

before children,

before a place that would be my life for 29 years and always in my mind.

I hope the others that were married that day in Kansas City (there were four of us, Gibson Rymar and Sara Jury and….??) are also celebrating.

Of course, it is now the 28th as I didn’t get it done by day’s end. This is the day I always I incorrectly remembered as my wedding date. It was always just “the Saturday after Thanksgiving” in my mind…it didn’t matter much as we were usually always having fun with friends and family in the city and would forget to celebrate.

So now I will take the time to say, “Happy Anniversary John!” But this time it is a joke because I remembered yesterday to celebrate this day, the start of my big life adventures that still continue.

love, Paula.

 

 

Dennis Morgan and me, Paula: Myra & Ginny’s protegés. Plus partying and architecture, circa 1977.

by admin

Dennis Morgan and Paula Graves having cookies and milk on Graves patio after our houses were built.

Dennis Morgan was my first friend who was a boy. I have this on facebook with the caption, “He’s so dreamy, I think I will just close my eyes and dream…”

This picture was taken just after Bob Wendt, a Kansas City architect of German descent, finished our custom homes. By the way, Betsy Curry lived in a much bigger very neat house designed by Bob Wendt west of Roe south of 83rd St.

They were very unique contemporary ranches:

  • Post and Beam design: 4×6 posts supporting and rough-sawn cedar timber beams (5′ on center), stained black. (most houses stud framing.
  • beams exposed with natural pine tongue and groove roofdecking running 90 degrees to wood beams and spans the 5′ o.c. beams
  • 60s “ski lodge” fireplace
  • walnut stained oak wood floors
  • flat walnut veneer cabinet doors. the kitchen (north side of house) was so dark that the doors only (still flush set in walnut) were lacquered white to lighten up the room.  Lacquer, mind you, being a lost art. Here, it was 11 coats well-done by Bob Falkenberg (also German descent Falkenberg & Son contractor in KC, clients like Annenberg’s, lived in my neighborhood and daughter, Nancy, was one of my best friends at Highlands Grade School).
  • floor to ceiling glass along patio side.
  • exposed aggregate patios with wood strips and front walk entry hall

That’s enough about the architectural history of the houses here, let’s just say “they were cool, well-designed, well-crafted, well-done functionally and aesthetically.” And, our mom’s made the cookies. Ginny’s nutty nougat (aka snowballs) is still on the plate.

Jim and Myra Morgan, my neighbors.houses mirrored each other and shared a driveway.
Here is a picture from the KC Star of Dennis’s Dad, Jim Morgan, with the kids. Jim and Myra moved to KC from Alabama. Mr. Morgan at that time was an airline pilot for TWA and Myra was a southern belle and mother of three kids, Dink, Dennis and Denise (Missy). Doo, Jim Morgan’s mother, also lived with them. I’m not sure if this was from the outset or after Myra became busier  with the gallery. They both started Morgan Gallery in the 60s after Mr. Morgan had some kind of heart thing while flying and was grounded.

You can google Morgan Gallery, but Myra and Jim had the ins with the art galleries on both coasts in this era taking KC trips to NYC to Leo Castelli’s and Lillian Nassau to buy art and art nouveau. Both were highly creative with all that entails. Jim Morgan collected Arts and Crafts pottery, Roseville, etc. long before anyone else. Their social sphere was fascinating for me, for their friends were quite a bit wilder than the creative-conservatives with whom my parents socialized.

KC Star May 26, 1968. News About Women and Society. Note that Mrs. Jack O'Hara's garden is also featured, so I have included it.

They mention Taffy in the article. Taffy was a really great dog, I don’t know the breed. But I will have to find out. He was a mellow yellow hound of some sort.  Very methodically, he would trot around his two joint estates everyday, checking in and on everything. I’ve never had a dog with this kind of temperament, though it’s probably partially due to the owners.

John Buck Sculpture
The sculpture is by John Buck who was a graduate student at the K.C. Art Institute. This sculpture has had a colorful live, witnessing many a deal and an ordeal between the dramas in the Morgan and Graves families in both generations. But, most importantly, it was home base for kick the can. Dennis has the sculpture in storage and he and Dink have said that I can have it.  It needs a coat of black paint and rust-oleum mixed together. Dennis told me the recipe.
I had envisioned it on my mountaintop at the XIT Ranch. This is the high point along the Cimarron River at the Crossing to where I would run every day, sprinting the hill for reward of the river view. I am confident that the Plains Indians used this place as a burial ground it is so beautiful. I’m not sure it I would have gotten approval, but I know I could have sneaked in onto this place somewhere.

(excuse me…note to Dennis)

Dennis,

I still want this sculpture, so please don’t give it away if you have not yet already. A bit of a problem is that I may not have any land in the near future where it could be erected.  As will getting it from Dick Belger’s warehouse to the proposed site. And, since it’s a fairly permanent installation involving concrete this does need some thought for appropriate context.  I think it would look great in Santa Fe and likely no problems with the neighbors depending upon the size of the lot, but I’m not sure yet if I want to be there.  

