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IMG_2360Eudora News and Information~www.eudorareporter.com

“Every day is a gift.”

Those are the sentiments of long-time Eudora resident Nancy Staples after her third bone marrow transplant in seven years.  She feels grateful for each day she has to enjoy her family, her friends and her church.  She is thrilled to just be alive.

Staples, 67, was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma—bone marrow cancer—in 2006.  She had her first transplant right before Christmas that year.  Before the procedure, she received chemotherapy shots in her abdomen for several months.  Then her bone marrow was removed, filtered and transplanted into her bones.  Enough bone marrow was frozen to use for her second transplant as well.  She received that second transplant in 2009 and the third in 2013.

The hardest part for Staples was the isolation required after a transplant.  It meant she had to be kept away from people for three months, a difficult thing for a woman who adores her four children and twelve grandchildren.  But even in that she found something for which to be thankful.

“If the doctors hadn’t been able to use my own bone marrow, I’d have had to stay away from everyone for 12 months!”

Few people are able to have three transplants, especially at her age.  In fact, Staples was the first patient for oncologist Sharon Soule to undergo the procedure three times.

“The older you get, the harder it is,” explained Staples.  “This last transplant was harder on me.  It wasn’t painful, but it made me nauseated and feel like I wasn’t there.  I don’t remember anything about the transplant or the first week afterwards.”

With each transplant Staples had to go through the chemo and the extraction, a long and exhausting affair.  With the third transplant they extracted enough bone marrow to use for a fourth, but she says that there is no way she would go through it again.  Remission usually lasts 3 1/2 to 4 years at the most.  She is going to treasure each day she has.

“Life is too short.  You don’t know what God has for you, so you just take one day at a time.  I don’t hold grudges.  I forgive.  I make the best of each day.”

Nancy Staples is a great example of someone who makes the best of each day.  Despite her health challenges and the loss of two of her brothers in this past year, she has a ready smile and a great attitude.

“With each transplant I grow closer to God.  I feel so thankful,” Staples expressed.  “I look at all the pictures of my kids and grandkids and I think, ‘Look what God has given me.’”

Now one of her goals is to help other people going through hard times.

“I want to take hope to others.  You can’t do this without God,” said Staples.

Her other goal is to leave a legacy for her grandchildren.  It seems as though she already has.

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2013-12-18 10.52.56

Santa’s Helpers (a.k.a. Sue Neustifter, Louis Box, Sharon Bohm, Rita Strahl, Donna Brown, Jane Marconette and Mary Ann Stewart, not pictured Jane Massey)

Eudora News and Information ~ www.eudorareporter.com

There is a group of hardworking people at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Eudora, but you won’t see them preaching from the pulpit or leading worship on a Sunday morning. You’ll find them in the church basement on Wednesdays. They’re the volunteers of the Eudora Food Pantry.

Each Wednesday morning from 10:00am until noon the volunteers make sure the food pantry is open to accommodate those in need of food. According to volunteer Sharon Bohm it’s been happening for at least fifteen years. Another volunteer, Donna Brown, said that though the number varies from week to week, sometimes as many as 30 people visit the food pantry in one morning. That adds up to a lot of people helped by the food pantry over the many years that it’s been operating.

Besides non-perishable items like canned vegetables, fruit, peanut butter, soups and cereals, fresh meats, milk and bread can also be found at the pantry. During the growing season, many area gardeners donate their surplus vegetables, always a big hit with the clients. Often toiletries, dishwashing liquid and other cleaning supplies are available.

Anyone in need is welcome to come to the pantry, but there is a limit of two visits a month for each individual/family. Because there are limits on the amount of food each client can take, volunteers help them with their choices.

“The only requirement to use the pantry,” Bohm explained, “is that you live in Eudora. Everyone must produce either a rent receipt or a utility bill that shows their home address. This is extremely important because all of our financing comes from right here in Eudora.”

The support comes in many ways: businesses, teachers, churches and individuals give generously to the organization. There are even children who have birthday parties and tell their friends to bring non-perishable items for the food pantry instead of gifts.

Bohm added, “Eudora is such a giving, giving community. Everyone is so supportive of what we’re doing.”

Brown said that many of those who visit the food pantry are the elderly on fixed incomes, but there are also younger people who have lost their jobs and need some temporary assistance.

The volunteers are always looking for donations, which can be dropped off at the church during food pantry hours or at Gene’s Heartland Foods (1401 Church St.) where Mary Beem from the Eudora Baptist Church has set up a barrel to collect donations. Besides non-perishable items of every kind, cash donations are also very important so that the volunteers can purchase the perishable items each week. Checks can be sent to the Eudora Food Pantry at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ (738 Church St.) or to volunteer Sue Neustifter at 1601 Elm St. The group makes good use of any funds they receive.

“Two ladies spend hours going through coupons to help stretch the money,” explained Bohm. “And if any of us see a bargain, we pick it up and then get reimbursed through the fund. We are always looking for good deals to make the money go further.”

Sue Neustifter, who heads up the program, wants to thank all the citizens of Eudora for their generous contributions, and the volunteers who work so hard. She said that an easy way to support the effort to feed the hungry in Eudora is to visit City Hall and request that an extra $5 or $10 be added to their utility bill each month. That money will go directly to the food pantry fund.

The dedicated group of volunteers— Mary Ann Stewart, Jane Marconette, Jane Massey, Louis Box and Rita Strahl along with Brown, Bohm and Neustifter—enjoy their Wednesday mornings together and feel like they’re doing an important service.

“They’re the most wonderful group of people I’ve ever worked with,” said Sharon Bohm.

Five year volunteer Donna Brown added, “I just feel like I’m helping the community a little.”

I’d say that they’re helping more than just a little. So if you see these folks around town, give them a big thank you (and maybe even a hug) on behalf of all the people in Eudora whom they have faithfully served through the years.

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2013-12-07 15.30.05

Cris & Sherry Crawford of Evening Star Pines

Eudora News and Information

A live Christmas tree can be purchased lots of places—greenhouses, grocery stores and big box stores—but for a memorable experience you’ve got to visit a Christmas tree farm. There’s just something special about wandering around among hundreds of trees until you find just the right one, and then bringing home that freshly cut, fragrant tree. It’s a tradition we started with our kids that now includes their kids. It’s something we all eagerly anticipate on Thanksgiving weekend.

One of our favorite spots is Evening Star Pines, 9820 Evening Star Road, a mile or so east of Eudora. Owned by Cris and Sherry Crawford, the farm is on 40 beautiful acres with pine and spruce trees of every imaginable size to cut, as well as pre-harvested Frasier firs brought in from Wisconsin. The Crawfords bought the property and started planting trees 22 years on, and it’s been open for business for the past 15. Though it’s only open for a few weeks before Christmas, it is a- year-round job and a lot more work that they initially expected.

“I thought it would be something that wouldn’t take much time,” Cris said with a grin, “but I was kind of wrong on that one.”

It requires a great deal of planting in spring and fall, and non-stop mowing or watering during warm weather. All the trees have to be sheared once a year in June, and that takes a month. But for the Crawfords, it’s worth all the work.

“I love having all the kids come and seeing them running around,” said Cris. “Everyone is always happy at Christmas.”

When asked what the biggest challenge was of owning a tree farm, Cris was quick to respond: “The weather!” They lost 800 trees to drought during the recent summers without rain.

Cris and Sherry make everyone feel welcome at their farm, and you get more than just a Christmas tree when you visit. There’s the cup of hot cocoa to sip with cookies and candy canes in the heated barn. There are local jams, jars of honey for sale, and beautiful handmade wreaths. There is room for kids to run and play hide and seek among the trees. And, much to every child’s delight, sleigh rides (pulled by a tractor rather than horses) around the property are offered. Evening Star Pines provides a fun and old-fashioned experience for the whole family, and one that will create wonderful memories.

Sarah Chrislip with nieces Abi & Izzy strolling through the pines

Sarah Chrislip with nieces Abi & Izzy strolling through the pines

Even though the tree farm keeps them busy all year, it’s not all that Cris and Sherry Crawford do. After teaching and coaching in Desoto for 29 years, Chris started a construction company called Evening Star Enterprises. Sherry teaches phys ed in the Olathe school district as well as does agility training for dogs. In whatever spare time Cris finds, he refurbishes antique sleighs. The one in the above photo is from 1897.

Evening Star Pines will be open from 9-5 each Saturday and Sunday until Christmas. Visit their website at http://www.christmas-tree.com/real/ks/evening_star/. Then visit the farm for an experience you’ll remember for years to come.

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Phil Schonberg3

Schonberg with the motorized log cart he designed        Photo courtesy Kay Schonberg

Eudora News and Information ~ www.eudorareporter.com

Philip Schonberg is best known in this area for his tree trimming business (Schonberg’s Tree Service) that he has run with a couple of his sons and a handful of employees for many years. But Schonberg is more than just a tree trimmer; he’s an inventor of sorts.

He insists he’s not really an inventor, but more of an “adapter.” He figures out how to make things better by building, rebuilding, and rethinking something to make it more useful. Take the motor-driven log cart that he designed. Because there is not a lot of equipment on the market that you can use in the trimming business that is suitable for small or well-manicured yards, Schonberg came up with the cart that is marketed under the name “little helper cart.” Don’t let that name fool you because it is a big help to those in the tree business, and surely saves a lot of wear and tear on muscles.

At only 240 pounds itself, the cart can carry a load of up to 800 pounds. (Try moving that much weight in a wheelbarrow!) It’s self-propelled, can move a heavy load uphill and doesn’t tear up the turf in a yard. Even a small person can operate it. Schonberg allowed me to drive one around his equipment yard after the interview, and the cart practically drove itself. I had to hang on to keep up with it. Granted, it didn’t have 800 pounds in it, but Philip had stacked several big logs in it for me.

Because his tree business can only be done eight or nine months out of the year, he takes advantage of the winter months to build the carts. So far he’s sold about 90 carts, and he gets rave reviews from those who have bought them. A training and safety supervisor in Kansas City called the little helper cart “a life saver.”

“Tree trimming is still a lot of work,” admitted Schonberg, “but the cart helps. It is so much easier than using a wheelbarrow or a dolly.”

Schonberg comes from a family of inventors. His dad, grandfather and uncles came up with all kinds of inventions.

“My Uncle Harry built a tractor out of old car and truck parts,” Schonberg said with a laugh. “Being poor is fertile ground for inventors. There are probably some people who sit around trying to invent things, but most inventions are made by hard-working people just trying to figure out how to make things better.”

Schonberg's Flying Banana

Schonberg’s Flying Banana

Not everything Schonberg creates is for business. He built The Flying Banana, a trailer he pulls behind his tractor that looks unmistakably like a huge banana, for the pleasure of his grandchildren. It has plenty of seating for his numerous grandchildren with a little gate that closes so that a child can’t fall out. Adults enjoy the excursions in The Flying Banana as much as the kids.

Schonberg also has a huge organic garden that produces much of the food his family enjoys all year. Even the swing on the porch was handmade by Philip, and it’s much more comfortable than one from a factory. It practically invites you to slow down and sit a spell to enjoy the serenity of his country property.

Phil and his wife Kay live a few miles south of Eudora in a home they built themselves. They have four grown children and a banana trailer load of grandchildren. Schonberg can be reached at 785-865-6789.

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Pilla building

The Pilla Building in the early 20th century          Photo courtesy of Eudora Area Historical Society

Eudora News and Information ~ www.eudorareporter.com

How did a lawyer from Connecticut and a guy who runs a PR firm in Wisconsin end up at Blacklodge Recording in downtown Eudora making an album they ultimately named Eudora? It’s a winding road that brought this pair to our little neck of the woods.

Dave Kenna and Mark Farley were both musicians throughout high school in NY in the late 1970’s and early 80’s playing hard rock and heavy metal. Their style changed after Farley sang an Allman Brothers tune with a two-piece band in a little bar in Long Island. Kenna and Farley realized they could put together something acoustic that would allow their harmonies to be heard and would focus on their melodies rather than just volume. Thus, the two-man band Second Wind was born in 1982.

The friends ended up attending different colleges but met up on breaks and played in Long Island during the heyday of the wine and cheese scene. It wasn’t exactly the most profitable thing in the world.

Mike  Farley & Dave Kenna in 1982

Mike Farley & Dave Kenna in 1982

Kenna explained, “We could get lots of acoustic gigs for about $20 a night with a $10 bar tab.”

Their careers took them in different directions after college, but the two continued to get together once a year to attend an NFL game together. Each year they chose a city they’d never been to before.

“As 2012 approached,” recalled Kenna, “it occurred to me that we were coming up on the 30th anniversary of our first gig as Second Wind, so I suggested to Mike that we head to Kansas City and bring a guitar along so we might record a few songs.”

Mike was skeptical, but the guys wound up each writing a new song and then combining Dave’s melody and chorus with Mike’s lyrics for a third song. They finished it off with a favorite Jim Crose tune. The friends then headed to Kansas where they spent the day recording at Eudora’s Blacklodge before attending a Chief’s game later in the weekend.

At that time Blacklodge Recording was in the historic old Pilla building at 7th & Main. It is currently the personal studio of Hawaii-born-and-raised songwriter Kawehi. From 1862-1929 the building was the Pilla Store (owned by Charles Pilla, once mayor of Eudora) that sold groceries, general merchandise and farm implements. In the years following it housed many grocery different stores, a funeral chapel and another recording studio. Dave Kenna described the building as having “amazing acoustics” for recording.

Kenna and Farley had a great experience in Eudora, not only at the recording studio but also meandering around town and eating lunch at Jasmine’s. Mike Farley thought that a restaurant that combined Chinese and Mexican cuisine was just odd enough that it had to be tried. They were not disappointed in either the food or the people they met as they wandered the streets of Eudora after the meal.

“Folks we met along the way were excited that we were recording and were so open and friendly that as the recording came to together, we decided that the most appropriate name for the album would be Eudora,” explained Kenna. “I associate the name Eudora with one of the greatest days of my musical life.”

Farley added, “It was the perfect setting for two old friends to record and put something on CD after 30 years.”
After finishing the recording, Kenna and Farley decided to release the CD to raise money and awareness for autism. They added two songs they had previously recorded and wound up with an acoustic album that Kenna believes “captures where we started, where we went on our own and where we are now.” They couldn’t be happier with the result.

“What I find amazing,” said Kenna, “is how we just picked up the ball so easily and how our voices, 30 years on, still seem to work together. We insisted on minimal technology in the recording and allowed our mistakes and the natural acoustics of the room to shine through.”

Dave Kenna can be contacted at davekennamusic@gmail.com.

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