Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’m Adorable! Take Me Home!

Charmaine, a tortoiseshell glamorpuss, is one beautiful cat! She's one of many cats at Wayside Waifs looking for a home

Luna is an 11-year-old tortoiseshell sweetheart. Her bio says "This senior tortie cat came into Wayside when her owner was leaving for basic training and couldn't take her along. Luna is hoping her next family is out there waiting to give her the happy ending she deserves!"

I’ve been taking photographs once a week at Wayside Waifs, a Kansas City, Missouri, animal shelter,  for a month now.  I’m amazed at the huge variety of beautiful cats available for adoption in many colors, patterns and fur length. (See more of my photos below.)

I don’t even see them all, because, fortunately, many cats and kittens are quickly adopted.  But many more homeless cats and kittens (as well as dogs and puppies) come in the door as strays or surrendered pets just as quickly.  That’s why we need lots of families for these fuzzy balls of love. Wayside Waifs cares for about 400 cats and dogs and some small mammals every day.

Selena's beauty is undeniable from any angle.

Here’s from a July 22, 2010, email from Wayside Waifs:  “As Kansas City’s largest no-kill animal shelter, Wayside Waifs is committed to doing everything in our power to help animals in need.  Within the last week, Wayside Waifs has opened its doors to nearly 200 animals in need.  We’ve taken in homeless animals from overcrowded shelters in Missouri, Kansas and as far away as Montana.  We did not hesitate to answer a plea for help again yesterday, when a shelter in the Kansas City community was left in the dark following a powerful thunderstorm. 

Each of the rescued animals is now receiving loving care and a well-deserved second chance at Wayside Waifs.  Some have already found their forever homes, the rest are in good hands until the right family comes along.” 

Nearly all tortioiseshell cats are female. Find out why and more about these lovely cats by clicking on About Tortoiseshell cats.

To learn more about Wayside Waifs, see some of the animals available for adoption  and to donate, click on Wayside Waifs.

To see my first post on Wayside Waifs, which was featured on the WordPress home page for a day or two , click on  Wayside Waifs.  Be sure to check it out. Lots more beautiful cats and kittens! Most have been adopted, although as of this writing, Ike still needed a home. More cat photographs below.

Orion. Yes, he's got more than star power, he's requires the name of an awesome constellation to capture his magnificence.

Josie is always ready for her close-up, because she's nonstop gorgeous.

Joan shows off her sleek, fabulous looks. She's long, dark and beautiful.

Pedro has tuxedo markings, but don't let the formal attire fool you. He's a cat with a fun-loving personality and he really knows how to play!

On the left is Riff Raff, who's really an aristocrat with lovely manners and a charming and loving personality.

I confess, I don't know Jersey from Shore, but these two almost identical cats (one serves as a pillow for his littermate) are both sweet, beautiful kittens.

Ms. Pufferfish (sitting patiently on the left) and her kittens were not quite ready for adoption, but you can see that they will be in great demand.

Here's a preview of some of Ms. Pufferfish's kittens.

Who could resist Globo?

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Humor, Kansas City, Life, Pets, Photography

Dude, Your Bus is Rad!

California Surfer License Plate postcard

The ’68 VW bus has arrived in Kansas City.  How will this surfer-mobile fare in the Midwest, far from any toasty waves? 

The saga is detailed on The Thing About Life Is.

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Filed under Automobiles, Cars, Family, Kansas City, Life, Travel, Writing

Mystery of the Fountain

Mallard Pair in J.C. Nichols Fountain, Kansas City, Missouri.

People who like synchonicity and coincidences, as I do, call it the work of the “library angel” when a book or a newspaper article with answers appears (without using an internet search engine…) soon after you start pondering questions about a certain subject.  It’s a cosmic search engine.  

On Monday, I was looking through my stash of tens of thousands of digital photographs to find some for postcard designs.  I found the one above, which I originally took because I wanted photographs of bird couples. (Awww…) But on Monday, I start wondering about the origin of the fascinating sculpture behind the ducks.  On Tuesday, the following story appeared in my local newspaper.  Holy Moly!  Boy, did I get an answer to my question.

Mystery solved! Nichols fountain will get its missing dolphin back

By MATT CAMPBELL
The Kansas City Star

July 6, 2010 

The most photographed fountain in The City of Fountains has for half a century harbored a secret within its gushing waters.

