“I was born here in the city
With my back against the wall
Nothing grows, and life ain’t very pretty
No one’s there to catch you when you fall”
“In the City” – by the Eagles – written by Wichita native Joe Walsh
Many of us here at this humble little blog call Wichita, Kansas home. Some are life-long residents and others, like me, are transplanted from points beyond. Much to the chagrin of some, I am not going anywhere soon, since two of my three children live here as do all of my grandchildren
Wichitans are a bit schizoid. We live in a city that can’t make up it’s mind whether to be a small big city or a large small town.
We have a number of factors working against us. One, Wichita doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in terms of attracting tourists. We are largely a one industry town, and we live and die with that industry. Our populations centers are divided between relative wealth and abject poverty.
Our city and county governments are largely directed by morons that feel the need to hire an overpriced outside consultant to do all their thinking for them.
So, is Wichita, Kansas ever to become more than a refueling stop on a trip from Dallas to KC?
Well, we do have a few things going for us Wichitans. In general, we are not complete idiots, we have the Old Town and the Delano districts, a good library system, a decent downtown arena, WSU, Lawrence-Dumont stadium, an okay road system and a world-class zoo.
Other cities in our region have managed to pull themselves up and move beyond the truck stop mentality. Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Omaha have done fairly well for themselves.
So what is it going to take for Wichita to move forward?
Well, for one, we need to collectively decided just who the Hell are we. Are we tobacco chewing, gun toting, redneck hicks or are we a bit more sophisticated than that?
What are your thoughts? Where do we go from here?
William Stephenson Clark
36 responses to “What about Wichita?”
It was in the mid-seventies that some of my relatives came to Wichita to visit it was the first time they had came to Kansas. They were comical in their reactions and expectations, first their disappointment.
They honestly expected to see war bonnet wearing Indians riding war ponies down Douglas.
They were amazed that we had building taller then two stories and color TV.
They drank Kentucky bourbon and commented how wonderful this Kansas Whiskey was.
As a result of spending some time drink that bourbon, then going to a steak house for diner.
One of my aunts ended up asking a straw cowboy hat wearing man how long it took to ride a horse to Dodge city?
He look at us then replied it had been some days since he had last done it so he was not sure?
She then to our surprise and shock said she had never kissed a real Cowboy and asked if she could kiss him?
He turned to his wife who was right beside him and she was busting a stitch laughing.
Then said “Ah I guess”.
They were so disappointed at not seeing honest to God Indians that I took them to the mid-American all Indian center.
That too proved to be a disappoint, everyone there was white, some blue eyed and wearing beads and modern clothes. The old story of everyone is part Indian and generally related to some Indian chief or Princess!
What they were expecting coming here was surprising to me mainly because I lived here and could not understand how their stereotype of Kansas and Wichita had stood in those modern days?
I am originally from Illinois but my husband’s first corporate transfer was to Chanute KS in 1983. We lived there for 2 years and then our last corporate transfer was to Larned KS in 1991. After the corporation was sold in 1993, we moved to Wichita because the spin-off corporation wanted my husband to be the regional terrority manager based out of Wichita. We have been here ever since.
We are a family that has lived in several different states while our kids were growing up. We have lived in Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan and Tennessee.
And one thing I can say about Wichita is this – they seem to be people who say they want progress but when it comes right down to it – I don’t think they really want it if it means they have to change their perspective.
I think people want the money that comes with progress, but they don’t want to lose their grip on the small town control.
Does that make sense?
Our family has lived in some beautiful places and some states had terrific tourism business. We lived at the base of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque NM and it was absolutely beautiful. In Michigan, we lived in a beautiful house right on the lake. In Tennessee we lived near two mountains – Signal and Lookout Mtn and a short car trip to the Great Smokey Mountains. There were recreational things to do close to home.
When I hear Kansans talk about building up tourism, I always have to wonder as to what exactly are they going to promote? We don’t have mountains or beaches. We do have alot of history here and that is all well and good but will out-of-state visitors actually want to drive on our flat land for hours to come and see what they can see in a documentary or read in a book?
I like living in Wichita. The majority of people here are hardworking and nice folks to get to know. But we do have more than our share of those wackos.
And the fact Fred Phelps is well known for being from Kansas, that does not help our image at all.
No matter what state we have ever lived in, when I would tell someone we lived in Kansas – they would always ask me about Dorothy and Toto and where is their house.
I’ve always wondered why Kansas does not use that connection in people’s minds to build some tourism business?
Does anyone know why? Is it something to do with the rights to story or movie?
If there had been some theme park with the Wizard of Oz theme, I wonder if our tourism business would have been better.
There is a ‘Dorothy’s house’ somewhere in the state. Out in the middle of nowhere, I’m sure. And Gino Scalerno did WoO scultures in one of the parks. Vandals probably ruined those.
But your idea about a WoO (which I hate, btw) theme park is an excellent one! I think one whole section should be in black and white. 😉
When my son was in Kuwait, the natives, when finding out he was from Kansas asked about Dorothy and Toto. I think an Oz theme park is an excellent idea,I’m also surprised that no one has explored it.
Well, you can’t get here except by car without spending an arm and a leg and lots of travel time. No trains come here. Buses and planes will send you asunder in order to consolidate travelers to Wichita in a small regional jet.
It’s a good thing coming here in a car is the most direct and inexpensive way because once you’re here you must have a car if you want to go beyond your place of lodging.
Wichita will never be a tourist town until and unless transportation issues are improved — getting here and getting around once here.
fnord, I’ll modify your last sentence to state my belief, to wit:
Wichita will never be a progressive town (city) with sustainable growth until and unless transportation issues are improved – getting here and getting around once here.
There are more items to add to flesh out my thoughts, but duty calls and your post gave me a quick entrance into the discussion.
For being touted as the Air Capital of the World – one would never know that by the price of plane tickets.
More than once, our family has driven to Kansas City because it was cheaper to fly out of KC than Wichita.
The last time I flew – my daughter and I flew out of Oklahoma City because Allegiant Air had a deal for $39 one way to Vegas. That same plane would have been $189 one way if we had boarded it in Wichita.
Imagine the remarks that was made when we boarded in OKC and sat in front of people that had boarded in Wichita when we told them we paid $39 one way and they paid the $189. Boy, was the husband mad.
Wichita is my home. My family moved here right before I began school and it’s been home ever since (there was a short period when I lived in suburban St. Louis). I know how to find places and even if it’s not someplace I’m familiar with I know I won’t get lost. The town, with the small exceptions of around the river, is built on a square so knowing a few main streets that go east/west and north/south keeps you from ever getting lost.
You can get from anywhere to anywhere is 30 minutes or less even at peak traffic times. I think people who complain of Wichita’s traffic have never driven in traffic.
No kidding. Try driving in Detroit, LA, Dallas, Atlanta or Chicago. Forget driving in New York – even the natives don’t drive.
A Wichita traffic jam is when a train stops on the tracks at Meridian south of Kellogg.
Have a go crossing the Bay Bridge into ‘Frisco at 7:00 AM on a workday.
Beltway in DC during rush hour is also not a pleasant experience
Before a phone conversation I just hung up from I probably would have told you the people are one of the best parts of Wichita. Let me tell you about this phone call —
Ginger and I found a wallet in the nearby park this morning. When I came home (and put on my glasses 😉 ), I found a driver’s license and a social security card were among the items in the wallet. I looked up the address on the driver’s license and found a phone number listed for a person with the same last name. I called and left a message basically stating I had found the wallet and if someone at that number could help me reunite it with its owner please give me a call.
An hour went by and the phone rang. A cranky woman’s voice said, “Someone called from this number.” I knew from the caller ID the call came from the number I had left the message at. I said yes I had called and could she help me find the wallet’s owner. She said the person the driver’s license is issued to was her son, he had both the wallet and a brand new expensive cell phone stolen and the wallet was full of money… She continued to berate me for what seemed a long time. She wanted to know where the ____ (expletive deleted) phone was, was the money still in the wallet…
She was anything except a nice person!
So don’t go thinking you may have done someone a favor or that you’re a good citizen trying to help…
I need to calm down. I still can’t fathom the accusations she made and why I am involved in such.
I had a similar thing happen to me, years ago. I found a wallet in a restroom, looked at the DL and knew the person that it belonged to. (It was at work.)
When I returned the wallet to him, he accused me of stealing most of the money from his wallet!
I explained that I certainly wouldn’t be returned it if I had stolen the money.
He continued to berate me and we nearly came to blows over it. He continued to bad-mouth me for a few days, until several of my friends advised him of the consequences should he fail to shut up.
I would suggest that you take the wallet to the nearest police sub-station and let the “woman” know where it was.
No sense in allowing someone to ruin your day.
I was with my grand-daugther in a WalMart recently. She had her little purse with ten $1 bills she had been saving to buy one of those Zhu Zhu pet hamster toys.
She had her purse next to her in the shopping cart seat while she was sitting and picking out the color hamster she wanted. We left the toy department and went on to do more shopping before checking out.
In the next 5 minutes, I realized her little purse was no where to be found in the cart. I went back to the toy department and looked everywhere for it.
I went to Customer Service and there was her purse laying on the counter. I told the Walmart associate it was my grand-daughter’s purse and we had just lost it probably in the toy dept. I then told her there were ten $1 bills inside to let her know that it was her purse (sometimes people want you to describe a lost item before giving it to you).
