Friday, December 9, 2011

Beware of Killer Bananas

Thought for the day:  I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.  Dorothy Gale

Kansas is the Sunflower State
So, what do you associate with Kansas? Storm cellars and tornadoes, maybe, thanks to The Wizard of Oz? Sunflowers? Oh, and wheat. Lots and lots of wheat. Kansas is actually tops in the country's wheat production, and their Sumner county touts itself as the Wheat Capital of the World. Gotta have something to go with all that bread, right? No problem. They've got it covered. The state is second only to Texas in beef cattle. Another thing the state has had in abundance, but prefers to do without,  is grasshoppers. Matter of fact, when the First United Methodist Church was built in Hutchinson in1874, the grasshopper plague was so horrific, thousands of the little buggers were mixed right into the mortar. (Giving the church a "green" foundation long before it became cool.)

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.

Kansas Exodusters

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

*** Killer bees, killer sharks, man-eating tigers, and killer tornadoes. Betcha you've heard of all those things, but have you heard of the dreaded ... killer banana? An epic email hoax about flesh-eating bananas made a real monkey out of shoppers in Mozambique. I'm telling ya, the alleged news story didn't just go viral; it went bacterial. The bogus email warned of a virtual invasion of necrotising fasciitis-infected  bananas from South Africa. No matter that no bananas were actually infected. No matter that Mozambique doesn't even import bananas from South Africa. Mozambique shoppers simply stopped buying bananas, until the health minister finally convinced frightened non-consumers that they were in absolutely no danger from rogue bananas. Just goes to show you ... some people ... many people ... will believe anything they read in an email if it's written with just the right tone of authority.

*** Beauty, and art, are in the eye of the beholder. Everyone's heard of Picasso, but I'm gonna tell you about another artist, a British artist who's known by some as Pic-cars-so. This 28-year-old, whose real name is  Ian Cook, drives his fine arts degree down a whole new avenue. In a nod to his love of motor sports, he covers radio-controlled cars in paint, and then uses them to create what some say are wheely good works of art. He's frequently commissioned to paint in front of an audience, and has been generating up to one hundred, usually car-related, pieces per year. His most famous was done several years ago, when he was commissioned by Reebok to paint a three-story portrait of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. More than 17,500 people came to the temporary studio to watch him work on it, and the final product was displayed near the tower bridge in London. I'd say this young man is well on the road to success.

*** I think it's safe to say that most people love the water. Love water parks, too. Because it's good clean fun, right? Evidently, a tourist couple visiting a water park in Poland weren't entirely satisfied with the level of fun to be found on the park's giant water slide. Guess they wanted a little something more. So they improvised. Observers say it took them a good five minutes to prepare to launch down the long blue water slide, and when they finally achieved take-off, they'd already taken off their suits. And the woman was, shall we say, sitting on the man's lap. The thing is, security cameras caught them in the act, and when the amorous pair reached the bottom of the slide, attendants dampened their sizzle with buckets of cold water, and booted them from the park. Minus their clothes. On the plus side, that couple won't have to send postcards to their family and friends to let them know what they did on their vacation. Their picture made quite a splash throughout the European media, and can be found online with a simple google search. (Won't their mothers be proud?)

                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. I think I like Kansas.

  2. "If two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed"... that one will plague me til I die. Is it like the Harry Potter prophecy?

  3. Hi, Delores. Me, too.

    Austan- Okay, glad to hear it. I was wondering if it was just me, ya know? Makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Take care.

  4. "I'm as corny as Kansas in August" -- from South Pacific. I've always liked "corny," and Kansas sounds pretty good to me.

  5. There ought to be a law outlawing all these crazy laws!!

    If I wanna teach science in the nude while catching fish bare-handed, it ought to be my right. Now I feel like kicking a dead chicken across the road. :P

  6. Lol! I am still giggling about the Fog? What the heck?? I love the easel AND I wondered where the biggest ball of twine was located! :-)

  7. Linda- That's probably my favorite musical. Until you bring up another ... I'm kinda partial to ALL of them.)

    L.G.- You go, girl! What a rebel.

    Tracy- Yeah, the thing about fog cracked me up, too.

    Take care. Hope y'all have a super weekend.

  8. I've always liked "Going to Kansas City......I think it's the universal Strippers song. Dodge City, Kitty and Matt ....that Matt was a hunk. That was Jim Arness, wasn't it? I wonder if he's still alive?
    The red light caper is interesting. That name really stuck, then because every city had their Red Light district. That ball of string was in the movie Michael. Did you see it? Michael, the archangel wanted to stop and see it.
    Another amazing post on a neat state.

  9. Nude women can't teach science without a permit.

    That one could have gone either way for me, I've had some beautiful teachers and others that I greatly respected for their commitment to teaching.

  10. My sister lives in Kansas. I'll have to send her a link to this post so she can be sure to obey all those laws! Heaven knows which ones she might be breaking ...

