Monday, July 29, 2019

The Chase County Courthouse

In 1871, Chase County citizens voted to approve the construction of a courthouse. Approving a $40,000 bond, James Bannon was chosen the builder and John G. Haskell the architect. Using locally quarried stone from the townsite, the courthouse was completed in 1873 and has been a shining showcase of the Flint Hills, Chase County, and Cottonwood Falls. The courthouse is still used as a courthouse and is virtually unchanged since 1873.

The spiral staircase that spans the first through third floors.

One of the courtrooms. 

A look at the outside and inside of the jail.

Looking down the spiral staircase from the third floor.

A panoramic view of Cottonwood Falls and the Flint Hills from the
third floor center window.

If you would like to support my writing or research, you can buy me a cup of coffee over on Ko-Fi.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Winnie #1

“So, you’re God?” Heather asked as she stood with Winnie on the roof of her apartment building.

“Mmm, no. I’m more like Jesus. I’m a Christ. It’s a title, like doctor,” Winnie explained.

“Cool. Can you do any magic tricks like your moms?” Heather asked and waved her hands, like a stereotypically mocking of a magician.

“I don’t really do tricks. They’re miracles.”

"Call them what you want, you could basically become a superhero.”

“I’ve been thinking about that,” Winnie nodded. “I want to help my fellow man…”

“And woman.”

“…And I think I can really help out around school, the neighborhood, and the city.”

“Sometimes I do think a lot of people around here need Jesus,” Heather chuckled. Winnie chuckled as well. “Look at this: We got a woman Jesus Christ.”

Winnie and Heather smiled at each other.

Candace Small was already six foot three as a sophomore. She had very curly brown hair and beautiful brown eyes. Hyde Park High School was her sixth school in her fourteen years alive. She left her first school in third grade when her parents divorced, her second school in fifth grade because she and her mom were evicted, her third between six and seventh grade for the same reason, her fourth in eighth grade because she and her mom moved in with her new boyfriend and Candace was now here at Hyde Park due to choices in her life that made it impossible to remain with those other kids. Candace wanted this to be a new start but wasn’t sure if she’d be able to accomplish that. Candace waited outside the counselor’s office while see talked to another student.

“Winnie,” the counselor began. “We were reluctant to make you a student liaison because those are usually reserved for juniors and seniors but your passion for wanting to help plus references from Mr. Sullivan, Ms. Fanning, and your friends made us change our minds. We’re not giving you six kids like we give to our upper classmen but just one. Her name is Candace Small, she’s new this year and she’s had a rough go of it at school. She shares most of your classes and hopefully you two will become close friends,” the counselor explained.

“I’ll do the best I can. Thank you again for this opportunity.”

“Let’s go meet Candace,” the counselor stood up and the two of them left the office and approached Candace. “Candace, this is Winnie. She’s going to be your liaison. I hope you two get along very well. Please let me know if there is any problem.”

“I think we’ll be fine,” Candace said softly and stood up. Winnie stood at only five foot two so barely came up to Candace’s shoulders. “Winnie. Like Winnie-the-Pooh?”

“It’s short for Winnette. It was my grandmother’s name but yes, like Winnie-the-Pooh,” Winnie chuckled. “Come on, let’s go to first hour. Where are you from?”

“From Chicago. I’ve been bouncing around the city my entire life,” Candace said. “What about you?”

“From here. Well, it’s hard to explain. I live with my moms now but before last year I lived my grandpa and, I guess, an aunt. I don’t think she was related to us. It’s a long story.”

“Okay,” Candace chuckled but it came out as a weird grunt or groan. “I’m kind of hoping that this’ll be my last school. I’m tired of having to start over, make new friends.”

“I bet that would be tiring. I’m sorry you’ve had to switch schools so much. A lot of students here move a lot, usually because of money. Is that why you had to move? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“No. I got into some trouble and it became difficult to learn so administration and my parents thought it best to just move me,” Candace explained.

“Well, if you get into any trouble, let me or any of my friends know. I will do what I can to help you,” Winnie offered. “This is our first hour, science. My friend, Heather, is also in this class with us. She’s cool, you’ll like her.” Winnie opened the door and she and Candace went into the science room and sat near Heather. They were quiet and just listened to the teacher lecturing.

When Heather and Savannah were in math class together, Heather noticed that Savannah was humming and smiling as she was doing her work. Most of the other students were talking to each other and doing very little work but Savannah was actually working which made the humming and smiling seem out of place.

“Are you feeling okay, Savannah?” Heather asked.