The associate quickly said that there was no money in the purse and some woman had turned it in. The prevailing thought was that this woman did not want to be seen as having taken the purse and money – so she turned the purse in as a goodwill gesture and since it was cash, the cash could never be traced back to her and I could never prove that cash was my grand-daughter’s.
The Walmart associate told me that she used to believe that people were basically good. Then she started working at Walmart and she now knows how devious and rotten some people can be.
Is it a sign of our economic times and people are more apt to take the money or is it society just does not care anymore about what is basically right and wrong?
Could have been two people involved — the one who stole the money and the one who turned in the purse. It is heartbreaking that some people are dishonest. If a person was in need I would happily give them $10, I find no justification and no excuse for stealing.
The woman and her husband just came and picked up the wallet and explained their son had been beaten badly last night, wallet and phone taken…
So maybe she was concerned about her son when she was on the phone. I would completely excuse her crankiness except I called and left a pleasant message about having found the wallet, license led me to this number, if someone could help me reunite the wallet and owner…
Anyway, when they came she didn’t talk much and the man told me thank you very much, now they’re gone, and I hope never to deal with such crankiness and meanness again.
Sheesh, doesn’t pay to try to be a good guy.
Sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience in being a Good Samaritan.
Sometimes human beings just do not make any sense – do they?
On the flip side – many years ago, my grown daughter was driving back from visiting some friends in Larned and when she got home, she realized her wallet was nowhere to be found. Since she had not stopped for gas or to eat after leaving Larned, she could only surmise that her wallet had been lost or stolen before she left Larned.
This happened in the spring time. When fall time came around, I got a phone call from a farmer that had found my daughter’s wallet and he called to let me know that he was going to send it in the mail.
The wallet had been through hell. It was weather-worn and faded. There was no money in it but it was good to see that all her DL and other stuff was still in there. We can only guess as to what happened – it was either stolen or she dropped it and someone found it and kept it and probably tossed out the window on the way out of town on that same road that my daughter had traveled to get back to Wichita.
This farmer did mail the wallet to us and put in a nice letter. He said he did not expect a reward and he would even refuse one and did not even want to be paid back for the postage he had spent to mail the wallet.
He only asked that we pay it forward and to remember that a kindness was done for us and we should keep that positive energy flowing.
So, there are both kinds of people in the world. Maybe the woman was just so upset about her son that she was not thinking clearly but that really is no excuse for being so mean to someone who was trying to be nice.
But it does leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth when treated so rudely for no reason.
When I help a stranger – be it change a tire or “loan” a few bucks or help with a roadside breakdown, I always refuse to accept any payment.
My usual response – if money is offered – is to ask that they make a donation to the Humane Society or to drop it into the collection plate at church.
Otherwise, I just ask that whomever I have helped remember it when they see someone else it trouble.
Random acts of kindness!
And you never know how much of an impression that leaves on people.
Have you seen that television commercial about random acts of kindess being done and someone sees it and keeps it going until it gets back to the original person being helped by a stranger?
I don’t remember what the commercial is even for – but I remember the message.
Speaking of television commercials — has anyone seen the one where Ole Honest Abe is asked if this dress makes her bottom look bigger? I’ve seen it more than once and still don’t know the product or company being advertised but it sure makes me laugh!
I’m pretty sure this woman was worried, angry, and all kinds of other emotions. She seemed to have forgotten that I wasn’t the one all that negative energy should have been directed toward. But hey, if she went on to be relieved and less upset I guess I did TWO good deeds. Maybe when she saw that I was an old fat woman she realized the only part I played in this incident was to happen along the same path the wallet had been discarded.
I am NOT going to let her crankiness keep me from doing what is right!
I’ve been out planting flowers and managed to slice my hand pretty good. It won’t stop bleeding and I’m typing with one hand (which seems really slow and inefficient) while I grip a paper towel with the cut hand. I think the rainbow behind this dark cloud may be going out to eat dinner. How in the world could I cook? 😉
You’ve had a tetanus (sp?) shot within the past 5 years, right? One of the worst places for nasties is the garden. Rosebush thorns are notorious for carrying the disease.
But I do hope you enjoy your dinner. 😉
Well, for one, we need to collectively decided just who the Hell are we. Are we tobacco chewing, gun toting, redneck hicks or are we a bit more sophisticated than that?
The kindest, most sincere, most caring people I know are “tobacco chewing, gun-toting, redneck hicks.”
The most annoying, of course, are liberals who seem to believe that they, and only they, are capable of making my life decisions for me. They are also the most intolerant of those who see the world in different ways – note the backhanded slap at what they consider to be the great unwashed: “tobacco chewing, etc.”
You’ll excuse me, therefore, if I don’t care to second your collective vision of paradise. I prefer people to be what they choose to be, not what you would impose on them. Personally, Wichita is already to big for me: nice to visit, but no amount of money could persuade me to live there. Any town over about 20,000 is too big, thanks.
Paradise is 2,000 acres and the nearest neighbor 20 miles away.
