This and That Newsletter

Vol 12  Issue 616     Circulation 5,000      November 13, 2008

PO Box 2

Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

email address:

580-657-8616 (not a toll free number)

Bobby Harris sent in a couple more great photos this week.  Many of you will remember Ernie Wallerstein who played for the Ardmore Indians back in the 1950s, now living in New Jersey.  If you remember Ernie told everyone in an email a few years ago that when staying in Ardmore back in those days, he lived in a 2 story apartment house at 3rd and North Washington. When Bobby emailed the photo this week from his home in Mexico, the first thing I noticed in the picture was that apartment house Ernie talked about. It was located beside the old Ardmore High School, on the north side.  Across the street to the east you can see the old Harris Filling station that was owned by Bobby's grandfather, J.C. Harris.  And a little further examination you can see on the far left the old Ringling Station Depot (ONM&P railway line).  You can't read it in the photo below, but at the top of the building are the words, THE RINGLING STATION - 1913.  The 1940 view below is looking east on 3rd NE.

3rd and North Washington intersection

This is another view of the Harris Service Station at 3rd and N. Washington back in 1942

Harris Station 1942

This next photo is Bobby's mother, Vera (Statser) Harris, taken in front of the post office a Milburn, Oklahoma in 1947.

Milburn, Oklahoma Post Office

Torrance Monuments:  While Vernon Torrance was a salesman with the Vermont Marble Company he had occasion  to travel through Texas and Oklahoma extensively, and Ardmore was on his circuit.  Vernon immediately loved Ardmore, and watched for some opportunity to open for him to live there. In 1919, a monument company, in business since 1909, was available for sale, and Vernon grabbed his opportunity.  He immediately went back home and married Laurette Gates, and this couple made Ardmore their permanent home.

Vernon's new business, Torrance Monuments, was located at the southwest corner of 4th and B streets SW.  He bought the company from Sherwin Owens, whose home was on the northwest corner of 4th and C Street SW. Torrance Monuments furnished the headstones for many of the graves in Rose Hill and other cemeteries.  The company had one of the larger displays in Southern Oklahoma, and had the distinction of being the only monument company in a large area to cut their granite from "scratch", a raw source.

One of the company's long time and talented employees was William James. He began working for Vernon in 1922, and remained there for 51 years. William had a son, Billy James, that also worked for the company about 20 years. At the time of Vernon's death in 1959, Emmagene, a daughter, and Laurette, the wife, took over the management.  In 1969, Laurette died and Emmagene took complete leadership.  She had help in the business for her son-in-law Frank Ritter and her son John Dubiel.  In 1973 Emmagene built an attractive new building to house the company in the same location.  In 1976 the company was sold to Jack Brewster , and thus ended a long reign of family workmanship. -from the 1983 Indian Territory and Carter County Pioneers Book

Jill and I were 4 miles south of Madill last weekend and stopped at L&M Closeouts located on the east side of Highway 70.  If you have not visited this store, I would say its a 'must see'.  They have a little bit of everything, and all at great prices.  The pic below does not do justice, since there is a ton of stuff, inside and out that does not show in the photo.

When we came through Madill, we stopped at the Old Market Mall on the north side of Madill. There's a lot to see there too, but one thing that caught my eye were a couple dozen player piano rolls.

But I guess of all the antique stores we've visited in Southern Oklahoma, I will say Levine's Antiques in Marietta has to be one of the best organized and cleanest store we've came across. If our eating joints were as clean as Levine's Antiques, we'd never worry about eating out.  Levine's is the original name of the store which goes back to before statehood. When Mark and Kathy Wilson opened their antique store there about 5 years ago, they found the name Levine's was still available, so were able to continue using the name.  We had a Levine's Men Store on Main Street in Ardmore about the same time, early 1900s, and I would imagine the owners of both Levine stores were kin somehow. Here a picture I snapped of the store's outside on Main Street Marietta.

As best I can find out at the library, Julius Levine Sr. first started his ready-to-wear business at Marietta where he resided.  Then in the mid 1930s (in the middle of The Great Depression) he opened at 109 West Main in Ardmore, a Mr. Lee was the manager. Sometime about 1940 we find Julius Levine living in Ardmore along with another Levine family member, Ira Levine.

Julius Levine Sr and Jr. are buried at Mt Zion cemetery here in Ardmore.

My aunt, Helen Carmon, worked as a sales clerk for Klein's for many years back in the 50s.  On a sad note, recently someone chisleled out the name Klein that was at the front entrance and replaced it with concrete (see photo).  It is sad to see Ardmore's Klein family history removed in the name of progress.

Outside view of Levine's Antiques in Marietta.

As we browsed through the almost immaculate store, I snapped some photos. This first one is of a fire hydrant. Its not really old, but sure classic.

There were several old gasoline pumps in the store. The red one in the picture is a gravity fed pump.  You'd pump the gas up in the glass holding tank to where the zero is, and then as you let gravity fed it into your car, the level would drop, showing each gallon, up to a total of 10 gallons received.

An overall view from the front of the store.

This is an old printing press like Mr. A.D. Wilkinson operated next door to Hunt's Grocery on 3rd NE back in the 60s.

Another general view looking south toward the front door.

I found these little items interesting at 75 cents each. They are railroad tie date nails, the number stamped on the top is the year.

I'd never saw one of these before, a corn planter.

This is a salt and pepper shaker that came from Ardmore's Stolfa Hardware when they closed. The closing of Stolfa's Hardware here in Ardmore in 2004 after 70 years in my opinion was one of the greatest losses I can remember. An Ardmore landmark died that day. Those two little brown things on the shaker tops are rubber protectors from the factory.

And this milk can from Ardmore's Pruitt Produce was on display near the ceiling just before the stairway to the second floor.

If your looking for some bargains in antiques and collectibles, some of the best bargains we seen in Southern Oklahoma, are found on Main Street in the little town of Marietta, Oklahoma...... Levine's Antiques.

I looked in on The Painted Pony this week, and proprietor Charlie Champion was running the place. Charlie is the only guy I know in Ardmore that can take an old piece of junk to most people, and turn it into a beautiful piece of Western Americana art. Check Charlie out at the Painted Pony and you will be amazed too.  The Painted Pony is located across the street from the Hamburger Inn on North Washington.  One item that caught my eye was a 1896 manual clothes washer.

I snapped this closeup photo of the front entrance to the old Ardmore High School. The sandstone is no longer white, but all one needs to do is hit it with a high pressure washer, just plain water, and it will clean up white and bright.

This is a pic of the old Ardmore Gym and band room behind Ardmore High School. You can see just the east edge of it in the 1940 photo sent in by Bobby Harris.

Many of the first famous oil discoveries of Carter county happened during the teens, starting with the Healdton field in 1913.  You will read in nearly all written accounts oil was discovered in Carter county between 1910 and 1913.  But in 1904 oil was discovered at Wheeler in western Carter county.  The operator was the Coline Oil Company.

As we traveled on south from Marietta, we stopped at Gainesville's Fried Pie Company across the street from the Cook County Courthouse for one of the best burgers around. Along with this $2.79 burger I ordered their fresh cut taters. This place is really a step back to another time, the turn of the century tin ceilings, chandelier, wall murals, and antique display cases.

Ten cheapest places to buy gas in the Ardmore area......

Lots of new postings.  Check out the Oklahoma History Boards and join in!

Q.   Where was Oklahoma's first school located?
A.   Union, Oklahoma

Q.   Who commuted death row inmates' sentences to life in prison?
A.   (answer in next week's T&T)

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

"Hi Butch, As so many of us I have been reading your newsletter for many years and enjoy it tremendously. It certainly shows how much you not only love Ardmore but all of Oklahoma.

The reason I'm writing is to tell you about Grey Oaks Equine Sanctuary located in southern Carter County. Since 1989 we've been taking in, as space permits, horses that through no fault of their own are homeless. These are the 'forgotten ones'. The horse that doesn't see very well, the broodmare that no longer produces offspring, the Off The Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) who doesn't win any longer, the old roping horse whose working days are behind him and needs a place to retire.

Horses that come here, stay. They are not adopted out because this is refuge, a place for retirement and rest. If you would like to learn more about Grey Oaks Equine Sanctuary please visit us  I thank you, for the horses." -Linda Simpson, Grey Oaks Equine Sanctuary


"I am Charles Kistler. My father and I owned the old Criner Farm at the foot hills of Criner Mountain (1948-1960). I operated a dairy farm there. I do not know of a tunnel there. I have been all over those mountains looking for cattle. There was gold mining west of our farm and the rock crushers was in my back pasture, I know this because they left behind about 3 acres of mining debris some gold ore. The tunnel that they were speaking about must be the mining shaft but I never found it, must have caved in and timber and grass has grown over it. I believe the mine was on the old Dilleys land, which was the mountain ridge area, that was behind our house. . The metal silo is still there as of 2005; however the farm is split up and been sold off to build more houses. The old farm house has been removed and new house was built there.. I know lot of history about this area, I had the documents from the Indian deed at one time. that went back to the early 1800. there were a lot of Indian arrow heads that I found there when I plowed up the fields also there were four oil wells drilled there in the 1950 and one flowed for several years. There are large deposits of gas and oil still there for what it's worth. I know a great deal about the geological info of that area and I hold some of the mineral rights. ALSO There are old graves markers in the 1800, mostly children's on the west side of the criner mountains behind our house." -Charles Kistler
"Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet at Noon, on Saturday Nov. 22 at the BBQ Pitt on Highway 70 in Madill.  I will be there to give a presentation on our project to place a monument at Rose Hill Cemetery in Ardmore.  Everyone is welcome." -Terry Pierce
"I have in my possession A CC camp card that belonged to Roma Keith - it has his signature on it. I would love to return it to one of his descendants. If anyone has info on Roma Keith, let me know."
"Hi Butch, a little more trivia on the Criner Hills . I don't know about any coal mines there, but south west of Hedges farm there is a creek, name sewer creek, because there was a animal rendering plant there and they let the waste go into the creek and had quite and odor. There was asphalt pits all around that area and some oil was seeping out. They must have mined asphalt for some time because the pits were large. I loaded a trailer full of asphalt several times for our drive.

When they drilled the oil wells on our farm they went through over a 1000' of coal bearing formation at about 2000', there could have been outcrop some where around. Our farm was located about three miles south and one mile west of Plainview School. I think is on the Burns road, that was not the name of the road when we live there. There is so much info I know about that area and every one has passed on , to bad, I will be gone soon, I hope not, I am 82 years and I now live in Montana. If I can pass any more info let me know." -Charles Kistler

"Hi Butch and Jill, I am going to try Jill's recipe for Sweet Potato Pie this Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing. To the gentleman, C. Roland Earsom, the words are on the west (right) side of the wind mill is Oliver." -Leona M. Mars

"In response to Mr. Bumgardner of Sherman question regarding money for the Wild Woman Cave.

While in college around 1969, three friends and I entered the Wild Woman Cave. I will only say it is in the Arbuckle Mountains because it is a fragile environment. As a child, I lived in El Paso (1954) with my Dad and we visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. The Wild Woman Cave is not anywhere near as spectacular as Carlsbad, but it was an adventure one spring day for four guys from Ardmore. One of my three friends was a geology student at OU and he had the USGS map showing us where the WWC was.

As a dot on a small map, it was very difficult to find. We hiked several miles across the rocks of the Arbuckle terrain, which even as a young man was exhausting. We drank all our water on the way into the site and on the way out and at the end of a long day, we drank creek water. The first member of our team found a deep hole where we thought the cave entrance was and he entered it. It was straight down and could have been very dangerous had he entered the cavern from the top of a chamber. I watch as he went down a vertical shaft. At the moment he was almost out of sight, a second member found another entrance. It had a semi-secured entry placed there by the Ardmore Spelunkers Club. One of my teachers in Ardmore had mentioned his membership and adventures in the cave.

Removing some rocks, we entered an 18 inch hole passing first spiders, then past sleeping bats a few inches from our faces. We climbed down a wooden ladder placed there by the ASC. The tight hole delivered us into a larger main shaft covered by mud, running water, dampness, low temperatures and an occasional flying bat. Of the four of us with four flashlights, two flashlights went out immediately. I assume because of the dampness. The four of us dissented a quarter mile on a slow decline, which included several tight spaces under rocks and through water. The lead friend had one of the flashlights and the rear friend had the other. Only very thin, agile and in excellent shape people should enter an unexplored cave. It was almost impossible to move because of the fragile stalactites and stalagmites. We took every precaution not to damage them. After encountering a partly flooded passage, we retreated to move up the cavern toward the entry and the first three friends actually missed our entry point. The last friend with one flashlight noticed the pile of rocks we had left in the middle of the shaft to show us the way out. Had he missed it I think we would still be in that cave. As we exited the cave we were covered with mud, sweat and cold cave water, so the warm spring sunlight felt very good.

I always wanted to take my boys to the Wild Woman Cave, but at my age I?m not sure I could make it. It is not a Carlsbad Cavern or an Oregon Cave which I visited in 1972 that could be commercialized. It is there for all time but not for all people. There is a good reason it is not commercialized. I hope one of the rock excavators doesn?t destroy it like so much of the Arbuckle Mountains or Arbuckle Quarry Holes as it will someday be called."  -Dan Mahoney

"David Lott has developed and produced a beautiful "online magazine" about Medicine Park, Oklahoma. There are over 130 flip through pages of beautifully written articles and artwork. Check it out. The download time is a little slow, but well worth the short wait. It is the newest thing going in magazines. Wonderful articles and interesting information!"
"Here is a neat website, you can go to Research and then Archives and see any photos they have on Oklahoma, you can also download the pictures."  -Doug Williams
"Hi Butch Jill, I just finished reading this weeks's newsletter. About the question of people being named after their doctors--I know one. In Love county we had a "Doctor Looney" who probably delivered most of the babies in that area for a number of years. Claude and Tenny Lang named one of their daughters after him calling her Lounita or Loonita. I also knew Ruby Vernon Williams and attended Meadowbrook school with her, I believe she was in my brother's class." -Nellie Fox Combe
Good Day Butch and Jill, I have been reading your Newsletter so long that using your first names seems natural.  Noticed one of your readers giving some space to Tony Hillerman who passed away recently.  I checked the web after reading of his death and copied some of his biography, if you are interested in another Okie and his contributions to the history of the Navajo Nation.

"Tony Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, OK on May 27, 1925. He was the youngest of three children, having an older brother and sister. His father, August A. Hillerman, was a storekeeper and farmer. His mother was Lucy Grove Hillerman. He attended school from 1930-38 at St. Mary's Academy, a boarding school for Native American girls at Sacred Heart. He was one of several farm boys enrolled there. Sacred Heart was near a Benedictine mission to the Citizen Band Potowatomie Tribe. For high school, he was bused to Konawa High School. He graduated in 1942. He returned to farming after a brief sojourn to college and after his father's death.  Mr. Hillerman was a Veteran, earning many honors and attended both Oklahoma A & M and Oklahoma University.

My interest in Mr. Hillerman comes from teaching school at Ft. Defiance, Arizona on the Navajo Nation in 1964-66 and discovered Tony Hillerman's books several years later.  Ft. Defiance is near Window Rock, Arizona, the Capital of the Navajo Nation.  I discovered on his death that there were two of his books I missed.  His account of the Navajo life, religion, language and culture were accurate from my experience.  Living and working there was as close as one can get to living in another country and still be in the U.S.A.  The Belagona, (white man) was the outsider and we had so much to learn and they had so much to teach.  If those of us who have had the experience of teaching on the Reservation left even 5 percent of what we knew, in relation to what we learned, you would have done a good job.  Tony Hillerman was a master at story telling and through Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, those who read Hillerman's books will know who they are, shared many stories of the culture of the Navajo's.  Butch, your readers would do themselves a favor to check one of his books out of their Libraries and that will force them to read more.  He offers an outstanding insight into the largest Native American tribe that occupies a large part of the four corners area in the west."  -Wallace. E. (Wally) Glasscock

"Just too darn excited about a Ringling girl coming to Arkansas to play with the Lady Razorbacks. Hope is an awesome softball player and she will be just as awesome as a Lady Razorback, too." -Kathi G

"Hey butch,  enjoyed this week  Very good  just thought I would let you know about a little book that can be found on e-bay or in other online stores.  It is called Gunman's Territory (1969) by Elmer LeRoy Baker and it is great.  I obtained a signed copy from the author from dad, retired Ardmore Chief of Police, Bill Culley, years ago and still find myself reading it about four times a year.  You just can't put it down.  It names the BLOODY STREET of CADDO and the gunfights.  I know why Ardmore has been named "Little Chicago" but thought the other reader's that don't know about how bad Ardmore was in those days. They need to read this book.  It is worth the money."  -Darren Culley

Gunman's Territory search at Abe Books

"Hello Butch. I see there are responses to Mrs. Landrum?s inquisition about Ruby Williams of Love County being on the Groucho Marx show in 1953. As I told you in person, Ruby Williams is my aunt. I have contacted her baby sister, Aunt Jean, who now lives in Amarillo, TX, to find out if she had ever heard anything about Aunt Ruby being on the show. She is uncertain of it and said she believed there was another Ruby Williams from Love County. With your assistance of forwarding Mrs. Landrum?s email address to me, I have contacted her. She is going to be in the Ardmore area in January, 2009, and I hope to meet with her so I can view the show to see if it is in fact my Aunt Ruby (Vernon) Williams. Aunt Ruby was the 3rd of seven children born to Brad & Cleo Vernon. Their other children are Leslie Pearl (Vernon) Heiderich, Melvin Eugene Vernon (my father), Olin Carl Vernon, Bonnie Claudine (Vernon) Hawkins, Ollie Mae (Vernon) Kimbrell, and Lola Jean (Vernon) Poland. Aunt Jean and Aunt Ollie both live in Amarillo and my dad, Melvin ?Smooth? Vernon now lives in Wilson, Ok. These people that went to school at Meadowbrook probably know my mother as well. Her maiden name was Meady Mae Nipp and she graduated from Meadowbrook in 1947 with 2 of her sisters, Parlee (Nipp) Russell and Elnora Nipp."  -Denise Menke
"Butch, when I was going to the old junior high & high school in the early 70's the old Harris Station was a hamburger place that I remember as being called the "Tiger Hut" for the Ardmore Tigers. I spent many a day going over there for lunch while attending the school there until 1974 when we moved to the current AHS. They made some pretty darn good burgers there, too."
"Someone sent me one of your newsletters, it contained Deputy Bill Ratliff's picture. I called him "Uncle Bill". He is my father's brother. John Thomas Ratliff. I am researching the Ratliffs as well as Beasleys. What I would like to know is do you have any sources to find out about wagon freight lines from Jefferson in Marion county Texas to Hopkins County Texas and west from there on to Dallas. My grandfather Beasley either owned a line, worked for one, or had his own wagon working alone. When I search, all the info I get is about the meaning of words etc. Okla is special to me, A great part of my childhood was spent at Healdton, Smyrna, Ardmore, Wilson area. I had aunts and uncles galore in this area. Ratliffs, Beasleys, Shurleys, Byruns, Harrells, Matthews. I know you are very busy with lots of querys so I will cut mine short. I appreciate the picture of Uncle Bill, he and Aunt Ada were loving people. As a child I was a little in awe of him." -Minnilou (Ratliff) Baird
"Butch, The attached photo is of a Bell filling station that was located between the Vendome swimming pool and the Skating rank in Sulphur Ok back in the 50's and 60's. Please ask your readers if anyone knows what the Oliver sign on the right side of the Bell filling station relates to. Also give their best guess on the year of the cars around the building. Thanks." -George Peveto

"Dear Friends, I would like to remind you of our upcoming public appearances to wrap up 2008 in a fun and exciting way.
November 22 ? Old Mill Theater, Buhler, Kansas with my trio (Jeanne & Jerome) (620-543-6684 for reservations) Doors open at 6pm ? Also, you may want to come early to check out the very interesting shops in downtown Buhler.

December 13 ? Cowboy Christmas Ball, Quail Valley Fun Barn, Winfield, Kansas With my Silver Lake Band (620-221-0052 for reservations) 7pm to 10pm
December 31 ? New Years Eve Dance ? Prairie Rose Chuckwagon, Benton, Kansas With my Silver Lake Band (316-778-2121 for reservations) 9pm - Midnight
Hope you can join us for lots of laughs and toe tapping music." -Les Gilliam, ?The Oklahoma Balladeer?

'A Church, A Courtroom, Then Goodbye' - Patsy Cline 1955

The first scene was the church, then the altar
Where we claimed each other, with tears of joy we cried
Our friends wished us luck there forever
As we walked from the church, side by side

The next scene was a crowded courtroom
And like strangers we sat side by side
Then I heard the judge make his decision
And no longer were we man and wife

I hate the sight of that courtroom
Where man-made laws push God's laws aside
Then the clerk wrote our story in the record
A church, a courtroom and then goodbye

We walked from that courtroom together
We shook hands and once again we cried
Then it was the end of our story
A church, a courtroom and then goodbye

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges

PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443

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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

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