Savannah turned and looked at Heather. “What? Yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

“You’re smiling way too much to be in math class and you’re humming and aren’t playing any music.”

“I’m in a good mood. I have a crush on someone,” Savannah said, whispering on the last half.

“Another crush? I guess it is Monday,” Heather laughed.

“I know but this is different,” Savannah said and scooted closer to Heather. “I have a crush on a girl.”

Heather was actually taken aback. Savannah was very into boys although she hadn’t really dated or been with a guy. She developed crushes on numerous boys just about every week but had never pulled the trigger on going out with one. “Why a girl?”

“It’s the way she looks. And acts. She acts tough but she’s really sweet and funny,” Savannah began. “You just have to get to know her.”

Another student leaned back in their chair. “Are you talking about that new girl that’s been hanging out with Winnie?”

“What?” Savannah asked.

“No, somebody else. Why? What about the new girl?”

“I guess she’s a huge whore. She seduced a teacher at her last school and raped a boy at the one before that. It’s why she’s been to so many schools.”
Heather and Savannah looked at the student. “She’s underage. Even if she did seduce the teacher, he still raped her,” Heather said.

“But what about her raping the boy?”

“We weren’t there. We just have this gossip from, who told you?”

“Shana’s cousin goes to that girl’s last school. She’s a huge slut.”

“Hey, Winnie,” Heather sat down next to Winnie at lunch. Savannah sat on the other side. Candace was also at the table, her food was at her seat, but she was in restroom. “Have you heard any rumors about Candace?”

“Eh, one or two. Why?”

“What have you heard? Because what Savannah and I heard suggests that someone should be in jail,” Heather said.

“What?” Winnie leaned in closer to talk to Heather.

“Candace was either raped by a teacher or raped someone. Maybe both. The general description is that Candace is a huge slut,” Heather quickly explained.

Winnie nodded and looked around the cafeteria. Her anger quickly subsided and she took two deep breathes. Candace returned to the table and sat down. “Hey, Savannah. Hi…Heather, right?”

“Yep,” Heather smiled at her.

Winnie continued looking around the cafeteria and began to see students turning and looking at Candace. Some were pointing and staring and talking. Winnie tried to hear what they were saying but all the conversations ran together.

“Winnie? Are you okay?” Candace asked.

“They’re talking about you,” Winnie gritted her teeth and whispered to Candace.

Candace turned and looked around the cafeteria. She heard several key words that assured her that they were talking about her. “No, I don’t want to do this again,” Candace angrily muttered. She quickly stood up and slammed her tray down on the table. “What the hell? Why do you all have to keep talking about it?”

The cafeteria got deadly silent. Heather and Savannah sat with stunned looks on their face. “Is this happening? Is she making a speech like in TV shows?” Heather asked.

“Candace…” Winnie began but let Candace keep talking.

“Yes, I’ve had sex. I’m sure many of you have too. I’ve slept with nearly two dozen guys and that includes a four-way. I was raped by a teacher but because of idiots like you who blame the victim, I didn’t press charges. I wanted to get even so I took my anger out on someone else. I’m not proud of what I’ve done but I am not ashamed of it and how dare you all judge me before any of you even know me.”

She was crying but still holding it together. Winnie smiled and stood up. She walked over to Candace and stood next to her. “Candace is right, it is not our place to judge her or to shame her. In some way, we are all sexually active and it is fine. None of you would like to be talked about like this so why are you doing it to her?” Winnie paused, wanting to hear agreement. “It’s now all out there. You know the story. We can move on.”

The cafeteria remained silent.

“Would you like to add anything, Candace?” Winnie asked.

Candace shook her head and sat down at her food. Winnie rubbed her back and went back to her seat. The cafeteria slowly started getting louder and within a couple minutes everybody was back to talking. Winnie, Candace, Savannah and Heather continued eating, their lunch time now dwindled. The four of them ate in silence for several minutes before Heather spoke.

“Savannah’s a dyke!” she exclaimed.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Spring Hill Ranch House

The Spring Hill Farm Ranch House was built in 1881 by Steve F. Jones using locally quarried stone. Jones first came to Chase County in 1876 and quickly became one of the largest farms in the area. The same men who built the house were the same who worked on the Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls. Jones owned the land until 1904 when it was sold to Barney Lantrey's sons who began selling off parcels bit-by-bit.

The house is currently an important part of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to tours. I visited in the spring of 2017 and here are the pictures that I took.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Bobbo #1

“Thanks for coming over,” Bobbo said as he let Max and Brooke in. “I got this really cool new board game and I can’t wait to play it. It is a strategy-based game where we pit our wits and armies against each other.” Bobbo showed his friends the box to Forest of Gamelon. It was a huge box with a beautifully painted cover.

