|Kansas is the Sunflower State|
Couple other interesting tidbits: The first national burger chain, White Castle, opened in Wichita in 1921. That's also where Pizza Hut opened its first location. Going back nearly fifty years earlier, to serve railroad travelers, Harvey Houses, the very first restaurant chain in the country, opened in Leavenworth in 1876. And according to one source, the state (ready for this?) banned fog in 1793. Yeah, fog. I could understand frogs and grasshoppers, what with the plagues and all that, but FOG? Wonder how that's gone so far ...
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's all well and good. (And about as cut and dried as a field of wheat.) How about some cool stuff?
Remember the Long Branch Saloon on the TV show Gunsmoke? A saloon with that name really did exist in Dodge City in the 1880s. William Harris, one of the saloon's original owners, hailed from Long Branch, New Jersey. Ergo, the name. The saloon can still be seen today at Dodge City's Boot Hill Museum. (Alas, I don't think you'll find Miss Kitty behind the bar.)
Talking about Dodge City, ever wonder where the term "red light district" came from? Yup, you guessed it. Dodge City. There was a Red Light Bordello located there, and its front door was made of red glass. When the interior lights were lit at night, the glass produced a distinctive red glow. Eventually the term carried over to include the town's entire brothel district. (See what valuable information you get here?)
Who says Kansas doesn't have a sense of humor? Not me! Check this out. Would you believe "hot" and "cold" water towers? The town of Pratt, Kansas erected theirs in 1956. Evidently, the folks in Canton got the joke, because they followed suit. That's the Canton towers in the picture.
Now, this is totally cool! Located in Goodland is the world's largest easel, standing eighty feet tall, and constructed of forty thousand pounds of steel. It holds ... what else? A giant replica of Van Gogh's painting, Sunflowers.
While we're talking about the "world's largest," how about the world's largest ... ball of twine? You betcha. Located in Cawker City, this ball is thirty-eight feet in circumference, weighs seventeen thousand pounds ... and is still growing.
The Hollenberg Station, near Hanover, is the only original Pony Express station still standing in its original location. It is now a museum.
In the years following the Civil War until 1880, approximately forty thousand black people left the South to settle in Kansas, a wave of immigration known as the Exodus. These settlers built numerous all-black towns, only one of which remains today: Nicodemus. Although virtually a ghost town now, Nicodemus is a National Historic site. (An interesting corollary: Kansas was the first state to ratify the fifteenth amendment ... giving black men the right to vote.)
Civil War veteran S.P. Dinsmoor used more than one hundred tons of concrete to build Garden of Eden, which you could say is a folk art paradise in the town of Lucas. The buildings, sculptures, fencing, everything here ... including the flags ... are made of cement. Mr. Dinsmoor started his heavy project (sorry) in 1904, at the age of sixty-four. Not sure how long it took him to complete it, but it was no short-term undertaking. He was one tough dude.
|Some of the Garden of Eden sculptures.|
Okay, let's get on with it. Let's take a gander at some of the laws still on the books in fine state of Kansas.
- Rabbits may not be shot from motorboats. (Not even killer rabbits?)
- Pedestrians crossing highways at night must wear taillights.
- No one may fish with his bare hands. (Wear gloves.)
- Nude women can't teach science without a permit. (Better stick to math.)
- It's illegal for anyone to cut off an arm or leg so they can earn more money from begging.
- The use of mules to hunt ducks is prohibited. (Really? After all that time teaching him how to shoot straight ...)
- If two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed. (This one has me completley bumfuzzled. Sounds like a stalemate to me.)
- Motorists in black cars must always allow red and green cars to overtake them. (Guess they don't like black cars.)
- In Derby, it's illegal to hit a vending machine that stole your money. (Kick it. Works better, anyway.)
- You also can't screech your tires, or ride any animal down any road.
- In Dodge City, you can't spit on the sidewalk.
- In Lawrence, all cars entering the city must sound their horn to warn horses of their arrival.
- And no one may wear a bee in their hat. (That's the buzz, anyway.)
- In Overland, it's illegal to picket a funeral. (Hear! Hear!)
- Musical car horns are forbidden in Russell. (Even a-OOOO-ga horns?)
- Sorry, but you can't sing the alphabet on the streets at night in Topeka. (Can't take the grandkids there.)
- No snowball fights allowed, either.
- Also in Topeka, dead chickens may not be hauled across Kansas Avenue. (But it's darned near impossible to make them walk ...)
- It's also illegal to scream at a haunted house. (Um, but aren't haunted houses supposed to scare the bejeesus out of you?)
- Here's the last Topeka lulu: it's illegal to sexually annoy squirrels. (And how would one go about doing that? Never mind. I don't want to know.)
- In Wichita, before proceeding through the intersection of Douglas and Broadway, a motorist is required to get out of his vehicle and fire three shot gun rounds into the air. (They could at least shoot into the ground! Don't they know that what goes UP must come DOWN?)
- And finally, also in Wichita, a father is not allowed to frighten his daughter's boyfriend with a gun. (A snarl will usually suffice.)
Okeydoke, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)
The Weirdest News Stories of the Week
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.