I’d mainly be motivated in this southwest direction because you and I could have a great road trip hauling this thing to someplace west of the 98th meridian. As you can see below, we have a history of wheels and road, inherited from our parents, I guess. 

Dennis Morgan and Paula Adams on our bikes. Mine has training wheels.

a) love the picnic tablecloth fabric of my dress, white knee socks with vertical pattern up the leg, and my red Mary Janes.  Kudos Ginny Graves. My mother made me!!

b) training wheels into grade school. Dennis, aren’t they on your bike, too? it was scarring to learn to ride without these wheels with my marine corps father. he is such a patient man, but not as patient with lack of coordination and confidence. Seriously, everyone learns differently. If I had had a physics lesson first, I know I would have grasped concept of momentum sooner.  
c) Dennis, enough about me, you look great. :), like the mustard and grey combo. 
many loving thoughts,
Paula
(end of letter).

Little did I know at the time I would come to know water tanks well...

The above picture was taken getting ready for a Morgan-Graves Circle Party when we were in high school. The beer was iced and stationed in the water tanks on our joint lots.

Dennis’s Crowd vis-a-vis Paula’s Crowd

Dennis ran with a more diverse crowd than I; swimmers, baseball players, and pretty hardcore party’ers, at least in mind. That is, they smoked marijuana, maybe even tried other stuff! Since we were childhood friends, I didn’t really think that much about the fact that we didn’t hang out in the same social (partying) circles. I was cheerleader with jocks, of course.

Prairie Village Pool

We worked together at the Prairie Village Pool and lived next door to each other, so I always felt like we really shared the same friends. So many of us that lived in Prairie Village and swam at the Village Pool had parents (mothers) who insisted that at 15 we would take Red Cross and Lifeguard Training at the Pool. This is so that we would be gainfully employed at sixteen in a 45 hr. 6 day-a-week job that paid rather well (minimum wage adds up when it’s a real work week). Mostly for mothers, we were out-of-the-house.

Dennis and I really shared our friends in a sense. That is, his buddies were always and still very nice to me just as my girlfriends express fond memories of sweet, kind, interesting Dennis. One reason is because our driveway was really the hub for all kinds of Prairie Village people with these party’ing habits, even my jocky SME athlete buddies I was recently told. As usual, all going on around me and my head is in the real clouds.

Parental Control vs. Sense of Place

Back in the day, neither of our sets of parents seemed to care much about legal issues relative to our fun habits as dominates parental fears today. I’m sure philosophy for some was the same as it is for parents now. Knowing your kids were in a safe place was of primary importance; their mischief, a parent could hardly have time to monitor for the parent is usually busy with their own misbehaving. Anyway, I would pass these guys and their row of cars in our very long driveway to get to my garage. It was called “the circle” as the John Buck sculpture is on a round grass island around which the drive circulates.  “The Fort” was two lots to the east which was Peter Wilkin’s hub. Peter was the son of another neighborhood architect who attended Highlands but transferred to Pembroke-Hill. This is another story, but “the Fort” brought the private school laddies to the other side of the tracks (Mission Road).

I always felt like a totally square goofball in that d@mn cheerleading uniform and, of course, was and still am.

We were on the way to some birthday party.

I like my dress and mod gift paper, but Dennis is the star fashion icon here.

Such a cool blue plaid with the leather lacing.

And his loafers with the high tongues and white crews are classic.

Old School Preppy goes Wyoming Western.

What the Morgan-Graves were most famous for…GREAT PARTIES!

Our parents had their friends from KC Arts-Social Scene (my parents friends, dad’s clients, Morgan Gallery Clients, Contemporary Arts Society people, Alabama Folks). We invited all of our friends, but I guess it was really open to anyone as people I would meet at KU from SM South would tell me “I was at a party at your house in high school.” There were lights, tamale vendors, the ice cream truck, peanuts, beer, and Riverrock Played on a stage in the gravel rockbed in the landscaping that linked our two houses.

This is excerpts from an email from DWG giving a bit of resumé-history of some of the people pictured clarifying some of my earlier notes I took from our last phone conversation re: people. Exhausts me to get it close to right, so I’m just going to put in his red notes from his email and mine are in black. This is the best Dean and Paula combo with which I can feel comfortable. Apologize to all, I am responsible.

