Saturday, November 28, 2015

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Sunday, Nov. 22nd - Tuesday, Nov. 24th

Monday we toured the State Capitol.  In front is the 14 Flags Over Oklahoma exhibit that tells about the nations who once claimed them.  It was completed in 1917 with 650 rooms.  When Oklahoma became a territory after the Civil War a Choctaw Nation Chief suggested the name.  Okla meaning people and homa meaning red, territory of red people.  This chief was an ordained Presbyterian minister, a charter member of the first Masonic Lodge in Oklahoma and married a descendant of a Mayflower passenger.  Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were separate, but when Oklahoma became the 46th state in 1907 Indian Territory ceased to exist.  Alcohol had been prohibited as far back as the 1830s.  When Oklahoma Territory was established they allowed alcohol, but Indian Territory remained dry. The border separating them had bars on the Oklahoma side and sometimes in the middle of the river.  When they became a state in 1907 they once again prohibited alcohol and an OKC brewery was forced to dump 27,000 gallons of beer into the city sewers.  Moonshine stills became a problem.  It remained a dry state until 1959.  

The Guardian by Enoch Kelly Haney is a 9 foot bronze replica of the 22 foot, 4,000 pound sculpture that was raised and mounted atop the dome in 2002. 

Looking up toward the painting Flight of Spirit by Mike Larson, a native Chickasaw.

Close up.  Oklahoma is the only state to have five prima ballerinas and they are all Native American.  They never actually performed together.

Looking up toward the new dome.  A dome was in the original plans of the Capitol (1917), but the war came and funds, materials and construction workers were in short supply.  So the dome was just finally added in 2002.

Hall of Governors.  Bronze statues purchased for the state's Diamond Jubilee (75th anniversary) in 1982.  They currently have their first female governor, Mary Fallin.

House of Representatives.

Ceiling made of stained glass panels surrounded by carved wood flowers.

Indian Blanket Flower quilt made of 3,000 cloth pieces by Nettie Wallace. It was her first original design and took her three months.  The Indian Blanket is the state wildflower.  The scissor-tailed flycatcher is the state bird and the bison is the state animal.  Milk is the official state drink and there are 400 dairy farms and 8,200 dairy cows producing 1.3 billion pounds of milk annually.  In 1968 Bill and Mary Braum started the Braum's ice cream/restaurant chain with 24 stores in Oklahoma.  The family operates seven farms and ranches totaling 40,000 acres.  They have their own processing plants, stores, bakery and delivery trucks with over 280 stores in five states.  Drummond Ranches (father and sons) is over 125,000 acres that started with 40 cows on 160 acres of leased land in 1911.   The Miller Bother's 101 Ranch started with a sod dugout on leased Cherokee land on the Salt Fork River.  It was said they produced enough fruit and vegetables to feed the entire Oklahoma Territory.  In 1902 the ranch was 50,000 acres with over 300 farm and ranch hands.  Daily food required to keep the ranch running required a cow a day, eggs from 1,000 chickens, a herd of dairy cattle for milk and butter, hundreds of hogs and fruit and wheat harvested and milled at the ranch.  5,000 acres of wheat took more than 200 men and 300 horses to harvest in 24 hour shifts.  They also had hundreds of acres of corn, alfalfa, sweet clover and kafir and cane for cattle fodder and apple orchards and a patch of 60 pound watermelons.  I'm sure glad I didn't have to cook for that crew.  The chuck wagon cook sometimes called the biscuit shooter or bean master had absolute power over his kingdom.  He doled out advice and medicine and settled bets.  His final duty of the day was to point the wagon's tongue toward the North Star, so they could plot their route in the morning.

The Capitol has one of the most extensive collections of artwork of any state capitol in the nation.  Ronna Pernell had the Unspoken Woman Exhibition honoring the trials and triumphs in the lives of African American women down one of the hallways.  Her work is very unique, using a pen and ink technique called stipling, creating a pattern using dots to produce varying degrees of light and shade. 

I especially liked this one with Indian Blanket flowers, scissor-tail flycatcher and eagle.  The Earth and I Are One by Enoch Kelly Haney.

Game Birds at Glass Mountain by Harold H. Holden.  The Land Run of 1889 and beyond increased levels of subsistence hunting and land use.  By the 1920s turkeys were so rare in the state that they were almost extinct.  In the late 1940s a stocking program was started to reestablish them.  It was so successful that today there are huntable populations in all of the 77 counties.  The whitetail deer is Oklahoma's most abundant big game and legal game in all 77 counties.  Their numbers have grown from as few as 500 in the early 1900s to 475,000 today.

Besides all the artwork throughout the building, they also have an entire wing that is an art gallery.  I thought this African American inspired mask was particularly interesting as it is made from the body panels of a Ford Ranger truck.  The Ford Mask by Melvin R. Smith 1998.

Behind the Capitol is Tribal Flag Plaza with 39 flags to honor the 39 tribes that are officially recognized by the state.  When Columbus arrived in the New World there were almost 450 different languages spoken in North America.  The Smithsonian made a system classifying them into 56 different linguistic groups.  As of 2005 eight Oklahoma tribes have no fluent speakers and 11 tribes are one generation from losing their last fluent speakers.  In 1891 the U.S. military formally enlisted Indians into military service in the West even though they fought in the Civil War on both sides.  In WWI 14 Choctaw were used to communicate in code on the battlefield.  In WWII they recruited 17 Comanche students from the Haskell Indian School in Kansas (where they were discouraged from using their language) to train as code talkers as part of the Normandy Invasion.  At one time there were 27 working oil rigs on the 15 acre Capitol grounds.  It is the only Capitol complex with active oil wells.  There are currently three that were not pumping while we were there.

Then we went downtown and walked along the new river canal lined with hotels and nice restaurants.  The building on the left is the headquarters for Sonic.  Sonic created more wealth at the grassroots levels than any other business in Oklahoma history.  They franchised in 1959 and today have 3,500 stores coast to coast.  Quik Trip started in Tulsa in 1958 and now has 725 stores in 11 states.  Loves started in OKC in 1964 and now has over 300 Travel Stops coast to coast.

We had lunch at Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill.

John tried a new beer, Tractor Therapy.  Then we walked through the Bricktown entertainment district and downtown.

The new Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark with statue of Johnny Bench out front.  During his 17 season career with the Cincinnati Reds he was Rookie of the Year in 1968, National League MVP in 1970 and 1972, World Series MVP in 1976, a 14 time All-Star, voted starting catcher on the All-Century team and won ten consecutive Gold Gloves.   He controlled the game on both sides of the plate by hitting 389 homers (a record for catchers) and 1,376 RBIs and with his amazing ability to throw out base runners.

At the other entrance to the the Bricktown Ballpark is this statue of Mickey Mantel on the corner of Mickey Mantle Drive and Flaming Lips Alley.  Mickey Mantle set the standard for thriving under presssure by setting four World Series records: most home runs - 18, most runs scored - 42, most runs batted in - 40, and most walks - 43.  He defined individual baseball perfection by winning the triple crown (52 home runs, 130 runs batted in, and a .353 batting average), being named American League MVP three times and to the All-Star game 13 straight years 1952 to 1965.  He hit 536 homers during his career including home runs from both sides of the plate in 10 different games.  He played in 2,401 games over 18 years from 1950 to 1968, a New York Yankee record.  

I thought it was an odd name for a street, but found out it was a rock band that formed in Oklahoma City in 1983.  The street is named for the band, not the after effect of eating too many Oklahoma City atomic buffalo wings.

Devon Tower Energy Center (844') and Myriad Botanical Gardens

Devon Ice Rink.

