Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today is Kansas' 150th Birthday

Today is the 150th anniversary of Kansas’ statehood.

I am not a native Kansan and, until I moved here,  I assumed that Kansas was “boring.” The “Wizard of Oz” has done a great deal to harm Kansas’ image and I bought into it.

I could not have been more wrong.

Kansas: The "Sunflower State"
The best part of Kansas is its people. Straightfoward, modest (often to a fault), unwaiveringly friendly, patriotic, and independent. Want an example? Just yesterday, Kathleen was reading the Wichita Eagle’s obituaries and this was published without any fanfare whatsoever:

Canzoneri, Helen Mary (Zimmerman), 97, died on November 18, 2010 at Larksfield Place. She was raised in Sterling and graduated from high school there. She earned her B.A. Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and an M.A. in Japanese history from Harvard University. She met her husband, Vincent, while working on her doctorate in Japan. The couple returned to marry in Sterling in 1936, then lived in Tokyo until September of 1941. During World War II, she taught Japanese at the Navy Language School and worked as a censor of Japanese mail in Honolulu, where Vincent served in Navy Intelligence. She raised three sons in Newton, where she was president of the Library board and, at the request of local parents, taught a pre-college enrichment course for high school students. She moved to Wichita in 1971, where her husband was an executive at Ross Industries. In Wichita, she taught weaving, helped to run the Blue Warp weaving shop, and served on the acquisitions committee of the Wichita Art Museum.

What an amazing life!

I know so many Kansans that have done similar amazing things, but they don’t boast about their accomplishments. Here, that is considered bad form.
Mesa in Kansas' Gyp Hills
One aspect of an independent outlook is the ability to see things as they might be -- which can lead to innovation. Think about the companies that have been started in just Wichita, not to mention the rest of the state:

  • Learjet
  • Koch Industries (world's second largest privately-owned corporation)
  • Cessna
  • Beech Aircraft
  • Pizza Hut
  • White Castle
  • Coleman (outdoor products)
  • Ryan International Airlines
  • Rent-A-Center
  • Air Midwest
  • Mentholatum (deep heating rub)
  • Vickers Petroleum
In the last few years, I sense that Kansas is growing in respect. This is due primarily to the large number of articles documenting the quality of life/cost of living here, how “surprisingly hip” (Fast Company magazine) Wichita is, recent articles about Kansas as a vacation destination, etc. I believe our best days are ahead of us. If you do decide to make a visit, I can assure you will be warmly welcomed.

So, Happy Birthday, Kansas! There is no place like home. 


  1. EXACTLY!! Happy Birthday Kansas!

  2. I note that the cable channel, AMC, is running Kansas-themed movies today. "Kansas Raiders" is running right now, followed by "High Plains Drifter, then "El Dorado."

  3. But it's so friggin' conservative!


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