“Driving Miss Daisy,” an award-winning movie from 1989, chronicled the relationship of a chauffeur and his elderly woman passenger over a period of many years.
The Oklahoma version played out over several months in 1910, and it was a story of young love.
In the early days of the automobile, people would often take a touring car and see the country. Twenty-year-old George Gibson came to Oklahoma from California chauffeuring a group on their way to Memphis, Tenn. In Oklahoma City, the group was entertained at a banquet at the Chamber of Commerce and it was there George saw Helen Adkins, the young (16-year-0ld) daughter of city attorney Charles Adkins, who was making her society debut.
Picking up the story from The Oklahoman, Feb. 8, 1910: “His first glimpse of her satisfied him that she was the only girl he could ever love, he says, and as a result he turned the touring party over to another man, and remained in Oklahoma City. For several weeks he showered his attentions on the girl, meanwhile casting about for some employment.”
“Then the girl’s mother, liking the young fellow’s looks, offered him a position as driver of her new automobile. The position was accepted. Constantly thrown with Gibson in drives, and in other ways, the girl lost her heart to him, but her father, when approached on the subject of the couple’s marriage would not hear of it.” (No doubt saying they were much too young.)
But love would not be denied, so the couple took the train to Guthrie, lied about their ages to get a license and were married before a justice of the peace. (Legal age was 21 for men and 18 for women.)
“Still fearful of her father’s anger, and desiring to pacify him before seeing him, the girl called up from Guthrie and telling her father what had been done, asked whether or not she should return home. Hiding his surprise and anger, he told her to come home …”
Then, her father called the police and told them his daughter had been abducted and was on the Guthrie train with her abductor. The police were waiting and took George to the police station, where he was met by a deputy and promptly taken to the county jail.
“Before he had been in jail an hour, Adkins called over the telephone, requesting his release. Shortly after, the pretty young wife appeared, and with tear-stained face, waited, while Jailer Skaggs tried to get County Attorney Reardon by the telephone to have him approve the release. Finally, she drove to the county attorney’s house, roused him from bed and got him to telephone the necessary order to the jail. Gibson was released shortly after midnight, and with his wife and mother-in-law, drove away.”
I checked the newspaper archive to see if our couple lived happily ever after and I was disappointed to find The Oklahoman for Sept. 15, 1911, announcing “LOVE DREAM ENDS.”
“Less than two years ago, Oklahoma City society was astounded to hear that pretty little Miss Helen L. Adkins, daughter of Charles H. Adkins, one of the city’s prominent attorneys, had eloped with George W. Gibson, a young man from California, who was acting as her father’s chauffeur. Now Love’s young dream has ended, for suit was filed in superior court Thursday, asking that the marriage be annuled, as neither of the parties were of legal age at the time.”
The story continues: “For a while the little society miss found a chauffeur charming as a lover, yet it was a different proposition to depend on him for a living and love at the same time.”
George was last seen in Nebraska.
– Mary Phillips
Take a good look at the state Capitol building and on each of the eight corners of the roof, you will find a winged lion.
A photograph in The Oklahoman, Jan 29, 1928, tells the story of twolions that were not destined for the Capitol roof but instead found their way to the front yard of a house in the Harndale addition of Oklahoma City.
“They stand in the front yard of the oldest house in the addition, a small Spanish type home once occupied by an official of the State Capitol Building company.”
“Early in 1917, the capitol was nearing completion. About that time an anti-British movement got afoot … Objection to the lions was voiced on the grounds that they savored of King George V or perhaps Richard the Lion Hearted. Consequently two of the brutes were spared a domeless home.”
From a June 18, 1962, story we get a slightly different story of how the lions arrived in Harndale.
In 1914, when architects Solomon Layton and his partner S. Wemyes Smith were drawing up designs for the Capitol, Smith came up with the idea of having British lions perched on the Capitol.
They were made of concrete, and when they arrived, two were flawed.
Here, the story becomes a mystery as the twolions were placed at Classen Drivenear NW 14. There, they guarded the Harnsdale neighborhood for more than 40 years.
