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Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 10:27 am


Bowl Plaza public restroom opening draws hundreds to Lucas

By GARY DEMUTH Salina Journal

LUCAS — Dorothy Johnson was honored to be “First Flusher” of the Porcelain Throne. An auction during the Bowl Plaza Grand Opening event Saturday in Lucas gave the 90-year-old Salina woman the victory.

Her designated duty? To be the very first person to push down the handle of the women’s handicapped restroom at the first public restroom in downtown Lucas, aptly called Bowl Plaza.

“I didn’t think this thing would have so much notoriety,” Johnson said.

Lucas residents and hundreds of visitors from as far away as Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., gathered on both sides of the street leading from the Lucas Community Theater to Bowl Plaza. They held toilet plungers, scrub brushes and tissue rolls aloft while Johnson and three other royal flushers regally proceeded across the street, dressed in flowing capes and wearing paper crowns.

Watching from afar, Peter Robinson and his wife, Theresa, who moved from England four years ago and now live in Kansas City, Mo., were amused at all the pomp and pageantry for what basically was an outdoor toilet.

“I have concluded all the eccentric people moved out of England and came to Lucas,” Peter Robinson said with a smile.

In addition to Johnson, three other people were given flushing honors in the restroom’s other three toilets: retired Lucas banker Doug Hickman, who got to flush the men’s urinal, called the “Porcelain Bus”; Beth Schultz of Washington, D.C., who flushed the women’s “Oval Office” bowl; and Inman resident Marci Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, who flushed the men’s handicapped stall, dubbed “The Superbowl.”

Linda Harper, visiting from Warrenton, Va., said she’s never quite experienced a town like Lucas before.

“It’s just a cool, funky, fun town,” she said. “I have never heard of a town having an all-day event for a public toilet.”

But this is no ordinary toilet.

The Bowl Plaza Grand Opening was the culmination of a four-year dream to build a downtown restroom in Lucas. In 2008, Eric Abraham, a ceramic and porcelain artist who owns the Flying Pig Studio in Lucas, and Rosslyn Schultz, director of Lucas’ Grassroots Art Center, received an attraction development grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce to build Bowl Plaza.

The facility never was intended to be a typical restroom, Abraham said, but an art attraction that also served a functional purpose.

“We wanted the restroom to be strange, quirky and unusual,” he said.

That certainly is the case. The rectangular men’s and women’s building is shaped like a toilet tank, and the oval-painted entrance resembles an upraised toilet seat lid.

In the middle of an oval seating area in front of the restroom is a ceramic sculpture created by Abraham of swirling water that contains all the things one might accidently flush down a toilet, including keys, a toothbrush, cigarette pack, pocket watch, hairbrush and even an alligator.

The walkway to and from the restrooms is shaped like an unfurling roll of toilet paper. The interior of the restroom is filled with unique and colorful mosaics that utilize colored glass bottles, broken pottery, dishes, tiles, stained glass and mirrors.

The mosaics were created by Marquette artist Mri-Pilar with the help of students from Fort Hays State University. Mri-Pilar said she was amazed at the large turnout for the grand opening, not only from Kansas but from around the U.S. and even overseas.

“You take a risk and people will respond,” she said. “I don’t mind people looking at my art when they come in to relieve themselves. You come in here, you don’t need a magazine.”

Lucas resident Michaela Pate said she loved the artistic flair shown by her fellow townspeople.

“Everyone can be who they want to be, and the community embraces it,” she said. “While so many towns are dying out, Lucas is finding a way to stay alive.”

The daylong event included a toilet seat toss, Tubular Olympics with empty toilet paper rolls, a talent show and a presentation by Lucas-based artist Erika Nelson called “Here’s the Poop.”

“Thank you for coming to a formal lecture about poop,” Nelson told the gathered crowd at the Lucas Community Theater. “Everyone poops, we just haven’t had a place to do that in Lucas.”

At the Flying Pig Studio, artists were invited to participate in a Bowl Plaza Art Show, constructing sculptures made entirely out of toilet paper. Salinan Rick Frisbie created a statue of David (with apologies to Michelangelo) out of more than 200 rolls of white toilet paper.

“Where else would I do this but Lucas?” Frisbie said. “It’s the only place I’d be making a toilet-paper sculpture.”

Abraham was pleased so many people came to Lucas for the grand opening.

“There’s been so many ups and downs getting here and a few setbacks,” he said. “I’m amazed so many people would come out for a toilet.”

Rosslyn Schultz said the bottom line is that the restroom is a great facility that will attract people to visit Lucas.

“They’ve been looking at this from all over the world, and it’s going to draw people off I-70,” she said. “There’s a few finishing touches we have to do, but it’s all OK now. We can take a deep breath.”

