Spirit Talk

A few thoughts from my travels……………………………..

Welcome back. Traveling down the road near or far, a person finds many interesting subjects to look at, or in my case write about. Starting near in Tulsa at Oklahoma State University’s Central Campus as it is called has been a real treat for me during the past four weeks. It wasn’t that long ago that this area of downtown Tulsa was rough. Many houses had seen better days and it wasn’t an attractive area to visit but all that has changed now. Today the historical buildings are still standing, all updated and full of tenants. The Baseball Park and restaurants are full and the new Woody Guthrie Museum has become a major draw. This bustling part of town is less than an hour from Bartlesville and well worth a visit. Even closer to home is Caney, Kansas, a small town full of friendly folks with a rich history. The historical center on Main Street is a must see to get the feel of this community.

Ponca City was the next stop for me on Friday night. I’ve written about this town before and I don’t know what it is but whenever you visit the people here make you right at home. There are several outstanding museums in town including an oil baron’s mansion (The Marland Mansion) and the 101 Ranch Museum dedicated to one of the biggest and most successful ranches ever. Ponca City also offers plenty of shopping and restaurants so there is something for everyone. It’s a bit of drive but I found plenty of reasonably priced hotels and motels, some of which date from the oil boom but have been completely restored keeping the flavor of that era. If you can plan to stay two or three days in order to see everything the town has to offer.

I was also in Owasso for a book signing this past weekend and the growth this city is going through is quite remarkable. New shopping centers seem to pop up overnight and there have to be at least a dozen golf courses in the area. If you’re looking for a different place to eat, Owasso has an eatery on every corner. It all makes for an entertaining day trip so if you haven’t been there lately, check it out.

I’ll end this week where I could have started, with a quote from the new book by my friend Minisa Crumbo:

“The old people say “it’s not whether you will do it but whether you will REMEMBER to do it.’ Spirit Talk helps us to remember AND to do… in a good way.”

I was lucky enough to catch a little of Minisa’s presentation this past week when she spoke on campus at OSU Tulsa.  A person who is deeply rooted in the Native American tradition, her speech was very captivating and created a special bond with the audience. The presentation was based on the ancient Medicine Wheel teachings which revolve around the cycles of the seasons. On November 6th Minisa will be giving a full presentation at Gilgrease Museum at 12PM and it’s free. Here’s a little background information about a woman I think you will be hearing a lot of:

Minisa Crumbo Halsey is the daughter of the famed American Indian artist Woody Crumbo. Woody was a close friend and advisor of Thomas Gilgrease when he was putting his art collection together. The Crumbo painting “Deer and Birds” was also the first Indian painting in the Philbrook collection.

Minisa is also the wife of the renowned music impresario Jim Halsey and both Woody and Jim are in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. An artist and a writer in her own right, Minisa’s most recent book Spirit Talk is getting a lot of attention around the country. If you can get to Gilgrease on November 6th I guarantee you’ll come away with a new perspective on life.

As for me it’s nothing but highway so till next time, I’ll see ya down the road……

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A Ballad of The Road….

A few thoughts as I travel the state for book signings…

Welcome back. There ought to be a song about my travels last week. Down the road at Pittsburg, Kansas where the hometown mascot is the Pittsburg Gorilla. Then on to Tulsa where I lectured to the largest OLLI class ever. Asleep in Oklahoma City that night after listening to the magic chants of tribal Elders at an event in the Western Heritage Center, then up at dawn to Pawnee home to one of the greatest Wild West performers in American history. Dinner in Stillwater later at the city library with the cowboy faithful and then a late night rendezvous with the Eagles, one of the oldest service clubs in the nation. Throw in a little harmony, some guitar, get a good singer, give it to my friend Jim Halsey and you might just have a hit.

For me getting a chance to visit all these great places is always a hit so it’s a challenge to decide where to start this week. With both cowboys and New York City in my future plans I think I’ll begin with the story of one of the greatest western performers I know of who frequently appeared in New York City.

