Monday, January 30, 2012

U.S. Senator from Oklahoma

Sent to The Frederick Press Leader, January 30, 2012
Sen. Thomas Gore of Oklahoma, 1908 (Photo from Library of Congress)

Thomas Gore represented Oklahoma
One of the most important and interesting figures in early Oklahoma was Thomas Gore.
Born in Mississippi in 1870, Gore came to Lawton, Oklahoma Territory, in 1901 when the area was opened to settlement through land lottery on August 6, 1901.
He had earned a law degree prior to his arrival in Oklahoma, and he was a practicing lawyer with a keen interest in politics. Two things, though, that set him apart from other early Territorial leaders were his powerful abilities as an orator and his blindness. Gore had been blinded as a boy, but never let his lack of eyesight stand in the way of his goals or accomplishments.
His wife Nina, who he had married in Texas in 1900, was said to serve as his eyes.
In 1903 Gore was elected to the Oklahoma Territorial Council, the Territory’s governing body. He served as a member of the pre-statehood council until 1905.
When Oklahoma was admitted to the Union in 1907, Thomas Gore ran for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. He was elected and served as one of the new state’s first two U.S. Senators.
U.S. Senate, 1907-1921
Gore was a Populist Democrat, representing the interests of the common man against many big business interests. He supported the causes of farmers and Native Americans, and fought railroad monopolies.
He won re-election to his Senate post in 1908 and again in 1914. He was a good friend and trusted political ally of Woodrow Wilson who became President in 1913. He served on the Democratic National Committee from 1912 to 1916, helping Wilson with a sweeping reorganization of the party. He turned down the offer of a presidential cabinet position in the Wilson Administration to keep his U.S. Senate seat from Oklahoma.
Gore almost always voted in support of President Wilson’s New Freedom agenda, which included establishment of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Trade Commission, and women’s suffrage.
In the spring of 1913 Gore was appointed as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, a position that he cherished. He also served on the Senate Finance Committee, the Committee on Railroads, the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Commission to Investigate and Study Rural Credits and Agricultural Cooperative Organizations in European Countries. That study led to legislation that established a system of privately controlled land banks that would operate under federal charter.

Gore was the first blind man to serve in the U.S. Senate. Members of the opposition party tried to trick him into signing legislation that was against his own interests, but he often tricked them in return. Because he was shrewd, a powerful orator, and he represented the western state of Oklahoma, the news media often referred to Gore as “The Blind Cowboy”. 

As the nation moved toward involvement in World War I, Gore’s close friendship and working relationship with President Wilson ended. Gore was an isolationist and opposed American involvement in the war. As such, he opposed almost all of the Wilson Administration’s war legislation.

He also spoke against the Selective Service Act of 1917, legislation that created the “draft” or conscription of men to serve in the war. This first “draft” was in place from 1917 until 1920, giving the President the right to conscript men for the war effort. 

Gore’s anti-war position was not popular in Oklahoma and he was defeated for re-election in 1920. 
After he lost his Senate seat, Gore practiced law in Washington, D.C. In 1930, though, he ran again for the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma. This time he tied his campaign to the “Cheese and Crackers” campaign of populist Governor “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, and he was re-elected to the Senate.
Sen. Thomas Gore, 1929 (photo, Library of Congress)
U.S. Senate, 1931-1937
Back in the U.S. Senate during the Great Depression, Gore campaigned for Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and he was an early supporter of FDR’s sweeping “New Deal” legislation.

That soon changed, though, when Gore feuded with the President and chose to oppose most of Roosevelt’s popular New Deal policies, including the Works Progress Administration that funded public works jobs and projects during the Depression. His reason? He opposed the use of tax dollars to create jobs. He wrote to the WPA’s supporters that “The dole spoils the soul.” His was the lone Democrat vote against funding the WPA. 

FDR’s New Deal programs were enormously popular in Depression-era Oklahoma. When Gore opposed the New Deal, Oklahoma newspaper editorials attacked him and citizens booed him at campaign rallies.

In 1936 Gore was defeated in the Oklahoma Democratic primary, losing his party’s nomination to Congressman Joshua B. Lee who succeeded him in the Senate. 

Gore left the Senate in January 1937, and practiced law in Washington, D.C. until his death in 1949. He is buried at Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City.

Thomas Gore was an interesting character. He loved the state of Oklahoma and he worked to represent the interests of many common Oklahomans. He was staunch in his beliefs, though, even when those beliefs were not popular with voters or his political peers. 

Gore Boulevard in Lawton is named for Thomas Gore.

Senator Gore was the grandfather of the famous intellectual pundit and author Gore Vidal.
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Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1910 Ads featured Abernathys

Sent to The Frederick Press and The Frederick Leader, January 22, 2012

Brush Auto Company ads featured Abernathy Boys
For most folks who visit the Pioneer Townsite Museum in Frederick, the museum’s star feature is its 1910 Brush Runabout automobile. The car is an authentic, restored Brush just like one that was driven by Louis and Temple Abernathy from New York City to Oklahoma in 1910.
Pioneer Townsite Museum's 1910 Brush Runabout
The Brush is an early car that few modern-day folks know much about. The Brush Automobile Company manufactured cars from 1906 to 1912. The cars were made in Detroit, and came in several models, including a truck and a “closed cabin” car. The most popular model, though, was the small open-air Runabout.
It’s difficult for us to imagine today how the adventures of two Tillman County boys, Louis and Temple Abernathy, captured the nation in 1910. Beginning in April 1910, the news media of the day followed their trip on horseback from the family ranch west of Frederick to New York City. In New York, they were greeted by masses of people and given a place of prominence in the huge June 1910 tickertape parade that honored Theodore Roosevelt.
Their trip home to Oklahoma in a Brush automobile, though, was not only covered in newspapers, but also trumpeted in Brush advertising of the day.
A wonderful website ( dedicated to the Brush automobile is operated by Charles Stokes. The site contains photos, many old advertisements, a Brush owner’s manual, and a lot of Brush memorabilia. It also contains a brief account of the Abernathy boys’ adventures.
Stokes has shared numerous vintage ads with the Tillman County Historical Society, including the above advertisement from 1910 that includes a drawing of the Abernathy boys with their Brush and an offer from “Uncle Ben – the Auto Man” to give away a free Brush to some other lucky boys (There is no word on whether any cars were actually given away).
Most Brush Runabouts were one-cylinder and delivered 6 to 10 horsepower. The Brush website describes the car’s mechanics as follows: “The Runabout had a wooden frame and axles that were designed to attain a lower vehicle weight and a lower cost of production. Rear wheels were connected to the transmission by sprockets and chains. The transmission was a planetary type, with two gears forward and one reverse.”
Top speed for most Runabouts was about 25 miles an hour – plenty fast, considering that there were few paved roads! The Brush was known for being able to climb well and its ability to handle mud well.
It is estimated that as many as 10,000 Brushes may have been manufactured, and about 200 are thought to exist today.
Another Brush Automobile Company ad, circa 1910, bragged about the many endurance victories of the Brush, including the Abernathy boys’ trip. The ad's text, in more readable form, is after the ad:
1910 ad touted Abernathy boys' trip and other Brush points of pride.
The Abernathy Kids

In 1908 one of our early models crossed the continent. The same car climbed Pike’s Peak in eight hours, every foot of the way under its own power. The brush won the Algonquin Hill Climb in its class the same year.
In 1909 a Brush stock car successfully negotiated the Glidden Tour of 2,438 miles in fifteen days. Many of the large cars, for which this tour was designed, failed to finish.
In the little Glidden Tour at Minneapolis the following month, the Brush won the St. Paul Dispatch Trophy in open competition with more than twenty cars ranging in price from $750 to $5,600. This route was almost 600 miles over sandy prairie trails.
The Brush also made a record of 40.6 miles on one gallon of gasoline in the Economy Fuel Contest run under the auspices of the New York Automobile Dealers’ Association the same year.
In 1910 the “Abernathy kids” Louis and Temple, nine and six years old respectively, drove a Brush Runabout from New York City to their home in Oklahoma City. You probably remember these youngsters, who rode broncos from their father’s ranch in Oklahoma to New York to meet Colonel Roosevelt on his return from Africa.
The father of the boys chose a Brush for the trip, because it was the only car he could find which was simple enough for the youngsters to understand and handle.
No race, no tour, no endurance run ever meant so much to the prospective buyer of a motor car, as the feat of these boys driving the Brush more than 2,500 miles.
In the Mumsey Historic Tour, the principal endurance contest of the East in 1910, the Brush finished with a perfect score and won the trophy in its class. The route covered 1,550 miles over all kinds of roads from the boulevards of New Jersey to the rough mountain roads of Pennsylvania.
The same year, the Brush again won the Algonquin Hill Climb in its class.
To those who know the capabilities of the Brush, there is nothing unusual about its remarkable performances. The Brush has been performing seemingly impossible feats ever since it has been on the market. These public achievements are all of vital importance to the prospective motor-car buyer. They conclusively demonstrate the features which prove the value of a motor car – simplicity, endurance, economy, dependability.
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Special thanks to Charles Stokes and for permission to use vintage advertising and information from the site.
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grandfield doctor

