OK Mozart 2013

When I was growing up I never had much exposure to classical music and now I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful festival in my backyard.

                        Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  The date was January 15, 1897 when Bartlesville Indian Territory was incorporated with a population of just 200 folks. Just 87 years later Washington Park Mall opened and according to the Bartlesville Centennial Magazine the population of the city had already grown to 40,000. 1984 was also the year that the George Miksch Sutton opened in Bartlesville and that T. Boone Pickens tried unsuccessfully to take over Phillips Petroleum Company.

The mid’ 80s were a prosperous time here but there were both highs and lows for the community. One of the highs was in June 1985 when the OK Mozart Festival had its first season in Bartlesville. The first year was considered a great success and the festival offered three concerts! Twenty-eight years later the festival has grown to include 150 individual shows featuring performers from around the world. One of those performers is Principal Cello Roger Shell who was in the orchestra that first year and will be back again this year. There are plenty of other returning musicians including violinist Louise Owen who says she brags about Dink’s barbeque to all her friends in New York and trombonist Richard Clark who has said that he would come back to Bartlesville every year just to be able to go to Woolaroc.

Another man who all of you will get to know this year is the festival’s new artistic director, Constantine Kitsopoulos. Kitsopoulos is in demand as a conductor from New York to Hong Kong.  I recently met him at the mountain retreat of OK mozart’s treasurer, Roger Box.  According to what he told me his experience ranges from leading classical orchestras to conducting operas and musicals such as A Catered Affair, Dracula and a recent Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess. Now once again Bartlesville is in the enviable position of having a world class talent in our midst. This fellow along with the orchestra is a must see act and the shows run June 9th-June 15th. Ticket sales are going well so I wouldn’t wait long to get my tickets.

With that said here’s this week’s scoop: I predict that Hot Club of Cow Town and a special presentation of the Wizard of Oz with the Amici Orchestra playing the music are both going to sell out so be sure to buy those tickets soon. Of course the big outdoor concert at Woolaroc featuring Hollywood movie music is also sure to be packed. Throughout the week of the festival there will be many free gigs around town which will keep things hopping. One more scoop about the festival:  Elder Care will be hosting a free concert this Thursday afternoon with a string quartet from the Amici Orchestra. For more information about that concert call (918) 336-8500. For tickets and more information about other OK Mozart shows call (918) 336-9800 or just go by the festival office at 415 S. Dewey.

Before leaving I want to remind you that SUNFEST, which some consider to be Oklahoma’s largest outdoor party, is coming up on May 31st so for the next few weeks it will be party time in Bartlesville.

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



Will Rogers, Pawnee Bill and The Pochahantas Indian Women’s Club

History continues to be made on the Cross Bell Ranch….

                 Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque drew close to 1,000 people on Saturday night as folks came out to support an organization which we’re all moving closer to needing every day. Once again Dink’s did a stand up job with dinner and Les Gilliam and the Silver Lake Band kept the dance floor full all night long. Gene Autry had a big influence on their western swing sound and if you get a chance to hear them you don’t want to miss it.

As usual local volunteers played a big part in the success of the evening from set-up on Thursday to the tear down on Sunday. You can imagine that with hundreds of folding chairs, dozens of tables and a tent as big as several houses, the volunteers get all the credit for pulling off another wonderful evening.

With that party now behind us this week, there are several other events coming up that you want to put on your calendar.  Here’s the skinny on one of them that you won’t want to miss if you’re a Will Rogers fan. As a young boy Will and his friends had heard of a new social club in Claremore whose members were all Cherokee “Indian Maidens” as they were described in the Claremore Progress newspaper on July 29, 1899. At the time the club held regular dances that were quite popular. After going to several of the dances, Will and his friends were soon made honorary members and Rogers would perform whenever the club met. At first both men and women could be members and then in 1937 it became for women only. Throughout the years the club met in various locations and finally in 1982 Cherokee Chief Ross Swimmer dedicated the Pocahontas Room in the Cherokee complex at 202 Santa Rosa Boulevard in Claremore as their permanent meeting place. The plaque on the wall reads:

Dedicated to the Pocahontas Indian Women’s Club

Founded June 28, 1899

Cooweescoowee District, Cherokee Nation

Presented by Ross O. Swimmer, Principal Chief

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, September 28, 1982

Why am I writing about this now? Well this Saturday at 10:30 AM the Pocahontas Indian Women’s Club is holding their 7th annual “Old Fashioned Picnic” at the Dog Iron Ranch in Oolagah which is Will Rogers’ birthplace. There will be music, a hog fry and a big auction as well as all kinds of traditional Cherokee games including stickball, Cherokee marbles and hatchet throwing which I am personally pretty good at.

