40 Years of Pride – Part 3

The late 70s saw a burgeoning of pride and Pride in Kansas City, and 1979 was no different.  The weekend of June 15-17 presented a raft of opportunities for gay and lesbian Kansas Citians to march, rally, eat, drink, and be merry.  To kick things off a parade was held on Friday night, starting at 7:00 at Liberty Memorial.  Three blocks in length, the parade made its way up Grand to 11th Street, west on 11th to Main, then south on Main back to Liberty Memorial, where paraders and onlookers gathered for a rally.  The parade marshal was Reverend Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, who spoke briefly at the rally.  Parade organizers had planned on using a horse-drawn carriage for Reverend Perry, but couldn’t secure an appropriate horse.  So, the carriage was transformed into the “human-drawn” variety.


Parade at Main and 13th.


Reverend Perry


Rally at Liberty Memorial base.


Post-parade rally








40 Years of Pride – part 2

In 1978 an entire week was devoted to celebrating Gay Pride in Kansas City.  Culminating in the picnic described in this Kansas City Times article from June 19, the local Gay Pride Week coincided with similar commemorations across the country.  On Friday the 16th over 250 Kansas Citians marched in a parade through downtown, and a community picnic took place the following Sunday.  Though sponsored by the Christopher Street Association (KC’s local advocacy group at the time) and members of the National Gay Task Force, the picnic, which appears to have been held in Rosedale Park in KCK, was hastily thrown together just five days prior!  Despite that, word spread quickly and over 400 people were in attendance.  Part of the draw may have been the appearance of Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, who had gained notoriety three years earlier appearing on the cover of Time magazine as an out service member fighting his discharge from the service.







Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the newspaper article from the vantage point of hindsight is the final quote from a picnic participant.  Referring to challenges against ordinances that discriminate against gays and lesbians, one young man stated “It may be 100 years before we’re ready for that”.  Little did he know…

40 Years of Pride – Part 1

June is Gay Pride Month, and June 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the first Pride Celebration in Kansas City.  To honor that milestone, we will be posting Pride-related material from the collections of the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America all month long!  And it seems appropriate that our fist post should feature the flyer from that Pride Celebration so long ago in 1975.  The three-day festival, held at the Gay Community Center at 3825 Virginia, was sponsored by the Gay People’s Union of Kansas City, the Joint Committee on Gay Rights, the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Kansas City Women’s Liberation Union.

Pride Flyer1975- frontPride Flyer1975 - back

The weekend was packed with social, educational, and spiritual activities for all attendees:  everything from skits and plays to a workshop on lobbying to a picnic brunch.  This rare flyer is a remarkable window into a telling moment in the development of the Kansas City gay and lesbian community.

The Buddies Who Never Were

The process of organizing and arranging manuscript collections is one of ongoing discovery.  You never know what you will find, as our Graduate Student Assistant Jeff Borowiec was reminded as he works through the Houston Gray Collection:

“Deep in the cold dark recesses of the Collection of Houston Gray, obsessive collector of anything and everything related to the movies and theater, lies an interesting anomaly: Two black and white film stills of child actor Jackie Cooper dreaming of Christmas morning, which are said to be promoting the young star for an upcoming film called Buddies, starring also Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante. The only thing is, this film was never actually made.

From the verso of the photo:  "Christmas Dreams Jackie Cooper, the youngest Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star, enj[oys] the dream on Christmas Ever almost as much as he does the actual happenings the next day. Jackie, who will next be seen in “Buddies” with Buster Keaton and Jimmie Durante, evidently hopes for a boat."

From the verso of the photo: Christmas Dreams–Jackie Cooper, the youngest Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star, enj[oys] the dream on Christmas Ever almost as much as he does the actual happenings the next day. Jackie, who will next be seen in “Buddies” with Buster Keaton and Jimmie Durante, evidently hopes for a boat.”

From the verso of the photo:  The Night Before Christmas-- You can’t tell Jackie Cooper, the young Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star who will next be seen with Buster Keaton and Jimmie Durante in the picture “Buddies,” that there ain’t no Santa Claus because Jackie knows all about Santa in all his moods.

From the verso of the photo: The Night Before Christmas–You can’t tell Jackie Cooper, the young Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star who will next be seen with Buster Keaton and Jimmie Durante in the picture “Buddies,” that there ain’t no Santa Claus because Jackie knows all about Santa in all his moods.