Max was skeptical. “Can’t we just play Sorry?”

“Come on, just give it a try,” Bobbo flopped down to the floor and opened the box, pulling out a huge plastic board with, like the box, a beautifully painted forest with a creek, a variety of trees, and spaces cordoned off to place your army, a castle, several obstacles like dragons and an ogre. The board took up as much space on the floor as 20 regular board games. “See? You pick a side—Borlands, Westerlands, Mikros, or Hattan—setup your army, you have 20 fighters, 8 knights, 2 cannons, a wizard, and a king and queen.”

“Are we playing a board game or chess?” Max asked.

“Chess doesn’t have cannons or wizards,” Brooke corrected.

“Cannons would chess better,” Max snarked.

“The castle goes in the middle,” Bobbo sat the castle in the middle of the board. “You set up large dragons and the ogre on random spots and you stack the cards near the castle. You roll the dice…”

“Cards and dice?” Max exclaimed. “I think I hear my mom calling me,” he started to get up.

“You live two blocks over and we’re inside a house, Max,” Bobbo said. “Now, you roll the dice to see how many cards you draw—one through six. Now, you can either play those cards to attack the other armies or one of the dragons or the ogre if you are near them. If you don’t play a card then you can advance your army. You can move as much of the army as you can within the number you roll. So if you roll a five, you can move two fighters, the wizard, and a knight twice.”

“What?” Brooke asked.

“It’s easy. I’ll show you. Now, what army do you want to be?”

They had been playing thirty minutes and had barely advanced on the castle. Max got trapped by a dragon and hadn’t rolled enough to defeat the dragon with the card he drew. Bobbo was trapped at a river, picking the side of the river without a bridge, and unable to cross because he couldn’t purchase enough wood or conjure enough magic for the wizard to build a bridge or boat. He also hadn’t rolled enough for a fighter to cross. Max was doing a protest version of the game and using his cards and rolls to mess up his ability to win the game.

“Why can’t I roll a six?” Brooke shrieked after she rolled a two. She moved a couple of fighters which got her closer to the one bridge across the river.

“Can’t we play Sorry?” Max complained again.

“It’s our first time playing. We just need to use our brains and have a plan to get past the obstacles the next time we play,” Bobbo said.

“Next time we play? I don’t think we can be friends anymore,” Max said.

“Whatever,” Bobbo chuckled and rolled. “Yes! I’m able to conjure a bridge,” he moved his wizard to the middle of the river. He rolled again and got a six and advanced two fighters across the river. Max rolled then opted to play a card.

“Animal control. I move this dragon directly in front of your army,” he moved a dragon directly in front of the two fighters Bobbo just moved.

“I don’t think we can be friends anymore,” Bobbo said.

“All right,” Brooke took the die and rolled. “Ooh, I rolled a five. I’m going to use my freeze card to freeze the dragon and the remaining two moves to approach the castle.”

“You got to the castle,” Bobbo gasped.

Brooke looked at the board. “Oh. Yeah, I guess I did.”

“You won the game,” Bobbo said.

“You mean, we’re done?” Max looked back and forth between Bobbo and Brooke. “We can go home?”

“You won the game,” Bobbo said again.

“Yeah, I did. If the game was better maybe I’d feel more excited about winning,” Brooke shrugged and stood up, doing a big stretch.

“You didn’t like it?” Bobbo asked.

“Not to be rude but no. No, we didn’t,” Max said. “It was too complicated, too long, and was just a bunch of rolling dice and drawing cards.”

“So’s Monopoly when you think about it,” Bobbo smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, but Monopoly is actually fun,” Brooke said. “To be honest, laying on the ground and finding shapes in the clouds is more fun than this game.”

“I was run over by someone on a bike and that was more fun than this,” Max said.

“Ah, come on. I invite you over to play a game with me and all you do is crap all over it,” Bobbo complained.

“Because the game is crap,” Max argued back. “We aren’t crapping on it, it crapped on us.”

“Nice one,” Brooke said.

“Thanks,” Max answered. “Look, we’re gonna go. We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Bobbo sighed. “I’m sorry the game wasn’t fun. I thought it looked fun.”

“It wasn’t. See you tomorrow,” Brooke said. She and Max left Bobbo.