Joe Kearns, of Pleasant Hill, Mo., rode his Harley Davidson to Lucas with seven other members of the American Heartland Hog group. He said they had a wild idea to hop on their bikes and make the trek to Lucas just to watch a toilet be flushed.

“It’s a fun day to ride out,” he said. “And I’m always looking for a toilet.”

– Reporter Gary Demuth can be reached at 822-1405 or by email at



Filed under: prairie musings, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 2:00 pm


First Flush Activities - Bowl Plaza - Lucas, KS
Saturday June 2, 2012

April 1st to 3 PM June 2nd: On-going bidding to be the first person to flush at the Bowl Plaza.

Women’s toilets: 1) The Porcelain Throne (Silent auction)     2) The Oval Office (Live auction)

Men’s toilets:     1) The Superbowl (eBay auction)              2) The Porcelain Bus (Silent auction)

For bidding information contact: Brant’s Meat Market, Lucas, KS or Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce

785-525-6288      Email: 10am: Bowl Plaza Art Show at the Flying Pig Studio and Gallery, 123 S. main Street.Rock ‘n Roll Sculpture. Bring or mail your toilet paper creations for exhibit and vote for “People’s Choice” selections. This exhibit will extend through July 15th. Experience Tess Dunkel McKnight’s Bowl Plaza Quilts and enjoy the Linus Sarver concert.

10 - 11am: “99 Bottles of Wine on the Wall” at Wendell Cowan home, 422 N. Wolf Ave., Lucas.
10 - noon: Tubular Olympics at the Lucas Sylvan Elementary Gym, 130 N. Greeley. The Wolf Creek Valley 4-H Club is sponsoring competition for all ages involving empty toilet paper rolls. Also, you can create a toilet paper sculpture this day out of an empty toilet paper roll(s). 10am - 5pm: Grassroots Art Center, 213 S. Main, open house, “Iron Man” Curly Leiker, Victoria, KS metal sculpture and Brooke Wallace, New Cambria, KS, “Recycled Dresses.” 10:30am - 12:30pm: Fred Whitman, California sculptor will be carving in native limestone on Main St.


The wall of the Bowl showing the intricate tile work of Mri-Pilar.  Artist Mri-Pilar divides her time between Lucas and Marquette.  You’ll want to visit her house filled with her art while you are in Lucas.


Cindy McAtee and Meredith Vargo examine the fine details of the exterior designs.


One of the walls inside the women’s section of the Bowl.


Mri Pilar’s intricate tile work covers all the walls.


The men’s side of the Bowl reflects their manly interests.


Match box cars for the young boys…


When complete, this will be the fanciest urinal west of the Mississippi.  The tile work around the fixture has yet to be installed.  All of the fixtures are top-of-the-line and donated by the Kohler Company.  The Kohler Company has made a substantial contribution to the City of Lucas for the renovation of the Garden of Eden and the construction of the Bowl.

Don’t miss the chess set and other games above the door…


An entry for the toilet seat competition…


Another entry for the toilet seat competition…


American Fork Art…in the Bowl Plaza

Don’t miss the beautiful quilts created by Tess Dunkle McKnight that are next door to the Bowl Plaza in the Flying Pig Gallery.

Plan to take time to visit the Grassroots Museum…The Garden of Eden and the host of other “quaint”, “charming” and unique places Lucas has to offer.  All these fine accomplishments of the citizens of Lucas are worth your spending the day there familiarizing yourself with all the fun that can be had on the by-roads of Kansas.  You’ll see about everyone you ever met in Lucas tomorrow.  Take your family and enjoy a unique outing.  And, don’t forget your camera.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Eat, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 9:49 am

As of tomorrow, May  1st, Michael Dougherty will take over management of the K-18 Café in Lucas. Many changes are planned from the previous management and will take place during the next few months. The new manager is the son of our friend, Connie Dougherty.  Michael invites you stop in for a meal.  You’ll be glad you did.



Filed under: prairie musings, Kansas, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 4:50 pm

Save the Date:  Saturday, June 2, 2012 Lucas, KS will celebrate completion of the Bowl Plaza eccentric restrooms.  Fun activities will occur from 10 a.m. to 3:21 p.m. when the “First Flush” will happen.  A full list of contests, activities, and events for all ages will be posted on the Grassroots Art Center web site HERE  by mid-April.

Here is an invitation to create!  Enter the “Rock ‘n Roll” toilet paper sculpture contest.  Use at least one or more, empty or full toilet paper roll(s) to create your one-of-a-kind sculpture plus additional items, if necessary.  Compose a poem, song, cheer, dance “the potty jig” with a ‘family friendly’ restroom theme for the June 2nd afternoon “Talent Extravaganza.” If you can not be present in person, your creations may be mailed or dropped off at the Grassroots Art Center, 213 S. Main St., Lucas, KS 67648.

Be the first person to flush the four Kohler plumbing fixtures.  The Lucas Chamber of Commerce is currently taking bids at Brant’s Meat Market and additional bidding on-line information can be found HERE.

For further information, contact:
Rosslyn Schultz
Grassroots Art Center
213 S. Main St.
Lucas, KS  67648



Filed under: prairie musings, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 10:48 am

Lucas Area Community Theater Movies for Feb. 10, 11, 12 First Show -

“Joyful Noise” PG-13 @ 7pm Fri & Sat, 5pm Sun. Second Show - “War Horse” PG-13 @ 9:15pm Fri & Sat, 7:15pm Sun.

Lucas is a great place to go to see the latest movies…you not only save money, have wonderful surroundings, and enjoy the best popcorn in this part of the world, but you’ll also find it’s affordable/inexpensive.  Stop in Brant’s to buy some of his good meat specialties to take home, as an extra treat.



Filed under: prairie musings, Area Sites, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 12:16 pm


I’m sending this Philly Cheese sandwich to my friend, Ty Walk, who longs for a good Philly sandwich.  At Kelly’s Tavern in Luray they prepare this dandy with thinly chopped sirloin steak (made on site) and serve it on a hoagie bun with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers with melted provalone and mozzarella.  The au jus was a special request…and was a wonderful addition.  You can’t really appreciate the size of this sandwich from this angle looking down on it, but it is several stories high.  This plate of food is $8.95 and enough for two meals.


This is Kelly’s Tavern in downtown Luray.  You can’t miss it.  “Hooray for Luray”, as my friend John O’Leary used to say.


Kelly’s Tavern is true to its name and located at 112 North Main, Luray.  Walter Keith is the owner and can be reached at 785.698.2305.


Karen ordered The Club.  If you look closely you can see it fills the whole plate.  The french fries were piled on top. It was $7.95.   I ordered The Prime Minister, a customer favorite, that was made with thinly sliced prime rib, that melts in your mouth, with all the same toppings as The Philly except for the green peppers.  It, too, was $8.95.  We each brought half of our sandwiches home.

They also have seven varieties of  1/2 pound hamburgers.  The Kansas Killer Burger is served between two grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion.  It’s $7.75, the highest priced burger on the menu.  There are four varieties of 1/4 pound hot dogs, all served with fries. One is the Pig Roast served on a hoagie bun with grilled honey ham, bacon and melted Swiss and American cheese.

There are six appetizers on the menu and three salads. He serves a 14 oz K.C. Strip steak with choice of potatoes, salad and veggies for $13.95. We heard the chicken fried steak, which is $8.95, will fill a large platter.

There are plenty of items to choose from on the menu to make anyone a happy diner.  They have several selections of $2.00 bottled beer and wine.  You couldn’t possibly leave there hungry.

There are Kelly’s Taverns in Bluffton SC, Ridgeland SC, Coeur D’Alene ID, Springfield GA, Neptune NJ….and one coming soon in Russell KS.

We stopped in Lucas on the way home to see the progress they are making on the extraordinary public bathroom facilities, a one of a kind in Kansas or probably elsewhere.


Isn’t this spectacular?  It’s not quite finished, but local artisans are diligently working on it as it nears completion.  The Kohler Company has taken Lucas under its benevolent wing and is providing top-of-the-line fixtures necessary for this bathroom facility.


This is part of the outstanding art work, the creation of Eric Abraham, that will be mounted on the walls of the men’s restroom.


This is Eric Abraham showing us one of his porcelain marvels.


Karen image is reflected in the porcelain framed mirror.  Although his lavatory/mirror creations resemble one another, no two are the same.  They are found in  many parts of the U.S. and command a very hefty price.


I never go through Lucas without stopping to buy fresh meat products from Doug Brant.  It’s a mandatory stop.  Here’s Doug dishing up pound packages of freshly ground meat for us.  We also put a dent in his fresh bulk sausage, pepper sausage and bacon.  He also sells the best beef jerky available in this neck of the woods.


The Garden of Eden is getting a face lift…and it really shows.  The City of Lucas gave the Garden to the Kohler Company that is responsible for all the restoration work being done on the Garden.  Once completed, they will turn the facility back to the City.  This is a project that the City of Lucas couldn’t easily afford on its own.  The Kohler Company has done a great deal to aid in the preservation of the grassroots arts community of Lucas.


My two traveling companions, Karen and Ally, stand in front of the restored Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden.  The Garden is getting a grand restoration.  Stop by and view the progress when you are in Lucas.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 4:46 pm

Garden of Eden near Lucas sold, to be restored
By Mike Corn - Special to The News

LUCAS - The iconic Garden of Eden here has been sold, but it’s a sale that will bring with it a massive restoration effort.

