This and That Newsletter

Vol 12  Issue 591     Circulation 5,000      May 22, 2008

PO Box 2

Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

email address:

Toll Free Number in Oklahoma:  580-215-4333

After many emails this week I now know the good people of Healdton, Oklahoma can have peace of mind..... there was no Gypsy curse placed on the town back in the mid 50s. 78 year old Gregory John Alvarez, king of the Gypsies for 20 years, died of a heart attack while visiting his son in Healdton around October 15, 1953 (not killed as recently rumored). A T&T Reader sent in the following clipping from the Healdton Herald newspaper:

Death of a Gypsy King
The Healdton Herald
Healdton, Carter County, Oklahoma
Thursday, October 15, 1953

Gypsy King Dies in Healdton

GREGORY JOHN ALVAREZ, King of the Gypsies for 20 years, died of a heart  attack in Healdton, Sunday, age 78 years. Alvarez was born in Lima, Peru in 1875, was married and came to the United States in 1904, settling at Walnut Cove, North Carolina, where all his children were born. He was a coppersmith working in the textile mills.

“The Old Man,” as he is lovingly called, came to Healdton to see a son and visit with friends along the way. He was a member of the Independent Lodge No. 23, A.F. & A.M. at Due West,  South Carolina, also a member of the Methodist Church. All the different tribes, including the EVANS, MITCHELLS, JOHNS, MILLERS,  URICKS and many other tribal names, are represented in the gypsy bands coming here to pay their respect to their deceased king. It is estimated that some 300 men, women and children are housed in trailers or occupying the packed cars in which they came. A majority of the tribes will meet in Washington, D. C. where the body is being sent for burial.

The original nomadic group came from Romania, but this tribe comes from Peru and are largely Portuguese speaking people. “The Old Man” spoke seven languages and when he and his wife wanted to talk so their children couldn’t understand them, they used a language not known to the children. The tribes, as a whole, follow the trades of silver, gold, and coppersmiths. They have been educated in public schools. For years they were a wandering people, but now most of them are settled in the principal cities. Son FRED ALVAREZ of Fort Lauderdale, Florida assured me when I asked a question about discrimination that he had not experienced it. As a bad, they still celebrate their feast days, particularly those near the Christmas time such as St. Ann’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s and Guadaruple(?). For their king, they will observed three Remembrance feasts, one at six weeks, one at six months, and the general feast at one year when all tribes meet from all parts of the country for the occasion and at this time, they decide on their next king. For the year of mourning, there is no dancing or singing. NOAH GRAVES says, “I have an entirely different conception of a gypsy tribe, during these days of close association.” This picturesque band of people coming together to show their love and esteem for their leader has found expression in the elaborate floral tributes to his memory. On the flower bordered pillow rests the majestic white head of the beloved king of the gypsies.

Blues and greens, reds and yellows are the colors of the skirts and blouses of the women; the black hair and eyes of the children gleam in the sunlight and the standard clothing of the men mingle together as Healdton people observe strange faces, manners and customs. As with all peoples, there are those of high and low degree and all will follow the body of “The Old Man” to Washington, D. C. where services will be held and burial will take place in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. The body will leave at 3:15 Thursday.

The family is grateful for the kindness and courtesy extended by Collier’s and they appreciate all the gestures of good will coming from the townspeople. The register carries the names of many Healdton people who have had an opportunity to show they believe in Liberty and Justice and the Rights of all men.

Survivors are his wife, JOSEPHINE of North Carolina; four sons, M. J., BOB, and BIMBIE of North Carolina, F. J. of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; two daughters GLORIA of North Carolina and RUBY ALVAREZ MILLER of Wilmington, Delaware, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers and sisters.

For those of you who were unable to attend Chuckwagon Day at Healdton Lake last Saturday, Jill and I snapped some picture. It was a complete success with many in attendance and everyone had a great time!  There was plenty to eat, everyone could sample the chuckwagon's food line as many times as one wanted to.  Jill and I really loved the Deer meat casserole.

The kids had a great time shucking and grinding corn.

There was some picking and singing going on under a pavilion, and one couple, Granville and Joyce Robinson of Marlow, were even kicking up their heels!

One couple drove up in their modern motorcycle, a 3-wheeler.

The Healdton Lake was down some, but it was still beautiful under a clear blue sky.

One exhibitor at the Chuckwagon festival was Gerald Franklin, owner of the Black Bull Forge out of Duncan, Oklahoma. He was demonstrating the skills used by the blacksmiths of bygone days. Gerald really put on a good show, very informative, and kept everyone glue to watching him work at his furnace and anvil, beating a piece of metal into a work of art.  Jill even bought one of his metal rain gauge holders as shown in the 3rd photo.  Sure looks great in her garden.

Back nearly 4 months ago when we moved south of Lone Grove a Reader told me if I ever needed any kind of metal tubing to go north on Newport Road 2 miles to Big River Sales.  My friend said Big River Sales was probably the best place to buy metal structural pipe, square metal tubing, round tubing, portable corral panels, portable carports, farm gates, among other things available . The other day I decided to make a modification to our metal carport, so I stopped by Big River Sales this week and checked it out.  I was needing some 1 1/2 inch galvanized square tubing, about 60 feet of it.  Owner Kyle White was at the counter when I arrived just before 5pm Monday, and took my order.  Kyle said the metal was 80 cents a foot, and my total would run about $48.  I told him I didn't have $48 in cash on me, I didn't have my check book with me, and I didn't want to use a credit card, and could come back tomorrow and pick up the metal.  He looked at me and asked, "do you live around here?"  I told Kyle we just moved to Lone Grove and live south of here.  So without any more questions he told me I could  go ahead and pull around in the yard, and someone would load the 60 feet of metal tubing and I could come by the next day and pay my bill.  He didn't ask me for any ID or phone number or other information, just asked I return the next day and pay my bill.

My mind flashes back to the mid 1960s when I spent the first 21 years of my life at my grandfather's lumber yard on 3rd NE.  He had 'regular' customers come in all the time, pickup paint or lumber or wallpaper, or whatever, and leave without being required to sign anything, the cost of the materials were just placed on their bill. On or near the first of the month the customers would come in and pay their bill in full.  It was truly a time when a man's word was his bond. You sure don't see much of that anymore, but I knew Lone Grove was a great place to live, and I learned it first hand this week through a young man named Kyle White.

Kyle White didn't know me from jack, and they just loaded up my material, and off I drove, with the understanding I'd be back the next day to pay.  Needless to say I was impressed with Big River Sales and Kyle White, and the price of the metal I bought was the best I could find in these parts.  If you ever need any metal tubing, round or square, farm gates, etc., give Kyle a call, you won't be disappointed.

One last note before we leave Big River Sales of Lone Grove: Now don't all of you rush over to Big River Sales and start loading your pickups with metal, then tell Kyle you ain't got any money, but will come back tomorrow and pay him (like I did).  Kyle may have been born in the dark, but I assure you it wasn't last night.   lol

Back in 1999 I was running around Love county down by the Red River. Here is a photo I took of the Love Cemetery SE of Marietta.  Judge Overton Love is buried there along with other Love family members.

A Reader who lives just a couple miles on west of us caught a Bull Snake in his chicken coop last week.  The snake swallowed a chicken egg whole, and he snapped a picture of the egg, still very visible in the snake's stomach.

This week Ardmoreite Rick Feiler enlightened me to a huge book, about 750 pages, authored by Davis, Oklahoma resident Richard W. Chadwick.  Chadwick's book, filled from cover to cover with Oklahoma tokens from nearly every city in this state, is titled 'Oklahoma Exonomia'.  Exonomia means "out of money".  I never realized there were so many 'good for tokens' made in this state by stores and businesses, and were used by the public for goods and services, just like money. There are literally 1,000s of photos and info on every kind of token imaginable in Chadwick's book, all used in the state of Oklahoma in bygone years.  If you're interested in having a copy ($49) of this book on Oklahoma tokens, send Rick an email......

Here is an Oklahoma Old Age Consumer's Tax (1 mill as in 1/10th a penny) Rick wanted to share with everyone.

