Thursday, August 27, 2015

Iconic Folks of Northeast Kansas

Every town has at least one. Like the mumbling guy on the street. Those intriguing characters that always make you wonder. When I lived in Austin, TX there was the iconic "Leslie" a cross-dresser that was loved by many. He even ran unsuccessfully for mayor several times. When he passed away in 2012, it was big news on all the local news programs. In addition, there was "running man," who is often seen on Rundberg and North Lamar running (or dancing) in place. But, hey "Keep Austin Weird," right?

Here in Northeast Kansas, we have our share of them as well. Here is a look at some that make our communities a little more unique. 

1. "Dennis"
 Twitter: @RealSherylTween
Facebook: The Friends of Dennis
Dennis Abbott is known around Lawrence for his manikin that he calls his daughter, Sheryl Tween. When we tried to find out more about him and his daughter, we were told that he wasn't iconic.  So as we write this, we ourselves, still don't really know who the man behind the persona is.
In an 2013 interview, he told KU Journalism Student Erica Marie Staab,
“My name is Dennis Abbott and I’m 48 years old,” he said in-between bites. As far as he is concerned, Abbott is a Lawrence native and has lived here his whole life. Currently he resides somewhere around 17Street.
photographer Unknown.
via Twitter @Sheryltween

According to the post, he lives with his brother John, and named his mannequin Sheryl, because he is a fan of Sheryl Crow.
But Sheryl doesn’t seem to be the only woman in Abbott’s life. Lying in the middle of the table were 3 different sized photographs of some blonde haired woman.
“That? That is just the girl,” Abbott said in reference to the pictures as he picked them up and showed them to me. After he gazed at them a moment he sat them back down and took a sip of his Dr. Pepper.
 Reportedly he is a fan of KU football, with a big blue Jayhawk in his room at his home.

2. "the Tan Man"

©Richard Gwin/Journal-World
This one comes from the 70's and 80's, so he is kind of retired from the unique local character scene. However, according to a Lawrence Journal World article John Schneider is still occasionally recognized, even in his 60's (he would be 69 or 70 this year). Back in the day, he spent time around the KU campus and Wesco Beach shirtless, soaking up the sun.  Thus becoming known as the Tan Man.
People still recognize him - even after all these years, even when he has a shirt on, he said.
A few years ago, Lawrence resident Tim Baxter saw Schneider outside his mobile home and knew immediately who he was. It was the first time he'd seen the Tan Man in years, Baxter said.
"He's aged, just like we all have, but I knew it was the Tan Man," Baxter said. "He's kind of a local legend."
- Lawrence Journal World (May 2006)

"the Lamp Dancer"
Twitter: @thelampdancer

Here in Topeka we have the Lamp Dancer, (aka "Trumpet") Rickey Hite. He dances all day, almost everyday down town. The guy is really nice and lots of people stop to talk to him and dance with him.

Do you know of any other folks that should be part of this list.
 In Lawrence?
Other Northeast Kansas cities and towns?
Add your comments in the comments section and tell about them.

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