Another Wonderful Event at the Mullendore Crossbell Ranch

Welcome back. The 20th anniversary of Elder Care’s The Good, the Bad & The Barbeque wrapped up Saturday night out at the Crossbell Ranch in perfect weather. The organizers told me that they had sold more tables than ever before and the live auction featuring auctioneer Roger Skelly had the large crowd in a buying frenzy. Since I was there I can tell you that Elder Care had everything from a ski lodge in Angel Fire, New Mexico to a football autographed by Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and friends all the proceeds went to support their programs.

For me this night is always special because of my association with the Mullendore family which dates back to 1965. Among many of my after school jobs, as a youth I cleaned tables at a fancy restaurant on highway 75 between Bartlesville and Dewey called The Embers. Long gone now of course, at the time the place had black waiters dressed in coats and ties each of whom had their own bus boy also somewhat formally dressed in slacks with black jackets and ties. For many years during junior high and high school if I was not playing sports I was busy working there. Over the years I got to know many of the local regulars like Leo Benefiel who owned the service station down the street and the Mullendores who came in almost every week. Always warm and pleasant to me, as many of you may know Gene Mullendore had started the Crossbell with his wife Kathleen and together they had grown it from a mere 160 acres to over 300,000 acres. Before their deaths on any given day Gene, Kathleen, their son E.C. and their daughter Katsy were all liable to come in together. They were a tightknit, loving family that I will always remember. Walking on the land they loved, where by the way, they are all buried now, I can feel their souls and if you think about it each one of them made history. If you missed this year’s party hopefully you can make it to the 21st year event where you might feel some of that Mullendore history.

I have to mention volunteers; Elder Care loves them and so does SUNFEST as dozens of volunteers are putting the finishing touches on their upcoming event. Hard to believe but its SUNFEST’s 36th year of bringing free entertainment to Sooner Park! Even though Richard Johnson and Lenny Baker who were two mainstays of the show have passed away, I’m sure their names will always be associated with the event they both loved. For any readers who have not experienced SUNFEST, there are dozens of craft vendors, music for all tastes and a wide variety of food trucks. Best of all there are plenty of free activities for kids of all ages. Yes, this town party has everything except your lawn chairs and blankets so put June 1st-June 3rd on your calendar.

Don’t forget the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show on June 8th and 9th and you also better make a note for Sunday June 10th when The Fabulous Midlife Crisis Band invades downtown Bartlesville for a free show.

Coming up next on my schedule is a short four hour drive up I-44 past Joplin to Springfield, Missouri. The trip to the largest gun show in the state is part of a story I’m putting together about changes in America’s gun laws. As always I also finding out about interesting people and places in history during my travels.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..

H.T. “Tom” Sears: Celebrating Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Welcome back. This week I’m taking you back in time again. The year was 1997 and for Bartlesville, Oklahoma it marked one hundred years since the incorporation of the city. A year long celebration had been in the planning stages for months with three weeks of special events scheduled at specific intervals. The festivities kicked off in January with a birthday party for Bartlesville at the Community Center which included a concert and a huge cake that fed everyone! Other events throughout that week recognized the city’s founding and pioneer heritage and a replica of Jacob Bartle’s’ store was constructed in the community center parking lot.

A second week of events in the spring celebrated the role of the oil industry in the development of the city. Former President George H. Bush visited to unveil a replica of the Nellie Johnstone well and a major exhibition about the oil industry was opened inside a downtown Phillips Petroleum building. Visitors from all over the world came to Bartlesville to take part in panel discussions about the industry and its scientific contributions around the world.

Grand Finale Week in September brought entertainer Vince Gill to Custer Field for a concert after days of reenactments, music and the biggest parade the city had ever seen. The OU Marching Band, spectacular floats and dozens of other marching bands were part of the parade which was capped off by a jet plane fly-over.