Rick Feiler's business card with contact information........

Doug Williams sent in a pic of the new fire truck that was delivered to the Healdton Fire Department last week. The truck was paid for from revenue generated by the Fire Tax that was passed by the residents of this county last year.

Visit the Oklahoma History Boards, start a topic if you want too!

Q.  What is the title of the state poem?
A.   Howdy Folks

Q.  Who was "the best athlete for the first half of the 20th century"?
A.   (answer in next weeks T&T)

Some mail from this week's MAILBAG.....

"I remember very well when the "gypsy king," whose last name as I recall was Alvarez.  I was in high school at the time.  He was with a carnival that was in town for about a week.  I think he died of either a heart attack or a stroke.  It did take several days for gypsies to arrive from all over the country.  I was surprised at how many were driving Cadillacs. When all the clan had arrived, a hearse took his body to Ardmore to sent by train somewhere in the northeast, I think.  The Healdton High School band, of which I was a member, was asked to go to Ardmore and march behind the hearse down Main Street to the depot."
"I was living in Lone Grove in 1953 and our family had a service station. I recall groups of Gypsies stopping, on their way to a so called king's funeral in Ardmore. The women wore long dresses and I recall some dipping their long dresses in the bucket used to add water to radiators, to cool themselves. It was during a very hot summer and several groups stopped. I heard hearing nothing about a curse.

Regarding coffee beans: I buy green beans and roast my own, if you want fresh beans this is the way to go. I roast with a heat gun, so called "dog bowl" roasting, using a stainless steel dog bowl, or with a home made drum in a gas grille. Easy to do and not much investment in equipment. If you are interested, I will email you some websites to tell you how to do it. Perhaps your friends in Wilson would sell you green beans. I get green beans through a supplier in Tampa, Florida, usually buying 20-25 lbs at a time, which will usually last 6 months. I usually roast no more than a pound at a time, grind enough for 4-5 days at a time. Amazing how much better it is."  -Larry Watkins, Mesquite Texas

"I remember when the "king gypsy" passed away in Healdton.  I believe it was a natural death.  We lived on 5th and Stanolind, if I remember right, We would walk a block over to miss Collier's, but on the trip back, I got brave and walked on Collier's side right through the gypsy group.  Remember the women sitting on the grass with their full skirts and the men wearing vests. I thought it was a "romantic" type setting."
"Hi Butch, Yes, I can remember well the summer the "King of the Gypsies" died while in Healdton.  The services were not held at Collier Brothers who as far as I know had no facilities but just used local churches, etc.  The gathering for the King was held at the rodeo grounds there in our fair city.  The parking was filled with large black sedans.  We kids always wondered where all the vehicles came from and the people.  Of course, we were accustomed to seeing glimpses of these transients and had PLENTY of warnings not to go near or we would be kidnapped and never seen again. And yes, the rumor had it that Healdton did have a curse placed on it because the gentleman chose to die there.  I doubt he was killed or our one city police man would never have kept that a secret.  This was when Healdton had no stop light, just an amber warning light there at the corner of main and what is it fourth?  Can't remember.  I just remember my grandmother, mom and other neighbor ladies warning us not to go near.  It worked! However, we kids, I was in Mrs. White's third grade room at Sunset Elementary School at the time, all knew that the local legend that Healdton was 'blessed' by the Chickasaw's and never would have a tornado MUST also protect us from any curse by the gypsies!  An interesting aside was that the polio vaccine was just being developed and we were used to avoiding large crowds such as rodeos, circuses, and public swimming pools.  I can still remember the line in the school hallway as we nervously awaited our shots and were we ever glad when the boosters came out on sugar cubes! Healdton lost a loving, kindly, elegant, talented, generous and Christian lady last week when Loraine Eck died from pancreatic cancer.  Her passing will leave a hole in the community which will be hard to ever fill.  Loraine taught piano to a lot of students over the years.  She died as graciously as she lived.  Her husband Kenneth Eck, well known community member and historian would benefit by our thoughts and prayers." -John Welcher via email Bayfield, Colorado
"I don’t know of anything about the curse, but my mother did tell me about the gypsies coming through and that her mother would feed them and I guess they stayed on their property. She said in the morning they were gone and they had stolen some or all of the chickens. I’m not sure if my mother lived at the Lone Star gas camp at that time or not. My granddad had a home at Zanies after that. My mother was born in 1926 and I think she was young when this happened, so it was sometime before 1950  I guess.  Her name was Letha Herrington." -David Murphey, Oklahoma City
"I've heard this story myself over the years, and between 1948-1952 or 53, the Gypsies came to Healdton running their carnival. At one such event a Gypsy King died, and was taken to Collier Funeral Home. Many large black Cadillacs from all over the country came into town, about 20 or more. The funeral may or may not have been in Healdton.  The carnivals were near where the rodeo grounds were on the east side of town. He never saw any persons staying on curbs, as such would not have been permitted by the townspeople.  There is another event which made great impressions on some, which occurred when my Grandfather H.V. Price was a ten year old boy living just outside Healdton. He told me one day he saw many large wagons traveling into Healdton, with animals on them in cages. Lion, tigers bears elephants, etc. And was very impressed by the spectacle. I believe it was the circus going to winter in what is now called Ringling. That would have been during 1920.  My Grandfather also was born in Healdton, and his Grandfather made boots with a man named Justin in Nocona, Tx.  Mr. Price may have started with Justin at Spanish Fort. From Nocona he broke with Justin and moved north of the river. I've seen some of the tools used. Anyone having information concerning Lafayette "Uncle Fate" Fate Price, would be appreciated if they could provide it.  903-374-2223."  -Randall Price, Jr.
"Summertime in good old Oklahoma.  This 5 foot King snake was on the highway south of Dickson today 5/21/08, big snake." -Doug

"AVG Free Edition is still available. The new one, Version 8, can be downloaded from their site. I believe the Grisoft Company sold but another company still provides it."
"Looking from bottom to top of the 1948 Berwyn School picture are my nieces and nephews-- Row 3 Kenneth Phillips is 4th from the right end, Row 4 - Dorcia Lee Phillips is 2nd from left, Billy Phillips is 8th from left  and J.T. Phillips is 14th from left. Does anyone know the other children in the picture?  -Mae Scott

Fastest gun in the west, Bob Mundon.......

"Hi Butch and Jill. For whatever it's worth, the pulley and belt system for making change that Charles Walker was talking about was probably located in the J.C. Penney store. I know there was one there. If there were any others, I don't remember them. I, too, was fascinated by the system and spent a lot of time watching it while my mother shopped."  -Martin Bow
"This was a very common arrangement, especially in department stores ("dry goods stores"). It was used in many, perhaps all, C.R. Anthony stores when tbat was a powerhouse chain. The Famous Store, in my home town of Perry, Oklahoma, used the same thing. The last one I saw in use was at the Dixie Store, a department store in Chickasha, until the owners retired a few years ago and the store went out of business." -Wes Leatherock
"hi butch.  tell Poss in Korea that i remember mils in the 40s too. they were about the size of a nickel, pinkish-red in color, with a small hole in the middle.  they were made of some type of hard cardboard.  my husband also thinks they said "for old age pensions".   i also remember Wacker's five & dime in Davis.  my grandmother would  give me a nickel or dime to spend.  i could spend hours in there trying to decide what to buy.  they would let me read all the comics before i decided which one to buy.  they were sure nice & patient with a little girl with time to kill before granny got off work at Francis brothers.  i also remember pneumatic change makers in Oklahoma City at brown's department store.  i was always slightly frightened by that "whoosh" noise.  they were also used at j. c. Penney's store in downtown."  -susan whitten, baton rouge
From May 20 through May 31, people can view more than 100 million names and 700 titles and databases of military records at:
"Butch- They were filling support pillar forms with concrete, Monday, May 19, 2008 as the new Memorial Hospital building program progresses. This building will be known as the Patient's Tower and occupies the area in front of the hospital where 14th Avenue use to be. The crane with the US Flag at the top will reach a height of 302 feet."