The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain near the Country Club Plaza is the backdrop for countless weddings, protests and vacation snapshots. Figures on horseback dramatically do battle with creatures below while between them children ride monstrous fishes with mouths agape.

But look closely at the fish and figures in the northeast quadrant of the fountain.

There isn’t as much detail in the scales. There’s just something different.

It’s the mystery of the “fourth dolphin.”

The particular 500-pound piece of cast bronze now in the fountain was not born along with the other figures. It is an imitation that has gone unnoticed by the public all these years. Even current parks officials were unaware.

I pushed between tables of diners on the balcony of Figlio's Restaurant to get this view of the J.C. Nichols Fountain.

Until they received a call from a man in Florida who said, “I gather I have one of your missing statues.”

And so begins the latest chapter in the disappearance and now surprising rediscovery of the fourth dolphin.

The Nichols fountain had a previous life before it appeared at 47th Street and J.C. Nichols Parkway. It was created in 1910 by French sculptor Henri Greber, who was commissioned by the first wife of Stanley Mackay, president of the Postal Telegraph Co.

The Mackays were fabulously rich, and the fountain was a centerpiece of their Harbor Hill estate in Roslyn, N.Y., on Long Island. A coffee table book about the estate has a photo of the fountain illuminated for a party for Charles Lindbergh upon his return from his famous solo Atlantic flight in 1927.

But the Depression hit, Mackay died of cancer in 1938 and the estate deteriorated. Many of the nine bronze pieces that had made up the fountain became victims of vandals or thieves.

But one piece that was undamaged caught the eye of Marjorie Singer, a fashion designer who lived with her husband, Morton, in nearby Greenvale, N.Y. It was of a fish or dolphin with a little boy on its back, a rope in his hand, and a little girl hanging on alongside them. Singer ran into Mackay’s son and asked him if the piece was for sale.

“My mother fell in love with it,” said her son, Steve Singer. “They didn’t have any money. I think she said, ‘I’ll give you $25’ and laughed.”

But a couple of days later Mackay’s son agreed.

Meanwhile, Jesse Clyde Nichols had been transforming Kansas City by creating graceful neighborhoods and boulevards in and around the Country Club District and on the Kansas side. After Nichols died in 1950 his family wanted to create a memorial to him.

Son Miller Nichols worked with an art broker in New York called French & Co., which told him about the Greber pieces from the Mackay estate. The Nichols family acquired the pieces, which were valued at $250,000 in 1957, and the Kansas City park board agreed to help pay for a fountain in Mill Creek Park.

Newspaper clippings and park records show the bronzes were missing a head here and a leg there. But the public record does not make it clear that one entire piece of the original nine sculptures was missing.

Miller Nichols hired architectural modeler Herman Frederick Simon, who had done the bronze doors for Kansas City Hall and the Jackson County Courthouse, to make models of all of the missing parts as best he could. The Bruno Bearzi foundry in Florence, Italy, was hired to cast the bronze replacements.

They were incorporated into the originals, and the fountain was dedicated in May 1960 before nearly 1,000 people.

“After the replacement was created and the whole thing was assembled and put into the fountain in 1960 it was finished and nobody really thought about it again,” said Jocelyn Ball-Edson, a landscape architect for the Kansas City park department.

Until June 2008 when Steve Singer called out of the blue.

He grew up with the fish sculpture, which had adorned the driveway or patio of his parents’ various homes over six decades. His own daughters played on it. Eventually the elder Singers retired to Delray, Fla., where they died in recent years. As Steve Singer prepared to sell his parents’ home he realized he didn’t have room for the sculpture, which is about 5 feet long and 3 feet high.

Singer found the artist’s signature near the base of the piece and Googled it. One of the first hits under Henri Greber is the J.C. Nichols fountain in Kansas City. Singer was surprised to see it because his family had always assumed the rest of the fountain pieces had been destroyed. Singer now thought it would be appropriate for his piece to be reunited with the others. So he contacted the city. Research and negotiations began.

Kay Callison, granddaughter of J.C. Nichols and daughter of Miller Nichols, located a document among the Nichols company papers in the Western Historical Manuscript Collection titled “Cost of Fourth Dolphin and Children.” It establishes that the missing piece was among those that had to be reproduced. The job cost $2,417.40 including freight and customs.

“I knew there were parts and repairs, but I never knew there was an entire sculpture itself that was not original,” Callison said.

Ball-Edson went to view the sculpture in Florida and found that it was in sound condition, other than some corrosion.

“We’d already decided that we needed to purchase it,” Ball-Edson said. “It was just such an excellent opportunity that the park department concluded it would be a shame for it to go somewhere else.”

An appraiser for Christie’s auction house had told Singer the piece might fetch $25,000 to $35,000. Parks officials agreed to buy it for $28,000, which they hope to recoup through donations. The sculpture was crated up and shipped to Kansas City in May. It now sits in a city garage. “I think it’s very exciting,” Callison said. “I’m thrilled that the park department was able to secure it.”

The replacement piece, which by now has been part of the fountain longer than the original ever was, is a fine work in its own right and will be retained by the park department. It likely will be displayed somewhere else.

Officials hope to raise funds to do some repair and cleaning work on the rest of the J.C. Nichols fountain and to celebrate the return of the “fourth dolphin” on Fountain Day next April, when the city’s fountains are turned on for the season.

Singer said he hopes to be able to attend.

“I’m glad it’s going where it’s going,” he said, “and hope people will appreciate it.”

What does the fountain mean?
No one really knows what the figures in the J.C. Nichols fountain are supposed to represent. But Laurence Sickman, a former director of the Nelson Gallery, once speculated that the 10-foot-tall horse and rider figures are meant to be an allegory of four great rivers. The Indian battling an alligator could represent the Mississippi and the figure slaying a bear could represent the Volga while the other two could signify the Seine and the Rhine. 

The children riding fish or dolphins were common fountain themes and need not represent anything, Sickman said. But Ann McFerrin, archivist for the park department, recently speculated that the boy seems to be glowering at the fish as if he is rescuing the girl.

“She doesn’t look very happy,” McFerrin said. “The fish doesn’t look very happy, either.”

Contributions toward the restoration of the Nichols fountain may be made to the J.C. Nichols Fountain Fund and sent to the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, 4600 E. 63rd St., Kansas City MO 64130.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Arthur Koestler’s “The Roots of Coincidence.”

The Meaning of Synchronicity.

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Filed under Art, Birds, History, Kansas City, Life

Wayside Waifs

Penelope is just too cute to be limited to only one photograph! She's one of the many kittens and cats available at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri.

My weekly volunteer assignment:  Photograph cats and kittens available for adoption for the website of Wayside Waifs, Inc., an independent, not-for-profit humane society and animal welfare organization established in 1944.

Serino stretches out. Some cats are allowed to roam the cat area.

I’ve owned cats for almost twenty years (I should say that cats have owned me), so I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get most cats to pose.  There’s a reason for the old saying about how hard it is to “herd cats.”  Even cats who like to hang out and sit pretty will spring into action when you aim a camera at them.  Other cats withdraw into their cubbyholes.

As expected, the kittens were the hardest.  Open the cage, and the kitten explode out like jacks in a  box. The staff laughed, when I kept saying “sit,” which is what I say to Loki (dog at home) fifty times a day. I should know better!

Awww. A group hug. A second later, this trio was alert and trying to escape!

I got my first cat, Malcolm, at Wayside Waifs almost twenty years ago, so I have a special connection to the place.  When I first visited Wayside Waifs, it was housed in a small building.  Now, it has a very nice building, run completely by donations.  It has some heavy hitter donors, too, like Hallmark, which is headquartered in Kansas City.  It has a paid staff, but hundreds of volunteers keep it running, too. In fact, I had a hard time getting in!  In the future, you can be sure you’ll be reading more about Wayside Waifs and seeing a lot more photographs of adorable cats. I may be taking dog photographs, too.

Wayside Waifs website.

Centaurus and Gemini.

Aslan.

The very beautiful Grace Kelly is camera-shy. She wasn't ready for her close-up. When she saw my camera she moved back into her box. I'll try again next week, although hopefully someone will take home this adorable girl by then.

Hanging out.

Mackie struts her stuff in the community room. In the background is the original sign for Wayside Waifs, Inc., an independent, not-for-profit humane society and animal welfare organization established in 1944.

Kitties!

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Filed under Cats, Humor, Kansas City, Life, Personal, Pets, Photography