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Vol 15  Issue 773 November 17, 2011

PO Box 2, Ardmore, Oklahoma 73402

Email: butchbridges@oklahomahistory.net

Phone: 580-490-6823

Steve Hamm is in the process of adding another piece of history to the Ardmore Criterion website. This 52 page collection of historical Ardmore sites was a creation of Sally Gray before her death last year. Almost every page has a photo of Ardmore’s past, many before statehood in 1907. A wealth of history for the browsing! Over the next few weeks Steve will be adding more of Sally’s photos to the online collection as time permits. A big thank you to Steve Hamm for this addition to the website!


No where in the United States will you find a website of school criterions online for viewing like the one Steve Hamm has created. Ardmore will be forever indebted to Steve.


The Daily Ardmoreite, Ardmore, Oklahoma
Monday November 8, 1943

Curious Coincidence Marks Tragic Deaths of
Two Men Killed in Sunday Accidents

Air Base Sergeant Dies in Car-Truck Crash;
Transient Texan Plunges to Death From Third Floor of County Courthouse


Two deaths by violence, each independent of the other and yet both connected by a curious circumstance of coincidence, occurred Sunday morning and officers were kept busy with investigations most of the day.

The dead: T/Sgt. John P. Clark, 36, Ardmore army air base, killed when his car and a huge meat truck collided near the Avalon club south of town at 1:30am Sunday.

Otis Berry, 1224 North Akard, Dallas, about 40, who was killed when he either jumped or fell from the narrow corner window of the witness room on the third floor of the county courthouse. Berry was killed sometime early Sunday morning.

Connecting Link

The connecting coincidence hinged on the fact that a jacket found on the body of Berry was identified as one having been stolen early Saturday evening from Clark. Clark had reported theft of a quantity of clothing from his car.

Clark, in company with two other soldiers, T/Sgt. Leonard Gill and Sgt. Hugh G. Gwaltney, also of the air base, and Beatrice Scearce, Ardmore, was driving out of the parkway at the Avalon in Clark’s car. Clark was driving.

A large truck, owned by the Strickling truck lines, driven by Melvin Born, 516 Southwest 9th, Oklahoma City, was traveling south on U.S. highway 77. With Born was a sailor, T.W. Roberts, Norman, who was riding with the truck as a passenger.

The two vehicles crashed, demolishing the Packard, and seriously damaging the truck which ground on for a distance and turned over.

Clark was caught in the wreckage and mangled. None of the others was seriously injured. Gill was bruised and slightly cut but was not sufficiently injured to require more then temporary first aid.

Clark had been acting as assistant to the billeting officer at the chamber of commerce for some weeks. His home address is given as 504 South Bonnie Brae, Los Angeles. His wife, Mrs. Janette Gray Clark, is postmistress at Wilton, N.D. They have two daughters, 11 and 9 years of age. His mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Clark, live in Jacksonville, Texas. He had been at the Ardmore base for some months.

The body was taken in charge by Bettes funeral home and was dispatched by the army to his parents’ home for burial.

Fall Is Fatal

The case of Berry is concealed in uncertainty. Berry, who was identified only by a social security card found in his pocket, is not known locally. John Smithers, deputy sheriff, said he saw the man late Saturday and apparently intoxicated on Main street. The officer was trapped in traffic and by the time he had extricated himself, the man had disappeared.

Clark reported theft of clothing from his car to police and said a man roughly fitting Berry’s description had been seen about the vehicle.

Sunday morning at 8am a passerby on the south side of the courthouse saw the crumpled body at the edge of the southwest corner of the building and notified police.

Officers investigated and Berry, his head crushed by impact with a concrete curbing around the shrubbery was found. He had been dead at least five hours, doctors said.

He was in his stocking feet, had a small sum of money on his person, wore Clark’s blouse and the social security card was only papers.

Through Narrow Window

A narrow window, less than a foot in width and the sash only two and a half feet tall, on the third floor of the courtroom was broken.

The window opens into a small room used as a witness chamber off the district court. In the room, officers found a pair of shoes, two hats, cigarette butts and a few capsules of some drug. A large coat rack had been turned over but a number of chairs were still erect and there was no other sign than the overturned rack of any disturbance. Fragments of the shattered glass were largely inside the building and on the floor of the room.

Tom Kyle, police chief, Gerald Tebbe, assistant county attorney, and sheriff’s officers sent a call to Oklahoma City and three state investigators were called in.

After considering all the apparent facts, the officers came to the conclusion that Berry had entered the courthouse through the first floor lobby, which is never locked, had made his way into the district courthouse and into the witness room.

For some reason, not known, they believe he then raised the narrow window sash and either leaped out or fell out. As he cleared the sill, the sash fell with sufficient force to shatter the glass. Berry plunged about 40 feet, his head striking full on the low concrete curbstone.

There are three other sizable windows in the small room, which for a number of years was used as a private office for visiting district judges. How it happened the man picked the narrow window is not known.

His body was also taken in charge by Bettes and was being held pending decision on what to do with it.


Mary Lou at Sulphur sent in a picture this week of the construction site of the new Artesian Hotel in that city. I know its going to be beautiful when finished, since its going to be modeled after the old Artisan Hotel of years ago. Before we look at Mary Lou’s photo, here is what the original hotel looked liked.


And this is the construction site today.


John Trusty in Joliet, Illinois sent me an interesting piece of history this week. A Santa Fe train schedule from 1943. The pages are kinda hard to decipher, but I guess if a person used one often, it would be easy.  I scanned the train schedule from one page…. Chicago to Ft Worth. But first, here is the front cover.



And here is the page for the 1943 Ardmore to Healdton to Ringling schedule.


Also in the brochure passenger train traffic was up 102 percent since 1941. This would mainly be due to American troops being transferred all over the U.S. plus the rationing of gasoline. And 60,000 employees!

In 1888 Ardmore’s first cemetery was established in the SW corner of McLish and H Street SW.

From This and That newsletter archives of November 14, 1998:
“Attached are two photos that I took earlier today. I think you said this building was used for an express rider (stage stop) years ago. I was told today that it was used by bootleggers during alcohol prohibition. Anyway it is located south of Sulphur, Oklahoma on Highway 177. It is in sad shape.”



“I remember the filming of Dillinger. You failed to mention that the great Ben Johnson played Melvin Purvis. Ardmoreite Ronnie Roberts did a good job… so did Larry Smith even though he added a couple of extra words to his part…and, I think James Clark was in it too. Also, many of your readers might be interested to know that Steve Kanaly (who played Ray Krebbs on the Dallas series) played the part of Pretty Boy Floyd. I was in Ardmore Little Theatre at the time and we were responsible for entertaining, chauffeuring, etc., of some of the actors while they were there. It was fun…one of my good memories. Still see a couple of the stuntmen in shows today.”

Q.  Where is the world’s longest multiple arch dam located?
A:  Pensacola Dam near Langley, Oklahoma, forms Grand Lake o’ The Cherokees

Q.   What is the official state tree of Oklahoma?
A.    (answer in next week’s newsletter)

Gas prices today in the Ardmore area……


Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..“Butch, the Skyview Theater was owned and operated by Jimmy and Rose Gaskins. Rose sold tickets and Jimmy was usually in the concession stand.” -Frances Dunlap

“I think the teen dance hall at 10th S.E. was named the Minute Inn. operated by I think Melre Donalson. Hope I am right. Has been a long time 1950s.” -jim

“Photo of Oklahoma City Skyline. The tallest building to the Right is the New Devon Building. Devon is a fast Oil-Gas Energy Company.” -Joe Hock

THE DAVIS NEWS – 100 YEARS AGO: Two Santa Fe trains collided at Crusher switch, 12 miles south of Davis on Nov. 7. The southbound train had slowed to go on a siding when the northbound train round a curve and the two engines collided. One of the engineers was fatally scalded, and about
30 passengers were injured. “Several Davis residents drove down to see the wreck. Mr. Slover’s auto transported C.H. Parks, R.L. Freeman, P.T. Francis and W.M. Baughman. I.W. Saunders and Hugh McAdoo drove down to take pictures,” editor Fay Crossett wrote.

R.O. Denton advertised that liquid smoke was the new way to preserve meats. He sold Figaro Preservar at his store.

Pat Mashburn was the new carrier for Rural Route No. 1.

Someone broke into J.A. Lowrance’s room and took his pants containing about $40. The pants were lying on the door step the next morning.

John W. Williams of Davis was the publisher for a new song “Out in Oklahoma” by Stephen Shannon of Oklahoma City.

“My family is seeking the site where our grandfather, Thad Day, Sr. and his brothers, obtained the petrified rock used in the building of the natural rock homes in Ardmore in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Warren Sullivan indicated it was obtained from his ancestors old Copeland family farm south of Lone Grove near Brock. Would anyone know where this is? We thought there may be an indention in the land or such that could be spotted using Google satellite views of the land.

One last item: I would like to locate and view any ?fallout shelters? built by my father, Ben Day, in the 60?s during the height of the cold war. I especially remember one I worked on in Davis one summer in the late 60?s. It was very deep, had a well predrilled in the bottom of it, very, very thick walls and ceiling, and more steel than you could imagine.” -Randy Day

“This week viewing the colorful leaves along Beaver Academy Road near Majestic Hills and Hwy 77 is an awesome ride – here are the photos we took. Last Saturday we drove the Talimena National Scenic Byway in eastern Oklahoma to Queen Wihlemina Lodge atop the Ouachitas, and the leaves were red, orange, yellow and beautiful there also. Many tourists and bikers were also “leaf looking.”  -Nell Truitt





“My Silver Lake Band and I will be returning to Silver Dollar City in 2012. It will be our 16th consecutive year to do Missouri’s Biggest Barn Dance. However, next year, our engagement there will not be in October, as in the past few years. We will be there in September. The dates are September 13-30, 2012. The times each day will be 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. We will be the only band used next year, so this will be the only barn dance held there in 2012. We will again be in the Red Gold Heritage Hall. I will not be publishing a U.S. Mail Newsletter until next spring, so please pass the news to anyone you know who does not have email. Also, remember our upcoming Western Swing Christmas Ball in Winfield, Kansas on December 10, 2011 (call 620-222-2154) and our New Years Eve Dance on December 31, 2011 at the Prairie Rose in Benton, Kansas (call 316-778-2121).”  -Les Gilliam  “The Oklahoma Balladeer”

“I see, reading T&T there seems to have been a fourth drive-in theatre that I don’t remember. However, Garth Hoard and Joe Wilson both remember it’s existence; how about the name of the theatre. I was in Ardmore a couple of weeks ago and tried to locate the Starlight which was on the west side of S. Commerce at the top of the hill. Best I can remember it was about where the truck driving school is now or a little north, just south of the private road. I’ve looked at several satellite maps and saw a slight semicircle behind the tire store so that is about the spot. There was always a military searchlight out front before the show began after dark. To Jackie Anderson Thornley of Marietta, I’ve been to the King and Queen when visiting my cousin who lived there.” -George Davis

“Hi Butch, Once again I’m catching up with your newsletters, and was taken aback to read what you said about the article Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold…. My parents, Grand parents, Great Grand parents, and so on, as far as I can go back all originated from Newcastle NE England, and I can tell you the proper name for this is Pease pudding, it was made in a big pot with a large bacon joint or Ham/Shank with yellow split peas added. It is today still made like that, and I can tell you its delicious, its very much so a northern dish I would say, made in the Nth East England.

Pease pudding hot – the origins of the words are based on a traditional British dish. The pease pudding hot referred to in the words of this poem is a dish which is still enjoyed in Britain today. It is a smooth, thick sauce, (referred to as a pudding in the rhyme for the sake of alliteration) which has a dark yellow colour. Pease pudding is a hot dish made from dried peas – it can be re-heated as often as required (Pease pudding in the pot – nine days old). Pease pudding is traditionally served hot with boiled bacon or a form of sausage called a saveloy.

So there you go Butch, that took me down memory lane, I can’t make it but my sister still cooks it and saves me some, when its allowed to go cold it sets so you can spread it onto bread if you wish, the bread is called Stottie cake.” -Judith in the UK

Pease pudding hot, Pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot – nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot – nine days old.

“Butch- This bell was constructed of oil field pieces and given as a gift several years ago by the craftsman to his friend who farms near Thomas, Oklahoma. Notice also the gray cistern pump near the bell. The farmer is a historian and farm antique collector.” -Gary Simmons



In a few days Thanksgiving Day we be upon us. I hope we all take a few minutes that day and give thanks for all the good things that have come our way the past year.


See everyone next week!

Butch and Jill Bridges
Ardmore Oklahoma
PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443

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Ardmore High School Criterions Online
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American Flyers Memorial Fund – Administration Webpage
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Ardmore Army Air Field/Ardmore Air Force Base Website
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Ardmore School Criterions

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