A Unique Venue for PBR Event

Welcome back.  Over the years I’ve brought you readers many stories I hope you’ve found interesting from Whitey Bulger’s trial in Boston, the American Sniper trial in Stephenville, Texas and even the heartbreaking trial in Aurora, Colorado where a deranged kid killed dozens of people in a movie theater. I’ve also brought you inspiring stories about camping out in places like the Grand Canyon, visits to great museums that I’ve been lucky enough to explore across the country and this week it’s a story about the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) who held their big championship a few months ago at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Now the PBR has come to Corpus Christi, Texas with a show like none other so here’s the scoop. The event last week wasn’t held in a big arena but on the top deck of the retired aircraft carrier the USS Lexington which was decommissioned in 1991 and now is docked permanently in a harbor in Corpus Christi. At the time it was retired the Lexington was the oldest working carrier in the U.S. Navy. Also known as the “Blue Ghost” the ship was originally named the USS Cabot but during WWII the first USS Lexington was sunk during the battle of the Coral Sea.  After that the Cabot changed its name to Lexington and joined the fifth fleet at Pearl Harbor. Throughout the war the carrier was involved in every military action in the pacific, destroying 372 enemy aircraft in air battles and another 475 planes on land. The carrier was also responsible for sinking 300,000 tons of ships all while traveling over 209,000 miles roughly equivalent to eight trips around the world.

In preparation for the PBR event the Lexington was closed to the public this past weekend and over 300,000 tons of dirt and steel were brought in to build a bucking bull arena on the top deck of this massive ship. Only people holding PBR tickets along with the media, livestock contractors and the cowboys themselves were allowed on board. The event was televised last Sunday right after the NFL football game on CBS and you might still be able to replay it. I also need to mention that the competition was sponsored by the Airforce Reserves and all the proceeds were donated to charities supporting military service people and their families.

When it is not hosting a special event, the Lexington offers a wide variety of exhibits and attractions to the general public including a self-guided tour of the flight deck that features 20 aircraft on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation, anti-aircraft guns, and landing gear. On the main Hangar Deck, you can participate in the Virtual Battle Stations which will give you the experiences of a crew in combat, bringing to life real battles aboard different classes of ships and planes. There is also a flight simulator that puts you in the cockpit of an F-18 fighter jet as well as an extensive exhibit on the history of Pearl Harbor and much more. I have toured the Lexington myself and believe me you don’t want to miss it if you are in Corpus Christi, it’s truly an amazing piece of history that we should never forget.

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


The Art of Giving

Welcome back. Friends. We all need them and when one of your best friends is C.J. “Pete” Silas, the Chairman and CEO of Phillips Petroleum Company from 1985-1994 and you are Glenn Cox his second in command good things can happen. If you weren’t around in those days, I can tell it was a magical time, not only for Phillips but also for every non-profit and church in Bartlesville and everywhere around the world where Phillips did business. I bring this small tribute to these fellows because following the death of his wonderful wife Glenn decided to move and sell their extensive personal memorabilia. The sale was conducted last week by Minuteman Auction Company and at Glenn’s request each person attending the sale was required to pay $20. All of these proceeds were donated to the Pete Silas Boys and Girls Club, raising almost $1,500 for their important programs. This is another reason that the residents of this area should never forget the generosity of people like Pete and Glenn. As long as my column runs, I will try to make sure that we always remember the men and women whose contributions of both time and money make our community such a special place.

While I was researching this story, I also learned from the owner of Minuteman Auction Company Wayne Vineyard that he is holding another sale on behalf of a prominent local man this weekend. Former State Senator Steve Martin is downsizing and Wayne said it would be a quality sale with many unusual items that Steve and his wife collected.

Also, on the local front, if you heard dozens of ambulance, fire truck and police car sirens last week going off it wasn’t a practice drill for a tornado, it was a celebration for a local celebrity’s recovery from COVID19. His name, as I’m sure many of you know him, is Mike Smith and a finer fellow you’ll never meet.

While I’m still traveling on the south coast of Texas as always when I come across a museum I stop. The nearby Texas Maritime Museum enlightened me about the history, not of Texas cowboys but Texas sailors. This museum takes you back in time to when the French and the Spanish landed here. You follow Texas maritime history not only in words but also in hundreds of displays containing artifacts from an era before the English colonies were established.

Present day life on the coast is part of the displays at the museum as well including information about shipping and off shore drilling in the area along with the role of big companies like Phillips66 in the coastal communities. I’ve been to many museums but none quite like this one. If you’re ever in the Rockport, Texas area, which lies just about thirty miles from Corpus Christi your time won’t be wasted visiting the Texas Maritime Museum.

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

Hurricanes on the Texas Coast

Welcome back. With hundreds of ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 employees in the Houston area and many more located along the Gulf of Mexico down to the big shipping center of Port Aransas, the impact of Hurricane Harvey has had is in many ways still reaching all the way to Bartlesville. This week with all the hurricanes we’ve had this year, I’m taking you back in time to August 25, 2017 when Hurricane Harvey first hit San Jose Island before making a bee line for the popular fishing town of Rockport, Texas.  The slow-moving storm dumped more than 40 inches of rain on the town over a four-day period and battered it with 130 mph winds, breaking records. Thousands of homes were flooded and there were 17,000 recorded water rescues. Just to show you how bad it was, prior to Harvey there were 9,223 tax paying properties in Rockport and after the storm only 1,002 remained.

The loss to the county was estimated at 812 million in housing and 134 million in business destruction. The town itself received close to 500 million dollars in property damages and suffered at least 100 million dollars in lost tourism revenue. Nursing homes, post offices, government buildings, churches and marinas were just some of the facilities that were either totally destroyed or left incapacitated for years. With all of this damage of course there were deaths, 107 in all and the first one occurred just a few blocks away from my current location.

Five years later this town is still struggling to recover as many motels and houses are still boarded up. Piers where hundreds of tourists come every year to fish are still not rebuilt and on San Jose Island several massive shipping barges that washed up there during the hurricane are sitting on dry ground hundreds of feet inland rusting away. There is also a labor shortage because most of the affordable housing was wiped out and has yet to be rebuilt.

One place I found that has rebuilt is the Schoenstatt (beautiful place) convent and retreat center which includes an important shrine. Most of the buildings on the property were heavily damaged by Harvey but today they have all been repaired or replaced, including construction of a new retreat center. If you are like me and have never heard of Schoenstatt, here’s a bit of history about the order.

The shrine is a replica of the original shrine in Germany, where the founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, together with a group of seminarians dedicated their lives to Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable in the covenant of love Oct. 18, 1914. Their mission was for the renewal of the world in Christ through Mary. This movement also established an order of nuns known as the Sisters of Mary. Today there are over 1800 Sisters of Mary throughout the world serving as advocates for women and children and devoting themselves to a life of piety. The shrines that they build at their convents are refuges of spiritual help and guidance, welcoming visitors of all faiths.

 Yes friends, there were a lot of people here and in Bartlesville who were impacted by this catastrophic storm Harvey which was one for the record books, proving that this part of the world can be both beautiful and dangerous.

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


San Jose Island-A Retreat for the Rich and Powerful

Welcome back. You may not know their names but down in Rockport, Texas where I’m “chasing a ghost”, Sid Richardson, Clint Murchison and the Bass family represent money, big money and yes there’s a tie to the Bartlesville area. But first I’m taking you back in time to 1937 when these oil tycoons owned a string of islands off the shores of Rockport which lies roughly thirty miles east of Corpus Christi. They were called the “islands of the oil kings” and it was Sid Richardson’s San Jose Island where Franklin Roosevelt sailed in on the presidential yacht to meet Murchison and Richardson who at the time were two of the richest men in the country.

Richardson built a house on the island that was designed to be hurricane proof. The compound included a separate house for the staff, shelter for cattle, dedicated sources of water and power and an airstrip but interestingly, no phone service. Richardson never married but he hosted many gatherings so the main house could sleep thirty-five people.

This island, along with Clint Murchison’s Matagorda Island which was close by hosted many prominent political figures including Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and former Texas Governor John Connolly all of whom benefited from Murchison’s and Richardson’s support.

In 1945 Murchison founded Delhi Oil Corporation which grew into one of the largest integrated independent oil companies in the country and his investment in gas reserves in western Canada led him to build the 2,100 miles Trans Canada Pipeline. The H.C. Price Pipeline Company, headquartered in Bartlesville, was involved in the construction of the pipeline.