Keaton, comedy giant of the silent-screen, had been paired up with Durante before on MGM’s The Passionate Plumber (1932), Speak Easily (1932), and What! No Beer? (1933), the last of which was an ironic casting choice given Keaton’s notorious trouble with alcohol, both on and off set. The comedy pair was box office gold, even when Keaton was not all there, as it were. Felicia Feaster writes for Turner Classic Movies about the difficulties of shooting What!… that were caused by Keaton’s alcohol problem (read full post here):

Keaton claimed to finish a bottle of booze a day during the six week shooting schedule. During the production, Keaton disappeared and wound up honeymooning in Mexico City with a nurse named Mae Scriven whom he had married during an alcoholic blackout. In the meantime, the “What! No Beer?” team shot around Buster Keaton.

Though plans for Buddies were already underway, Keaton’s issues with alcohol became too much of a burden for himself and the studio. What! No Beer? ended up being the final film Keaton would make at MGM, and Buddies was to never come to fruition. These two innocent (and rather odd) holiday-themed publicity stills of a young Jackie Cooper (dreaming of receiving a boat, imagining a small army of Santa Clauses for some reason) are examples of what little is left to show for it.”

Skating Rink Shenanigans

Skating 1913 - CoverIt appears that 100 years ago Kansas City was in the midst of a skating rink crisis.  The 1913/14 Annual Report from the Board of Public Welfare includes a report on the state of the issue, noting that “complaints against skating rinks were received daily by this department”.  Most of the complaints came from the mothers of the girls who  patronized certain of these establishments.  Therein, the young maidens would find “filthy toilets”, cigarette stubs littering the floor, “a large stage with a drop curtain [that] offered cover for improprieties”, and “a dark balcony” that “offered further cover for improper conduct”, among many other shortcomings.  Serenaded by “a discordant mechanical organ”, skaters were soon covered by dust in the building kicked up by their Skating 1913 - Page 1-2incessant activity.  In this environment – also replete with “profane language” – several young patrons found their way into municipal and juvenile courts.  This was enough to stir local club women and social workers into action, and they succeeded in urging the city council to pass an ordinance on April 14, 1914 that regulated these Way Stations of Wheeled Wickedness .


Skating 1913 - Page 3-4Skating 1913 - Page 5





“Zion’s New Friend” – Radio Station KLDS

Number Two in an Occasional Series of Odd and Obscure Periodicals.

Early studio at KLDS.

Early studio at KLDS.

KLDS Control Room

KLDS Control Room

Battery Room

Battery Room

KLDS Orchestry

KLDS Orchestra

KLDS Studio

KLDS Studio

Autumn Leaves was a monthly magazine published for the youth of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (since 2001 knows as Community of Christ).  The publication was produced from 1888 through 1928 out of Independence, Missouri.  The October 1926 issue was almost entirely dedicated to the church’s radio station, KLDS.

First Presidency member Elbert A. Smith penned an ode to the station entitled “Zion’s New Friend” that appears at the beginning of the magazine, setting the tone for the remainder of the publication:

“Free from the slumber that bound him so long,
Radio leaps to the air with a song;
Taking his journey from Zion’s high tower,
Bearing his message in haste, yet with pow’r…

…Roused from the slumber that held him since dawn,
Radio leaps to the air and is gone!
Go, thou bright messenger, Zion’s new friend,
Preach thou the gospel till time shall have end.”

At the time this issue was published, radio broadcasting was still a relatively new phenomenon.  One of Kansas City’s premier radio pioneers, Arthur B. Church, was the guiding force behind the implementation of KLDS.  Referred to as “A.B.C.”, Church contributed two articles to the magazine, detailing the development of KLDS from a small, weak station to a broadcasting powerhouse.

Programming was predominantly musical in nature, and the numerous musicians associated with KLDS are pictured throughout this issue.  Broadcasts of Sunday services were routine, and in the winter months lectures courses and special sermons were offered.

By 1927 Church has secured a separate license for KLDS – which, according to Autumn Leaves, stood for “Knowledge, Liberty, Divinity, Service” – and it then became Midland Broadcasting Company.  A second license was obtained for a commercial station, KMBC, with which Church found even greater success.  Much more about his work at KMBC can be found here.

