12/21/11

MYSTERIOUS RUNESTONES

The once fossilized reading of prehistoric North America's discovery has come under increasing challenges as new facts are uncovered and new eyes approach old ideas with a fresh vigor and openness. Some of the things causing a renewed look at early visitors are stones with runes on them which seem to hint that explorers, and perhaps settlers, might have traveled into the interior realms of North America. The came, they saw, and they left stone markers?


Heavener Runestone section


Recent investigations into the common elements of the other runes has uncovered the use of a "hooked x" configuration. A shape which, according to some investigators, has only recently come to light in Europe and is suggested as being linked to the Holy Grail.

History is filled with tales of explorers setting off on journeys, making discoveries or being forever lost.  It is a mistaken assumption that humans 'back then' were less innovative, courageous, unlucky, or intrepid than their modern counter-parts.  It is a modern person's arrogance that assumes we know today all that is known, or we have learned all there is to know.    Modern society looks at the back of the elephant asks, "What trunk? There is no trunk here."

Perhaps by backing up a bit to see the big picture - more will be uncovered divorced from preconceptions or limited thinking.

12/13/11

Ex-Slave to Preacher

The original Church of God congregation in Guthrie, Oklahoma was formed in 1905 by an ex-slave, George Winn according to Wikipedia.  It soon became and remained one of the largest churches of the group.

George W. Winn was born around 1848 in Georgia.  On the 1890 and 1900 census he was residing around Woodland in Logan County, Oklahoma. Later he is living in Guthrie township proper.  He indicated his parents had been born in Tennessee but by 1910 he, or someone else, responded with Georgia.  His wife was Caroline, also called Carrie, and was born about 1854 in Georgia or Kansas.  According to the census children included George (b.1877, Texas), Anna (b.1879, Texas), Carol (b.1884, Ks.), Stafford (b.1886, Ks.), Calvin (b. Ks), Eddie B. (b.Ks.).

In 1910 George listed his occupation as "preacher" and employer as "church."   He died in 1945 after many long years and his verbal testimonies were often recalled as he thanked God and recounted life back to when he was a slave.


12/10/11

You Could Not Make This Stuff Up

Why is one of the rarest finds among dinosaurs located in a North Carolina museum when it was found in Oklahoma? Why was this find revealed in a museum in the Black Hills rather than its state of discovery? 

 Until local amateurs Cephis Hall and Sid Love discovered the rare fossils, only fragments had been discovered in the late 1940's. Their find in the mid 1980's in the Antlers Formation of McCurtain County, Oklahoma was the largest such found and includes the only known complete skull and forelimb.  A recent book by Russell Ferrell (Acrocanthosaurus: The Bones of Contention, 2011) explains that the work is the "true story of Cephis Hall and Sid Love, the " 'Arkansas Hillbilly' and 'Choctaw Indian' who outsmarted the Corporation and Saved the Dinosaur."  However, that subtitle falls far short of expressing the complex tangle of greed, academic elitism, and political maneuvers filling this unique true story.  The answer to those questions is convoluted and as dramatic as a soap opera.  An engaging read.


Acrocanthosaurus - Standing about 16 ft high and 40 feet long, this predator was king of his time, with razor sharp teeth and claws.  It may date to the transition between the Jurassic and the Cretaceous. Recent studies has helped clarify its place in the dinosaur family tree.


State Symbols - Although the Saurophaganax was named the Oklahoma state fossil in 2000, its designation and species are in question, according to some sources.  It was roughly 40 feet long and about 16 feet tall. It roamed the plains in the Jurassic (about 150 million years ago).

12/7/11

AN EARLY INTER-RACIAL CHURCH IN PRE-STATEHOOD OKLAHOMA

This early work, ca. 1911, on the doctrine of entire sanctification, was offered in several 'conversations' suitable for reader's theaters, discussion, home discussions, and later radio ministries, was published by Faith Publishing House in Guthrie, Oklahoma.  The author of "A Religious Controversy" was Charles E. Orr.  



Research indicates the story of the publishing house is also very interesting.  The original Church of God congregation in that city was formed by an ex-slave, George Winn according to Wikipedia, in 1905.  It soon became and remained one of the largest churches of the group.

The term "Church of God" can be ubiquitous presenting the researcher with the question, "Which Church of God?"   The Guthrie group was originally related to the Church of God (Anderson, Ind) but soon separated from that group.  This was due to a belief the Anderson branch was straying too far from the original Daniel Warner teachings and the subsequent "Evening Light Reformation."    


The copy shown above has a stamp on the back cover reading: "RADIO PROGRAM", Capitol Hill Church of God...Station KLPR 1140....Oklahoma City, Oklahoma."


An interesting detour into early Oklahoma history, covering early radio programs, early inter-racial church groups (1905), and introducing a separatist group with an interesting pedigree.  See some marvelous photos of the ex-slave founder of the Guthrie church and others, including the author of the above work, at the Faith Publishing House website.      This website has digital versions of the work.

12/6/11

HE KNOWS WHEN YOU'VE BEEN GOOD OR BAD ....AND WILL SEND THE KRAMPUS!

Holiday traditions, like all folklore, have a marvelous tendency to change and adapt to varied cultural expectations and behaviors. 

 Everyone knows the jolly fat elf, Santa Claus.  Legend says he was adapted from the early Christian tale of the good bishop.   Yet, legends were widely adapted and re-clothed into Christian motifs at one time.   In some Germanic and Alpine countries - Herr Santa Claus was accompanied by the Krampus, (also known as Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf) often depicted as a  horned and demonic entity who punished bad children. Talk about being scared straight! This 'Anti-Claus' was even outlawed in 1934 Austria but now has his own web-page.

Although often depicted as the traditional Satanic looking demon with horns, tail and pitchfork, he can be disguised as a spooky looking man in black or a hairy-man beast.   Other images show a faint resemblance to the depictions of the 'Mothman' and 'Spring heeled  jack' of American folklore.   Most definitely a non PC character most children and parents were happy to see fade into the woodwork.  But watch.....coming to a SyFy channel near you sometime soon is sure to be " Krampus: He's Coming to Get the Naughty and Nice!"  Be warned and be very afraid.....

(Get the book of postcards, The Devil in Design)

12/4/11

THE MYSTERIOUS UFO CASE

An alleged FBI telegram report dated July 15, 1947.  Two interpretations of the handwritten note at the bottom, alleged to be from Hoover's own hand.


Memorandum for Mr. Ladd
Mr. ________ also discussed this matter with Colonel L. H. Forney of M
ID. Colonel Forney indicated that it was his attitude that inasmuch as
Army or Navy experiments, the matter is of interest to the FBI. He stat
it has been established that the flying disks are not the result of any ed that he was of the opinion that the Bureau, if at all possible,
lieve it should go into these investigations
should accede to General Schulgen's request. SWR:AJB ADDENDUM I would recommend that we advise the Army that the Bureau does not b e, it being noted that a great bulk of those alleged discs reported found have been pranks. It is not believed that the Bureau would accomplish anything by going into these
investigations. DML (Clyde Tolson) - I think we should do this. (Dated 7/15)
(J. Edgar Hoover) - I would do it but before agreeing to it we must insist
upon full access to discs recovered. For instance in the SW case the Army
grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination [emphasis added]

(2) Transcription #2  

The Hoover alleged statement is interpreted to be : "
I would do it but before agreeing to it we must insist upon full access to discs recovered. For instance in the LA case the Army grabbed it & would not let us have it for cursory examination" (emphasis added)
Coming right after the famous Roswell, NM UFO story, it is assumed this is a complaint of that case occurring in the American south west. Around July 10, 1947 other UFO incidences were being investigated in Michigan, hoaxed event in Shreveport, LA on July 7, and five years before the famous "battle of Los Angeles" in Feb of 1942.

If the FBI memo is valid, if the scrawled was there before its release, then the item grabbed by the Army could have been "La" (Louisiana), "Sw" (southwest) or, "La" (Los Angeles).   Each one presents an intriguing possibility.

11/30/11

OLD MOORELAND COMMUNITY HOSPITAL (OK)

Mooreland is a small community east of Woodward in northwest Oklahoma.  The hospital at 6th and Krouth Streets (Blocks 4 & 5 of the Matthews edition), sits on about two acres and was built in an art deco style between 1940/41 when the community had some 800 in population and the ten plus miles to Woodward's hospital was too far to drive in an emergency.  Its 180' x 85' size features a flat roof with parapets, concrete construction, classic corner windows, a blue frieze running the higher borders.  The architect was Ed Hudgens and in 1985 it was listed in a Oklahoma Historic building nomination as a "Woodward WPA" site.  In 1989, a bid by a group (Rivers of Life)  to make a 60-bed drug and alcohol abuse facility was denied citing the nearness of similar facilities.

For over forty years the hospital provided crucial care and comfort to the citizens of the area.


Now, according to sources consulted, it is in private hands awaiting renovation. The possibilities are interesting, and possibly endless, for renewal of this historic building into a viable part of the 21st century and a reminder of another day and another time.  Housing, condos, care facility, office space, educational space......We shall see if this survives to enjoy another seventy years...or falls to time.

11/27/11

SIZE IS JUST A NUMBER

Why do women continue to allow this to happen?  A recent battle between a marketing campaign and a Dallas based blogger underscores that society is often biased, sexist, size-st and unfair.   A company was adding "plus size" fashions to its line.  The sizes were 12-14.  I have seen this on various other online catalogs where plus size, full figure, and similar terms were now for sizes under size 20.  How things change.  But have they really?  

In the 1930's "vanity sizes" first appeared as clothing for women became standardized and mass produced.  I have personally seen antique patterns for smaller women carrying the sizing of "16".  I was then a current size "12" and could not have fit in it!   My mother explained sizes changed. To say the least.

According to one source, standard sizes range from:
US    Small (2,4) Medium (6,8), Large (10,12) XL (14,16)
European Small (32,34), Medium (36,38), Large (40,42), XL (44,46)
UK Small (6,8), Medium (10,12), Large (14,16), XL (18, 20)

Note these all refer to the same body measurements!  A 36 1/2 inch bust is going to be either a "10", "40" or a "14" depending on where it was made.  Plus sizes (US sizes 18-28, European 48-58, and UK 22-32) offer equally confusing and disheartening size ranges.  The basic measurement of the 1910-1930 years was based only on bust size and all else adjusted from that.  Then standardization arrived/. 
See some vintage patterns here.

The mystery is what it is within many women which allows them to sign over control of their looks to third parties: a man, designers, fashion industry, beauty magazines?

The realization that "fashion" is a construct designed to help perpetuate an economic system goes far in freeing some women from the clutches of the annual seasonal buying, updating, redoing, and rebuying cycle designed to allow someone's warped visions and unnatural dictates to control how they will look, what they will wear, and how they will live.  Other women, simply have their own style and ignore the voices seeking to control how they look. Some other women know what looks good on them and stick with what works.

http://girlinthepinkprius.com/page/52/
Bones sticking out - yeah really sexy
Why should someone else tell any woman how to wear her hair, what clothes to wear, or how she should feel about herself?  It is the result of centuries of women being taught to need the approval of parents, other women and men.  It is a problem which often leads young women to severely abuse themselves because they have accepted the inference of their inferiority and they believe they are never good enough, small enough, or pretty enough.  Various health and mental health issues result.

While rumbles of revolt against this annual guilt trip affirming a woman is not good enough being herself have surfaced periodically, they are soon beaten back down by the fashion industry and social pressures. Women gleefully abandon themselves to yearly looks ranging from prostitute, uni sexual, and vamp not because they really want to but because it was what Vogue told them to wear, or what they saw modeled in music videos, commercials and movies. Women comprise a significant economic force in society - isn't it time women called the shots and demanded more of what they want based on their self-value and self-respect?


