Tahlequah, Oklahoma: Home of the Cherokee Nation and Much More

I am showing Footprints in the Dew: The Last Ten Tapes at the Tahlequah Public library at 6PM tonight.

Welcome back. Will Rogers once said “a man only learns in two ways-one is by reading and the other is by association with smarter people.” This past weekend in Springfield, MO I caught upon some reading and got an education from the hundreds of people who attended a big “preppers” tradeshow at the Ozark Empire fairgrounds. I was unaware of this group myself but I soon learned this is a new fad with preppers shows popping up all over the country. Next month alone there will be two shows in the Carolinas as well as shows in Georgia, Utah, Arkansas and Virginia and the promoter told me that vendor space was selling out at all of them. Water purification systems, long term food supplies, Geiger counters, plans for organic gardens and underground storage units, these are just a few of the items that vendors had for sale. There were also well known speakers offering seminars on how to live “off the grid “and on self-defense.

In addition, the show offered survival gear such as gas masks and other devices designed to protect you from every kind of bad air and water conditions you might encounter. It was all quite interesting and the line to get into the show was two city blocks long on Saturday including some folks from overseas who were attending. For a little more info on preppers check out last week’s column at www.originalbuffalodale.com.

Tomorrow for me it’s a visit to the hometown of the first female principal chief of the Cherokees, Wilma Mankiller. This is also where Wes Studi, singer Merle Travis and a couple of dozen other well-known people were all born. A major university, Northeastern State is here along with the headquarters of the Cherokee Nation which was founded when the tribe was forcibly moved to the area in 1839 at the end of the infamous Trail of Tears. This trip will be taking me to a place where the stop signs, the no parking signs and the street signs are all written in both English and the Cherokee language. Another tid-bit, according to Wikipedia, the Cherokee Supreme Court building which was constructed in 1844 is the oldest public building in Oklahoma and it’s in this town as well. . My destination of course is Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

My visit to town will start at the Tahlequah Public Library for a screening of my film “Footprints in the Dew: the Last Ten Tapes” which will be free and open to the public. After the film I have set up an interview with a man that many of you may not have heard of but who is well known in many circles. He is one of the “smarter people” Will Rogers referred to and who I have been lucky enough to get to know.

A businessman but also someone for whom family comes first, whose Green Thumb Nursery has grown into the largest commercial nursery business this side of the Missouri River and who has become one of the leading conservationists in Oklahoma. His name is John Nickel and the 15,000+ acre ranch he donated to the Oklahoma Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, now known as the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, is just outside of Tahlequah along the Illinois River. The preserve is open to the public and offers the opportunity to hike through the Cookson Hills where you can see all kinds of birds and animals including free roaming elk, black bear and bald eagles. I have been there several times and friends it is one beautiful place. As for John Nickel I have only scratched the surface about his accomplishments which someone definitely needs to write a book write about.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….


I am considering making an audiotape of Footprints in the Dew….

Welcome back. I spent the past weekend doing a book signing in Kansas City at the largest gun show in the state which was held at the KCI Expo Center at the airport which is a place I wrote about a few weeks ago. It was great fun and the attractions in Kansas City are hard to beat. Of course, baseball is big this time of year but the city also offers great architecture some excellent museums and top of the line restaurants and shopping.
While I’ve been traveling over the last few weeks I also got the opportunity to work on another project. I have been planning another book but many people have suggested that I look into making an audiobook of Footprints in the Dew.

Not being familiar with audiobooks, I naturally did some research to find out more about them and what is required to produce one. The websites Silksoundbooks.com and Wikipedia both had plenty of information on the topic.
The first “talking book” as it was called was created in the United States during the 1930s when the Library of Congress started a project called “Books for the Adult Blind Project” in 1934. Excerpts from the Bible and writings by Helen Keller were made available on long playing phonograph records. Throughout the 1930s this was the technology of choice for recordings made by both the Royal National Institute for the Blind in Great Britain and the American Foundation for the Blind in the United States.

In 1949 both organizations began using magnetic tapes for their recordings but these tapes had to be loaded and threaded into the specially designed players which was difficult for blind people. Fortunately, the introduction of audiocassette tapes which were immediately adopted by the National Library Service for the Blind in the U.S. removed this barrier. These tapes became widely popular with sighted people as well and publishers began issuing spoken word versions of their books along with printed editions. It wasn’t long before public libraries in the U.S. and the U.K. purchased the tapes making them easily accessible.