From: Dean Graves <dgraves@cubekc.org>

Subject: Re: id photos

Date: November 14, 2011 3:53:03 PM CST

To: Paula Adams <paulagravesadams@gmail.com>

Wm. T. Wiley, Bob Stark, World’s Greatest Artist
Sam Perkins Pres. of Bank in Olathe in photo just to the right of GG
Eileen and Byron Cohen: Panache (real estate), lived at 61st and Ward Parkway
Jan Pescanofsky and Giles Fowler CLARIFICATION : husband and wife; Giles wrote/reported for KCStar and Maybe Jan , too . Could probably google KCStar 1978July and find something. hmmmm…ignoring that last part Dean, already too many trees in forest…having inherited both parents genepools and talents, I’m not committed yet & would like to remain so. Anyone else? Please post. 
Ted Coe…Director of Nelson Gallery, after Lawrence Sickman who amassed chinese collection. [CLARIFICATION : TED CAME FROM CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART and after Nelson Gallery moved to and lived rest of his life in Santa Fe Died plus or minus two yrs. ago .  Was very much an expert in Northwest American/Canadian Indian Art .] In picture on btm. row just to right of Laddie Hurst Mann. Ted came from back East, who had gallery directorships, into contemporary scene.

Friend

You know, Dennis will always be my best first friend and a boy. We have survived our lives and our wonderful families and mostly the way we are made: two emotional, sensitive, and very shy people.

Shy that wore itself in different clothes but is the same.

Love you Dennis. Tell Nancy hi, her Morgan boys Christmas cards always earn first prize in the card sort each year. I guess we’re all still working the arts gig in one way or another, squeaking out the dollar but doing what inspires us. We have to get the kids together in their lifetimes. Or, maybe they will just cross paths…I bet they will. 

Memoirs of Geisha Girls.

by admin

Footbinding in Chinese Culture.

I remember both my mother and my grandmother talking about footbinding in Chinese cultures as a child. I am not sure where I read it when I was in high school, or maybe it was just told to me. But the vivid visual picture in my mind of having one’s foot bound back upon itself in order to keep it small, a bud, is more vivid than any picture. I had never seen a picture of this until now when I just googled it, but cannot share. I think it is better just told in words by mothers, grandmothers, and authors.

The purpose was to not only arrest a young girl’s foot at a certain stage of growth, it was to actually bind the toes back underneath the ball to achieve a small bud-like appearance, a lotus-shape. This was considered desirable to men. The pain can only be imagined.

It is a mother-daughter story. And I think stories such as Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan are important to read, to see what it is like for women in different times-different places. And to see how our language with each other, our nu shu, allows them to endure and enjoy.

But it as actually the Japanese Government which banned foot-binding in Taiwan in 1915.

So this is a story about the Geishas in Japanese culture. A much different story for women. This was a story I shared with my daughter when we read the same book.

Clockwise Geishas: Lacy, Lacy, Paula, Lacy.

 

The closest English translation of the proper noun “geisha” would be artist/performing artist. 

They are artisans that train for long periods of time (taking many years of work before becoming a full-fledged geisha),

therefore they, in some sense, symbolize perseverance. 

The world of the traditional geisha is the flower and willow world.

The flower is the symbol of beauty, but the willow is this idea of flexibility, not being rigid,

and this is how you survive.

Historically, Japanese feminists have seen geisha as exploited women, 

but some modern geisha see themselves as liberated feminists. 

“We find our own way, without doing family responsibilities. Isn’t that what feminists are?” 

These women leave their families at a young age to immerse themselves in their art.

My daugher, Lacy, read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden the summer after fourth grade. We are both Pisces, Lace being born on the Ides of March, four days after my birthday on 11th. Always seeing both points of view, we were both immersed in books during grade school. She is her own person.

She wanted to be a Geisha for Halloween, but I don’t sew.  So we trooped to Wichita to Hancock and we kind of drew out this pattern, making up the kimono as we imagined it to be. Velvet flip-flops with a tatami mat footpad were her geta.

My geisha girl experience was as a sophomore server to S.M. East Prom in 1977.  Here is a picture of all of us:

Sophomore Prom Server Geishas: Shawnee Mission East, spring 1977.

Back row l to r:  Marthe Dreher, Suzanne Passman, Tricia Venable, Paula Graves.

Floor l to r:  Don’t know…maybe Denise Rabius?, Julie Newman, Lisa Revare.

The geisha system was founded, actually, to promote the independence and economic self-sufficiency of women. And that was its stated purpose, and it actually accomplished that quite admirably in Japanese society, where there were very few routes for women to achieve that sort of independence.                                                   -Mineko Iwasaki.  subject of Golden’s book.  then wrote her own story, Geisha of Gion. Born Nov. 2, 1949, Kyoto.

Being a Geisha is, in many ways, good training for being a woman. We have a secret sisterhood. We enjoy putting on makeup and clothes, seemingly to be attractive to men. But mostly because we enjoy the costume and makeup that we are privileged to wear in our roles. We congregated in groups with other Geisha at slumber parties in our youth, practicing our dance. And we learn from our older sister, the okee-san, and our mother, the makee-san, not just from our own blood.

The Geisha is skilled in music and dance. She is educated with knowledge to participate in skilled conversations of culture and cleverness on equal plane with the businessmen she entertains. And with her own perspective.

And, like the Geisha, we are the beautiful flowers

who bend like the willow, to prevail when the winds blows.

