How the Morrison Sisters Overcame Orphanhood


Marlene Morrison, outside the home of Bob and Dotty Keenan, with daughters Kelly, 6, Alison, 8, and Tracy, 10.

The 16-year-old girl pulled up her gym socks and tied her laces for basketball practice at St. Rose Auditorium in Great Bend, Kansas. It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and Alison Morrison’s mind was far from basketball. She was about to become an orphan, and she knew it.

No memory of her father

Her Dad, Jack Morrison died of a heart attack at age 58 in Great Bend when she was four years old. Alison had no memory of him. But Alison’s ability …

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Ernie Rhodes, 84, recalls Segregation, Progress

Ernie Rhodes still patrols the Sedgwick County Courthouse at age 84

The 19 year old Airman from McConnell Air Force base was headed to Wichita Falls Texas, when the bus stopped at the Union Bus Terminal in Oklahoma City. Ernie Rhodes had an extra bounce in his step as he got off the bus, proudly wearing his khaki Air Force uniform. It was 1955.

Rhodes was far away from where he grew up in the Old Confederacy: Newport News, Virginia, was where he was born and raised. Rhodes went into the restaurant at the bus terminal and sat down, eager to get …

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When Jodie Foster came to Kansas

Bobby Detrich, a fourth grader at Jefferson elementary school in Great Bend, Kansas saw the girl, dressed in Depression-era clothing, looking like a tomboy. The charismatic blue-eyed girl was just his age. She emerged from her dressing room, and looked puzzled. She looked into her hands and fiddled with an old-fashioned wooden yo-yo. Although the girl was in Ellis County, Kansas, she hailed from California and didn’t know how to use a yo-yo. Jodie knew lots of things a kid from Kansas wouldn’t know. But Bobby Detrich knew all about yo-yo’s

Jodie Foster and Christopher Connelly in Hays, Kansas.

Most kids his …

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Kevin Willmott’s “The 24th” reminds America a reckoning is needed

Director Kevin Willmott’s film “The 24th” tells an important but little-known story in American race relations: the Houston Mutiny of 1917. In the same way that many Americans are learning about the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 for the first time, Willmott’s film introduces Americans to another-century old hidden but important story. The script is written by Willmott and a former KU pupil, Trai Byers. This analysis of the film tells what happens, so a spoiler alert is in order.

     The charismatic Kansas native Trai Byers not only co-wrote the script, he plays the lead role of William Boston, …

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"Da 5 Bloods"

“Da 5 Bloods” Makes Spike Lee Simply a “Great American Director”

Spike Lee Strikes Gold with Kevin Willmott in the Vietnam Film, “Da 5 Bloods.”

In the eyes of Hollywood, Spike Lee has recently gone from being a great African-American movie director to simply a great American movie director.

If his new film “Da 5 Bloods” was made about five white Vietnam veterans reuniting in Vietnam to find a buried treasure of gold and to find the remains of their fallen leader, it would still be a great film (due to the intriguing Sierra Madre-like plotline of buried gold and honoring an old war buddy).

The plot is suspenseful and full of potential double-crosses, …

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tiger king investigation

Making a Murderer and Tiger King: My Recent Interview

Making a Murderer (2015) is a too-wild-to-be-true NETFLIX series about the conviction of Steven Avery, a salvage dealer, who served two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and released. He promptly filed a thirty-six million dollar lawsuit against the local police for framing him.  He was on Easy Street. Free at last, and soon to get a settlement or verdict in the tens of millions against the local police.  Then disaster struck.  The same police who cooked up his wrongful conviction twenty years earlier successfully pinned a murder on him.

I was …

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