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.
Halloween is almost here.
This ghost story from Oklahoma’s past appeared in The Oklahoman on Nov. 1, 1908:
“In the darkness of a canyon cave, near old Fort Arbuckle, there resides an oracle. What it is no living person knows. Certain it is that some natural formation of earth, stone or timber stands suspended in such a manner that the circulation of winds within the cave creates an uncanny sound that drives one, if he suspects the supernatural or is a believer in ghost dances or spirit walks, to think that an imp of the nether region is playing a funeral dirge while his fellows dance in glee during the cremation of a lost soul. So vivid is the noise on occasions the superstitious folk of that neighborhood lock their doors tight at night and even in summer wrap themselves in bed covers to keep out the sound. A few have been driven to other lands, and it is said that for years during the early days of Indian Territory, even horse thieves, murderers and outlaws shied from the place, suspecting they heard omens of ill luck, or the song of an oracle betokening the approach of the posse.
The mysterious cave is only a half mile from the site of Fort Arbuckle (six miles west and one mile north of Davis) where 40 years ago United States soldiers were stationed to guard the frontier against marauding Indians. History relates that a battle was fought in the canyon and the bodies of dead soldiers were thrown into the cave. Unfortunately for superstitious clans, the date of the battle was October 31, the day of ghosts, hobgoblins, walking spirits and other supernatural phenomena that are, prehistorically speaking, in spectacular evidence when darkness falls upon the valleys and hills.
On the night of that battle day either some of the dead came to life, or persons not dead had been pitched into the cave, or else disturbing spooks walked over the bodies with mysterious weepings, for out of the inkiness came inhuman sounds, shrill shrieking, screaming or again doleful dreary, delirious — now groans of a maniac sinking into oblivion, now the shrieks of an expiring lost soul, now the music of Hades harped for the fantastic dance of the demons.
A pioneer heard it that night. He slew Indians all day and was tired at sundown. He lay upon a patch of grass in the valley of the canyon and tried to sleep. Repose deserted him. Rest was frightened away. He lay all night with his eyes open, staring at a heaven full of pretty stars. He tried to peer beyond the stars, strained his ears for a heavenly music, sought to forget the awful night of spookdom. But he couldn’t. Neither could he move his prostrate body when he tried. Not a muscle was active. The noises would not cease. All night he heard them and until the sun rose in the morning. That day in a cabin of the Arbuckle mountains the man told his story. That day the family in the cabin moved out. And from that day afterwards never was this man seen…”
Have a happy and safe halloween!
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.”
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.
For 114 years, Oklahoma’s state flower was the mistletoe.
But it was always a controversial choice.
In February 1893, while the 2nd Territorial Legislature met in Guthrie, Rep. John A. Wimberly introduced the bill to designate mistletoe as the official floral emblem.
The Women’s Congress of the Columbian World Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 had proposed that the states should consider selecting floral emblems to represent their state at the exposition.
While Oklahoma was not a state, the Oklahoma Pavilion at the exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, promoted the territory to exposition visitors.
Wimberly was the youngest member of the House of Representatives and it was he who, according to The Oklahoman on April 19, 1925, suggested “one of the most interesting traditions.”
“One day the question of the state flower was brought up. Everything from daisies to American Beauty roses was suggested.
A representative from the southern part of the Territory wanted forget-me-nots. “That’s a good name for a state flower, and it’s a pretty flower too,” he said.
“Mr. Wimberly remembered how hard the previous winter had been and that when settlers had died and there were no flowers to put on the graves: “the only thing in the whole country with a bit of color was mistletoe.”
So it was adopted as the new territory’s floral emblem.
“Years later when Oklahoma became a state, members of the constitutional convention carried the old territorial flower over into statehood, thus confirming what has since become one of Oklahoma’s oldest traditions.”
Every few years after it seemed someone would propose a change, it would be discussed and mistletoe would remain.
The sweet pea, yucca and the cowboy rose (not a rose but a part of the mallow family), were among those proposed, but probably the most unusual was the alfalfa blossom.
Before we were even a state, in 1906, William H. Murray stated his preference for alfalfa in a letter to the editor of The Oklahoman:
“Who, indeed, would desire to adopt for a state flower, a parasite?
Let greater Oklahoma be known as the “Alfalfa State.”
In an editorial in The Oklahoman for June 17, 1912, the newspaper came out in support of alfalfa as the state flower:
“Now that Oklahoma has become known as the marvelous alfalfa state, why not use the alfalfa blossom as the state flower?”
“The alfalfa blossoms are pretty; they enrich the scenery, added to the artistic part, alfalfa, is the mortgage lifter of Oklahoma. It is the crop which brings riches to the state; it is a crop which means more to the future than any other crop.”
“Alfalfa blossom — the state flower. It should be adopted”
The hardy little mistletoe stood firm from 1890 until 2004 when Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill into law making the Oklahoma Rose our official state flower. The mistletoe remains the state floral emblem.
The countdown has started. Next year will be one of anticipation for the First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City, 1300 N Robinson.
A century chest was buried in the church basement on April 22, 1913. The Oklahoma City mayor, governor and other dignitaries were in attendance when the time capsule was sealed.
The church now has devoted a Web page to the century chest at firstlutheranokc.org/site/ks/editorial.asp?page=2 and it includes a countdown clock.
Next year, on April 22, church members and other dignitaries will gather to open the century chest, which is not an ordinary time capsule. It contains a treasure trove of items that will fill a future column on their own.
Today, I want to introduce the young woman who was credited with “perfecting the plans for the chest” — Mrs. George G. Sohlberg, president of the church’s Ladies’ Aid Society.
Virginia Bland Tucker was born and raised in Missouri. After frequently visiting local relatives, she and her mother settled in Oklahoma City in 1890, two years after the Land Run.
She taught school until 1898, when she met and married George G. Sohlberg, founder and president of the Acme Milling Co. and civic leader.
In 1966, Joan Gilmore, Women’s Editor of The Oklahoman wrote of Mrs. Sohlberg in conjunction with an Oklahoma Art Center Gala:
“At the time of her death in 1913, Mrs. Sohlberg was headlined in The Daily Oklahoman as ‘Active in Society’ and was esteemed ‘One Of City’s Most Queenly Women.’ ” The article about her describes her as “one of the best and most beautiful women … one of the gentlest, the most cultivated members of society; her influence has been widely felt.”
Another article said, ” … Never has she failed; as mother, wife, daughter and friend, she has always lived up to the noblest ideals of life. …
“She was brilliant and talented. … was a leader, not only in social circles where her hospitable home was the center of pleasure and enjoyment, but equally as much so in church, literary and charitable circles.”
Mrs. Sohlberg was almost single-handedly responsible for preparing the century chest, which was buried under the First Lutheran Church, commemorating the 24th anniversary of the opening of Oklahoma City. She gathered relics of value and simple annals from hundreds of people and scores of organizations in Oklahoma City and the state, which were buried in the chest.
Virginia Sohlberg died Aug. 10, 1913, of heart failure at 40 years old, less than four months after the chest was buried.
When the chest is opened on April 22, 2013, in celebration of the 124th anniversary of the Oklahoma Land Run, Virginia Sohlberg should be remembered and her work preserved so future generations can reflect on it.