Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sunday, Nov. 15th - Saturday, Nov.21st

Now this is what I call a theater!  Only six rows of seats, but oh what seats!  We went to two movies on Monday.  The new James Bond movie Spectre was pretty good and Love the Coopers was okay.

We drove around a little doing some exploring and found the Golden Driller at the River Spirit Expo center.  He was built in 1953 by a company in Ft. Worth for the Petro Expo.  He is 76 feet tall, the 4th tallest statue in the country and the official state monument.  He was voted one of the 10 quirkiest attractions in the U.S.

Mt. Hood (Oregon) by Albert Bierstadt 1880.  Tuesday we went to Gilcrease Museum, the world's largest, most comprehensive collection of fine art and artifacts of the American West.  There are theme gardens and statuary and walking trails on 23 acres of the museum's 460 acres nestled in the scenic Osage Hills of Tulsa.

Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains (California) by Albert Bierstadt 1880.  Thomas Gilcrease was a tribal member of the Creek Nation because of his mother's ancestry, which entitled him to an allotment of 160 acres about 20 miles south of Tulsa.  That land became part of one of Oklahoma's major oil fields.  He purchased a home in 1914 that is located on the museum grounds and lived there until his death in 1962.  In 1922 he founded Gilcrease Oil Company with headquarters in San Antonio and maintained an office in Europe.  

Meat's Not Meat Till It's in the Pan by Charles M. Russell 1915.  Gilcrease opened a gallery for public viewing on his Tulsa estate in 1949 and deeded his collection to the city in 1955.  Since 2008 it has been a partnership between the city and the University of Tulsa.  It's a really nice museum and we spent most of the day there.

The Aztecs believed human sacrifice was the most sacred gift they could offer the gods.  Spanish Conquistadors were horrified by this practice and promptly proceeded to destroy their empire and decimate their population.  Xipe Totec Effigy (1300-1521 CE) also known as "our lord the flayed one" was an Aztec deity of agricultural fertility and the idea of life-death-rebirth.  Priests of this god wore the flayed skins of sacrificial victims.  Double mouth and deep set eyes show this grisly ritual.

There was a special exhibit of some guy's collection of 1,500 bolo ties.  The precursor to the bolo tie was the scarf or neckerchief slide, simple rings or bands or more ornate metal cylinders.  In the 1920s some Native Americans made slides out of sheep's vertebrae, shaped like a steer head.  In 1932 Wrigley Chewing Gum Company acquired and sold sheep vertebrae scarf slides.  They were premiums for a CBS radio program they sponsored, Chief Wolf Paw.  There were lots of very elaborate, jeweled bolo ties with turquoise and silver.

At home in Mingo RV Park with a little artwork right at our campsite.  Three little bear cubs climbing up to the eagle's nest.

Native American family just a few steps away from our site.  There are members of 67 different tribes living in the state of Oklahoma.

We chose Wednesday to go to the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, as it was food truck day there, with about a dozen different food trucks parked there with all kinds of yummy choices for lunch.  I had a fried wonton/cabbage salad that was wonderful.  It was a really good museum with lots of recordings and videos.  He wrote over 3,000 songs and they have over 10,000 pages in the archives with all of his stuff, including original lyrics, novels, short stories, plays, newspaper columns, poetry, artwork (watercolors, charcoals, pastels and ink), scrapbooks, photos, letters, concert flyers, etc.  His songs celebrate the beauty and bounty of America.  They are simple songs about democracy, human rights and economic equality.  He combined music and politics to become one of America's most well-known singers and social activists, think Oklahoma Hills where I was born.  Traveling the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, he amassed life experiences for his autobiography Bound For Glory and thousands of songs.  They also have stuff on Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio and lots of other musicians who were influenced by him.  Sooo, how does it feel to be out on your own, like a rollin' stone, just blowin' in the wind?  I really love it!  This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island and I highly recommend you get out and see it.   We're doing the best we can to see as much of it as we can.

Thursday we drove to Yale, Oklahoma for a little tour of Jim Thorpe's home.  In 1950 Jim was voted outstanding athlete of the first half of the 20th century.  He was still considered the world's greatest athlete in 2000 and was put on the Wheaties cereal box.  In 1912 at the Olympics in Sweden he won the 5-event pentathlon and the 10-event decathlon, which has never been done by another athlete.  The King of Sweden honored him as the greatest athlete in the world.  He played professional football from 1915 to 1920 with the Canton Bulldogs.  In 1920 he was elected president of the newly formed American Professional Football Association and played into his 40s.  He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.  He also played professional baseball and was proficient at golf, bowling, lacrosse, hockey, swimming, rifle shooting, squash, handball, horsemanship and with the bow and arrow.  The log cabin in the rear was moved here to show the type of home he was born and raised in.  It is the oldest known homestead in Payne County, built in 1876 by Pawnee Rice and later occupied by the William Sherman Tecumseh Kerby family.

