House + Home Q+A

Travel keepsakes decorate holiday trees at Oak Hall apartment of Roena Haynie and Charles Reitz

Updated: 2013-12-22T03:07:09Z


The Kansas City Star

Three years ago, Roena Haynie, retired professor and chair of social science at Avila University, and her husband, Charles Reitz, who retired in 2006 as professor of philosophy and social science at Kansas City Kansas Community College, sold their Brookside home and moved to an apartment in Oak Hall. Reitz finished editing a just-published volume of essays, “Crisis and Comonwealth: Marcuse, Marx, McLaren,” there.

Now they’re celebrating the solstice as they always do, preparing to visit family and displaying reminders of their travels on two holiday trees. The decorations are little dolls they have picked up all over the world, says Haynie.

How did this tradition come about?

We were traveling and I thought it would be nice to get a little souvenir from different countries.

We met in Buffalo, where we were both getting our Ph.Ds. Mine was in the sociology of women and work, and Charley’s was in the philosophy of education.

After we both got jobs in Kansas City, we’d go to Europe every two to three years. A major change that occurred during our careers was the shift to multicultural education. We were enthused to help with the change to a more multicultural and egalitarian curricula with an appreciation of questions of social justice.

Where do you stay?

Often we travel to visit people we know. At KCK Community College, Charley served as director of intercultural education. He went to school at the University of Freiburg, in Germany, and still has friends there.

Two years ago we went camping on the French Mediterranean with German friends of Charley’s. It was so inexpensive and pleasant. We stayed in a two-bedroom tent divided by a canvas wall, with a porch that faced a sand dune. On the other side of the dune was the sea. From there we went to Barcelona and Bilbao.

The dancing Basque doll with the traditional beret came from that trip.

We also went up to the Dordogne. They grow a lot of lavender, and that’s where I found the little doll with the lavender dress and straw hat.


That’s a Black Forest doll in a traditional black and red Trachten (folk costume), with a floral embroidered cummerbund and a little straw hat with red balls. The Tomten is from Sweden; I also have a girl in a Swedish folk costume and a Norwegian man.

The doll with the blue dress and the mitre cap is from the Ukraine. I found the jumping jack Mozart in Salzberg. The girl with the embroidered shirt and tricolor on her hat is from Burgundy.

And this little doll with the black braids?

We got that 10 years ago, when we went to Wales to visit two old friends. They recommended that we visit the Duke of Devonshire estate, with the gardens by Inigo Jones. We also went to Tintagel Castle on the coast of Cornwall, where King Arthur was conceived. And I won’t forget driving on the wrong side of the road with a stick shift car.

What was one of your most memorable trips?

We really enjoyed our trip to Crete, where the palaces were not fortified, unlike the Mycenaean mainland. In Crete’s Minoan civilization, there was much more equality and goddess worship. That attracted me, as I was doing research on feminist anthropology and reading (Riane Eisler’s) “The Chalice and the Blade.” I have dolls from Crete and Greece.

One year, Charley decided on Spain because of living in Kansas City and the Giralda Tower on the Plaza, which is patterned after the one in Seville, our sister city. We wanted to look at the original, which is double the size of the Kansas City one.

What’s the theme of the second tree?

That’s our “American tree,” with dolls of Dorothy, the Lion and the Scarecrow. I also have Navajo and Sioux dolls. The oldest doll is from my mother. She was born in 1912. It’s made of cloth with paper.

To reach Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4783 or send email to

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