A Buffalo Dale Christmas Story

I think the holidays make you stop and reflect on the past as well as reflect on the future. Here then is a story from my youth….

Welcome back. My travels this past week found me in the southern part of Oklahoma City among the many businesses located on Reno Avenue. If you want furniture new or used its on Reno. There are dozens of mattress stores most of which advertise as being factory direct which means these places are huge, some are as big as Bartlesville High School. As you can guess this street is also full of restaurants. The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds is just blocks away and with the big American Quarter Horse World Champion Show going on for sixteen days you can imagine the area was especially busy when I was there.

I didn’t know much about “Lorec Ranch” as the store is called before I was invited there for a book signing but as soon as I arrived I realized that this ain’t your average western furniture outlet. No jeans or shirts, Lorec Ranch is more of a western art furniture store and they make most of their items right there in the back of the huge building they’re in. It is quite a place and then on Saturday I was at their new store next door to Ree Drummond’s Mercantile and for you locals, yes there is still a long line to get in and eat. This eventful weekend ended for me on Sunday at the Grand National Gun and Knife Show in Tulsa for another book signing.

Yesterday I was in Ponca City once again at Brace Books. Friends, if you haven’t been to Jerry Brace’s store trust me it’s a real treat and not just for the books. At the little snack bar tucked away in a distant corner with a few canvas chairs you are surrounded by new books, tapes, post cards and just about anything else for brain stimulation. I just wish I could talk him into opening a store closer to Bartlesville. I had lots of folks stop in and if you get the opportunity to go to Ponca City be sure to check it out. And don’t miss the Marland Mansion and Museum, its great!

As we’re getting closer to the end of the year, I’ll finish this week with the start of a Christmas story. This incident took place several years ago on a cold and snowy night when I was doing some investigative work in New York City. It was a long way from the small town in Oklahoma where I had been brought up. A good size fella, right out of college I landed a job doing security work at a fancy restaurant and bar. I quickly moved into management and then a few months later I was promoted to a spot at the corporate office in Dallas, Texas. The corporation had thousands of employees and my ability to spot a good dependable person proved valuable to the higher ups. When I got to Dallas I was summoned to the owner’s home which was unlike anything I’d seen before. The large, circular driveway and the giant pillars framing the entrance to the mansion made J.R. Ewing’s place look like a dump. When I drove up to the front, a man dressed in a coat and tie opened the door to my car and another led me inside what can only be described as a palace. Western bronzes, some ten feet high, were displayed everywhere along with several large animal mounts, all pointing down a long hallway. It was at the end of that well-lit hallway, surrounded by paintings of the old west, that I’d meet the man who had summoned me. As he is dead now, his name is of no consequence but the mission he gave me would take me not just to New York but also to several foreign countries searching for the last man alive in what can only be called the “dead man switch.” To be continued next week and till then I’ll see ya down the road…..

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Barry Switzer, Will Rogers, Ree Drummond and Oklahoma Hospitality

A few thoughts about my home state…

Welcome back. With Oklahoma’s football team ranked #1in the country and making national headlines, the spotlight is shining big time once again on the Sooner State. Attendance at attractions like museums is going up along with revenue at restaurants and hotels. While I was in Norman this past weekend for Barry Switzer’s Coach’s Cabana show on Campus Corner I saw thousands of people taking part in the tradition of tailgating and when I visited with fans from West Virginia they all gave the people in Oklahoma a 5-star rating for hospitality. Everywhere I travel I find that people have the same opinion of our state.

When I was in California promoting my book whenever I mentioned I was from Oklahoma Will Roger’s name frequently came up in conversation. It was the same in New York. I am bringing this up because even nowadays folks still remember Will’s values, his honest and straightforward attitude along with his homespun mannerisms and the fact that he was from Oklahoma which I think has a lot to do with people’s impression of us. Friends it’s hard to believe but it’s true that 82 years after his death, Will’s memory continues to cast a rosy glow on all of us Oklahomans and I’m always happy to say that I am from his home state.

With Christmas and the New Year fast approaching, I’ll have a lot of opportunities to brag about Oklahoma because my calendar for December and January is filling up with engagements to promote the new audio book version of Footprints in the Dew. This Friday I’ll be at the Lorec Ranch western store in Oklahoma City. I don’t know a lot about this place except the building is huge and it is full of everything western. It also turns out that the owner, Kari Lopez, is a close friend of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. How do I know that you may ask? Well the next day I’ll be at the grand opening of Lorec Ranch’s new store in Pawhuska which sits right between Ree’s Mercantile and her new hotel. It’s all adding up to an exciting weekend and somehow, I’m hoping to squeeze in an appearance at the Coach’s Cabana show which will be broadcasting the Big Twelve Championship game live from the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa.

My schedule for December also includes interviews with Hal Smith and Bob Funk both of whom were recently inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame as well as Charles Day who is the husband of Anita Bryant.

I do hope you have enjoyed reading about my traveling over the past year and as the New Year comes in I will once again be visiting the high country of New Mexico where I’ll be working on a new project that I’ll soon be telling you about. At that time of year where I’m going there are few other human travelers, maybe a bear or a mountain lion, deer, turkey and elk for sure and as you can imagine winter time along the continental divide ain’t for sissies.

However, if you’re a skier this is an area you might enjoy as there are three family oriented ski resorts close to where I’ll be. The Taos Ski Basin opened on November 23rd with man-made snow on a limited number of trails. In Red River the ski area has been family owned for 55 years and they also have two trails currently open with man-made snow.

Angel Fire Resort will open for skiing on December 8th and they have announced that the ski season will be extended through March 25th. Angel Fire has also added night skinning and a new black diamond trail so there is something for everyone, even me.

I’ll end this week with a significant piece of local history that will be meaningful for anyone who has read my book Footprints in the Dew. Lonnie Brown has died.

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