John Saucier, of Midwest City, was a legend at the Ponca City Grand Prix, among the best to ever compete there in its more than 25 years.
Bill Stengle, of Enid, didn’t run at Ponca, but he did make build and drive midget racers, and he enjoyed motorcycles. He raised a son, however, who DID race at Ponca City.
I saw John race many times while growing up in Ponca. But it wasn’t until years later, when I returned to The Oklahoman, that we became friends, all because of one column I wrote recalling the PC Grand Prix. He thanked me “for the memories” and gave me an update on some of the drivers I had mentioned.
I never met Bill, but I saw his son, Jim, race a few times in Ponca City. Jim and I became close friends while I was living in Enid. We met through my association with others in the Sports Car Club of America and we both were members of the Enid A.M. Ambucs.
Jim was the only guy I ever knew who had a Corvette … in his attic. Disassembled, of course. I wouldn’t have believed it if his wife, Dixie, hadn’t gotten him to show me when my wife, Becky, and I visited them one night. Dang if it wasn’t true.
John died Jan. 25 at age 74, I’m sad to say. Scott Munn of The Oklahoman noted that John won 28 SCCA championships and was a member of the organization for 55 years. Scott said John was the only person to race in each of the 26 Ponca City Grand Prix events.
Jim’s dad, Bill, died Jan. 11 at age 95. His obituary included points about his innovative, mechanical abilities, such as this: “For extra income, he began drilling water wells with a rig he built himself.” That takes some skill, for sure.
Both men had served in the military, both men had loving families, both men were well respected and both were extremely talented.
I’m proud to say I knew John and I know Bill’s family. All because of shared interested in racing that has circled the track for many years.
Librarian Kitty Pittman is a talented individual, who has a great knowledge of literacy and the best works on the book market today.
As author of Okie Reads, she has reviewed numerous writings for some time on our “know it: Books” page.
She’s the type of individual who wants readers to be aware of what’s out there to spend time with, for learning, for enjoyment. She also very honest with her work. So much so that she felt she need to post this on the “know it” site:
“Feeling like a reading fraud this year. If Lance (Armstrong) can come clean I guess we all should.
“Not reading that much, and what I do read, I just can’t make myself blog about it. My other problem, I like other people’s reviews much better than my own. For instance, I read James Blaylock’s Homunculus. It’s a tough book to jump into, many claim it as the beginning of steampunk. By page 80, I’m really getting into the story, so I search out reviews to see if I’m on the right track.
“Great review already out there, IMHO. Stainless Steel Droppings. Plus, GoodReads reviews. This is what I find with everything I read. Faster readers, better reviews, and I just want to read other people’s reviews and get back to reading.
“Handily, my friend and colleague and fellow blogger can take over the reins of Okie Reads. After all, he’s an Okie and he reads, perfect qualifications.
“So without further adieu, I’m taking a back seat, may jump in occasionally but for the most part it’s Young Bill Young’s OkieReads.”
So now, the Okie Reads is in Bill’s capable hands … generally. As Kitty says, she may jump in occasionally. And if she has an interest in doing so, she’s very welcome.
Thanks to Kitty for all her contributions, and thanks to Bill for what he has done and what he’ll do in the future. I have to confess. I think we’re still in good hands.
Take at look at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/BOOKS-OKLAHOMA and see what’s hot for readers these days.
After reading or hearing stories about serious, tough subjects hour after hour, we all need a break. A good laugh helps. And when it involves the ridiculous things people do, it’s even better.
Stupid thief tricks can be among the best. Having a laugh at the expense of an individual whose intentions are less than legal is most enjoyable to many people. I guess I’m a definite for that group.
You may have heard about the guy who was acting as his own defense attorney in an assault case. During his questioning of the victim, he asked: “Did you get a good look at my face?” Realizing he had just admitted his guilt, he tried to find a way to back out of it, adding: ” … if I had been there?” End result: conviction.
Or, the woman who was describing from the witness stand how she had defended herself with a handgun when a neighbor threatened her. It took the jury only 15 minutes to find her guilty of shooting with intent to kill. Afterward, the jury foreman was asked why the panel had decided so quickly.