January 17, 2012
Early medical advertisement

Dr. Fuqua cared for Grandfield
Dr. W.A. Fuqua served the medical needs of the people of Grandfield for decades.
When Vol. II of The History of Tillman County was published in 1978, the late Vera Colyer of Grandfield wrote an account of Dr. Fuqua’s devotion to medicine and the Grandfield community.
The eastern part of Tillman County, part of the 488,000-acre Big Pasture, was opened to settlement by sealed bid in 1906, the last major Oklahoma Territory land opening. W.A. Fuqua and his wife Bessie settled on a farm ten miles west of Grandfield, and they also established a drug store on their farm.
Fuqua wanted to be a doctor, so attended the University of Oklahoma to study toward that goal, while his wife remained at home to operate the farm and store. He then attended medical school and completed a residency at Tulane University in New Orleans.
With his medical education complete, he returned to the Tillman County farm and practiced as a country doctor.
Oil development was big business in the Grandfield area in the decades after settlement. Dr. Fuqua’s successful investment in oil interests allowed him to acquire the capital to build his dream – a hospital in Grandfield.
In the years prior to 1920 Fuqua formed a partnership with Dr. Harper Wright and Dr. H.C. Harris, and they built the three-story Grandfield Hospital at 211 South Simpson. The fourteen-bed hospital had an operating room on the third floor and a living quarters for the Fuqua family.
Bessie Fuqua worked with her husband as a nurse at the hospital.
The three doctors eventually dissolved their partnership. Dr. Harris left to work in veterans’ hospitals. Some years later Dr. Wright moved his practice to Oklahoma City.
Dr. Fuqua continued his surgical and medical practice in Grandfield, serving many families with his medical knowledge and his surgical skill.
Dr. O.J. Box was associated with Dr. Fuqua for many years before starting his own medical practice in Grandfield. Dr. Box eventually left Grandfield to work with the Veterans’ Administration.
Dr. Fuqua loved Grandfield and invested heavily in real estate and business interests in the city and the Grandfield area. He also served as the mayor of Grandfield and was active in many community affairs.
He mentored many young people and provided financial assistance to help numerous Grandfield youth to continue their education beyond high school.
On the death of his wife Bessie, Dr. Fuqua married Evelyn Parris.
Writing of Dr. Fuqua, Vera Colyer said that he “was a successful physician-surgeon at work, a farmer, financier, and philanthropist who operated a hospital-surgical service with a great talent and love for humanity.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Replica Rail Car Giveaway

A replica of the Pioneer Townsite Museum's Frisco caboose will be given away in the Tillman County Historical Society's annual building reproduction raffle. The replica, pictured above, is mounted on trailer wheels which are not part of the prize. The caboose will be delivered free to a site within in Tillman County. Delivery to any site outside the county will be by special arrangement.
Caboose Replica Raffle Underway
Want to own your own private “railroad car”?
This may be your chance.
That’s because the Tillman County Historical Society has picked the Frisco caboose that is on permanent display at its Pioneer Townsite Museum in Frederick as this year’s replica reproduction building for raffle.
Tickets are $5 each or five for $20 and may be purchased from any historical society board member, the museum, the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, or several area businesses.
The winning ticket will be drawn during the historical society’s 2012 annual meeting in April.
The caboose replica, made of wood construction in a smaller scale than the original, will be a perfect children’s playhouse or one-of-a-kind backyard storage building. It is red and white with the Frisco logo painted in black, and measures approximately 10 feet in length, 6 feet wide, and 10 feet tall. It is designed as a stationary building.
The replica was built by museum director Jimmy Espinosa with assistance from Oklahoma Department of Corrections inmates from the Frederick Work Release Center who are assigned to work at the museum site.
Materials for construction of the caboose were purchased by the historical society from area merchants.
Numerous businesses have also supported the project by signing on as sponsors. The sponsor list is still growing but will be publicized by the historical society when the list is final. Signs listing sponsors have been attached to the caboose replica during the raffle period.
The choosing of a museum attraction for construction of a raffle replica is a historical society tradition. In past years, the historical society has raffled reproductions of the museum’s Horse Creek School, AME Church, red barn, and Frisco Depot.
The annual building replica raffle is the historical society’s most important fundraising project, with all proceeds to be used for the Pioneer Townsite Museum’s operational expenses. These expenses include utilities and upkeep of the townsite’s historical structures.
The reproduction buildings are usually constructed in the fall and raffles are conducted at Christmastime. This year, though, the caboose construction was completed much later than normal, just in time for an appearance in the December 15 Frederick Christmas parade. This year’s raffle period has therefore been scheduled to run through April, with the winning ticket to be drawn at the historical society’s annual meeting.
The caboose replica can be seen at the Pioneer Townsite Museum, and will be exhibited periodically at numerous sites and businesses throughout Frederick.
Locations where tickets are available include the following: BancFirst in Frederick; First National Bank in Frederick; KC’s Gift Store; Box, Inc.; Tillco Supply; Frederick ACE Hardware; The Frederick Chamber of Commerce; and The Pioneer Townsite Museum.
In Tipton, tickets may be purchased at Southwest Rural Electric Cooperative.
The following members of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors also have tickets for sale: Merle Atkins, Jack Bohl, Cacy Caldwell, Su Clifton, Frances Goodknight, Dena Northcutt, Jay Oxford, Roy Perkins, Cathy Riggins, Jim Smith, Kent Smith, Gary Tyler, Virginia Walker, and Joe Wynn.
Information about the caboose project or tickets is available at the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, 580-335-2126, or by mail: Tillman County Historical Society, P.O. Box 833, Frederick, OK 73542.