In the 1990s the availability of audiobooks on CDs increased their popularity and tens of thousands of recordings were made. I found that today virtually every bestselling book has been recorded. Most of these recording are “abridged” or reduced versions because usually a recording of the full text requires many CDs.

Most recently, the advent of the internet has made audiobooks available by download to devices such as MP3 players, Smartphones and tablets. Audible.com which was founded in 1998 was the first website dedicated to selling digital audiobooks and is still a leader in the industry.
In 2005 Librivox was established in Canada with the goal of making digital audiobooks available for free and they currently have thousands of titles available for download.

Typically, the production of an audiobook consists of a narrator sitting in a recording booth reading the text while an engineer and a director record and direct the reading. If a mistake is made, the recording is stopped and the narrator reads it again. With recent advancements in recording technology, many audiobooks are now produced in home studios by narrators who work independently. An audiobook would make Footprints in the Dew accessible to more people and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Coming up this week for me its OKC today, Tulsa on Thursday and then onto Springfield, MO where I’ll be hanging out at tradeshow designed for a group of people called “preppers”. These folks believe in preparing themselves to live off the grid in case of a manmade or natural disaster. The show will offer all kinds of survival gear such as gas masks, water purification systems and body armor. The show itself is called “the Springfield Prepper and Green Living Expo. It should be interesting.

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


Bob Funk and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Welcome back. This year’s class of eight inductees into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is quite impressive with some names I hope you may have already heard of. American Idol winner in 2005 country music giant from Checotah, Oklahoma Carrie Underwood and Shannon Miller who won seven Olympic medals in gymnastics including two gold. Eight term U.S House of Representative member Tom Cole of Moore and the first black Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Tom Colbert of Sapulpa. Restauranteur Hal Smith of Ardmore and Phil Parduhn who is the Chairman of Pelco Products in Edmond and Pelco Structural LLC in Claremore. Civil rights activist Lois Sipuel Fisher and the renowned Cherokee linguist and statesman Sequoyah are being inducted posthumously.

The last inductee is someone I have had the privilege to get to know personally. Born on May 14 1940 in Duvall, Washington, he was the second of two children. He acquired a strong work ethic from his father at an early age learning that every penny counted in his struggling family. His dad milked cows by hand and as a little boy he churned raw milk into butter to make extra money for the family. In grade school, he excelled not only in class but also in sports. Tall and wiry, in high school he played basketball, softball, soccer, baseball and even tennis, often getting home after dark and then helping his dad haul hay. The whole family always attended church on Sunday and this young boy was a solid Christian but in 1951 his life was changed at a church revival in Seattle, Washington. It was led by a young preacher named Billy Graham. The boy had always had three ambitions and the first was to become a preacher, then he wanted to be a farmer because he loved cows as his father did and lastly, he wanted to be a businessman.
Billy Graham received the boy into God’s hands on that day in Seattle’s Taft Stadium and from then on, the kid from Duvall let the Lord guide his life. Reverend Graham became known around the world for his preaching and the kid went on to work his way through college even getting the opportunity to attend graduate school overseas. He retained the same drive and ambition he had always had and with his positive attitude he made friends everywhere he went. Eventually he too made a name for himself around the world, not only as a preacher but also as a farmer, rancher, businessman and philanthropist. Work brought him to Oklahoma as a young man and because of the kindness he found here he adopted the state as his own, becoming one of its best ambassadors. With a strong desire to help other people, he built his company Express Employment Professionals, into one of the leading employment companies in the country which gave him the tools he needed to achieve his other humanitarian goals.

He bought property in New Mexico adjoining the Philmont Scout Ranch which saved an important hiking trail from being closed. He quietly became the second largest donor to the construction of the new football stadium at OSU after Boone Pickens. He also became one of the leading supporters of the Children’s Miracle Network fundraiser as well as donating generously to many other organizations not because he wanted recognition but because he wanted to help other people.

Among all his many achievements in business, he served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. This man’s name is Bob Funk.
If you want to know more about Mr. Funk, the well-known biographers Bob Burke and Dan Gillogly have written a book about him called “Bob Funk: Doctor of Hope.”The ceremony for these eight inductees into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame will be in November and what a party that should be.

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

Paul Endacott and the Growth of Phillips Petroleum Company

Welcome back. I once knew a man who had been the National Collegiate Basketball player of the year and who, before graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Civil Engineering, in his last year of school made the all-time All American team and friends not just everyone is on that team.
After being named the greatest basketball player to ever play at KU, in 1923 he took a job with Phillips Petroleum Company and spent the next forty-four doing any job that Frank Phillips and Boots Adams asked him to do. From construction, research and liquefied petroleum gas to sales, marketing and employee relations, he was involved with every part of the company’s operations. In 1951 when Boots became the Chairman and CEO of Phillips, this man became President of the company and when Boots retired he took his job.

He had started out staking wells right out of college and then moved on to work in the gas plants and on pipelines, working around the world. Now President of one of the world’s fastest growing companies, this man went on to have a successful career as a top executive until his retirement in 1967. But even then he was not done with life, going on to lead the boards of many not for profit groups including serving for twenty-two years on the Frank Phillips Foundation board which manages Frank’s favorite place, Woolaroc.
Beloved by family, friends, business associates and neighbors, I met this man later in his life when he was much sought after for his knowledge of Phillips’ history. As a young boy I had seen him often at the original YMCA where I was a member and he was a director. He radiated happiness and well-being which seemed to spread among all the kids including myself.

He and I were both much older when our paths crossed again in the mid-1990s at a membership party at Woolaroc and it was easy to see that he loved this place as much as Frank had. I was so glad to see him one more time because a few years later he passed away at Jane Phillips Medical Center on January 8, 1997. He was 94. He was praised and mourned by his associates at Phillips and around the world. He was a man I once knew and his name, which we should never forget, was Paul Endacott.

From a man I admired years ago to a man I know and admire now. He was born into a loving family but they were poor. The boy grew up with a work ethic like none I’ve known and became so successful that kings and queens called him friends. Yet like Paul Endacott he never forgot his roots. It was recently announced that he and six others will be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on November 16th a. A transplant to Oklahoma, I’ll leave you guessing until next week and till then,

I’ll see ya down the road.

The Pawnee Bill Original Wild West Show

I’m headed to Pawnee for the weekend….

Welcome back. As a child growing up in the 1860s in prosperous Bloomington, Illinois this young boy would dream of the west where buffalo still roamed the plains. After getting his education he held several good jobs but the west kept calling to him. Popular magazines of the times like the Saturday Evening Post were full of stories about battles between the U.S. Calvary and plains Indians and the exploits of a man he came to worship Buffalo Bill Cody. The Dime Store novels of the 1870s telling stories about Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill inspired him and after a chance encounter he started living out his dream.

There were several Calvary scouts touring the country with Buffalo Bill telling stories about life in the west which was still a wide-open area. Although he was now a successful business man running his family’s mill, when the young man heard their stories he decided that his destiny lay out west and west he went. Over time the Pawnee tribe became like family to the now middle aged man as he traveled throughout the west on one adventure after another.

Always a showman he would follow his hero Buffalo Bill into show business creating his own act with his Pawnee brothers which toured the country. This city boy turned plainsman who was now the subject of his own Dime Store novels was named Gordon William Lillie or better known as Pawnee Bill.
Pawnee Bill’s life story is well known; how he married the love of his life, toured the world with his show and then in 1909 he and his idol Buffalo Bill joined their two shows together. The “Two Bills” show as it was called combined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show with Pawnee Bill’s Great Far East Show and friends people came in droves.

The show was successful for years until motion pictures became popular and put an end to this kind of traveling show. After the show closed, Pawnee Bill continued to be successful with other ventures. In 1930 in an effort to preserve the history of the old west he built a place called Buffalo Ranch on Blue Hawk Peak just outside of Pawnee, Oklahoma. He had built a house there years before and now in his seventies, this would be Bill’s last showplace. As they had in the past, people came by the thousands to see his show. The show went on for several years until his wife died. After that Bill was never the same and in 1942 he passed away, many say from missing her.

I am bringing you this man’s story because on June 9th and 10th the Pawnee Bill Original Wild West Show will be taking place at the original Buffalo Ranch just outside of town. It is an honor to be taking part in this event on both days which will have all the excitement of the 1930s show. The house where Bill and his wife lived will also be open to the public and everything is in its original condition just like when the two of them were there.

The town of Pawnee is quite a place to visit as well. Opened to non-Indian settlers in 1893, the town actually grew during the great depression because of all the WPA projects going on in the area. With the presence of two major rail lines, Pawnee which is named after the tribe, continued to have steady growth in the following years. One more little tidbit: Moses J. “Chief” Yellowhorse from Pawnee was the first full blooded Native American to play pro baseball.
For all the show info call (918) 762-2513.

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