On The Bricks

June 19, 2020

          This is a prayer that I recently came upon and wanted to share. I don’t know about you, but it had several things mentioned that I really need to do better.

          “Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older, and will someday be old.

          “Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

          “Release me from craving to try to straighten out everybody’s affairs.

          “Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details. Give me wings to get to the point.

          “I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pains. Help me to endure them with patience.

          “But seal my lips on my own aches and pains. They are increasing and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

          “Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.

          “Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint (some of them are hard to live with) but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.

          “Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all – but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends in the end.”

          Good thought: Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.

          Good advice: Maturing is realizing how many things don’t require your comments.

Interesting Okie: Don Flowers’s newspaper career began at age 17, when he ran away from Custer City, Okla., to work for the Kansas City Star. After a stint there and with the Chicago American, he moved to the Associated Press. Flowers introduced an array of comics; his first success came in 1931 with Oh Diana, an adventure strip featuring a female lead, which was uncommon then. At the same time, he developed a single panel cartoon he called Modest Maidens. The long – legged ladies of his cartoon gained popularity and by the mid-1940s, it was his main focus. The Associated Press owned the rights to the title, so when William Randolph Hearst’s office approached Flowers with a pay raise to move to King Features Syndicate, he accepted. The new title, Glamor Girls, ran in King Features’ papers until 1968 when Flowers died suddenly from emphysema.
          Flowers work is identified by as some of the best inking in the field. His signature ladies have long been imitated but never surpassed. More about Oklahoma cartoonists can be seen at the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, that includes the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame.

See you on the bricks!

On The Bricks

June 16, 2020

          Von Miller (the dog, not the Denver Bronco) has moved in at my house. Yet one more change here during this strange year, 2020. Von Miller belonged to my son, Justin, and needed a new home. For some reason my daughter, Lisa, thought he would be a perfect fit for me. Me, the one who didn’t want a dog. Maybe she thought Von didn’t want an old lady, either. That could have been the perfect in the fit.

          Or it could be that he snores. Loudly. Because I wake myself up by snoring sometimes. That could have been the perfect.

          Or it could be that he’s pretty chunky and kind of wheezes when he goes out and plays in the heat. So do I. Great fit.

          Or it could be that he likes to relax most of the day. Catching a couple naps that last most of the afternoon makes his hobbies and mine match well.

          Or it could be that his favorite thing to do is to chance reflections on the wall. It is hilarious. Sometimes I have been accused of chasing “hare – brained ideas”. Yeah, that could be it.

          Or it could be that he smells a little bad sometimes. I hope that wasn’t why she thought we were destined for one another.

          Anyway, Von is here. He came with promises from Lisa to come and bathe him and cut his hair whenever he needs it. He probably needs it fairly often.

          Von Miller is a funny looking little sweet guy. He has a schnauzer face with those big brown eyes that have eyebrows with lots of hair. And he’s very protective (in a nice way) and possessive of people he likes, as are many schnauzers. I had forgotten that I was capable of going to the bathroom by myself. And little did I realize that I needed protection from the garbage truck. The things we can learn in our 60s amazes me.

          Von Miller is black and his body is very thick and stout. He is a strong guy, like a pit bull. And he is a little bow legged. For that reason (the strong part) he was aptly named. I wonder if Von Miller has bowed legs. I need to check. The real reason is that we are Denver Bronco fans and Von Miller was a favorite. We honored him by naming the dog after him.

          The funny part is that Von has really, really, short legs. Really. Short. Legs. And yet he can jump with the best of them. My granddaughter, Emma, has Von jump through a hula-hoop she holds in the air. Quite amazing for a dog with almost no legs and a 70 – pound body to do that feat. Over and over.

          Lisa wanted to know what breeds Von Miller mixes in his funny looking little self. So, she sent off for a DNA test. Sometimes these dog lovers really amaze me. Von Miller is part schnauzer, which was apparent, part pit bull, part chihuahua, and part miniature pinscher. And he is the sweetest little guy on earth.

          Von originally was saved from the pound and our family was lucky that we got him. I hope that your crazy COVID months have brought you a blessing like Von Miller.

          Von doesn’t get to get on my bed, but sometimes I fall asleep in my recliner and he is on the floor at my feet. So now I get to say that I’ve slept with Von Miller. Yep. My mama was so proud when I told her.

          The stores are starting to open. I hope you’ll visit them. Be safe. Wear a mask. And smile. Even if you’re wearing a mask, that smile shows in your eyes!

          See you on the bricks.

On The Bricks

June 1, 2020

This is shared in light of the U.S. and their recent space endeavors.

