Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Dead end for name change?


As Sue Hack’s days as a city commissioner dwindle down to a precious few, she has established one notable lame-duck priority.

Hack wants to rename Missouri Street between Ninth and 12th streets — the portion near Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium — in honor of Don Fambrough.

Fambrough is, of course, a living legend, a Lawrence icon not so much because of his two four-year stints as KU’s football coach (overall record 36-49-5), but as a symbol of anti-Missouri sentiment.

What Lawrence school child hasn’t read Fambrough’s Tiger-bashing book based on the three little pigs? Who doesn’t know that Fambrough, now 86, delivers a fiery speech to KU players before the annual KU-MU game?

Many no doubt have also seen the Border War video produced last fall by Metro Sports that features a 15-minute segment — hilarious at times — with Fambrough spewing anti-Mizzou venom that makes you wonder if Will Rogers ever met anybody from the Show-Me State.

Thus it was a few years ago that a KU student suggested that Lawrence having a Missouri Street located so close to Memorial Stadium bordered on blasphemy. After all, would MU stand for a Kansas Street near its football stadium? Of course not.

The notion died out, however, until Hack picked up the banner.

One of the reasons the renaming of Missouri Street went on the back burner is because of the difficulty of slipping a street name change past the city’s Historic Resources Commission.

The HRC does not believe in changing street names in Old West Lawrence. If a street has a black sign with white lettering, then it is located in a historic part of the city, and if you check Missouri Street near the stadium, you’ll see one of those signs.

I have some experience trying to change a street name in Old West Lawrence.

A couple of months ago, I went in front of the HRC to try to convince the group to recommend the city rename North Park Street in honor of Ralph Houk, a Lawrence native who was a highly decorated soldier during World War II and who compiled a memorable career as a manager and executive in major-league baseball.

North Park Street is adjacent to the old baseball diamonds in South Park where Houk played as a youth. It’s also one of the shortest streets in Lawrence, lasting only the block between Massachusetts and Vermont streets.

Also, there are no postal addresses on North Park, which further minimizes the impact. What about Yummy’s, you say? That yogurt confectionery facing the park uses a Massachusetts address.

In essence, the HRC members told me they thought something should be done to honor Houk — a plaque in South Park, for example — but that they did not consider changing the name of a street as an option.

Thus my suggestion was not placed on the city commission agenda because it was not approved by the HRC. However, as a city commissioner, Hack doesn’t have to secure HRC approval.

So all I have to say about renaming Missouri Street in honor of Don Fambrough is: Go for it, Sue. Do it now, because when you become an ordinary Lawrence citizen again you won’t have a chance.


jayhawk2062 10 years, 10 months ago

I totally agree 1 MILLION PERCENT. We need to honor Coach Fam for everything he has given to KU and Lawrence over the years!!!!

truefan 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree with the HRC being very stingy on renaming street names to preserve historic areas, but this is one situation that has to be an exception. Missouri street next to Memorial Stadium is a black eye on that area. Let's make things right and change the name in honor of one of our own.

rawkhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm mixed. As much as I hate Mizzou, I used to live in that part of town and I do think the historical names should have precedence. Having the state names throughout town is unique and Missouri is a regional name. It also seems to be reverse psychology...KU has been doing better against MU as of late.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 10 months ago

IMO we have named a street after a terrorist organization and it should be changed.

beakem_in_LA 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm a little in the dark about all of the details (being so far away from the area), but I could have sworn I read an article about this situation earlier that said only a portion of Missouri St close to the stadium would be renamed if tis did indeed happen. If that were the case, would Fambrough St turn into Missouri St? If so, how would Coach feel about sharing with Missouri?- sharing a name, at that!

jhokfan 10 years, 10 months ago

They should rename the street whether they honor Fam or not.

homewood 10 years, 10 months ago

Save the residents on Missouri street some headaches, and instead of changing the name officially, simply form a neighborhood association and designate the two blocks as "Fambrough Way" with decorative placards on the street signs. That way we can still honor Coach Fambrough, the residents don't have to worry about the post office and creditors, and if the border war ever returns to Lawrence then mizzery will know just whats up. Problem solved.

Eric Bernauer 10 years, 10 months ago

I too am a stickler for historic preservation. I live in a 114 year old house and I'm currently building a garage and spending a friggin' fortune trying to make it match the house. However, history is about more than just preserving things the way they have always been. What makes history interesting are the stories behind the way things are. The history of rivalry between KU and MU is only part of the overall history of animosity between our states. Making this change now does not detract from history, but rather adds to it. Though the name change and reason for it are not historical today, I gurantee that it will become a part of our history in the future. Much as the stories on Norm Stewert not ever staying in Kansas before games because he "didn't want to spend a dime in Kansas" were not part of the historical rivalry, but rather current history in the '70s, those stories have now become part of the historical rivalry. Changing a street name due to the rivalry will demonstrate to future generations a continuence of our historical disdain for Missouri.

Hawkish4bigM 10 years, 10 months ago

For all of those who are historicists, that is part of the reason for renaming the street, of course. It is not only recognition of Lawrence's and Territorial history, it is keeping that history alive. How many Lawrence residents really know about Bleeding Kansas, Quantrail's Raiders, John Brown, and the little Kansas town of Nicodemus founded by freed slaves. All those who laud the election of Obama and do not understand how Kansas was a key battle ground for that eventuallity could use some historical discussion. I say it takes nothing from history and in fact makes history!!! Rename the street, all of it.

Hawkish4bigM 10 years, 10 months ago

One more thing. I don't like bullies and every time we go to Mizzu (The zoo), whether it is football or basketball, from my perspective we always get bullied. It only started with Quantrail's Raiders but it continues to this day. Just let me know where I can send my contribution. If this is going to happen it is going to take a demonstration-like parade. Students, you can make it happen. Start with a recommendation from the Student Government. Lobby the Administration to get behind you. Organize, because you will not win unless you act. The appeasement crowd will win by default.

lance1jhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

njjayhawk- maybe you should read this before calling somebody a monumental windbag.

and if that article doesn't help you see the true coach Fam.,.. then maybe you are a monumental douche bag.

mJeAgYaHfAaWnK 10 years, 10 months ago

Waymilky, outstanding answer!! I couldn't have said it better myself.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 10 months ago

What is historic about a street named after a state? Just change the stupid name, how hard can this whole thing be?

That said, I totally agree with WayMilky that changing the name will create a priceless footnote in history about the Don F and the great rivalry that still exists between Kansas and Missouri.

Eric Bernauer 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm curious, does Lawrence have all the other 49 states? I think it would be great to have a street named after every state, except Missouri. Nothing else would need to be said!

IdahoJHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

lance1jhawk , I second that. Well said. Period

Eric TheCapn 10 years, 10 months ago

I've always enjoyed the class KU and Lawrence show that Mizzou and Columbia do not. We have every other state name as a street, we don't need to take one out to know Mizzou sucks. It seems petty and classless.

There are plenty of ways to honor Fambrough, including naming one of the new streets, being paved every day, after him. Or a bridge or something on campus. Or take homewood's idea and add a name to the street. It causes no headaches and is done everywhere in the country. Though, I'm not so sure Fambrough would be thrilled to have his name on a sign that said "Missouri."

Finally, while I hate the whole state for the most part, MU doesn't encompass all of Missouri, and Kansas City has the best barbecue in the world... know where (the real) KC is?


P.S. Or quietly slip some kids stickers saying "sucks" and subliminally suggest they tag the "Missouri" street signs. Then you can just blame "the kids," but never scrape off the stickers.

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