Growing up in Olathe

Russ Ann Oppermann

Russ Ann Oppermann

Local author writes about her Olathe family’s roots and what she has learned growing up

Lifelong Olathean Russ Ann Oppermann, who has had articles published in The Olathe Daily News, The Wisdom of Our Fathers, and The Kansas City Star, has put her thoughts and experiences into a series of eight books, which are for sale through Second Best Bed Press.

She is an unexpected backseat motorcyclist wishing for an English accent. A fan of rearranged furniture. All of her rooms have books and shelves.

Her works explore the roots of her Olathe family, from a great-great grandfather who served in the Civil War to great-great grandparents arriving from Illinois in a covered wagon, to growing up in Olathe, attending Kansas State University and meeting her husband Pete, to raising a family,  traveling the country and the world, and all the things she’s learned from her experiences.

Published as chapbooks, the books will remind those who are old enough to remember the Little Golden Book of years ago.

“I really like the idea of a chapbook because it’s small and manageable,” she said. “It’s stitched and assembled like something from the olden days — like a book read in a one-room schoolhouse.

“I also like the idea of doing it on my own; of circumventing the labyrinth of book publishing. It calls to mind our Founding Fathers setting the type letter-by-letter for their broadsides.”

Oppermann said she remembered “graduating” from Big Chief tablets to spiral-bound notebooks picking red for English, blue for math, and green for science.

“The spirals opened flat on a table and were perfect for flipping through or writing notes or highlighting in yellow,” she said. “Even today, I keep a spiral notebook ready on my desk just because.”

With the help of her daughter Caitlyn who designed the covers, Oppermann printed and bound her books.

“I did it,” she said. “I like their simplicity and consistency. When people order them, I’ll send them out into the world with my heart on my sleeve.”

The title of her books, which range from $2.99 to $6.99, are: Brick Roads, Radio Shots, and Discovering the Mississippi; Halter Tops and Jesus Freaks; Perry Mason Special; Shotgunned: A Love Story; Four I Love Yous Before Breakfast; The Friggin’ Shroud of Turin; A Warm Chicken Liver Dunked in Milk; and Chapters and Frames.

“Is there a reading order? Yes. Or maybe no,” Oppermann, an avid reader, said. “Chapters and Frames is just a few lists of great books and is free if two or more books are ordered together.”

Russ Ann and Pete, who is originally from St. Louis, Mo., have been married for nearly 40 years and have two grown children, John and Caitlyn, who both now live in New York City.

To order the books, simply click on the photo:

My parents grew up in small Kansas towns 30 minutes apart during The Great Depression and World War II. They left those small places for success in the big city. These are their stories as written by them. Additional essays by great-grandmothers and grandmothers and my brother are included as well as my own memories of the whole crew. All call to mind what we like to think of as simpler times that were really anything but simple. As my mother says, “Things weren’t easier or better back then. We were just better at hiding it.” $2.99

My parents grew up in small Kansas towns 30 minutes apart during The Great Depression and World War II. They left those small places for success in the big city. These are their stories as written by them.
$2.99

My parents are, by any standard, old. They have finished the good years of retirement and are now on their final journeys. I have written about both the good times and the bad. $2.99

My parents are, by any standard, old. They have finished the good years of retirement and are now on their final journeys. I have written about both the good times and the bad. $2.99

I grew up in the middle of the bump known as the Baby Boomers. From baseball in the backyard to skate keys to a footlocker from the Vietnam War to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy to my first concert starring Three Dog Night, this is my story. $6.99

I grew up in the middle of the bump known as the Baby Boomers. From baseball in the backyard to skate keys to a footlocker from the Vietnam War to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy to my first concert starring Three Dog Night, this is my story. $6.99

I like to say that I have spent more time picking out shoes than I did a husband. After no real courtship, or really a single date, Pete and I got married 37 years ago. This is our (love) story. $4.99

I like to say that I have spent more time picking out shoes than I did a husband. After no real courtship, or really a single date, Pete and I got married 37 years ago. This is our (love) story. $4.99

After the soccer games and musicals and A/P classes, both kids left home for greener pastures. John graduated Georgetown University and Harvard Law. Cait graduated Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. John lives in Manhattan and Cait lives a few subway stops away in Brooklyn. They are not moving back to Kansas. These are their stories of growing up and moving away as told (mostly) by their mom. $2.99

After the soccer games and musicals and A/P classes, both kids left home for greener pastures. John graduated Georgetown University and Harvard Law. Cait graduated Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. John lives in Manhattan and Cait lives a few subway stops away in Brooklyn. They are not moving back to Kansas. These are their stories of growing up and moving away as told (mostly) by their mom. $2.99

Although I came late to the travel game, I've now seen London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Costa Rica, and the best of what can be seen on the back of a motorcycle and from outside the tent flap. My John has lived in Turkey, China, and Taiwan. My daughter Cait has backpacked for 70 days throughout Europe, Turkey, and Morocco. These are our stories of the whole wide world out there. Just around the corner. $4.99

Although I came late to the travel game, I’ve now seen London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Costa Rica, and the best of what can be seen on the back of a motorcycle and from outside the tent flap.
My John has lived in Turkey, China, and Taiwan. My daughter Cait has backpacked for 70 days throughout Europe, Turkey, and Morocco.
These are our stories of the whole wide world out there. Just around the corner. $4.99

A tumble-down home on 50 acres in the hinterlands of Missouri. My grandfather’s hands, thick and gharled as fresh-pulled carrots. Small towns with their patriotic bunting, forgotten cemeteries, and weathered billboards for Lucky Garden Chinese Restaurant. Cancer and a funeral and a suicide and a funeral: A love story in four parts. Baseball and football and an appreciation of sports. This collection of essays speaks to our times with humor and poignancy. $6.99

A tumble-down home on 50 acres in the hinterlands of Missouri. My grandfather’s hands, thick and gharled as fresh-pulled carrots. Small towns with their patriotic bunting, forgotten cemeteries, and weathered billboards for Lucky Garden Chinese Restaurant. Cancer and a funeral and a suicide and a funeral: A love story in four parts. Baseball and football and an appreciation of sports. This collection of essays speaks to our times with humor and poignancy. $6.99

Each year, I read somewhere around 125 books. Some of them are mediocre. Some of them are great. Those who know I read are constantly asking for book recommendations for their book club or for their maiden aunt or their non-reading husband. Finally, I compiled this: A review of some of those books that I liked and some that I loved and a listing of my favorite books over the years. If you want to read but don't know where to start or if you love to read but are tired of bad books, this might be just the guide that you need. $2.99

Each year, I read somewhere around 125 books. Some of them are mediocre. Some of them are great. Those who know I read are constantly asking for book recommendations for their book club or for their maiden aunt or their non-reading husband.
Finally, I compiled this: A review of some of those books that I liked and some that I loved and a listing of my favorite books over the years. If you want to read but don’t know where to start or if you love to read but are tired of bad books, this might be just the guide that you need. $1.99

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: