Here I sit on media row in the Arapahoe County Justice Center parking lot where I am surrounded by reporters from around the world. I am wondering if one of them will be interested in Footprints in the Dew. All it would take is one….
Welcome back. Following last week story which touched on events in the 1960s, I have decided to move on to the 1970s when the peace and love era began to fade. In San Francisco the Haight Ashbury district had seen its heyday. The flower children of the hippie movement were still there but change was coming. The Kent State shootings in 1970 represented the end of innocence for a generation that had believed that change could be brought about with non-violent protest during a peaceful march on the Kent State University campus the Ohio National Guard opened fire on an unarmed crowd, killing four students and wounding nine others. This tragic event triggered a student strike of four million students which closed colleges and high schools across the country and underscored a deep political divide over the role of the military and the war in Vietnam.
1972 brought the Watergate scandal which would bring down a President and many of his associates. In sports Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in swimming at the Summer Olympics in Munich. At the same Olympics terrorists attacked the Olympic Village, eventually killing eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team.
In 1973 the grandson of oil magnate J. Paul Getty was kidnapped and Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned from office. In 1974 newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped and serial killer Ted Bundy began his killing spree. Then in 1977 millions mourned when Elvis Presley died.
Although the 1970s also brought us innovations such as the floppy disk, the VCR and the Walkman the era was also marked by tragedy and pessimism.
Oklahoma had its own ups and downs in the 70s as well. In 1971 the Oklahoma portion of the Arkansas River Navigation System opened, giving the cities of Muskogee and Tulsa (at its port Catoosa) direct access to the sea. During the 1960s and 1970s, Oklahoma’s economy shifted from agricultural to industrial. Two large electronics plants and an aeronautics center were established in Oklahoma City. Tulsa was the site of a new space equipment factory. Large industries expanded to include automobiles and computers. Several dams were constructed to provide water storage and hydroelectric power and the lakes they created encouraged tourism. Thousands of people moved into Oklahoma during this time.
There was a ten-fold increase in the price of Oklahoma crude oil between 1972 and 1981 as the OPEC cartel drove up world oil prices. Employment in the oil patch grew from around 34,000 in the early 1970s to a peak of 102,000 in 1981.
Oklahoma also had a big impact in the music world as musicians such as J.J. Cale, Leon Russell and Jimmy Webb became famous and the state became known for “red dirt” music, a combination of blues, country and rock & roll.
Another major event of 1970 that made headlines around the country was the death of rancher and businessman E.C. Mullendore III which eventually became the most famous unsolved murder in the southwest. This Oklahoma tragedy has kept people talking for forty-five years as no-one has ever been charged and theories about the crime abound. The case has been the subject of books and documentaries while numerous law enforcement officials and private investigators have attempted to solve it. This is the backdrop for Footprints in the Dew, Chub Anderson and the Unsolved Mullendore Murder.
Last Thursday night I was joined by many friends and readers for a gathering to celebrate the planned release of Footprints in the Dew on September 26, 2015.
If you weren’t able to make it and would like to purchase a first edition all the ordering information is available on this website.
Many thanks to everyone who attended.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..
I am pleased to announce that there will be a gathering at the Price Tower Arts Center on Thursday June 25th from 5:30-7:30 to announce the publication of Footprints in the Dew and book ordering information will be available at that time. Many of the people featured in this story will be on hand to visit with guests. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you all there, Dale
P.S. The Copper Bar will be open for drinks and appetizers
Stay tuned for my report from the 2015 Awards where I will be mingling with other writers, filmmakers and publishers with a special interest in western history and culture to promote Footprints in the Dew.
Welcome back. It was 1961 in Oklahoma City and the event I’m getting ready to tell you about was then held at a place known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame. According to their records, the ceremony was created to honor and encourage the accomplishments of those whose works in literature, music, film and television keep the spirit of the American west alive. I wasn’t there back then but I have attended several Western Heritage Award ceremonies over the last dozen years and as a veteran event attendee I can tell you it’s a must. This year on April 17th there’s the big Jingle Jangle Mingle party when the halls of the museum will be filled with food and drink and guests will be decked out in their finest western wear and jewelry. This is always a popular event as the rich and the famous rubs elbows with the rest of us celebrating the cowboy way of life and then on April 18th the real awards begin. This is a big production and in my experience tickets go quickly so if you’re interested in tickets for Saturday call now.
In addition to the arts awards there’s the Hall of Great Western Performers award which is always exciting and another award called the “Great Westerner”. The evening wraps up with Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award, named for the museum founder.
This year’s featured celebrity guests are Patrick and Ethan Wayne which is another reason I think tickets will be hard to get, the longer you wait. Patrick and Ethan will help present the Wrangler awards in film, television, literature and music. James Coburn (1928-2002) and Ken Maynard (1895-1973) will be inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers. In the middle of all this is the ceremony for the Hall of Great Westerners inductees. There are two people this year and the first is someone I know many of you Bartlesville, OK natives have heard of.
