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Kansas Authors Historical Calendar


Corn Poem
by Eugene Fitch Ware

Our Presidents and governors have said
In proclamations that we all have read,
That we, the record of the past hundred years
Should hear in public, wishing to obey.
We have met together on the present day
As local annals and such themes as those
Are more attractive when addressed in prose
And as the dense statistics of the times
Are somewhat irreducible to rhymes,
We leave those subjects to their charge
And take the liberty to roam at large.
Nat Price of Troy in K. C. last June,
Told of a backwoods Arkansas Saloon.
Two gay commercial tourists somewhat dry
Stepped in for drinks as they were passing by.
One said some lemon in my tumbler squeeze
The other said, some sugar in mine if you please.
You'll take her straight the bar keep said.
The commercial tourists bowed to their fate
Took their drinks and exists straight.
The humble poem that we begin
Has got no lemon and no sugar in
Its as it is and we beg to state
That we hope ladies and gentlemen
on this "auspicious occasion"
You'll take it straight.
There have been men who into verse complete
Could rhyme a township map or tax receipt
But no such man is here today
Must treat of subjects in a general way.
Dates, names, statistics and such themes as those
Must go remanded to the realms of prose.
So here our humble poem we commence
Equivalent to corn at twenty cents.
(20 cents was the price of a bushel of corn).
—from Some of the Rhymes of Ironquill, 5th ed., Crane and Co., Topeka, KS, 1896

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Kansas Writers Meet January 30, 1935, Hotel Jayhawk, Topeka, KansasBook Display by Authors in Kansas
   A display of books by Kansas authors was one of the interesting features at the annual meeting of the Kansas Authors Club in Topeka, January 30. Some of the books on display were:
The Human Mind by Karl A. Menninger
Unhappy Wind by Nelson Antrim Crawford
Bird Notes by Harry L. Rhodes
George Washington in Sculpture by Frances Davis Whittemore
History of Kansas by Clara Hazelrigg
Indian Myths by the late Wm. Connelly all of Topeka and
His Soul Goes Marching On by Anna L. January of Osawatomie
Urup as Is by the late W. Y. Morgan of Hutchinson
A book of short stories by Carmea L. Kesting of Kansas City
Also works by Madeleine Aaron of Wichita.
   There were also books by William Allen White, Henry J. Allen, and Margaret Hill McCarter. Tom McNeal’s much talked about book, When Kansas Was Young; and Candy, Mrs. M. L. Alexander's book which won the $10,000 Pictorial Review-Dodd Mead Prize and which was published serially in the Pictorial Review last year.
  Books of plays by Ruby P. Bramwell and Mrs. Nelson Ward of Belleville were shown and also a book of monologues by Ceora Lanham of Topeka.
   Volumes of Poetry by Patricia Mueller of Topeka, Alberta McMahon Sherwin of Arkansas City, May William Ward of Wellington, Ed Blair of Cadmus, Nell Lewis Wood of Kinsley, Alice Wilson Oldroyd of Arkansas City, May Fink Converse of Wellsville, and an anthology of Kansas Verse by Helen Rhoda Hoopes of Lawrence were shown.
   Juvenile work was represented by Topsy Turvy's Pigtails and Topsy Turvy and the Tin Clown by Bernice G. Anderson of Partridge,
Ginger and White Rock by William E. Landers of Topeka,
Wolfe the Storm Leader by Frank Caldwell of El Dorado,
Lane O'Ladlan by John J. Eberhardt, Salina,
When You and I Were Very Young by Jesse Perry Stratford of El Dorado,
Hugh and Denis by Edna Becker of Topeka, and
Bing by Dr. Thomas C. Hinkle of Carbondale.

—Source: 1934 Kansas Authors Club Year Book: Made up of news from 1934
and the annual meeting 1935; page 28.

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Kansas History

    The fact that I did not attend school in Kansas until I was in college may account, in some part, for the fact that I find Kansas history so fascinating.  I have found, however, that many colorful facts in the state's history are not known to her native sons and daughters. Many things of interest have been brought to my attention since I have had the opportunity of living in the Executive Mansion. Details concerning the state flag and banner, origins of names of Kansas towns, outstanding Kansas citizens and the various trails are some examples.
   The fact that Kansas has both an official State flag and an official banner is not too generally known, but is, at least to me, highly intriguing.
    Both the state flag and the state banner are of comparatively recent origin.
    The state flag, bearing the Great Seal of the State of Kansas topped by a replica of the state flower (the sunflower) done in carefully established color on a field of blue, was adopted in the 1927 Session of the Legislature under House Bill No. 397.
    The 1925 Legislature had already provided for the adoption of an official state banner, while the 1953 session established a more exact description for it.  The banner consists of one huge sunflower set in a field of blue, which by law must match the same tint as that found in the field of the United States flag.
    Each of these other interesting sidelights could be developed in equal or greater detail, and western movies and TV shows continue to create new interest in the dramatic era of Kansas history and in her traditions.

