The PATH System in New York City

Part Two of my big adventure in NYC

                                                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. Is it the end or just the beginning? I’ll start this week where I left off in my last column. First up, a little history as to my location. It’s called the PATH train system and the line I was riding on goes under the waters of the Hudson River that separate New York and New Jersey. The train travels through a tunnel of cast iron tubes that are over one hundred years old. As I found out from a website devoted to the New York subway system, the “tubes” were designed by Dwight Haskins. Construction began in 1874 and the system was officially opened to the public on February 25, 1908. This was the first tunnel to be built under a major river in the country.

Here I was standing in a packed subway car carrying at least one hundred and fifty people under ninety-seven feet of water wrapped in a tube that was older than my great granddad. There was an unconscious person hanging onto me and I was basically lost in New York City.

I was on my own now as my new friend wasn’t talking when the car doors opened at Union Station. This was the stop where we had gotten on at the beginning of our journey and if I could only get him through the automatic doors before they slammed shut I would at least know where I was. I yelled out several times “I have a sick man here!” as I made my way through the crowd. Most people seemed reluctant to give way although fortunately one man standing by the doors kept them open for us. As the train’s emergency buzzers began to sound because the doors had been open so long several people suggested sitting him down but I knew I could not leave him on this train to go on to unknown destinations in a semi-conscious condition. Finally after what seemed like forever the crowd parted in front of us like the waters in the bible but three flights of stairs leading to the street lay directly in front of me.

The air we were breathing was very hot again and as the subway roared off even the breeze it created felt good. Apparently the hot air was good for my friend too as he spoke his first words since telling me he felt faint aboard the train earlier. We had to get up those stairs and into some fresh air. Upon my command, with his arms around my neck and with my firm grip on his belt, we managed to climb the three flights and by the time we reached street level I go see a definite improvement in his condition. We walked three blocks to his building and took the elevator to his apartment where I made sure he started drinking water immediately. An hour later I was ready for my own two hour train trip back to the Cos Cob station in Connecticut where I had started out. It had been quite a day!

I’ll end this two part story with a pair of suggestions. One: always drink plenty of water whether it is a hot day or not, our bodies need it. Two: never give up on your dreams. This big time publisher and writer didn’t start off this way. His is a story of working from the ground up and his roots stretch back to Miami, Oklahoma.

Yes, Robert Wyatt is an Okie who got his start right here, working for the Tulsa World. Now a New Yorker for over fifty years, he is living proof that you can make your dreams a reality.

Onward. This time of year always means camping for me. When you’re traveling on the interstates, the road signs will list not only motels and restaurants but also campgrounds and local attractions many of which offer their own campsites. Big RVs and fifth wheels are nice, especially in bad weather, but usually its tent camping for me. Equipment is cheap and with a tent you can stay in spots where you can’t take a big vehicle. Conditions this time of year are perfect for being outdoors so if you can get out and try it. Here’s one more scoop for the week. Through the years I’ve told you about many campgrounds around the country and closeby but this week I’m going a little further out. If you like peace and quiet and some good fishing try Lake Parsons.  Just about two and a half hours away, the fee for a tent site is only $5 a night, the restrooms are clean and the camp hosts are wonderful. The lake is 980 acres and is surrounded by 1,000 acres of public use land. Lake Parsons is just 8 miles outside of Parsons, Kansas and you can’t go wrong.

Till next week, and hoping you’re having a great fall, I’ll see ya down the road……








Across the Brooklyn Bridge and Back

A country boy from Oklahoma has an exciting day in the big city……..

                                                                              Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. As you might imagine, whenever I’m traveling I have the opportunity to meet interesting people and I find this to be especially true whenever I’m in New York City. Either walking the streets, riding the subway or just taking it all in at Central Park, you never know who you’re going to run into. The following is a true story about a very well-known person who I met in New York last month and I hope you will find it entertaining.

It was five a.m. on a Monday when I caught the Metro North commuter train at the Greenwich, CT Cos Cob station and the day was already warm. I had a meeting set-up with a man whose resume was full of successful publishing projects and who I knew had been instrumental in establishing the careers of many prominent writers. After I arrived at Grand Central Station, I caught the subway to Union Square and in all it took a total of two hours to reach my destination.

I had been there before and I found the small park which is about the size of a city block in fine shape, nicely landscaped with a couple of dozen trees, park benches and numerous food wagons.  It seemed to me like small oasis in the midst of the bustling city.

The man I was meeting, who for now shall remain nameless, had told me he lived just three blocks from Union Square and with address in hand I quickly found his building, easily making our 10 a.m. appointment. The apartment building itself was a six story brick structure and appeared to be very well kept up. It was located next to a large Catholic church and there was a spacious flower garden between the two buildings which made a nice break from the monotony of rows of buildings.

Security is tight at many buildings in New York but my name was already on a list at the entrance and after checking my ID the doorman let me in. When I got to the apartment I discovered the type of unit that is common for business folks in the city who frequently have another home outside of New York. I learned that this apartment was around six hundred square feet with a small bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath. My host also told me that the unit was worth $800,000!

Our six hour first meeting began with a discussion of the famous writers and publishing house my host had worked with as well as the many films he had been involved with. It was fascinating to hear these stories from the lips of a seventy year old man who has been in the book world for over fifty years and witnessed many great changes in that world. After around two hours we both knew we had made a connection. It was lunchtime so he suggested we go out for a bite and then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to see some other parts of the city. The bridge had just been on the morning news because someone had climbed to the top of the twin towers in the middle of the night, lowering the two American flags that always fly there and replacing them with white flags.

As we started out I noticed it was getting hotter and after grabbing some fruit we took the subway to Chinatown and then hiked at least three miles across the bridge from there. I was buying water from every vendor we passed but my companion, who looked to be in pretty good shape, said he wasn’t thirsty.

After crossing the bridge and resting up a little, we walked back to another subway entrance and by now I was almost completely lost. This is where the real story begins as we passed under the Hudson River heading back to Manhattan in a standing room only subway car.  I had sweat dripping off me but although the air conditioned subway was packed with people at 6’2” I stood above most of them and was able to suck down some cool air. At about 5’8” my friend wasn’t as lucky and not ten minutes into the ride trouble set in. His voice was weak when he spoke and his color wasn’t good. My first thought was to look for some assistance but I couldn’t even move in the crowded car. My new friend told me in a faint voice that he felt dizzy and then his chin dropped to his chest and he whispered that he might faint. By now I held his arm with one hand and I grabbed the back of his belt with the other. The first stop coming up was Union Square and after was 42nd Street so I had to get him out of this car. If we went on to 42nd I would be lost for sure and he would probably be totally unconscious.

Next week is it the end or just the beginning?

On the local front, although cold weather set in on Youth & Family Services big event Friday night it was successful on many fronts. Over 200 guest enjoyed music, Chef Caleb Sparks’ outstanding food and the beauty of Woolaroc. Let’s hope for another show next year!

Coming up it’s the time of year Dewey, Oklahoma loves. It started with a rodeo back in the early days of statehood when thousands of people would flock to town and it continues today. I’m talking about Western Heritage Days in Dewey. Featuring a longhorn cattle drive and parade down Main Street along with a big show out on the beautiful grounds of Prairie Song, this is one party you won’t want to miss.

Till next week and the ending of the Union Square story in New York City, I’ll see ya down the road……………….





The Continental Divide

                                                                                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back. According to “The Continental Divide, also known as the Great Divide, is a natural boundary line separating waters that flow into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico from those that flow into the Pacific Ocean. It runs north-south from Alaska to northwestern South America. In the contiguous United States, the divide follows the crest of the Rocky Mountains.” Although it is easy to envision the divide as a straight line or wall, in reality it is more of a twisting and turning back road.

 In the northwest corner of Montana, it lies close to the capitol city of Helena, then runs through Butte, MT, winding around before crossing into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. Leaving the wide open spaces of Wyoming and into Colorado, the area around the divide becomes more populated with snow ski areas along its route into New Mexico.

The Carson National Forest lies along the eastern slope of the divide on the northern border of New Mexico. This is one of five great national forests in New Mexico which together cover 1.5 million acres. The Carson alone encompasses 89,193 acres with elevations from 6,000 to 13,161 feet at Wheeler Peak which is the highest in New Mexico. Travel in the forest is restricted to foot or horseback in order to protect this wilderness area and its spectacular views.

From the Carson National Forest, the divide winds around New Mexico’s western border with Arizona and finally crosses into Mexico. Having crossed the divide at high elevations in many states myself, I can understand why the early settlers had to wait out the winter snows before attempting to make their way over the mountain ranges.

With the end of summer and before the heavy snow sets in, there are few opportunities left for camping on the divide. Generally camping is free in these out of the way places but beware, you are sharing this space with nature’s creatures. Yes, it’s hard to believe but its last call for camping in the Rockies in 2014!

And now one last blast from the 1960s:

In 1961 the Beatles made their first appearance in Liverpool and Bob Dylan had his first paid gig in New York City.

In ’62 the Rolling Stones debuted in London, the Beach Boys signed a record contract with Capitol Records and the Cuban Missile made everyone aware of the dangers of nuclear weapons

In ’63 Joan Baez and Bob Dylan performed at the Lincoln Memorial during the historic Civil Rights March on Washington. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, TX this same year.

In ’64 the Beatles make their first visit to the United States and Cassisus Clay (now known as Muhammad Ali) become Heavy Weight Boxing Champion of the World.