Kansas City’s “New Wave Scene”

New Wave band at unidentified location, 1981

New Wave band at unidentified location, 1981

So a recent donation of issues from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s of Star Magazine, the weekly supplement to the Sunday Kansas City Star has provided the occasion for some observations:

  • magazines used to run a lot of cigarette ads
  • it’s surprising how quickly restaurants fade from memory (Brown’s Chicken, anyone?)
  • one of the sad outcomes of putting  newspapers on microfilm is that you lose the color that was originally used in the paper’s production

That being said, one of my favorites issues in the stack of 127 is the one pictured here, from April 26, 1981.  Writers Jo E. Hull and Art Brisbane (who would later become the Star‘s publisher and ultimately land a gig at the New York Times) reported on their jaunt into “a thriving underground culture in Kansas City”.  There wouldn’t have been a New Wave scene without the music, which could be purchased at Rock Therapy, 7511 Troost, “Kansas City’s principal New Wave disc parlor, offering the coveted and obscure import records from England, always keeping pace with the trends”. The writers detail visits to the two primary New Wave clubs, further north on the same street: the Downliner, located in the basement of the Plaza East tavern at 4719 Troost, and the Music Box, located further up the block at 4701.  This same block also served as headquarters for the stores where devotees could acquire their New Wave garb – Rags Fashion Originals, 4733 Troost, and Punk Funk at 4739.  Interestingly enough, as the decade progressed and New Wave music fractured into increasingly specific categories – e.g., goth – the 4700 block of Troost continued to serve as the fashion nexus for club kids.  By 1986 Archaic Smile, at 4715, was the place for clothes and accessories.  The store’s owners also were the proprietors of the nightclub of choice:  Epitaph, located on 31st just east of Main.  So, as Ollie Gates and other developers continue to refashion the neighborhood around 47th and Troost, it’s good to be reminded of the area’s link to the city’s eccentric musical past.

Metered Response to a President’s Murder

Of Poetry and Power Album Cover

Of Poetry and Power Album Cover, Folkways Records FL 9721

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, there was an outpouring from poets across the country as they attempted to absorb the horrific event.  By mid-1964, Basic Books published a collection of works from prominent American and British poets entitled Of Poetry and Power:  Poems Occasioned by the Presidency and the Death of John F. Kennedy.  It included poems by well-known writers like Gwendolyn Brooks, W. H. Auden, A. R. Ammons, and Donald Hall, among many others.  In the following year, Folkways Records released an album of selections from the book.  The recordings convey an immediacy of the work of these artists as they attempted to creatively come to grips with the shock of Kennedy’s death and its impact on them personally and on the country as a whole.

Pre-Civil War Rebus

Rebus letter from 1859.

Rebus letter from 1859.

This charming letter is an example of a rebus, writing that uses pictures as words or parts of words.  We have no documentation as to how it ended up in LaBudde Special Collections, but it’s so unusual and so well done we’re certainly glad to give it a home.  Try your luck at deciphering it!  If you get frustrated or simply don’t like puzzles, here’s our solution.

A “Trip” Down Memory Lane

Number One in an Occasional Series of Odd and Obscure Periodicals

1st Issue of The Aquarian, June 1969

Cover of The Aquarian, June, 1969

Published in Kansas City at 2 West 39th Street by an entity or individual who went by the moniker “Cornflower Hermaphrodite”, The Aquarian was a short-lived alternative magazine that dates from June and July of 1969.  Issue number one states that “this paper is printed under the auspices of good vibrations, creative industry, sleepless nights, gallons of cohesive optimism…we have no have no pressing need for straight capitalistic backers or would-be patronesses of the arts in Barbie doll minis so don’t bug us.”


Aquarian July1969

Cover of the Aquarian, July, 1969

Each issue features poetry, original artwork, reportage, and essays.  The “News” section in what is presumed to be issue number two offers articles on the local chapter of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), a “rebirth of the roundheads”, and a piece on the establishment of a “hip help center”, which offered a “crash pad, 24 hour coffee house, draft counseling…legal help, free clinic, and help for runaways”.  A visit to Iowa City by drug guru Timothy Leary is covered extensively in the same issue.

Masthead of the Aquarian, July 1969

Masthead of the Aquarian, July 1969

As intriguing as the magazine’s content are its advertisers, which number such establishments as Arsenic and Olde Leather at 429 Westport Road, the Genuine Article (“Bellbottoms, Incense, Shirts;  One-of-a-Kind Fashion, Now More than Ever”) at the same address as the magazine, and the Eletrologist [sic?] on 63rd Street in Raytown, the ad for which features what appears to be a woman with a mustache and five-o’clock shadow.  While not as colorful as it’s contemporary The Westport Trucker, nonetheless The Aquarian offers insight into a moment of Kansas City history long gone.