Here’s a story from The Oklahoman on Nov. 5, 1927, that begins with a life lesson.
“You can never tell what a tremendous bearing a sweet smile and a gentle disposition may have on your entire career.
“Consider for example, the case of Rex, the little brown guinea pig in the city chemist’s office, named after Rex Cleveland, city pure food inspector.
“Several weeks ago when ten little guinea pigs, the world’s most helpless animals, arrived at the chemist’s office Rex immediately showed signs of being friendly. While the other little pigs would scurry away in high terror when anyone approached their box, Rex plainly showed he was not afraid. He would walk boldly up and eat lettuce out of your hand, and he let it be known if you wanted to rub him behind the ears, it was alright with him. In fact he liked it.
“As a result, no diphtheria tests have been made upon Rex. While his little playmates suffer with sore throats and have high fevers, as result of inoculations, Rex just scampers about as happy as he can be, doing nothing all day but stuffing his little stomach with nice fresh lettuce and getting his ears rubbed.
“And that isn’t all. Employees of the chemist’s office have interceded for Rex, and he is soon to be taken to the city zoo where he will have a comfortable home for the rest of his life.
“Now, the moral is, if you’re a guinea pig, be a sweet little guinea pig.”
There was a follow-up on Dec. 17, 1927, reporting the arrival of Rex and two fellow guinea pigs at the zoo, with the note that they would soon be on display in a cage made especially for them.
Guinea pigs normally live four to eight years. There was no further mention of Rex, but we can guess he spent the rest of his life with fresh lettuce and a scratch behind the ears. Not a bad life at all.
If motorists whizzing along NW 39 Street look on the south side of the 2600 block, they will see the YWCA Gaylord Service Complex.
But imagine traveling in a time machine back to 1924. That same stretch of highway would be only a two-lane road, and where the YWCA sits now, there might have been only a grand opening sign with a family park for a backdrop.
The formal opening of Log Cabin Park was announced in an advertisement in The Oklahoman on April 19, 1924, touting the park as “a paradise for tourists.”
Another ad encouraged readers to come out to “this close-in Tourist Park” and listed the availability of gasoline, oil and tires from the station and touted the “Log Cabin Inn — We’re going to make it worth your while.”
An image that accompanied the ad shows a two-story log building with an awning that extends over gas pumps.
The park featured a free baseball game on Sunday, political speaking Tuesday evening by Democratic candidates and offered free ice cold lemonade all day every Sunday.
By September, the ads were featuring a cafe and a promotion that read, “You can eat our wholesome meals or cook yourself. The kids can romp and play and yell their heads off.”
For more than a decade, Log Cabin Park was a destination for Sunday drives and a popular spot for company picnics. In the 1930s, boxers trained in the Log Cabin ring. If you didn’t have a car, the street cars would take you there.
Times changed, and the Log Cabin Inn gave way to the Log Cabin Theater in 1941. It was Oklahoma City’s movie theater of choice for artsy movies, although it showed regular fare, too.
In April 1950, the theater name was changed to the Frontier, and it continued showing movies until it burned in 1954.
The land changed hands, and the Rio Motel was built on the site in 1957.
In 1988, the YWCA bought the old motel and remodeled it for their battered women’s shelter.
The site at 2640 NW 39 has had many names: Log Cabin Tire Co., Log Cabin Inn, Log Cabin Park, Log Cabin Club, Log Cabin Theater, Frontier Theater, Rio Hotel and now the YWCA Gaylord Service Complex.
The next time you pass this location, imagine a slower, simpler time with citizens enjoying an outing at the park or young people seeing a movie.
From the unpaved streets of the Land Run to the Interstate highways of today, city drivers are not surprised by the potholes, cracks and rough surfaces they encounter.
A story from The Oklahoman on Nov. 27, 1925, addressed that issue but also gave the history of several street names.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
“Pavements rutted by heavy truck traffic, inclement weather are not endeared to the hearts of Oklahoma Cityans in their infancy of heavy taxes nor when a puncture is picked up. They are the roundelay of abuse from city hall to the city limits — and yet have a heart — they have a heart.
“Take Bath avenue, back of that name is a personality — not a Saturday night ablution. The street was named for V.L. Bath, realty man.”
Bath was one of Oklahoma City’s earliest settlers.
“Dewey avenue has two fathers and is proud of both. One is Admiral Dewey, Spanish-American war hero and the other, Dr. Fred S. Dewey, pioneer physician of the capital city and formerly an army contract surgeon during the 90s. It is the only street in the city that old-timers attribute to different men.”
Dr. Frederick Stanley Dewey was Oklahoma City’s first coroner. His father was Adm. George Dewey’s cousin.
“Peter Billen who platted the Aurora addition was a prominent farmer here, breathed life into the painted curb signs, Billen avenue.”
Billen was born in Prussia in 1845 and grew up in Aurora, Ill. He moved to Oklahoma City in the 1890s and bought a farm on NW 16th.
The addition he platted was named for his boyhood home.
“Ellison avenue looks to Luke Ellison, prominent Mason in Oklahoma City in the early days as a godfather.”
Ellison bought the farm that was to become the Miller Boulevard neighborhood for $200.
“Reno is for Major Reno, an early-day army officer.”
Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno was killed while commanding his troops at the Battle of South Mountain during the Civil War.
He lent his name to towns in Nevada and Pennsylvania, a county in Kansas, as well as our own El Reno and Fort Reno.
“The forests live with Ash avenue, Elm street, Cypress and Walnut and the Indian tribes with Pottawatomie, Choctaw or the state’s with Pennsylvania and California while Kate avenue they’ll tell you at the city hall received it’s baptism at the hands of a congenial Irish woman, called Kate, who served home-made doughnuts and coffee to a crew that surveyed the street.”
When Dr. H.H. (Harry Howard) Cloudman arrived in Oklahoma City in 1908, he was already a celebrated athlete and medical doctor. And his work in physical education still affects our state today.
Late last year, Cloudman was posthumously inducted into the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor in Brunswick, Maine.
He represented the class of 1901 and was recognized as an international track star.
In 1939, he was named one of the Maine college’s “greatest athletes of all time.”
The Bowdoin College Athletic Department Web page states: “In the Maine State Meet in 1899 he set a new record of 9.8 seconds in the 100-yard dash, tying the world record. The time was since matched by Howard Mostrum ’27 and Gordon Milliken ’53, but it has never been bettered. It is the longest-standing athletic record at Bowdoin, and it will not be surpassed, since track and field events transitioned to the metric system in the 1970s.”
In 1909, Cloudman was hired by the Oklahoma City Schools as physical director.
His obituary published in The Oklahoman on Dec. 6, 1950, gave the attributes of the man:
“Known by many generations of city school children, Dr. Cloudman inaugurated physical education in city schools and was the first school doctor.
“He was an athlete, a soldier and a pioneer in the field of preventive medicine here.”
“He was elected physical director of schools and high school coach here. He was the first secretary of the Oklahoma State Highschool Athletic Association (now called the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association or OSSAA) and first city Boy Scout commissioner.”
“In 1911, he began physical examinations in all schools. He arranged clinics for children who could not afford medical care and he set up a system of consultation with parents.”
“The physician was with the 45th division for 18½ years, and was a lieutenant colonel when he left the division in 1941 after a year’s active service as a sanitary engineer. This was one of three military leaves he took from the school during his period of service.”
He retired in 1946 after 36 years of service to the Oklahoma City Schools.
Cloudman and his wife returned to Maine where he died in 1950.
So if “dressing out” for gym was not your favorite activity in school, you now know who to thank.
In Guthrie’s Summit View Cemetery, a stark, black monument has marked the resting place of an Oklahoma pioneer for 83 years.
On June 7, 1929, as the Oklahoma Press Association was meeting in Guthrie, The Oklahoman reported:
“Friday the editors of Oklahoma and high state officials will gather at Summit View cemetery here to unveil a monument and pay tribute to the memory of John Golobie, one of the most romantic figures in the pioneer history of this commonwealth.
“Golobie came to the United States a poor immigrant boy, sent by his mother in what is now far away Czecho-Slovakia, alone across the sea to America the land of opportunity.
“He acquired an education, mostly by reading good books, came to Kansas and worked on the Wichita Eagle and when Oklahoma was opened to settlement on April 22, 1889, made the run to Guthrie where he was connected with various newspaper enterprises, finally helping to found the Oklahoma State Register which he edited here until his health failed. He served eight years in the state senate and became a power in the Republican politics of the state.”
The granite monument was quarried in Golobie’s native land and shipped to Oklahoma by his friend Lew Wentz.
“The base, appropriately, is of Oklahoma granite, combining symbols of the land of his birth and the land of his achievements.
“On the stone has been engraved the simple inscription:
A True American
Died May 30, 1927.’
“There is no date of birth, for Golobie did not know his exact age. Even John Golobie was his name only because he had worn it so long. His real name, long and foreign, only one other man in America knew. “John Golobie” the boy invented for himself when he started to an American school.
When the United States entered the World war Golobie threw all the force of his oratory into the cause of his adopted country. He inspired thousands by his speeches. It was a sad blow to him when following the war he failed in his race for governor of his state because people who did not know him voted against him because of his foreign birth.
Then he set his heart on being appointed minister to Czecho-Slovakia and would probably have succeeded, but for a ruling that no naturalized citizen might be sent as ambassador to the land of his birth.
Of his work in the state senate the achievement of which he was most proud was his bill establishing the state circulating library, making it possible for people in rural sections to enjoy good books.
Golobie never married. He had no known relatives in his adopted land. When his funeral was held, as he requested in the open air pavilion at Mineral Wells park here June 1, 1927, (more than 1500) friends from all walks of life and from all parts of the state gathered to say farewell. His grave is on the highest knoll in the heart of Summit View.”
Perhaps along with “A True American” the inscription should read “A True Oklahoman.”
With full-page newspaper advertisements and dramatic television commercials featuring specialty hospitals and their offerings these days, it’s hard to imagine there was once a time when a newspaper advertisement for a hospital was just the name and location.
Dr. F.K. Camp, founder of Wesley Hospital, pioneered the use of display advertising for hospitals.
In the August 1911 edition of The Oklahoman, a display advertisement shows the building and announces the opening of Wesley Hospital in the Herskowitz Building on Broadway and Grand.
Camp and his wife had established Wesley Hospital on two floors of the Herskowitz Building. But by December 1911, he had purchased an apartment house at 12th and Harvey and remodeled it into a hospital “second to none in the state. Operating room equipment the best money can buy. Beds, from $10 to $35 per week. Excellent nursing. An ambulance will meet trains when requested.”
The ads for the new Wesley Hospital location would show a photograph of the hospital and provide information about the hospital improvements and amenities.
The doctor and his wife owned and managed the hospital until 1919 when it was bought by a group led by Dr. A.L. Blesh and renamed the Hospital of the Oklahoma City Clinic.
On Aug. 10, 1919, The Oklahoman published an announcement about the hospital’s sale and Dr. Camp’s retirement. It also mentioned Camp’s advertising success:
“Dr. Camp’s advertising campaign, which was launched several years ago to popularize Wesley Hospital, was so successful that he became known nationally as the man who had made a success with advertising in a field where the ethics of the profession had long held against the use of display space in connection with the business. Dr. Camp was a pioneer in advertising a hospital. His methods were discussed by members of the profession throughout the country. Many hospitals in the large cities of the nation followed Dr. Camp’s lead.”
Camp was not through initiating innovations, however.
When he and his wife retired to California, they bought the already historic Brookdale Lodge, built in 1870 near Santa Cruz.
While searching the Internet trying to discover what Dr. Camp’s initials stood for, I discovered he was responsible for creating a landmark in the lodge that still exists.
The lodge, now known as the Brookdale Inn & Spa with the slogan, A River Runs Through It, has been closed due to financial problems since January 2011.
Its restaurant, called the Brookroom, was built so the natural brook on the property would run through the 200-seat dining room, complete with trees and boulders amid the tables and chairs.
The Brookroom was Dr. Camp’s creation, and for some 60 years after his death, the Brookroom was still a popular California destination, even featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Camp’s Oklahoma City legacy still stands, too.
Old Wesley Hospital became Presbyterian Hospital, now a part of the OU Medical Center. And the old hospital building on 12th and Harvey is now the Wesley Village Retirement Community.
Who was Sally? When I read a March 1, 1925, story in The Oklahoman, I wanted to know.
She must have been important, because the unnamed reporter checked with several prominent Oklahoma City citizens trying to find out where she was. It turns out the reporter came up with a clever story.
“From bank presidents down to messenger boys, they’re hunting for her through dark alleys, up the main highways, to directors’ meetings and on the schoolground, comes the pitiful wail, ‘Please bring her back to me.’