—Source: Kansas Authors Club Yearbook 1958,
Contributed by
: Gail Martin, El Dorado, KAC State Archivist

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          Christmas Eve

The time has come for Santa's call!
So close your eyes, my children small,
And don't you dare to peek!

He'll fill your stockings full of toys
Old Santa loves good girls and boys,
He'll steal without the littlest noise
Adown the chimney tall.

Perhaps he'll leave a shiny tree,
With sweets and gifts for you and me
So go to sleep, my darlings wee,
Tomorrow you'll have all.

[From Poetry of William Allen White, collected and edited by Donald Stuart Pady, Leawood, Kansas: Leathers Publishing, 2002, xxii, 233 pp.]

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from Prairie Sketches
by Raymond Nelson

Charles M. Sheldon, photo courtesy of Topeka Room, TSCPL   Charles M. Sheldon came to Topeka in 1889 as pastor of Central Congregational Church, where he remained as pastor (except for a brief hiatus from 1912-1915) until his retirement in 1919. He preached a social gospel, yet held firmly to early traditional ideas on Christian behavior (no drinking, dancing, smoking, or attending the theater). He was generous, caring tireless in ministry. When people would not attend his Sunday evening services, he devised sermon stories (like In His Steps, which he read aloud to his congregation chapter by chapter. The result was a full church each Sunday evening. Then he published the stories as novels.
   The central theme of In His Steps is to remake the modern business world in response to the query, “What would Jesus do?” Thus all moral issues in contemporary life would be resolved by deciding a right course of action in terms of that question. Through a fluke, the book was not properly copyrighted on publication and Sheldon received very few royalties. On the other hand, because the book was in the public domain, it was reprinted dozens of times–more than almost any other book except the Bible–including about twenty-five translations to other languages.
Sheldon Kindegarten Band, used courtesy of Carol Yoho    Sheldon was particularly concerned to help the 3,000 blacks living in Tennessee Town, the ghetto in Topeka made up of those who had fled the South after the Civil War. There were clear racial lines in the city in the nineties, and he worked hard to improve the lot of these people. He and his church established a kindergarten for them, and, among other similar efforts, tried to find jobs for them. The were welcome in his church, though not many came.
   He fought hard for Prohibition, and he agitated for “Christian” news. For one week in March of 1900, Sheldon, by invitation, edited the Topeka Daily Capital on the principle of “What Would Jesus Do?” It was phenomenal short-term success: the Capital’s usual circulation had been about 11,250, but during Sheldon’s week it rose to 2,176,100 papers, worldwide. Why? Because his reputation as the author of In His Steps plus the use of youthful Christian Endeavor salespeople in England and America led to national and international orders.
   Sheldon lived in Topeka until 1947, when he died in his eighty-eighth year. He was never wealthy, despite his fame. He was offered many handsome salaries to turn to writing and editing, but he was a pastor at heart. So he remained the Christian minister, travelling widely as lecturer and preacher.

Source: © 1992 Raymond Nelson, District 5. Used with permission of the author.

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September 2, 1940, Chicago. Frank Marshall Davis met Irma Wassall. Davis describes their meeting:

   Shortly before the scheduled closing of the exposition [The National Negro Exposition ran from July 4 through September 9, 1940], I received word that a Kansas poet named Mrs. Irma Wassall, of Wichita, would be in Chicago on Labor Day and wanted to meet me. Immediately envisioning a stout, mousey, middle-aged white woman with a clock-stopping face who escaped from gray boredom in a rainbow world of words, I did not relish the meeting. But in view of developments over the previous two years, I felt obliged to at least go through the motions.
   Three or four years earlier the first Anthology of Kansas Verse published at Kansas State College had included a number of poems by Langston Hughes, who grew up in Lawrence and Topeka, and myself, bringing immediate protests from several racist readers that "Negroes were overrepresented" in the collection. Some white supremacists would even like to restrict words to the ghetto.
   Evidently these racists were influential, for the Kansas Authors Club announced that the 1938 club contest would be open only to white writers. Immediately there arose a tornado in a teapot. Some of the leading members resigned in protest, among them Dr. Karl Menninger of the world famous Menninger Clinic, Senator Arthur Capper, ex-Senator Henry J. Allen, Kirke Mechem, and Nelson Antrim Crawford, a former president of the organization who issued a statement saying: "At least three Negro writers in Kansas have produced much more significant poetry than most of us white authors will ever produce. I refer specifically to Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Frank Marshall Davis."
   Although a native of the West Indies, Claude McKay had attended Kansas State for a brief time, long enough to be pointed to with pride when literature was discussed. In another ten years, incidentally, Crawford would have been able to add the name of Gwendolyn Brooks, first to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry.
   Meanwhile at Winfield, Kansas, some fifteen miles from my hometown, was a fiery young Cuban named Ruben Menendez who wrote a regular column headed "Among Kansas Poets" for the weekly Winfield Record. Menendez, who I had never met, became so incensed at the announcement by the Kansas Authors Club, I later learned, that he challenged the president to a duel. It never transpired, but Menendez went out of his way to print favorable comment about me, including a special article by Dr. Kenneth Porter, a Kansas poet then teaching history at Vassar College.
   And in 1941, when the Tourist Guide to Kansas was published by the Kansas Coronado Cuarto Centennial Commission, I was amazed and gratified to find listed among historical facts about my native Cowley County: "Frank Marshall Davis, Negro Poet, born at Arkansas City." I have not yet been able to decide if this recognition was from genuine appreciation or whether that section of the state was such an intellectual desert that the Kansas State Historical Society in desperation grabbed at any straw.
   Realizing from such incidents as these that I had a pretty fair image among Kansas writers, I knew it would be best for me to meet Irma Wassall. I’d be polite but get rid of her as soon as possible.
   I screwed around in my office upstairs at the Coliseum, went to the bar and downed a couple of Cuba Libres, and at last reluctantly, a half hour late, started slowly for the information desk where I was to meet my guest. Around 150 feet away I spotted a young woman who even at that distance was positively stunning. Immediately I bemoaned my fate in not having a gorgeous doll like that waiting instead of the grizzly bear I would meet. The dazzler turned her head in my direction, saw me, and smiled.
   It was Irma Wassall, of course. She knew me from the description given her.
   I tried for that old poker face from high school but don’t think I quite made it. I must have looked like a hound dog that had treed something nice but didn’t know what it was. Irma was in her late twenties and exquisitely lovely with an exotic, continental look that came from Hungarian gypsy ancestors. She wore clothes so well that she modeled newly designed dresses, created by a close personal friend, for buyers at Kansas City department stores and for Marshall Field’s in Chicago. In addition to her unusual appearance, she wrote sensitive poetry, played guitar, and was so well informed on jazz she was a correspondent for Down Beat magazine.
   Inwardly, I berated myself for throwing away that half hour through fear of boredom. But I did my best to compensate. With the aid of innumerable daiquiris, I occupied her time for some six hours straight until she had to return to her hotel. Since then I have taken no chances on another goof when somebody wants to meet me; I have learned to be on time. (pp. 265–267)

Source: Livin’ the Blues: Autobiography of Frank Marshall Davis,
John Edgar Tidwell, ed. Contributed by: Eleanor Bell, Topeka.

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1923 Kansas Authors yearbook on page 18, an item about Lila Day Monroe. [Notice that her first name is sometimes spelled with one "l", sometimes two "l"s] :

   "One of the busiest of Kansas women is Lila Day Monroe, editor of the Kansas Women's Journal, a paper which should be in every Kansas home. By her organizing abilities and keen foresight, she is bringing this timely monthly a deserved success and making it one of the potent forces in public thought of our state.
   Mrs. Monroe was much interested in the Author' Club Book Shelf at the 1923 Kansas State Free Fair and had this to say; "Your arrangement for a Kansas Authors' Book shelf at the State Fair was fine. A great many people will always be interested in such a display and I was glad to be able to look it over. Such a collection of Kansas Literature was a revelation to many of us."

