OKAY, THAT HAS NOTHING to do with this post, I just like the sound of it.
Well, we got the Kansas thing accomplished this weekend. Mark Arsenault and I hopped a flight to Kansas City out of Boston, tracked down some interesting artifacts that will help us put together the pitch for this nonfiction aviation book we have in mind. We have an interview to do in Florida yet, probably later this month, then one or both of us will have to get back to Kansas for a day or two, but we’re making progress.
We rented a car in KCMO, drove down to Coffeyville, KS, on the Oklahoma line. That’s where the Daltons came to a bloody end, in 1892.
This was before FDIC, so when the pistoleros hit your local bank you were well advised to shout jumpin’ jehoshephat, grab a gun, run down there and Save Yore Dough.
Four depositors were fatally shot while answering the call of justice on the streets outside this bank. Four desperados bit it, too. Tie game.
After the shootout, the townspeople took photos of the not-so-dearly departed, in various poses. They stood them up on their feet, grabbed them by the hair to point their faces at the camera, real spooky-like. They opened the shirt on one of them, Bob Dalton, to show off his new belly button. It was just under the sternum, a little high for nature’s work.
A sidewalk depiction of one of the photographs of old. They handcuffed the bodies, lined them up on the ground, put a rifle across them. A rifle wielded by the winning team, I imagine. But I don’t know the fact on that one.
Here we are boosting the local economy and some nervous depositor drives by and plugs Mark. He was just trying to take a picture is all. Look, there’s his camera (sniff).
We got the bullet out, drove down to Tulsa in the evening. Mark drove, actually, so that was impressive. Nice town, Tulsa. Sort of the Providence of Oklahoma. This must be their Superman building.
This was my first visit to Oklahoma. Now I know my way around 48 of the lower 48.
Only 47 for the iron piggy. What a homebody.
Saw some old folks with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Got grub and headed back to Kansas, full moon rising.
Sunday, we headed to KCMO for an early flight out in the a.m. We detoured through Joplin, Missouri, saw the damage from that catastrophic, mile-wide tornado of not quite a year ago, May 22, 2011. There are lots of denuded trees still standing, some with aluminum gutters tied up in a bow. Entire neighborhoods wiped off the map, 161 people dead… This message brought to you by the awesome power of nature.
New houses are going up everywhere. And why not? What are the odds of another big twister taking the same exact path across town?
Pretty good odds for all I know. Joplin’s been hit three times in the last two generations.
If you knew a guy from Archie you’d have to call him Jughead, wouldn’t you?
The ominous skies in these pics followed us to KCMO. We had a few beers in town that eve and noticed people on the street buzzing on their cellphones about funnel clouds and picking up their pace and getting in their cars and driving off. A security guard watching the Weather Channel told us the funnels were spawning 15 miles southwest of the city. I said, okay, we’ll remember to run northeast. No, he said, handing me a card. Call this number and get back here, I’ll let you in the building. So that was Kansas City hospitality in action. But all it did was rain hard, nothing to report.
Neither one of us was hungry for dinner that night, we were stuffed from an afternoon barbecue feed at a hole in the wall we had found in an industrial district, the kind of place where you eat with the locals, not the tourists. The trick is to find the former if you happen to be the latter.
This is Monday, back in Beantown after a quick hop east on a Delta regional jet, an Embraer 175. It was fast and comfy. Easy on, easy off. Just the right scale for commercial air travel, notwithstanding what a lousy experience it can be to fly anywhere anymore.
But our book is about the times before that. Stay tuned.
Mark headed in to work at the Boston Globe and got home to his bride at midnight. Quite the trouper, that boy, given that our day had started at 4 a.m. in Kansas City. Meanwhile, I caught the commuter rail to Providence from South Station, and, uh, you know, checked my email.
Tony DePaul, May 8, 2012, Cranston, Rhode Island