Chub in Prison Part #1

My project continues to move forward and for the time being it has left my hands. Hopefully I will have some exciting news to bring you before long. Meanwhile I will continue to post my weekly columns and this week I am starting a four part series that dates back to when I first met Chub and began interviewing him in 2006.

This week will be the start of a four week adventure that will take you behind the walls of the oldest penitentiary in the Kansas/Oklahoma territory- dating back to the days when Oklahoma sent their inmates to Kansas to be imprisoned.

You’ll be with notorious inmates Richard Hickock and Perry Smith and hear how Truman Capote moved around freely behind the prison walls.  You’ll also learn how life is for Chub Anderson and his strange crossing of fate with Hickock and Smith. You’ll visit the old prison cemetery which Walter Cronkite comes to every year and learn why and meet a Supreme Court Justice along the way. We’ll go on location to what was the largest cultivated marijuana crop field in the state, find out how it was discovered and interview several of the people involved including the growers. You’ll meet Rudy Briggs who was one of the first sheriff’s investigators on the scene of the Mullendore murder and follow his steps around the country in this made-for-the-big-screen real life mystery.

So fill up your canteen and come along with me to Lansing Kansas for the first installment of the Original Buffalo Dale Behind The Walls.

It’s July 27, 2006 and we’re being searched by the first of many guards we’ll face on entry.No phones or smoking materials are allowed and naturally no guns, knives or weapons of any type. And no cash over $50 can be taken into the prison. Money is not needed inside these confines and you will be searched coming out also. The thought is that visitors might be laundering money for the inmates.

After being processed I am issued a badge to be worn at all times, my hand is stamped with invisible ink and my license is returned to me to be kept handy throughout my visit. I am told to take a seat in the waiting area where I meet two men who are being released that morning and are waiting for a bus that will take them to anyplace they choose in Kansas. I don’t have to wait long but I have time to visit with one of the two inmates who told me about the bus ticket, the $100 “gate money” every inmate receives when released and the games you have to play to survive behind the walls. The anxiety of this young man is clearly visible and he says that just waiting for the bus to arrive is the worst. He just wants to taste his freedom. I wish him well as Brett Petersen, Executive Officer to the warden arrives and my journey inside Lansing Correctional Facility begins.

Our first steel door opened and my driver’s license was required to proceed. Then we walked down a long hallway to a set of steel bars where my hand was swiped under an infrared blue light. Then I moved through another set of steel gates where my ID badge was scanned. Along the way I’m getting to know Brett and asking him what now that I look back seem like some pretty dumb questions because after this last gate I’m standing in an island like place where they have their own system of rules that you live by.  The thought of someone coming up behind you is ever constant as you look at the inmates who are moving around freely, going about their business. It takes some getting used to but as we head to the industrial area Brett’s manner is so professional that my fears drift off and before long my blood pressure goes back down and I am peppering Brett with questions again.

Our first stop is the toy shop where some of the finest woodworking I’ve ever seen is done, creating toys for not-for-profit and government fund raising events and for distribution to underprivileged children. Next door is a laser design shop where men are doing some extraordinary work making signs and other products.  Then comes the paint and metal working shop where all the Kansas State highway signs are made and the paint is produced for the highways and school buses. There is also an embroidery shop which makes all the hats for the NCAA, the NFL, major league baseball teams and companies such as Gear and Sprint. In addition there are several other smaller shops that make goods of various kinds, all with inmate labor. It is quite fascinating and keeping these men busy I believe is the reason this area seems so tranquil. There are several private companies that work inside the walls and supply “civilian” crew bosses who teach the inmates how to operate the machinery and provide them with a trade if they don’t have one..

At any given time there are 500-600 men working in the industrial division on three 8 hour shifts- 24 hours a day if needed. They are paid minimum prevailing wage to start and 25% goes back to the penitentiary for room and board. 10% is put into mandatory savings, a small amount is paid into each inmates commissary account and the balance is paid into a victims’ restitution fund.

Next we go into the C unit where disruptive inmates are housed in segregated cells to maintain the security of the prison. You don’t want to go here and my impression is that you’d better be tough if you’re working in this area. My hat goes off to the guards securing these men. On average a guard works about three years before deciding either to leave or make this their career. If they stay they begin to work their way up the chain of command as warden Dave McKune and Brett Petersen have done- two fine dedicated men. While I’m talking about the guards- there are 463 working three shifts here watching over the 2,400 inmates in residence. This works out to about  154 guards on each shift. My blood pressure is going up again! I’d better take a break. Next week “D” block, “H” block and the Safe Harbor prison Adopt-A-Dog program that Brett is involved with. It’s a great story. Also coming up- coal mining inmates, the clinic, maximum security “B” block and the Chub Anderson-Truman Capote connection. Until then official guest #938 will be seeing ya down the road…..

Upcoming Film Footage

Right now I am working on bringing you additional film footage from interviews with Mr. Anderson that was shot by a professional film maker. As promised I will also keep you up to date on any important developments with the project. Also starting this week I will be posting one my weekly columns on a regular basis.

I am currently writing for several different publications and my topics vary according tothe publication  so you may be reading a newspaper story one week and a magazine or trade paper story the next. I hope you enjoy reading them. Thank you for your support and comments!

Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back. There have been dozens of books written about Will Rogers but withthe anniversary of his death on August 15, 1935 coming up I felt compelled to write a piece in his memory and who could tell me more about this legendary person than his grand niece Coke Meyer.

Coke, who is now ninety-one, lives in the Will Rogers Hotel in Claremore, the same place where her uncle kept an apartment his entire life. She says that the land where the Will Rogers Memorial is now situated was where he planned to retire to and that the museum opened on November 4, 1938 which would have been his birthday if he had lived. Over twenty-five thousand people an hour attended the opening day to view the exhibits. Coke told me that even though Will lived on Long Island during his vaudeville days and in California when he was a star in Hollywood everywhere he went he always said he lived in Claremore, Oklahoma and that’s the address he listed on all his official documents.

Her memories of her uncle are very detailed and she recounts how he never slept more than four or five hours a night, getting up early and riding his horse first thing before breakfast. She added that although his horse Soapsuds got most of the publicity as Will became famous, his horse Comanche back in Claremore was always his favorite.

Back in his early days Will was a real working cowboy, driving herds of longhorn cattle from Texas to Kansas when the pay was thirty dollars a month. After he became successful as a movie star, Coke remembers that he donated hundreds of acres of land to the state of California to create state parks and he also gave thousands of dollars to various counties for disaster relief. His ranch at the end of the Sunset Strip is one of 300 state parks in California and was where he hosted friends such as John Wayne, artist Charlie Russell and John Ford who credited Will with showing him how to direct movies. Rogers made seventy-one silent and talking motion pictures in his much too short career including “The Roping Fool”, which is narrated by his son Will Rogers, Jr. and plays at the museum every day.

Today all of his children are deceased with his last son Jim dying in 2002. With the exception of Will Jr. who is buried in New Mexico, all of the children lie in the mausoleum at the museum next to their mother and father.

Will Rogers has a strong connection to Bartlesville,OK  not only because Coke lived here for many years but also because the Phillips brothers and several other oil men paid for his mausoleum to be built at the museum.

I’ll end this week with a couple of my favorite quotes from Will who was famous for his quips.

“No man is great if he thinks he is.”

“Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.”

“You must judge a man’s greatness by how much he will be missed.”

Will Rogers

Till next week I’ll see ya down the road…


Very little information has been given to the general public about Chub Anderson’s death.  After a gravesite service attended by several dozen friends from  his past Chub was quietly buried in a small cemetery. Many believe that he took the truth about who really killed E.C. Mullendore to the grave with him. The following story which ran in the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise on May 4, 2011 includes a few details about his final resting place.

Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  Those of you who have been following my column for the past six years will have read about trips to far off places, great fundraisers and dozens of interesting people. Stars like Tom Selleck and Ernest Bourgnine and local leaders like Bill Creel and Virgil Gaede have been equally interesting to me and I hope to my readers. I’ve also covered the unusual in my investigation of mutilated calves in New Mexico and interviews with a team of paranormal investigators from Salt Lake City.

With all that said, this week’s interview with professional C.S.I. investigator Gerry (for security I have to withhold his last name) who was in town on business last week, may top them all.

This “Cemetery Search Investigator” is for real. From the famous to family members, Gerry has performed searches for them all, helped with data provided by his wife Connie. Over the years, Gerry has carved a name for himself in this specific and little known field. As with all investigators, confidentiality  is important in this man’s business and so the name of who he was working locally will have to remain a secret for now, sorry!

He did tell me that the famous outlaw Henry Starr is buried in the Dewey cemetery and also mentioned that he had been once been requested to locate the grave of Frank Phillips who is buried on the grounds of his beloved Woolaroc.

Another more recent case involved finding the final resting place of the outlaw Queen Belle Starr. It has been documented that Belle was born on February 5, 1845 and that she married for the first time at eighteen. Soon after she began a lawless life, running with the Jesse James and Cole Younger gangs. She died on February 3, 1889 and Gerry found out that she was killed by a shotgun blast to her back. Her murder remains unsolved but his client wanted to know where she was buried.

Dozens of interviews and miles of hiking chasing blind leads eventually brought him to Eufaula Dam. Gerry found Belle’s cabin located on what was known in those days as “Younger’s Bend” on the Canadian River. This was a well known hangout of the Younger gang in the 1880s and is near the present day town of Porum, Oklahoma.

It was difficult to find the cabin in the heavily wooded area about a mile below the dam but once he did, the rest was easy. Just 40 feet in front of the still standing rock foundation lies a small marker where Belle was shot and then buried, ending the life of one of the most colorful figures in Oklahoma history.

Jerry also told me about Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd who he located in Akins Cemetary near Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Pretty Boy, who was listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, was a bank robber and was eventually gunned down in a shootout with federal agents near Liverpool, Oklahoma.

Chub Anderson is another person whose grave he has been asked to identify and he stated that he is buried in a small cemetary west of Coffeyville, Kansas.

People have various reasons for hiring Gerry to seek out these final resting places and his record book of names and places is a document that I think should be preserved for future historians.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….