Monday, January 2, 2012

1952 Remembered

Sent to The Frederick Press and The Frederick Leader, January 2, 2012

The Reynolds Building which housed Frederick's C.R. Anthony Store at 100 West Grand was damaged by a major fire in spring 1952. Rebuilding took months but Anthony's was able to move back into the rebuilt site by the end of the year. Second-story businesses, though, were displaced permanently by the fire.
Remember When… 1952
Thirty years ago, in 1982, the Frederick Arts and Humanities Council hosted a community-wide celebration called “Remember When… 1952” Planned around the annual art festival, it involved numerous community activities, a 1952 map of downtown Frederick businesses, and a Saturday night street dance.
I was on the Arts Council board in those days, and 1952 was selected as a year to celebrate and recall because, at 30 years past, it was three decades distant but near enough that many folks could remember.
I wrote a column for the “Remember When… 1952” circular. I ran across that 1982 article recently while sorting through old files, and I realized with a jolt that 1982, the year of our 1952 observance, is NOW 30 years in the past!
It seems appropriate to recap “Remember When… 1952” with a couple of columns from that 1982 circular – mine and a special “Mumbles from Left Field” column that was written for the occasion by longtime Frederick School superintendent Prather Brown. In 1982 Prather had retired as superintendent but he was writer of a weekly newspaper column.
This week in “Tillman County Chronicles” here is my “Do You Remember 1952?” column that was written 30 years ago. Next week, “Chronicles” will feature Prather Brown’s column from the 1982 event circular.

Written by Joe Wynn in 1982
It was a busy time for Frederick and Tillman County.

The year 1952 marked Frederick’s fiftieth birthday, and the special time was observed on May 5, 6, and 7 of that year with a city-wide Golden Jubilee celebration.

1952 also saw several important new construction projects.

Frederick’s First Baptist Church was building a new education facility, and the First Christian congregation was planning a new building.

Wade Watson showed a 1952 Chevrolet Bel Air at the county fair.
The Frederick School District took bids for building of the Boyd High School complex, and construction also began on the Tillman County Memorial Hospital in north Frederick.

Downtown, the Southwestern States Telephone Company office on North Ninth Street was constructed, and Hotel Frederick was extensively remodeled.

A fire in the Reynolds Building (Anthony’s in 1952 and 1982; Cole Pest Control in 2012) caused extensive damage in the spring of 1952, forcing the permanent relocation of numerous second-floor businesses, and extended shutdown of the Anthony’s store. Repairs were completed prior to the end of the year.

Numerous housing developments were under construction in various parts of the city.

The summer of 1952 was dry and hot. Tillman County farmers spent long days searching the skies for rain clouds, but there were few. The summer was the driest on record for Oklahoma at that time.

Median income in the early fifties (based on 1950 data) was $2,457 for city workers, and $1,466 for farmers).

Less than two percent of the population made more than $10,000 annually, and only one of every four women worked outside the home.

The largest 1952 taxpayers in Tillman County were the Katy and Frisco Railroads.

The county boasted 308 business concerns in July of that year: 10 apparel businesses; 67 general mercantile stores; six furniture stores; 57 motor vehicle businesses; 11 lumber yards; and 112 food concerns.

The Tillman County Free Fair was, as always, a big event.

U.S. Senator Robert Kerr was on hand to speak at the 1952 county fair, which was also highlighted by a barbeque in honor of Korean War veterans and their families.