Many members of the community contributed to the success of the Centennial including Scott Ambler, Dan Droege, Virgil Gaede, Ray Steiner, Jim Curd, Sr. and Bettye Williams among the hundreds of committee members and other volunteers who made all the events come together. At the beginning however there were two men in particular who had a vision for this great event celebrating the city they loved. Both successful business men now in retirement, Bill Creel and Tom Sears were the Co-Chairmen of the entire yearlong Centennial Celebration and folks if we ever decide to put up bronze statues of important community leaders these men should be the first two to be honored.

Bill had been an executive at Price Pipeline Company and I met him when I got a job on a Price Company pipeline in Texas right after high school. From the date of his retirement until his death in 2000? he focused his time and energy on projects to make Bartlesville a better place, serving on innumerable boards and committees.

Tom Sears was a Phillips man who graduated from high school in Bartlesville before going on to The University of Colorado’s School of Engineering and following that got an MBA from Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He joined Phillips in 1954 and had a distinguished career which included heading up several major divisions of the company around the country. After retirement Tom also played a leadership role in many community organizations, leading up to his co-chairmanship of the Centennial Celebration.

Yes, it’s a great story you may be saying but why bring it up now? Well, here’s the scoop. With the passing of Tom two weeks ago it puts history in a can so to speak. Over the past few years we have lost many inspiring community leaders the likes of whom I’m quite sure I won’t see again. We should never forget them and the great things they did to guarantee a great future for all of us.

A bit more current history was made in Dewey this past weekend when the Stray Cat Car Show came to town. From what my friends at the Rustic Touch told me, and after talking to the organizers, this may very well turn out to be the largest show ever. With wonderful weather, excellent food and a friendly crowd, it was all great fun.

This week is last call for Elder Care’s big party The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque at the Mullendore ranch and the staff at Elder Care is saying you don’t want to miss it!

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


The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque Coming Up at the Mullendore Cross Bell Ranch

Welcome back. From riding on the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico to Governor George Nigh’s Northwest Passage highway and back through the panhandle of Oklahoma through the great salt plains and into Pawhuska, home of the Tallgrass Prairie and then finally Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Once upon a time this trip would have taken me a solid two weeks on horseback but fortunately in my car it’s a straight twelve hour drive. Friends the terrain makes it seems like a different world out there and there is an abundance of things for me to write about including the history of the old west, the Spaniards, meteorites, UFOs and cattle mutilations.

Of course here in Bartlesville we have a lot of interesting history as well and this week I thought I’d bring you some background on an important local organization many of us have had contact with. Washington County Elder Care started in 1983 in a small house on Douglas Lane with a staff of just two people with the mission to “help mature adults live happy healthy independent lives.” Over time as the population of older adults in our area grew so did the need for services and Elder Care expanded into the old Jane Phillips Memorial Hospital building. Then in 2005 after a highly successful building campaign that drew support from throughout the community, the organization completed a new state of the art facility on Swan Drive. Today Elder Care provides a wide range of services to seniors and caregivers including adult day health, social networking, specialized physical therapy, a health care clinic and care management. They serve over 850 people each month, one of them being me, and their client base keeps growing because we’re all getting older.

One person among the thousands whose lives have been touched by Elder Care was Kathleen Boren Mullendore and that turned out to be a great thing for them. Twenty years ago Mrs. Mullendore invited Elder Care to use her historic Cross Bell Ranch for a fund raising event and the rest as they say is history. With the dedication and hard work of a committee which initially included Betty Kane, Donna Allison and Joann Gallery The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque was an immediate success and has become one the largest and most popular events of the year.

After Kathleen Mullendore died her daughter Katsy continued to host the Barbeque which is held every Mother’s Day in honor of her mother. Now that Katsy is gone her children are carrying on the tradition in support of Elder Care and in honor of both their mother and grandmother.

This year committee Chairperson Virginia Sawyer tells me that her great team of volunteers is planning another wonderful event with many special surprises for the 20th anniversary celebration. In addition to the usual great music, wonderful barbeque and exciting auctions there will be a raffle, souvenirs and much more. Best of all guests will be able to experience the beauty of the historic Cross Bell Ranch which provides a unique setting for the evening.The proceeds from the Barbeque are used to support Elder Care’s services which we will all need sooner or later so I hope to see you out at the ranch.

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