PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402
With Memorial Day just 4 days away I wanted to share something written by my uncle. It was 1944, Pfc Paul E. Bridges was a member of the 45th Division, the Oklahoma National Guard “Thunderbirds.” He was serving his country during WWII in France. In December of ’44 he wrote a poem to share his thoughts with his family back home in Davis. Four weeks later Paul died on the battle front in France. As I started transcribing from Paul’s original hand written letter to text for this newsletter, I had to stop several times because emotions just over come me, knowing as I read my uncle’s letter and poem, he, like so many Americans over the years and are still today, giving the ultimate sacrifice so I can live in freedom. I can not even imagine that January day in 1945 when Paul and his buddies were surrounded by Germans at Reipertswiller, France on Hill 415. Early in the afternoon the Germans sent a party under a white flag to give a message to the American commander of the surrounded troops: Further resistance is futile; surrender by five o’clock or suffer the consequences. 158 were killed including my uncle Paul Bridges.
Below is the letter and poem Paul wrote:
Dec 18, 1944
Dear Mom and Dad:
Here is a line or so to just let you know I am alright. Got letter from Jack and Evelyn (Bridges) today. Will answer them later. Don’t have much time now. I wrote Don and told him I got the pictures. Do you want them back?
Write and tell me the news. I haven’t heard from Exie but I know she has written. I promised you a poem I had written, did I not? Well here it is. It is one I wrote to Exie for her. The best I could do but does tell you kinda how I feel.
Just a few of these lines are from me to you,
The thoughts we have and the things we do,
Some folk just live from day to day,
While the others have something like this to say,
Though many a mile is between us Dear,
Our love seems to keep us very near,
Your thoughts and prayers that I know are true,
I know will someday bring me home to you,
Though others like us to, are in this fight,
I pray God will keep us from harm and fright,
Their thoughts and mine are all about the same,
Of our Lord, home, and your sweet name,
We dream of the future and things of the past,
We wait for the day we are home at last,
We have a job, a very hard task,
As of home there is very little we ask,
We ask your love, faith, and letters too,
They help us when we are feeling blue,
We worry not so much of things over here,
Ours is of home and folks so dear,
Some of wives, families, and mothers too,
While others, not so lucky, well they worry too,
Some of my thoughts, which here I express,
They are not only mine, although they are for you,
There are others here that think the same,
Well, so what, it is no shame,
If others there were half so true,
These fellows here would come back to you,
We are here for freedom, love, and life to hold,
While most folks there, for money and fun, so we’re told,
I pray that God, your soul to keep,
And boys left here, their souls to keep,
If our time should come for us to go,
Which you will surely know,
I just pray we will meet with Him on yonder’s shore,
And love each other as we did before.
Well, there it is. I had to borrow two pens to write as one ran out of ink. I hope you can read it and you and Evelyn let me know your opinion. You won’t see it in the papers, but all the boys want a copy to send home to their folks. So long for now, I will write you when I can, I try to write you or Jack’s wife at least twice a week – between you get the news. I hope I can write all so they won’t worry to much. Write soon and send pen and pencil if you want to, if not ok. Merry Christmas again and God bless and protect all.
Love your son,
Below is the actual hand written letter and poem.
Here is a picture of Paul Bridges and his two sons, Ralph “Poss” and Eddie.
Ardmoreite Mae Scott sent in a great group photo of Franklin school back in the 1940s.
As I promised last week, here is another history lesson by Betty Carroll:
“Once upon a time…. some Ringling residents will remember the Cornish Children’s Home that began as a dream for Moses E. Harris, who taught school at the Chickasaw Chapel near Marietta. He dreamed one night that he built a magnificent orphanage. Shortly after his dream, Harris began securing funds to build such a place in Cornish, Oklahoma.
The frame structure was started in October 1903. Then in 1917 the three-story wooden caught fire. It was a sad day for all the kids who lived in the home, but it didn’t take long for rebuilding to begin. Funds were slow to come in so Wirt Franklin, a local oilman, paid for the completion of the building after striking oil near Oklahoma City.
After Harris reached old age he sold the 297 acres and home for $7,000 with the understanding that the home would keep going. After about two years it sold to an individual and the doors were closed forever. The home ultimately housed over 1,700 homeless children.” -Recorded by Betty Carroll October 17, 1984
I’ve had so much response to the shed made from pallets (even a call just last night from Florida), I’ve started a webpage for the chicken coop.
My old gasoline push lawnmower gave up the ghost this week. If anyone near Ardmore has a gas push mower they want to sell, send me an email. email@example.com With gas prices sky high here, Jill and I aren’t going anywhere this Memorial Day weekend, just stay around the house, work on the chicken coop and in the yard.
Ten cheapest places to buy gas in the Ardmore area……
Oklahoma History Boards!
Q. What Cheyenne chief was killed by Custer?
A. Black Kettle
Q. The Thunderbirds rescued people from what concentration camp?
A. (answer in next week’s T&T)
Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..
The Sons of Confederate Veterans Annual Memorial service at Rosehill in Ardmore will be at 9:30 AM on Monday the 25th. This is a change from the usual time, and hopefully it will be better by avoiding the usual heat. This will allow anyone who wishes to attend the event at the Veterans center on South Commerce to do so. We will have the past National Commander of the SCV, Denny Sweeney as our speaker. The event should last approximately 1 hour. As usual bring a lawn chair if you like. For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oklahoma Antique Aircraft Association will be having a “Fly-In” at the Pauls Valley Airport, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma on Saturday, June 6, 2009. It will be open to the public and is a gathering of pre and post WWII aircraft. The Pauls Valley Kiwanis will be selling breakfast at 8:00 AM and lunch at 12:00 PM. Please attend and enjoy the fun and learn a little about aviation.
“Butch, glad to see you had the opportunity to enjoy a hamburger from Wimpie’s in Sanger, TX. I don’t know if you have ever had the chance to have a hamburger in Denton, TX. There are two places I highly recommend. RG Burgers (Real Good Burgers) and the Denton County Independent Hamburger Company in the old town square on the south side from the old Courthouse.
RG burgers has 16 different customer burgers and 9 custom hotdogs. My favorites are the Brunch burger which has a juicy fried egg on it. The Pancho Villa is good, too, with avocado, grilled onions and pepper jack cheese.”
You can view the menu at the link below.
You can see some great photos of Denton County Independent Hamburger Co. at the link below.
This is a pic from a stereoview card which reads ” This world’s greatest educated horse, owned by Hardy Murphy of Ardmore, Oklahoma at the Fort Worth, Texas Stock Show and Rodeo”. This is a rare stereoview card. -Robert Hensley
Butch — The Arbuckle Historical Society of Murray County Museum has just recently established a web-site for all interested in the history and activities of Sulphur. The website: http://www.ahsmc.org Included are photos of the many displays in the various rooms of Sulphur’s old City Hall at 402 West Muskogee plus information about membership fees, ongoing activities, etc. Our meetings — open to everyone– are held on the third Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Museum. Our vision: “Yesterday’s Necessities are Tomorrow’s Treasures ONLY if Collected Today!” At present the Museum is open from noon until 5:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday, but with enough advance notice we can open at other times for groups of 10 or more. -C. Roland Earsom
“In August 1868, Roman Nose led a series of raids on Kansas farms that provoked another full-scale military response. Under General Philip Sheridan, three columns of troops converged to launch a winter campaign against Cheyenne encampments, with the Seventh Cavalry commanded by George Armstrong Custer selected to take the lead. Setting out in a snowstorm, Custer followed the tracks of a small raiding party to a Cheyenne village on the Washita River, where he ordered an attack at dawn.
It was Black Kettle’s village, well within the boundaries of the Cheyenne reservation and with a white flag flying above the chief’s own tipi. Nonetheless, on November 27, 1868, nearly four years to the day after Sand Creek, Custer’s troops charged, and this time Black Kettle could not escape: “Both the chief and his wife fell at the river bank riddled with bullets,” one witness reported, “the soldiers rode right over Black Kettle and his wife and their horse as they lay dead on the ground, and their bodies were all splashed with mud by the charging soldiers.” Custer later reported that an Osage guide took Black Kettle’s scalp.” -Larry Guthrie email@example.com
“Great grandpa was old man Tuck, my Grandma was Minnie lee Tuck. I have actual pictures of my Grandpa and his son after they were shot and pictures of the restaurant he had my Aunt Leta Henry from Ardmore gave to me. My Grandma married John Henry. I loved listening to my Aunt talk about our history. I would love it if any T&T Readers have any old pictures of my Grandpa?s Ferry. I have some but they are very old The Oklahoman did an article years ago and they had 1 picture of the ferry going across the river. Thank You.” -nancy henry-killmeyer firstname.lastname@example.org
“Butch, I received these pictures from Edgar Wallace today and thought it would fit your T and T. This is a new building in memory of Delbert D. Black who was appointed the first E-10 ( there is only one of these as the enlisted rank only goes up to E-9) in the military so he was the top man in the Navy. He was born in western Love county and I was proud to have served under him in the Navy, he really changed working conditions for the enlisted men in the military and of course being a fellow Okie from the next county to my home really made us Okie sailors proud. I even learned about him before I went into the Navy from my high school teacher Jack Cox as he would tell us about him. Edgar and I got one of his uniforms put into the Military museum out on Sunset Drive. I actually got to meet him here in Ardmore.” -Doug Williams
“Butch, I thought your bird watching readers would enjoy these photos. I have a long peg on my garage peg board that holds several rolls of tape. I disovered a bird’s nest in them and one has a little egg in it.” -William Davis in Corinth, TX
“Figured while I was on the subject, I’d add photos of my cardinals. I’ve gotten this same pair of Cardinals at my feeder every year. Now granted, these aren’t the best photos cause I’m taking them from inside my apt. through the window screen. They see even my slightest little movement. Anyway, I love to watch these guys. Sometimes the female sits on the railing and the male will gather seed from the feeder and flitter down to the railing and feed her. It’s really kind of neat. I also love that it’s the same pair returning every year. I’ve never had any other cardinals but these two. I have a lone blue jay that comes, too, but I haven’t been able to catch a photo of him yet. He won’t sit still long enough for me to get my camera. 😉 Kathi George, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Oklahoma Antique Aircraft Association will be having a “Fly-In” at the Pauls Valley Airport, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma on Saturday, June 6, 2009. It will be open to the public and is a gathering of pre and post WWII aircraft. The Pauls Valley Kiwanis will be selling breakfast at 8:00 AM and lunch at 12:00 PM. Please attend and enjoy the fun and learn a little about aviation. For further info please contact: Johnene Smith – 580-653-2622 or Glenn Smith – 580-653-2253 or www.antiqueairfield.com
“Hi Butch, I came across your website in doing some additional research on my families history in Oklahoma and thought you might be interested. My family were the Richetti’s, Adam was my great uncle and Eval was my grandmother.” -Fred S. Sustik
The link below tells about a bank robbery in Sulphur in the 30s by my relatives and death of one of the bank robbers.
http://members.fortunecity.com/fsustikComanche Bank Robbery: On April 26, 1933 friends of Blackie and Adam; Coleman Rickerson, Clarance Garatley, and Shine Rush robbed the bank at Comanche, Oklahoma. Leaving one man in their parked sedan, two men entered the bank and held seven persons at gunpoint while forcing the cashier to hand over two thousand dollars. After they had released five hostages, a posse man confronted them and was wounded in the hip in the gunfight that ensued. Clarance Garatley, and Shine Rush rushed to Blackie’s farm where they hid out in a cabin at the back of the farm.
Three days later on April 29, 1933 local law enforcement officials aided by a tip raided Marie and Blackie Smalley’s farm. In the ensuing shoot out, Clarence Garatley is captured however Coleman Rickerson was killed in the shootout when he refused to surrender. Blackie, and Marie along with her younger sister Eva Richetti were arrested for harboring a criminal at a cabin behind their farmhouse.
As time went on Blackie Smalley found himself in prison once again for robbery. On December 13th 1943 Blackie while confined to the Oklahoma State prison was working in the prison canteen during that afternoon when he was approached by 2 inmates, Moses Johnson and Stanley Steen. Both inmates accosted Blackie and robbed the canteen of $30.00 and Blackie of his watch. Blackie reported the robbery to Sergeant Pat Riley at 3:15pm. Sgt Riley located both suspects in the boiler room where they had worked. As he began to question them about the robbery, Moses Johnson hit Sgt Riley over the head with a pipe, then Stanley Steen stabbed Sgt Riley about the face and back with a knife. Leaving Sgt Riley on the floor to die, both inmates hurried to the prison canteen where other inmates in the area realized what was going on and quickly exited the canteen. Moses Johnson then confronted Blackie and stabbed him with an ice pick killing him. Shortly thereafter other prison guards arrested the two inmates in the canteen but not in time to save Blackie Smalley.
Sulphur Bank Robbery: On Wednesday, 9 March 1932, at 2:30pm Adam Ricchetti, dressed in a dark suit and leather boots, driving a 1932 Chevrolet Coupe, license tag 99-512 along with Fred Hammer, a local ex sheriff and supposed leader of this gang, and Luther (Blackie) Smalley, Clemantine (Ricchetti) Smalley’s husband, pulled up just across the street of the front door of the First National Bank at Mill Creek, Sulphur, Oklahoma. Fred Hamner, aged 35, 165 lbs, dressed in a pinstripe suit and bib overalls along with a bearded Blackie Smalley dressed in a dark suit walked across the street into the bank carrying pistol, as Adam awaited outside in the car with the engine running. Once Fred and Blackie had entered the bank they ordered everyone inside to lay down on the floor including cashiers Vivian Dye and Charlie Penner. Fred gathered up almost $830.00 dollars from the cashier drawers and vault and placed the money into a black bag. The bank tellers were then told to go with them, but Charlie Penner jumped into the vault, pulling Mrs. Dye after him, and slammed the door. One of the bandits shot at Charlie Penner, the bullet striking the door about an inch from the edge. Penner then turned on the bank alarm.. As the silent alarm went off one of the men fired shots into the vaulted door in anger, which alerted more of the town’s people. Both men ran from the bank, Fred carrying the black satchel of money with Blackie right behind him, only to be met by a hail of accurate shotgun and pistol fire by vigilante citizens. In the attempted shootout, and escape, Fred Hamner dropped dead with a gunshot wound to the head being struck on the right side, the bullet coming out between his eyes caving in the front part of his face. Blackie Smalley was shot in the head above the left eye. Both men fell from shotgun fire and several rounds of pistol fire, barely making it to the street, the money fell onto the sidewalk. Hearing the gunfire Adam began to drive south from the bank about 75 yards, backed the car up about 40 feet and opened fire on the citizens. While they were returning the fire, Blackie Smalley who was lying on the sidewalk crawled to his gun and was raising to shoot when a gun came down on his head. Adam then drove towards (Pappy) P. W. South’s farm, south of Mill Creek in a hale of withering gunfire.
“Butch, Don’t know if you have seen this, but it was interesting for me. It had more detail about the air base than I had known before.”
And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,
and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me,
and I’ll proudly stand next to him to defend her still today,
cuz there aint no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridges
PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443https://oklahomahistory.net
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Oklahoma Bells: https://oklahomahistory.net/bellpage.html
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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