 

Gifts from men…and another home run for…Peter Stack!

by admin

Pete,

I was just looking through my scrapbook and found another creative (writing) gift from you. The expiration date was 6/7/78, so I am thinking this was for my 16th birthday in 1976? Way to go! Another stellar effort from my first boy-friend.

Here it is:

"A Date on your Birthday Club, 4505 W. Burlington. Nantucket, NC 66409

So I wanted to break this down into parts, because it is such a brilliant exhibit.

Paragraph One

Sentence One: I have won something! Always makes one’s heart race.

Sentence Two: Establishes trust in the organization from whom I have won the prize. Note mention of prestige, status, and all the contact information including address (Nantucket, North Carolina, 66409) with phone and extension.

Let’s dissect  this. I know the nuances of your cleverness were greatly overlooked at the time for which I apologize.

Nantucket:

A city I would not even visit for another ten years. But this historic whaling capital has beautiful historic homes from classicistic to local vernacular, great clam chowder and fried oysters, and most of all water. So, I am thinking that this was you foreseeing our futures in history/preservation for Paula and life-giving water for you.

North Carolina:

The state where I was born at Camp LeJeune. Establishes a connection to my past.

66409:

Berryton, Kansas. The zip code where my favorite funniest brother-in-law (and Jack and Lacy’s uncle) Charles Ash Adams lives and owns property, just west of Topeka. Again, a prophecy from you who knew his calling of an important relationship for me. Charlie’s military slang confirming our forever friendship, apart from being Adams, was that it was (I should say, he is), “teflon coated.”

339 area code:

This is for many suburban Boston towns including part of Wellesley where my sister Gina would later live. The town I will mention that jumped out at me was Maiden in Middlesex County. Not much more to say there.

Sentences Three and Four

It was wise to use the term companion instead of escort. It foretells the use of computers when their only existence at the time was at a scale the size of a small gym. And, further instruction. You knew me too well with my love of details, not that surprises aren’t equally effective.

Policy

1. Punctuality. This was nice. Since I’m usually not on time but working on it, I am sorry if I made you wait.

2. This is all true.

3. Respects my parents curfew and puts to rest any anticipated fear of consequences if ignored.

Statistics

Vitae-Data, good to know.

Actually, I wouldn’t mind still having a bit of this from others before I engage in dinner with anyone, for various and conversational reasons. Weight is irrelevent, though. And of course, unemployed in the current times should be amended to self-employed. We all do good work in some form or another.

Plus, the confirmation that food is still one of the two constants directing the way to a man’s heart is one of general interest to me.

To Pete’s wife Jen and all women and wives: do we really want anymore complexity?

Back page (the further instructions mentioned above) 

"One of these dates are a possibility"

Restaurant Review

These notes are of recollections about restaurants popular in Prairie Village-Leawood-Plaza-Overland Park burgs in the latter 70s. Lancers, please post and share your stories and funny memories about family dinners, dates, girl’s-guy’s night out, or our pre-SME-Prom Group outings (or “drunks” as we might now call them): 

A. Dragon Inn. Pete introduced me to Chinese Food and this family restaurant. At the time, it was located a clock behind the sporting goods store (?, memory lapse, please post and help) on Santa Fe Drive in Old Overland Park just west of Metcalf off 79th.  We had mu shu pork and crab rangoon and it was marvelous. I learned to drink lots of water.

B. Minsky’s Pizza. The only location I can remember was at 103rd and Metcalf. Was this called Watt’s Mill or was that on east side of Metcalf? I think the only place I ever go to in this area now is Keith Coldsnow, which was only located in Westport at that time.

C. Dinkeldorf’s. Was this in Ranch Mart? Or the deli approximately across the street from Minsky’s that had lox? I don’t think the Indian Hills people knew these areas as well as those who had migrated further south to Meadowbrook. We were more Merriam-Prairie Village-Fairway-State Line north oriented folks.

D. Sam Wilson’s. Was this the first great steak and salad bar place on State Line? Wasn’t there also another one over in Missouri on 63rd?

E. Lobster Pot. Ralph Gaines. Lud Gaines father’s place in Union Station. Very expensive as I remember. I never dined there. This was quite a big thing for Pete to offer (see*).  Since I had been trained by my mother not to order the most expensive thing on the menu and to eat everything you order when someone else is paying, this was generous for him to offer but way out of my comfort zone for him to invest.

F. Trader Vic’s. Of course always loved this, but I get mixed up with the Kona Kai. I think Trader Vic’s was the one in Crown Center and Kona Kai was at the Hilton just south of the Plaza on Main across from The Wishbone (which was a definite favorite of mine). It reminded me of Brookville Hotel in western Kansas where I would go with my Grandparents when traveling to Hays.

