Greetings from The Land That Time Forgot, also known as Wichita, Kansas. We’ve been a little slow to accept some of them new-fangled things that other towns have had for years. Take bicycles, for instance. We weren’t too sure they’d catch on so we waited a while. Then the other day I noticed an actual bike lane on First Street in the College Hill area. Right there against the curb was the white outline of a bicycle indicating a bike lane. At first I thought it was a crime scene. Like on TV where the police draw a chalk outline around the victim, in this case a bicycle.
Lots of good folks locally feel pretty strongly about college football. Some of them are convinced that Wichita State University made a wrong-headed move when it punted its own football program into the trash bin of history at the end of the 1986 season.
There is always a conspicuous absence of WSU on the sports pages this time of year as Kansas State and KU become the subjects of endless speculation about this season’s football teams.
The unprecedented nastiness of this season’s primary campaign seems noteworthy. Has there ever been a political atmosphere as charged with negativity as this one? Have there ever been so many candidates who’ve had so little to say about what they are actually in favor of? Okay, we did hear some platitudes about “Kansas values.” But mostly we heard negative messages telling us what they were against. They were against President Obama. They were against health care reform. They were against taxation. They were against undocumented immigrants.
So my family went out of town for a week and Wichita had a whole lot of rain during that time. There was the usual indicator of too much moisture in Wichita yards: a mushrooming bumper crop of political yard signs.
The recent death of Tom Leahy Jr., better known as Major Astro to Kansas baby boomers, caused my mind to rocket into the past. The good major wore his astronaut jumpsuit while hosting a daily afterschool kiddie show on local TV from 1962 to 1973. Wally Gator, Touche Turtle and Felix the Cat cartoons were beamed earthward to all the little tykes watching their rabbit-eared TV sets. Many were, no doubt, clutching their membership cards to the Major Astro Club.