11/24/11

The Places Before the Places

Sometimes people can assume that because they have always known of an area being a certain way, it had no existence before that time.  It was vague, foggy, and a blank canvas before some magic time of development.  The huge sprawling town? Why there was nothing here but waving grass, right?

Anyone who has driven through Oklahoma City has crossed "Council" heading west out of town or into two from the west.  Nice name, has a ring to it doesn't it?   People never realize that it refers to a special portion of land from a time decades before major settlement arrived in runs or land lotteries.

"Council Grove was described as - "The area included all of Bethany south of N.W. 42nd Street and extended southward to a half mile south of N.W. 10th Street and from Council Road eastward for about three miles. It was soon deemed practical to move a sawmill from Darlington (near Fort Reno) to near the present N.W. 10th Street Bridge. (Doug Dawgz Blog)

 In the 1850's until the outbreak of the Civil War, trader Jesse Chisholm and various Native groups would meet at this historic council grounds for business (Stan Hoig. Cowtown Wichita. University of New Mexico Press, 2007, pg.47). On some old maps it is identified as the "Timber Res." and the "Timber Military Reservation". It was part of the "Unassigned Lands."

In a similar vein, Oklahoma City, "born grown" in the 1889 land run, actually replaced a supply depot called Oklahoma Station.

A survey of an old 1920's atlas of the states reveals the names of many a small town that disappeared with time: Morgan, Erwin, Silver City, Moral, Cereal, etc.   Some, never even made it to ghost town status and others were simply swallowed whole leaving evidence of their presence only in street names, depot designations, or housing developments.

11/5/11

It Could Never Happen Here!

Recently earthquakes occurring in out of the ordinary places bring up phrases like "such things never happening" in a certain locale.  Weather and nature, however, tend to make themselves felt where ever they want.

Hurricanes and Typhoons  can come inland to surprisingly landlocked regions.  Tornadoes have cropped up in places which still cause some to shake their heads in wonder.  And....in the 1940's a volcano suddenly appeared in a corn field in central Mexico!

So, with rumbles, whirling winds, and the end of the world forecast for Dec. 2012 - one should not take anything for granted.


10/30/11

THE HOLIDAY OF THE IMAGINATION

I played an exotic gypsy on more than
one occasion! Even reprised the role
for a PTA Carnival!
Why has Halloween been so popular?  Why have I enjoyed it over other fun times of the year?
I recall as a child the eager anticipation as the trees turned to gold, scarlet, and brown beneath an October sky with a unique clarity and a deep azure color. The time of fall festivals, bags of candy, parties, hayrides, mad leaps into piles of crackling eaves, and lots of plain fun.
The inspiration for dozens of daring deeds and funny pranks from older adults and siblings and delightful shivers danced up spines as scary stories and stupid jokes were shared around glowing jack-a-lanterns.
There was the giggling excitement of heading to the local Woolworths or Ben Franklin to see the long rows of shiny boxes, each with a small window of hard cellophane revealing wondrous masks for fairies, heroes, and animals. The hard decisions that followed: would it be the exotic gypsy fortuneteller or the Little Red Riding Hood, or maybe the Monster, Clown, or a Spaceman this year?  
Every child readily over looked the shortcomings of the mandatory accompanying acetate satin costume (always for some reason with sparkles detailing the seams and adding details to the costume).  Too short or too long, what did matter? 
It was Halloween!
Halloween and numerous rites of passage lay ahead with each new turning of the season. 
Arcane knowledge and childhood rituals passed from generation to generation: look for the sacred light of welcome (the front porch light casting its feeble glow), look carefully before you cross the street, and always, always say “Thank you.”
Anticipatory huddles preceded the event on playgrounds, street corners, and in back yards.  Skills were shared in excited whispers, but ultimately it was a lonely hero’s journey to be faced in solitude. A rite of passage was learning to walk boldly up the forbidden zone of someone’s front porch, climbing nervously the steps illuminated by glowing jack-o-lanterns knocking on a door that stood ten feet tall.  
A soft childish knock, a stuttering “trick-or-treat!” followed by smiling faces, mock looks of surprise or fear at your dime store or homemade costume. The handfuls of goodies dumped into plastic pumpkins, paper bags, or mother’s second best pillow cases.  Squeaky voices excitedly calling “thank you!”   Children rushing back to the sidewalk to catch up with friends. Voices mingling in squeals of delight, as they compared their booty, and autumn joined in blowing chill kisses and swirling her colorful skirt.
Halloween is a distinctly American holiday. It’s taproots stem from ancient rituals and celebrations. The manner in which it developed was unique and reflected the “melting pot” s many cultures met and mingled.
As the celebration changed, one element remained at the core : the festival belongs to the land of the imagination: that rich, fertile soil from which all creativity stems and innovation flows.
Although every decade saw some threat to produce a “Year without a Halloween”, sanity prevailed and the joys of this special rite continued, changed perhaps by contemporary influences, truncated through modern fears, but it remains as a reminder that people – of all ages – need magic, mystery, and hours of simple fun.
The answer to my question was clear - Halloween was a holiday of the imagination, of play, and stepping outside the confines of the ordinary into the extraordinary. No wonder I have always loved it!