“Among city business men, it isn’t a question of who she is, They know. And they want to find her. So they dream, and hunt, and memory brings back the pleasant times they spent planning the future — with Sally — if only Sally hadn’t deserted them.
“But Sally is gone. So John Fields, vice president of the Farmers’ National bank, removes his stogie and whistles, ‘I wonder what’s become of Sally,’ while his eye moves a picture of how she would look all dressed up in Washington.
“Politicians muse on what a glorious figure she would make on top of the capitol dome they would have given the state.
“Ed Overholser believes she’d make a great chamber of commerce president.
“T.P. Martin would give her a place as pilot on the air mail route.
“Fred Suits seeks for her in the union station; Governor Trapp believes she is in the Darlington narcotic house; W.F. Vahlberg thinks she took his plans for a new city hall with her; Alva McDonald has a hunch that she has joined John Wilkes Booth, and hopes she led the seekers after his job with her.
“But the garbage man is the only one who has seen her since she left the city, for he’s stopped whistling, ‘Yes we have no bananas,’ and assures the world that Sally is headed for the dump heap.”
It took me a search on Google to find out who Sally was.
She was Sally Long, a Ziegfield Follies dancer who was the inspiration for the popular 1924 song titled ‘I Wonder What’s Become of Sally?’
“I wonder what’s become of Sally,
“That old gal of mine.
“The sunshine’s missing from our alley,
“Ever since the day Sally went away.
“No matter where she is,
“Whatever she may be,
“If no one wants her now,
“Please send her back to me.
“I’ll always welcome back my Sally,
“That old gal of mine.”
Alva McDonald was a U.S. marshal, W.F. Vahlberg was a member of the city board of commissioners, T.P. Martin was on the chamber of commerce’s aviation committee and Fred Suits was an attorney representing supporters for a railroad union station.
I guess I’m still wondering why they were wondering where Sally was.
Basketball season will be upon us in a few months.
The Thunder faithful will gather again on Reno Avenue north of the Chesapeake Arena in anticipation of another great game.
But go a few blocks north to where Broadway and Sheridan form a T intersection anchored by the Cox Convention Center, the Sheraton Century Hotel and the Renaissance Hotel, and imagine, if you will, Broadway extending south and each corner populated with its own diverse group of citizens.
This article from The Oklahoman, May 25, 1919, tells the story of Gospel Corner.
” ‘Gospel Corner,’ famous in the history of Oklahoma City until a decade ago, is being rehabilitated, after being partially suppressed by police edict. During its palmy days, ‘Gospel Corner’ vied with Trafalgar Square in London as a place where the freedom of speech regardless of how seditionary or unorthodox, was permitted. During the summer months it was not uncommon for four religious meetings to be in progress simultaneously — one on each corner, and it was because the intersection of Grand Avenue (now Sheridan Avenue) and Broadway was favored during the cool of the evenings as a place for street sermons that the intersection became known as ‘Gospel Corner.’
“Any man or woman who thought he or she had a message to deliver to the world was welcome to mount a soap box and begin expounding after 6 o’clock p.m. The city was filled with transients at that time, and any speaker was sure to have an audience regardless of the subject or length of the address.
“Religious ideas were not the only ones disseminated at ‘Gospel Corner’ during the heyday of its glory. Soap box orators and curbstone statesmen flourished here in those days, and a citizen with a few minutes to spend could learn how to save the country. The information was free.
“Gospel Corner’s downfall really dates from the time that ‘God,’ ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ (a group of nudists or naturists) undertook one day to put their preaching into practice on West Grand avenue. In broad daylight the three, attired even as Adam might have been, emerged from a doorway near Robinson avenue and began a march east on Grand avenue.”
After being covered up by well-meaning citizens, the trio were taken to jail and then banished from the city. The police pronounced an edict prohibiting gatherings on the corners.
The 1919 article ended by saying:
” ‘Gospel Corner’ is being revived but it is now pitched upon a higher plane. On several evenings last week two organizations were holding forth simultaneously at ‘Gospel Corner’ and the gatherings assumed the proportions of the old time crowds.”
The crowds have moved two blocks south now to Reno, and the shouts are for the home team, but if you’re at Broadway and Sheridan on game night, use your imagination and hear the sounds of those long-ago crowds.
