Dalton Defender Days, Coffeyville, Kansas

I am officially on the road with Footprints  in the Dew and will be in Coffeyville next Saturday- I will post schedule updates here and on FaceBook.

Welcome back. I have been lucky enough to visit many museums around the country in my travels. The Metropolitan Museum in New York has a grand entrance of broad stairs leading to a gigantic doorway that opens into a rotunda filled with enormous flower arrangements. Beyond the rotunda you will discover a vast collection of artworks that encompasses masterpieces from every country and every era. It is truly a magnificent place to visit and you could spend months exploring the exhibits there. I’ve also been to sports museums, museums of western art and memorabilia, toy museums and several war related museums. On the animal side, I’ve been to a number of natural history museums including one dedicated just to butterflies.

Here in the northeast corner of Oklahoma, there are literally dozens of museums from art museums like Philbrook, Gilgrease and Woolaroc to a handful of favorite historical spots in Dewey. The Tom Mix Museum, the Dewey Hotel which is just across the street and Prairie Song Village on the outskirts of town are all well worth a visit or two.

Southeastern Kansas has its own share of interesting museums and one in particular caught my attention a few years ago. Walking through the Dalton Defenders Museum in Coffeyville you immediately get a sense of what life was like in the early days of the town through the many historical mementos in their exhibits. Artifacts of the time fill the rooms along with plenty of old photos. Of course there is a lot of information about the infamous Dalton gang and their raid on the town. The Daltons were both bank robbers and train robbers, threatening the safety of everyday citizens throughout the region. The Defenders Museum also tells the story of the defenders who were brave townspeople who gave their lives protecting the banks from the Dalton Gang.

From October 1-4 Coffeyville will hold its annual Dalton Defenders Days festival, turning the downtown into a party zone. I’ve been told there is truly something for everyone at this event including a re-enactment of the raid, rodeo events, kid’s games, food and craft vendors. As if that weren’t enough there will also be live music, a big car show and much more. Things kick off around 4PM on the 1st and a full schedule of events is available on the Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce website. I will be there on Saturday October 3rd  from 10:30-12:30 signing books.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..

#

 

 

A Great Weekend in Dewey,Oklahoma

The weather was wonderful this weekend for Western Heritage Days and the committee outdid themselves planning so many wonderful events! It was great to see so many old friends at the reunion and the book signings-as well as meeting a lot of great new people.

If you did not catch me in Dewey I will be at Weeze’s Café in Bartlesville at 11today (Monday) and at Doenges Ford on Thursday October 1st at noon. Hope to see you there!

Western Heritage Days

Thank you so much to everyone who came to my book signing at the Dewey Hotel today! It was great  to see old friends and make some new ones along the trial. If you missed me today, I’ll be out at Prairie Song tomorrow from 10-1 before the big Wild West Show.

Helping the least, the lost and the lonely…….

I am delighted to announce that Footprints in the Dew is finally here! Hope to see you all at the Dewey Hotel on the 26th!

Welcome back. Helping the less fortunate. Given the opportunity, I like to think it is in most people’s DNA to give back to the less fortunate be it with money, food or any other type of assistance they can offer. As I’ve traveled through many communities in the surrounding area over the past two weeks I’ve discovered that most towns have a place for homeless folks who find themselves in a hopeless situation often because of family trauma, substance abuse or just bad luck. I found shelters in Parsons and Pittsburgh, Kansas, Joplin, Missouri and of course Tulsa has several.

Bartlesville has such a place and it is known as the Lighthouse. It was opened in 1992 by Naomi Lanier who had a vision of a shelter that would offer more than just beds and food. Her vision included creating a safe haven for families and teaching them that following God’s way can work miracles and folks I can testify that in many instances it has. Through the years the Lighthouse has helped more people with food, shelter, the basic necessities of life and spiritual guidance than Naomi ever dreamed possible. Their motto is “Helping the least, the lost and the lonely” and I’ve found it is a good thing to bear in mind.

Another interesting observation I have made during my travels has to do with eating establishments. Of course the big fast food chains can be found everywhere but each of the towns I’ve been in lately has at least one mom & pop style café. In Bartlesville there’s Weeze’s which serves breakfast and lunch, specializing in home cooked food just like grandma used to make.

Nowata has The Depot which offers both good food and an interesting atmosphere. The café is located in the former train depot in downtown Nowata and you may see a freight train rumbling down the tracks while you are eating. It’s well worth a drive and I guarantee you’ll make a new friend while you are there.

Oolagah which is the home of Will Rogers and the Dog Iron Ranch, has its own place where people gather and its right on the town’s historic main street. Doug’s is what every small town café should be. I can vouch for the good food and the great service. The cafe is also spotlessly clean from the tables and floors to the bathrooms. It’s no wonder Doug’s is always busy. Small town cafes in America, maybe someday I’ll write a book about them.

Before I go I want to mention a community organization I’ve been involved with since 2011, the Bartlesville Community Foundation. The foundation was established in 2000 to strengthen the community through a series of endowed funds that support many different charitable efforts. Through the community foundation individuals can set up accounts that will provide funding for their favorite causes in perpetuity without the expense of having their own foundations. The Bartlesville Community Foundation also offers various grant programs for local not for profits.

My personal history with the organization began in 2011. After quite a bit of research I signed some paperwork to insure that 100% of any reward money that might be associated with the unsolved murder of E.C.Mullendore III would be paid directly to the Community Foundation. If you are looking for a creative way to support the community, give them a call.

 

You will all have the opportunity to learn more about just what happened on September 26, 1970 when Footprints in the Dew, the life of Chub Anderson, will have its official release at the Dewey Hotel during Western Heritage Days. I will be signing books from 11-3 on Saturday September 26th.  This will also be a great opportunity to enjoy downtown Dewey during the festival. On Sunday, Ken and Marilyn will be hosting the Wild West Show out at Prairie Song. If you haven’t been there before, Prairie Song is the perfect recreation of a frontier town and it is truly a top attraction in the four state area. The Wild West Show brings back a golden era of real cowboys to this great setting. Hope to see you there.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road….

 

Labor Day Weekend in Branson

Counting down to the release of Footprints in the Dew on September 26th- hope to see you all at the Dewey Hotel from 11-3!

Welcome back. With Labor Day weekend 2015 now history, I thought I’d bring you an inspirational story from my recent trip to Branson, Mo. The Air Force, the Army, the Coast Guard, the Marines and the Navy are all represented in phots that line a long hallway in a special place I found this weekend. Many of the photos are formal portraits while others are shown in action. These are the service men and women who have defended our country in wars and conflicts around the world and many of them made the ultimate sacrifice. Included in this collection are photos of battleships with descriptions of each ship and autographed by people who served on them.

At the end of this long hallway I found a special banquet room called the Congressional Medal of Honor Room, dedicated to the elite group of service men and women who have received our country highest military award for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The walls in this room are filled with photos of people who have received this prestigious award.

The Congressional Medal of Honor was established by Congress in 1862 and since then 3,512 medals have been awarded. The medal is usually presented by the President on behalf of Congress in a formal ceremony at the White House. There are three versions of the award, one each for the Air Force, Army and Navy. The Marines and the Coast Guard receive the Navy version. In 1990 March 25th was designated as Congressional Medal of Honor Day in recognition of the importance of this award and we should all remember this day every year.

These inspiring exhibits are located in the Radisson Hotel on the main drag in Branson, Mo. When I spoke with management at the hotel I learned that the exhibit is free and open to everyone, whether they are guests at the hotel or not. It is definitely worth a stop when you are visiting Branson and serves as an important reminder that our freedom comes at a cost.

My weekend stay in Branson took me back to a show I first saw 10 years ago and I have to say it is just as exciting now as it was back then. The Dutton Family has been performing together for over thirty years and their high energy show is great for all ages. On the night that I was there they had a full house and from the looks on the faces in the crowd everyone was having a wonderful time.

To say that this family of singers, dancers and concert quality musicians is talented is definitely putting it mildly. I think I could see this show again next week and find it completely fresh and entertaining. If they were closer I probably would.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Duttons before, the group was created by Dean and Sheila Dutton who introduced their seven children to the world of music to instill discipline and to give them a common interest as a family. Neither Dean nor Sheila was a professional musician and they never envisioned that this idea would grow into one of the most popular acts in the country not only in Branson but around the world. The Duttons have won numerous awards, appeared on television and radio and today they own their own theater and hotel in Branson and also perform for several months each year in Mesa, AZ.

I also caught the Legends show at the Dick Clark Theater which included Michael Jackson and Adele impersonators but there is no way to see everything in Branson in just a few short days. My scoop of the week is to stay at least a week when you visit. Hotels are reasonable and there are some beautiful camping spots on Tablerock Lake as well.

 

I’ll finish this week with more background on the development of Footprints in the Dew. Drew Edmondson was the Attorney General in Oklahoma in 2009, making him the highest ranking lawman in the state. When I received a letter from him ordering me to appear there was no question that I would do it. I arrived at the multistory judicial building in downtown Oklahoma City with the Osage County Sheriff and his lieutenant who led me up several flights of unmarked stairs to a small room that was also unmarked and where there were several other plainclothes cops awaited. After a few minutes they ushered me through a small door into another larger room where twenty people were sitting. I was told to sit in a chair facing them. This my friends is what a multi-county Grand Jury investigation is like and in this instance I was about to be questioned about the murder of E.C. Mullendore III and then placed under a gag order. With the help of several attorneys that order has been lifted and in the soon to be released Footprints in the Dew you will learn what law enforcement did with that information.

Next week the story of how the reward money was donated to charity in 2009. Till then I’ll see ya down the road………..

#

 

 

 

 

Where It All Started: Footprints in the Dew

A little history about Footprints in the Dew and a reminder that the official launch for the book is September 26th!

Welcome back. This week in anticipation of the release of Footprints in the Dew I am taking you back to where it all started. It was June 6, 2006 and although there were many things happening around the world the front page news in Oklahoma was all about the arrest of long time fugitive Damon “Chub” Anderson.

His arrest set off a chain of events that would eventually send me traveling 1,000s of miles across the country, sleeping in tents or roadside motels as I pursued the story of Chub’s life. In the course of writing the book I have gone through 2 cars, 3 laptops, reams of paper, a camcorder and several tape recorders. I recorded over 150 different interviews with Chub and close to another hundred people who knew him and I have edited and rewritten the book a dozen times. Along the way from I have had help from professional editors and proofreaders as well as several attorneys. The effort has taken eight all-consuming years.

On September 26th you will have a chance to find out for yourself if it was all worthwhile when the official book launch and signing takes place during Western Heritage Days in Dewey. I will be at the Dewey Hotel from 11-3 selling and signing books. It will be a great weekend with something for everyone of all ages at the festival. I hope to see ya all there.

In the past week my travels have taken me to several nearby towns as part of my outreach to promote the book. The first stop was Parsons, Kansas a town whose history was shaped by the railroads. After a two day stay at Lake Parsons I had barely scratched the surface of the interesting features of this town including Big Brutus one of the biggest scoop shovels in the world which is on display just outside the city limits.

East of Parsons is Pittsburg, Kansas, the home of Pittsburgh State University. In the early 1900s this area was settled by German and Italian immigrants seeking a better life and their influence is still felt today especially in the food. The popularity of the University has kept Pittsburg growing through the years and the campus continues to expand today.

Along the way I also passed through Caney and Coffeyville, Kansas both of which are interesting small towns well worth a visit. Coffeyville has a historic downtown which has been preserved from the era of the Dalton gang shootout there and the town hosts Dalton Days every fall to reenact the event. The Safari Wildlife Zoo in Caney is another draw for visitors to the area. If you are looking for a day trip and choose any of these spots judging from my experience you will find friendly people, good food and unique attractions.

My last stop was Joplin, Missouri, a town of 50,000 that has been in a major rebuilding mode ever since the devastating tornado in 2013. I was in Joplin for a professional boxing meet featuring two fighters I’ve written about in the past, Kenzie Morrison and Trey Lippe-Morrison. The 4000 seat arena was sold out with people lined up hoping to find a seat. While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit with fight promoter Tony Holden and he likes the idea of bringing a big outdoor match to downtown Bartlesville. He envisions closing down a street, building a ring with outdoor lights and the whole nine yards. The event could take place next summer and he would bring in six or seven of the top fighters from around the country, including of course Tommy Morrison’s two sons. Sounds like a great plan to me and it could be a boon to local businesses as well.

Next week: a few of the things that got edited out of Footprints in the Dew and why. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…

#