We came back in the evening and the zamboni was just getting the rink ready, while the kids lined up and waited for their $40, one hour lesson.  YIKES!  I hope they don't waste too much time sitting on their butts on the ice during that hour.

They were just starting to get the park decorated for the season,

"but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere we go..."

Centennial Festival Plaza honoring the 1989 Olympics here.

A few more pictures as we walked back along the canal to our car in the afternoon.  Bison sculptures abound around town.

Very pretty.  It reminds me of downtown San Antonio.

There are walking bridges across about every block.  The city passed a 1 cent sales tax hike in 1993 to build the boat canal connecting the river front and central business district and Bricktown Ballpark and many other projects and it's really beautiful.

The canal is about a mile long and a seven mile stretch of the scenic Oklahoma River beyond is surrounded by bike paths and the Boathouse District offers river cruises, kayaking, dragon boating, stand-up paddle boards and bicycles.

At the end of the canal is this amazing memorial to the Land Run of 1889.  This just shows the beginning of it.

It's impossible to get it all in one picture, as there are horse riders, buggies, etc. charging across the river to claim their new homesteads.  A very impressive memorial.

There is also a lone horsemen behind me to represent the Sooners who hid out and were already there ahead to claim the best spots.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and St. Joseph's Catholic Church across the street which also had its windows blown out.  This year is its 20th anniversary.  We were here about 14 years ago, but this time we came in the evening.  There is also a museum here.

This is the entrance from the outside as you walk in.  There is an entrance like this on either side of the block where the building sat.

You can't really see it in the dark, but there is a reflecting pool between the two entrances where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was.  You can see the entrance archway and the trees reflected in the pool and the Field of Empty Chairs lit up to the right.  The time 9:01 shows above the archway for the quiet before the bombing and 9:03 is on the other entrance for when the healing began after the bombing.

Each row of chairs corresponds to one of the 9 floors of the building and the people who were on each floor at the time of the bombing.  The day care was on the second floor, so the chairs are child size for the children who were there.  There are five chairs separately along the west side to honor those who were killed outside the building.  Each person's name is engraved on the enclosed glass front of the bronze chairs.  It's a very visually moving scene.

There were 168 people killed April 19, 1995, including 19 children.  90 minutes after the bombing Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer stopped Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate.  He was soon implicated in the bombing along with Terry Nichols.  They had planned the attack in response to the 1993 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raid on the David Koresh compound in Waco, Texas.  McVeigh was convicted in 1997 of killing 8 federal agents and executed in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana by lethal injection in 2007.  Nichols was tried as a co-conspirator and convicted of 8 counts of manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1998.  In 2004 an Oklahoma jury convicted Nichols of 160 counts of murder and he was again sentenced to life in prison without parole.


Tuesday we toured the Oklahoma History Center and its 18 acre grounds.

Devon Oil and Gas Exploration Park on the grounds has old equipment that was used for drilling, production and transportation of oil.

The grounds also includes the Red River Journey and Heritage Gardens with signs that interpret and highlight the people and events along the southern border of Oklahoma.


In case you ever wondered what it was like to work in a meat packing plant.  YUK!  In 1974 the OKC Stockyards had their biggest day ever and sold by auction 21,000 cattle in 23 hours and 30 minutes of continual trading.  At the State Fair in 2007 they sold over 100,000 turkey legs.  No wonder I can never find them in the grocery store anymore.  I used to buy two turkey drum sticks for 29 cents a pound when the girls were little and it was enough for a family meal.  Now they're $8 each at all the festivals!  What happened to the good old days?  Nobody used to want the wings on the chicken.  Now we pay big bucks for them.

A little difference between this phone and our smart phones of today.  Back then you had to crank it to get the operator who would hook you up to whomever you were calling and your neighbors would be listening in on your conversation because it was a party line.

They had music videos playing of John's favorite, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.  He says Bob Wills is still the King, Mark!