  11. Ok, that ball of twine has me planning next year's vacation. I love excitement!

  12. I love Kansas. So much to do and see. And don't forget about the tornados. Of course shooting squirrels from a boat may indicate a presence of a few rednecks.

  13. And here's a hug for finding the name inconsistency in my blog. You're a sweetie.
    For that...
    I'm naming you editor of the Two Pan Tattler. :)

  14. Obviously why I'm a duffer at Science. Is anywhere in the US reasonable normal?

  15. Hi Susan .. a Church built of insect bodies in the mortar ... FOG banned! .. yes - I can see the very helpful information I'm getting!

    What a Pratt .. is a saying here ..he's a fool.

    Love the easel .. that's fun. That ball of string .. what are they going to do with it .. can they pull a thread from the centre which they use?

    Love the laws still on the books ... that Banana story is 'crazy' isn't it .. frightening what we're taken in by .. I didn't know about Ian Cook .. and 'the rest' .. well less said the better especially to their mothers ..

    Christmas is cancelled?! ..oh well .. thanks for the excellent laughs ..

    Have a good weekend .. cheers Hilary

  16. How can you ban fog? Great post as usual Susan.

    I've been on hiatus, as you know, but I find I need some help with a Scots lass and I don't have your email address. Could you email me at anne.gallagher.writer at g mail dot com. (yes, those are dots between my names) Thanks

  17. Hi, y'all. As always, thank you for your comments. You guys rock.

    Manzie- See now, you've gone and taught me something. I never would have associated the song "Going to Kansas City" with stripping. (I'm so naive, I associate the song "The Stripper" with stripping!)Yes, you're right; that was James Arness, and I'm pretty sure he died a year or so ago. I saw bits and pieces of "Michael", but never sat and watched the whole thing, so I don't remember the ball of string in there. I'll have to keep an eye out for it next time. (Tie a piece of string around my finger to remind myself?) Take care.

    Beach Bum- My very favorite science teacher was my eleventh grade physics teacher. She was ageless and shapeless ... on purpose. She had a brilliant mind, and it's her fault I'm such a nerd, (okay, partly her fault) but honest to goodness, she would sometimes ask me for reassurance that her clothes weren't too "provocative." Trust me. They weren't. Long. Straight. Shapeless. To this day, I still have no idea how old she was, but she was probably younger than I am now. Good thing she didn't live in Kansas.

    Dianne- Is she a teacher, like you? Science? Better warn her about that permit!

    Arleen- Yeah, and after you visit the ball of string, I'll betcha you could make an appointment to go to the park and watch the grass grow.

    Barb- Kansas can keep their tornadoes. We have enough of them here in Georgia. And rednecks. I'm sure they'd be happy to shoot squirrels from a boat. I'm honored to be your Two Pan Tattler editor, ma'am. Glad to help.

    Cro- Sure, all of the U.S. is reasonably normal. It all depends on how high you set the bar. How about France? I'll betcha there are still some strange lois on the livres there, too ...

    Hilary- Oh dear, I sure hope there isn't a single piece that can be pulled from that ball of string to make the while thing unravel. When I was wrapping presents last week, one of my cats got hold of the center pull point of a big ball of silver ribbon ... and took off down the hall. I yelped, and she kept running, obviously having a grand old time. I finally had the good sense to step on the ribbon and stop her escapades, but not before she'd mad a huge mess of it. No point even trying to rewind it, so the whole heap is in a big bag now. I can just imagine what a mess that giant ball in Kansas would make! It'd cover half the state. Take care, and cheers back atcha.

    Anne- I reckon we can "ban" whatever we'd like, but that doesn't mean nature will comply. (I wouldn't mind banning tornadoes.) I have sent you an email, dear lady. Hope I can be of some help. (But I'm doubtful.)

    Hope y'all have a super weekend.

  18. So many interest tidbits here...but I can't get past the fact that Dodge City is in Kansas! I always thought it was Arizona or Nevada - some place with cactus and tumble weeds. I'm blaming those old movies.

  19. What interesting laws you have! Black cars must let red and green ones pass...Why??? I am asking myself still. And the killer Bananas too funny!

  20. Ha... those laws get me every time. Where do you find this stuff? The various traffic ones especially were funny. And the train one? What the...?

  21. Love Kansas! That ball of twine is amazing! And those laws, what a hoot! Black cars, trains (er, hmmm) and a bee in the bonnet, huh? Fun, fun, fun! Thanks!

  22. Hi, Kara. Don't worry about it. I'll betcha you know a lot more about the U.S. than I know about Canada!

    Ann- A lot of these laws have languished on the books for years and years. They're no longer enforced (I hope) and I reckon the legislators are too busy coming up with new laws to worry about getting rid of some of the old ones.

    Shelley- Research, research, research ... one state at a time.

    Kittie- I think they're fun, too. And I'd be more than happy to ban all bees from my bonnet.

    Take care.

  23. Susan, I have a prize for you, email me: