Growing up on a farm in Cedar, Kan., near Smith Center, Steve Kirchhoff always envisioned that he’d attend Kansas State University and study veterinary medicine. It was the thing to do, the place to be. Being a farm kid from Smith County near the Kansas-Nebraska border, he rarely entertained the possibility of taking a different path — until a friend invited him to the K-State College of Engineering’s open house weekend and his eyes were opened to a new world.
It’s a frosty December evening in 1980 in Manhattan, Kan. A roving cohort of Kansas State University chemical engineering students embark on an adventure to deliver holiday cheer by singing Christmas carols on the front porches at their professors’ homes.
Laughter and liveliness ensues as the professors endure the slightly off-key renditions of familiar classics, and then encourage their pupils to keep at their studies and earn their degrees — because their collective future as singers isn’t nearly as bright as the lights that adorn the town during the holidays.
According to two of the singing engineers, Susan and Spencer Tholstrup, it was good advice.
I recently had the opportunity to contribute an article to Manhattan Magazine, a profile of local artist Brent Engstrom. Brent is a budding illustrator/graphic designer who turned his childhood fascination with those nasty “Garbage Pail Kids” into a career drawing them, among other figures, including his own characters “Monkeyboy” and “Billy Blevins: Boy Inventor.”
I remember how repulsive the Garbage Pail Kids were, yet I couldn’t help poring over the bizarre images. I preferred baseball cards. Check out the summer issue of Manhattan Magazine — the Engstrom story is on page 18 — or you may open a PDF of the story here.
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Last night, I had what might have been the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had. The combination of a furious Kansas storm and a malfunctioning apartment complex alarm system kept me tossing, turning and praying for just a few hours of silence. Alas, I’ve had what the advertisers call the “2:30 feeling” for most of the day. I decided an afternoon pick-me-up would come in the form of a Dr. Pepper from the vending machine.
In a matter of minutes and in an act of laziness, I descended five floors in an elevator, popped a dollar and a quarter (the latter of which came on loan from a stranger at the vending machines) in the buzzing neon behemoth and out came tumbling 20 fluid ounces of cool, crisp contentment. I took the elevator five floors up, and was on my way to chasing the sugar rush I’d been craving.
Maybe it’s the fatigue, maybe it’s the wacky weekend just hours away, but as I returned to my desk with the beverage in hand, I couldn’t help but think how easily I was able to access a refreshment and achieve rejuvenation. Didn’t it used to be a big deal to score a bottle of soda? Wasn’t it a special treat reserved for special occasions? And didn’t it usually involve walking a few blocks down the street to the local diner, all while absorbing some sunshine and passing friendly locals along the way?
I’d have loved to have done that — but I’m too tired.
A poem for Wally Judge, from a lifelong K-State basketball fan who just wanted more out of him. Best of luck in your future endeavors. And now…
Don’t hold a grudge
Against Wally Judge
Who just wouldn’t budge
From K-State’s bench
His stats were sludge
So he got the nudge
And on he’ll drudge
To Rutgers’ bench?