Like Waite Phillips, Sid Richardson was a big supporter of the Boy Scouts and he built a ranch specifically for the scouts on Lake Bridgeport near Decatur, Texas. I discovered this description of the ranch on their website:

“Sid Richardson Scout Ranch (SR2) is a Texas–size camp with 15 miles of rugged shoreline on 10,000-acre Lake Bridgeport and 2,500 acres of scenic cliffs, prairie, and forests. The camp’s historic 1870’s U.S. Cavalry site is a centerpiece of the Chisholm Trail Adventure program at our Texas High Adventure Base.

SR2 offers over 70 Merit Badges, an air-conditioned dining hall, large pool, Technology Center, Flight Simulation Center with 16 F-16 cockpits (featured in Scouting magazine), horsemanship program, Space Shuttle Simulator, working Blacksmith Shop, Sailing Base with 24 sailboats, sporting clays range, Viking Ship, Trail to First Class first–year camper program, Climbing tower and cliffs, 2 Blobs, windsurfing, Mile Swim, Snorkeling, BSA Lifeguard, and much more.”

After his death Richardson left his nephew Perry Richardson Bass a sizeable inheritance which he grew into an oil and ranching empire. Bass had four sons all of whom attended Yale University and went on to very successful careers in energy and finance. The brothers are also known for their philanthropy, giving millions to universities, medical centers, conservation projects and the arts. One of the brothers, Lee Bass owns the former Chapman Ranch adjacent to the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Pawhuska among many ranching investments.

Today the Bass family still owns San Jose Island where they operate a cattle ranch and maintain Sid Richardson’s original compound which has undergone several renovations through the years. Clint Murchison’s Matagorda Island is operated as a wildlife management area, jointly owned by the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is cooperatively managed as the Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge and State Natural Area.

Yes, this week is the history of two men who had a profound Impact not only on Texas but on the whole world. While I continue my own investigation look for more from the Rockport, Texas area.

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

Frederick Drummond, Leader and Patriarch of the Drummond Clan

Welcome back. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County represents mother nature at her finest and back in the 1980s several people had the vision to protect it, one of whom passed away last week. The Tallgrass Prairie is just one small piece of his legacy. Born on July 13, 1931 in Enid, Oklahoma, he graduated from high school in Hominy, Oklahoma before getting a B.S. in Animal Science from OSU. After college he served in the Army where he attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and was stationed in Germany as an artillery officer. After his service to our country he earned an MBA from Stanford University in 1957 and went to work in a Kansas City bank for several years before moving back home to Hominy.

During the following years he built a ranch, got married, became the devoted father of four kids and was elected chairman of a local bank, all while learning the ins and outs of the oil business. Generous with his time and money, he served on the boards of many organizations, both statewide and national, and the list of his honors and awards could take up half my column. The Cattleman’s Hall of Fame, the OSU Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the Western Heritage Center’s Hall of Great Westerners are just a few of the organizations which recognized his accomplishments and friends the list goes on.

You may have guessed who I’m talking about by now and you may also wonder how I know so much about this “legend.” I don’t use that word very often but it is appropriate for Frederick Ford Drummond, a man I had the honor to have known personally.  Yes, this humble man was who friends with most everyone he met, has died.

I had several lunches and dinners with Frederick at social events even going on a couple of trail rides with him. He was one of those guys who from the very first time you met him felt like he was your lifelong friend. We’ve lost several exceptional men and women in this area lately and Frederick is another. If you want to learn more about him check out his obituary which was published in the Tulsa World on October 20th and the original Drummond Family Home in Hominy is a museum and it’s a great little road trip that I think you’ll enjoy.

Moving on to another story that has its roots in Osage County, it’s Act III of Chasing A Ghost. Over the last few weeks, I’ve brought you the story of a missing girl that still keeps former District Attorney Bill Hall up at night. If you missed the earlier installments check out my website www.originalbuffalodale.com or stop by the Examiner where they have hard copies of past issues.

Pawhuska to Bartlesville is 29 miles, Tulsa is another 49 miles then on to Dallas, 257 miles and finally 431 miles to a small beach town outside of Corpus Christi. It’s a place I’ve never been before, full of history and also a town that now has a tie to Pawhuska. Next week I’ll be bringing you more.

Till then I’ll see ya down the road…………….