F. Dinner at the Kona Kai. Just a word to our children about these asian restaurants in the 70s.

1) Women love drinks evocative of sand, sun, and surf served in creative containers with umbrellas. It’s a sweet, colorful playtime in a festive outfit, stimulates many senses. I should have skipped the alcohol, that was, and still is, plenty for me to handle right there. I would tell you about an SME pre-homecoming gathering here, but I don’t remember anything (or if fun?) beyond the first drink in the coconut. I do think the cute drink stirrer made it home safely.

2) And I’m making a generalization here about cultural familiarity in Johnson County vis-a-vis suburban kids and asians at this time period: we both all looked the same to each other. In fact, the waiters couldn’t even discern us from our parents when ordering alcohol.

G. Your choice. Such a relief that someone else had taken the time to think all this through, so I was putty. Was never even considered.

And to Jen and the Stack Family, you are very good sports about these, now two, posts. They are in part about New Mexico and Philmont Boy Scout Camp and Johnson County Restaurants. But Pete, your creative thoughtful momentos were the motivation to taking me back to different places, different times, old friends. Thank you, Pete.

Sincerely,

Paula Elizabeth Graves Adams.

note: to SME Lancer’s, ’78ish. I would love it if you would post and share in Coffee?

SME Cheerleading and Carolyn Howard: the Sue Sylvester archetype

by admin
 

Howie Returning with the Spirit Stick, Summer Camp 2006

 

Coach Carolyn "Howie" Returning with the Spirit Stick, Summer Camp in Marshall, MO,2007

“Cheerleaders’ Travel Pays off; New Cheers learned at camp” by Britt Alexander, photo credits assumed.

WWCD? Another great woman, What Would Carolyn Do?
Jane Lynch had to have shadowed Carolyn Howard, the virgin Queen of the female worker bees of Shawnee Mission East for decades. Carolyn was our gym teacher, and ruled over the women and the women’s country club sports, swim team, tennis team, cheerleading, heralders and pep club. She counted the homecoming votes, she counted the balls, she tallied the grades, and gave us 5 minutes to peel off that wet lancer blue spandex swimwear before the bell rang for our next class. More about her old school fashion in  the JV Cheerleaders, but you get her idea, very Betty Grable. Or was that ruching actually just the indentations in our flesh to girdle in our most socially prized teenage assets?

All my sister Gina’s friends turned out to vote for me as a sophomore, so I was one of the two sophs that made JV with Kathy Kindred and that commenced the relationship with Carolyn (see Kathy:  The Sophs on JV with Sr. Bad attitudes). She gave me a B that semester in gym but not knowing who I was up against, I questioned the numbers that got passed on via my sister.

“Sophomores who make JV don’t get straight As.”

She ended up changing the grade which I lived to regret.

The Sophomore Cheerleaders, 1975, Carolyn below.

The Sophomore Cheerleaders, 1975, Carolyn below.

Carolyn was very pretty and had a great sense of humor.  And most of all, she was brutal….5:30 am summer practices before work at the Village Pool at 7…the herkies and hamstrings and but always with a heart of warm iron.

Herkies at sunset...on our Kansas beach...

She always stuck with us no matter how spastic we were, the last girl on the tennis ladder (me) still got to play even if she hadn’t mastered her loser’s mindset as she went into the match.  She kept me on, when I petered out after one week of swim practice and intense chlorine, giving Marthe, a great swimmer, and me, the quitter, the coveted jobs as swim team managers who passed out the Vitamin C. My hair has not yet recovered from the humidity.

Paula Graves and Sandy Clingan, Scott's sister. Junior McCall's, in McCall's Magazine. 1968.

Carolyn Howard saved her old tennis balls to give to my mother, Ginny Graves, for puppets in her art classes. Here is a published picture of one of these puppets in McCall’s by Sandy Clingan, Scott’s sister, with cropped partial Paula Graves burlap drawing and mention to prove I was once a famous artist. So back to Sandy’s, it had a green cone-shaped dress and was on a stick. Here’s my dad’s drawing to give you the idea of the function of the tennis ball.

A Ginny Graves-Carolyon Howard joint creation.

I just wanted to highlight Carolyn’s contributions to the Children’s Art World of Kansas City. from Ginny Graves Discover Stuff.

Carolyn Howard had two pets, Pam Hanslip and Julie Hise.  Julie was miss all pro sports and this woman worked her @s$ off as she still does in her own career that’s something like boot camp I think.  Julie Stram cornered me and Kathy (the two who had traditionally been in head cheerleader slot) and Julie about our stated credentials for the coveted position of Head Cheerleader. Julie won hands down, the first to the thrones demoted to the choir.  Kathy and I compared our answers, but we’ve never actually cornered Julie at a reunion to see what she said to get the job, maybe we’ll have to do that next time.

Paula in her letter jacket pre-letters at a particular SME Cheer Party with Kathy, rosy glow from that tasty '78 Marsala, compliments of Graves cooking wine cellar frigidaire.

