Stories from Kansas City and Our Concert at Schmitt Music

by Pat Todd on June 29, 2015

Today was a Brenda Day. Her sorority had a multi-class reunion this past weekend, and at least 10 of them stayed in town for our concert.

I spent about an hour this morning at FedEx getting the programs printed for the concert tonight in Overland Park, for the concert tomorrow at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, and for the concert this Sunday, July 5, in Boulder. While I was waiting, I approached every customer in FedEx and handed them a concert card and told them about our tour and ACKC.

I picked up Bee Tuttle (my childhood playmate in Pittsburgh in the 1940s) in Leawood, and  drove to Carole Coulter’s home in Overland Park (where Brenda is staying) for “coffee” before lunch with Brenda and her sorority sisters (pictured below). Overland Park is south of downtown Kansas City. Leawood is further south. We spent about an hour and a half sharing stories before we all went to lunch a couple of miles away.

sorority sisters 610px

Have I mentioned the air here in Kansas City? There are forest fires in Canada this week, and the prevailing winds have brought the smoke to the city — southeast through Kansas. It’s very impressive. The sunset last night was spectacular, and tonight the moon is red. The smell of smoke is everywhere.

During lunch, every time a new customer sat down, I went to his or her table and handed them a publicity card. No one complained. (I had done the same thing in Raleigh). After lunch, Bee and I returned the long way — into the Plaza district of the city. According to Wikipedia, Kansas City’s “The Plaza” is the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.

Then we drove through the intersection of a street named “State Line.” It’s truly the state line between Kansas and Missouri, but it’s just another street in Kansas City.

Later in the afternoon I met with Mary Lou Anderson, who lives in Concordia, a small town in north central Kansas. Marylou and her husband John rented the apartment above ours in the army in Stuttgart in 1960. She and I had a lot of photos to show each other, and a lot of old times to catch up on. Mary Lou’s youngest son lives in Overland Park, so she used the excuse of our concert to drive to Kansas City and stay with him.

I arrived at Schmitt Music Store early enough to meet Harry Reed, the owner, to set up the table for our brochures, etc., and to insert our flyers into the programs. Brenda was already there rehearsing with her friend Julie who sang with John Denver many years ago, and sang an old favorite or two as part of our concert tonight.

Schmitt Music, like the Ruggero Piano in Raleigh, is full of concert grand pianos, and has a separate concert hall with a stage and two very large pianos. They were not Bosendorfers this time, nor were they Schlimmers like in Raleigh. Schmitt’s pianos are a Steinway and a Boston. I’ve never played a Boston. It’s very different from the Steinway and the Bosendorfer in that it has a “mushier” action. The tone is very mellow.

I was glad I had ordered so many programs this morning. We had a good audience. Brenda’s sister Paula was there from Topeka with her husband. Bee and her son Kevin were there, all of Brenda’s sorority sisters, and Marylou Anderson and her son Dave and his wife Carol. I didn’t recognize the others in the audience. I’d like to think they were among those to whom I had passed out the publicity cards at FedEx and on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant where we had lunch, and at the tables.

I spoke about ACKC and our mission and website during the program. Once again, I think the concert went well. Should we do this again, I’m going to go to Rotary meetings along the way and see if I can speak.

After the concert I went out to dinner with Mary Lou, her son Dave and his wife Carol. They were intensely interested in hearing about my son John (Todd) who spent several weeks on the farm of John (Anderson) and Mary Lou in Jamestown, Kansas in 1985. Their son Dave was 22 at the time. He and his wife (then “date”) picked John Todd up at the airport when he arrived from Brussels. Dave and Carol both had a lot of good memories and funny stories from that summer. I’m glad I had my iPad with me so that I could leaf through my 5,000 photos from the past couple of years and glean those of John Todd, Steph and Emma to show them.

We talked a lot too about the Mayo Clinic, which isn’t all that far from here, where John Anderson was given 22 extra months to live because of their aggressive treatments for his colon cancer.


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