July 1st, 2006
Dear Shipmates, Family & Friends,
Now I might ramble some trying to tell you about all the things we did here in "Indian Country", so be patient. Oklahoma did not become a STATE until 1909. Before that it was called "IT"... Indian Territory. Things can get confusing, so stick with me. I'll try to paint a picture for the less fortunate (you know, the old and stove-up among us... not able to travel). The "Indian Removal Act" of 1832 gets lots of credit for Oklahoma being what it is. You know, when President Andrew Jackson decided it best to relocate Indians from the East (Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, etc.) to the waste lands of the mid-west, which happened to have oil below the surface.
As fate would have it, on 6 September 1905, the Anna Anderson gusher blew... making Frank Phillips an instant millionaire. (Becoming a millionaire took a little more than one oil well, but it's my story, and I'm sticking to it.) Anna was an 8 year old Delaware Indian girl, who had mineral rights to land there by the creek in Bartlesville... the creek with an oil-film on it. It took Congress almost four years to deem that "waste-land" ern... Indian Territory a STATE. Got to hand it to those politicians, their decisions always follow the money. Some things never change. Say Doris...you didn't tell us your grandmother was named "Anna". You did say she was full blooded Delaware, didn't you? That makes you about 1/4rh Delaware. Another bit of minutia: the banquet speaker, Curtis Zunigha (former Delaware Chief), said that the state, Oklahoma, was almost called "Lenape", which is the Indian name associated with the Delaware Indians. He might be right.
That cued a string of
newspaper reports that we were coming. They attempted to talk to us
every day... trying to get our story. The Bartlesville
Examiner-Enterprise, the Tulsa World, and the
Eisenhower Library of Abilene... of all places. It
seems that the Eisenhower Library has assigned itself the task of
DVD-recording as much of the personal information ofWW-II as it can get.
Joe Todd, a personable fellow, is doing the recording for
the Eisenhower Library. Said he started his recording work in 1999 and
has recorder 738 personal stories so far... including ours. That fellow
is slick. He talks you through what you were doing before the war, where
you were ., during the war... and your life afterwards. It took Sims
an hour-and-a-half to think up something to talk about. That is why it
took me over two hours in my interview. I had to straighten-out Sims'
mistakes. But, I "got her done." Sims is OK, now. Oh yes, Joe
said the Eisenhower Library would send us a copy of the interview... in
case we wanted to change our story. *kidding, just kidding.*
Time to talk about the
Banquet last night. It is freshest in my thinking. Doris carried
out the program just like Chief trained her. Did a good job too.
She had a memorial service for shipmates not present. Then Mayor
Daniels thanked us for choosing Bartlesville for our Reunion. She
read a very nice proclamation from the city council to express
appreciation for what the veterans have done for our country. Yes, it
was nice. Then, we had our picture made with the mayor, because she had
to leave for another important engagement (Good looking lady mayor
too!). This metropolis of Bartlesville has something going on all the
time. Doris' minister, Rev. Terry Jarrard,
returned grace and we proceeded with the banquet meal set-out before us
by our favorite waitress... Lori. She served us breakfast every
morning at the motel. Lori is a sweetheart. As we were enjoying
dessert (apple cobbler), Doris introduced Curtis
Zunigha, former Chief of the Delaware Nation (1996-2000) and is
presently serving as a Tribal Council Member. All the ladies were quite
impressed with his handsome looks.
On the side of one hall was large brass plaque, very polished. Do you want to know why it shines so? The story goes that when Tiffany (Chiefs granddaughter) would misbehave, she had to shine all those brass objects in the house. That should tell you something about Tiffany. You could tell by the smile on her face that she was proud of every piece of brass that she once kept "very shiny". Following our tour of the "museum", we headed for the Copan Restaurant... actually a Truck Stop on US 75. Doris called it the Copan Truck Stop. It is the only eatery in Copan, unless you want to buy some bologna at the local convenience store. Georgia Egan (Ed's beautiful wife) joined us for lunch. She came tooling up in a white 1999 Corvette. Classy! I had to find out who she was. Oh yes, Ed was our van driver for the time we were in Oklahoma. Nicest guy you will ever meet... ever anxious to take us places, do things. He is a retired accountant for ConocoPhillips... and very knowledgeable of the area. He is a member of the First Baptist Church (there in Dewey), which provided the van for us. Copan, Dewey, and Bartlesville are neighboring towns... for those who couldn't make the trip. After our 'Truck Stop feast', we returned to the motel for a little R&R before the banquet, which I have already told you about. Yes, yes... a little backwards. But I can tell things best as I remember them. Last-in, first-out... in my case.
I do want to tell you
about the first two days, which are really full of good stuff. The first
morning we went to the Prairie Song Village, which is out in the middle
of nowhere... on a big ranch (takes two days for out-riders to ride the
perimeter). It is impossible to describe the Prairie Song, but in a few
words here is my best shot:
I'll name the buildings finished and furnished (those I can remember): the Bank, Tin Shop, Blacksmith Shop, General Store, Saloon, Carriage House, Post Office, Dentist Office, Barber Shop (w/Doctor's Office), Bunk House, Chapel, School House, and a Log Cabin. There may be more... can't remember. All buildings are totally filled with antique furniture and merchandise. That Ken is a "pack rat". Yes, I want to go back... and take the old farm equipment I have. When I am gone, no one will even know what it is.