Julie did pick up on part of the problem right away our sr. year when she jumped us for having a bad attitude at summer camp, and by the way she was more grueling than Carolyn.  It didn’t stop from first bottle of cold duck, port, or whatever was available from the Graves or Kindred cellars for toddies in the SMSouth parking lot ’til we brought down the girls of ’78 in a sr-squad pre-wrestling drinking violation when she was out-of-town. For that, Howie benched us for the Shawnee Mission South Game our Sr. Year, just the Seniors, so the Juniors on JV got to cheer.

This is what mostly what Kathy and I contributed to the guys as cheermaidens, good gossip.

a Shawnee Mission East Cheerleader Jumping Jill puppet

Drawings for Carolyn in her lancer blue tracksuit with her warrior women, Jumping Jack Puppeteer Design, by Dean Graves.

And a final heirloom photo of the Carolyn Howard in Sweatsuit jumping Jack doll puppet, construction artist Paula Graves.  But of course, Howie was really the puppetmaster until we toughened up and learned our own strings to guide through us through the she-life.  And by the way, I earned letters in three sports at Shawnee Mission East; cheerleading, swim team manager, and debate.  And I’m proud of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men in speedos: David, Michael, and the Prairie Village Pool

by admin

My web designer Shawn just told me that I need to introduce the story with a little background first so someone other than David and Mike might find it interesting which I hadn’t thought of. So, I was the Sr. Business Editor for the Hauberk in 1978, Shawnee Mission East’s Yearbook.

"Senior Swim Meat"

Well hung on the lockers

I mentioned this ad to my neighbor Britt 32 years later, actually two days ago.  With him having no visual reference,  he mentioned the stylization of Steve Hobson’s hand, so Michael, son of an artist, it all holds up, plus Dave’s Esther Williams ballet leg (see water ballet at Prairie Village Pool), nice right side external oblique, Dennis.

"Linda Thomson"

Linda Thomson and Little Foxes

This is Linda Thomsan, our boss, my sophomore Honors English Teacher and bar none best at Regional American Literature selling it with her energy, sense of humor, stylish scarves and ensembles. Business staff meant we took in all the ads which brought in the bucks and laid them out but I think Doris Bywaters did all the work. There were three ads (Blub Club, KC Coloring Book, and Dirty Dozen) that were from the Graves workshop.

Anyway, since the point? of this website was to encourage everyone to live an artful life, every day, every place, I want to give the award for best ad to the Senior Swimmers, the guys who took SME to win State Champions in 1978.

I’ll have to dig out pictures from Prairie Village Pool (there is a facebook page for PV Pool lifeguards), but those of us who didn’t belong to a country club were raised here in the summers:  swim lessons, the babysitter post kiddie pool until our moms could get us onto swim, dive or water ballet teams. We all took Lifeguard Training and Red Cross at 15 thru PV Parks and Rec so we would be earning at check at 16.  I barely passed the Red Cross written test and drew blood scraping my victim’s back over the gutter in the drowning rescue test in the diving pool.  This group also included my neighbor Dennis (see Morgan-Graves Circle) and many more.

It was a 46 hour week, 6 days a week. There’s nothing like dull, monotonous, hot work with the public to bind people together and learn hierarchy. We all had to pay our dues before the coveted job of lifeguard, but that first year I was the “name, please come to the front desk, name” announcer and balanced the cash register while Mike and David took pins in the basket room. So, we were in close quarters together. They also hosed down everything, everywhere, all the time and a lot of it was really gross. On rainy days, we would all pit clor, a vile job. They were in trunks but I don’t know if they went cowboy or had speedos on underneath. Wish I had all those little numbered pins now for an art project.

I moved up to the kiddie pool so I could ruin my skin and stayed there for 3 more years, but I think Mike and Dave had to do more time because I still called them down from the basket room to remove the chronic flasher (see UMKC Conservatory).

The alpha males were the Rovers who sauntered around the 50 meter, 50 yard, the lounge with no loungers, and the diving pools while twirling their whistles. Check this out define.php?term=big+swinging+dick. It cites popular use as 1989, but this was 13 years prior, we’re always way ahead in the Midwest.  Correct me Dave and Mike, but it was head rovers Paul Vyhanek and Paul Heurman who took this stroll their last day in the buff.  The women with young children were so thrilled that no one said a word, they didn’t break their pace and made it around the entire complex and out the turnstyle, probably hanging out at the bleachers.

"John Adams, David and Sue Betzelberger Kerr

John Adams appears to wearing down a bit, not being his own reunion, though many thought he went to East due to great social visibility, especially for one from Wabaunsee County, both in KC and at KU.

Too much here, so Dave will have to be another post, though he did research his perfect beautiful wife on the job, but a word about Michael Jackson Pronko.  He always made me work it.