Several dignitaries plan to attend including Principal Chief of the Cherokees Bill John Baker and renowned artist Gary Henson whose work is known around the world. And here’s one more very important thing: it’s free! That’s right, thanks to the Pocahontas Indian Women’s Club the food, entertainment and games are all free. The ranch house will be open for tours and my good friend Coke Meyer will be on hand to tell stories of her travels with her great-uncle and one of the most beloved men of his era, Will Rogers. I’ll leave you with one more word about this 114 year old club. They have provided support for the education of Cherokee students longer than any other organization on record. If Will Rogers was an active member of this club I’d say this is a party I don’t want to miss.

Another piece of history that is now gone by is the role of Pawnee Bill as played by Wayne Spears of Pawnee who recently died. Many of you have seen him at events in the area, always accompanied by his perfectly trained Leopard Appaloosa and his likeness is on billboards around the state. I worked with Wayne many times over the years and even bought a spotted horse from him. I promise you he will be missed by many of us.

Till next time I’ll see you down the road……



Oil and Ranching in Barltesville, Oklahoma

Some early history of Bartlesville, OK and the Cross Bell Ranch……

                     Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  Founded in 1917 by Frank and L.E. Phillips, Phillips Petroleum Company wasn’t the only great partnership formed in what was called the “mid-continental oil region.”  Over 8,804,000 barrels of oil would eventually be pumped from its pools and Bartlesville, Oklahoma was smack dab in the middle of the region. By 1920 oil was being pumped everywhere around the city and the Santa Fe depot was shipping trainloads of crude to refineries. Newly discovered fields in Copan, Wann and Hogshooter would soon return huge profits to their lease holders. In Osage County, Henry Foster had signed a lease agreement with the Osage tribe in 1886 and now he was subleasing the mineral rights in this huge county to many new partnerships. In 1922 it wasn’t uncommon for a lease to sell for a million dollars (over 68,000,000 in today’s dollars!). Frank Phillips paid $1,990,000 for a lease in 1924 which at the time was highest amount ever paid. It was also during this period that J. Paul Getty, in partnership with his dad George, formed the Getty Oil Company.

Harry Sinclair also got his start with leases in Osage, Washington and Tulsa counties and became a millionaire in the 1920s. He invested in the historic Glen Pool field, turning Sinclair oil company into a 50 million dollar enterprise which was big, big stuff at the time.

Another great partnership that was established in this era was between H.C. Price and J.F. Lincoln. Price’s pipeline construction company would go on to work on many great projects including the 1,700 mile Continental Divide pipeline in Canada and the construction of a Liberty ship called “The Bartlesville”.  Of course the Frank Lloyd Wright Tower at 6th and Dewey was built by Price for his offices.

Oil wasn’t the only thing that drew people to Washington county. The ranching business was also booming in the area. The grasses here were, and still are, famous for their nutrients and cattlemen brought their stock from other parts of the country to “finish” them here before shipping them to stockyards. Many great ranches in Washington and Osage country were founded during this time and some of them are still going strong today.

One ranch in particular would eventually grow to three hundred and seventy-five thousand acres under one brand, which included property land not only in Washington and Osage counties but also in Wyoming, Montana, Texas and Kansas. The partners only ran Hereford cattle and foundation bred quarter horses, using original stallions descended from their own famous “Little King.”  The partners were Gene and Kathleen Mullendore who had created their life long partnership when they married on December 21, 1926. Kathleen was the grand daughter of Osage Indian Chief Charlie Brown. Her father Buck Boren and Brown had formed their own partnership which was responsible for shipping so many cattle out of Washington County that the Santa Fe railroad named a shipping pen after Brown. This history and much more about the accomplishments of the Mullendore family can be found in Family Histories of Washington County Area, Oklahoma which is available at the Bartlesville Public Library.

And don’t forget Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque fund raiser which will held out at Gene and Kathleen’s famous Cross Bell ranch on Saturday May 11th. With the Oklahoma Balladeer Les Gilliam and his Silver Lake Band playing into the night it’s no wonder over 900 people attended last year.

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