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.
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.
The Secret Service ultimately is responsible for protecting the president. But the police officers and sheriff’s deputies riding in a motorcade, directing traffic and assisting as a prominent individual moves from one location to another is a large responsibility.
It’s everything from security to hospitality, requiring lots of attention. It’s timing, and much more.
It’s not as glamorous as one might think. In fact, it can be a very difficult, very dangerous job.
This was evidenced Sunday in Florida when a veteran police officer was preparing to shut down a stretch of highway ahead of the motorcade of President Barack Obama as it headed for a campaign rally.
Officer Bruce St. Laurent, 55, was killed in West Palm Beach after his motorcycle was struck by a pickup.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund counts 16 officers before Sunday’s tragedy who were killed while escorting a dignitary.
For example, The Associated Press reported:
1902 — A Secret Service agent was struck and killed by trolley car in Lenox, Mass., while in President Theodore Roosevelt’s escort detail.
1928 — A police officer on motorcycle escort for a presidential candidate was struck and killed in Kearny, N.J.
1929 — A Virginia State Police officer was involves in a motorcycle crash while escorting President Calvin Coolidge. The officer died about six weeks later of his injuries.
1992 — A Palm Beach County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy was killed in a motorcycle accident while escorting Sen. Paul Tsongas, a presidential candidate.
2006 — A Honolulu police officer died after his motorcycle slid on a rain-slicked roadway, where he was escorting President George W. Bush.
2007 — In Rio Rancho, N.M., a police officer was killed in a motorcycle crash while escorting Bush’s motorcade.
2008 — A Dallas police officer died when his motorcycle slammed into a guardrail as he was escorting then-Sen. Hilary Clinton’s motorcade.
2012 — The Jupiter, Fla., police officer died while riding in the Obama motorcade.
The danger is always there.
Several public and non-profit organizations have come together in grassroots fashion to help educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving. The organization’s namesake is Drive Aware Oklahoma (DAO) and its mission paraphrased is to educate the public in lieu of legislation.
The organization’s first objective is to educate about texting while driving. Just because there are no specific laws in place does not make this the thing to do. It is the number one distracted driving cause of accidents.
To boost education the DAO group has adopted the Ad Council’s STOP THE TEXTS.STOP THE WRECKS campaign which you can find yourself at www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org
The DAO group has spoken to TV and radio stations in both OKC and Tulsa as well as Lamar billboard company to run the ad campaign the week before Halloween. The group is in hopes that awareness will be raised before kiddos are out Trick or Treating.
School Zones are a particularly vulnerable area as well for distracted drivers and a few campaigns already have pointed towards them with distracted driving education. Some states have at least “no phone zones” in school crossings but OK is not one of them.
Drivers should be careful and turn off their phones when they get in the car. That way they are not curious when that “sound” occurs meaning a new text is in. And to go a step further drivers should consider a recording on cellphones that tells callers they will not accept calls while driving. The recording can say that the call will be returned when the driver is in a safe place and no longer moving.
Keep it safe and Drive Aware Oklahoma!
My mild-mannered friend and former classmate is gone, thanks apparently to gang violence in which he had no involvement.
An innocent man lost his life because he and his young daughter were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were looking for a birthday present for his wife in a Tulsa business when a stray bullet crashed through a store window and struck him in the chest.
His daughter lost her loving father, a loving husband to her mother. Outside the store, another man, this one with a past of criminal activity, also died. Police say that man was the target of the gunman. My friend’s death was totally unintended.
As of now, the shooter remains at large. His image appears on surveillance video at the time of the slayings. Authorities believe there are those who know him. Authorities, along with my friend’s family, have asked for assistance from the public in locating the killer.
Unfortunately, this incident, which resulted in the death of former Ponca City resident Wesley Brown, is one of many similar events that have made news recently, too many of them. Often, it is an innocent person, such as Wesley, who dies.
For those who knew Wesley, this incident is unfathomable. We remember him as a cheerful, intelligent individual, always smiling, always kind. His personality was warm and generous.
Unlike the individual responsible for his death, Wesley didn’t harm people. He helped them. I remember him as a good student, a friendly sort. He wasn’t big into athletics, but rather more into intellectual challenges.
After we graduated from high school, I didn’t hear much from him until we hooked up again on Facebook. But I hear and read that his interests were about the same as they were when we were in class together and young friends: family- and community-oriented.
I can only hope his family, in particular his young daughter who was with him at the time of the shooting, will recover from this tragedy. I hope the individual responsible for his death will be caught before someone else is harmed.
See the resources area of KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MENTAL-HEALTH-OKLAHOMA for information on the grieving process and how to cope with the loss of someone close to you.
I call it “being curious.” Some call it “being snoopy.” But I’ve always been interested in what’s on everyone’s mind. After all, that’s what people in my business are supposed to do: find out what people want to know about and give them as much information as you possibly can.
Sometimes, it’s easy. You can start with weather. Especially in Oklahoma, the weather plays a big part in most everything, from business to pleasure, from life to death. Weather is a factor.
You always can talk politics. This is an election year and, no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape hearing or seeing someone voice an opinion on who is and who is not doing the right thing, who will or who will not win in the November general election, who ought to stay, who ought to go.
One of the most significant freedoms we have it the right to state our opinion, and the right to agree or disagree, whether you do or don’t want to hear it.
Now that the Thunder’s season has ended, there’s a break. Right? To a degree. There are still the Thunder players participating in the Olympics, which, by the way, is another topic that will be even bigger soon.