Bobbo looked down at The Forest of Gamelon. The cards strewn around the playing area, playing pieces scattered around. “Mm. I should’ve had them help me clean this up.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Tauy Creek Digest #53: Based On a Dream

I looked out of the back door window at the rain pouring down. It was a hard rain and it turned the yard into a swamp. There was a knock on the door. I walked across the house and opened the door. A person in a poncho, with a clipboard and ID badge stood there. They were soaked.

"I'm with the city," they began. I glanced at their badge--Todd Newman. Strange, he looks like an ex of mine--dressed as a man but still. "I was driving by and noticed a problem with your garage."

"Garage?" I didn't have a garage.

"The structure along the main road," Todd Newman said. There was a structure along the main road--the house faced a side street--but it wasn't a garage, barely big enough to be a shed and made of rotting plywood. "It's leaking."

"So?" I asked.

"Not up to code. You need to fix it." We walked out into the backyard and took a look at the building. It was still pouring and I was getting soaked despite the raincoat and hat I wore. "See? It has holes in the roof, the wood is broken and caving in, it's sitting in a lake."

"It's raining," I said. "It's just a poorly made plywood building. I didn't build, it was here when I bought the place. Aside from the plywood, the skeleton of it is sturdy. Besides, it's not supposed to be up to code. Look, I don't have time for this, I have to get to work," I said and began walking away. I left the house, leaving the city employee, or my ex-girlfriend, whichever one it was, in my yard and left. I was starting a new job making calls for political candidates. It was in a giant call center with hundreds of other people. We were all making calls around the country talking to people about the people in their area running for public office. We weren't trying to get money or their vote, just talking to them about the politicians.

"You want to go to lunch with us?" a woman popped her head over my cubicle wall. Another woman and two men stood with her.

"Where to?" I asked.

"We were thinking that new Mexican place around the corner. Apparently the food is big and cheap."

"Sure, I'll go," we all left together right away. The Mexican place was new, having just opened a little over a week ago. It was pretty bare when we walked in. A counter separating a spacious dining room from the kitchen area. A salad bar-like cart was next to where you paid and held condiments such as black olives, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, and chips. We all ordered--I ordered an enchilada, it was a giant thing about the size of a brick and only cost a dollar.

I grabbed some salsa and chips and plopped some olives on it then went to pay. I turned and looked outside, it had turned into a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the sky was a bright blue, and the rain had quickly dried up. It was almost like it hadn't rained at all. The coworkers I had come in with had disappeared into the other spacious dining room around the corner from where you pay. As I was looking out the window, I noticed the city inspector/ex-girlfriend outside. I left my food and ran out of the eatery.

"Are you following me?" I asked, confronting them and backing them up against a car. "Over a plywood shed?"

"Out of code, dilapidated plywood sheds are where it all begins. Before long you'll stop mowing your grass, paint will flake off, trash cans? Pfft. You'll just throw your garbage out the window and let nature take care of it," they scoffed.

"I don't think that happens," I said. For some reason, we were now in the car, sitting in the back seat. It was even more clear now that the city inspector was an ex pretending to be a man for some reason. "You can't go harassing people about stuff that doesn't matter."

"I know," they said dejectedly.

"I have to go back to work," I said, opening the door to the car. I got out and headed back to work.

"Hey, where were you?" the woman who asked me to go to lunch said, peering over the cubicle again. "We saw you grab your food but then you ran out of the place."

"I had to deal with something," I said. I dialed the next number on my list and got out the guide for that person's political representative.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Topeka High School

A year ago I had the opportunity to get a tour of Topeka High School. It was built as a WPA project between 1929 and 1931 and opened to receive 2,000 students. It is a beautiful three-story Gothic building with intricate details everywhere. The library is based off the Great Hall in Hampton Court Place and much of the wood is hand carved and the ceilings and walls hand-painted.

I originally posted these pictures on Facebook but since I no longer have one, I am reposting those pictures here.

The ceiling of the high school cafeteria, modeled after the cafeteria at
Grosse Pointe South High School.

A close-up of one of the many chandeliers.

The Trojan section of Laney Gym, built over the old swimming
pool in 2005.

Another chandelier, this one in the auditorium.

A bay of stained glass windows outside of the auditorium.

The ceiling to the library.
Darkness view of the windows in the library.

A look at the woodwork and fireplace in the library.

Stained glass windows in the Hall of Fame room.

The entryway/lobby.

The sign to the main office.

My obligatory staircase shot.

In 1931, a spar from the U.S.S. Constitution was acquired with help from
Vice President Charles Curtis for use as a flagpole. A new spar, again from the
Constitution, was acquired in 2005. The old spar is still displayed
in a case inside the school.

The bell to the U.S.S. Topeka was presented to the city after it was
decommissioned in 1969.