Bucket Brigade to Latest Equipment: Ardmore’s Growth
The Daily Ardmoreite December 11, 1955
Ardmore’s fire department of 65 years ago comprised a small cart used to haul buckets for the volunteer bucket brigade. The water supply consisted of two wells dug in the center of Main Street, one near the Washington Hotel and the other in front of B. L. Owens Furniture Store.
The first fire chief was John O’Malley who was the Santa Fe agent at that time. Two of the volunteer firemen are still living in Ardmore, Ed Sandlin and Farley Richmond. The bucket cart was pulled by hand, the volunteers doing the pulling.
The volunteer bucket brigade managed to hold the line until the big fire in the Spring of 1895. The fire started on the south side of Broadway, near the present Wilson Newman tin shop, and swept the whole town before it, but from the Santa Fe Depot to A Street NW on both sides of the street. It was stopped on a street by the wrecking of frame shacks then occupying the present site of the Dunlap and Simon buildings.
The LL Stowe was the first fire engine, purchased by public subscription soon after the big fire and name for then United States Marshal. Farley Richmond remembers that he loaned a pair of horses, which were scarce in the Indian Territory at the time. After the L. L. Stowe was retired in about 1900, Farley bought the the old engine and used the running gear under his dray wagon.
A strong, heavy pair of horses was required in those days to pull the big fire engine up along the Ardmore’s dirt streets, quagmires of mud during the wet weather and dusty other times of the year. Fire chiefs O’Mealy were Jim Golledge and John Lawrence.
The L. C. Slaughter fire wagon was bought soon after the turn of the century and named for L. C. Slaughter, the first salaried fire chief. The shiny number was then the pride of ardmore. A third well was dug after buying the L. L. Stowe and the three wells furnish the water to put out fires and quench citizens thirst until the water works was installed in 1902 to 1903. Bookkeeping of the day showed the fireman received 50 cents each for attending a fire, but were fined .25 cents if they fail to show up.
Chief Slaughter drew down a salary of $75 per month, and the fireman were started at $40. They could work up to $65 per month. Joe Robertson, Ardmore plumber, is probably the only one of the first salaried firemen still living here. The old L. C. Slaughter fire engine is now stored at the coliseum. Each year during the fair it is shined up and put on display, much to the delight of Ardmore and Southern Oklahoma youngsters.
Lightning played havoc with the fire department in 1909 when it struck the station and sounded the alarm that called out the fire horses. Three of them ran into the restraining chain and where electrocuted. It required several weeks to find other horses, and untrained horses were bored and used.
Cy Reeder went to work at the fire department in 1908, became chief in a few years and quit in 1919.
Reeder says the first fire truck was bought by L. C. Slaughter in 1913, but horses were also used until more trucks were bought in 1917. The department was completely motorized by the time Reeder left in 1919.
Fire department records of the early 1900s would interest the members of the present Roundup Club. Bran was a $1.24 per sack, oats 45 cents a bushel, four bales of hay cost $1.35 and coal was $1.25 per 100, chops cost $1.50 per hundred, while it cost $1.50 each to shoe the big fire horses.
The Ardmore explosion of 1915 called for 3,500 ft of hose being strung, all the department owned. The estimate on the hooks for the resultant fire was $750,000 probably more than the big fire of 1895.
Edgar Jennings, the present fire chief, says the last equipment was bought in 1948 and delivered in early 1949. #1 is a ’48 Ford, a fog unit with a rewind reel recently added. #2 is a 500 gallon pumper with a 2 and 1/2 inch line. Lately, two reel rewinds were added to it. Number one and two are connected with a two-way radio so that the drivers of one unit can talk to the other. #3 is a 750 gallon Seagrave pumper, a 1941 model, while number four is in the East Main station and is an exact duplicate of it. #5, the old hook and ladder number dates back to 1928.
A fire station is badly needed in both the southwest and the northwest while station number 2 should be moved several blocks north and east according to the observers here.
Dutch Curry, with the Ardmore fire department since 1928, is assistant fire chief and the oldest employee on the job.
Leon Goss and Pete Frederick are captains and ranked next to Dutch Curry in length of service.
Drivers are Richard Lyles, Foy Heron, Curley Parker, Bob Ward, Edgar Rowl, Henry Beard, Punch Evans, Maxie Gordon and Fred Wood.
Plugmen or Cleo Boydston, Jack Carroll, Chick Elliott, Houston Cox, Raymond Watterson, Kenneth Chandler, F. M. Smith, Hudson Boydston and Jack Roberts.
Ardmore farming now start to work at $240 per month, just $200 per month over those who went to work 50 years ago. The chief $333 per month against the $75 paid to the first salaried chief. After 20 years, a fireman can retire on a livable pension that is paid by a tax on the insurance companies of the state. The biggest drawback to being a fireman is having to eat their own cooking every other day.
1969 aerial of the old Ardmore Adventist Hopital.
Below are 12 tokens for free burgers at Boomerang Diner Chris Cox gave me this week. I feel like I hit the motherlode! Friends are priceless.
There were officially 8 camps built in Oklahoma, not to mention the camps built to house German POWs working on special projects around Oklahoma. One of these special projects was Lake Texoma, which is how Tom’s buddy (Frank, Chef at Texoma Lodge) ended up in southern Oklahoma. Frank was a German Pow that helped construct Lake Texoma. He wanted to live in ”Little Dixie” because the ”Okies” were so nice to him when he was a POW working on the construction of the lake. That’s why he came back to Oklahoma and became the chef at Texoma Lodge. He and our brother Tom were fast buddies and spent many a trek ‘”spelunking” around Lake Texoma looking for treasures during their off time from the ”Lodge”. On one such trek, Tom found a survival knife/bayonet that a soldier had dropped while standing guard over a group of POWs at a Texoma construction site. It was one of his most treasured finds during his lifetime, and I still have it today.
The 8 listed POW camps are: Stringtown, Alva, Camp Gruber, Fort Reno, Fort Sill, McAlester, Pryor, and finally Okmulgee. The German POWs that constructed Lake Texoma were housed in camps built for them at Tishomingo and Powell. At their peak, there were as many as 20,000 German POWs housed at these camps.
To answer your question, I have heard mention that there were some POWs housed at the Ardmore Air Base. For what reason I don’t know. Could have been another one of these special projects. Housing barracks would have been appropriated or built for these various projects, just as the ones for Lake Texoma.
I wish I could find out where Frank lived and died when he left Texoma Lodge. So far, employee records for Lake Texoma Lodge have not been forthcoming. If rosters could be found listing those German POWs housed at Tishomingo & Powell, then Frank’s name would definitely appear on one of the two. If Carl Albert was still alive, I know he could come up with the answers. As you know he and Virgie White (famous Texoma Lodge employee) were fast friends, as was Tom (our brother). Carl was instrumental in my appointment into Naval Aviation Training due to Virgie and Tom’s efforts. Also, if Senator Tom Tipps was still with us, I know he could come up with some answers as well. We used to spar over who were better flyboys, Navy or Air Force. He was quite the P-38 flyboy during WWII. He gave me a P-38 mantel clock with a P-38 model airplane attached. One of MY prized possessions. -Steve Miller
Below is a bell that belonged to Enoch and Betty Watterson. It’s located on the Watterson place on Plainview Road.
The bell below is located on the Bill Talkington place SE of Ardmore on McLain Road.
A history the Miller boys.
HAM Radio Talk via Echolink
For many weeks I been checking in with a HAM repeater in Claremore, Oklahoma. HAMs all over the country and even some in Europe check-in between 12 Noon and 2:00pm (central time) everyday with Net Control. Some days there are over 60 HAMs check-ins. Lots of fun and interesting comments from HAMs from all over. I use my Echolink program to connect with the Repeater in Claremore. Of course, you have to be a licensed HAM to use Echolink. The Repeater is N5XQK-R (Boredom Breaker Net).
264. 05/19/23 7:35pm KB3OVB Al in Bushkill, PA
265. 05/19/23 9:30pm AE7JE Michael in Sutherlin, Oregon
266. 05/22/23 9:30pm VU3MKK Keethi in India
Some mail from this week’s MAILBAG….
Our Confederate service will be at 9:30 to 11:00 AM on Monday May 29th, Memorial day, in the confederation section at Rosehill cemetery. -Terry Pierce
Remembering the Oklahoma City bombing April 19, 1995 -Cecil Elliott, OKC
By the way, it was the Beatles 2nd tour of the United States that they contracted American Flyers to fly them on their tour in the United States from August 19 to September 20, 1964 to 25 cities. The first US Tour started Feb of 1964 when they played Wash, DC, Phila, PA, Miami, FL, NYC, NY and Milwaukee, WI. The second tour started in Aug 1964 and ran through Sept 1964 and included some 25 concerts from coast to coast in the US. Just for the record and it really doesn’t matter. -Mickey Shakelford
Below is from my Vol 4, Issue 162 May 27, 2000 newsletter:
“Hi Butch. Just to let you know there is a bell in the front yard of a farm house located 1 1/2 miles south of Pinto Corner or 9 miles north of Ringling, on Highway #89, on the west side of the road.”
Hope everyone has an enjoyable and safe Memorial Day while remembering our men and women who served so we can live free.
See everyone next week!
Butch and Jill Bridges