The second day was dedicated to seeing the Phillips' homes. Little background first. This Frank Phillips is a man after my own heart. He was born in Scotia, Nebraska, in a log cabin and is the fifth of eleven children. The grasshoppers and drought drove the Phillips family from Nebraska to Iowa. At the age of 14 he quit school and became a barber's apprentice in Creston, Iowa. Eight years later he owned that barber shop and soon owned all the barber shops in Creston... including one in the basement of the local bank. Of course... the banker had a daughter (Jane). Frank and Jane fell madly in love, but Daddy though his daughter deserved a better life than a barber could provide. So... Frank agreed to become a banker, successfully selling bonds for the Chicago Coliseum. So, Frank and Jane were married in 1898, and moved to the opportunity-rich environment in the Indian Territory in 1901. It was not Oklahoma yet, but don't get lost. Not resting on his success, Frank started drilling oil wells with fellow investors.. On their fourth try, the Anna Anderson blew (1905) making Phillips an instant millionaire. The rest is history, you might say. (Not really, but you get the drift.)
He built "WOOLAROC" basically to entertain businessmen, politicians, and guests from around the world... and because he needed a method to return the invitations he (& Jane) received while working out of his office in New York. Frank spent part of each year in New York to obtain investment capital from eastern bankers... and to market his oil.
Yes, Frank Phillips was a man of many colors. As stated below his statue in the entrance to the Woolaroc Museum:
That museum is chocked full of western paintings and Indian memorabilia. You could I easily spend all day there and not see it all. In one room Mr. Phillips has all the pistols ever made by Samual Colt, I'm sure... along with a Gatlin Gun and a water-cooled machine gun. A couple of rooms are dedicated to specific artists. The 101 Ranch has photographs and memorabilia in the museum as does Phillips Petroleum.
Now to Frank's country home, WOOLAROC (WOOds, LAkes, ROCks), built on 3600 acres selected from the Phillips 17,000 acre ranch.. The grounds are the home of native wildlife plus exotic species gathered from around the world. The lodge, considered "his" summer home, was the first building at Woolaroc... built in 1925 of pine logs from Arkansas. The stuffed animals displayed in the main room died of natural causes (diseases, or failed to adapt to climate), or were gifts from visitors. Phillips was not a hunter.
Sorry to keep talking and talking about the neat things we did in Oklahoma, but there was so much that I did not expect to see. From now on I will just talk about us... promise. Lets see, naming the people at the Reunion, if I can. Roy Hudson's gang was there... big time. Jane, son Bob, grandsons (Ron Wurley, Roy (& wife Sherri) Wurley). Ron brought little great-grandson "Hudson". Hudson is three months old and an absolute angel. He never cries. Smiled at everyone. All you had to do was say "Hi". Chiefs daughter, Nancy Sue Fuller was there with his granddaughter, Tiffany Womack. Sims had a carload with him. Lets see... Doris, Cindy, and Linda (Banks). Ray & Doris (Joyce) of the BUNCH joined us in Bartlesville and added so much enjoyment for all of us. Guy (Rich) & Frances (Livesay) were there as always, as was our Internet Genius, George (Fryberger). And of course, Doris (Holler) was there doing everything for everybody. Doris, I can't thank you enough for making our visit such a fun time... especially for us old codgers. If you didn't get named, I forgot you. Sorry about that.
Lest I forget our faithful supporters, who supported the USS RICH this year... with their money. Shirley Aluni and Joyce Darrah did not forget us. Thanks ladies. Remember... you are always welcome to be with us any time... anywhere. Bill Cunningham's help is appreciated too. Wish you had been in Oklahoma with us, Bill. You would have enjoyed it. See you next year, OK? I got a nice letter from Charles "T" of the USS BLESSMAN. He invites all of us to join him for the 63rd Reunion on Nov 8th thru 11 th on the ocean at the Bahama House. If you would like information, call Charles at (386) 441-7915. Thanks for the help from everyone. With your help we can keep the Newsletter coming. We happily put in the time, but the postman expects to be paid.
Business meeting, yes...
the business meeting was tame this year. Everybody will keep on doing
what they are doing. If it is not broke, we won't "fix it". If you have
events in your life to tell us about, you can write me at 315 Kinsey
Street, Raleigh NC 27603... or call (919) 833-0747. I can
always call you back and save you money with this long distance service
I have. Just let me know. Any information fit to print is welcome. Next
year Roy & Jane (Hudson) are thinking about hosting
a Reunion in the Lynchburg/Bedford area... subject to health, of course.
Roy is scheduled for another check-up in two weeks. He looks
good, but we never know. Oh yes, during our Business Meeting, Laura
Summers of the TULSA WORLD stopped by for our story. Her
excellent write-up is enclosed.
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