Is voting fraud (and political corruption) a thing of the past or is it simply wearing a new mask? Here’s to hoping we (have) learn(ed) from the mistakes of yore.
On voting fraud during the Pendergast Machine:
“The feared and powerfully connected Frank Nash, bank robber and contact man with all the important freelance gangs in the Midwest, was James “Blackie” Audett’s cellmate. Nash escaped and then influenced Johnny Lazia, strong-arm man for Tom Pendergast of Kansas City, Missouri, to use his influence to free Audett who had aided Nash in his flight from Leavenworth. Boss Pendergast’s connections and lawyers had Audett free in 1930 and he immediately went to work for the powerful Pendergast political-underworld machine in Kansas City, rigging elections, destroying ballot boxes, voting as a repeater, organizing prostitutes to vote while using names of deceased persons, and distributing slot machines.”
-excerpt from The Dillinger Dossier, by Jay Robert Nash
In Blackie’s own words:
“My first job in Kansas City was to look up vacant lots…we would give addresses to them vacant lots. Then we would take the address and assign them to people we could depend on – prostitutes, thieves, floaters, anybody we could get on the voting registration books. On election days we just hauled these people to the right places and they went in and voted…”
Anything is possible?
Last night, driving north on Oak Street at dusk, I spotted these swirling clouds over downtown. It. Was. Powerful. So powerful, I stopped dead center of the (empty) street and stared up at the towering display. This is our backdrop for living. What?! How did we get so lucky?! What glory! What beauty! Lo, these Midwestern skies!
And then, the pendulum swung back around and a different sort of feeling came dump trucking through my mind: weather is wild and irrefutable and dominating and deadly.
Oh, the thunderstorms and the pinging rain! The Muddy Missouri, our raison d’être, and its turbulent murky waters so often spill over into our city streets, even washing away settlements on its banks in the 1820s. She is a fierce one, our Missouri River. She’s cleansed these lands time and time again and, according to history, is due for a good flooding soon.
Somehow, then, I recalled the Kansas-Nebraska Sea, and how it once covered this whole region, and how it helped to create underground springs that eventually dried and left behind caves for ample underground storage facilities, making us a leader in underground storage. And on and on Kansas City history came marching through my brain and by the time I got home only 12 blocks later, I felt like I had the makings of an essay rolling around up there.
One single sunset propelled me into thinking about our fine city and the way it has weathered Mother Nature through tornadoes, floods, and storms.
To a writer, one small object opens up a world of exploration.
I urge you to listen to your muse and enter the Squeezebox Essay Contest.
We want to hear your story.
Our city has changed a lot since the 1860s, but one thing is for sure: We know how to throw a party. The ingenuity of Kansas Citians is evident in the way we do things. This picture, for instance, shows crowds of people at the public square (present-day City Market), then a catch-all for commerce, horse trading, medicine shows, political rallies, and circuses. Here the balloon ascension was part of a lavish celebration of Independence Day, 1868. Often, merchants who aimed to increase the number of shoppers at their stalls in the public market would hire trapeze artists to perform under suspended balloons in the sky.
Talk about savvy (albeit dangerous) ingenuity.
Despite the Town of Kansas consisting then of little more than a few rows of crowded buildings along muddy and unpaved roads with boards for sidewalks slung between raw bluffs and deep ravines covered thick with brush, ploys such as the trapeze artists made commerce in the River Market thrive for decades. The novelty of the trapeze artists, with the help of places such as the Gillis Opera House (5th and Walnut) that brought in more than 1,700 people on its opening night on Sept. 10, 1883, encouraged the surrounding communities to remain interested in this wild neighborhood just south of the river.
So throw down those bottle rockets and make our foremothers and fathers proud! Don your bedazzled leotard and get to flying through the skies under suspended balloons.
Talk about fireworks in the sky!
Squeezebox Essay Contest
Kansas City contradicts itself: landlocked but developed along an unpredictable river; straddling two states with varying degrees of success; a metropolis that has maintained a small-town feel. We are a city on what feels like perpetual rising and we carry with us many voices.
We want to hear how you fit into it. What you think of it. What you think is possible here.
We hope to find a winning essay (and runner up) that explores the idea of “place” as it relates to various topics such as personal identity or heritage. You might choose to write about a certain part of town, a favorite local hangout, a particular architectural movement or the way our parks and boulevards helped shape present-day neighborhoods. There is a story you cannot wait to tell about Kansas City, and we want to hear it. The possibilities are as big as the moon. The only limit is excellence in writing and storytelling.
Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?
Winner and runner-up will receive publication with a reading and a fancy schmancy reception.
Every submission must include a copy of the following:
-Completed Submission Form (email firstname.lastname@example.org to request form)
-Essay (5-7 double-spaced pages)
-Source Page, if applicable
-Must be 18+
-$15 (Checks please. We wish this could be free, but we have bills to pay, y’all!)
