The McCasland Field House at the University of Oklahoma

An interesting story from the OU Campus…

Welcome back. For some reason I always enjoy returning to the scene of a massive event the day after. Mostly I like to check out what a relatively small area looks like after thousands of people have invaded. I was still in Norman early Sunday morning after a hundred thousand folks (counting staff and people unable to get tickets) gathered on campus to watch the Oklahoma Sooners play the Ohio State Buckeyes and the scene was what you might expect. Hundreds of trash cans were full and overflowing as crews were just getting started when I got on campus. The huge rain storm that passed through had blown trash into the storm drains, causing more work for the clean-up effort. Tents had blown down everywhere and the trees were full of wind-blown debris as well. On Campus Corner where I spent most of my time during the storm and where hundreds of people took refuge from the rain, the scene was the same. In its own way, everything looked beautiful to me and somewhat artistic. Fortunately no one was hurt during the event and all the businesses reported record setting sales. I can also tell you that everything was completely cleaned up by the end of the day Sunday.

I am also happy to report that all the Ohio State fans I talked to were very impressed by the friendliness of the people in Oklahoma. It was a great weekend for the state and for me as well. As always, during my visit I was on the lookout for an interesting historical story and found a good one.

On the OU campus, sitting right across from the main entrance to the Gaylord Family Stadium sits McCasland Field House. Named for T. Howard McCasland, who was both a basketball and a football star, the field house was originally built in 1928 for basketball and it had seating for 5,000 people.  Today it is the home of the OU wrestling team, the women’s volleyball team and both men’s and women’s gymnastics.  Over the past 15years the facility has undergone a major renovation including upgrades to all the building systems, installation of new windows and an expansion. Walking by you immediately notice the distinctive architecture of the building and sitting on a bench outside you get a sense of all the great events that have taken place there. In addition to sports the building was also a concert venue in the 1960s and ‘70s and Jimi Hendrix brought his Band of Gypsies to play here as did Frank Sinatra and Elvis. You may be wondering of all the places on campus, how did I find this one? Here’s the scoop:

At every home game, an OU organization called the “Varsity O” holds a tailgate party for all former OU lettered athletes. This means any former student, male or female, who played sports at OU can attend and attend they did. The party was held in the field house and it was full. For a sports guy like me this was wonderful and the conversations among the guests recalling past accomplishments should be on film. I met many interesting people, and found out that OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione is in charge of the event. After an entertaining couple of hours, the group invited me to return any time and I might just take them up on it. The McCasland Field House is well worth the stop if you’re ever on the OU campus.

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

 

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Campus Corner, Norman, Oklahoma

Joe and I are at Balfour’s today from 2-4!

Welcome back. This week I’m down the road in Norman for the huge Oklahoma Sooner football game against the mighty Ohio State Buckeyes and I’ve found the words “crimson proud” to be a theme everywhere.

One place in particular is a store called Balfour where Joe Washington and I will be signing books on Friday. Yes, it’s spelled right and if you’re looking for OU stuff this is your place. Wearables for sure, right down to your underwear. Jewelry for both men and women and spirit merchandise of all kinds. I’ve been getting to know the owner Jerry Hatter and I learned that he and his wife Libby have been selling Sooner merchandise for thirty years. Balfour is located right on what they call Campus Corner and Jerry says that come Friday the place will be packed as the surrounding streets will be open only for foot traffic.

Campus Corner was established in the early 1900s to serve the needs of students and faculty at the University and quickly became the center of all activities at OU, from dancing to dining and today the area continues to play a central role in campus life.

Several dozen other businesses are located around Balfour including restaurants, bars, clothing stores and boutiques and right on the corner sits a building that caught my eye the first time I drove by last week. It is a small two story building with a Santa Fe look and on the lower level is a bar and grill called Louie’s which I understand is partly owned by OU head football coach Bob Stoops. Joe and I will be there on Sunday afternoon after the game for another book signing and in-between Friday’s appearance at Balfour, the game itself and then Sunday afternoon, I’ll catch up with Coach Barry Switzer who will be at the same locations. With the game completely sold out it should be quite a four day gig.

Another of my favorite events is coming up so besides football I’ve got the old west on my mind and I was recently reminded of the 10 point Code of West which really applies to all of us.

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start
  4. Do what has to be done
  5. Be tough, but fair
  6. When you make a promise, keep it
  7. Ride for the brand
  8. Talk less and say more
  9. Remember that some things aren’t for sale
  10. Know where to draw the line

Where I’m going with all this is that Dewey is having their big Western Heritage Days on September 24th-25th. And friends if you want to be a cowboy for a few days here’s your chance. With longhorn cattle, horses, gunfighters, dance hall girls and plenty of vendors Dewey will be full just like back in the old rodeo days including a big parade through downtown with a special division for kids age 5-11. Supporting the community, the annual Miles for Mammograms Boot Scoot 5K and fun run fundraiser will also take place on Saturday with the finish line right by the old Dewey Hotel.

And don’t forget the big Wild West Show out at my friends Ken and Marilyn Tate’s Prairie Song Village. This year the featured performer is Amanda Payne Sellers from the One Armed Bandit & Company. I’ve seen this act before and it is amazing. You don’t want to miss this so for all the info check out their Facebook page.

Till next time from what they advertise as the home of your best game day experience, the historic Campus Corner, I’ll see ya down the road….

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Labor Day Weekend 2016

Some news from the local front…

Welcome back. Hotel rooms near capacity with license plates from around the country in their parking lots, restaurants busy, many with waiting lines. The sidewalks and side streets also busy as folks visited with one another. No, I wasn’t at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado nor was I at the big PBR bull riding competition at the Windstar World Casino & Resort down on the Oklahoma Texas state line. At home for part of the Labor Day weekend, the scene I am describing was right here in Bartlesville, Oklahoma during the College High all class reunion. I can tell you after talking with the organizers beforehand that they planned for fun to be on the menu and from what I could see they succeeded. The weekend included car shows, live bands and good food bringing together old friends and their stories of bygone days could be heard on every street corner. With all the bad news about local revenue I can’t help but think there had to be a major impact on the city’s sales tax.

While I was in town, on Sunday I checked out the area lakes and I found both campgrounds at Copan were full. Hulah Lake also had a good crowd of campers as did Osage Hills State Park. If you haven’t been to these spots lately they are always fun for a day trip and with plenty of spots for picnics, fishing and swimming and the great fall weather why not.

I also had business in Norman this past week setting up a couple of book signings on campus corner one of which is tentatively scheduled for next weekend. This is the same weekend when Ohio State is coming to OU for a football game that I understand has been sold out for 2 years. If you are not familiar with campus corner, this is a section of the business district in Norman that sits right across the street from the main campus and it is full of restaurants, bars, clothing stores and anything else that might appeal to a college kid. Around the corner is the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium which is the home of the Oklahoma Sooners football team. On game days there is only foot traffic in this area as they close the streets near the stadium to cars.

Although there is a lot of heavy construction going on around the stadium, the main roads are open and everyone is ready for the season opener this Saturday when the ULM Warhawks come to town. The history of OU’s football powerhouse will await me the following weekend when I invade along with Ohio State. This will be my first game in Norman in 30 years and I hope to bring you some inside scoop from on the field.

This coming Friday I plan to check out some of the 100 mile garage sales which takes place on September 9th and 10th. Saturday and Sunday I’m scheduled to be at the Metcalf Gun Show on the Tulsa Fairgrounds. Somehow in between all this I plan a visit to Fairfax, Oklahoma which is the home of retired lawman George Wyman. A decorated World War II veteran before he became a sheriff, his story of honor and bravery is one I’m putting together and you won’t want to miss it.

For those of you who may not already know, Woolaroc’s big fundraiser is right around the corner and this is an event you don’t want to miss. Started by Frank Phillips himself, the event is still held at Clyde Lake where Frank originally held it and where you will be joined by about 800 other guests for a wonderful evening of dining, music and a chance to buy world class art work.

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

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The Toughest Event on Earth- The PBR in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Welcome back. The Professional Bull Riding Association or PBR brought their show to Tulsa last Saturday and Sunday and folks there’s a reason why they call it “the toughest event on earth” as several cowboys had to be assisted from the arena during the course of the evening. According to their website Professional Bull Riders, Inc. was founded in 1992 by 20 riders who left the traditional rodeo circuit to establish bull riding as a stand-alone event. Each rider invested $1,000 to start the organization. Today bull riding is the fast growing sport in the country and those $1,000 investments are worth millions.

The competition was held at the fantastic BOK Center and this fan friendly event center is worth the drive just to see it up close. There is plenty of parking close to the building so going to any kind of show there is an easy in and out.

Looking forward to next spring, May 11th has just been announced as the “night of scholarships and I believe this is a date you will want to mark on your calendar. I understand that kids in our schools are already excited and after hearing that Barry Switzer, or as many call him simply “Coach” is coming to town for the event along with Silver Shoes Joe Washington even the big 60 and 70 year old kids are getting revved up. With back to back national collegiate football championships and then a Super Bowl win along with the roster of colorful characters he has coached all add up to make Switzer one of the most famous and beloved figures in Oklahoma sports. Coming along with Barry is a man whose highlight films are nothing less than unbelievable. I’ve known Joe Washington for about a year and like Will Rogers I don’t think he’s ever met a man he didn’t like. Call the E/E at (918) 336-8200 for all the info and better get your tickets early for this one for sure.

As education is on my mind here’s this week’s scoop: OLLI at OSU. Friends these are classes offered through OSU for people who want new learning experiences in a short course format. OLLI’s new fall schedule just came out and the list of classes is quite impressive. The classes are geared toward older adults and if you want to learn more about Woody Guthrie there’s a class directed by Deanna McCloud Director of the Woody Guthrie Center. How about Bob Wills or the history of jazz? There are classes about all of this as well on Will Rogers and politics, the study of the brain, Tai Chi and history and Hamilton an American Musical which is the show that has been such a smash on Broadway. Bob Blackburn, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society will be giving a talk along with Bartlesville’s own Charlie Taraboletti who will offering insights into the popular film world. There are a dozen more classes I don’t have room for but I need to mention that these are all very affordable, how does $5 sound? OLLI truly offers something for everyone and you’re never too old to learn-I’m proof of that!

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