Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Celebrate Kansas with books
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Celebrate Kansas’ 150th year with an evening of talks by five noted Iolans, speaking on five books that reflect aspects of life in the Sunflower State.
The night is one of a week’s worth of events in recognition of the state’s sesquicentennial.
On Jan. 27, Ray Houser will reflect on “James Naismith, the Man Who Invented Basketball,” by Rob Rains and Hellen Carpenter. Without Naismith’s innovation, winter ball would have less bounce. Naismith also founded the University of Kansas’ basketball program in 1898, just seven years after the sport’s invention, and served as coach and athletic director at KU.
Rains is a former sports writer for USA Today; Hellen Carpenter is Naismith’s granddaughter of James Naismith. Her collection of Naismith’s original documents surrounding the game’s invention were tapped in crafting the book.
Charlene Levans will speak about “The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart,” by Mary S. Lovell. The book allows a full recapturing of Earhart’s life, from her tomboy childhood to her fatal trans-global flight. Lovell believes “biography is history” and treats her subjects accordingly. The book was one of the sources used in making the 2009 film, “Amelia.”
Library Director Roger Carswell will present “Charlatan, America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam,” by Pope Brock.
Brock tackles the tale of John R. Brinkley, a snake oil salesman who touted his unusual cures in Milford, Kansas in 1917. “It was all nonsense, of course, but thousands of paying customers quickly turned ‘Dr.’ Brinkley into America’s richest and most famous surgeon,” reads a review on Powells.com. “His notoriety captured the attention of the great quackbuster Morris Fishbein, who vowed to put the country’s ‘most daring and dangerous’ charlatan out of business.”
Despite Fishbein’s two-decade pursuit, Brinkley’s popularity soared.
“When he ran for governor of Kansas, he invented campaigning techniques still used in modern politics,” Brock noted. In addition to politics and medicine, Brinkley played a roll in expanding American media when “he built the world’s most powerful radio transmitter” and “introducing country music and blues to the nation.”
Frank L. Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” will be pondered by Iola Register editor Susan Lynn. Arguably the best known book with ties to Kansas, Baum’s classic can be read as political satire, social commentary or simply a rousing good story for children of all ages. In the tale, Kansan Dorothy Gale is swept via tornado to a wondrous land where she meets unusual characters and begins a sometimes dangerous quest to return home.
Lastly, local school teacher Donna Regehr speaks about her recently published romance :”Desert Gold, the Legend of Chinook.” Regehr based her tale of love and intrigue on her own interest and adventures in the desert Southwest, mashing Native American lore with a dose of Harlequin and criminal intent in an evocative landscape.
Each book presentation will last about 15 minutes. The event runs from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Flewharty-Powell annex of the Iola Public Library.
Other events that week include: An opening reception for the textile art of Ada Niedenthal at the Mary L. Martin Gallery in the Bowlus Fine Arts Center at 2 p.m. Jan. 23; a talk on Iola history, 1925-1990, given by Max Snodgrass at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Bowlus’ Dale Creitz Recital Hall; History’s Mysteries at 7 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Allen County Historical Museum; “One State, Many Stories” with Iola Public Library’s children’s librarian Leah Oswald at 3 p.m. Jan. 26; a free concert, Ad Astra, by the Lyric Arts Trio, 7 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Creitz Recital Hall; and a 150th birthday party for the state at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Allen County Historical Museum.
All events are free and open to the public.