Yellow tape blocking off every other booth wasn’t the only surprise awaiting a few longtime regulars who gathered for The Wagon Wheel’s first chicken-fried steak special of the fall semester (allowable under county health guidelines, with masks mandatory until patrons are seated and strict social distancing): A young, fit guy shouldering an enormous backpack made his way into the 14th Street tavern for lunch and an ice-cold beer. Ice cold, as in, a single can of light beer poured into a plastic cup packed with ice.
Hey, it’s hot out there for a hiker ambling coast to coast.
“I wanted to do something challenging,” says Keith Doubman, a Pennsylvanian who started his cross-country trek May 17 in Delaware, “and I’m just so grateful for my health. I also wanted to do something to better humanity, so I’m raising money for cancer research.”
Doubman, who previously hiked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across northern Spain, is following a route called the American Discovery Trail, which—who knew?—passes through Lawrence. He’ll next walk south to Ottawa before turning west into the Flint Hills. The rest of his Kansas journey will take him to McPherson, Great Bend, Kinsley, Dodge City, Garden City and Coolidge; Doubman says he’s been grateful to find respite in homes of people following his trek online, so Jayhawks who would like to share their Kansas hospitality while making an interesting new friend can follow Doubman’s trek on Instagram and TikTok, @KCDAdventure.
Lou Pecci spent only two years at KU, but he has cherished that time ever since. “You go to school there, and it gets in your bones,” he says. “Your bones belong to KU.”
So when his family told him to pack his bag for the surprise trip of his dreams, Lou easily guessed the destination: “Are we going out to Kansas to see a game?”
Yes, after 36 long years, the diehard Jayhawk in Flanders, New Jersey, would finally return to the Hill. His family says he has talked of nothing but KU, worn Jayhawk regalia and collected KU tchotchkes for as long as they can remember.
“Obsessed is an understatement,” says his daughter, Teresa Pecci Sedore, who with her husband, Tom, planned the trip as a gift to her parents for hosting the young couple’s wedding in February.
When they arrived in Lawrence Oct. 7, the family’s first campus stop was the Adams Alumni Center, where the Alumni Association staff had offered long-distance advice to Teresa and her mother, Donna, as they planned the adventure.
Lou says he originally left New Jersey for KU because of “itchy feet. Go fever. Get in the car.” Now he rarely leaves home—“They had to me put on the plane with a crowbar,” Lou concedes with a laugh—making the family journey to Lawrence all that much more special. Though his beloved McCollum Hall no longer towers on Daisy Hill, Lou’s stories of antics with his 3-West buddies have stood the test of time.
Always an outlier when decked out in his KU gear back home and ceaselessly extolling the virtues of all things KU to family and friends, Lou finally won over the skeptics in his clan with two days of touring campus and enjoying the food and nightlife downtown. A thrilling football game against Texas Christian—a one-point loss that KU had a chance to win with a last-second field goal attempt—didn’t hurt, either.
“During the game,” Lou says, “my daughter turned to me and said, ‘Dad, now I totally get it. All your Kansas stories over the years. I totally understand.’ That says it all.”
Thankfully there won’t be any more long gaps between visits to Mount Oread: The Peccis and Sedores are already planning their return trip in 2017.
—Jennifer Jackson Sanner
The Wheel, the Hawk and Louise’s West were among the stops on Lou’s whirlwind tour.
Donna and Lou Pecci and their son, Billy; daughter, Teresa; and son-in-law, Tom Sedore, reveled in the KU-TCU game Oct. 7. Donna ordered custom T-shirts for the family for the trip.
Everyone’s favorite just-off-campus watering hole, the Wagon Wheel Cafe, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this fall. The upcoming issue of Kansas Alumni magazine takes a look back at the many ingredients that went into the making of this iconic campus neighbor.
Other feature stories in the next issue include a portrait of scientist Rafe Brown, whose Philippine research is rediscovering the country’s rare reptiles and amphibians while retracing the adventures of KU herpetology founder Ed Taylor, and local design-build group Struct/Restruct helps craft a revival in one of Lawrence’s most historic neighborhoods.
If you’re a member of the KU Alumni Association, you already know that the award-winning Kansas Alumni magazine is a great resource for Jayhawks to keep up with happenings on the Hill, including academics and sports, and find the latest news about former classmates in the ever-popular Class Notes. The bi-monthly magazine is mailed to all members, and members can also log in to read each issue online.
Whether it was in the midst of Budig 320 or over a crunchy chicken cheddar wrap at the Market, hanging out on Wescoe Beach or at a network watch party years later, countless Jayhawks owe their marriage to their time on the Hill. We’re sharing some of our favorite stories this week in anticipation of Valentine’s Day on Saturday, Feb. 14.
Jamie Vanderhofe McGee, c’12, and Mark McGee, c’11
Rocks of all kind played a role in bringing the McGees together—from rock climbing to Rock Chalk Revue. Jamie explained how several chance meetings finally led to love.
“We met several times before we really hit it off. Mark says that he can remember going to the rock wall at the Ambler Student Recreation Center to climb, where I was a rock wall assistant and belayed him. (The belayer helps keep the climber safe by monitoring the slack in the rope.) We didn’t really meet then, but Mark claims it was ‘love at first sight.'”
“The next time we ran into each other was at the popular college student hangout The Wheel, where we were formally introduced for the first time by mutual friends. But when we really hit it off was during the fall semester of 2010 at a Rock Chalk Revue In-or-Out function at the Jayhawk Cafe (yes, the ‘Hawk). My sorority was paired with Mark’s fraternity for the fundraising event. I waved at Mark across the room, gestured for him to come over to talk and the rest was history!”
Jamie and Mark were married July 31, 2013. Mark currently serves as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and Jamie works with preschool children diagnosed with Autism. They live in San Diego with one fur child, Myla, and Jamie says “Future Jayhawks may happen in the next five years!”