This and That Newsletter

Vol 13  Issue 666     Circulation 5,000      October 22, 2009

PO Box 2

Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

email address:


I received a brown envelope in the mail this week from Cinnamon Carter of Ballinger, Texas. Cinnamon is a school teacher in Ballinger and embarked on an unusual project in February of this year: To replace the Indian statue that stood in downtown Ballinger back in the 30s but was stolen from the town in the early 1950s. There has been several fund raising events in and around Ballinger replace the stolen bronze statue like the ones from the 30s.  Cinnamon and her students are well on the way to reaching the needed goal.  In this week's envelope from Cinnamon was a 3 page article on the history of the wooden Indians from the publication, National Petroleum News, dated April 24, 1929.  The idea of placing these Indian statues in front of gasoline stations was the idea of Ardmore's own oilman Wirt Franklin.  The first statue made was placed in Ardmore.

Page 1            Page 2            Page 3

Here is a link to more on Wirt Franklin

Closeup of a Wirt Franklin gas station with Indian statue in front

Lee Thompson at Healdton ran across an interesting postcard on eBay the other day of which she is now the proud owner.  Its a photograph of the SS Healdton.  The American steam tanker was built in 1908 by a British ship building company and named after the Healdton oil field.  Thanks to Lee the first picture of the steamship is now on the Internet and available for all to see. Below is an email Lee received from a website manager whose website is dedicated to shipping tankers.

"Hello Lee, thanks for visiting my site and your email. Also thanks for the nice photo of the "Healdton", I will put her on the site. You are right the vessel "Healdton" was named after an Oil field. It was the custom for Standard Oil to rename tankers to oil production fields. Also some of the Standard where named after presidents of the company and also directors of the board. For instance the tankers of the Lago Oil Co., where all named to Oil fields in Venezuela !! Later the Esso vessels where all named to importend locations of the Standard Oil company, such as refineries or Oil harbours where the Esso vessels where sailing to. Again many thanks, best regards." -Auke Visser, Holland

Unfortunately the SS Healdton was struck by a torpedo in 1917 during WWI and sank off the coast of Holland. She sank in 20 minutes, with loss of life of many crew members. 13 of the 41 crew members were Americans.  The few who did survive the fiery initial blast suffered frostbite and frozen limbs from the frigid February water of the North Sea.

Thanks Lee for bringing to life this piece of Carter county history through a photograph.

Not long ago I took a 1923 Carter County School Journal by Kate Galt Zanies (over 350 pages) and separated each page from the book.  I now have the book in digital format, except for about 40 pages that were missed by the auto-scanner.  I do have those 40 missing pages scanned in TIFF format (required by Adobe) for inserting in the PDF files, but one has to have the full version of Adobe to be able to do that. I do not have the full version.  If anyone has a full working version of Adobe and wants to help me finish this project, give me a holler.  Below is a link to the missing pages I have already scanned.  Since the pics are in TIFF format, they are huge, over 6 megs each, a take a few minutes to download.  The files are in TIFF format, so you can't download them into Internet Explorer to view, but you can right-click on the TIFF file and download it to your computer, then view it with a photo viewer.

A T&T reader was in eastern Oklahoma today and took some pictures of the
Fall foliage. These were taken near Idabel. Oklahoma has some beautiful
scenery in those mountains.

We haven't made any road trips to see the Fall colors yet but I did snap a picture last weekend of a tree on our property all adorned in red Fall leaves.

Gas prices today in the Ardmore area......

Q.   Who was governor between 1906 and 1907 before statehood?
A.   Frank Frantz, seventh and final Governor of Oklahoma Territory.

Q.   What is Oklahoma's state grass?
A.   (answer in next week's issue)

There is some interesting reading in the Mailbag below about "The El Paso 10" drug bust that took place December 30, 1975 at the Ardmore Airpark. (We will have more on The El Paso 10 next week too.)

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

"Butch, the neighbor had these photos of the 1915 Ardmore Explosion. I have seen some but not some of the other photos."  -Mike

Photo 1    Photo 2    Photo 3    Photo 4    Photo 5    Photo 6

Photo 7    Photo 8    Photo 9    Photo 10    Photo 11

Photo 12     Photo 13    Photo 14    Photo 15

Photo 16    Photo 17    Photo 18

"Here is an article on Oklahoma gangsters including Pretty Boy Floyd in Oklahoma in the 1930's.  There is a video with sound of court proceeding on George "Machine Gun" Kelly.  The source is The Oklahoman."

"Butch: Another piece of forgotten/unknown Oklahoma history from the early 1940s. Dark Fantasy was a short series with tales of the weird, adventures of the supernatural, created by Scott Bishop. The series aired as a horror drama on NBC between 1941 and 1942."

"Last week, we reactivated the bell's "Toll" hammer and rope in Shawnee, so beginning tomorrow afternoon with Robert Igo's funeral at 2pm, the bell will be tolled a number of times to indicate the age in years of the deceased." -Bill Johnson

"Butch,  I don't remember if I sent this image of Bill Tilghman to you.  It marks the place where he was killed in Cromwell, OK.  He was one of the "Three Guardsman" of Oklahoma Territory."   -Cecil OK.jpg

Note: This is an abbreviated account of the infamous ?El Paso 10? case in Carter County thirty years ago. It is one chapter in my pending book Tales From An Oklahoma Courtroom that I hope to publish early 2010.

The El Paso Ten ? Justice Denied

 By James Clark, Ardmore, Oklahoma

In the fall of 1976, the D.E.A. got a tip about a huge shipment of marijuana being loaded onto a vintage DC-6 plane near Medellin, Colombia. The loaded plane flew north across the Gulf of Mexico into the United States and refueled in New Orleans. It then took off and headed almost northwest across Texas. The feds tracked its route, calculated the range of the aircraft and decided that the nearest air field that would accommodate the huge plane for another refueling was the Ardmore Airpark with its extended runway and available fuel pumps.

The feds contacted the Ardmore Police Department and a unit of local cops met the federal officers at the air park, hid their vehicles and waited. Around 3 a.m. 4 large U-Haul trucks entered the airpark from the west, drove onto the runway and parked at the extreme northeast end.  Shortly thereafter, a twin-engine Cessna 310 circled the airfield several times, and then landed. The pilot exited the small aircraft, walked toward the trucks and disappeared. Within minutes, the huge DC-6 landed, blowing one tire on contact. The mammoth plane taxied to the area near the trucks and extinguished its lights. The patient cops watched numerous men unloading the aircraft and loading the rental trucks. When the loading was finished, the officers  pounced.

Nine men were arrested at the scene, including the two pilots, who were American citizens, and seven Mexican Nationals. Another Mexican escaped, walked or ran to I-35, where he was later found, suffering from severe frostbite. 17 tons of marijuana was seized, at the time representing the largest inland seizure of pot in the country?s history.

Strangely, the Carter County Sheriff?s Department headed by Sheriff Robert Denney was not alerted to the crime and played no part in the investigation. (There were rumors that the feds didn?t trust a local sheriff to keep quiet, an absurd contention when it came to Denney.)

The group, later to be known as the ?El Paso 10? stood trial before Judge James H. Dillard. All had attorneys from El Paso except the Cessna 310 DC-6 pilot, who retained local attorney Charles A. Milor, Sr.  One El Paso attorney representing several defendants, Lee Chagra, became infamous in his own right after the trial. Ron Worthen and Paul W. Reed, Jr., a Murray County Assistant, prosecuted the case. After all evidence was in, the jury acquitted all ten defendants. The verdict was a  travesty.

Several interesting things happened as a result of the El Paso 10 trial.  During the Ardmore hearing, Attorney Lee Chagra casually mentioned to an El Paso colleague that he, Chagra, represented the Bandidos, a notorious Mexican motorcycle gang, and as a part of his services, stored the gang?s huge cache of money in his office safe. During a break from the trial, the El Paso attorney innocently mentioned the money horde to his brother, an El Paso realtor. The realtor hired two Ft. Bliss airmen to visit Chagra?s El Paso law office on a Saturday afternoon under the pretense of hiring him to do some legal work for them. They bound and gagged Chagra, covered the surveillance cameras, and then murdered him and ransacked the safe. The airmen, and the realtor, were convicted of murder and went to prison at Huntsville for the crime.

Lee Chagra?s brother, Jamiel Chagra, facing a serious narcotics trial before federal judge John H. Wood in San Antonio in 1979, hired Charles Harrelson, father of film star Woody Harrelson, to murder Judge Wood in return for a cash payment of $250,000.  Harrelson was convicted of the crime and swore he was innocent until he died in Huntsville?s prison. Jamiel Chagra was convicted of narcotics charges and served 30 years; he was also convicted of the Wood assassination.  A younger brother, Joe Chagra, also an attorney, was told in confidence by his brother Jamiel that he had hired Harrelson to do the job. The feds ignored the attorney-client relationship and indicted Joe Chagra for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. A jury acquitted Joe of the murder, but to keep from testifying against his brother, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and went to jail. (Thus Joe Chagra pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit a crime that a jury found he didn?t commit).

To this day no one knows for sure why the local jury acquitted the defendants, who were clearly guilty of the serious narcotics crime.  There were reports of juror misconduct, with rumors of some of the younger female jurors consorting with some of the defendants and their lawyers at the Ramada Inn in Ardmore during the trial. Nothing ever came of that sort of thing, however, and no one knows for sure if that happened. Certainly no one can say why the jury entertained a reasonable doubt in the face of cut and dried, overwhelming evidence.

The DC-6 pilot had evidently been plying his trade ferrying drugs from South America to the United States for years, and after having been found not guilty by the Ardmore jury, founded a successful sports equipment company in Oregon. He later ran for the U.S. Senate there and confessed to reporters that he had once been charged with possessing a ?small amount of marijuana? in Oklahoma. An Oregonian reporter contacted Yvonne Richards, the local court reporter, who presumably contradicted the ?small amount? claim. The candidate was easily defeated in the election and continued his successful business.

Quite a story. I still cannot believe those guys walked on those charges. I?ll also never understand why the charges were not brought in federal court. If they had been, the El Paso 10 would all be old men now, still in federal lockups.    -James Clark, Ardmore

This & That readers interested in this type of story would enjoy reading Dirty Dealing by Gary Cartwright (Atheneum Press). It tells the story of the Chagra brothers, Lebanese sons of Syrian immigrants to Mexico as well as the Judge Wood murder, which the FBI labeled ?The Crime of the Century.?

Dealing Dirty Page 87
"Please don't sell THIS AND THAT!!  It would never be the same.  I am a Native Ardmoreite, and l live out of state, so as I read this publication every week, it is like being home for a few minutes. Thank you and Jill for doing a marvelous job!"
"Butch since we are all being wary of the flu bug that is going around
now, I'd like you to read a report from Rick Wallace's updated Veterans
Center website. Now this was in 1918 when the flu was very bad."

Ardmore, Oklahoma December 31, 1918

To the Honorable Board of Trustees for the Confederate Home of Oklahoma

In submitting herein my second biennial report (for 1917 and 1918) covering conditions from my view point as Medical Advisor for the Home, I refer with some degree of pride and gratification to the fact there have died not more than six inmates from acute diseases during this period. These six have all died of pneumonia as a sequel to la grippe. All other deaths (twenty seven in number) have resulted from infirmities incident to age. Thirteen of the deaths in the Home occurred in 1917 and twenty during 1918. The general health of the inmates has been exceptionally good during the entire period covered by this report. There have been no cases of Influenza in the Home during the terrible epidemic which has prevailed so extensively since last September. Shortly after this fearful disease began to rage throughout the country , taking its ghastly toll of life, I placed a quarantine over the Home, hope to save its inmates from its ravages, fearing it would almost depopulate the institution in case it ever got started there and prevailed to the extent it had been doing elsewhere. After the first wave of this pandemic had passed over I found that for some reason, as yet unexplained, old people where in a large measure immune to this disease. I then lifted the quarantine and allowed the inmates their usual liberty. I have not been able to identify a single case of the ?flu? so far in this institution, and as the second wave is passing, I trust we will be spared from this menace to the health in the Home.

Very respectfully,
J. C. McNees
Physician In Charge

"I grew up in another place but the same Great Depression time period. I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada. During the American great depression of the 1930s the Canadian economy was booming."  -Bill Richardson
"GREETINGS FROM BIG SKY, MONTANA. We received our first real snow fall of the season last night with about 18 inches of Mr. White. Here's a shot of Tricia in our driveway this morning.  I think a number of local children are going to be Trick or Treating as snowplow drivers this year. LOL"  -Monroe Cameron

"It was a sad day today for railroad history and Ardmore, Okla. as the demolition started on the historic Over Pass and Trestle system in Ardmore that was once used by such railroads as The Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf / The Rock Island / The Frisco and The Santa Fe. Efforts had been made to preserve the structures but finally failed. I've uploaded some photos at the following link and will upload more as work progresses."

Here's some video I shot of the last moves over the trestles back in 1998 when Santa Fe abandoned the line.

Part 1

-C. Dwane Stevens

"Well, I've just completed logging on to KTRX FM Radio (out of Dickson and Ardmore) so I can listen to the Wolves and Sooner Games from the house here in Korea for the rest of the season.  Hope that each of you have done so or will do so as well.  The capability to send and read comments is on the site as well.  Wrote a great big Hello to all the Davisites and Sooner Fans with special Hello to the other Founding Four Coyotes from Turner Falls High School.  Love and God Bless you all."  -Poss

"Walking My Cat Named Dog" - Norma Tanega 1966

I'm walkin' all around the town
Singin' all the people down
Talkin' around, talkin' around.
Me and my cat named Dog
Are walkin' high against the fog
Singin' the sun
Singin' the sun

Happy, sad and crazy wonder
Chokin' up my mind with perpetual dreamin'.......

I'm driftin' up and down the street
Searchin' for the sound of people
Swingin' their feet, swingin' their feet
Dog is a good old cat
People what you think of that?
That's where I'm at, that's where I'm at.

Happy, sad and crazy wonder
Chokin' up my mind with perpetual dreamin'......

Dog is a good old cat
People what you think of that?
That's where I'm at, that's where I'm at, that's where I'm at

See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges

236 Timber Road
Ardmore, Oklahoma

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

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