“She said it was self defense,” the foreman said, “but we thought six shots in the backside as (the neighbor) was running away was a bit much when no other weapon was involved.”
Then, there’s the burglar in the bucket robbery in Slidell, La.
It seems that a man dressed in camouflage, wearing gloves and with his tools to break into a food business forgot one key part of his apparel. He left his mask behind.
He knew the business had surveillance cameras, so it was important to cover his face. He chose to do so with a bucket on his head.
The cameras did record a view showing his face, enough to make him recognizable. He was captured at his home and charged with two counts of simple burglary.
These are examples of goofy, strange things that can happen. See other examples by going to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/UNUSUAL-WEIRD-OKLAHOMA, which also features items from elsewhere in the nation and the world. Just click the button on the area you want to check, then read and enjoy.
There are lessons to be learned. No matter how much you try to school them, regardless the advance warning, despite all the “when I was your age” comments, young people have to learn for themselves.
And when the time comes during their teen years that they have to make decisions that can cost them money, they learn just how costly those decisions can be.
A family I know well enough to be related to (and am) is about to get a double dose of the money game. Two teenage daughters, with two months difference in their ages (they’re stepsisters) are entering into the world of higher learning.
It can be a great time, it can be a tough time. It all depends upon the decisions you have to make and how you do so.
Their dad has set them up to learn, with a little room to fail. They get an allowance, a decent one. OK, very decent. Each receives 40 times what I got at the best level I ever had. I won’t deny that times were much different and items much cheaper. It’s all relative.
Now comes the adjustment.
Until now, others have made many of their purchases for them. Food on the run, cosmetics, trinkets, or whatever usually has been more of a “gift” from others. They’ve been told that now that those expenses will be their responsibility. But the biggest change will be in transportation.
Now, they will both have a driver’s license. Their dad bought them a car to share, fixed it up with some nice added features and got them both a set of keys.
But he told them they would be responsible for handling the cost of fuel with their allowances. I suspect there will be a steady decline of some other purchases, beginning pretty soon.
So what comes next? A little exercise in budgeting, he says. They’re going to have to learn how to budget their money, because he added a stipulation when he set up their allowances: don’t ask anyone for money; you have your own, until it runs out.
I also suspect there will be some employment considerations, along with a push for an additional vehicle.
The lessons are just beginning.
Check the resources in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MONEY-OKLAHOMA to help you with your personal finances. There’s some pretty sound advice there, no matter your age.
If you think politics only reach extreme or weird levels in the United States, think again.
A judge in Brazil has urged prosecutors to fine a small-town mayor for riding a donkey to his inauguration. The reason for the ride? To make a poke at an opponent who, the story goes, referred to him as a burro during a debate.
Mayor Vaderlei Batista of Passa Sete faces a potential fine equivalent to $250 for failing to adhere to a restraining order. The order prohibited an further “donkey business” after the elections in October.
The judge, Luciane Glesse, didn’t take kindly to the donkey ride, saying it clearly violated the restraining order.
Batista said he intentionally responded with offensive phrases characterizing the opposition party to donkeys after his campaign rival referred to him as a donkey during a debate.
It didn’t take long for Batista’s rival to seek legal action. He asked for the court order barring Batista from using such satirical jabs.
Batista promised voters he would ride a donkey to this week’s inauguration. The judge says no. We’ll see who wins this one.
For other strange but true stories, in Oklahoma, the nation, or the world, check out KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/UNUSUAL-WEIRD-OKLAHOMA and click on the button for your area of choice.
Batista says that he promised voters to ride a donkey to this week’s inauguration.
A recently released analysis found a 1.9 percent decrease in total fatalities since 2010, officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.
Any decrease is good new. Any drop is progress.
But the same analysis found some bad news. There was an 8.7 percent increase in cyclist fatalities and a 3 percent rise in pedestrian deaths in 2011. That is substantial.
“We are still concerned about the numbers of cyclists and pedestrians at risk on our roadways,” said Paul Oberhauser, Traffic Safety Coalition co-chairman. “As the holiday season approaches, we must obey basic traffic safety laws to ensure the safety of those inside and outside of a vehicle.”
The issue is personal to Oberhauser. His daughter, Sarah, was killed in 2002 when a driver ran a red light and crashed into her car.
The numbers in the report show a need for increased education relating to the shift in the types of transportation the public is now using, highway safety officials said. They say it is important to continue to keep overall traffic fatalities down and educate the public on driver distraction, red light running and speed in our intersections.
“The latest numbers show how the tireless work of our safety agencies and partners, coupled with significant advances in technology and continued public education, can really make a difference on our roadways,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a release from NHTSA.
“As we look to the future, it will be more important than ever to build on this progress by continuing to tackle head-on issues like seat belt use, drunk driving, and driver distraction.”
So, to keep roads safer for those traveling this season, the Traffic Safety Coalition is encouraging drivers to take its holiday pledge (http://www.trafficsafetycoalition.com/holidaypledge) to commit to safe driving behavior. The pledge reads:
“During this holiday season and every day throughout the year,
• I pledge to buckle up when driving and as a passenger.
• I pledge to obey traffic signals and always stop on red.
• I pledge to obey the speed limit.
• I pledge to never text and drive.
• I pledge to never drink and drive.”
The TSC works with more than 250 partners nationwide, including local chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Safe Kids USA and other local community organizations throughout the country.
It’s an effort we all can join.
I’ve always loved a good ghost story.
When I was a boy growing up, we would go on Scout camp outs, or have friends over and sleep out in the back yard under the summer stars. When I was older, we sometimes would have a camp out on vacation. And when I became a parent, we would do Scout camp outs (you’re never too old to be a Scout), or fishing trips.
But ghost stories always “livened” things up. Occasionally, what was supposed to be downright scary became downright funny.
On one Scout camp out (earlier version), a few of my fellow minicampers, armed with pocket knives for protection, sat around a fire at night and tried to outdo each other with the scariest story.
There were tales of headless spooks roaming the woods, bloody warriors looking for body parts lost in combat, drowning victims, hanged criminals and many others, whose mutilated forms were so aptly described by the storyteller that they best not be here.
Usually, the narrator would toss in a groan or moan for good measure. Sometimes, two or more would work together to add an element of surprise, such as tossing a stick or rock off in the distance when no one was looking to make a startling sound.
All in good scare; sometimes with funny results, especially if someone actually did react in terror.
I don’t scare easily these days. But I do still like a good story. That’s why reading what paranormal Tonya Hacker comes up with in her adventures catches my attention. As author of Paranormal Eyes, she details events and examines what has been reported to have occurred in and around Oklahoma, as well as elsewhere.
If you know of such an item, location, or sighting, she would love to know about it. Just give her a heads-up.
Read her Paranormal Eyes at KNOWIT/NEWSOK.COM/UNUSUAL-WEIRD-OKLAHOMA. And while you’re there, check out odd-but-true stories elsewhere in the country and around the world by clicking on the buttons directly below the title of the page.
It almost makes a fellow feel cheap, but I’m sure it certainly is something to look at.
A longtime colleague called the other day to chit-chat for a bit. As we have done for years, we wanted to get caught up on what’s been happening in each other’s life, and with our families.
We also wanted to send each other best wishes for the holiday season.
He was telling me about his family and mentioned that his daughter, another veteran journalist, had been working on a feature story about people who make a living putting up Christmas lights for others.
In particular, she told him, she had interviewed a guy who handled the decorative lights for a man who owned a major entertainment company in California. She told her dad the job paid well. Very well. Putting the lights on that one house brought a $50,000 contract.
I haven’t seen pictures, but I know without looking that’s a little more than I spent on my lights this year. OK, more than a little.
I’ve seen some pretty nice displays in my day. Big ones. Expensive ones. Just about anything Christmas-related you can think of, I’ve seen it.
My family likes to view the displays, those at individual homes, as well as the big municipal presentations, such as those in cities and towns throughout Oklahoma. Some of them are nothing short of incredible, from those you tune in to a spot on your radio dial to hear accompanying music, to those with live characters.
You can check on NewsOK and on wimgo.com for community displays to visit. They’re well worth visiting, in my opinion.
And there are even those who piggyback on a nearby display. I saw one recently where a house was awash in lights, from the rooftop all the way to the curb. Lots of blinking, twinkling lights, moving characters and music.
Next door, the house had a smaller display, but a sign in the front yard that caught my eye and added a little humor.
The sign, of good size and circled in bright lights, pointed to the big display and said: “Ditto.”
You don’t have to have the most recent, updated, technologically-advanced equipment to enjoy some of the best times of your life. You might not even need any that to enjoy it a second time. A good memory can do it.
During a few days of R&R (Realignment & Repairs) last week, I stumbled onto some items I had forgotten about long ago. A small box in my garage caught my attention. When I opened it so see what was inside, I found a mixture of items, from family and personal, to sports and recreation, to work and struggles.
Each one brought back a memory, often vivid, of another time and place. I remembered the circumstances, the people involved, and why I had kept each piece of my personal history “scrapbook” in the box.
There were papers relating to projects I had worked on in the office. There were documents on the purchase of an automobile, as well as insurance and items bought for it. And there were things my son and his daughter had made for me years earlier.
I found clips of stories relating to events I had been involved in (though, like most people in my business, we’re geared toward covering news than making it), booklets on items I wanted to take a second look at, and trinkets I had kept, for one reason or another.
Maybe they mean nothing to anyone else, but those items — all of them — have memories and meaning to me. They bring back those times when something happened that impressed me, or made me happy. I don’t recall finding one thing that was a bad memory.
I’ve read many times and been told that holding onto memories is healthy, so long as you don’t allow them to control your life. In other words, don’t live in the past, but don’t forget it as well.
There is a healthy middle ground. Check the resources on KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MENTAL-HEALTH-OKLAHOMA for ways to do just that.
And by the way, the items in that box I found have been safely stored away.
A short time back, a gentleman I’ve spoken with many times called to ask what I knew about the painted lines he was seeing on some downtown Oklahoma City streets.
“It looks like they’re bicycle lanes,” he said, “and some pretty good sized lanes. In fact, the biggest lane on one of those streets was marked for bicycles. What’s the deal?”
I told him he most likely had driven into the Project 180 zone and his assumption that these markings were for bicycles were absolutely right on.
This individual is not a bicycle enthusiast, though he isn’t against anyone getting their exercise on a two-wheeler. But he was concerned about how much roadway was being given to riders at the expense of drivers.
Not to worry. To everything there is a purpose. It will all work out.
A few weeks after his call, Kristy Yager of the City of Oklahoma City, sent out this news release. There’s a lot of information here, so read carefully:
“City streets are becoming more bike friendly with expanded ‘sharrow lanes,’ ” her release began. “The first of more than 200 miles of bike routes, including shared lanes or ‘sharrow’ bike lanes, are being installed in Oklahoma City.
“The sharrows are pavement markings which, along with new signage marking the routes, remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists and convey that the street is a preferred bike route. They are different from bike lanes because they do not allocate space just for the cyclist.”
That was one my caller had described. Kristy also explained “sharrow.”
“Signs saying ‘bicycle may use full lane’ will be posted along routes. The word sharrow is a combination of the words ‘share’ and ‘arrow.’ The marking consists of a bicycle symbol with two arrows above.”
And here’s the word on how this all is coming about.
“The city’s bike routes are being implemented in phases. Major streets included in the first phase include Eastern Avenue, S Villa Avenue and the I-235 and I-35 service roads north of 63rd Street. Downtown streets are also in the first phase.”
Transportation planner Randall Entz said: “Sharrows are being installed on streets like Hefner Road and NW 19th Street that are popular with bicyclists, but are too narrow for conventional bike lanes. When they are installed downtown as a part of Project 180 renovations, they will also help to keep cyclist out of the door swing zones of parked cars.”
One other very important note:
“Although we are designating bike routes and sharrow lanes, cyclists can still ride on any Oklahoma City street,” Entz added.
Sharing the road will make it safer for all.
Learn more about what’s being done downtown, including with Project 180, by going to HTTP://WWW.OKC.GOV/.