An Enemy in Their Ranks

The Kauffmans
Statues in front of the Kauffman Foundation honoring Ewing and Muriel Kauffman. The Foundation is one of the nation’s largest philanthropic groups and promotes education and entrepreneurship.

Being undercover behind enemy lines as I was, a spy, a turncoat–call me what you will–is risky business. Yet, that’s where I found myself, surrounded by a sea of blue and white uniforms. And me? There I was in a thinly veiled disguise. My uniform didn’t match… not even the same shade of blue, and the inscriptions all wrong. Had they noticed, had they known, had my real allegiances been unearthed, my true colors discovered, there’s no telling what would have happened, what great price I would have paid.

I could say I didn’t mean for it to happen, but that would be a lie. I walked right into the heart of the lion’s den knowing full well what I was doing. Knowing I’d be verbally eviscerated if discovered… criticized, ridiculed, and most of all booed. That’s right, booed. I was a San Francisco Giants fan in a sports bar in Kansas City, the opening night of the 2014 World Series where the San Francisco Giants were up against the Kansas City Royals.

Kauffman Garden
Yours truly relaxing at the Ewing & Muriel Memorial Garden in Kansas City on a glorious autumn day

What were you thinking? This is an RVing blog, not the diary of an undercover spy engaged in international espionage. LOL. What does any of this have to do with RVing? Everything. You see, I’m parked in the lot of the Ameristar casino in Kansas City, MO. Inside is the Amerisports Brew Pub, a sports bar with no fewer than 43 big screens. Normally, you wouldn’t find me in either a casino or a sports bar, but a series of events unfolded in such a way that there I was. Let me explain…

WW I Museum
The National WW I Museum in Kansas City, MO houses a wealth of military artifacts considering its small size. There are handguns, rifles, cannons, a torpedo and even an airplane. There are many uniforms and several audio-visual presentations. What am I forgetting?…

In the sixth month of my See-the-USA-in-an-RV trip I rolled into the parking lot of the Ameristar casino in Kansas City, Missouri. I came here, well, I suppose there’s no other way to say it, because I’m cheap! Ha! It’s free to park here and they don’t seem to care how long you stay. So, I thought I’d make it my base of operations while I checked out the city, and check it out I have. I’ve been to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the National World War I Museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Harley Davison Factory and the Money Museum. Most notably, in regard to my “undercover infiltration” of the Amerisports Brew Pub I visited the most unlikely of places to be associated with roaring, loud and rambunctious baseball fans–or so one would think–the quiet, solemn and serene environs of a memorial garden honoring the dead. Specifically, the Ewing and Muriel Memorial Garden.

Nelson-Aitkins Cafe
This is the cafeteria at the Nelson-Aitkins museum in Kansas City

The weather of late had been great, sunny and warm, the kind of weather that makes you want to be outdoors to soak it all up, especially knowing that now in mid autumn the blustering cold of winter would be following just around the corner. Wanting to be outdoors and take in every drop of Indian Summer that I could I headed over to the Ewing and Muriel Memorial Garden which seemed like it would be a lovely place to do so, and it was. However, while I was there I noticed something you wouldn’t normally expect or perhaps hope to see. Out in front of the office stood bronze statues of a man and a woman holding hands apparently in stride with each other walking to some unknown destination. Upon the head of the man had been placed a blue baseball cap with the initials KC for the Kansas City Royals. Now, I’ve heard of fan loyalty, but I thought this was taking it too far. This was a memorial garden, and that sort of frivolity didn’t belong in such a solemn place. So I thought, but I was wrong. I was as wrong as wrong could be.

I’m not sure if you’d call this a sculpture, mixed media, or something else but I really liked it. I didn’t realize it may represent a mouse or another animal in profile until after I looked at the photo several times. D’oh! I neglected to note the artist’s name. The piece was at the Kemper Museum of Comtemporary art when I was there. It might be about 10′ or so high.

As it turns out, Ewing and Muriel Kauffman who are remembered in the bronze statues and to whom the memorial garden is dedicated were the founding members of the KC Royals having brought them to KC back in 1968. It wasn’t the over exuberance of some dimwitted, insensitive sports fan callously tossing a baseball cap onto the head of the nearest statue, but rather a proud and respectful remembrance of the people that gave birth to the KC Royals.

I did not know upon arriving at the garden anything of the history of Ewing and Muriel Kauffman or the philanthropic organizaion they started. I did not know that the World Series was to begin the very night of my visit there. Nor had I known that the KC Royals were in the fight, or that the (drum roll…) San Francisco Giants–my home team–was slated against the Royals.

Tree sculpture silhouette
Here I’m playing around, making silhouettes of Roxy Paine’s stainless steel tree sculpture at Nelson-Atkins Museum

My journey from California through Nevada, Arizona and Utah, to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa and now Missouri into the parking lot of the Amerisports Brew Pub in Kansas City seemed something of a long trip to make in order to watch my home team play the home team in the town where I found myself the night the Series began. I had no idea of how the garden I chose to visit that day and the people for whom it was created would intertwine with where I’d come from, the timing of the Series opener and the contesting teams, or how all those pieces would come together the way they did… but there I was, an enemy in their ranks.

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