A big thank you to all of you for your help in the 2021 Community Bike Ride! We had a fun and safe day. Thank you for your positive thoughts if you could not be with us that day. Thank you to the volunteers who make the ride what it is. And, a big thank you to Anderson Rentals, The Merc, and Sunflower Outdoor & Bike for making sure everyone had what they needed!
Landscapes change over time and are sometimes forgotten. But Dennis Domer, a Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Architecture from Kansas University, has a passion for history and untold stories. He has recreated a forgotten landscape with his work on the East Bottoms neighborhood of old Lawrence. However, this piece of history will likely to make some people uncomfortable.
From 1890 to 1920 the East Bottoms was a bawdy red-light district. Residents of the neighborhood were Black, but liquor, prostitution, and gambling attracted outsiders, especially male students from KU. Presiding over the neighborhood was a formidable woman named Aunt Jane Williams. She controlled the illegal liquor trade which kept some twelve speakeasies in business. She owned several ware houses and operated a very popular restaurant by day and speakeasy by night.
The East Bottoms consisted of a low-lying area bounded by the railroad on the north and Ninth Street to the south; the eastern boundary was Delaware Street and on the western edge was New Jersey Street. Housing in the East Bottoms was run down. Most dwellings had a privy in the yard. Sewage flowed through the streets and open ditches and several slaughter houses contributed to a prevailing stink. The was no lighting or trash pickup service.
The East Bottoms was comparatively prosperous at a time when Black laborers could earn no more than subsistence wages. Vice and sin was very profitable, even for city courts and government. Aunt Jane was taken to court about once a month as she could be counted on to pay off a hefty fine in cash. Illicit activities were periodically suppressed, but never for long. The Kansas prohibition law actually contributed to the operation of the Bottoms as the law was difficult to enforce. The passage of a national prohibition law in 1920 finally put the Bottoms out of business.
The lost landscape of the East Bottoms will be the subject of Domer’s forthcoming article to appear in Embattled Lawrence: the Enduring Struggle for Freedom, Volume II.
After last year’s virtual ride, we’ve reserved the space and made the plans now we need you to come out and enjoy the 2021 Lawrence Community Bike Ride.
Here’s what we’ve got on tap for this year’s event on July 17th from 8:30-11:00am at the Lawrence Rotary Arboretum
- Three rides to choose from
- Kids Helmet fitting
- Safety Vest Giveaway (while supplies last)
- Bike Checkup & Maintenance area
- Healthy Snack Zone provided by The Merc
Thanks to all our sponsors these annual events just get better and better.
We’re so excited to be hosting this event in-person again. Get this on your calendar! We look forward to seeing you!
Joe Berninger, member of Ohio Pathways Rotary Club, spoke to us about his club and their work with the Guatemala Literacy Project (GLP).
Joe, a Cincinnati resident, explained that he belongs to an e-club in District 6600. They are a diverse membership of about 30 with active Rotarians in many different countries. The club is a good fit for people who have to travel and have challenging schedules. Ohio Pathways Rotary was working with Zoom way before the pandemic.
The GLP is one of the largest grassroots, multi-club, multi-district international projects in Rotary. The effort includes 600 clubs in 80 districts and eight countries. In 2017, then-Rotary International President Ian Risley described GLP as the gold standard of Rotary projects for sustainability and impact.
The goal of the project is to improve education for under-served students. The need is great as Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Central America. Children are often pulled out of school for economic reasons and do not return. Guatemala is also the largest source of immigrants at the southern border of the United States.
The project provides reading instruction, text books, computer labs and scholarships. Some 750 scholarships worth $960 each have been distributed. When the project started in 1997, only one out of three Guatemalans could read. Presently, two out of three students can read. Local Rotarians assist with GLP by teaching job skills and other aspects of the program. Over 225,000 students have been served by GLP.