Contributed by: Gail Martin, El Dorado, KAC State Archivist

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Summer issue of the Kansas Authors' Club Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 2 July 1923, page 12:

"Authors' Club Exhibit at Kansas Free Fair
Topeka, September 10th to 15th

   The Secretary of the Kansas Free Fair, Phil Eastman, writes about the Kansas Authors' Clubs as follows:
   We extend to the Kansas Authors' Club an invitation to make an exhibit at the Fair, September 10 to 15, that will bring to the attention of our 300,000 patrons the success that Kansans have made in literature. Some of the other exhibits to be shown in connection with the Kansas Bookshelf will be a collection of Dr. Charles M. Sheldon's manuscripts, books etc., which will be quite extensive and Mr. Marco Morrow, assistant publisher of the Capper Publications, will make an exhibit along publishing lines. Also E. Haldeman-Julius of Girard plans an extensive display from his successful publishing business." [The bolded names were members of Kansas Authors Club]

Contributed by: Gail Martin, El Dorado, KAC State Archivist

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Spring Meeting at Manhattan, May 16-17, 1921.

   This meeting was the first general session of the Club held outside of Topeka. All parts of the State were represented and it proved to be an event of state-wide importance. Twenty-five new members were admitted.
   Carl Sanburg, Chicago's unique and versatile poet, gave two lecture-recitals, at which he read his poems, sang new types of American folk lore songs and discussed various artistic principles.
   While many do not appreciate this new poetry movement, all were entertained by Mr. Sanburg's genius and personality.
   There were two main sessions besides the business on May 17.
   Nearly 500 were present at the first session.
   The following were the prominent features:

Afternoon Meeting in Recreation Hall, Kansas Agriculture College
President James W. Searson, Presiding

Address of Welcome
"Conducting a Column"
"Your Line of Goods"
"Pioneer Writers and Records of Kansas"
Matie Toothaker Kimball, Manhattan
Carl Sanburg, Chicago
Prof. Hallam Walker Davis, Manhattan
Mrs. May Belleville Brown, Salina
Geo. P. Morehouse, Topeka

At the evening reception, banquet and program at the Gillett Hotel, there was not enough room to seat those who wished to attend.
The following was the program:


"Why Is an Authors' Club?"
"Why Is an Author?"
"The Ancient Conflict"
"In Between"
Lecture-Recital and Folk Songs
by Nelson Antrim Crawford,
    Vice-President Fifth District.
President James W. Searson
Marco Morrow, Topeka
Dr. Karl E. Menninger
Clinton J. Masseck
from Vice Presidents, Critic and Secretary
Carl Sanburg, Chicago

   One of the most unique and enjoyable of the many pleasant events at the Manhattan Conference was the "Literary Breakfast," Tuesday morning at nine O'clock, given by Mrs. C. A. Kimball and Mrs. S. A. Baldwin.
   It was in honor of the out of town women and was held in the Woman's Club House, the rooms of which were decorated in red and white, with baskets of red and white carnations, sweet peas and flags.
   In the receiving line were: Mrs. W. M. Jardine, wife of President Jardine if the Agricultural college; Mrs. James W. Searson, wife of President of Kansas Authors' Club; Mrs. George P. Morehouse, Topeka; Mrs. Mae C. Patrick, Vice President Seventh District; Mrs. H. O. Garvey, Topeka; Mrs. Clinton J. Masseck, Topeka; Dean Helen Bishop Thompson; Mrs. Anna January, Osawatomie; Mrs. May Belleville Brown, Salina; Mrs. Abble Clark Hogan;, Junction City; Mrs. J. R. Kregar, Mrs. C. C. Waggenseller and Mrs. Kimball and Mrs. Baldwin.
   Red and white individual baskets were used in serving and the breakfast was made up from tempting delicacies and satisfying substantials.

The literary program was a rare treat and was as follows:

Good Morning Welcome
"Driving from the Back Seat"
"Land of Nod" and "Parting"
Poetical address
Violin solos

Masterpieces of the Old West
Symposium, "Main Street"
"Literature and Club Women"
Mrs. W. M. Jardine
May Belleville Brown
Mrs. E. T. Keith
Mrs. Mae C. Patrick
Abbie Clark Hogan;
Mrs. C. C. Waggenseller, accompanist.
Mrs. H. O. Garvey
Elizabeth Dickens, Clemantine Paddleford
Mrs. J. R. Kregar

   First place in poetry, from nearly two hundred entries, went to Prof. Nelson Antrim Crawford of Manhattan, for "The Carrying of the Ghost."
   First place in short story went to Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius of Girard, for their story, "The Unworthy Coopers."

—Source:: Kansas Authors Club Yearbook 1921/1922.
Contributed by
: Gail Martin, El Dorado, KAC State Archivist

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