Origins of the Holiday - Halloween

I love October...the crunchy leaves, the chilly nights...and the drama and imagination of Halloween. I was one of those little kids that lived in dress-up clothes, tripped around her mother’s heels and should have won an Oscar at some point in Kindergarten for my stellar performance of Little Red Riding Hood.
I am also an American Celt...no I have no real language or the major customs, but there were a bunch of Celts in my family tree. Despite the lack of language and a loss of many customs...the blood runs strong in other ways. The poet is alive, the warrior, the dreamer, and...Face it...maybe even a tad bit of the schemer. There is also the mystic who can step out into a night and almost see the shimmering layers that curtain us from other realities, as they ripple in some cosmic breeze.
Halloween began as such in a long distant time. It was a night when someone would leave the door between this world and the next ajar. The recently dead, and perhaps other things, could come to call. Saucers of milk would be left out as an offering to keep the visit...friendly.
So enjoy the sigh of the wind and the crackle of leaves as you walk. Set out your autumn decorations and enjoy the "October country" as author Ray Bradberry called it.....but leave some milk out on the night. Just in case.
Now some history; to understand the roots of Halloween it is necessary introduce the Celts.
The term Celts refer to numerous tribal groups occupying Europe from about 800 C.E. who shared a common language group.  From the Steppes to Ireland they were the tradesman, philosophers, artisans, and warriors who dominated the landscape and successfully challenged early Rome.   They were the ancestors of the people known as the “Gauls”, the “Norseman”, and the “Britons”.  Although they shared a common language and fundamental religious beliefs, they developed in many different ways and practices varied. 
One common belief held by many of these people groups was that on a particular night of the year the separation of this world from the next changed.  
Like a curtain billowing in a breeze glimpses between the two co-existing realities were possible.  Sometimes, the recently dead could slip back into the world of the living to say goodbyes, give a blessing, or cause a bit of mischief.  
For the Celts, most of whom believed in reincarnation, death was but another part of existing.   Customs of leaving small gifts to not offend the returning dead (and bring about problems) often developed.  Animals were favored forms for the returning dead and so leavings milk out for dogs or cats became the custom in some locations.
All of this occurred at the turning of the year at Samhaim (Sow-wain).  Harvest time the world over share similar festivals marking the end of the growing season, the successful gathering of the harvest, and celebration before the onslaught of winter’s stark chill.  
Many of these Celtic customs came to America in early Colonial days, mingling with customs from the Dutch, the English, the Germans, and the Native Americans.  There was even an element of the Roman feast of Saturnalia in how America celebrated the night; roles were reversed and chaos celebrated. Many aspects of this initially agrarian based festival would remain important and be kept alive in remote rural areas well into the 20th century.  The greatest diversity occurs as locales become increasingly urbanized and more multicultural in the early years of the 20th century.
In Oklahoma, which did not become a state until 1907, there is distinct evidence of the old customs and the melting pot in action as customs from various times, and places begin to mingle and what emerges is the American Halloween.  Evidence of this is revealed by the various names over the years: fall festival, harvest festival, “huskin’ time”, “begging night”, “Nutcrack Night” (a term from Britain), Halloween, and even for the more negative, “Helloween.”

10/22/11

IN A GOTHIC MOOD

My first copy was purchased
at the college bookstore
on clearance.
Nearly everyone has enjoyed a Gothic tinged novel or movie at some point. In this season it is common for people to return to those familiar, and well trod, elements for a little thrill.  The classic motifs of the Gothic are well known, from the decrepit  castle or manor, the mysterious and tormented hero, to the innocent damsel in distress and the lurking supernatural patina (ghost, legend, or mysterious and unexplained element).  Have you ever wondered where those all came from?  A short little novel first published in 1764 by Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Oxford.  The part time antiquarian attempted to create something new based on the Romanticism of the period and in the process did just that by forging a template of almost all Gothic works for the next three centuries.  Even to this day, those elements of the crumbling spooky house, the mysterious threat, the multi-layered leading man, and the poor innocent leading lady are standards of the genre.   Minor elements and quirks may emerge but the formula worked well for Walpole and for Gothika (2003).  Checking the shelves at the local book stores and the marquee at the theater reveals it is still hard at work as well.

10/16/11

OCTOBER COUNTRY: The Shadow People


They are described as blurs of smoky darkness, columns of dark thick something, silhouettes of a man in top hat, silhouettes of a man with out a house, a man like dark shape.  Sometimes with eyes glowing red.  They have been reported, and allegedly caught on security cameras, in homes, businesses, and on the street.  Most agree they emanate evil.


Some suggest there has been a spike in reports since about 2000.  Others, suggest that the reported fondness of them for closets and similar spaces means they are merely the old bogeyman in a new set of clothes. Yet, most older tales of spirits utilize different motifs and archetypes.

Are they simply the dark, elongated and upright version of the ancient incubus, succubus, ghost, vampire, or demon?  Are they simply new creations produced in response to contemporary fears of a vague "something" that will come and get us?

10/8/11

OKLAHOMA'S OVERHOLSER MANSION

The Overholser Mansion was the first mansion in the city and constructed by local land dealer and entrepreneur, Henry Overholser in 1903.

In the 1960's the mansion was offered to the state of Oklahoma, with all contents intact, as a historical site.

A rare glimpse into history as it was - no need to renovate or find similar styles of furnishings -  because it never changed inside and was maintained by the same family from construction til it was given over to the state.

Learn more here and plan to attend an event or take a tour of the grand lady of early Oklahoma City.   

10/2/11

OCTOBER COUNTRY: MORE FACES IN THE NIGHT

On  "Coast-to-Coast AM" (10/1/2011) a called reported going to sleep and seeking faces coming at here as she tried to go to sleep.  They morphed into one another and then she felt something or someone wanting to 'get into her' and take her over.

I found this very interesting because of an incident reported to me from this last spring.  A woman lay down to sleep and as she closed her eyes attempting to rest she noticed a whirling dark black, yellow and orange mass evolving and from this emerged faces - clear, unique, and totally unknown to her!  She said it seemed that it was a doorway and if she kept focusing she would go through that entryway to where the faces were emerging.  Part of her wanted to in order to see what it was and if there was some psychic experience waiting there.  Another part of her held back and purposefully closed that door and shut out the faces...

ECHOES OF GIANTS


A recent internet hoax played up the giants among us theme with some patently unbelievable images.  They suffer from the 'Godzilla Syndrome' - being so huge it is impossible to suspend belief long enough to wonder if they really did exist. 

However, through history, there have been alleged findings of larger than normal skeletons which might bear more study.  A list here.  

Giantism is not an unknown condition, as well, and some people groups tend to be very tall, slender limbed, and with fine features while others tend to be  shorter, sturdier, and heavier bone construction (Big bones run in the family, right?).

With recent research claiming all people with non-African genetic background are desceneded from the Net

OCTOBER COUNTRY: THE DREAM MAN

In honor of the season author Ray Bradbury called the October country 'Mystorical' will present some strange and mysterious stories for your enjoyment.

1.  The Man in Their Dreams

Back in 2006 people started reporting dreams of a man's face and words.  One patient of a counselor sketched the face and another patient recognized it from his own dreams!

Others reported similar 'sightings' or 'dreamings'.   Although some argued it was all an elaborate hoax, others suggested tapping into a mythic common mind, or responses to suggestions.

Apparently, since the start of 2011 his appearances have peaked and occur strangely at the start of the month and appear to have no relation to media stories.

Is he a presentation of the "Shadown Men"?  Is he an alien targeting audiences for a message and eventual acceptance?  Is he a devil, demon, or evil entity seeking control and manipulation?  Is this what happened to Alfred E. Newman?    

9/7/11

WILD TIMES

A tragic headline of 1933 caught my eye in an old paper.  A boy,  8, was found hanging near Sallisaw.  The community was already concerned over a missing boy of 11 who was presumed to have drowned.    Officers who first rushed to the wooded area declared without doubt it was murder. Who would murder a boy no one could identify at first and appeared to be a stranger?

What seemed to be even stranger was the ultimate ruling of the coroner and sheriff's as to the cause of death for young Buck Brannon.   Apparently, the small boy had committed suicide.     The other missing boy was Raymond Dickerson who, it was finally decided, had tried to wade the Lee Creek on an errand but left his clothes in a drift of the creek.

Through the decade od the 1930's Sallisaw was a wild and woolly place with murders, jail escapes, and enough going on to suggest there were two communities co-existing in Sequoyah County and northeast Oklahoma.

In the 1920's young men in places like Chicago and San Franciso had hung themselves in desperation of having their forged report card discovered and for other reasons only a 13,14,15 year old could have explained.

Sometimes, however, it was all too sadly a moment of play gone horribly wrong as a 'swinging' rope gained a new description as a hanging rope.

As 2033 approaches, one hundred years from that death, will we be able to say we have helped children to feel safe, secure, wanted, and valued more than our counterparts in the 1930's?   Or, have we merely traded swinging ropes for cyber bullies, abusive people, drugs,  and devalued life?   If a 13 year old, or an 8 year old, can feel life has lost all meaning, hope and is worthless, we are all at fault and all equally guilty.

8/14/11

SACRED SPACES: EASY WORDS - HARDER WORK

As the anniversary of 9/11 rolls around this year it will mark the opening of the memorial in NYC and in the field in Pennsylvania.  The terms used often feature the haunting words "sacred space."

After 1995 in Oklahoma City, the location of the Murrah Federal Building bombing were likewise labeled as "sacred space."

The first three days of July 1863 saw a small community transformed by the carnage of war, as citizens battled citizens over states rights and slavery.   A weary President Abraham Lincoln, penned a simple, yet so powerful speech that turned the bloody field into a symbol.  A sacred space....


"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal


Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advancedIt is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. "

Yet, this Civil War era battlefield, this sacred space, has been threatened, like many other such sites, with the encroachment of development, economic envy, and non-sacred elements.    Will these new memorials one day too face the threat of people to whom these supreme sacrifices are but a distant and little understood bit of boring history?

We label a place sacred because of its deeply meaningful history and the way it has shaped some crucial moment.   We must remember and teach each generation of these moments, devoid of politics, devoid of rancor, and devoid of self-interest.  The many who sacrificed in such places deserve no less.

7/26/11

What Ever Happened?

Shots from A Box Car Were Fatal to A Hutchinson Man 

Wellington, Kas., June 2 - John P. Cates, depot master, and yard watchman here for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, was shot and killed early this morning in the division yards. The bullet came from the top of a boxcar. Cates was making his usual round shortly after midnight when he was surprised by a shot, which he returned. Six shots were exchanged and Cates received two wounds, one in the arm and the other grazing his heart. 

When a friend reached him and asked who did it, he said, "there were three or four of them," then became unconscious. He died about twenty minutes after reaching home. Two men were arrested near the yards and are in jail but are not believed to be implicated. The car from which the shooting was done came from the West last night. Clothes hangers thrown away near the car and wire for making them which was found today on top of the car lead the officers to believe some peddler did the shooting. 

The murdered man who came here from Guthrie two years ago leaves a widow and four children. (Kansas City Star, June 2, 1911, page 1).

One tendency of old newspapers was the tendency to often ignore followup stories about headlines they had created earlier.  

RAILROADS, VIOLENCE, AND GRUESOME DEATH

WELLINGTON, KS., Nov. 22---Last evening, Levi Meeker, his wife and 8-year-old daughter were found dead on the Southern Kansas railroad track by his son. It is supposed they were struck while crossing the track in a wagon by a passenger train.(reported in the Wisconsin State Journal ~ November 23, 1888). 

In my book, WHEN DEATH RODE THE RAILS: STRANGE DEATHS IN OKLAHOMA, 1900-1920, I explored cases like this. I had found some suspicious cases in northern Texas and theorized there might be more in surrounding states.


Exactly how did a steam locomotive - stealthy they were not - sneak up to kill this family? No one on the wagon (pulled by one or more horses, walking or at most trotting) was aware of the oncoming train? None could hold the team and run it across the tracks in time?   One source indicates express passenger trains on that line were to travel at between 25-35 and mail trains 15 mph.     Were they, like some in Oklahoma, killed and then placed there to cover the crime? Are there similar deaths along that particular line?

7/17/11

SOARING HIGH THROUGH CLEAR BLUE SKIES

Oklahoma, with its vast vistas of sky and distant blue horizons, has long attracted those who love aviation.

In August 1909, in Belle Isle Park, a balloonist rose several hundred feet to parachute out to the awe-struck crowd below.

Pearl Carter, the nation's youngest female pilot, who was inspired by Wiley Post and was flying when she was 12.  A recent movie by the Chickasaw Nation and Media 13 chronicles the exciting story.

HOW TO CREATE A HISTORICAL MYSTERY

Photo from U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
(Public Domain)
On a sunny April morning in 1995, the worst terrorist act on US Soil occurred with the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  It would hold that uneasy crown until another sunny morning in September of 2001 in New York, Washington D.C. and a lonely field in Pennsylvania.    Since federal agencies were victims in OKC, the government agencies swept in and removed all the security tapes of this historic and deadly event.  These were crucial as evidence and as history.  These types of artifacts are safeguarded, preserved, and archived for legal studies and historic research.

Apparently not.   According to a story  about  a legal request for the tapes, it was made known that the tapes and other documents were deemed unimportant to even index and represented a burden for government employees to search.

This is unfortunate as it would lay to rest - finally and completely - if the videos were found, and could show clearly that McVeigh was alone.   At least three individuals testified in September of 1995 that they saw McVeigh with not just one person (the famed 'John Doe', but another man as well) ("Witnesses Say McVeigh Not Alone." Daily Oklahoman, Sept, 2, 1995, pg. 42).  

All of this - inevitably, clear as day, obviously - unites to make so strange the decision of the ATF to not test whether the truck bomb had the power to produce the devastation of the bombing as one of the most illogical decisions ever.  ("ATF Calls Off Plan to Test Truck Bomb" Daily Oklahoman, Sept, 11, 1995, pg. 11).  Let's see, we can show that  this bomb could do that much damage, but we won't need that evidence.   

Just like the strange decision to decide that the historic and valuable tapes and files of the investigation of the worst man-made disaster on US soil were not important enough to be cataloged or located.  After all, no body will ever want to access that stuff now will they?

The MSNBC program 'THE MCVEIGH TAPES' is another clear way  to not instigate a historical mystery.

This documentary purports to provide McVeighs own words and does allow some of his own words to be heard.  Instead it largely brings cherry picked snippets with talking heads filling in and explaining how McVeigh's growing anger was focused and his wrath was directed.

Yet, you never hear McVeigh actually saying saying any of those things the talking heads insist he said or meant or felt.  He is never shown ranting, never growing angry, or acting crazed (insert image image of an interview with Charles Manson for contrast).

So to create a lasting historical mystery do three simple things:

-Lose, destroy or minimize evidence
-Refuse to search for and preserve all evidence for future research and study
-Put words and inflections in the mouth of a historic figure.

Although, officially closed in 2006, with such slip-shod record keeping and unanswered questions, it will remain a riddle in search of an solution.


BEFORE THE MURRAH BUILDING BOMBING

When the federal building in Oklahoma City exploded in April 1995, it was a shock that rippled at sonic speed across the psyche of the country.  How? Why? were the unanswerable questions on everyone's lips.

Something, however, was stirring in the country in the years before this horrible disaster.  The 'Unabomber' was on the news radar as well.

  • In August 1991, teens apparently for a lark used a pipe bomb to blow up a portable toilet at a construction site in the elite Nichols Hills area of OKC.
  • In December of 1991 an OKC man was arrested in a pipe bomb case.
  • In February 1991, six pipe bombs were found on two chemical tanks in Virginia close to one of the major naval bases of the east coast (Daily Oklahoma, Feb.5, 1991, pg. 45).  
  • On October 1992, three bombs went off in two north central Oklahoma communities within minutes of each other, according to a story by Daily Oklahoman reporter Michael McNutt.  Pipe bombs exploded in two Enid government offices and one in an elementary school in  nearby Stillwater (about 25 miles south of Perry, Oklahoma where McVeigh would be found after the bombing), and home of Oklahoma State University.   All exploded with minimal damage.   Another discarded bomb - a thermos type container filled with gun powder - was found in a field  8 miles SW of Waukomis, Oklahoma (Daily Oklahoman, Oct. 28, 1992, pg. 108-09).
  • In January of 1993, a pipe bomb was found in a movie theater in Dallas, Texas.
  • In August 1993, Edmond teens were arrested for making pipe bombs.
  • In February 1994, Adair High School in Tulsa, OK was temporarily closed following a pipe bomb incident.
  • In March 1995, a pipe bomb was reported in Broken Arrow.
  • In June 1994, pipe bombs were found in the OKC Jail!

7/15/11

THERE IS ALWAYS A STORY WITH THE PHOTO

A little girl in Wellington, Kansas in the early 1960's and her first visit to the historic Antlers Hotel:

I was waiting eagerly to be old enough to go to Kindergarten when the photographer came to town and set up shop on the 4th floor of the old turn-of-the century hotel on a corner downtown. It was an elegant old Victorian hotel named, I was told, for the huge rack of antlers over the registration desk. I was so excited as we walked down the sidewalk past the shops and the magic of so much going on. Cars glided by, trucks rattled to a stop at the blinking lights, and people hurried past us on their way to their own adventures.

Climbing the front steps and entering the lobby was awe inspiring. Everywhere was the shimmer of old, polished wood. There was an exotic feel to the place with the old Persian rugs, the leather furniture, the wood railing leading upstairs. There was an aroma of pipe tobacco, perfume and beeswax used to give the wood that sturdy shine.  Strange people milled all about, mostly men reading newspapers, but a few women carrying shoppng bags from the department stores downtown.

This is the
photograph
 taken
that day.
Whispered comments had mother giving me sparse definitions of new terms like "salesmen", "bachelors", and "travelers".

We climbed the thickly carpeted stairs until we reached the desired floor. I had never seen such a long hallway before. It seemed to stretch forever. On each side were doors with shiny brass numbers. Hurrying down the hall, we did not want to miss the appointment, mother knocked on one of the strange and mysterious doors.

A man, gently stooped with a kind smile, ushered us into the room. It was a bedroom, I realized, even as I noted the man had set up a big screen to hide the bed and all around were cameras, lights, and strange bits and pieces of photographic equipment. The adults talked  about the photos and other small talk - just what I could not say.

I was soon being placed on a leather covered stool, told to look here, smile now, and pose this way and that. My mother looked through the camera, smiled, and nodded at the man's comments. Then the adults talked the business of payments and mailing the photos and other details of no concern to me. 

I was too interested in the little stool that spun around and around....

Settled on the stool, now still, the man made last minute lighting adjustments and then took several pictures of me in my blue gingham dress with my still toddler blonde hair falling to my shoulders and we left shortly after that. I skipped down the hall with a lollipop and my mother clutching a receipt for the promised image.

The hotel closed, the schools brought in photographers, and things changed all over. Sometimes, though, I do remember that soft spring day in my pretty dress walking down a sun washed hallway heading to an adventure, and had I known it, a fading bit of Americana
.

-- Marilyn A. Hudson

6/1/11

CRY, BABY, CRY

The urban legend, folklore, and sometimes out right 'fakelore' of the numerous Cry Baby Bridges across the country is only a little less mysterious than the tendency of devotees to insist 'their' bridge is the 'real' one.

Most folklorists located the earliest tales in Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey to the 1920's-30's.  A couple of places even suggest a WW 1 dating for their story.  The story apparently gained new energy in the 1950's and by the advent of the Internet in the 1990's every place was spouting their own bridge!

As an example of an urban legend - a short tale with supernatural overtones - which cannot be proved due to their hallmark total lack of facts - it is unsurpassed. 

The strong sociological components of the legend make it clear it is a morality tale derived from concerns in society of their changing moral climate, a perceived crass disregard for life, and the sure judgement for those who transgress against society's norms.


The most common elements are a woman (sometimes a couple) are crossing a bridge, it is raining/snowing/ or they are speeding/fighting or the woman (or the couple) are so consumed by depression/guilt/shame/madness that they have an accident/fling the baby off the bridge/ lose the baby in the night.  As a result, the cries of the baby/woman/both can be heard in that spot for years afterward.


The BRIDGE - what better symbol for the transition of the youthful person from the innocence of youth and the awareness of maturity?

The BABY - symbol of the product of careless disregard of the social norms and the product of acting outside approved boundaries? A symbol of the future being thrown away?

The RAIN/SNOW/FIGHT - The crisis point following the realization of an error in judgement may have consequences we are unprepared to face.

The CRIES - the symbol of guilt and the sure awareness that sins and failures cannot be hid. They will  haunt us, draw us back, and make us pay.

Many folklorists, myself included, believe the story emerged from the Pre-WW1 to Post WW1 era known as the 'roaring 20's'.  It was a time of great concern for many as old customs, manners, values, and norms were being eradicated as a new generation took over.  The automobile made it easy for young people to get in trouble via speeding, driving farther afield, promiscuity, drinking, and other 'wanton' behaviors.  Youth were often cautioned about 'burning their bridges' or making a decision they could not undue.  Having a baby was a classic example.  If A (adolescence) + B (behaviors) = C (consequences), well the result was the Crybaby Bridge!

Like its companion legend of  "Resurrection Mary", with its underlying theme that if the girl  had stayed home like a 'good girl' she would still be alive, the Crybaby Bridge tales also carry the underlying theme that conduct was important and had consequences.

So far, no newspaper, book, or oral history collections have unearthed any version of the tale of a Crybaby Bridge earlier than about 1917 (here).   "Resurrection Mary", by contrast, is considered sub-genre to the 'Vanishing Hitchhicker' motif and there is some evidence that the VH can be traced back to the post-Civil War.

The Crybaby Bridge motif is most probably an early 20th century invention to convey moral values, warn of sexual indiscretion, and safeguard human life.



5/30/11

EARLY LEADERS REVEALED IN EARLY PHOTO

In this photo from 1945 a young Oral Roberts is shown attending his denomination's general conference, held in Oklahoma City that year.  Roberts is shown in the lower right corner framed by the ladies in the hats.  At the opposite corner is the young entrepreneurial minister, R.O. Corvin, who would be in the next year the first president of Southwestern Christian University (then located at 5000 NW 10th).

EARLY OKLAHOMA CITY CHURCH CONFERENCE

In 1945, the Pentecostal Holiness Church meet in conference at the Oklahoma City First Church.  This church had begun in 1907 in the old 'Blue Front Saloon', 7 West Grand.  It later moved to 423 West California and in 1945 was located at 2046 E. 2nd Street.  In 1950, they relocated to 1701 N.W. 7th (9th and Blackwelder) under the leadership of pastor, the Rev. S.N. Greene.  The church, the First Pentecostal Holiness Church, was historic in being one of the first pentecostal churches in Oklahoma.   It is believed this image shows the church at 2046 E. 2nd in Oklahoma City.


5/29/11

Deadly Oklahoma Tornadoes

According to NOAA, there have been several tornado storms since 1947 which ranked F4 and F5.  The Woodward storm of April 1947 was part of a multi-state outbreak, was an F5 and it claimed 116.   One in November of 1930 struck Bethany along the area of NW 39th Street.   "The tornado moved north-northeast from 3 miles west of the Oklahoma City limits, hitting the eastern part of Bethany. About 110 homes and 700 other buildings, or about a fourth of the town, were damaged or destroyed. Near the end of the damage path 3.5 miles northeast of Wiley Post Airfield, the tornado hit the Camel Creek school. Buildings blew apart just as the students were falling to the floor and looking for shelter; five students and a teacher were killed."  It was an F4 and over 20 were killed. Overall about 100 tornadoes have hit OKC in the last 100 years.