History often shows up where we least expect it.
My sister, Martha Vickery, and I occasionally go to estate sales, searching for bargains and odd, interesting items
At a recent sale, I saw a plaque on the wall, looked at it, thought the $12 price was too high and went on looking through the house.
Before I paid for the things I had found, I looked at the plaque again and decided to buy it.
It is a simple board plaque with a half-inch thick slice of iron rail attached and a piece of paper pasted to the bottom with this simple explanation:
TOWARD A FINER OKLAHOMA CITY
This section of streetcar track was removed in 1976 from its original location at Main and Robinson during the renewal of the Central Business District. As part of the downtown city loop of the street rail system, this track served all the north and east areas of Oklahoma City, including such routes as the Fairgrounds, East Fourth, Capitol Culbertson, Lincoln Park and North Robinson. Over this rail passed thousands of merrymakers destined for the Fairgrounds as well as those with civic pride eager to see the new State Capitol dedicated July 4, 1917. During 1920, the system’s best year, 25.5 million passengers used the lines of the streetcar system.
— George H. Shirk, Christmas 1976
My guess is George Shirk, former mayor of Oklahoma City and a lifelong preservationist of Oklahoma history, might have given these as Christmas gifts the year before his death in 1977.
Why is the plaque important to me?
That piece of streetcar rail represents a part of my family’s history. My Oklahoma pioneer grandmother, Stella Young, rode the streetcar to Guthrie for the 89er parades. My aunt, Grace Helms, tells how when she rode the cars as a child, the wicker seats were so slick, and the streetcar’s swaying motion made her afraid she might slide right off.
Many family memories centered on the fairgrounds, then at NW 10 and Martin Luther King Avenue, where Douglass High School now stands, Northeast Lake near the zoo, then a popular swimming area, and trips downtown to window shop, all destinations on the streetcar lines.
The only street cars I’ve ridden were those in San Francisco.
The closest I had come to the rails were those still in the street under the overpass at NW 4 and Broadway.
Now, I have a piece of Oklahoma City history.
Often in these pages, a reader-submitted story will appear about a beloved cat or dog.
This story by Leon Hatfield, veteran reporter and rewrite man, appeared on Page One of The Oklahoman on Dec. 16, 1937.
I hope it gives a chuckle to those who have been owned by cats and to those familiar with their ways:
Ding Dong Bell
Pussy’s in the well.
Who got her in?
Little Johnny Green.
Who took her out?
Little Johnnie Stout.
— Nursery Rhyme
A bob-tailed black cat Wednesday rewrote the old nursery rhyme. The cat didn’t have much time to polish up the rewrite but it went about like this:
Ding Dong Fire Bell
Where’s the cat that’s raising hell?
Way down in the dark old well.
Who fetched her up so she could chew us?
Nobody we swear, but Arkansas Lewis.
Black cats are bad luck. They are bad luck even to black cats. Bill Blagg, deputy sheriff, has always known black cats are bad luck, but he thought when he found a bob-tailed black cat it would trim the danger some.
He took the cat to George Angerman, superintendent of the courthouse. He told Angerman it was a nice cat, a good mouser and true lover of home and fireside. Angerman gave the cat some milk and turned his head. When he looked again the milk and cat were gone.
Two days lapsed, during which persons passing down the alley north of the courthouse would stop and listen to the melody of a distant cat which they took to be singing the “Love Song” from that widely known production, “The Alley Fence.”
It wasn’t until Wednesday that someone decided the cat was singing what it took to be a swan song. Investigation revealed the cat had tumbled or had been pushed into an abandoned well beneath a loading dock across the alley north of the courthouse.
The fire department was called. A big hook and ladder truck responded and the firemen got down on their tummies under the dock and called “Kitty, kitty,” as the fire manual says they should do under such circumstances.
The cat only wailed louder. The firemen made torches of newspaper and held them down in the well the better to see. The cat began demanding apologies from the Japanese emperor.
Finally that husky H.M. “Arkansas” Lewis tossed off his hat and let himself down the old well shaft. The cat climbed him and he climbed after the cat while a gathering crowd cheered.
The cat showed no appreciation. It glared maliciously at one and all and sneered:
“What’s been keeping you guys? Pst. Pst.”
Angerman took the beast into his arms and with it yowling and clawing headed toward milk.