But that’s just me.
Tell people you are from West Virginia and see what kind of sterotypes are thrown at you.
“You’ll excuse me, therefore, if I don’t care to second your collective vision of paradise.”
Grow a sense of humor, GMC. It was a joke, meant to be taken as a joke and no harm or insult was intended.
My whole piece was “tongue in cheek.” God damn it, some people are so fucking sensitive.
You can take offense if you want – fine.
But don’t pretend to be offended when the whole damned thing was obviously meant to be taken with a large grain of salt.
It was a God damn “HUMOR” piece!
Crap, now I have to label my work as “humor” so I don’t offend the delicate sensibilities of those less than liberal.
Which of you, besides GMC, thought that I was seriously condemning “rednecks?”
I try to limit my emotions on this blog because I am an administrator here and it is important that I am even-handed. I rarely delete a comment and have never banned a poster.
I volunteered to write five columns per week after Steven’s death. I was also chosen to be an administrator for the blog.
These things I do with the approval and consent of the folks here at Pop Blog. Nothing more and nothing less.
I write what I write without consideration for anything other than my opinion. I would have no credibility if I were to do otherwise.
If the collective group here at Pop Blog wants to “fire” me, that is their prerogative. I “serve” at their pleasure.
The bottom line is that I will not change my style to appeal to a “larger audience.” I will not attempt to draw in an audience of conservatives or moderates. This is a blog, while we welcome diverse opinions, is geared to those that are progressive in thought.
If you don’t like my “style,” well, get me “fired.”
End of story.
You continue to write what you feel you need to write. IMHO those that don’t like it can just move on. I appreciate humor,it’s sad that some have never developed an appreciation for it.
Love your style, Will! Everyone does, and we have fun talking and laughing with your threads! It was absolutely obvious that your words were humor!
GMC sounded like the woman I dealt with about the wallet. There isn’t anything that can be done to make some people less then grumpy. An old saying comes to mind. The one that tells us — if you don’t have something nice to say… Sheesh, I know we disagree about politics, but being generally disagreeable is sad.
Don’t let anyone ruin your day! (Isn’t this what you told me yesterday?)
Oh and WS some poeple would bitch if you hung them with a brand new rope.
The “are we tobacco chewing, gun toting, redneck hicks” comment in my column was clearly a play on the view of Kansas held by many, Free.
Hell, I am a “Hillbilly” that doesn’t even rise to the level of “redneck!”
How anyone could take that as as insult is beyond me.
I love the country that I am from, Free, as do you. Most of the time, we play better basketball than those “Mountaineers” do, unless the “fix” is in!
It’s not worth it to take ourselves so seriously that we can’t poke a little fun at ourselves.
For instance, we Kentuckians still can’t figure out the difference between a “Commonwealth” and a “State.”
Well, we can’t play football, and we need some serious help at basketball, but we are still proud KENTUCKIANS!
Just head to Morgantown for football lessons. Hell I’m proud to be a hillbilly.
BTW I’d hang on to that WV shirt just in case
‘Could have been two people involved — the one who stole the money and the one who turned in the purse.’
I thought of that scenario also. But I failed to mention yesterday – the Customer Service associate at Walmart was very nice and apologized for it happening. She felt so terrible about it and as I told her, she was not the one that did it but I did appreciate her sincerity in trying to help me.
My grand daughter and I both learned a valuable lesson – to make sure her little purse is in grandma’s handbag!
Before our family moved to Kansas for our first corporate transfer, we were warned that Kansas is like going back in time 30 years.
Is this also considered a put-down?
I must admit, moving from a suburb of Chicago to a small town like Chanute KS was a culture shock and it was like going back in time 30 years.
But Chanute was like any other town – there were good people who became good friends.
But there were always a few people who didn’t want to make friends – and that was true in every city/town we lived in during our corporate transferring days.
I’ve known rednecks, hillbillies (my father’s family came straight from the hills) and white-collar educated people.
The only people I considered to be ignorant were those that refused to have open minds. And that characteristic flaw is in every population.
To be ignorant is one thing but to be proud of being ignorant, that is something else.
I moved here in 1969. I’ve lived in Western Missouri, spent my childhood in St. Louis, lived in Lawrence, Junction City, Hutchinson and moved back here were I have a lot of friends and relatives. My wife and I bought a house. If you read my writings you can tell I’m like a political fish out of water here in this small bit city/town.
Is it my imagination or is this small big city getting worse?
I read at your place this morning. I’m not smart enough to leave a comment — tried many different ways. Well, anyway, I loved your Moran ad! But I must correct you because it isn’t a made up ad, I saw it on television! Did you receive payment as its author? The good thing about that race is one of them will lose. Down one idiot.
We maintain this small pocket of civil sanity and feel less like political fish out of water because we find we’re not alone. 😉