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.