Sunday, September 30, 2012

Highland Mist

Scottish Games 7

Highland Mist is the name of a cheap brand of scotch sold in the US. If you have more than a wee dram, you may see visions like the one above if you drive through Forest Park on a chill autumn evening.

Just more stuff from the Friday night prelude to the Scottish Games. Below, a couple more strutting clan leaders. (I think they are called tribes everywhere else). The gentleman in the bottom picture was one of their number. There's nothing like a bagpipe to aid digestion and promote inner peace. I didn't get his name but his daughter standing with him is Shannon. Not very Scottish, since that's a beautiful, winding river in Ireland. He taught her to play the bagpipes. Was it a paternal curse or blessing?

Scottish Games 6

Scottish Games 8

Scottish Games 4

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scotland The Brave

Scottish Games 1

Every year about this time a group of local Caledonians sponsors the Scottish Games in Forest Park. Friday night is ceremony and music. Saturday brings out the burly guys tossing the caber, flinging giant stones from chains, tossing bales of hay over a high jump bar with a pitchfork and whatever else one does if you have 18 inch biceps and wear a kilt.

The show on Friday night is the calling of the clans. A representative of each of the clans of Scotland emerges from the mists holding a torch, shouts something fierce about how they stood side-by-side with Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Ballykaboom, kicked proud King Edward of England in the ass and otherwise should not be messed with. Then they stride forward, place their torches in a frame, form a circle and do something that an Irishman like me cannot interpret. It's fun.

Unfortunately, I wont be able to return for the athletic feats today. Got to go to the office for a while and then shoot Dancing In The Street. Then dinner and theater with my wife and daughter. And Taste of St. Louis is going on this weekend. And it's season opening weekend at the St. Louis Symphony, on our calendar for tomorrow afternoon. Whew!

Scottish Games 2

Scottish Games 3

Friday, September 28, 2012

Downtown Marysville

Country Cousin Motel

A final look around Marysville, Kansas, before we return to STL. These images are from around the town center. They illustrate the old and the new, the good and the bad. From top to bottom:

An out-of-business motel on U.S. Route 36. We usually stay at the bizarrely-named Surf Motel just down the road. The name has a complicated story.

The Pony Express statue. This may be unfamiliar to our international readers but it is an icon of American Western lore. It delivered mail and telegrams from St. Joseph, Missouri, northwest of Kansas City, to Sacramento, California, for a brief 18 months. Marysville was a principal station along the route.

The trailer of voter suppression. We have a trivial incidence of voter fraud in this country. Still, Republican state legislatures in several states, including Kansas. have recently required specific photo ID cards to vote. Lots of poor people don't have them, and don't have the money to get certified copies of birth certificates or a state-issued ID card. It is a blatant and shameful attempt to prevent low-income people, who tend to vote Democratic, from exercising their franchise. 

God, guts and guns in northeastern Kansas. Plus support for the local high school football team.

The door of the odd Dolls, Toys and Indian Artifacts Museum, open only by appointment. I've never made it in there.

Back to The Lou tomorrow.

Pony Express Statue

Voter Supression

Good Ole Boys

Seal of the Otoe

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Union Pacific Depot

Union Pacific Depot 2

A busy Union Pacific railroad line used to cut straight across the west side of Marysville, blocking traffic on U.S. Route 36 many times a day. A few years ago the tracks were moved further out of town and a bridge built to carry the highway across them.

There was a beautiful railroad depot that now sits empty along the old right of way. The Spanish Colonial architecture is striking. Some area residents would like to rehab it and use it for a community center and are trying to raise money. The U.P. has no use for it. If the funds are not available in the next couple of months the building will be demolished. But there is good news! On Tuesday night the city council decided to buy the building and then resell it to preservationists. An important part of Marysville's heritage will live on.

Union Pacific Depot 4

Union Pacific Depot 1

Union Pacific Depot 3

Union Pacific Caboose

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Astro 3

Astro 3 Theater 1

Many small American towns (not to mention urban neighborhoods) have lost their movie theaters. That's a cinema to you yur-o-pee-ans. Not so Marysville, Kansas. The Astro 3 Theatre - yes, they use the Brit spelling - has been preserved, expanded and restored by local resident Alex Shultz. That's him in the top photo telling us the story.

The history of the place is unusual. It was built in 1912 by a neighboring church as what today we would call a health club - basketball court, running track suspended above courtside and a swimming pool in the basement. You can see the pool below, now full of trusses to protect the structure. Imagine that in small-town Kansas a century ago.

The constituency for the sport facility fell away. After a period of disuse the building was modified and reopened as the Isis Theater. (Wonder if there was an Osiris Theater down the road in Seneca.)  I didn't retain all the details but a new owner bought the adjacent building, added a second screen and turned it into the Astro 2. Alex bought the place, re-jiggered the space, added a third screen and turned it into the Astro 3. The restoration seems never-ending but Shultz has the dedication and know-how to see it through. Now Marysville gets first-run movies, digital, 3-D, the whole works. It's a success story.

UPDATE:  I just discovered a detailed history of the theater on its website. Note the St. Louis connection. See

Astro 3 Theater 2

Astro 3 Theater 3

Astro 3 Theater 8

Astro 3 Theater 7

Astro 3 Theater 5

Astro 3 Theater 6 

Astro 3 Theater 4

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Homecoming Football

Homecoming Football Game 1

I tried to shoot the Marysville High School football game last Friday. Not much success - I have never photographed this sport and I haven't been to a football game in at least 25 years. The top CDP football shooter, Olivier, has the field to himself.

Still, it was fun. The school crowned a homecoming king and queen. His majesty looks a little ill at ease. The bottom picture looks like the aftermath of an anthrax attack on the marching band.

Homecoming King

Band Instruments

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homecoming Parade

Marysville Homecoming Parade 8

Small town America: Marysville, Kansas, has a population of about 3,500 and it's doing pretty well. It is the seat of Marshall County and serves as the commercial center for the surrounding hamlets and farms. Friday night was the homecoming parade, town party and high school football game. As a TV commercial once had it, it's as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.

The best place to shoot a parade is the staging area, when the participants aren't moving and no one walks into your shot. From top to bottom, we have the Marine honor guard, junior football players, cheerleaders, bikers from the local American Legion post, a member of the high school band and one of the ugliest school mascots around, the Marysville Bulldog.

I saw that the bikers were from the American Legion from the back of their vests. Their large hall was the site of the Class of 1962's party on Saturday. Kansas' alcohol laws are a bit regressive but the Legion is a private club and had a bar. I asked the guys if it was well stocked. They told me not to worry, and they were right. A Tanqueray and tonic for $4. Can't beat that.

Marysville Homecoming Parade 3

Marysville Homecoming Parade 4

Marysville Homecoming Parade 7

Marysville Homecoming Parade 6

Marysville Homecoming Parade 5

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Class of 1962

Class of 1962 Reunion 1

Last night the Marysville, Kansas, High School Class of 1962 held its reunion dinner. I thought my high school class was small, with about 160 graduates. MHS had 83 students in Carolyn's year. These are nice, nice people. It was fun for me to be the unexpected class photographer. 

After dinner there was an interesting discussion about whether to have the next class get-together in 5 or 10 years. The members of the class are now in their late 60s. What are the odds?

I got so many good images this weekend: up and down the old main street; inside the movie theater that was built a century ago as what we would now call a health club (the remains of the swimming pool are now under the main auditorium); the old Union Pacific Railroad depot, a beautiful bit of Spanish Colonial architecture, which will be razed unless the community finds the money to preserve it. We'll be going with these images for days and days.

I apologize for the lack of comments on friends' blogs of late. There have been lots of activities and I don't get to do my post until late night. We should be back in St. Louis by dinner time tonight and I will get back on a regular schedule.

Class of 1962 Reunion 2

Class of 1962 Reunion 3

Class of 1962 Reunion 4

Class of 1962 Reunion 5

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Marysville, Kansas, Fifty Years On

2012-09-21 and 22 Marysville Kansas 1

Out on the prairie in Marysville, Kansas, there is a celebration this weekend for the high school class of 1962. I shot the homecoming parade and pep rally in the afternoon. In the evening the better part of the town turned out for a program in the city park. Then everyone went across the street for the big homecoming football game.

More than a third of Carolyn's class showed up, which is pretty good after five decades. The home town heroes were getting creamed 28 - 0 at half time so all us geezers repaired to the Wagon Wheel Cafe to knock down a few drinks and talk about old times. The spouses talked about, well, whatever. I took pictures.

Lots more to come.

2012-09-21 and 22 Marysville Kansas 2

Friday, September 21, 2012

I Wish I Could Do That

Great Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 16

But then what good would it really do me? Extra coolness points, for sure. This is a scene from the sideshow before the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

Greetings from beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri, on the outskirts of Kansas City, where we are spending Thursday night. Tomorrow it's off to Marysville, Kansas, where my wife, Carolyn, went to high school. This weekend is her 50th anniversary class reunion. There's a homecoming parade down the old Main Street Friday afternoon, followed by a tailgate party for the alums and the Friday night high school football game. Saturday night is the anniversary party at the American Legion hall. That's a good thing since they will have a full bar, often hard to find in the conservative Sunflower State.

I'll be poking lenses into all of it and making notes for my anthropology term paper.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Local Entry

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 14

This balloon is at the Great Forest Park Balloon Race year after year. Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis from near New York to near Paris in 1927. We get the big bubble of St. Louis over Forest Park on a more regular schedule. The couple below are some of the typical St. Louisans the balloon represents.

May not be able to do a post tomorrow. We're supposed to drive to Kansas City right after work tonight for a weekend anthropology expidition in the part of Kansas where my wife grew up. We'll see. The road trip, of course, will be well documented.

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 15

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What To Do With Gray Skies

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 11

With a subject like the balloon race, my solution was to screw on a telephoto, get in close and then pump some steroids into the pictures with Photoshop. The bottom two pictures give you a sense of scale of the aircraft.

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 12

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 13

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Arise, Thou Mighty Bunny

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 4

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is not a race in the traditional sense with victory going to the fastest. All the balloons ride the same wind. They call it a hare and hounds event, and I suppose the pun is intended. The Energizer Bunny balloon, sponsored by the eponymous battery maker, takes off first. The rest start to follow several minutes later, launching one after the other. The winner is the chase balloon that lands nearest to the bunny. The event makes the news but somehow the winner is never announced, like anybody cares.

So here's a series of shots of the great pink wabbit being inflated and soaring off above the crowd. I'd be careful of that hole in the bunny's bottom if I were in the crew.

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 5

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 6 

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 7

 Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 8

Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 9

 Forest Park Balloon Race 2102 10