"Talks too much in Math"

"Talks to much in Math"

We were the only holdouts who made it up to French V, maybe he was VI with Madame Speidel (see Maître Corbeau sur un arbre perché). When he’d give me a compliment, I’d shun it, he’d point this out, I’d quote “Le refus de la louange…” and he’d finish my Rochfaucauld.  Sometimes harsh, he asked me one time why I pretended to be spacey. I don’t think I was pretending but I did check myself on using the gray matter…this was when I was spending hours practicing precise movements to cheer on hero-warriers (see Marvin Hall: The Transformations of Society). I hope to see him while he’s on sabbatical.

"I love your bod"

My mother didn't think girls should have cars in high school because, "then you wouldn't know if he liked you for your car or your body."

Fine women, fine food, fine construction. 5328 W. 67th St.

by admin
"Party at Graves"

Party at the Graves.

Commentary on the Picture

Maybe this was Indian Hills but it is one of many parties where we solved our yet to be uncovered issues with food (men, mother, other) with food. I think everyone’s mouth is full in the picture. I’m sure we’ve all now resolved these issues and found our perfect size on our own.  The food was actually not fine at all, lots of sugar and salt, before fruit & ranch dip with veggies.

Back row:

Madelyn White, Sally Burger.

Dana Marshall, Ellen Hanes.

Liz Frost, Linda Shea, Amber Edwards, Julie Newman, Sarah Jones.

Cassie Brown, Dee Devine, Emily May, I think Leslie Lane is in there somewhere.

Commentary on the building era

See the hammock on the patio? and fireplace with the curved stone wall backdrop?  In quest of environmentalist values and aesthetic, my parents bricked in the lower half of the ski lodge fireplace in the 70s. On the brick hearth they placed a Godin wood stove. It really seemed to mess up the thermostats to me. One time a bird came down the flue and flew around our house. And a squirrel.

Present owners

The new occupants own Czar Bar, a music hotspot at 15th and Grand.  Connie Suss, owner of Bijin Salon lives in the Morgan’s old house and Greg is a musician.  I’ve heard that the new owners of my parents house do not live there, but that they use it to entertain.  I’m glad to see they’re all carrying on the creative vibe and party tradition (see Morgan-Graves-Wilkin Circle). Dennis was sitting in the Village with a “Morgan” ballcap on one day. The Czar Bar owner recognized the gallery name, approached him and they met. As well, I was able to live next door to Connie and Greg Suss when Jack, my son, attended Pembroke ’06-’09.

Scale

When Jack’s friends from east of Mission Road would come to visit, there was often the assumption that the two houses were one house. They were designed and built at the same time, inter-connected by a fence and common circle drive with a John Buck Sculpture.  After I attended Indian Hills and Shawnee Mission East, I realized that the houses are modest in size by some people’s standards. It made for a certain family “intimacy.” While communal spaces are important, I still believe in as much separate territory as can be accomplished, regardless of size. I had a corner in our unfinished basement where I would read.

Morgan-Graves houses

The house was built in 1965, see 5328. Both our home and the Morgan’s were featured in Better Homes and Gardens and the KC Star.  I think my parents made sure that house was in print at least twice a decade. Not that it wasn’t an interesting house, but there were at least six houses of this style in my neighborhood. They were all equally interesting. The architect was Bob Wendt who lived the next block over on 66th Terrace. Bob Wendt had many wonderful houses in Prairie Village. Betsy Curry grew up in a wonderful, large Bob Wendt house off Roe and 83 St, but only my sister Gina has seen this. The construction-related people on 66th and 67th Streets between Fonticello and Nall included the following:

Bob Wendt, Architect-Builder

Bob Falkenberg, Falkenberg Lumber, contractor

Bob Yearick, Architect

Roger Wilkin, Architect

Dean Graves, Architect

Glenn Mistele, basement expert

Jim Morgan, artist and worked with his hands, thus included.

Jim Morgan and Dean Graves, assistants to the architect

Both the Morgans and the Graves worked very closely with Bob Wendt on their houses. While in tandem, each has subtle details on the interior and exterior that set them apart. I think Jim Morgan was a pilot for TWA at the time and thus had the time and eye to expend on design when he was home.

My father’s first degree was in architectural engineering. His schooling was paid for by the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon graduation and marriage to my mother, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He first attended Officer’s Training School in Quantico, Virgina where Gina was born. Two years later, I was born at Camp LeJeune, home of “Expeditionary Forces Readiness.” It was not during wartime, but at one point he was deployed on a ship to the Phillipines for some contretemps. I’m not sure of all the timing. While I know he would have been a noble warrior and done a fine job, I remember asking him about this. He said as the ship was cruising through the Pacific, he thought, “holy smokes! I might just go over here and get shot!” The ship ended up turning around. Anyway, I don’t know the order but at some point he worked for Hallmark. He returned to KU to get his Master of Architecture.  We lived at Johnny Walker apartments which I think was over in Missouri of all places. Thus, he wasn’t really in practice yet when I was five and we moved into this house. Or, he was at least smart enough not to make his first mistakes on his own house. That’s what clients are for. That’s a joke.