Almost everything in the house is original.  His first wife was a pack rat and donated most of the stuff and told them how everything was when they lived here, including wallpaper and curtains.  The dress in the corner was her wedding dress.  A beautiful lace table cloth that she made was on the dining room table.

Then we drove on to Pawnee to tour the Pawnee Bill Buffalo Ranch.  Gordon William "Pawnee Bill" Lillie was a renowned Wild West Show entertainer.   His wife May was a trick rider in his show.  Annie Oakley worked for his show for a time, also.  In the early 1880s he had jobs hauling corn to big cattle ranches and assisted with cattle roundups and even assisted in the chase and apprehension of cattle rustlers and got a bullet wound in his neck.  He came to Indian Territory in 1875 as a teacher and interpreter for the Pawnee Indians.  He started as an interpreter and performer for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1885 and formed his own show in 1888.

They traveled the U.S.and Europe going to the World's Fair in Antwerp, Belgium and ended their tour in France.  They traveled with about 300 people plus animals.  He bought the land overlooking the town of Pawnee in 1903 from a friend who was a medicine man named Blue Hawk.  Blue Hawk Peak is the highest peak in the county with beautiful views in all directions from the ranch house.  The 2,000 acre showplace ranch also served as a location for productions of Pawnee Bill's Feature Film Company with such films as May Lillie: Queen of the Buffalo Ranch; Pawnee Bill, the White Chief; and Pawnee Bill, the Frontier Detective.

This fourteen room mansion is fully furnished with their original possessions.  It costs $5.00 to tour the home, but it is free to go through the museum and all the outbuildings.  The mansion and carriage house are built of native stone from the ranch.

The five-hundred acre grounds include a barn, blacksmith shop, log cabin, managers house (originally a carriage house with bunkhouse upstairs for the hired hands) and museum and gift shop.   The three story barn, built in 1926, housed his prized Scottish Shorthorn cattle on the main floor, horses in the basement and the loft held 100 tons of hay. It now has a variety of old wagons and farm equipment on display.  Also, one wall displays a billboard from 1900 that was painted on the side of a building by Frederic Remington.  It was uncovered in 1982 by some volunteer firemen while they were tearing down an old drugstore to make room for a new fire station.  It was painted on the wood siding and was covered with plaster and lathe.  It is 65 feet long by 10 feet high and depicts many of the acts of the wild west show, like Indians raiding a stage, buffalo hunts, trick riding, sharp shooting and a U.S. Cavalry charge.  They even reenacted the Great Train Robbery by the Dalton Gang in some shows.  In 1908, for financial reasons, he merged his show with Buffalo Bill's show.  They called it Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Pawnee Bill's Great Far East Show (with dancing girls from India and Hindu magicians).  It was better known as The Two Bill's Show.  They closed the show in 1913 as times and interests were changing and box office receipts were dwindling.

You can drive the paved path through the buffalo pasture where there are also longhorn cattle and draft horses.  He did some buffalo hunting when he was younger, but came to realize they needed to be protected before they were wiped out.  Raising bison was his primary interest on the ranch.  At one time he had the largest herd in the world here. 

The museum is in the background.

They do a reenactment of Pawnee Bill's Original Wild West Show on Father's Day weekend.

Friday we drove over to Claremore to see the Will Rogers Museum near Rogers Boulevard across the street from Rogers State University just down the road from Rogers Hotel and a diner with Will Rogers Fried Pie.  Hometown boy, you get the idea.  

He is buried just out front of the museum along with his wife and most of his children.

The first room you enter in the museum has about a dozen of his saddles on display from places that he visited all over the world, including several from South American countries, Africa, France, the Navajo Nation and this one from Mongolia.

Coming Through the Rye by Frederic Remington

There are many, many portraits and sculptures of him throughout the museum.  He originally became famous doing roping tricks.  He was taught how to use a lasso by a freed slave on the family ranch.  He left home as a teenager and went to Argentina and then to South Africa in 1902 where he got a job as Cherokee Kid, the trick roper, with Texas Jack's Wild West Circus.  His skill won him jobs in wild west shows and then on Vaudeville stages where he started telling small jokes.  The jokes were apologies for when his rope failed.  Soon the jokes were better than the ropes.  They called him "The Poet Lariat".  He is in the Guiness Book of World Records for throwing three lassos at once.  One caught the running horse's neck, the second would hoop around the rider and the third swooped up under the horse to loop all four legs.  His lariat feats are recorded in his movie The Ropin' Fool.  He could even throw a rope with his foot and catch a horse.

He loved his time at home best, but he traveled the world as a journalist, humorist and diplomat.  He was friends with senators, 7 presidents and kings.  He was a star of Broadway, 71 movies in the 20s and 30s(silent and talkies), the Ziegfeld Follies, was a popular broadcaster, wrote more than 4,000 syndicated columns for 600 newspapers and wrote 7 books.  He was a top paid star in Hollywood and his name was always listed above the title of the movie.  He traveled around the world three times meting people, covering wars and talking about peace. 

The museum is built on land where Will and his family had planned to build a home.  It's on a hill overlooking Claremore .  Will was killed in a plane crash near Barrow, Alaska with his famous pilot, Wiley Post.  A few of his famous quotes:   I hold only two distinctions in the movie business, ugliest fellow in 'em and I still have the same wife I started out with.  I don't tell jokes.  I just watch the government and report the facts.  With Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law.  Every time they make a law, it's a joke.  I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like.  A man only learns by two things, one is reading and the other is association with smart people.  That's why I read and hang out with my smart hubby!

We drove 12 miles northwest to Oologah to tour Will Rogers birthplace and childhood home.  Will's father, Clem, homesteaded this place and in 1879 he owned 10,000 head of cattle on this 60,000 acre ranch.  At that time there were 50 million people in the country and this was in the Cherokee Nation within Indian Territory.  It is now a living history ranch with a free self-guided tour.  Very nice. 

The house was actually moved about 3/4 of a mile up to this hill, as it would have been under water when they put in the dam that formed Oologah Lake.  They have lots of special activities out here like Will's Country Christmas with hayrides, lantern tours, ornament making, carolers, brass trio and vendors.  They also have Frontier Days Kids Camps in June and July and Will Rogers Days in November.  He was born here at the Dog Iron Ranch in 1879, but he didn't want to stay and run it.  He did buy it back later in life and hired his niece and nephew as caretakers.

This is the sitting room.  The home was built of hand-hewn logs and later sided with clapboard and painted white.  It became known as The White House on the Verdigris because it was a regional place for government, parties, weddings and funerals.  Will's father, Clem, was among the 25 members of the governing Cherokee National Council.  He conducted governmental hearings and other business in this historic home in the 1870s and 1880s.  Rogers County was named in honor of his father.  He was elected eldest delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1907.  He fought with the Cherokee Confederate Cavalry in the Civil War.  He was a Captain and a scout.  His division was the last to surrender to the Union.  Will was named in honor of Assistant Indian Chief William Penn Adair.

There are goats roaming about free and a sign in the barn that says "Beware Guard Donkey".

I love goats.  They are so fun to watch.

They also had a couple of horses and a few longhorns.

Back in Claremore, it was Dickens on the Boulevard weekend with real live Dicken's era people in shop windows, as store clerks and walking all about downtown.  They were roasting chestnuts on the corner and there were other food vendors.  A couple guys had set up a temporary blacksmith shop in the street with fires going and branding irons at the ready.  Not sure what that was about.  They were giving historic rooftop tours across the roofs of the downtown businesses, Tales From the Top.  I think there were about ten antique shops in the three block area plus little boutique shops, candy shop, quaint little diners, etc.

Carriage rides.

A six-gun salute for the flag and Johnnie Cash's song Ragged Old Flag.   That's what you get with a Dicken's Christmas in Claremore, Oklahoma!  Claremore is also home to Lynn Riggs who wrote the play Green Grow the Lilacs, that was adapted by Rodgers and Hammerstein into the wonderful musical Oklahoma.  It's also home to Patti Page.  We are on the road again Sunday to Oklahoma City and then Texas on Wednesday for Thanksgiving.

Wild Turkey by John James Audubon (1985-1851).

Happy Turkey Day,

Quote of the day
  "For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.  We all breath the same air.  We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
  President John F. Kennedy June 10, 1963

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