Being a Kansas Gas and Electric man, Phil Hoch wasn’t sure he could be quick enough on his feet to dance in the Entre Nous, a Victorian dance group that performs during the weekends at Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, Kansas.
But his wife Roslyn smiled knowingly, and ever since that first dance, Phil has volunteered his time at Old Cowtown and is counted as one of the nearly 3,000 volunteers who donated more than $1.2 million worth of hours at the museum last year.
Fifty six years and 26 historic buildings later, Old Cowtown Museum is the only living history museum to present Kansas cowtown history, dating from 1865-80. Guests can visit the farm, where interpreters pick and can the garden’s vegetables and fruit to cook on the wood stove. A longhorn cattle drive takes place every day, from April 1 through October 31, when the museum is open to the public and bus tours. Old Cowtown Museum even has its own vintage baseball team, which competes with other teams across the nation.
When you walk these streets, be sure to wave at Charlie Weber as he drives by on his stagecoach. At the blacksmith shop, ask Dave Pickard what’s forging. And when you reach the Snitzler Saloon, share a long drink with the top-hatted gentleman Bob Garrett. This Vietnam veteran has served in many capacities at the museum, ranging from his roles as the town mayor and a military officer to organizing events, such as the Chisholm Trail Jubilee, in which his sons Paul and Pat played the bugle and drums, respectively.
The museum also does a great job of preserving historic buildings. Staff is currently restoring a log cabin built by a returning Union soldier, dating back to the 1860s, that was left to the museum in a will. Soon, it will be another spot for interpreters to share history.
With such dedicated living historians protecting this site, its artifacts and its history, it makes sense that on September 2-3, the museum will host the National Gunfight and Living History competitions. No place else would be more fitting.
316-660-1864 / www.oldcowtown.org
When Greg Polutanovich was a young boy, the larger-than-life characters and gunplay in Western films seemed so exciting.
Every time he heard Clint Eastwood say, “Go ahead, make my day,” it would make the boy’s day. He was (and still is) a huge Eastwood fan. Back then, the boy’s only use for the TV Guide was scanning the listings for any Eastwood movies. If a movie was on, he watched it, even if the movie didn’t air until 2 a.m. on a school night. He’d set his alarm to go off so he could watch the movie, and he’d still wake up in time to go to class. (Of course, that was before videos and DVDs were around.)
Many years later, when the now-mature artist felt burnt out from sculpting sci-fi and horror figures for movies and TV shows, he decided to shift toward sculpting more realistic characters, allowing him to finally put his love of the Old West to work.
Since 1999, 40-year-old Polutanovich has sculpted numerous Western characters, such as Geronimo, Pocahontas, Jim Bridger, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickok. An upcoming bronze is one he particularly cherishes since he is such a big fan of the actor. The sculpture depicts tough guy Clint Eastwood as “The Man With No Name” from the famous Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns that include The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Happy to be creating bronzes of characters he’s loved since childhood, Polutanovich is thankful for the support his clients give him for his Western pieces. “I have one person who wants the number one of every Wild Bill Hickok I do,” he says proudly. “I have been told by quite a few people that ‘I will make it.’ One can only hope.”
661-296-4674 / dramaticbronzes.com