The Harnsdale addition was developed by early day attorney and developerWilliam Fremont Harn. It was Harn who donated the land where the Capitol now stands, and possibly he was given or sold the lions in appreciation of his donation.
Regardless of how they arrived, in 1962 the Harnsdale lions were offered for sale by the executor of the estate for “$2000 and the equipment to carry off the one-ton statues.”
I searched The Oklahoman’s archives, but have yet to find who purchased the lions and where they are now.
If anyone knows, e-mail me at email@example.com or give me call me at (405) 475-3695.
It was a plaintive plea in The Oklahoman on Sept. 2, 1908, that caught my eye:
“Prohibition has not stopped drunkenness up to this date and if we must have drunkenness, let’s try to confine it to the men and let the fishes at least die sober.”
Whit M. Grant, Oklahoma City’s first mayor under the commission form of government, was complaining about illegal, confiscated beer being dumped in the streets and allowed to flow down the sewers and into the river.
“Intoxicated inhabitants of the North Canadian kept citizens of Spencer busy, following the Moss beer spilling according to Mr. Grant, who returned from there yesterday. Rendered helpless by the brew in the river, hundreds of fish were taken without difficulty. One catfish captured weighed 90 pounds, according to Mr. Grant, who says:
“About the middle of last week another prohibition slump was made into the sewers from the Moss brewery; and following it up , on Friday, from about 10 o’clock in the morning until about 2 in the afternoon the river, for at least three miles this side of Spencer and on below as far as heard from, was full of drunken fish, they may have appeared in other places—I have not heard. They would swim around, some on their sides and some with their backs partly out of the water, butting against logs and other obstructions in the river and into the banks, some helpless and heedless of the approach of human beings, while others probably not quite so drunk made some effort to get out of the way when approached. Their behavior was infact not much different from a bunch of drunken men.”
“The people in and about Spencer took advantage of the situation and captured great numbers of fish and after keeping them in fresh water for a time revived them and they got as active as they ever had been, and were eaten. They had no bad flavor or unusual taste–in fact they were good to eat, at all events many ate them and no bad effects have been reported.”
However, the article goes on to report that many fish were found dead along the river and it was attributed to the beer in the water. Mr. Grant went on to say:
“I am positive that there is over a ton of dead fish in the river between this city and Spencer. Such destruction of food fishes is an outrage on the people entitled to them and a disgrace to the parties responsible for it.”
He expressed hope that such a thing would not happen again.
I did not find any more mention of “spilling” beer in Oklahoma City, but in 1909 I came across an article where the confiscated liquor was being sold to Kansas, so the city found a way to profit from the beer.
The headline in The Oklahoman for Sept. 20, 1959, read: “Notorious Bank Bandit Dies,” and the story led with: “A 58-year-old man, virtually forgotten by society for 23 years died Saturday in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan. His death brought back the notoriety he had outlived.”
Frank Delmar, a convicted murderer and possible associate of Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, earned the dubious honor of being the first man arrested by the FBI for bank robbery. If he and his fellow bank robbers had robbed the People’s National Bank of Kingfisher 23 days earlier, it would have still been a crime prosecuted under state law, but President Franklin Roosevelt had signed a bill into law making the robbery of a national bank, a federal offense.
Delmar and seven others had escaped the prison at Lansing, Kan., on Jan. 19, 1934. On May 31, Frank Delmar and three other escapees robbed the People’s National Bank of Kingfisher of $3,000. The bank robbers took four bank employees hostage but released them unharmed.
On Aug. 12, 1934, Frank Delmar was arrested near Claremore by two federal agents. He was tried for his crimes and could have received the death penalty because of the kidnapping of the bank employees, but he received a sentence of 99 years in the federal prison at Leavenworth.
He remained in prison for 23 years until his death Sept. 19, 1959.
The newspaper article, which served as his obituary, said: “He entered the federal prison immediately, and virtually dropped from the eyes of society.” For the 23 years he was in prison, Delmar “never wrote a letter, never received one, and never had a visitor. He had no known relatives.”
The article ended with the statement: “And Saturday, his death closed the book. It marked the severing of another link with the wild days of gangsterism for the entire midwest.”