Thomas Fox Averill

Oleander's Holiday Invasion

Dec 21, 2019
Carl Larsson, 1904 / Wikipedia

Folks, Iola Humboldt’s family invaded us for the Christmas holiday.  Her grandson came on December 23 with his wife and two boys, one 12 and one 10.  Her niece arrived Christmas Eve, bringing a cat named Matilda and a dog named Ranger.  We didn’t have much room at the inn, so to speak, but we squeezed everyone into our little bungalow, except for Ranger, who stayed in the manger—our tool shed with the floor covered in straw.

An avalanche of presents cascaded from under our little tree.  We brought all three leaves for the dining table out of the basement, and so much food spilled from the kitchen I thought we might all founder.  After dinner we read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, even though he didn’t steal Christmas.  Iola’s grandson read from the Good Book about the shepherds and their flocks by night, the star in the east, the baby in swaddling clothes.  Before bed, we read The Night Before Christmas.   Soon, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, not even Matilda the cat.

Oleander on J-E-L-L-O

Dec 7, 2019
Wikipedia

Well, folks, each year Here, Kansas, has a pre-Christmas potluck before we all travel to relatives for the holiday.  This year, Claude Anderson’s wife, Martha, was in charge.  “Maybe you’ll do the Jell-O,” she suggested to my sweetheart Iola Humboldt.  “Your Jell-O is always a hit,” she added.

Tune in for an HPPR Radio Readers Book Club holiday tradition: the two-hour broadcast of a High Plains author's delightful Christmas story: A Carol Dickens Christmas, featuring a fresh reading by the book's author, Thomas Fox Averill.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE:

Monday, December 23, 2019

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. CT

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. CT

Oleander on Facebook and Email Forwards

Nov 16, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Folks, even though I’m up there in years, I’m not too old to try for some change.  In advance of the holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I thought I’d best stay in better touch with the younger folks in my family. 

Oleander on the Taste of Winter Onions

Nov 2, 2019
Wikipedia

Folks, Claude Anderson and I were sitting in the Here, Kansas, Co-op, talking about the prospect of the next winter wheat crop.  We can already see the skim of green on the fields, and, like the local farmers, we have our hopes. 

You never know who might wander into a place like Here, Kansas. 

Oleander - The Farmer as Artist

Oct 19, 2019
Franz Kline / Metropolitan Museum of Art

Folks, when I was a boy, I spent hours every summer in the garden, picking a feed sack full of green beans one week, a bucket of cherries another, a basket of beets, or a bushel of tomatoes.  I dug potatoes—russet and sweet—and pulled onions.  I picked peppers, and pickled peppers, just like Peter Piper.  My mother was the piper, and I paid her by bringing the harvest to her kitchen, where she pickled beets, canned tomatoes and green beans, sorted potatoes, braided onions, boiled cherries with sugar and pectin into preserves, and began to ferment cabbage into sauerkraut.  All summer long we worked.
            “You grow too much,” I complained one hot September afternoon after spending two hours picking and pickling peppers.
            “I grow what we eat, and what we will eat,” she said.  “It’s good to have reserves.”

Oleander on Preserves and Preservation

Oct 5, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Folks, when I was a boy, I spent hours every summer in the garden, picking a feed sack full of green beans one week, a bucket of cherries another, a basket of beets, or a bushel of tomatoes.  I dug potatoes—russet and sweet—and pulled onions.  I picked peppers, and pickled peppers, just like Peter Piper. 

My mother was the piper, and I paid her by bringing the harvest to her kitchen, where she pickled beets, canned tomatoes and green beans, sorted potatoes, braided onions, boiled cherries with sugar and pectin into preserves, and began to ferment cabbage into sauerkraut.  All summer long we worked.

Oleander Questions - Dear Old Kansas?

Sep 24, 2019
mandegar.info / Wikipedia

Folks, back in 1910, Carl Becker, wrote what became for years the definitive essay on the nature of Kansas.  He begins by describing his first trip to Kansas, after taking a position as history professor at the University of Kansas. 

He writes:  “ ... I rode out of Kansas City and entered for the first time what I had always pictured as the land of grasshoppers, of arid drought, and barren social experimentation.” 

Oleander on the Bartlett Arboretum

Sep 7, 2019
Kansas Sampler Foundation

Folks, the older I get the more I like to visit places that have a long history.  “What about the Bartlett Arboretum?” I asked Iola Humboldt.  She consulted her Kansas map, but couldn’t find it.  “Let’s just drive to Belle Plain,” I insisted.

Oleander on Weeds and Immigrants

Aug 17, 2019
Martin Lopatka / The Nature Conservancy; Creative Commons

Folks, since 1937 Kansas has had a Noxious Weed law.  Among those on the Most (not) Wanted list are some fearful dangers:  Kudzu, Bindweed, Canada and other Thistles, Russian Knapweed, Bur Ragweed, Pignut, Johnsongrass and Sericea Lespedeza.

Oleander On Fossils As State Symbols

Aug 4, 2019

Folks, some years ago, when I heard Kansans in the legislature were looking for a new State Symbol to recognize fossil life in Kansas, I was excited.  In fact, old fossil that I am, I thought I might be in the running. Then I found out Kansas lawmakers were thinking Cretaceous.  More specifically, the Tylosauras and the Pteranodon.

Oleander As Gardening Hits a High

Jun 13, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Folks, last February I was paying attention.  When all the other old coots at the Here, Kansas, Co-op were drowsing through the cold, or standing at the window listening to the sleet skitter along the glass, or contemplating their next move in checkers, I was watching.  Because I knew exactly what would happen in July.

Heat and Wheat

Jun 13, 2019
hppr.org

Well, folks, one morning I woke up to a completely still morning in Here, Kansas.  No birds, no insects, no wind brushing the curtains through the screened windows, no cars driving by on Kansas Street.  Iola Humboldt stirred beside me.

"Listen," I said to her, "what do you hear?"

"Heat," she said.  "When it's this hot, things are still.  When it stays still, you know it's still hot.'"

"We're not staying still," I said.  "I've got plans.  You don't hear any cars in town because everyone in Here is off driving the roads, enjoying the excitement of wheat harvest."

Oleander on Voting I.D.

Jun 1, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

Folks, how many of you plan to vote in November?  How about having to show that ID?

Claude Anderson is trying to get me ready.  He reminded me of the time, last year, when I woke up, threw on a pair of overalls, and spent the entire morning padding around the house and puttering in the garden.  Iola Humboldt fixed tomato soup for lunch, and I spent the afternoon reading on the porch, talking to my grandson on the telephone, visiting with neighbors as they walked by.

Oleander - U.S. 81and Dividing Lines

Mar 16, 2019
Ks Department of Transportation

If you're curious, you're probably wondering:  "Where is Here, Kansas?"  I'll tell you:  real close to Highway 81.  Why, I can walk from Elmer Peterson's Drive-Thru Pharmacy and Car Wash at the corner of John Brown and Kansas streets down to the Co-op at the corner of Wyatt Earp and Kansas streets, and feel like I've moved from Prairie to Plains.

You know, U.S. 81 gets blamed for being a dividing line.  In Kansas, it divides Eastern from Western Kansas.  Folks west of Concordia, Salina, McPherson and Wellington are thought by eastern Kansans to be "out there."  In fact, one Kansas historian named his book WEST OF WICHITA because he thought the experiences west were so different from those east of Wichita.

Oleander's Traveling and Boosterism

Mar 2, 2019
http://www.kansastravel.org/worldslargestcollection.htm

Folks seems like every spring, every little town starts to wonder who might visit, and help the local economy.  Some of them work hard to create a gimmick to promote itself, to make it stick in the memory of passersby, to bring it honor or distinction.

Garden City is Cutting Horse Capital, among other things.  Oakley the Fossil Capital, and Kingman the Plow Capital.  It's boosterism, pure and simple.

Oleander: Liberal Pancake Day Race

Feb 2, 2019
High Plains Public Radio

Well, folks, I stood there last Ash Wednesday, in 2015, with the newspaper in my hand, dancing in my driveway.  Mrs. Peterson, next door, asked me if I was okay.  Thinks because I'm an old man, there might be something creep up on me all of a sudden. 

"No," I told her, "everything's had its way with me already.  It's just this good news shaking me up because I’ve come to expect the worst.  I pounded the newspaper.  Showed her the headline: LIBERAL OUTRUNS OLNEY, ENGLAND, IN PANCAKE RACE. 

Oleander: Kansas Day Notables

Jan 28, 2019
Wikipedia

Folks, either at the end of the year, or near Kansas Day in my state, every newspaper, magazine, and radio show is picking the Top 10 fashionable people, important people, young people on the rise, or just plain Kansans of the year.  I'm suspicious of such popularity contests, juried by people who don't know a lot about history. 

Radio Readers Book Club Holiday Tradition Listen Now!

Dec 22, 2018

Tune in tonight for an HPPR Radio Readers Book Club holiday tradition: the two-hour broadcast of a High Plains author's delightful Christmas story: A Carol Dickens Christmas, featuring a fresh reading by the book's author, Thomas Fox Averill

BROADCAST SCHEDULE: 

Saturday, December 22th—  7-9pm CT

Monday, December 24th— 7-9pm CT

HPPR Radio Readers Book Club

Bah, humbug!  Don’t let that phrase apply to you this Christmas!  The High Plains Public Radio Book Club is pleased to share their traditional holiday read with you -- Thomas Fox Averill’s A Carol Dickens Christmas.  It’s a new twist with the spice of an old classic.  Hear the author explore the themes of the book as you come to know both Dickens and Carol Dickens. Listen Saturday December 22 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. or again on Monday, Christmas Eve Day from 2:00 – 4:00.

Tune in tonight for an HPPR Radio Readers Book Club holiday tradition: the two-hour broadcast of a High Plains author's delightful Christmas story: A Carol Dickens Christmas, featuring a fresh reading by the book's author, Thomas Fox Averill

BROADCAST SCHEDULE: 

Saturday, December 22th—  7-9pm CT

Monday, December 24th— 7-9pm CT

The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me

Feb 28, 2018
Kansas State University

This is Thomas Fox Averill, Topeka novelist, with one of my favorite Kansas books of WWI:

Over 100 years ago, in 1917, the premier journalist of Kansas, William Allen White, took a trip to Europe.  Along with Henry J. Allen, editor of the Wichita Beacon, who would become the next Governor of the Sunflower State, White was part of a Red Cross inspection team, this in the summer after the United States entered World War I, on April 6, 1917.