In ’65 Dylan goes electric, there are race riots in Los Angeles and the first psychedelic acid tea party is held in California with music played by the Grateful Dead.

In’66 the so-called youth movement is sweeping across the country and bands like the Jefferson Airplane and the Jimi Hendrix Experience are gaining popularity.

In ’67 the first issue of Rolling Stone Magazine is published and anti-Vietnam War protests take place from coast to coast.

In ’68 the Beatles travel to India to meditate with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, fifty-nine countries sign nuclear nonproliferation treaties, Richard Nixon becomes President and Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angles, CA.

In ’69 John Lennon and Yoko Ono stage the first “bed-in”, the movie Easy Rider is released and actress Sharon is murdered in her home by the Charles Manson Family.

“The times they are a-changing” was the theme of the decade and on September 15, 1969 they certainly changed when 500,000 unexpected guests showed up on a remote country farm in upstate New York for three days of peace, love and music. Now forty-five years later it could happen again a little closer to home. Woolaroc will be the place on Friday, September 12th starting at 3 p.m. as the sixties come back to life. RKM Film Productions from Tulsa will be documenting the event, there will be lots of giveaways and great food all of which is included in the ticket price. Throw in the Fabulous Mid-Life Crisis Band, the Big O Show, Gypsy Twang, a couple of guest artists, plus an hour of meditation and yoga to get everyone in the right frame of mind and who knows, the guests may just outnumber the animals at Frank’s place! There will be a cash bar and you can buy tickets at the gate. Feel free to bring your lawn chairs but no coolers please.

Sounds like a party to me, till then I’ll see ya down the road…………………………..


The Big Event, Billy Etbauer & Lee Ann Womack

          Another post from my recent travels……………..                                                  

                                                                               Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  Billy Etbauer is a five time world bareback riding champion and many rodeo people say there was no one better.  Still in great shape, he and his wife Hallie are about as down home friendly as it gets. Former governor Frank Keating and his wife Kathy are also easy to talk with and they visited with me about the great things A.C. Holden had accomplished during his time in public service. Governor Mary Fallin was there as you might imagine since she’s running for re-election and she told me she has many fond memories from her visits to Bartlesville. Basketball great Leroy Coombs was a guest along with numerous officials from the State Department of Agriculture, past governors, presidents of major banks and more professional rodeo cowboys than I could count.

Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, Lauren Heaton was there as was Grammy award winning country music star Lee Ann Womack. Later in the evening Lee Ann gave a performance that had the crowd of over five hundred clapping and dancing in their seats. The menu for the evening included large steaks, jumbo shrimp, salads, fresh vegetables and fancy potatoes served from long tables decorated with flowers and ice sculptures. I don’t want to forget the friendly and professional serving staff, all of whom were neatly dressed in black uniforms. There seemed to be at least a hundred of them and you never had to ask for anything. A top of the line event for sure!

Another noteworthy guest who was of special interest to me was Susan Robbins, the widow of the late actor Dale Robertson who passed away last year. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Dale was the star of many TV and movie westerns including everything from Iron Horse and Death Valley Days to Dallas and Dynasty. Dale lived just a mile down the road from here and was a regular guest at this event. A special eulogy was delivered for Dale by the man who was probably his best friend, Bob Funk.

I could tell you much more about the evening and drop another handful of names, many of which you would be familiar with but now that I’ve mentioned Mr. Funk, you may guess that this gathering could only have been held at one place- his Express Ranch in Yukon.

This annual occasion is called “The Big Event” and you regular readers know that I’ve attended several times and it is always lots of fun to see who’s there. The Big Event is a cow sale yes but it is also intended to be a celebration of the many opportunities offered to Oklahomans and more importantly, Americans.

The real stars of the show are of course the cattle. This ranch, combined with the other Express operations around the country, represents the largest seed stock producer in the United States. These registered cattle sell for big money and some of them are syndicated like race horses with multiple owners literally from around the world. The annual sales at the Express Ranch also provide millions in tax dollars for the State of Oklahoma. I feel fortunate to be able to attend and I hope I have captured at least some of the excitement of the event for you.

On Thursday night I caught a performance by the best garage band I think I’ll ever hear, The Fabulous Mid-Life Crisis Band. The band is on a roll, playing to big crowds around the state as their following grows. As I’ve mentioned they will be playing out at Woolaroc on September 12th along with the Big O Band from Oklahoma City and Gypsy Twang from Tulsa. Bring your lawn chairs if you want and there will be plenty of food.  Tickets are $40 a person and include admission to the museum and grounds at Woolaroc from 3-5 p.m. before the event. If you haven’t been to Woolaroc lately this is a great opportunity to reacquaint yourself with this special place that Frank Phillips left for all of us.

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