Once the restoration process is completed, the Kohler Foundation Inc., Kohler, Wis., plans to turn ownership over to a local nonprofit group.

The ownership change was announced this morning in a letter to Lucas chamber members from John Hachmeister, a director in Garden of Eden Inc., the group that purchased S.P. Dinsmoor’s 1906 concrete garden and limestone log cabin more than 20 years ago.

“This is the best transition anyone could hope for,” Hachmeister said in the letter. “Needed work that Garden of Eden Inc. could never afford to carry out will be done.”

When the work is done, Kohler will transfer ownership to a local nonprofit group, Friends of S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, he said. The group was formed by Hachmeister and Lucas artist Erika Nelson.

A town meeting on the sale and restoration will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lucas Area Community Theater.

For additional information, click here….



Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 5:11 pm

The eclipse drew me to it like a magnet last night; however, the prison lights were overpowering and stole my view away.  I gave up after awhile as I wasn’t about to go driving out in the country to find a place where I could see it better.  At 2:30, I closed it down and went back to bed.  I saw the moon and that’s about all.  I could have gone to Ally’s for a good view.  She was outside during the whole eclipse lying in a lawn lounge. One needed to lie down to see it.

Hot dang chili time.  The largest kettle I have is full of good, lean ground beef from the packing plant, an abundance of chopped fresh garlic and onions, chopped tomatoes, Williams chili seasoning, lots of rinsed dark red kidney beans, hands full of Rich Connally’s assorted pungent pods of hot chile peppers, beer, water and salt.  It’s enough to make a grown up cry in anticipation as it simmers away.  There is nothing worse than bland chili so I avoid that at all cost. Drew will have some to take home with him after the holidays.

A suspicious looking thing on my nose drew my doctor’s attention so he biopsied it today. It doesn’t look too bad except for the suture threads that are sticking out like long black whiskers on Ringo’s nose.  They’ll come out soon. Next week I get to see the podiatrist to have a suspicious looking thing between two toes removed.  I haven’t been able to look between my toes for about 10 years.  Old people gather suspicious looking things on their skin, especially in places one can’t see,  and it’s hard to keep up with them.  I need a full time skin inspector person.

The best baklava comes from Ellsworth, in my opinion.  What is available here is an elegant Greek dessert.  Baklava is a dessert with an imprecise origin and something hard to put your finger on because every ethnic group whose ancestry goes back to the Middle East has a claim of their own on this scrumptious pastry.  They all make it differently, but it has similar ingredients: phyllo dough, chopped nuts, honey, butter, sugar, etc.  The trick is in the assembly.  Here’s a recipe, but be sure to read all the reader comments below the recipe for additional advice.  It’s a labor of love to make it.  Over the years,  I have had Lebanese baklava, Syrian baklava, and almost every other kind imaginable.   Most are too sweet and dripping with honey to suit my taste.  If you are lucky enough to taste Chris Zouzas’s baklava or that made by her daughter Diana and her husband, Steve Steinhaus, you’ve had the best.  Theirs is perfect, not overly sweet, and very delicious.

You might want to watch Conan tomorrow night.   Erika Nelson from Lucas is scheduled to appear.  She’s a great representative of Lucas and will do them proud. She’s will be talking about the World’s Largest Collection of The World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things that she carries around with her in a bus.  If you haven’t been to Lucas, you need to devote a day to exploring their grassroots art collection and other assorted oddities.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 11:54 am

From the Kansas Explorers Club: The Lucas Theater will be hooked up to watch Conan live on Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. You’re all invited. Why? Erika Nelson, Lucas’ own originator of the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Version of the World’s Largest Things will be on Conan that night. If you’re having a watch party elsewhere, let us know here! Go WLT!



Filed under: prairie musings, Artists, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 5:48 pm

The Conan guest list for Dec. 22: Jack Black, Erika Nelson, Jimmie Vaughan.  Watch the program and “Meet the Creator of the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum.”  Erika Nelson, Pretty Smart Cookie, lives in Lucas.



Filed under: prairie musings, Lucas — Peg Britton @ 10:31 am


There is very big news coming out of Lucas Kansas.  Erika Nelson who collects, erects and protects the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things is going to appear on Conan’s new show.


This is the traveling museum where she displays her collections.


Erika Nelson is a visionary artist, educator and one of America’s foremost experts and speakers on the World’s Largest Things. She is a national researcher and speaker on Grassroots Art environments, Roadside Attractions and Architecture, and the World’s Largest Things.

Erika will appear on Conan’s new show next month, the date and time to be announced here.

Way to go, Erika!


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