The women

All of the wives of these men were equally interesting and career-minded: Modelle Wendt, Marjorie Mistele, Ginny Graves, Gwen Falkenberg, and Myra Morgan. Their vocations beyond the home at this time included the following:

television and runway model

accordian agent

the Nelson Art Lady and docent

all around charming southern belle and soon-to-be gallery owner

and, the quintessential best mother, Betty Wilkin. She funny and loving and encouraging. She would make incredible lunches like hamburgers and french fries. On the grill!! For lunch!!  She had many other talents in preservation, travel and history. But, when you get the best mom award in this category, no one pays much attention to anything else you do.

The Hyde’s Bruce Goff House

Next to the Falkenberg’s was a house designed by Bruce Goff, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Bruce Goff became a renowned architect in his own right (see Bruce Goff in Sublette, Kansas).  The Hyde’s (Mark’s dad) lived in this house. I think he was a very specialized eye surgeon.  It was green, multi-sided, and had an ashtray clerestory and sunken living room. The bedrooms were around the perimeter and were entered through sliding glass doors. We had more than one family barbeque at the Hyde’s. Clyde and Marty Nichols also lived in a wonderful Bruce Goff house with spikey things out of the top over by the Nelson.

The Patterson’s pre-civil War Nall House

Another interesting house on the street is that of Anne and Craig Patterson. I always call this the Nall House.  It was built before the Civil War and was across the street from my neighbors.  My father did all their architectural work and I babysat for their boys. All different stories, I’ll stop here.

Bob Falkenberg

Bob Falkenberg lived down the street, next to the Hyde’s. He was the owner of the best German Construction Co. in Kansas City, Falkenberg Lumber. Bob’s was an incredible design. I don’t think he used an architect. Every detail and material was perfect. The plan had a hallway that angled back in segments. You encountered Nancy and Peco’s bedrooms along the way before leading to a beautiful master suite. Nancy and Pecos each had their own bathrooms.

The place and time. Falkenberg hallway.

There was an incident I’ll never forget in that hallway. Pecos (model handsome) was playing music in his room and he had a really nice stereo and headset. I was with Nancy and we heard “Give me an F….Give me a C….” He may have even been playing it for us or let us listen on the headphones, it was so traumatic I can’t remember. Within moments, Bob was in that bedroom and had Pecos thrown up against the wall, headphones ripped out of the stereo and thrown on the floor, so now it was blaring “what does that spell?  FV@k! what does that spell? [repeat]! That’s all I can remember… Gina and I were 10 and 12, two girls. The late 60s for us were Mary Quant makeup bought in London, paper dress parties, and twiggy posters.

Theirs was the first house I had seen with a huge stainless steel refrigerator and all stainless steel appliances. They added a beautiful atrium Greenhouse that Mr. Falkenberg would work in on the weekends. He would grow things like exotic orchids and tropicals here, and their patio was beautifully landscaped. 20% of the cost of your home should be in landscaping and he certainly exemplified this aesthetic.

Mr. Falkenberg was very handsome and manly. On Friday nights, he and Gwen always had romantic patio cookouts with cocktails, music, and tenderloin on the grill. Maybe everyone did this in the 60s, but the modern kitchen and sophisticated simple grilling seemed way ahead of its time for Kansas. As mentioned, Gwen was the first woman to pass the bar in the state of Kansas. Her sister was Marilyn Van Derbur, the 1958 Miss America. Gwen was from a family of beautiful women with flaxen hair from Denver. Nancy has this hair. I think there was some story that Bob Falkenberg was in Denver, saw a picture of Gwen in the newspaper, and knew what he wanted. He brought Gwen to Kansas.

Bob began working with his father who started the company and took the family business into the next generation. Bob’s very long KC client list included an ambassador to England, among other things. He was a constant presence at the Walnuts. My father’s clients would always use Bob Falkenburg. He seemed to take on any project, regardless of size. That is, those that demanded the highest standards of craftsmanship, finishwork, and an honest, efficient work ethic. His longtime colleagues were old school gentlemanly finishworkers who left a room as they had entered it.

Leslie Yearick, Nancy Falkenberg, Nancy Mistele and I all ran around together at Highlands Grade School.

Glenn Mistele

Nancy Mistele’s father, Glenn, was a master at basements.  If your basement flooded, you called Glenn Mistele. He would solve the immediate problem and diagnose the longterm solution. I won’t go into mothers here since I’m on a construction tangent, that will be for a Highlands Grade School post.

Roger Wilkin

Roger Wilkin, Peter’s dad, was an architect. I’ll say more about the Wilkin’s in Morgan-Graves-Wilkin Circle. Their house had, what are now called, great rooms that flanked an open kitchen.  All of these houses had exposed beams and pitched roofs. They were open plans, but spaces were still divided into functions, inter-connected but intimate.

That’s all I have for now. As I add more information or pictures of the houses, I may break this into parts. Thank you for your patience.