Willie D. Courtney
Willie D. Courtney was born in Powell, Indian Territory March 17, 1903. Her parents died when she was five months old, and she was reared by her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Dal Long. Through a freak accident Willie was hit in the knees as a child by buckshot from her grandfather’s gun. She was rushed to Ardmore’s first hospital, Ardmore Sanitarium, at the corner of Main and Caddo. Here, Dr. Walter Hardy remove the pellets from her knees, performing the surgery in the southeast corner surgical suite.
At age 16 Willie married a full-blooded Choctaw Indian and they lived in Bromide, but visited Ardmore regularly. They had one child, Annie Inez Rathbone. On one trip to Ardmore, they stayed at the Cordova Hotel on B Street Northwest and witnessed one of the Ardmore early shootouts, the Fourches, the Fords, and the Winchesters got into a brawl and shot the town up.
In 1952 Willie took the position of manager of the Murray Hotel in Ardmore. This hotel was established in the late 1920s by renovating the Ardmore sanitarium mentioned above. Willie’s bedroom was the same room as the surgical suite where Dr. Hardy remove the pellets from her knees.
In 1977 Willie sustained two small strokes and this, combined with her knee injuries, restricted her to a wheelchair. She could only do minimal cleaning chores for the residents thereafter. In the last two years, Willie was afflicted with cancer, and she succumb on October 15, 1981. She is missed by the hotel residents and will long be remembered as a colorful and unique Ardmore citizen.
-Indian Territory and Carter County Pioneers book 1982
The school bell will ring no more in the old Wilson Middle School constructed, according to some local observers, in the 1930s and destroyed by fire. The State Fire Marshal’s Office ruled it was arson. Portable, fully equipped classroom buildings are being delivered from Oklahoma City for temporary use in the approximate 100 seventh and eighth grade students are not expected to miss any school days.
Dr. Tony Leming’s hobby is catching and working with members of the pit viper family, including timber and diamond rattlesnakes. He has caught over 200 snakes over the past few years.
Q. Where in Oklahoma is a tail section of a plane sticking out of the roof of an eating establishment?
A. Baker’s Pizza in Maysville, Oklahoma
Q. Who was the world’s greatest athlete born in 1888 in Indian Territory?
A. Answer in next week’s newsletter
One of several items I made this week.
Below is from This and That newsletter archives of November 15, 2007
A few days ago Jill and I was over at Pat and Herb Upchurch’s ponderosa in SE Ardmore picking persimmons from trees on their property. I remember my family and I heading out on a Sunday afternoon back in the mid 60s, and traveling north on Gene Autry Road in search of persimmon trees. Usually we’d find several between Ardmore and the Airpark, and bring some of the fruit home. Persimmons are deliciously sweet, as long as you don’t get hold of a not-quite-ripe one, which will cause your lips to pucker after eating it. lol
While walking to the persimmon trees on the Upchurch ponderosa we stopped along the way and picked up some really nice pecans. I think maybe we picked up just enough to go in a pecan pie, so maybe I can talk Jill into baking one…. I sure love pecan pie.
Pat and Herb showed us several neat old things from the past in their house, but one item really caught my attention. It was a jar about 4 inches high and inside were all these pure white looking rocks, flat, about 1/8 inch thick and oval, about 1 inch long. I had never seen anything like this, and Herb said they were Drum rocks. What? Drum rocks? Herb goes fishing a lot and over the years when he’d catch a drum fish (he fishes for catfish), he removed these ‘rock’s from inside the drum’s head. I mentioned this to several fishermen this week, and they were surprised too, never heard of such a thing. I did a google search and didn’t find it mentioned much, but did find a little info. But these rocks are part of the drum’s ear. Below is what little reading I did find on this unusual fish.
“The drum’s otoliths (ear bones) are large and in the past were used by Native Americans for jewelry, currency and as good luck charms. Otoliths can also be used to estimate drum ages be counting the rings in it which tend to be quite long-lived.”
I remember back in the mid 60s John and Joanne Beck and family lived across the street from us on 3rd NE. They took me along with them many times when they went to Lake Murray, and John used a spear gun to fish for drum. Seems they give off some kind of grunting sound, and he’d listen for that to find them as he snorkeled across the surface of the lake. Once in a while he get one with his spear gun. Anyway, here’s a closeup of the 2 Drum rocks Herb gave me. Quite interesting!
Some weeks I feel like I hit the mother load. This week I received an email from Bill Bow in Texas with 3 attachments that knocked my socks off. He had these wonderful old photos of the concession stand at the old Skyview Drive In, and photos of Rose sitting in the ticket booth at the entrance, plus an aerial view. What a thrill it was to get these. Here the email in Bill’s own words:
“Hi, Butch! The article by you and Doug about the Skyview Drive In Theater sure brought back lots of memories. Attached are four photos taken by me in 1953 or 1954 while I was working in the snack bar at the theater. The aerial shot was taken while I was in the Civil Air Patrol during the same time frame. The guy with his back to me is Jimmie Gaskins at the fountain Coke machine while Don Nutt looked on from the other side. I don’t remember the young lady’s name. I believe she was the wife of an Airman stationed at Ardmore AFB. Of course the other two pics are of the Toll booth with Rose and James Gaskins. You are free to use this email and choose what ever pictures you might want in the T&T news letter. Good luck to you and Jill with your new home! Thanks for your great work with the T&T. Best regards!” -Bill Bow
“Butch I was at the Arts and crafts show today at Hardy Murphy coliseum, I noticed this picture and if you look close there is a swimming pool and a building north of the main coliseum. It still has the horrible zoo on the grounds, I always felt sorry for those animals. I don’t ever remember a swimming pool there, anybody know about this? Also in the distance you can see the screen for the 77 North Drive-Inn. Also the A and W is not on the corner. When could this have been taken?” -Doug Williams
Here are some Ardmore grocers that existed in the 1930s:
Besaws – located E side C NW between 10th & 11th – mid block
Bulards – located NW corner of A & 9th NW
Both these were one room little stores like Holmes that you have listed, Bulard was there in 1935. Besaw closed by about 1935.