-Email Submissions to email@example.com or snail mail us at 522 Locust Ln. #202 KCMO 64106
-Reading period begins June 15 and ends Aug.15
-Winners announced Sept. 1
*Note: With your submission, you are permitting Squeezebox to edit the winning essays for style and errors. You will be required to go through the editorial process as if you were a regular contributor to Squeezebox. The edited essay will be returned to you for a final draft. Upon receipt of final draft, the essays will be published on www.squeezeboxcity.com. A reading and reception will be held for the winners in early Fall.
On April 10 and April 11, Squeezebox will open its beloved headquarters to the public. Along with more than 20 other artists, entrepreneurs and crafty creative folks who call the historic Hobbs building home, we will be showing off our goods, spinning Count Basie and Charlie Parker records and dropping some KC trivia. Join us for food, booze, music and Squeezebox lovin’!
Thanks for a celebratory night, Kansas City! Squeezebox is honored to have won an Innovation in Preservation award from the Historic Kansas City Foundation! #squeezeboxlovesyou
It’s good to have good friends. And at Squeezebox, we particularly dig those friends who love our city as much as we do.
Enter the Phantoms of KC– our mysterious pals who deal solely in celebrating Kansas City. Their mission? Breaking down the city’s “inferiority complex.” They host incredible social events throughout the year – speaking of which, check the Phantom calendar for an upcoming private whiskey tasting with Ryan Maybee, Co-Founder of J. Rieger Whiskey Co., Dec. 19. First-up in 2015? A co-hosted event at Ca Va with Phantoms and yours truly. Happy Hour and historic KCMO trivia. What more could ya desire?
The #squeezecrew rounded up some fascinating facts for our KC Trivia Contest event during our launch party on Aug. 9 at the glorious Savoy Hotel, and then handed off the mic to Phantom co-founders Kemet and Brian. Wonderful hosts, they were – and you bet we’re looking forward to more fun and fabulous collaboration at Ca Va on Jan. 8, 2015!
Interested in becoming a member of Phantoms of KC? Click HERE
We’re continuing to make strong connections with members of the Kansas City community. Check back soon for some new additions!
Let’s blow our collective minds together and go way back to 300 million years ago.
“Life in downtown Kansas City,” writes KU geologist Professor Richard J. Gentile, “about 300 million years ago, during the Pennsylvanian Period of Earth’s history. A shallow sea teemed with life. The skeletal remains of this vast and strange array of creatures is entombed in the layers of rock that underlie the city and its environs.”
Pleistocene fossils from 2.6 million years ago–when continental glaciers and seas covered downtown Kansas City and the drifting ice lobes had started to form the course of the Missouri River–suggest that many large animals existed here, including mastodons, bison, ground sloths, camels, mammoths, musk oxen and beavers.
Heads up, KCMO!
Squeezebox is preparing a Kansas City-sweeping scavenger hunt – a great opportunity for you to learn more about our incredible city, and a chance to win a pretty cool prize package.
The date (and prize!) will be announced on our site and social media pages soon… keep on-a-checking!
How it works:
We will post photos. You identify them.
The first person to submit all the correct answers to firstname.lastname@example.org will be crowned King/Queen of the Squeezebox Scavenger Hunt. We will have a fun little award ceremony (maybe you 2nd and 3rd place winners get a little something, too). We’ll also feature you in our blog feed. You’ll be famous!
We are a fun lovin’ bunch of quirky, homespun folks who love to research, write, draw and tell stories about KCMO.
Karla Deel, editor-in-chief/owner, lives in downtown Kansas City, Mo., where she raises a feisty little girl, Salem, who will likely grow up to rule the world. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Karla advocates eating good, clean food (and drinking the boldest Cabernet’s around). She researches, writes and edits for her company, Squeezebox, at squeezeboxcity.com.
Heather Scanlon, senior writer, is a graduate of the University of Kansas in history and public policy. She is a freelance writer and editor now residing in Merriam, Kans., a lucky 10-minute commute to the fabulous KC area. Between her various odd jobs and spending time with her hubs and darling one-year-old daughter, Nova, Heather nurses a severe addiction to strong coffee, genealogy, and the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Cassandra Williams, illustrator extraordinarious, lives, works, illustrates, and sometimes hits taut strings in the KCMO area. She is an avid fan of Trader Joe’s 10 year single malt scotch whiskey, and will not be caught dead in heels. She has high hopes to someday buy Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” on vinyl.
And sometimes, we sing, too. Drew and Heather Scanlon performing “Kansas City” at the Squeezebox Launch Party:
And joining the crew here is the Squeezebox honorary editor-in-chief, the almighty Salem:
All but three of the Squeezebox contributors (Thomas Leonard, Marcus Myers and Matt Pachmayr, we missed you!) from left to right. You’ll find the lovely Samantha Collins, Heather Scanlon, Liz Cook, Karla Deel, Christine Pivovar, Cassie Williams, plus dynamic web duo dudes, Ryan Jones and Stephen Nold.
For more bios, visit our Contributors page!