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  July 1st, 2006

Dear Shipmates, Family & Friends,

Doris (Holler) did a wonderful job orchestrating the trip, and we all wish we were able to spend more time there. Edward Egan of the First Baptist Church of Dewey was our driver. He was very knowledgeable of the history of the local area and all the antiques at Prairie Song. Will tell you about Prairie Song in a minute. We certainly had enough to do. When I told Doris to "slow down, we are old people". Without missing a step, she responded, "This is how Raymond wanted it." "He wants his shipmates to experience Oklahoma and its Indians." Like the respectful woman she is, she always refers to "Chief" by his proper name "Raymond". That Doris is nothing but quality... I can't say enough about her. Couldn't have trained her better myself. No need for me to get into telling you fellows the measure of a good woman. If you need an example, Doris is the best.

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 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.

In a little while I will tell you about the 'Prairie Song', Frank Lloyd Wright, and what Frank Phillips did with all that money he made from Indian oil, but first I want to tell you about comfort and care we veterans received here in Oklahoma. First Class! This because everyone chipped right in, to help all of us old fellows enjoyed the moment. Wives and companions 'of the weaker sex' picked-up on Doris and her efforts. Yes sir, they did. A definite word of appreciation goes to Doris Holler and Mr. Paul Dunn (of Pinehurst, NC) for their fine work at alerting the media of the USS RICH Survivors Reunion being in Bartlesville. Doris handled the local newspaper and radio coverage, as well as telling Joe Todd of the Eisenhower Library that WW-II Veterans were coming.. Mr. Dunn alerted the Governor's Office and the Mayor of Bartlesville. The proclamation sent by the Oklahoma Governors Office is impressive... expressing appreciation for what the USS RICH did in the Normandy invasion... and for freedom in general. Mayor Julie Daniels of Bartlesville presented us with a Bartlesville Proclamation at the banquet. During the Bartlesville Council Meeting on Monday (6-5-06), Mayor Daniels proclaimed the day in honor of the crew of the USS RICH.

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.*

It should be mentioned that the local radio station had done a telephone interview with Doris (Holler) before the Reunion. They put together an informative three minute blurb to be on the air while we were in Bartlesville. Doris says that she has been called by several friends of hers since then... about the radio interview they heard. The TULSA WORLD put a very good article about us in its Sunday issue. Thanks to Doris... the local media were really aware of us being in the area. I am pleased and proud that we held our meeting in Oklahoma. Wished each of you could have been there with us.

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.

Chief Zunigha talked about the history of the Delaware people and their travails with recognition as the Delaware Nation. He skillfully related appreciation of the Indian Warrior (by the Delaware Nation) with appreciation for the WW-II Veterans (by the US citizens). Apparently the Delaware Nation has lost its sovereignty to the Cherokee Nation for some reason. If it is political, it has to do with money. Mother's milk, you know. Seems the Cherokee were already banished to Oklahoma, when the Delaware were moved into the area. I don't understand the problem, but I am sure they will sort-out the answer before long. Those Indians are smart people.

The 8th is a special day for us survivors, you know. Doris took us by Chief Holler's grave where we added a Red- White-&-Blue silk flower arrangement, adorned with a USS RICH ribbon. The morning was bright with a cooling breeze. As we stood there in the quiet, Doris suggested that some of us might say a few words of our memory of Raymond... how he had touched our lives. Said she knew he was listening. Wished I could remember what everybody said, but I can't. I did agree with all of it, though. Oh yes, a local newspaper columnist, Buffalo Dale, found us at the cemetery. I did not get his full name, but his column is "Around Town with the Original Buffalo Dale". He was an interesting character. His story is enclosed. After the cemetery visit, Doris took us by Chief's house for a last tour of his "personal museum". It was thoughtful that the furnishings were kept 'intact' for us shipmates. We got to see "first hand" the things we have read about... and heard about. Roy (Hudson) was taken by the mud-brick from the 1250 BC Zigrat somewhere in Iran. Sims and I tried to figure-out that used-oil-heating-system Chief had rigged for his living room. Clever! The brass wall hangings, the Mecca Rug, the hand-carved furniture, the iron-wood figurines, the railroad mementos, and the Queen's Bed all had a "story" and prominent place in Chief's life.

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:

Ken Tate, a retired ,truck driver, decided to create a small town of the late 1800s on the Miller Ranch... in which to preserve all the old equipment, furniture, medical equipment, whatever... that he and wife (Marilyn) could find. They noted (correctly) that turn-of-century farm equipment, tools, and furniture were being discarded or auctioned off in the surrounding towns and ranches. They decided to build an authentic prairie town to collect and display the history of their father and grandfather. Excellent idea. The buildings constructed in Prairie Song are to scale and built as they would have been at the turn or the 20th century (i.e. 1900) manner as in the old days. Ken does the work himself with hired help. Unbelievable! He just finished the bank, which has three-brick-thick walls... as in the 1890s. It is furnished with an authentic banker's counter and a vault taken from an old bank. He is presently (while we were there) working on a warehouse... next door to the bank. Said he has been working on Prairie Song for 23 years and that he is 72 years old now. He shows no signs of slowing down.

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 afternoon of the first day Doris (Holler) took us for a tour of the Price Tower. (Having three beautiful ladies named "Doris" with us, I can't just say "Doris".) Here is another situation that puzzled me... until I talked to Sims about it, that is. Here goes. Frank Lloyd Wright had the "idea" for a self-contained skyscraper in the late '20s, but could not find anyone with enough money to fund his "idea" until the late 1940s. Then, he found somebody with enough money, Harold C. Price, to finance his "imagined skyscraper". Surely you have heard about Frank Lloyd Wright since kindergarten, but H. C. Price needs a little explanation. Pay attention... Around the turn of the century (20th century, i.e. 1900), Price was a chemist/arch welder, who migrated to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma because of the zinc mines there. When the Anna Anderson well blew in 1905, Price saw the need for oil pipes. Like the true entrepreneur, he borrowed $2500, and by 1950 he had more than enough money to humor Frank Lloyd Wright and his silly skyscraper idea.

Price was a smart guy (chemist, remember) and developed a pipe coating to increase the useful life of buried-pipes by a factor of four, so he also buried his competition... you might say. Anyway, by the late '40s he needed an office from which to track of his various pipe companies, who were working all around the world. The "Price Tower" was interesting and has a good story, but is no longer the tallest building in Bartlesville. Phillips Petroleum took care of that with a couple of office buildings of their own. To its credit... Price Tower is the only skyscraper ever built by Frank Lloyd Wright. It "is" a self-contained building with restaurants, offices, shopping, commercial, and living spaces. It is built like a tree (Wright copies nature) with center trunk, growing smaller towards the top, and having cantilevered branches (floors). Wright took the triangle-idea to the extreme in his tower. (He designed the closets, furniture, and lighting as triangles.) Even objected to a "round" globe that Price wanted in his office to track his people. They had to hoist the globe to Price's office with a crane, because Wright had shrunk the elevator too much to transport the globe to the 19th floor. You know, "tree gets smaller towards the top". When I build my skyscraper, it will be an upside-down Christmas Tree... with the pointy end in the ground! Remember... you heard it here first.

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:

"Those of us who have been more fortunate have a debt to society which I believe can best be paid by training and educating the youth of the nation. I dedicate this museum to the boys and girls of today - the fathers and mothers of tomorrow. May they profit by a knowledge of man's past and be enabled to plan and live a happier future."
- Frank Phillips

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.

Sorry for carrying on so long. But, there was so much to cover, and we had such a grand time in Oklahoma (thank you Doris). I just had to tell you about everything I could remember. You know how it is when Sims and I get together. Just can't shut him up. With that, I had better stop.


M. H. Green
Guy Rich - Frances Livesay

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