Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie

I’m 3,170 columns and five books away from equaling Will Rogers’ output. Once again this is my column from last week.

Welcome back.  Writing about a man who had a leading role in the Ziegfeld Follies, starred in 71 movies, wrote 4,000 syndicated columns and six books is easy. Of course I’m talking about Will Rogers whose life from birth to death is chronicled in The Will Rogers Follies which I first saw in Bartlesville on December 7, 1995.  The show opened on Broadway a few years earlier in 1991 and played to sold out audiences for months, eventually winning six Tony awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Costumes and Best Choreography. The show also won a Grammy award for Best Musical Show and a double handful of other honors.

I’ve written about Rogers many times and now you can all see his story onstage when the Jenks, Oklahoma High School Vocal Music Department presents their production of The Will Rogers Follies on February 24th, 25th and 26th in the Jenks High School Performing Arts Center.  Allen Pettigrove not only portrays Will but also has a direct connection with Will’s adventures in aviation because his grandfather built one of the first landing strips in Oklahoma between Bartlesville and Dewey along old highway 123. Of course Bartlesville can also claim Doris “Coke” Myers who recently moved back there and whose grandmother was Will’s mother’s sister. This show is a must see for all you Will Rogers buffs and with a $10 ticket price you’d better call (918) 299-4415 ext. 2371 now!

This past week while in Tulsa I got a sneak preview of “Different Shades of Red: Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma Experience at 100” a new exhibit that just opened at Gilcrease Museum on February 5th. The history of Gilgrease is a story in itself and the artwork that Thomas Gilgrease collected around the world from 1922 through the early 1950s offers a snapshot of our past. Today the collections are worth millions of dollars and they are owned by the citizens of Tulsa. The University of Tulsa manages the museum and I must say they are doing a great job.

Here’s some news about another historic place I’ve written about lately and your chance to walk on the same ground. On June 15th, 16th and 17th three of the area’s premier photographers will be offering a photography workshop at the UU Bar Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. Jerry Poppenhouse, Clay Allen and Kelly Kerr will be taking people to places that few have seen on the 200,000 acre ranch that Waite Phillips called home. Participants will also have an opportunity to tour Waite’s mansion, Philmont, and see thousands of scouts as they set off for two weeks of hiking and camping. If photography’s not your thing its still worth the trip because Taos and the historic Pueblo are only fifty miles away where Pueblo Indians still live as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. The Royal Gorge is also there as well as a large arts and crafts market. The town of Cimarron is also home to the St. James Hotel which is said to be haunted and is certainly worth touring along with Angel Fire and Red River which are nearby as well.

At night you and the instructors will stay on the ranch at the wonderful UU Bar Lodge, waking up to the sounds of elk bugling. During the day you will follow in the footsteps of Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, the gunfighter Clay Allison and many other famous figures of the Wild West. As the date comes closer I’ll mention this trip again but if you are interested you’d better call now.

At $100 per night including three gourmet meals each day prepared by Executive Chef Ralph Knighton (former chef at the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion for Frank and Cathy Keating) and only twenty available slots I think this trip will sell out quickly. Call Sue at the ranch (575) 376-2035. I’m already signed up and hope to see you there.

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







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