Oklahoma has had more astronauts than any other state in the Union. Each one of them is a native from different communities.

Gordon Cooper was born on Mar. 6, 1927, in Shawnee, Okla. He was an American aerospace engineertest pilotUnited States Air Force pilot, and the youngest of  the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first human space program of the U.S. Cooper learned to fly as a child, and after service in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, he was commissioned into the United States Air Force in 1949. After service as a fighter pilot, he qualified as a test pilot in 1956, and was selected as an astronaut in 1959.

In 1963, Cooper piloted the longest and last Mercury spaceflight, Mercury-Atlas 9. During that 34 – hour mission he became the first American to spend an entire day in space, the first to sleep in space, and the last American launched on an entirely solo orbital mission.

Cooper became the first astronaut to make a second orbital flight when he flew as Command Pilot of Gemini 5 in 1965. Along with Pilot Pete Conrad, he set a new space endurance record by traveling 3,312,993 miles in 190 hours and 56 minutes (just short of eight days) showing that astronauts could survive in space for the length of time necessary to go from the Earth to the Moon and back

Cooper retired from NASA and the USAF on July 31, 1970, with the rank of colonel, having flown 222 hours in space.

Cooper developed Parkinson’s disease and died at age 77 on Oct. 4, 2004.

Owen Garriott was born Nov. 22, 1930, in Enid, Okla. He graduated from Enid High School in 1948, where he served as senior class president and was voted “Most Likely To Succeed. He received a BS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1953. He later earned Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University in electrical engineering in 1957 and 1960, respectively.

After serving in the United States Navy, Garriott was an engineering professor at Stanford University before attending the United States Air Force Pilot Training Program and later joining NASA. As an astronaut he spent 60 days aboard the Skylab space station in 1973 during the Skylab 3 mission, and 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 on a Space Shuttle mission in 1983.

Garriott died on Apr. 15, 2019, at his home in Huntsville, Ala.

 John Herrington was born in Wetumka, Okla., into the Chickasaw Nation. He grew up in Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas, graduating Plano Senior High School in Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs before receiving his commission in the United States Navy in 1984.

In 2002, Herrington became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly in space. To honor his Chickasaw heritage, Herrington, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, carried its flag on his 13 – day trip to space. The flag had been presented to him by Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby.

This U.S. Naval Aviator and NASA astronaut retired in Sept. 2005.

Shannon Lucid was born Jan. 14, 1943, in in ShanghaiChina, to Baptist missionary parents, and for the first year of her life she and her parents were imprisoned by the Japanese. The three of them were released during a prisoners swap, stayed in the US until the end of the war, and then returned to China. When Lucid was six, her family decided to leave China due to the communists rising to power. They settled in Bethany, Okla., and Lucid graduated from Bethany High School in 1960. Shortly after graduating from high school, she received her pilot’s license and bought an old plane to fly her father to revival meetings

She attended the University of Oklahoma from where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1963, her Master’s degree in biochemistry in 1970, and her Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1973.

Lucid’s experience includes a variety of academic assignments, such as teaching assistant at the University of Oklahoma‘s Department of Chemistry from 1963 to 1964; senior laboratory technician at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation from 1964 to 1966; chemist at Kerr-McGee, Oklahoma City, 1966 to 1968; graduate assistant at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 1969 to 1973 and research associate with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, from 1974 until her selection to the astronaut candidate training program.

In 1978, NASA advertised for female candidates. Lucid was selected for the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1978. Of the six women in this first class with female astronauts, Lucid was the only one who was a mother at the time of being selected.

At one time, she held the record for the longest duration stay in space by an American, as well as by a woman. She has flown in space five times including a prolonged mission aboard the Mir space station in 1996; she is the only American woman to have served aboard Mir. In 2002, Discover magazine recognized Lucid as one of the 50 most important women in science.

Lucid was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in December 1996 (for her mission to Mir), making her the tenth person and first woman to be given that honor. 

William Pogue was born Jan. 23, 1930 in Okemah, Okla., of Choctaw ancestry. He attended school in Sand Springs, Okla., completing high school in 1947. Pogue received a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee in 1951, and a Master of Science degree in mathematics from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater in 1960.

He then enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he served for 24 years, flying combat during the Korean War, and with the USAF Thunderbirds. He served as a flight instructor and mathematics professor, and was a versatile test pilot, including two years in an exchange with the Royal Air Force.

Pogue was an Air Force instructor when he was accepted as an trainee astronaut for NASA in 1966. His NASA career included one orbital mission as pilot of the Skylab 4. The crew set a duration record of 84 days that was unbroken in NASA for over 20 years, and in orbit they conducted dozens of research experiments. The mission was also noted for a dispute with ground control over schedule management that news media named “The Skylab Mutiny”. Pogue retired from both the USAF as a Colonel and NASA a few months after he returned from Skylab.

He died Mar. 3, 2014, at age 84.

Stuart Roosa was a smokejumper, American aeronautical engineerUnited States Air Force pilottest pilot, and NASA astronaut, who was the Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 14 mission. The mission lasted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9, 1971 and was the third mission to land astronauts (Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell) on the moon. While Shepard and Mitchell spent two days on the lunar surface, Roosa conducted experiments from orbit in the Command Module Kitty Hawk.

He was one of 24 men to travel to the Moon, which he orbited 34 times.

Roosa was born on Aug. 16, 1933, in Durango, Colo., and grew up in Claremore, Okla. He attended Justus Grade School and Claremore High School, from which he graduated in 1951. He studied at Oklahoma State University and the University of Arizona, before receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering with honors from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1960.

Roosa began his career as a smokejumper with the U.S. Forest Service, dropping into at least four active fires in Oregon and California during the 1953 fire season. He was a graduate of the Aviation Cadet Program at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., where he received his flight training commission in the U.S. Air Force. He also attended the Aerospace Research Pilot School and was an experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California before being selected for the astronaut class of 1966.

On Dec. 12, 1994, retired Colonel Roosa died at age 61 in Washington, D.C. and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Thomas Stafford was born Sept. 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Okla. Stafford became interested in aviation following the start of World War II, as the nearby city El Reno has an Army Air Corps training base. He began making model airplanes, and made his first flight at the age of 14 in a Piper Cub. Prior to graduating from high school, Stafford served in the 45th Infantry Division in the Oklahoma National Guard. Soon after, he transferred to the 158th Field Artillery Regiment, where he plotted targets for artillery fires.

Stafford attended Weatherford High School and graduated in 1948. In his senior year of high school, Stafford was recruited to play football at the University of Oklahoma, where he had received a Navy ROTC scholarship. Stafford applied to the United States Naval Academy, and was accepted to the class of 1952. He intended to play football for the Navy Midshipman, but sustained a career – ending knee injury during a preseason practice session. After his freshman year, he sailed aboard the battleship USS Missouri, where his roommate was his future Apollo 10 Command Module Pilot, John Young. Following his second year, Stafford spent a summer at NASA Pensacola, where he was exposed to naval aviation and flew in the SNJ Trainer.

Stafford graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in 1952, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He flew the F-86 Sabre prior becoming a test pilot. He was selected to become an astronaut in 1962, and flew aboard Gemini 6A and Gemini 9. In 1969, Stafford was the Commander of Apollo 10, the second crewed mission to orbit the Moon and the first to fly a Lunar Module in lunar orbit, descending to an altitude of nine miles.

In 1975, Stafford was the commander of the Apollo – Soyuz Test Project flight, the first joint U.S.-Soviet space mission. Stafford was a brigadier general at the time of the mission, becoming the first general officer to fly in space, as well as the first member of his Naval Academy class to pin on the first, second, and third stars of a general officer. He made six rendezvous in space and logged 507 hours of space flight. He flew over 120 different types of fixed wing and rotary aircraft and three different types of spacecraft, and was one of 24 people who flew to the Moon.

Neil Woodward III was born July 26, 1962, in Chicago, Ill, and attended Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City, graduating in 1980. He then attended MIT, earning a degree in physics in 1984. He attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, working in the Center for Relativity and then the Fusion Research Center. He received his master’s degree in physics in 1988. Later, in 2000, he earned his master’s degree in Engineering Management from the George Washington University.

Woodward joined the US Navy and was commissioned in January 1989, earning his wings as a Naval Flight Officer in March 1990. He completed Bombardier / Navigator training in the A-6E Intruder and was assigned to the Green Lizards of Attack Squadron 95. Woodward made two deployments with VA-95 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in support of Operation Desert Storm, Southern Watch, and Somalia.

In 1995, he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School  and graduated with distinction in July 1996. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the Air Vehicle/Stores Compatibility Department at the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (NSATS) in Patuxent River. Woodward was assigned to the Strike Aircraft Test Squadron when he was selected for the astronaut program. Woodward logged over 1,700 flight hours in more than 25 different aircraft and has 265 arrested landings.

Selected by NASA in June 1998, Woodward was on detached duty to Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in various roles, including Director of the ESMD Integration Office and Director, Commercial Orbital Transportation Services.

Woodward retired from the Navy and NASA in October 2008, and currently works in the field of information technology.

Oklahoma is well represented in the American’s space industry.

Astronaut trivia: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the mon, has a second connection to the giant circle in the sky: His mother’s maiden name was Moon.

See you on the bricks!

On The Bricks

May 22, 2020

          We got to have our Main Street Guymon board meeting in the office this week, looking at one another in person. I missed those folks. I miss seeing people. The COVID19 self – quarantine hasn’t been easy. When you say you’re going to work from home, it seems wonderful. Working with your hair messed up and bad breath. But pretty soon you sort of disgust yourself.

“Geez, lady, you need to go shower,” is the thought I had … about myself.

It can be a little dangerous, too. The first week I was making my lunch and grated my thumb with the cheese. Yes. For real. And I did what any good person in this day and age does when there isn’t someone there to feel sorry for you … I took a picture of the wounds (yes, there was a spot of blood even!) and texted the photo to my daughters. They didn’t seem to have the sympathy I thought I needed, so that made it a bit more traumatic.

Several weeks later I was trying to cut a plastic ring off a frozen food carton and nicked my other thumb with the knife. Blood again. But I had learned my lesson, I just had a simple pity party and didn’t ask for sympathy from my daughters. It appears I can be wounded cooking or reheating. Some things just aren’t safe.

          My new normal is watching church on facebook live in my pajamas. One of my prayers each week is that I don’t forget and wear my slippers to church when we can go back.

          Speaking of church, this was the first Easter in my 60 years of life that wasn’t spent with my family. I don’t want to ever do that again. That was a sad day for me … and it’s a day that is supposed to be full of rejoicing.

          Mother’s Day was also a quiet day in my house by myself. That wasn’t so as bad, but it really hurt because I had four kids, six grandkids, and two parents within 40 miles and none of us mind driving. But we were doing the serious quarantine for a couple of weeks and it was necessary.

          Next week is my step – father’s 90th birthday and we had a party planned … invitations went out and a meal was ordered … all cancelled.

          And yet, I know the important part is that my friends and family are safe through this, that our jobs are still here, and that we understand life will go on. We are content and thankful for the blessings we do have.

          One of those blessings is that my youngest grand – daughter has a father who is a baseball coach. Usually doing baseball season you don’t see much of him. But this year, during her first year, that baby had her dad every day. They got to bond like they never would have at any other time. She hasn’t gotten to see her other grandparents, but they’ll fix that as soon as they feel it is safe to travel. Although they have a lot to learn … traveling with a baby can be a true trip. Or a nightmare, whichever you prefer to call it.

          My Texhoma grandkids, since they didn’t have school and weren’t allowed to spend time free ranging around town and at their friend’s homes and didn’t have sports activities going on … would ride their bikes to my house sometimes and we’ve had some pretty good Skipbo games. Even had time to learn some other games. I loved those moments and don’t want to lose them when we back to the norm.

          It is my hope that your cheese grating hasn’t been hazardous, that you have managed through these unusual times with a good attitude. And I hope that your job or business is safe.

          For me, I have saved money by not traveling the 20 miles to and from work every day, not having to travel for meetings, and being able to eat at home. Those funds are going to go quickly into purchases from our local businesses because I don’t want to lose them. I don’t want my friends to lose their businesses or their jobs. And while I am at church in my slippers, I shall sincerely pray for each and every one of you for this.

          Famous Okie information: Sandi Patty (born July 12, 1956) is an American Christian music singer born in Oklahoma City to a family of musicians. Her father was a minister of music, and her mother served as the church pianist. In 2004, Patty was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and in 2007 was awarded the GMA Music in the Rockies Summit Award. In 2009, Patty and her family relocated to Oklahoma City. In 2015, Patty announced her retirement from touring, citing age and a desire to spend time with grandchildren. In 2016, Patty released Forever Grateful, an album of new and re-recorded material, and embarked on a farewell tour of the same title between February 2016 through March 2017. She is currently the Artist in Residence at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. Patty announced in 2020 she had tested positive for COVID-19. She released a video urging her fans to take the disease seriously and practice social distancing, handwashing, etc., adding, “This is NOT fake news!” 

Keep going on your New Year’s resolutions: Let’s make this hand washing a habit we continue.

Made me laugh: The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and having the two as close together as possible.
~George Burns

          Hope to see you taking part in the City’s Bicycle Scavenger Hunt. It looks like good fun and you might win a great prize! It’ll keep you out of trouble.

          The other thing to check out is this month’s Shop and Dine being a virtual event. Sounds interesting. We’re all learning, aren’t we?

          Catch you on the bricks soon. Stay safe, please.

On The Bricks

May 18, 2020

According to historians and The Book of Bizarre Truth, women have pursued lives of plunder on the high seas.

One of the earliest female pirates was Artemesia of Persia, whose fleet preyed upon the city – states of Greece during the 5th century B.C. The Arthenians put a price of 10,000 drachmas on her head, but there is no record of anyone collecting it.

Teuta of Illyria (circa 230 B.C.) was a pirate queen who led raids against Roman ships.

Another notable female marauder was Alfhild (circa 9th century A.D.), a Viking princess who reportedly kept a viper for a pet and whose all female longboat crew ravaged the Scandinavian coast. Prince Alf of Denmark captured Alfhild, but her beauty so overwhelmed him that he proposed marriage instead of beheading her, and they ruled together happily ever after. So the story goes.

Legend has it that Grania O’Malley (1530-1603), who was captain of a pirate fleet based in Ireland, gave birth to her son Toby while at sea. The next day, blunderbuss in hand, she led her men to victory over a Turkish warship.

Madame Ching (circa 1785-1844), perhaps the most notorious of all the pirate queens, ruled her league of 2,000 ships and 70,000 men with an iron hand. Anyone caught stealing loot for private use was executed immediately. But she was relatively kind to some of her prisoners. For example, she ordered that captive women and children not be hung by their hair over the sides of her ships.

Anne Bonny (1698-1782) and Mary Read (circa 1690-1721) dressed as men and served aboard pirate ships that sailed the Caribbean. They met when Mary, disguised as James Morris, joined a crew that was commanded by Anne and her husband, Calico Jack Rackham.

One night while the men were sleeping off a rum binge below deck, Anne and Mary were left to face down a British man – of – war alone. Despite their bravery their ship was quickly captured and the pirates were hauled off to prison After learning that Calico Jack had received a death sentence, Anne’s las words to him were, “I am sorry … but had you fought like a man, you need not have been hanged like a dog.”

Anne and Mary escaped death by “pleading their bellies,” meaning they both were conveniently pregnant. Mary died in childbirth a few months later; Anne dropped from historical view. She is said to have married again and become a respectable matron in the city of Charleston, SC. But one rumor suggests that Mary only pretended to die and that she and Anne escaped to New Orleans where they raised their kids and occasionally plied their former trade, remaining fast friends and pirates of the Caribbean to the very end.

          Famous Okie information: The Pensacola Dam on Grand Lake in Oklahoma is the longest multi – arched dam in the world at 6,565 feet.

Keep going on your New Year’s resolutions: Clutter is bad for your health, bringing on stress, according to research. Clear out your clutter during the year.

Sage advice: Integrity is the only thing in life a person can truly call their own. You can have your freedom, your fortunes, your loved ones taken away by others; but the only person that can take away your integrity is you. ~Joshua Paul Anderson

Made me laugh: Dear Math, please grow up and solve your own problems. I won’t help you find your X and don’t ask Y.

          See you on the bricks soon!

On The Bricks

May 12, 2020

Does a woodchuck actually chuck wood? The Book of Bizarre Truth gives us the answer.

          How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

          A woodchuck (Marmota monax) is a groundhog. In the Appalachians, it is known as a whistle pig. According to etymologists, the word woodchuck is probably derived from early colonial British settlers who bastardized wuchk, the local Native American word for groundhog. They simply transformed the Algonquian word into an English word that sounded similar.

          No studies have proven that woodchucks are capable of chucking wood, though there is ample evidence that woodchucks enjoy gnawing through wood. Woodchucks are adept at chucking dirt. The average woodchuck is quite a burrower. Their tunnels have been known to be more than 45 feet long, with depths of several feet. Based on these measurements, one woodchuck expert determined if the displaced dirt in a typical burrow was replaced with wood, the average whistle pig might be able to chuck about 700 pounds of it.

          But not wood. He would if he could, but he can’t.

          Famous Okie information: Woody (Woodrow Wilson) Guthrie, the famous folk singer and composer (“This Land is Your Land”) was born in Okemah, Okla.

Keep going on Your New Year’s resolutions: Stop multi – tasking. It can lead to memory problems, reduces brains grey matter, hurts productivity and efficiency, and can increase stress, anxiety, and depression. Focus on one thing at a time.

Made me laugh: The lady walking ahead of me sped up, so I did. She began walking faster, so I did. She started running, so I did. She started screaming, so I did. I don’t know what we were running from, but I was terrified.

          See you on the bricks soon! Stay safe.

On The Bricks

May 8, 2020

It’s baseball season and those who love watching the game are missing it with the COVID19 quarantine. So, here’s my way to help you get through this if you’re missing baseball. Oklahoma baseball.

Johnny Lee Bench, born Dec. 7, 1947 is a former professional baseball catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bench is a 14 – time All – Star selection and a two – time National League Most Valuable Player. He was a key member of the Big Red Machine that won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. Known for his prowess on both offense and defense, ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Bench is one – eighth Choctaw; he played baseball and basketball and was class valedictorian at Binger – Oney High School in Binger. His father told him that the fastest route to becoming a major leaguer was as a catcher.

As a 17 – year – old, Bench was selected 36th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1965 amateur draft, playing for the minor – league Buffalo Bisons in the 1966 and 1967 seasons before being called up to the Reds in August 1967. He hit only .163, but impressed many people with his defense and strong throwing arm.

During a 1968 spring training game, Bench was catching right – hander Jim Maloney, an eight – year veteran. Maloney was once a hard thrower, but injuries had dramatically reduced the speed of his fastball. Maloney nevertheless insisted on repeatedly “shaking off” his younger catcher by throwing fastballs instead of the breaking balls that Bench called. When an exasperated Bench bluntly told Maloney, “Your fastball’s not popping,” Maloney replied with an epithet. To prove to Maloney that his fastball was no longer effective, Bench called for a fastball, and after Maloney released the ball, Bench dropped his catcher’s mitt and caught the fastball barehanded. Bench was the Reds’ catcher on Apr. 30, 1969, when Maloney pitched a no hitter against the Houston Astros.

In 1968, in the 20 – year – old Bench’s first full season he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, batting .275 with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs. This marked the first time that the award had been won by a catcher. He also won the 1968 National League Gold Glove Award for catchers, which was the first time that the award had been won by a rookie. He made 102 assists in 1968, which marked the first time in 23 years that a catcher had more than 100 assists in a season.

During the 1960s, Bench served in the Army Reserve as a member of the 478th Engineer Battalion, based across the Ohio River from Cincinnati at Fort Thomas, Ken. This unit included several of his teammates, among them Pete Rose. In the winter of 1970 – 1971 he was part of Bob Hope‘s USO Tour of Vietnam.

For the last three seasons of his career, Bench moved out from behind the plate, catching only 13 games, while primarily becoming a corner infielder (first or third base). The Cincinnati Reds proclaimed Sept. 17, 1983, “Johnny Bench Night” at Riverfront Stadium, in which he hit his 389th and final home run, a line drive to left in the third inning before a record crowd. He retired at the end of the season at age 35.

Bench was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. He was elected in his first year of eligibility, and appeared on 96% of the ballots, the third – highest percentage at that time. Three years earlier, Bench had been inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1986 and his uniform No. 5 was retired by the team. In 1989, he became the first individual baseball player to appear on a Wheaties box.

His post – baseball career has included television, radio, baseball commentating, and much more.

And for those who are missing the ballfields and watching the game, some great baseball movies you might want to watch are A League of their Own (Tom Hanks), Field of Dreams (Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones), Bull Durham (Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon), Sandlot (James Earl Jones), The Natural (Robert Redford, Kim Basinger), and Moneyball (Brad Pitt).

Trivia: An umpire at the first professional baseball game was given a six – cent fine for using profanity.

See you on the bricks and at the ball field soon!

On The Bricks

May 4, 2020

Nobody is more famous for being busy than the bee and the beaver. The Book of Bizarre Truth works out which is busiest.

In the course of its lifetime, a single worker bee will make 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey. This does not seem like much, but each bee is contributing to a hive that has teens of thousands of bees. Their combined effort adds up fast.

That same bee will leave the hive ten times a day; will travel up to a mile and a half from the hive on any one of these trips; and will carry about 113% of its own body weight in pollen and nectar every time it returns to the hive. At the end of the day, a worker bee will have transported 1,130% of it’s body weight. That’s a busy bee.

Beavers live in colonies of six to eight and build dams and the lodges where they live. A beaver’s productivity is dependent on its environment. The size of a dam depends on the number of beavers it houses. At night, the beavers leave the lodge and commence work on the dam, repairing damage incurred during the daylight hours and increasing the height of the dam if the water level appears to have risen.

A single beaver can fell a six – inch – diameter aspen tree in about 20 minutes. It then gnaws the tree into logs of a more manageable size and drags these logs back to the river. A beaver can transport a log weighing about 100% of its own body weight, but it often uses the river to aid in the wood gathering process by floating logs downstream toward the dam.

While beavers live longer (up to 15 years in the wild) and have a great effect on their environment (second only to humans), the winner in this productivity showdown seems to be the bee. A bee’s every action has a profound place in nature’s big picture.

Its true beavers work smart. They have the capacity to size up a river and design a dam according to depth, width, and the speed of the current. When they’re not working on the dam or the lodge, they are gathering food to store for the winter. But in terms of sheer productivity, based on their brief time on the earth, bees take the prize.

Over the course of 45 days, the summer life – span of a garden variety honeybee, a worker will move about 50,000% of its own weight in nectar and pollen. The worker bee spends its every waking moment dedicated to its job, all so other animals can steal the honey it produces.

          Famous Okie information: The official Oklahoma state insect is the honeybee.

          Just FYI: Honey was used to pay taxes in ancient Rome.

          More FYI: Bees have five eyes. There are three small eyes on the top of a bee’s head and two larger eyes in front.

          Loving these FYIs:  Honeybees can lay as many as 1,500 eggs in a single day.

          And yet more bee FYI: Newly hatched queen bees fight to the death to kill all other newly hatched, and unhatched, queens, until only one is left standing. There can only be one queen in a hive.

Keep going on your New Year’s resolutions: Cook more this year. It’s therapeutic and cost effective.

Made me laugh: You’re not completely useless. You can always serve as a bad example.

          See you on the bricks soon!

On The Bricks

May 1, 2020

Some more information from The Book of Bizarre Truth says girls today have some freedom to be what they want to be when they grow up. It hasn’t always been that way, but some women didn’t let that stop them.

          Times were rough for women in the Wild West, so cracker – jack stagecoach driver Charley Parkhurst decided to live most of her life as a man. Born in 1812, Parkhurst lived well into her 60s. She is remembered to have been a hard – drinking, tobacco – chewing, one – eyed brute with a taste for adventure. She gave birth at one point, but the child died. She lived out the rest of her life pursuing her stagecoach career until she died in December 1879. It was then that her identity was revealed, much to the surprise of her friends.

          The life of James Berry, M.D., is proof positive that truth is often stranger than fiction. A vegetarian, teetotaler, and gifted doctor with skills ahead of his time (he performed one of the first successful cesarean sections while serving as a military surgeon), Dr. Barry was also quite possibly a female. If you lived in 19th – century Britain and happened to be a girl, you could kiss your dreams of being a surgeon goodbye. Barry, who real name may have been Miranda, allegedly assumed a male identity to become an army physician. Barry’s voice was high and he reportedly challenged those who made fun of it to a duel on the spot. When Barry died in 1865, the woman who was preparing the body for burial was said to be the first to discover his secret.

          Born in Missouri in the midst of slavery, Cathay Williams served as a house slave until Union soldiers freed her. The soldiers employed her after that, and she worked for them for a while before wanting to see more action firsthand. Since women weren’t allowed in the army, Williams dressed as a man to enlist. Of the approximately 5,000 black infantrymen and cavalry who served in the frontier army, William Cathay was the only woman to serve as a Buffalo Soldier (the name first given to members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, and is now often used to refer to soldiers in any of the six black regiments that served). In 1868, Williams was examined by an army surgeon, who discovered her identity. She was discharged and retired to New Mexico, where she passed away at age 82.

          Famous Okie information: Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Dorothy Lucille Tipton was a gifted musician from the start. Her love of saxophone and the piano was bittersweet, as the school she was attending wouldn’t let girls play in the band. After escaping high school, Tipton decided to do whatever it took to pursue her passion. She started going by Billy, wore suits, and bound her chest with tape to create the illusion that she was one of the guys. It worked, and Tipton’s musical career was on its way. Tipton performed with some of the era’s jazz greats and even recorded an album with The Billy Tipton Trio. Tipton married a woman, adopted three sons, and was reportedly a good father. Tipton died in 1989, and it was then that her sons learned of their father’s hidden identity.

Keep going on your New Year’s resolutions: Reading is good for your brain. It can reduce stress and can improve your memory and concentration. You might add to your years resolutions to read a book a month.

Sage advice: In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. ~Lao Tzu

Made me laugh: It takes real skills to choke on air, fall up the stairs, and trip over nothing. I have those skills.

          Stay safe. See you on the bricks soon!

On The Bricks

April 28, 2020

          Rodeo and Oklahoma just go together. Some of the best cowboys in the world are Okies, including the Etbauers (in the Rodeo Hall of Fame) and Lathams who came to Oklahoma after high school and made Oklahoma their home. We are proud that Texas County is known as the Saddle Bronc Capitol of the World. And we’re all sure that Oklahoma Panhandle State University is the best rodeo college in the world.

          Now let’s talk about professional rodeo’s first million – dollar cowboy, Tom Ferguson. Also known as Old Bionic, Ferguson was born in Tahlequah, Okla., on Dec. 20, 1950. He moved to California at the age of three and later rode for the California Polytechnic State University rodeo team. The team took home multiple National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association championships, before Ferguson turned professional and returned to Miami, Oklahoma, in 1973. He joined the Rodeo Cowboys Association (RCA), which later renamed itself to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

          Darci Miller wrote an article about Ferguson two years ago that is worth repeating.

“Tom Ferguson’s reputation is unmatched. He won nine World Championships, which is the most all – time alongside Ty Murray and Casey Tibbs. Ferguson was the first cowboy to win more than $100,000 in a single season and $1 million in career earnings. He was the first to win six consecutive all – around titles (1974-79) and finished in the Top 15 in the world in two disciplines for eight years.

“Though he was known mostly for his prowess as a tie-down roper and steer wrestler, Ferguson was called rodeo’s best two – event man, Ferguson also competed in all of the timed events. He was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1999.

“Ferguson won the honored with the Ty Murray Top Hand Award at the PBR’s annual Heroes and Legends Celebration in Las Vegas in 2018. 

Ferguson initially tried the more traditional high school sports until those dreams were swiftly – and bluntly – dashed.

“I liked playing baseball,” Ferguson told Ride TV’s Rob Smets. “One year I went out for high school sports, and the director out there said, ‘Son, you don’t have no size, speed or agility. You’re no athlete. You need to go do something else.’

“I should send him a Christmas card every year, but I lost his address.”

“Ferguson dove headfirst into his rodeo pursuits, competing locally in junior rodeos – there were no high school rodeos at the time,” wrote Miller. (He) “attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he competed in collegiate rodeo, winning the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association tie-down roping title in 1970 and the all-around title in 1971-72. Ferguson got his rookie PRCA card in 1972. His $100,000 season came in 1978. In 1982, he won more than $17,000 at the Houston Rodeo, which at the time was the most money ever won by any cowboy at a single rodeo.

“In 1986, he became the first cowboy to hit the career $1 million mark.

         “’It’s just a number,’ Ferguson said. ‘It’s a lot of money at that time. A pickup cost $5,000.’

“Ferguson may not be caught up in the dollars he won, but he was certainly determined to win every time he saddled up. He conditioned himself to think like a basketball player – they don’t make every shot, but don’t get caught up in their misses and modify their decisions to make the next one – and was always looking ahead to the next rodeo.

“In addition to his self-proclaimed hardheaded mindset, Ferguson was known for his work ethic. His practices were legendary and changed the game for the cowboys that came after him. They were organized and purposeful, with a goal of being perfect and not merely breaking a sweat and getting tired. He says people referred to him as Old Bionic because he didn’t make mistakes and he didn’t get tired.

“Though he was once told he wasn’t an athlete, he certainly trained like one.

“Retired since the late ‘80s, Ferguson … credits his father with instilling in him the desire to give back, harkening back to his Cherokee heritage and the kindhearted, giving ways of Native Americans.”

If you’re watching movies these days, the 1994 movie “8 Seconds,” is the story of Lane Frost, another Oklahoma cowboy. Frost was born Oct. 12, 1963. At the time of Lane’s birth, his parents lived in  Utah. His father was a saddle bronc and bareback rider. His mother, Elsie, went to stay with her parents in Kim, Colo., and he was born in the hospital in La Junta. The family later moved to Oklahoma and he attended Atoka High School. In Oklahoma, he was the National High School Bull Riding Champion in 1981. He was the Bull Riding Champion of the first Youth National Finals in 1982.

He was the 1987 PRCA World Champion and a 1990 ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee. He was the only rider to score qualified rides from the 1987 World Champion and 1990 ProRodeo Hall of Fame bull Red Rock. He died in the arena at the 1989 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo as a result of injuries sustained when the bull Takin’ Care of Business struck him after the ride.

Netflix had a limited series in 2016 that you can watch about bull riding called “Fearless.”

Rodeo is an important part of Oklahoma and Texas County. Goodwell is the home of OPSU that draws in the finest college rodeo contestants in the world and Guymon is the home of the Pioneer Day Rodeo (which is also in the Rodeo Hall of Fame), one of North America’s best outdoor PRCA rodeos. Normally the Pioneer Day Rodeo happens the first weekend in May, but with the virus it has been moved to mid – August for 2020.

See you in the arena soon!