Born on May 16, 1933 in Bartlesville, he bought his first cow in junior high school. After graduating from high school in 1951, he went on to attend Oklahoma A&M where he earned a degree in Animal Science before taking over the operation of the family ranch. He and his college sweetheart Lorna Jane Moleod were married in 1956 and raised four kids, together. A member of the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame, a leader in the state ranching community and now a honoree at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage, John Hughes stature continues to grow.
The Hughes Ranch was initially a cow-calf operation and then was converted to a stocker operation. Today the ranch, which lies along highway 123 in Osage County, is easy to spot because it is also home to hundreds of wild mustangs.
The other inductee Cotton Rosser is a legend in rodeo circles. His Flying U Ranch has provided livestock for the National Finals Rodeo in Denver, the big Houston Rodeo and another fifty or so other events every year. Born in 1928, Rosser and his family operate one of the largest rodeo stock breeding operations in the world.
Through my research I found that these two men fit the criteria for the “Great Westerner” to a t:
- Exceptional contribution to the advancement of Western heritage and traditions over a lifetime. 2. Individuals who promote America’s rich Western heritage through their leadership and patronage of art, business industry, environmental, education, humanitarian, government or philanthropic organizations. 3. Achievement of national significance and historic relevance. 4. Exemplification of the traditional Western ideals of honesty, integrity and self-sufficiency over a lifetime.
Look for more on this party next week and with cowboy history in mind don’t forget Elder Care’s big shindig out at the Crossbell Ranch in May. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….
A spooky experience during a recent trip to southeast Kansas while I was editing the manuscript.
Welcome back. The 170,000 square foot River Spirit Expo Center at the Tulsa Fairgrounds was completely sold out with 513 exhibitors this past weekend and over forty thousand people expected to attend the annual Tulsa Home & Garden Show so as you can imagine parking was at a premium. I’m here to tell you that’s not a bother any longer as I found several trolleys picking people up from all corners of the fairgrounds property. The friendly drivers work for tips and they will take you right to your vehicle which is even handier if you are carrying parcels or are handicapped.
The Tulsa Home & Garden Show started in 1949 when it was the first new home products show in the country. It has always drawn a crowd and on Saturday the organizers told me that attendance records might be broken. Spending a few hours walking down row after row of exhibits of every imaginable home products, the show is always a reminder to get my summer to do list ready.
The hot tubs are always a big attraction for me and there had to be a dozen different dealers there. Of course if I got one there would be a brick sidewalk to be laid leading to the tub and landscaping around that would also mean additional lawn maintenance. An electrician would be needed to wire the tub itself and then install lighting around it and then finally a storage shed to keep all the supplies it. If I had the cash I wouldn’t have to worry because all the people I needed to help were right there at the show. It was a great start to the summer and as for me, I hope that old lawnmower of mine will start and maybe next year I’ll get that hot tub.
This past week I also had the opportunity to spend time at a place just west of present day Parsons, Kansas. It is still remote in the area where I was camping and I’m going to end this week with a story that could have been the fate of any weary traveler like myself.
Back in the early days of Kansas settlement, this southeast corner of the state was a busy crossroads for travelers passing through, somewhat as I was last Wednesday. It was getting dark when I reached the camping spot I’d been told about. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as the sun went down and with water close by I wasn’t surprised to see a cabin on a hillside surrounded by trees. The lights were on and I could smell smoke coming from the chimney. The big sign reading “Benders Store Supplies for Sale- Strangers Welcome” reminded me of something but tired as most travelers are at the end of the day, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Sometime in the middle of the night I must have awoken because the next morning I could remember my experience as clear as day. I remembered that a man and his wife lived in the cabin with their two grown children and they had offered me a meal. While the couple seemed overly friendly, their muscular son was obviously mentally challenged and kept to himself. The buxom daughter was in her early twenties and she sat right beside me no matter where I moved in the room. She was very inquisitive about my travels, seeming to hang on my every word. When it was about time to eat she led me to the table and sat me down with my back to a hanging blanket that divided the room. I’m not sure if it was her perfume, the attention she was giving me or just plain exhaustion but all of a sudden I realized we were alone and she was pushing me back against the blanket. The blow to the back of my head from the sledgehammer that came from behind the blanket felt almost real before I opened my eyes and understood that I had been dreaming.
Was it the spirits of the dead calling to me? I don’t know but the story of the Bender family is true. Known as the “Bloody Benders” the family operated a small general store in Labette County and were known to have murdered at least a dozen travelers before their crimes were discovered and they fled from the area.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……………….
This is my report from last week and now I am on the road back to Stephenville, TX to catch the rest of the trial. Stay tuned for more and don’t forget that time is short for the rest of the kickstarter campaign!
Welcome back. On location in Stephenville, Texas which is just an hour and a half southwest of Fort Worth. When I arrived last Monday, I found that all the major networks had sent news trucks to cover the trial. Over the following days I met many nice local people and other reporters including AP correspondent Jamie Stengle, Dianna Hunt from the Dallas News and Autumn Owens from the Stephenville Empire Tribune whom I want to thank for their assistance.
As I am sure you all know by now, the trial of the accused killer of Chris Kyle, Eddie Ray Routh, is in full swing and moving fast. For the first four days, from my seat in the second row, Routh was just about twelve feet to the left and Chris Kyle’s widow Taya was directly behind me. During my brief conversations with her I found Taya quite pleasant and easy to talk to despite her ordeal.
Chad Littlefield’s was killed with Kyle and his mother was sitting behind Taya along with around thirty other friends and family members. Security is extremely tight and only thirty-five people are allowed in the courtroom each day besides the family. After talking with the D.A. it appears that all the evidence will have been presented by both sides by the end of this week and then the case will go to jury deliberations.
Taya was the first to testify, followed by Chad’s mom, who said it would have been her son’s birthday. During the testimony of seven other witnesses, the prosecution showed a series of ghastly photos of the crime scene as well as autopsy photos of both men. Many people in the courtroom cried during this presentation. As for Eddie Ray Routh, he showed no emotion, scribbling on a notepad throughout most of the proceedings.
On the second day of the trial, four witnesses were called including a crime scene specialist from the Texas Rangers and a Lancaster police officer along with Lt. Michael Smith who was the first officer to talk to Routh after the shootings and finally the Medical Examiner from Dallas County who showed more photos. The Medical Examiner described the shootings in great detail saying that both victims has been shot numerous times and also stating that neither man had drugs or alcohol in his system.
On day three Routh’s uncle was the first witness and testified that he and Routh had smoked marijuana together on the morning of the shooting and may have drunk whiskey as well. Then James Jeffries, a ballistics expert, gave his findings followed by police officer Jena Cole who quoted Routh as saying “I feel bad about it but they wouldn’t talk to me. I’m sure they’ve forgiven me.”
I am running short on space but here are a few other highlights from the testimony:
Taya Kyle testified that her husband didn’t sound like himself when she spoke with him on the phone before the murders; he sounded irritated and short.
Receipts found in Kyle’s stolen truck showed that a short time after the killings Routh stopped at Taco bell and bought two burritos.
Routh led police on a high speed chase that only ended when after a few miles they rammed his truck and disabled it.
After he was arrested Routh asked one of the detectives “Is the apocalypse on us right now? I can feel everybody feeding on my soul.”
A question that has been frequently asked but we will never know the answer to, is how Eddie Ray Routh got the jump on Kyle and Littlefield when they were both found to be carrying loaded handguns.
In text messages exchanged between Kyle and Littlefield while they were driving with Routh who was in the back seat of the truck, Kyle said that “this dude (Routh) is straight up nuts.” Kyle and Littlefield had never met Routh before and these are Kyle’s last known words.
On a similar note, on September 26, 1970 E.C. Mullendore’s last known words were “Chub stays in the truck like I told him to. He’ll do what I say.” You can learn more on my website www.originalbuffalodale.com.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………
I know that many of you out there have been visiting the kickstarter page and learning about the project. Thank you to everyone for your interest and especially thank you to those of you who have made a pledge. To those of you still on the sidelines if you think the book is interesting and you’d like to read it, now is the time to commit. There are only 8 days left in the campaign and a long way to go to raise the funds that are needed to get the book in everyone’s hands. Help me make Footprints in the Dew a reality!
I’m re-fueling the motorhome in anticipation of another road trip to spread the word about the project. I hope to catch a big crowd at the OSU vs.,Iowa game tomorrow night and then on to OKC to see the Thunder Thursday night. I might possibly drive on to Stephenville for more of the American Sniper trial.
In anticipation of a lengthy day of testimony Monday, court recessed early on Friday. The first witness is expected to be Officer Brown who videoed Routh’s statement. He may be followed by Jen Weed who had become engaged to Routh the night before the murder. Additional photos and video remain to be shown and then it is possible that the case will go to the jury by Friday.
As for my project, Footprints in the Dew, there is only a short time left if you want to get involved and learn what happened to E.C. Mullendore on the night of September 26, 1970. Please don’t wait!
For the past two days Chris Kyle’s widow has been sitting directly behind me and I have had the opportunity to speak with her briefly.
It is hard to sit through the testimony I am about to describe without thinking about how it is impacting her and the rest of the families of both Kyle and Chad Littlefield.
The first person to testify was crime scene specialist and Texas Ranger Michael Adcock who described the crime scene in detail. The next witness was the Lancaster police officer who initially secured the crime scene and who confirmed details about what he observed.
Their testimony was followed by a thirty minute dash cam video of the police chasing Eddie Ray Routh, eventually ramming his truck and Routh continuing to flee until his damaged truck gave out. In the course of the day several other videos of this chase were shown.
The most disturbing testimony thus far came from Dr. Jeffrey Banard who is the Chief Medical Examiner in Dallas. He described the height and weight of both victims, the number of gunshot wounds they received and testified that there was no way either man could have survived,even with immediate medical care. Banard also testified that neither victim had alcohol or drugs in his system. Banard’s testimony was accompanied by many photos of the bodies.
For the past two days Routh has been writing continually in a notebook and today he only looked up when photos of the bodies were shown on the wide screen monitor.