Heartsills located NE corner 12th & E NW mid ’30s. One room also but a pretty big store for the mid ’30s.
Newman-Boucher located NW corner Caddol & 3rd ditto per Heartsills.
“Dear Mr. Bridges: I have been referred to you by Larry Smith of Ardmore in hope that you may be able to help me locate a lost classmate. My elementary and junior high schools in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan have established a website and we are trying to contact former classmates with whom we have lost contact. The fellow I am looking for is named Steve Mitchell and he moved to Michigan from Ardmore with his family in about 1953. His father was William D. Mitchell, a project engineer for Gulf Oil Company. Steve had a younger brother named Roger and in all likelihood, they attended elementary school in Ardmore from at least 1951 to about 1953, at which time Steve would have been about 12 years old. After 1954 they moved again but none of us knows their next destination. What I am hoping is that some of your correspondents may recall the Mitchells and better yet may know how we could get in touch with them now. I would be most appreciative of whatever assistance anyone might be able to provide. Thank you for attention to this request.” -Bill Hooker, Vancouver, B.C., Canada firstname.lastname@example.org
“Attached is a picture of the inside of L.D. Mason’s store that was the first store north of alley on Caddo, west side. Note that the electric light has just been installed, it’s weight hasn’t straightened out the cord. I’m guessing ca. 1915. Mason lived at 1201 B NW till he died in 1940. His wife was sister of my Grandmother. The artwork is that of his first wife, Lucy Dill who died ca. 1907. Also attached my adventures in HAM radio and a clipping from 1947.” -Robert McCrory
“Butch, In the late 40’s and early 50’s my grandfather, H. B. Chastain, owned the property where the Poker Rock you mentioned a few weeks ago is located (SW of Lone Grove). I have attached a couple of pictures from back then. That is Grandmother Mattie Chastain on and beside the rock. Looks like the rock has eroded some since back then.” -Rick Lewellen in Plano, TX
I’ve been eating Hamburger Inn burgers in Ardmore for 70 years – when the place was across the street from its present location and I was too little to crawl up on the stools. My dad and I were great buddies and he would lift me up on the stool for a 5 cent hamburger and thus I was hooked. But I have to say, much as I like the burgers at the Grand Central Station in Durant, George’s Burgers in Durant is the greatest. It is historical. That’s the first place natives (and others) head to when they return to Durant. Its a regular stop for the college students, as well as town’s folk. Its worth a look-see-taste. I have to say that the Hamburger Inn holds first place with our appetites. We always time out travels though Ardmore to include a stop on our way out to Healdton, our hometown. We are Herb and Sally Clark, 45-year residents of Durant. Love your web site. Keep up the good work.”
Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG…..
Butch, Somehow I missed issue 1163 until today. To partly answer Robert Hensley’s question about the Conoco station on “D” Street, I can tell you that it was owned and operated by Sylvester Mullen from at least the 1950s. He and his brother, Lacy, grew up in the two story house just to the north of the service station. I suspect but don’t know for sure that the service station was owned by their father prior to Syl taking ownership. My dad used to mention the house and station occasionally because he and Lacy Mullen, Syl’s brother, were best friend growing up. My dad, Ossian Cameron, lived at 111 “D” Street SW, from 1918 until he graduated high school.
The service station was originally a Marland Oil outlet and became a Conoco station in 1927 with the merger of the two oil companies. Marland Oil had borrowed the triangle logo from the YMCA and the loco was green and white. With the merger, the colors were changed to red and white. Conoco moved their headquarters from Denver to Marland’s Ponca City headquarters after the merger. I began my career with Conoco in the old Marland headquarters building in Ponca City. -Monroe Cameron
Butch, I can only surmise the John Cornish you wrote of was the Father of Healdton Ford Dealer John Cornish and Mobil/Magnolia Distributer Bill Cornish. These two brothers were key figures in Healdton during 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. -Vince
Hi Butch – hope y’all are keeping warm. I am taking a guess on the restaurant with a airplane tail section hanging out of it. Baker’s Pizza joint in Maysville, OK. Have a good weekend and thanks again for your weekly email. -Robert Boriack
From my Nov 2007 newsletter: James Lindsey works in the Ardmore courthouse maintenance department, we help each other at different times and projects, and sometimes when we start a job, seems everything goes wrong that can go wrong. What we think might take 30 minutes to do, takes much longer. So we kinda have this saying between us…….
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridges
“Friends Make Life Worth Living”PO Box 2
Lone Grove, Oklahoma 73443
Vicious Dog Attacks in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Bells: https://oklahomahistory.net/bellpage.html
Bill Hamm’s Cemetery Database
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 Government Website