Appearing in person at the 1952 fair were the Merit Feed Serenaders, as well as Dixie Boy Jordan with the Bill Mack Western Dance Band.

Prather Brown was beginning his tenure as superintendent of the Frederick Public Schools which employed a total of 47 teachers.

The Frederick High School building was new in 1952. Principal at the high school was Francy Young.

Valedictorian of the FHS Class of 1952 was Barbara Dixon Hurst. Delores Fondren was salutatorian.

Frederick’s telephone services were provided by the Southwestern States Telephone Company. Dial telephones had not come into use, and everyone was on a party line. It was during 1952 that Southwestern States’ telephone rates were raised from $2.50 a month to an ‘exorbitant’ $4.00.

1952 marked the fiftieth anniversary of both the First Baptist Church and the First Methodist Church. It was in late 1952 that the Bible Baptist Church was organized.

Local folks were still listening to the radio, but the wonder of television was on the horizon.

Channel 7 in Lawton began broadcasting in December 1952 and KFDX Channel 3 in Wichita Falls was set to begin operation in March 1953.

Hullenders in downtown Frederick advertised a 21-inch Hoffman Console TV (black-and-white variety, of course) for $409.95.

In retrospect, times were simpler in 1952. Neighbors visited more often on front porches, Saturday night shopping downtown was a real event, and the decade ahead offered great promise.”

And... Prather Brown's take on 1952
       Prather Brown served as superintendent of Frederick Schools from 1952 until his retirement in 1973. Prior to becoming superintendent, he served for many years as principal at Frederick High School.
      Following his retirement, he wrote a weekly column called "Mumbles from Left Field" for The Frederick Daily Leader.
Following is the related column that Prather Brown wrote in 1982 for the "Remember When... 1952" circular.
Thirty Years Ago (1952)
Written by Prather Brown in 1982
Connoisseurs of wine are aware that certain years produce better wines than others.
They speak of those good years as ‘vintage’ years, and I suppose a jug of the grape produced in a ‘vintage’ year would be a tad higher in price than a ‘non-vintage’ year jug.
One of the directors of the September 25th Arts Festival asked me, “Was 1952 in Frederick a vintage year?”
You see, the Festival has adopted the year 1952 as the basis for a “30 years ago” theme for publicity and comparison with the way we (those of  us who were around at the time) lived then and now.
My reply to his question was, “How do I know. I was just a lad at the time and, anyway, my memory machine timing gear has slipped a notch or two.”
So, to jog the brain cells, I researched the Frederick Leader files and found some rather startling news in the 1952 papers.
Some of the mature housewives are going to weep silently at these grocery prices.
Miracle Whip, 47 cents; 50 lbs. potatoes, $1.49; pork chops, 49 cents; hams, 29 cents; tuna, 25 cents; Treet, 43 cents; porterhouse steak, 59 cents; 10 lbs. sugar, 96 cents; Hershey bars, six for 25 cents; 1 quart strawberry preserves, 49 cents; Jello, five cents; salmon, 39 cents; yams, 13 cents.
Roblee shoes? $14.94.
Stetson hat? $10.
Corduroy coats were priced at $9.90; gabardine topcoats, $19.75.
A kitchen range plus chrome dinette, $149.50.
And so it went – prices that seem to be ridiculously low.
Trouble was – salaries were also low.
Fully qualified and experienced school teachers were paid $2,800 annual salary.
The high school principal received $425 per month and I can vouch for this.
I was the high school principal.
Frederick football in 1952?
“Boyd High School 99, Duncan Dragons 0.
’The Wildcats took a 40-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and the last two quarters were shortened to five minutes each by mutual agreement.’
Bombers 13, Altus 6!
Yards gained: Bombers 373, Altus 155.
Was 1952 a vintage year?
I can only say that the world hasn’t changed to much.
We were engaged in the Korean War to stall communism at the 38th parallel.
In November 1952 the Republicans elected their first President since the election of 1928.
In 1952, television was in its infancy – I saw no television ads in my research.
Tillman County cotton crops?
Well, we planted 129,000 acres and ginned 23,300 bales – so one can see that grocery and clothing prices were not considered so low by a cotton farmer.
1952-1982. Thirty years of unbelievable progress in medicine, science and entertainment.
I reiterate – I don’t remember too much about 1952.
I do, however, recall that “The Gong Show”, TV soap operas, and Cosell had not year been heard on national television.
And that was a blessing, indeed!
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Joe Wynn prepares "Tillman County Chronicles" weekly for The Frederick Leader, The Frederick Press, and for online posting. He is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors.