Fires Across New Mexico

Welcome back. Regular readers know that I often travel to northern New Mexico or the “Land of Enchantment” as it’s called. Unfortunately as of this writing the precise area where I usually stay in this land of enchantment has been under siege by the Ute Park Fire. Last week the town of Cimarron, New Mexico had to be evacuated but I’m happy to report that the five hundred and forty-five professional firefighters who have been battling this fire with their ten helicopters saved the town.

The fire came within a few blocks of the historic St. James Hotel and from reports part of the fairgrounds were burned but no houses were lost. At last count about forty thousand acres have burned but it is now believed to be seventy-seven percent contained. Waite Phillips’ old ranch, the Express UUBar, has had some damage and sadly Philmont Boy Scout Ranch has had to cancel all of the treks that were planned into the mountains until July 14th. According to their website conditions will be re-evaluated at that time and events at the training center have also been cancelled until further notice.

Local scout master Charles Lewis had been planning to take his troop to Philmont this week and he and I estimate that over six hundred kids a day are missing out on the trip of a lifetime. Yes friends, kids from literally around the world who had been planning a trip to Philmont for years have now had their plans cancelled. It’s a real tragedy for many young people and I can only hope that they will be able to reschedule for another year. The heroic fire crews who have been fighting this fire around the clock deserve another mention and although the fire is still ongoing happily no lives have been lost so far.

I’m moving from one catastrophe to another as dry conditions are just as bad in southwest Colorado, another of my favorite places. Durango is known for its ties to Hollywood from a day that is now long gone as well as for an old train that takes you up the mountain to Silverton- a place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Durango is definitely a special place but I’ve just heard from my contacts that dry conditions are taking a toll there as well.

The “416” fire that has been burning in the area has doubled in size due to high winds and over 2,000 home in its path have been evacuated. If conditions don’t improve a lot more property and some important history may be lost.

Be safe and till next time I’ll see ya down the road….
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1967-Continued

Welcome back to Part Two of the 1967 football game between Dewey and Bartlesville. If you missed last week’s article, past issues of the newspaper are available at the Examiner Enterprise office or you can catch up on their website.

The game had been hyped up for weeks; a showdown between two undefeated teams both with players who had college potential. The game was tied up with just minutes to play and the Wildcats had the ball. The defensive play called for George “Junior” Durant, the stud of both teams, to blitz Bartlesville’s quarterback Bill Berryhill. A sophomore quarterback with Junior coming after him; Dewey’s hope was that just maybe Berryhill would fumble or throw an interception and it almost worked. Junior knocked down blockers down like flies and as he was about to sack Berryhill way back for a huge loss, Berryhill passed to his tight end Bill “Alex” Dingman. Unexpectedly, Dingman was wide open without a defensive player anywhere around and the seldom used sophomore player turned and headed for the end zone which was some eighty yards away. Dewey’s star player had flattened Berryhill and now turned his attention to Dingman. Already a state finalist in track even at 15, Junior wasn’t just fast, he was lightening in a bottle and soon he was closing in.

I was standing on the sidelines when first Dingman (with fear written on his face) ran past me and then Junior came by in hot pursuit. Later Dingman said he had never run so fast in his entire life. Yes friends Junior couldn’t catch up with the boy from Bartlesville and the Wildcats won the game on that one play.

Both teams went on to have successful seasons and several players on both sides played college ball. Junior would become a major force in high school sports over the next few years but it all ended there. Although major colleges did come to Dewey to recruit him, the boy wonder who had started playing high school sports at fourteen and who was obviously capable of playing at a higher level, had one big problem he couldn’t outrun. You see he couldn’t read or write. Somehow he had gone from grade school through high school never learning anything except how to write his name but could he play football!

interesting piece of local history about a boy who at one time in our past thrilled hundreds of football fans in Dewey and Bartlesville.
Another type of entertainment came to Bartlesville on Friday when gubernatorial hopeful Mick Cornett came to town. He spoke at Arvest’s Friday Forum and he and host Jim Bohnsack drew quite a crowd .Although I’m not much into politics, Cornett was an interesting guy and I expect we’ll see more candidates coming to town as the elections get closer.

I’ll end this week with another bit of history from 1967. Hulah Lake which in the Osage Indian language means “eagle” was completed in 1951. At the time it was the largest lake in the area and with million dollar hilltop views, Hulah was an immediate hit with campers, boaters and fishermen and in 1967 it was the most popular destination in the area. Today of course there are many more lakes that are easier to get to and Hulah has been mostly forgotten but friends it’s still there and open for business. Check it out, it’s worth the drive just for the scenery.

Thanks for reading and till next time, I’ll see ya down the road……..

The Year Was 1967….

Welcome back. In my travels I’ve had the opportunity to learn about history and also to see history in the making and for your pleasure this week I’m bringing a little bit of both. The year was 1967, the war in Vietnam was in full swing, President Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and in Bartlesville, Oklahoma gas was running about thirty cents a gallon. In Dewey, the historical old Dewy Hotel had been sitting empty, quietly deteriorating while on Main Street Mary’s Bar was packed six days a week with people coming from miles around to see the charismatic owner Mary Bishop.

Another big draw in the town of Dewey back in 1967 was the high school football team. Led by a coaching staff each of whom would create their own legacy over the years, the head man was Noel Due who held one of the highest winning percentages in the state. All fresh out of college Ken Bruno, Doyle Patterson and Ronnie Harmon rounded out the coaching staff and with plenty of talent the team was going into one of the biggest games of the year undefeated. The group of boys who were playing in the running back positions were mostly sophomores who had been playing together since grade school. Up front on the line, the players were all seniors and they were mean! They didn’t just block you, after the game you felt like you’d been beaten up and it was the same in practice.

Among all this, there was one player who stood out from the rest and his name was George Durant but because he was named after his dad, everyone just called him Junior. At 6’1” and a very muscular 175 pounds, even at 15 years old he was already a man among boys. On September 14, 1967 Dewey was scheduled to play the undefeated College High Wildcats at Bulldogger Stadium. The Wildcats were led by sophomore quarterback Bill Berryhill who after the game would quarterback the team for the next three years.

The hype of a showdown between Dewey and Bartlesville had the stadium packed with people hours before the game which right after the kick-off quickly became a duel between Junior and Berryhill, each setting the tone for their respective teams. Dewey quarterback Roger Woody was another talented kid who had been a two-year starter and along with Robert Walton, Larry Star and Junior they ate up ground for Dewey. But Berryhill’s passing and the strength of Bartlesville’s back field with Bill Patterson and Jon Humble had the game all tied up with just minutes to play. The crowd was going nuts.

A 140 pound 6’2” reserve split end for Dewey who had also hiked the ball on fourth down to the punter, I was standing on the sideline anticipating that the clock would run out. Junior, who was my friend, played both running back and linebacker so he literally never left the field of play. Bartlesville had the ball for maybe a play or two and all our hopes rested on him. If he could get to Berryhill for a sack or maybe a fumble we had a chance.
Next week, who is Bill “Alex” Dingman and the play that won the game along with my pick for a great summer getaway and friends, its close by. I’ll leave you this week with three good things to remember: SunFest, the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show and Dr. Stan Defehr.

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