Pittsburg, Kansas Early History

updated April 5, 2008  
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Once Greeted Senator Capper In 30 Different Tongues

Can you imagine attending a banquet where some 30 different men give short talks and you cannot understand a one of them except an occasional word or two? Such a banquet was held in the cafeteria of the “Normal School” on Oct. 20, 1916 in honor or Arthur Capper, at that time governor of Kansas and later to be a United States senator for 30 years.

Governor Capper was in Pittsburg for a political rally to be held later that night, but the dinner which preceded the rally was attended by some 170 persons. The affair was called an international banquet and that it was. Each of nearly three dozen persons when called upon, rose and gave a brief toast pledging loyalty to Governor Capper and the state of Kansas, each in his own native tongue. No interpreter was used-none was needed. It was obvious that each fervent but short talk was telling the visiting executive that though born in another country, each speaker was a loyal American and a loyal Kansan. And Governor Capper seemed to have no questions in understanding the sentiments although the only words he could actually understand were the words “Capper” and “Kansas” which each speaker used regardless of the foreign tongue he spoke.

Mayor N. B. Skourop started the talks addressing the visiting governor in Danish. Following him came brief talks in Italian, Greek, Spanish, Tyrolese, Russian, German, Norse, Welch, Austrian, Bohemian, Belgian, Irish-not the brogue used in telling Pat and Mike jokes, but actual-Gaelic-Turkish, Mexican, Swiss, French, Portuguese, Canadian, Hungarian, Polish, Scottish, Palestinian, and Finnish

After the “Tower of “Babel” series of many tongues, President W. A. Brandenburg of the College, complimented the various speakers on bringing their messages to the governor. He then pointed out that the governor would not know if his predecessors had made any mistakes in their talks but-since he spoke English-he knew the governor would spot any errors he made in his speech.

To carry the idea of diversification of languages still further, Father J. A. Pompeny, at that time pastor of the Catholic church, gave the invocation in crisp, rippling Latin. The international banquet drew favorable comments from the entire area and state.
"Kansas Centennial Edition," Pittsburg Headlight & Pittsburg Sun, May 1961

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