5/3/11

REAL LIFE MYSTERIES REALLY ARE THE BEST

It has always been the silent voices, the untold stories, the hidden truths and the buried subtexts which have appealed  as I began delving into history. Those invisible, ghost-like people that "society" often tried to silence, make go away, or simply destroy.  The life of a poverty stricken yet strong 12 year African-American girl from Muskogee, Oklahoma name Sarah Rector, is just such a tale. Walking the dangerous balancing beam of crafting her future as sharks of racism, greed, and self-doubt trolled her early years, she has much to share with modern women, modern society, and much to add to the history of African Americans. 

Author and descendent Kelvin Rector is on a mission to share the surpring mosaic piece which helps to complete our knowledge of Oklahoma during the pre-statehood days, the impact of racism, the power of greed for oil and the wealth it represented, and the urge to manipulate society and some its members in order grasp that power away.

4/25/11

ALL THE SIGNS ARE THERE: Is Your House Haunted?

I was asked this the other day and as I searched I found there are numerous lists from as few as six signs to as many as sixteen and some who were obviously leaving the door wide open. Further research seems to suggest that these are considered the most common and likely signs of a 'haunting':  Unexplained cold spots, Shadows, sounds, or movements otherwise unexplainable,  Moving objects, opening doors - all unexplainable, Unexplainable moods, changes in atmosphere, or feelings of being watched, or Sightings of unexplained people, animals, or faces in or around a house which are unexplainable. 
You see, the key factor is  it must be 'unexplainable.'   Air in plumbing can groan like someone is being tortured on the rack, can thump floors and shimmy pipes over several floors giving a distinct feeling of some unseen presence. Air flow through a building can be diverted or blocked creating 'cold spots' or strange cold breezes. Old wood can contract and expand cracking open doors and drawers and knocking things off an otherwise even shelf.   Tiredness, flickers of electrical current, vision problems, and birds flitting past a window can create the illusion of something moving past, a shadow rapidly speeding across a room, and slinking in a corner.  Digital photography can capture orbs of light which are merely dust particles, refraction in old wavy glass can create a false play of light and shadow which the brain interprets as a "face" or nearby sounds carry on the wind leading to ideas of disembodied voices.

The amount of things we do not know about how old houses and interact with their geologic foundations, the  interactions of a location with any underground water sources, the possible correlations of electrical storms and 'sightings', and the power of the human imagination to create what it expects to see, all combine to insure we keep learning and trying to understand our wacky and wild world.





4/11/11

What Was Lost? What Can We Still Learn?

In the movement west, European-Americans found strange and mysterious earthen mounds - some of awesome size - and reflecting a great amount of communal cooperation and common purpose.  The often migratory, hunter-gatherer populations of the East, Southeast, and Middle regions seemed removed from what were clearly a more urban minded people.   Using a mindset that equated cultural development solely with specific types of society, they often dismissed any connections, could not accept that social history could be anything but linear, and  devalued anything not meeting preconceptions of an "important" or "civilized" society.

As a result, although many early and large earthen works or "mounds" were  recognized, protected, and preserved, many others were grazed, robbed, and otherwise destroyed.  Valuable information about the earliest community activities in North America were lost without study, record, or concern.  Some questions will never be answered about migration patterns, materials, methods, and relationships because valuable data was lost in the hurry to find mythical "treasure."   The lessons of the Spiro Mounds Archaeological Park in Spiro, Oklahoma are worth noting.  Hailed as an American "King Tut's Tomb" - not for its gold but for its rare information on early occupation.  Yet, it was nearly destroyed, robbed of its information, its contents desecrated with cruel abandon.

For most of the mound building cultures, these earthen works were part of sacred rituals of burial, death, and beliefs in the afterlife.  Archaeologists were seen as 'tomb robbers' and their actions synonymous with going to the local graveyard to dig  up a loved relative.  In most cases, you see, the occupants did not disappear but are connected to various groups who continued to develop and evolve as revealed through customs, linguistics, DNA, and cultural stories.  It was often seen as personal affront and sacrilege of sacred spaces and disturbances of final resting places. 

Spiro Mounds is the gem in Oklahoma but other sites stretch from the Canadian border to Middle America; from the Virginia hills to central plains.

What remains a mystery, however, is how these early groups functioned, what they believed, and how they might have related to other people groups.  These may never be fully answered due to the wanton destruction of some of these sites across the continent.  Their artistic style was as unique to other Native American art as Etruscan art was to Roman art.  They offer a rare glimpse into a more full understanding of human occupation and the connections and cultures of ancient humans.

In the assumptions about social development, definitions of civilizations, cultural superiority and prejudice rare pieces of history were lost - perhaps forever. As new theories of migrations,  multiple approaches to settlement, and new evidence continues to come to light pushing further and further our understanding of time lines and influences, what might yet still be there to be learned and what was lost?

4/10/11

AWFUL, MORBID, GRUESOME

No, not the National Press Club. These are terms used in the newspapers of early Oklahoma City to describe a serious of awful finds in the city dump. "Mountains of mangled flesh" or bodies most "dreadfully abused and mutilated." People pondered often in the midnight dreary what monster walked among them. Not even twenty years past the dreadful "Jack the Ripper" crimes of London Town - there was much for the imagination to contemplate. One story told of the finding of a small infant whose tiny body had been horribly "mutilated" by skilled hands and then the tiny body tossed on the "ash heap." One headline questioned what awful ghouls were prowling the gas lit streets of the new capital? The slasher in this morbid tale was none other than the local medical school, Epworth College. Or, to be more precise, the janitor of the facility. It seems that he had simply taken the discard body parts, bloody cloth, tumor removals and even corpses used in practice dissections, to the local city dump.   

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