Hank Williams Sr. suit and Roy Clark suit, boots and visor (1960-70).

Reproduction of the Winnie Mae which is in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum near Washington Dulles International Airport.  In 1931 Wiley Post flew around the top of the world from New York City to New York City in less than 9 days.  In 1933 he did it in 7 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes.  The Winnie May was not pressurized, so he designed a pressure suit with technical assistance from B.F. Goodrich Company.  He proved the value of using the east to west jet stream.  His suit was a predecessor for those used by test pilots and astronauts in the 1950s an 1960s.  In 1935 he constructed a hybrid float plane and invited Will Rogers on a long distance flight to test it.  It proved to be aerodynamically unstable and they crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska.  They also have the  Gemini 6 here on loan from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  In 1969 Oklahoman Thomas P. Stafford (39 years old) commanded the first all veteran crew as they flew the first lunar module to within ten miles of the Moon.  He named some lunar features "Oklahoma Hills" and they became the fastest men alive reaching speeds of 27,791 mph.  In Oklahoma pioneering spirit, his mother (who came to Oklahoma in a covered wagon) watched her son orbit the Moon on the first live color TV from space.  Wow!  In 1965 he was in the Gemini 6 when it performed the first space rendezvous with Gemini 7, a significant step toward achieving a lunar landing.

1912 International freight truck.  Also in this part of the museum was an old tractor with this quote under it.   "Dad wanted a Case, because it was the best tractor around and not a 'poppin' Johnny, like a John Deere."  1936

This two-horse Runabout buggy was actually used in the first  Land Run of 1889.  Settlers claimed almost 15 million acres in five land runs from 1889 to 1895.  The dominant culture wanted to clear land for settlement and agricultural use, so the Indian people were systematically gathered and shipped to Indian Territory, also known as the Great American Desert. from 1830 to 1884.  In 1889 unassigned lands within the territory were opened for settlement.  Eventually the government opened all tribal lands through land runs, lotteries and allotment.  Indian people have used peyote cactus for centuries.  Some prepared peyote cactus buttons were found in Shumla Cave in Texas that were radiocarbon dated to 5,000 B.C.  The U.S. Congress tried to prohibit peyote use.  The Native American Religious Freedom Act assured them the right to practice traditional religions and was later amended to specifically allow the use of peyote in genuine traditional ceremonies.  The peyote religion spread from tribe to tribe on the reservations in the 1870s and became the Native American Church in 1918.  They believe peyote contains a spirit through which prayers reach the Creator and that it gives spiritual strength, healing and direction to users who believe in it.

1950s modern kitchen even had matching pink washer and dryer and pink table with chrome legs.  What do you think girls?

How many of you think you could get your kids to clean the nostrils of the cows twice a day?  During the Dust Bowl here in the 1930s  dust storms were so thick chickens would roost at noon and people would lose their way in the darkness.  Dust storms closed schools and roads, dried up ponds and caused dust pneumonia causing lung disorders killing hundreds of humans and animals. The Black Blizzard on April 14, 1935 was also known as Black Sunday.  Travelers to Oklahoma reported "seeing prairie dogs 100 feet in the air.....burrowing".  Tulsa Daily World March 17, 1935.  In the 1930s the CCC built wind breaks, terraced land, encouraged drought resistant crops and constructed major man-made lakes in every county.  By 1939 the land was showing 50% more productivity.  Today Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state with over one million surface acres of water and 2,000 more miles of shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf Coast combined.  This emphasis on water has affected Oklahoma's weather by raising the relative humidity throughout the state.

Some terms that came into use during the Dust Bowl days.

Time to get shopping, cause Christmas is coming fast.  Don't forget the number one rule.  YOU CAN'T REGIFT FAMILY.

We headed to Texas on Wednesday for the big campground Thanksgiving potluck at Lake Whitney south of Ft. Worth.   Mmmm, Mmmm.  We will be here for ten days.