Lake Eufaula, Barry Switzer and Me

Welcome back. From last week’s column you learned that my travels are once again taking me out west but first I had a few stops to make along the way.

In 1964 the Army Corps of Engineer completed what was, and still is with 600 miles of shoreline, the largest lake in Oklahoma. Located on the Canadian River, Lake Eufaula is a destination for fisherman and with two state parks and numerous marinas and campgrounds is a family friendly lake as well. My reason for a regrettably short visit was a screening of my film Footprints in the Dew: The Last Ten Tapes at the Eufaula Memorial Library. The library is situated right in the middle of town, surrounded by interesting shops and it is just the type of place I enjoy checking out. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time but as General McArthur once said “I will return.” This is a beautiful part of Oklahoma and well worth a trip.

My next stop was at a house in Norman that sits on the corner of Chautauqua Avenue and Timber Dell Road. A large house made of cut stone and two stories high, it dwarfs the homes which border it to the south and to the north just across the street is the University of Oklahoma. Yes friends, this is the home of Barry Switzer, a man who coached the Oklahoma Sooners for sixteen years and who has the distinction of holding one of the highest winning percentages of any college football coach in history. He also coached the Dallas Cowboys to their Super Bowl XXX win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award.

I have been invited to attend the Coach’s Cabana live TV broadcast during all the OU games this year which has given me the opportunity to hang out a little with Coach Switzer and I can tell you he’s a nice guy who particularly likes kids. He is always ready to shake a kid’s hand or pose for a picture with him or her which makes their day but I can tell Barry enjoys the kids just as much as they enjoy him.
If you have read Barry’s book Bootlegger’s Boy you know that “Coach” as his former players call him, had a tragic childhood. With a mother who committed suicide and a father who was murdered by a jealous lover, Barry could easily have gone in another direction in life if not for football. He is something special for sure and after reading his story I think you will agree.

My last stop was at Saturday night’s big shindig celebrating 150 years of the Chisholm Trail which was held in a barn of course and the celebrities and politicians were thick. People running for Governor, the House and Senate and even County Commissioner were all in attendance. Two time Governor George Nigh was also there and gave a great talk about Oklahoma History as did Dr. Bob Blackburn the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Celebrity wise one of my favorites, the former stunt man to the stars Dean Smith was a guest along with Bob Funk who will soon be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. I also heard through the grapevine that Tom Selleck will be Bob’s presenter and I am definitely hoping to get a ticket to that event.
Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road……………..

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