We’re just a few weeks away from the start of the new football season. The predictions and expectations already are there.
Money always is an important topic, from how to make it to how to spend it, or how to save it. Add to that the cost of anything, which always seems to being heading upward. Who has money, who needs money and how to help those who don’t have enough to adequately survive also get attention.
Vehicles have been popular topics since the first ones were invented. You can expect that to continue until we don’t use them anymore.
Health matters — yours or those of someone else, how to avoid them and how to treat them — are important and often discussed.
Items relating to the military, particularly in a state like Oklahoma where it has such a presence, affect many people.
You also will read, see, or hear about such topics as children, pets, religion, travel, recreation and cultural events.
Plenty, huh? And there are many more.
Each of the topics mentioned above is in at least one of our “know it” topics. It may be a story, it could be a photo, or it might be in a topic’s resource material. Then again, it might be in more than one, sometimes several.
That’s why they are there: To give you information. And you can contribute as well by sending news releases, notes of praise, or other tidbits to the online communities.
Visit HTTP://KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/ and look them over.
I’ve noticed over the past several years that traffic in Midwest City has drastically increased. At least it feels like its a drastic increase every time I go out to do something and find myself rubbing my ears in frustration.
I don’t even think it’s the amount of traffic, but the manner of traffic. Let me explain. If everyone is paying attention to what they are doing, watching out for each other, you know, courteous driving, then everything is fine.
When I have a problem is when we get Johnnie Hot Rod zooming in and out of traffic, or Sally Makeup, or Dave SlowDriver, or Oh My, Victor, We’re In The Big City Now not knowing how to use a center turn lane properly.
Ok, I know, I’m venting. But when the traffic volume increases, it seems as if these people really stick out in a crowd. I think I have a solution.
Let’s give those people special orange lights that go on the roof of the car, so that we can all at least see them coming or going and have an ample chance at avoiding them altogether!
Anyhow, I know that other large metro towns are probably feeling the same pain, Norman comes to mind, I just hope the city fathers are allowing for the increase of traffic that added good eating and shopping bring to a community.
Orange lights on sale now, send checks made out to Ken Tate. Installation extra.
The Department of Defense has announced an agreement between the United States and Indian to resume their attempts to recover the remains of military service members lost during World War II in parts of northeastern Indian.
This is good news for Americans who had family members serving in that region, where an estimated 400 service personnel remain unaccounted for from some 90 aircraft crashes during the war.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: “This is a critical step toward bringing home our service members lost during World War II. The United States and India, working together, can help provide comfort to the families of Americans who were lost during the war.”
A news release from the Defense Department said: “The Department deeply appreciates the close cooperation of the Government of India in helping our teams resume their critical work. Returning our fallen heroes is a top priority of the Department of Defense.
The release said virtually all of the sites where the crashes occurred are in northeast India. Information the U.S. has confirms 16 known crash sites and officials continue to develop information on others.
Some of the information was reported to the Department of Defense by private parties or through Indian press, the release said.
“In April 2012, Department of Defense representatives participated in State Department-led bilateral discussions with the Government of India where restarting remains recovery operations was addressed,” the release said.
For more information on the U.S. armed forces, go to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MILITARY-OKLAHOMA.
We have a mall in Midwest City.
You can’t shop there.
You can’t go inside and walk anymore.
Why is it still there? There is a church where Dillards used to be. Sears still anchors the other end. Why is it still there?
Why doesn’t someone have some vision and do something! Lots of traffic all around it, surely something can be done!
The mall used to be the place to be for teenagers here, but now nothing goes on at the mall. No shopping. No walking. Nothing.
I’ve got it! This is where the movie theater could go! Perfect place for one! Large parking lot, lots of space. Hello, Warren Theaters, are you listening? What a great addition to this community, and what a perfect location!
Maybe someday, but for now, the sad old mall sits abandoned, waiting for new life. Waiting for someone with vision to make something out of nothing. Cold and lonely. But not forgotten.
Memorial Day always has been one of my favorite holidays.
It’s the first holiday of summer, even though the change of seasons doesn’t occur for nearly a month. That means it’s time to enjoy those warm-weather activities.
Of course, in Oklahoma, warm weather sometimes arrives early, which can sure play havoc with those of us who have allergies.
Memorial Day is a confirmation in many communities that school is — or nearly is — out. Like most people, when I was a student, I looked forward to those weeks when I got a break from the books and assignments.
I also enjoyed my summer job, earning a little money while spending time with people I knew well. I was lucky in having that opportunity.
Much of time in the summers was spent playing baseball. The older I got, the more fun it became. Again, it was spending time with people I knew well, traveling to ballparks and working together.
I always enjoyed watching the Indianapolis 500, from the prerace pageantry to the dueling on the track to the final lap. When I got to take a lap around the Brickyard while on vacation one year, I thought about all those drivers I had seen competing on that very same track.
That also made watching the race on TV more enjoyable because I was able to recall certain areas of the race course.
Taking a trip, even a short venture to the lake, to relax and check out the scenery or play in the water also has been something I have tried to do.
And I always remember those who no longer are with us, including those who gave their lives in service to our country so that we might have those opportunities such as I mentioned above. “Thank you” never could adequately cover that debt.
We should all remember them … always.
See more about those in our armed forces in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MILITARY-OKLAHOMA, as well as in The Oklahoman.