Jim Halsey, Legendary Music Promoter

Welcome back. One was born and one died, this week it’s the story of two famous men from this area and I hope you enjoy the ride.

On October 7, 1930 a male child was born in Independence, Kansas who would go on to establish the largest country music management agency in the world. 41 of the top 100 country and pop acts were under contract to him when he sold the business to the William Morris Agency in 1990 in order to pursue teaching. The purchase helped make William Morris the giant company that it is today. This man, who will turn 90 on October 7th traveled the world with names like Roy Clark, the Judds and Roy Orbison. I mean the list of stars is endless. I hope you’ve heard of my friend Jim Halsey who now lives in Mounds with his wife Minisa. Jim has been inducted into both the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the County Music Hall of Fame in Nashville for his accomplishments,

Minisa Halsey is the daughter of the renowned Indian artist Woody Crumbo and is an artist in her own right. Among their many projects, she and Jim have spent hours recording the life stories of people who have played an important role in American arts and culture, particularly in the south west which brings me to a video they made a few years back. Minisa had contacted me about interviewing Damon “Chub” Anderson as I was writing a book about him at the time. Chub agreed to meet with her and she filmed him at his home in Caney, Kansas. Having watched the film on several occasions I can say she is a very professional interviewer and that leads to the second anniversary.

Jim Halsey was born on October 7, 1930 and almost forty years later on September 26, 1970 E.C. Mullendore III was tragically murdered. I’m sure many of you know his story so I’ll be brief. At the time of his death the Mullendore family had over 400,000 acres under their Cross Bell brand and they also owned the New Orleans Saints football team. E.C. himself held the largest life insurance policy ever issued in the United States. If you haven’t heard about this murder it happened just north of Bartlesville and I hope you will be able to see Minisa’s film soon.

Next up are my travels from last week.  At the Tulsa fairgrounds where I attended the big flea market masks are mandatory and I would say 90% of the people I saw were in compliance although there was no enforcement. Unlike most weekends this was the only event taking place at the fairgrounds and the crowd was smaller than usual. In Pawhuska on Thursday and Friday the numbers of people were also down but there was still a two to three hour wait for a table at the Mercantile and I would say maybe a little more than half of the people who were outside like I was wore masks. Also, excitement is growing in town as the Pawhuska high school football team continued their roll with a big win over Hominy. This Friday they will be playing an away game with Commerce at 7PM and it should be a great game, check it out if you can.

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

Jerry Poppenhouse, World Traveler

Welcome back. First the scoop, and if you’re a rodeo fan you’d better listen up. The BOK Center in Tulsa is going to open up to the general public for the first time since the pandemic started in March to host the Express Ranches PBR bull riding championships on October 10th and 11th. From what I’ve been told by officials with Express Ranches it looks like only fifty percent occupancy will be allowed. This event is always a big draw in Tulsa so if you like professional bull riding up close you’d better get your tickets now. For you new readers; I’ve written about Express Ranches in the past and their owner who as a boy growing up poor always wanted to own a cow or two and now after becoming quite successful, he owns thousands all over the country. Google the name Bob Funk, he has quite a life story.

Another man with an interesting life story is photographer extraordinaire Jerry Poppenhouse whose work is currently on display in the Lyon Gallery at the Bartlesville Community Center. Jerry went around the world taking photographs for Phillips Petroleum Company and documenting his travels along the way. You don’t want to miss this exhibit which will only be up for a few more weeks. I guarantee Jerry will take you places you’ve only dreamed about with his camera and as a special treat Mr. Poppenhouse himself will be in town on September 26th to open an interactive slideshow. One sequence of photos will make you feel like you are walking right on the Great Wall of China which Jerry did. This is just one reality show, there are several others so check out his work and if you are available come shake the hand of this legendary photographer.

On another subject if you enjoy a good stroll, I’d like to suggest downtown Bartlesville for your next outing. It seems like every time I visit; I see new shops opening up and this past week I came across a restaurant and bar called Crossing 2nd. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stay and eat but the menu looked very interesting so I plan a longer stay next time for sure.

Here’s a brief report from last week’s travels I hope you will enjoy. At Ree Drummond’s Mercantile in Pawhuska during the long Labor Day weekend the wait for lunch was anywhere from two to four hours but I didn’t hear any complaints.  Good food and plenty of it was the usual response from her clientele.  While I was in town autographing books, I took an informal survey and of course all the businesses I spoke with were happy to have the crowds back.

At the fairgrounds in Tulsa this past weekend another big crowd attended the gun show there on Saturday and Sunday. Many of the vendors said that some guns are getting very hard to find even for dealers. The same goes for the high-powered ammunition and bigger stores are having trouble stocking some calibers as well. I have been wearing a mask at these events but in Pawhuska only about half of the people I saw had one on. This was about the same in Tulsa; once people came through the door; they took their masks off.

As always, thanks for reading and till next time I’ll see ya down the road………………

Camping in the Time of Covid

Welcome back to my sixteenth Labor Day lake report and weather-wise what a great weekend to be out!

Up first, the town was first called Lawton, then changed its name to Weldon and finally when the railroad came through the name Copan stuck. A boom town in 1905, it’s a place where oil and gas operations still play a big role but this past weekend it was Copan Lake that was getting all the attention. When I drove through, I found that the campgrounds were completely sold out and the camp host said he was expecting another big group Monday after some of the spaces opened up so he planned to be sold out again. For those who weren’t camping there were plenty of swimming and picnicking spots and although the parking lot at the boat ramp was full of trucks and empty boat trailers there was room for more. An Army Corps of Engineers lake that opened in 1983, Copan Lake offers all the water sports, hunting and fishing and is definitely worth a drive to check it out.

Down the road at Hulah Lake all of the camping spots with electric were full but several primitive spots were still available. Another Army Corps lake, the campgrounds at Hulah are run by a group of volunteers dedicated to keeping this historic spot open and friends they do a great job. If you’re looking for beautiful views of the Osage countryside this is place. Campers told me the fishing is good too and get this camping is ten dollars a night for seniors. Heck for that price you might want to stay a month or two.

At Osage Hills State Park spots to park your camper with electric were sold out long ago. This is another beautiful place to hang your hat for a few days and you can call or check their website for information about available campsites and cottages.

Over in Will Rogers country the campgrounds on Lake Oolaghah were full too but there was a lot of room for swimming and picnicking. With clear water and lots of shade the lake is also close to the Will Rogers Museum in Claremore so don’t forget to visit Will when you’re in the area. I guarantee you’ll come out a better person.

I also visited several lakes in Kansas with the same results so here is my scoop of the week. Although camping is not allowed at Lake Hudson which sits just a few miles outside of Bartlesville, everything else is. The picnic tables are all in good shape and the grass is moved around them with plenty of shade trees as well, you can’t beat it. Scenic and little used from what I can see, the next time you’re taking a drive grab some takeout and give Lake Hudson a try.

On a side note for all you football fans, if you haven’t heard the Pawhuska Huskies are making a march to a state title and taking a big crowd with them. This is thanks in part to their quarterback who happens to be Ladd and Ree Drummond’s oldest son Bryce.  If you want to see what should be a great game and a big-time college bound player, they are playing Hominy in Pawhuska a week from Friday.

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


Welcome back. Over the years much has been written about Woolaroc, both as a world class museum and a truly great wildlife preserve, but this week I’m taking you backstage at this terrific place for two reasons. First of all, every year for roughly the past twenty years I have received a nice letter from the last two Executive Directors there reminding me that my membership is due. During my travels around the country I enjoy talking about where I am from and when Woolaroc comes up I am always proud to say that I am a long-time member.

 Although I don’t get the time to visit as often as I would like I consider my membership to be an affordable way to support the organization and enjoy some great benefits.  For two people a partner level membership which is what I have costs 150 bucks and for this you get free unlimited admission for two and that’s year around. Folks, in the heat of the summer this museum is a perfect place to cool off in while getting a little culture and in the winter the buffalo are at their best enjoying what must be their favorite time of year. Want to take a friend when you visit? You will get two guest passes with your membership as well as invitations to special members only parties and discounts at the museum store. I can tell you that I’ve eaten more than $150 worth of food at the parties alone. Best of all you will be supporting this treasure that Frank Phillips left us, becoming a kind of business partner with this visionary man. If you’re not a member become one and tell your friends, you just can’t go wrong.

My second story about the museum is the real reason behind this column and it’s about a Woolaroc docent I knew who for years told stories to literally hundreds of travelers passing through from all over the world to experience the magic of Woolaroc. It’s a small story but one that should be much bigger about how after retirement he served on the board of directors for several area not-for-profits, spent hours volunteering not only at Woolaroc but for many other important causes as well. I only knew him for about ten years but he was one of the finest all-around gentlemen I have ever met. Yes, there have been many stories written about Woolaroc but the next time you visit ask one of the volunteers about Don Cone, I think you will find his story as inspiring as I do.

Next, the year was 1969 and in Osage County the newly elected District Attorney Bill Hall would be faced with the largest number of unsolved murder cases in the state. Over the next eight years every minute of every day from the mysterious deaths of Osage Indian women to the famous Mullendore murder which happened just days before he was sworn in, these cases consumed him. Then in 1976 the strangest mystery of Hall’s career happened right on the main street of Pawhuska. It’s a case that to this day is still stuck in his mind but I’m sorry to say that for now you’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn about this heartbreaking story.

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