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Vol 26 Issue 1,340 Oct 6, 2022

The Daily Ardmoreite
May 30, 1943 edition

Disastrous Fire in 1895 Brought Many Advances

Out of the Ashes Came Progressive Forward Steps Here

When citizens of Ardmore retired Thursday April 18, 1895, little did they dream they would awaken by the dread cry of fire and before another sunset see the businesses destroyed of the rapidly growing town in ruins, and with financial disaster staring many of its businessmen in the face.

Such was the fact. When in the dead of night of April 18th, people heard a fusillade of shots in the direction of the Santa Fe, they knew what that meant, because it was the usual, and only, fire alarm system they had in those days. At the first alarm everyone was supposed to respond and do what they could to stem the flames.

Fire Was Out of Control

This time the fire was too large for the firefighters. It has gotten too much headway and the tender like structures in its path soon we’re enveloped. People did everything they could to remove stocks of goods to the middle of the street but the loss of of merchandise was heavy in addition of property loss of buildings.

The fire originated in the Harper Livery Stable on Caddo Street and had obtained considerable headway before discovered. The situation was helped by a high wind and people were soon convinced that the business district was doomed.

The fire practically burned itself out, abetted by dynamite, and was halted just west of the present corner of Main and Washington Street.

No Fire Equipment

The town had no means of fighting fire in the meager water supply from wells in the street and on lots was inadequate to even halt the march of the flames.

The city presented a pitiful appearance Friday morning, April 19th.

The stable where the fire originated was the worst spectacle of all. Horses perished in the fire and presented a gruesome site, Harper and his men being unable to keep them out of the burning building. Once they were liberated they dashed back into their deaths.

Fortunately no one met this. However, Horace Kendall, one of the volunteer firefighters, was so severely injured by a falling wall that it left him permanently crippled.

Before the ashes were cool, work of rebuilding was started on a larger scale. The first task was to widen Main Street 24 feet and lines set back to its present boundaries.

Brick and stone replaced the destroyed wooden structures in a few months and new Ardmore had arisen, Phoenix like from ashes of old. A serious question with the citizens was means of firefighting. Insurance companies announced they would withdraw from the city unless something was done about it.

First Fire Department

Spurred by this threat a mass meeting was called and a volunteer fire company was organized with the following personnel:

J.S. O’Malley, chief; Bud Conlee, first assistant, Jack Scanlon, second assistant, Lon Frame secretary, The following were charter members of the fire company T.Y Morgan, C.B. Douglass, W.A. Payne, Charlie dorchester, Horace kindle, Bud Conley, J.V. Dollins, Bob Nichols, Leon Frame, Bill Boyd, Jack Scanlon, Bert Foster, T.N. Coleman, A. Wolverton, S.G. Laughlin, J.D. Henderson, D.A. Fielder, Will Smith, Jim Weeks, W. Silversmith, Henry Baum, J.S. O’Mealy and J.A. Boyd.

T.Y. Morgan, J.A. Boyd and Clarence Douglass were named to select firefighting equipment suitable to the needs of the town.

Another Bad Fire

While the argument over equipment and a water supply was going on another serious fire broke out east of Santa Fe near the Big Iron Store. Following this near calamity the citizens met and signed a contract for a fire engine, a hose reel, 600 feet of hose and it was decided to dig cisterns in the middle of the street for water storage to be used in case of fire.

This system worked until 1902 when Bob Dick was mayor. He took the bit in his teeth, acquired the site of the present City Lake and land north of the city and Lee Galt built the dam that soon was to give Ardmore an adequate water supply. With the new water supply a complete system of sewers was established.

Ardmore has had a few threats of water shortage, but fearing one might come someday, the city acquired the site of the Mountain Lake north of Woodford and built a large concrete dam to impound the creeks and runoff water from the watershed. This put Ardmore out of any danger of insufficient water supply. In fact, competent engineers say the present supply is adequate for a city several times the size of Ardmore.

Above is a special project I took on applying the letters. This father’s son only lived 96 days in 1998. I was proud to make it. I know how this father felt and needed this marker/bench.

I would have 3 brothers if they all lived. The first one was a miscarriage. The second was a stillborn, Charles Richard Bridges. And the 3rd one, Billy Charles Bridges, lived 32 years and died of a seizure in 1979 at Duncan in a nursing home. I know Charles Richard is buried in the Pauper Section of Rosehill (west side of the cemetery) in Ardmore, but no one knows where. I was my parents 4th child, and still living last time I checked. 🙂

Q. What is the most venomous snake in Oklahoma?
A. Water Moccasin

Q. What is the safest city in Oklahoma?
A. Answer in next week’s newsletter

Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG….

“I love that Tribe Ball Park (North Washington and Monroe NW) and I have it in my heart, I played there 1950-1951 and 1952 with the name of Ernie W. Klein (my mother’s last name) and my best year was 1951 when I hit 301 and had 114 RBI. Those years were one of my best. Not only for playing baseball but I met such wonderful people in Ardmore that I will never forget . Thank you very much Butch and say hello to Jill in my name.”
-Ernesto Wallerstein in NJ email: ernesto714@gmail.com

Black and white silent film: Waterfalls. “Fine to cut trees – Turner Falls on Honey Creek, Height 73 feet. This is one of Oklahoma’s beauty spots and is a part of Turner Falls Park, comprising 900 acres and including the great spring at the headwaters on Honey Creek. Municipality owned by the city of Davis and” Footage of winding road from inside moving vehicle. Caves. “This rock is the Arbuckle Limestone 6,000 feet thick! Age ordovician and cambiran, no oil or gas has been found in Oklahoma below the top of this Formation. Lions Club of Ardmore.” High jump, swimming, diving, long jump. 1928

She’s 96 and just excited her name popped up on the unclaimed property list! We filled out the online form & will get it mailed off & see! -Christina

Below is from my Vol 3, Issue 129 Octobor 9, 1999 newsletter:

“I was so surprised this afternoon to see a story on CNN all about Charlie Wilcox and his phone booth in the high Mojave Desert here in California. Having read about him in your weekly letter, I wondered if it was real, or another Internet hoax, since some reader said he tried to call the phone booth and it was busy.” 760-733-9969

“…I took a different route this time and passed through a little town called Mead, OK. My mother pointed out the old school gymnasium and told me she remembered playing basketball there. The old gymnasium is in ruins, looks burned-out also, but is made of stone, and is a real GEM. I know the folks of Mead don’t have enough money to save that beautiful thing, but you ought to be sure and mention it in your newsletter so more people might slow down and take a look at it. It was on the right-hand side of the road heading from Durant to Kingston. Thanks for your newsletter. I enjoy it so very much. October is the perfect month to visit Oklahoma. Heavenly weather!”

“The sign for Lazy Creek Park (Dickson, OK) says “Land and Water Conservation Fund” which is a grant program run by the National Park Service. So, this is some info about that fund. I have not found that particular park yet.”

“I got so excited this morning watching Regis and Kathie Lee. We watch every day and are interested in the “Trivia” question. This morning he called Susan Pruitt in Ardmore, Okla. Well of course that got my attention FAST!! Who is she and are you related. She works at a travel agency there. She won $4,000.”

Barbara made such an impression on us neighborhood kids, as she would go out of her way to entertain us and keep a watchful eye on us. When we all knew her she was a young woman living in the apartment above her parents garage on McLish. I believe she married and moved away, only returning later in life. When her parents died, she moved into the family homestead on McLish. I only found out that she lived in the old homestead after telling the history of the Brewer Tree. I was told that she and her nurse would take walks around the neighborhood. I tried to make contact, but could never catch anyone at home. I
would often try to catch a glimpse of her on one of these walks. Her health continued to decline, and she passed without knowing that so many remembered her, and her kindness.

She, like you and many others around Ardmore never knew about the tribute to her just a short walk from her home. I wish that she had known that there was a living tribute to the impact she had on so many young lives, so long ago. A tribute that she unknowingly orchestrated in order to bring some joy to the neighborhood kids that she so loved and watched over.

I tried to find a ”We Remember” for Barbara on Ancestry.com to leave my tribute. I had no success, as she may have kept her married name. Perhaps you can print the above in your newsletter as a final remembrance of Barbara since she never knew that she touched so many lives. Although, I take solace in the knowledge that flights of angels carried her to her final resting place……..

The Brewer Tree is located in the NW corner of Stanley and South Commerce. This Chinese Elm tree was planted by Barbara Brewer back in the fifties as a sapling in recognition of the kids (baby boomers) growing up in that area.

Thanks for all you do in helping preserve some of southern Oklahoma’s history.
-steve miller oldboldflyboy4@gmail.com

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” –Thomas Edison

See everyone next Thursday!

Butch and Jill Bridges
Ardmore, OK