"Small towns don't host nationally known murder trials just every day of the week: At 4:30 in the afternoon of March 17, 1921, Ardmore Judge Thomas W. Champion was instructing the jury in the trial of Clara Hamon. She'd been arrested for the murder of Jake Hamon — not her husband. The Oil King of Oklahoma, Hamon also had been a prime mover in getting Warren G. Harding nominated to and elected as president of the United States. Further, we now know, that move was just part of Hamon's master plot: He planned to defraud the government out of three major oil reserves, set aside for our navy to use in the event of war or other national emergency. And, though Clara killed Hamon, his conspiracy lived on; history remembers it as the Teapot Dome Scandal."

Excerpt from "The Wilson News" Submitted by Mindy Taylor
Clippings from February 1916
~The family of Dr. E Payne who lives East of Ardmore and were shot from ambush some days ago are improving so much that they have been able to leave the sanitarium for their homes.
~The foundation has been laid at the northwest corner of Fourth and Main for a new picture show. The proprietors, Messrs. Ed Deberry, L. H. Webb, and B. M Cole are well known men of our city and the News wishes them the best of success in their new enterprise.
~Wednesday night officers Braziel and Leach, after a careful search near Lone Grove, found a big whiskey plant where 28 cases of whiskey and 21 gallons of white mule were captured and taken to the United States Marshal's office. It seems that the whiskey runners would bring their stuff in from Texas, store it, and when a favorable opportunity arose, dispose of it to their customers.
~Dr. John W. Duke, State Health Officer of Oklahoma, has sent me a supply of Diphtheria antitoxin to be used in this part of the county. The state furnishes this medicine free to those that are unable to pay for it. If you are suffering from diphtheria, take this opportunity at once. Dr. Thos. W. Dowdy

Official state poem of Oklahoma 1973

'Howdy Folks' by David Randolph Milsten

Well, here goes some scribblin' that's a little past due,
But I reckon I'm always a-thinkin' 'bout you.
I've been readin' the papers in my own little way,
And I see where you messed up my last birthday.
Through divine television I caught the dedication
And heard some tributes by a mighty swell nation.
Now that's a powerful nice shack you built on the hill;
But that's just like the Sooners, it gives them a thrill.
I never did nuthin' to cause all that fuss;
And sometimes, folks, I could almost cuss.
But, dern you, I love you, I guess it's my pride
That chokes me all up and hurts me inside.
I heard Jesse, Irvin, Cohan and Fred
And Amon and Eddie, what nice things they said.
I always called Claremore a big little town,
With guys like Mort Harrison and others around.
I see where Joe Crosson winged there for a day;
Remember him, Wiley? We slept all the way.
But I'll tell you the part which touched me the most,
And it ain't like me to speak up and boast.
It was when dear Mary pulled the curtain string
For my act in bronze -- what a homely thing!
But I guess it was sentiment that filled the place,
'Cause my kids kind of cried and I saw Betty's face.
God bless my old partner, she held up her head;
and though none of you heard me, she knew what I said.
And I spied Sister Sally with a shy little glance;
She's all the West means, charm and romance.
Old Jo had a job a-chisslin' my mug;
Why, I got more wrinkles than a Navajo rug.
So you're honorin' Oklahoma with a replica of me --
Move over Sequoyah, for another Cherokee.
Well, much obliged friends, for the money you spent,
And the words that were spoken by our President.
I wish you had erected a memorial to peace;
We'd be happy up here if war talk would cease.
But I ain't ungrateful, I just can't see
Such a hullabaloo 'bout a cowboy like me.
Well, so long folks, it's time to retire;
I got to keep a date with Odd McIntyre.

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges

PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443

Save on long distance calls, just a couple cents a minute!
Oklahoma Bells:
American Flyers Memorial Fund - Administration Webpage
Official American Flyers Memorial Website
Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Base Website
Mirror Site of the Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Website
Carter county schools, past and present
Carter County Government Website

All previous issues of This & That can be found on my Website.
Feel free to forward this free newsletter. Mailouts: over 1,500.
To be removed from my T&T mailings, just send me an email.
I do not sell, trade or give my mailing list to anyone for any reason.