Gordon William Lillie was just a boy of 10 when he read Buffalo Bill Cody’s account of how he killed Sioux Indian Chief Tall Bull in a one on one battle to the death. That was 1869 and just a couple of years later Gordon got a chance to see his hero in person in Bloomington, Illinois where Bill was performing at an opera house in a show called “The Scouts of the Plains.” That was all it took and before long Gordon was westward bound where he eventually started his own Wild West show. He became known not as Gordon Lillie but as Pawnee Bill. The Pawnee Bill Wild West show traveled throughout the United States and Europe. In 1908 he and Buffalo Bill combined their shows and a year later the “Bills” as they were advertised, performed in Madison Square Garden. Gordon and his wife made their home in Pawnee, Oklahoma and today the property is maintained just as it was on February 3, 1942 when Pawnee Bill died on his beloved ranch at the age of 82. The house is a museum now and all the furnishings and fixtures as well as the outbuildings are still the same. There is also a herd of fancy longhorn cattle, and of course buffalo, roaming the grounds. If you’re interested in the old west, in my opinion it’s a must see in your lifetime.

After Pawnee was the town of Kiicawiuusi as it is called in the Pawnee language, or Stillwater to most of us. I spent the night here and found several tidbits of information which you may not know so here we go. The town was part of the first land run in 1889 and after settlement it became the center of Oklahoma Indian territory. The largest employer is Oklahoma State University and in 2010 Money Magazine listed Stillwater as one of the top 100 places to live in the country. Stillwater is also right in the middle of tornado alley, it is home to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and it is considered to be a destination for tourists visiting Oklahoma. The Ponca, Kiowa, Osage and Pawnee all called the area still water because of the peaceful creek that flowed through but it’s not like that anymore! Another great place that I highly recommend.

I must also mention the Indian ceremony I attended last Tuesday night at the Western Heritage Center where I was privileged to be invited to attend an annual ceremony honoring an elder from each Indian tribe in Oklahoma. This year, my dear friend Coke Meyer who’s Cherokee was among the distinguished group of Native Elders recognized for their service to their tribes. The event was put together by AARP Oklahoma and there was dancing, good food and wonderful storytelling by an array of noted speakers. Quite an evening for a kid from Dewey, Oklahoma.

With the OSU lecture series going strong through the end of the month, then throw in numerous book signing engagements around the state I may just have another song for the flip side.

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

 

 

Exploring Kansas

A few notes from my recent travels- stay tuned for my upcoming book signings and thanks again to everyone for your support!

Welcome back. I discovered some magic this week while traveling through southeastern Kansas in the middle Caney River Valley and since I am already planning a return trip in December, I thought I would start this week with a little history of the area. At 863 feet above sea level and sitting almost exactly in between New York and Los Angeles, Chautauqua County played an important role in the development of the west. The largest town in the county is Sedan which has a population of 1,174 and is the county seat. During a tour of the county museum History House I learned that Sedan was founded in 1871 and was named after the city of Sedan, France, supposedly because of the similarities in the rocky terrain of the two towns.

Sedan, France is a medieval era town in the northeast of the country, originally established in 1494. Today it is known for its enormous castle which covers 7 acres and encompasses 30,000 square feet on several levels. Each May Sedan holds a medieval festival celebrating the history of the town, much in the same way we have many celebrations of our western heritage here.

The History House in Sedan, Kansas is a very interesting place to visit and well worth the short drive from Bartlesville. There are exhibits about the founding and growth of the town, including the conflict that made Sedan the county seat as well as a large collection of genealogical information. Next weekend the Historical Society will put on their annual Heritage Quest at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds in Sedan. Heritage Quest features demonstrations of pioneer skills and crafts, concessions, live music and a general store selling home baked cookies. Sounds like a great time for the whole family!

This past weekend I was also fortunate enough to catch a little of the Dalton Defender Days celebration in Coffeyville, Kansas. If you like top of the line fair food, this was the place to be! The streets were lined with great food trucks and other concessions. They also had non-stop live music, a big car show and an exciting re-enactment of the Dalton gang’s raid. With all the fun I had, I thought a little history of the town was due so here you go.

Coffeyville takes its name from James A. Coffey who established the town in 1869 as an Indian trading post. The town grew with the construction of a railhead and then the discovery of both natural gas and clay. From 1910 to the 1930s Coffeyville was one of the largest centers for glass and brick manufacturing in the country. Today it remains a lively community with much to offer both residents and visitors like me.

While I was exploring this part of the world I found out about another intriguing place to visit. Devil’s Canyon is a hidden place in Chautauqua County that is so deep that the trees growing at the bottom look miniature. It is difficult to scale the walls of the canyon to get down there but when you reach the bottom it becomes smooth and there is a large cave at one end. In the early days of statehood Devil’s Canyon was a favorite hideout for cattle and horse thieves due to the remoteness of the canyon and the natural springs which provide a year around source of water. Through the years, many visitors have carved their names into a large rock at the mouth of the canyon. If you are in shape for a hike this is a great destination and you can get directions from the Chautauqua County Historical Society.

 

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

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Footprints in the Dew on Tour-Date Correction!

As promised, here are the dates and times for my talks and book signings in the upcoming week:

Monday, October 5th: Pittsburgh Public Library 6:30-8 PM

Wednesday, October 7th: Full Circle Books, Oklahoma City 6-8PM

Thursday, October 8th: The Buffalo Theater, Pawnee, OK at 11-2 PM  and the Stillwater Public Library 6-8PM

Saturday, October 10th: Jude’s in Bartlesville (next to Food Pyramid) 1-3PM

Thanks for everyone’s support. Those who have read the book tell me they have enjoyed it. Here’s one comment from a happy reader:

Hi Dale, Finished reading your book, it was excellent! Very well written, should make a movie. I liked the way you jumped in and got the story.  Well worth the money! ” Kelley

 

Western Heritage Days Dewey, OK

A beautiful weekend in Dewey and a great event!

Welcome back. It was 1905 when Herbert Tyler and his son Donald rode the train to the Indian territory of northeastern Oklahoma looking for a site where they could build a cement plant. At the time they needed a source of natural gas for their plant was well as large amounts of limestone and shale or clay. All of these things were plentiful in Washington County and they found just what they needed a mile north of the small community of Dewey, Oklahoma.

In 1906 the Tylers purchased land from a Delaware Indian, arranged to have a four mile rail spur constructed near their property and drilled several natural gas wells to operate the machinery they brought in for the plant. The company was named the Dewey Portland Cement Company with Frank Tyler as President and Herbert Tyler as Manager of Construction and Operations. According to the Washington County Centennial History book, all the principal stockholders were family members and the main office was in Kansas City.

The first cement ever made in Oklahoma was manufactured at the Tylers’ plant in 1908. Just as a side note, this was also the first cement in the world ever stored in concrete silos. The silos at the Dewey Portland Cement Company stood for over 100 years northeast of Dewey and were a well-known landmark in the area until they were recently demolished.

Today Dewey has many other attractions which bring in visitors from around the world including the Tom Mix Museum and the historic Dewey Hotel. The main street through town is named for the Tyler family and it is full of great shops and restaurants. Dewey is also the place where Jacob M. Bartles started the famous Dewey Round-up in 1908, offering some of the richest prize money in the country for rodeo contestants and featuring big name Wild West Show performers like Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill. Although we don’t have the Round-up anymore, the folks in Dewey are becoming pretty well known for their own event and are drawing crowds to town every September. The 11th annual Western Heritage Days festival just concluded and organizers are saying they had the biggest crowds ever for two days of western style fun and activities. On Saturday things kicked off with a 5K through town to benefit the free mammogram program at Family Healthcare Clinic. Throughout the rest of the day there were historic re-enactments, a longhorn cattle drive, a great parade and many more goings on too numerous to list. There were plenty of vendors on hand as well with food and souvenirs.

On Sunday the action moved out to Ken and Marilyn Tate’s beautiful Prairie Song Village for a church service and breakfast followed by a big Wild West Show featuring trick riding, rodeo competitions and wrapping up with a performance by the world renowned One Armed Bandit, John Payne, and his family. I’ve caught his act several times at the big Denver Rodeo and Stock Show and it’s a real treat to see him in such a great setting so close to home.

If you missed Western Heritage Days this year, you definitely want to get it on your calendar for 2016 and in the meantime make sure to check out the downtown area, it’s well worth a stroll on a nice autumn day.

I’ll leave you this week with a quote from Tom Mix which was the theme for the weekend:

“The Old West is not a certain place in a certain time… It’s a state of mind. It’s whatever you want it to be.”

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