Boomer Sooner Football 60 Years Ago

A fellow resident of Sun City Anthem, Henderson, Nevada, shared a rare treasure with me this week. He has the “Souvenir Program” for the Army vs. Oklahoma football game that took place on November 14, 1959. OU won the game 28-20. The game was broadcast by NBC as a game of the week. Note the price of the program–50 cents.

I attended that game during my senior year at Oklahoma University. I attended all OU home football games from 1956 thru 1959. I graduated in 1960. While a student at OU, I also attended the four games OU played with Texas at the old Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. I managed to attend two other “away” games–one at Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M) and one at Missouri University. We students at OU were avid fans of the great teams fielded during those years under Coach Bud Wilkinson.

 

My friend also still has his two ticket stubs to the Army-Oklahoma game. A check of the internet reveals that the seats for which he paid $5 each now sell for $30. The internet states that paid attendance on November 14, 1959, was 62,472, the most for any home game that year.

 

 

Other than the cover, the only color pages in the program are the center spread listing the probable starting lineups and the other members of the two squads. Chesterfield Cigarettes sponsored this color spread. We had a thing or two to learn yet.

Thanks for bringing back memories of great times, Woody!

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Letter to Roundup Magazine Editor

I was surprised and pleased to see a letter to the editor (Johnny D. Boggs) of Roundup Magazine that was published in the August 2019 issue.

L. J. Martin, a prolific writer in multiple genres, wrote about my article “Races Within a Race” which appeared in the April 2019 issue of Roundup Magazine. Thank you L. J. for writing the letter, and thank you Johnny for printing it. Since many of the readers of my blog may not yet subscribe to Roundup Magazine, I’ll post a copy of Martin’s letter here.

You can learn more about L. J. Martin and his writing at https://ljmartin.com/

You can subscribe to Roundup Magazine for $40 per year by writing to Western Writers of America Inc., 271 CR 219, Encampment, WY 82325. The official publication of WWA will keep you abreast of all the latest and best in issues and literature pertaining to the American West.

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Apollo 11 and Johnston Atoll

Launch of Apollo 11. July 16, 1969.

Fifty years ago, I witnessed close-up some of the preparations on Johnston Atoll for the return of the Apollo 11 astronauts on their way to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean following their successful landing on the moon. JA is a coral atoll 750 miles southwest of Hawaii and was the closest land to the designated splashdown site. The island, two miles long and half a mile wide, is largely man made. It is one of the most isolated places on Earth. This unincorporated United States territory is closed to the public, is presently uninhabited, and is now administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Wildlife Refuge.

In 1969, I was employed by Holmes & Narver, Inc., as the financial controller for the company’s contract with the Atomic Energy Commission (whose functions are now performed by the Department of Energy). H&N provided operations and maintenance services for the island, which for several years had been used by the AEC and the Department of Defense for upper atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. At the time of the Apollo 11 mission, atmospheric testing had been suspended, and the facilities were being maintained in a readiness state.

American flag on the moon. July 20, 1969.

A day prior to the splashdown of the lunar module, President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State William Rogers, and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger flew to Johnston Atoll on board Air Force One. They spent a night on the island prior to flying out aboard Marine One to the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, the designated recovery vessel. I ate my evening meal that day at a table next to where Rogers and Kissinger enjoyed a steak dinner at the Officers’ Club, which H&N operated for Joint Task Force Eight. On July 24, prior to departing for the recovery ceremonies, President Nixon shook hands with several military and civilian personnel to thank them for the services rendered to him and his staff during their brief time on JA. He turned back from continuing down the reception line when he was two persons away from me. That’s as close as I ever got to Nixon.

Nixon welcomes the astronauts back to Earth. July 24, 1969.

The returning astronauts were quarantined aboard the aircraft carrier following their splashdown 210 miles south of JA. The USS Hornet transported the astronauts directly to Hawaii. They never set foot on Johnston Atoll. President Nixon and his entourage did return to JA where they made a quick transfer from Marine One to Air Force One and immediately took off for their journey back to the “mainland.” We did not have live television broadcasts on JA. We had to wait several days for film to be flown out from Honolulu for us to see the moon landing and the ceremonies that had taken place onboard USS Hornet.

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Roundup Magazine Articles Available On-Line

I am pleased to inform the readers of this blog that Roundup Magazine has published two of my recent articles “on-line.” Here is the link that will take you to where you can read “Races Within A Race: The building of the Transcontinental Railroad” and “Henry Morton Stanley and the West.” http://westernwriters.org/round up

These articles appeared in the April 2019 issue of Roundup Magazine, the official publication of Western Writers of America.

 

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Alas, It Was Not to Be

In my last post, I stated I would be in Ogden, Utah, to participate in the annual convention of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society and attend the sesquicentennial celebration at the Golden Spike National Historic Site on May 10, 2019. Unfortunately, the night prior to my scheduled departure from home, I developed a high fever and wound up cancelling my trip. I spent the next several days battling a flu-type bug with antibiotics. I am now recovering nicely, thank you.

Such disappointing events make one appreciate other opportunities that were accomplished. I am sad I could not be at Promontory Summit this year to witness the reenactment of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad 150 years ago; but, happy to recall that I did attend the annual reenactment in 2014 of that momentous event. I have dozens of photographs to remind me of that wonderful trip.

2014 Reenactment of CP’s Jupiter meeting UP’s Engine 119 at Promontory Summit.

Brief national television news coverage this past Friday and Saturday indicated those who attended the sesquicentennial celebration on May 10, 2019, had great weather and enjoyed the proceedings.

I made my visit to the reenactment ceremonies on May 10, 2014, as part of my many research trips while writing about the most important engineering achievement of the nineteenth century in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three.

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On the Railroad 150 Years Ago: DONE

This blog post, describing the driving of the golden spike, is adapted from my article “Races Within A Race” that appeared in the April 2019 issue of Roundup Magazine.

Leland Stanford, president of  the Central Pacific, performed the honors on behalf of the railroad that had laid the tracks eastward from Sacramento, California. Thomas “Doc” Durant, vice president and general manager of the Union Pacific, represented the railroad that had laid tracks westward from Omaha, Nebraska. On May 10, 1869, hundreds of workers from both companies crowded around to witness the ceremonies. Speeches by various dignitaries commenced the proceedings. Twenty newspaper reporters produced differing stories because they could not get close enough to hear the speakers.

Reenactment of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory, May 10, 2014.

Finally, it was time for the big event. First Stanford then Durant gently touched the golden spike with a silver-plated maul, officially signaling the completion of the railroad. Then the precious spike was replaced with a regular iron one. Stanford was handed a sledgehammer connected by wire to a telegraph key to automatically send a signal when contact was made with the metal spike. Stanford swung and missed the spike. Durant took a turn and missed both spike and tie. The Western Union telegrapher manually tapped out the signal “done” to listeners around the world. The UP had laid 1,086 miles of track and the CP 690. The Pacific Railroad, finished seven years ahead of schedule, was complete at 1,776 miles.

The CP’s Jupiter meets the UP’s 119 during reenactment, May 10, 2014.

Union Pacific’s Engine No. 119 and Central Pacific’s locomotive Jupiter inched toward each other and touched cowcatchers. Whistles blew, and bells clanged. Two brass bands blared out martial music. The witnesses toasted one another with champagne. The dignitaries enjoyed a quick luncheon, then they hurried away in their private railcars in opposite directions. With the driving of the golden spike, Manifest Destiny became a reality. The Overland Trail that had required six months to traverse in a wagon could now be crossed in six days by train. The western lands that had been home to Native American tribes for centuries were rapidly taken from them by soldiers and settlers.

The sesquicentennial celebration of what many consider to be the greatest engineering achievement of the nineteenth century will be held at the Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 2019. I will be present as part of a contingent from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society which is holding its annual convention in Ogden, Utah, May 8 to 11.

The photographs illustrating this blog post are from my visit to the Golden Spike National Historic Site on May 10, 2014, during the annual reenactment of the celebration of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. You can read my fictionalized version of this significant historical event in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three.

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Roundup Magazine Articles

The April 2019 issue of Roundup Magazine contains two feature articles that I wrote in conjunction with the sesquicentennial celebration of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. One article is entitled: “Races Within A Race: The building of the Transcontinental Railroad.” The other article is entitled: “Henry Morton Stanley and the West.” Also contained in this issue of the magazine is a book review I wrote on Across the Continent: The Union Pacific Photographs of Andrew J. Russell by Daniel Davis.

Roundup Magazine is the official publication of Western Writers of America. The magazine is published bi-monthly to “provide a forum on issues that pertain to Western literature, in general, and Western Writers of America and its members, in particular.” Subscriptions can be obtained for $40 per year from Western Writers of America, 271 CR 219, Encampment, WY 82325.

You can read my two articles from the April 2019 issue of Roundup Magazine at this link:

roundupapril2019articles

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On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

Newly elected President Ulysses S. Grant, on his inauguration day in March 1869, put a hold on the issuance of any more government bonds to help finance the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad until they agreed on a meeting place. This got the attention of the owners of the two railroads. Collis P. Huntington, the east coast representative of the CP’s “Big Four,” journeyed to Washington City on April 9. There, he met with Grenville M. Dodge, the UP’s chief engineer who had recently completed a term as a U. S. Congressman. These two men were designated by their respective companies to resolve the impasse.

Corinne, a Hell on Wheels town in Utah.

Both railroads were desirous of using Ogden, Utah, as the point where the railroads exchanged passengers and freight. However, in the race to see who could lay the most track, the UP had already moved 25 miles beyond Ogden. On April 7, a UP locomotive steamed across Bear River, near where it spilled into the Great Salt Lake, and established Corinne, Utah, one of the last Hell on Wheels towns. The CP was still laying track several miles west of the north shore of the Great Salt Lake—a long way from Ogden.

Huntington proposed that the CP purchase whatever track the UP laid between Ogden and the eventual meeting point. When Dodge initially refused, Huntington said the CP would therefore continue to lay track all the way into Ogden. Dodge relented, and the two men agreed to meet at or near Ogden. In a night session that same day, Congress passed a joint resolution specifying that the CP buy the UP’s tracks between Ogden and Promontory Summit, Utah, where “. . . the rails shall meet and connect and form one continuous line.”

Welcome Sign at Promontory Summit, Utah.

On April 10 the UP stopped grading west of Promontory Summit, and on April 15 the CP stopped grading east of the designated meeting location. The two railroads had graded past each other for 250 miles, and in five places their lines crossed each other. Now, until May 10, 1869. the final effort to lay rails to the agreed upon meeting point would consume both workforces.

I wrote about these events in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles—Book Three.

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Henderson Libraries Sixth Annual Local Author Showcase

The Henderson Libraries Sixth Annual Local Author Showcase, held on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the Paseo Verde Library in Henderson, Nevada, was a success for authors and patrons alike. I participated in the afternoon session and autographed copies of The Iron Horse Chronicles. As can be seen in this photo, I was positioned almost directly in front of the permanent exhibit the library maintains for local authors.

I extend my appreciation to the Henderson Libraries for including me in a well-planned and executed event.

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On the Railroad 150 Years Ago

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated as the 18th President of the United States on March 4, 1869. His first executive order, released later that evening, directed the suspension of the issuance of further subsidy bonds to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. Government officials had become increasingly frustrated with the inefficiencies of construction, the increasing rumors of financial corruption, and the inability of the two railroads to name a point where their lines would join to complete the Pacific Railroad.

Collis P. Huntington

Cutting off the primary source of financing for the railroads got the attention of the CP’s “Big Four” and the UP’s senior management. Collis P. Huntington, headquartered in New York, but frequenting Washington for lobbying purposes, was naturally designated as the point man for the Central Pacific. Grenville M. Dodge had completed his single term as a U. S. Congressman from Iowa the day before Grant’s inauguration, but he remained in Washington City to be the lead negotiator for the Union Pacific. Huntington and Dodge commenced more serious discussions about a meeting point.

Grenville M. Dodge

On March 7, 1869, the Union Pacific engine Black Hawk steamed into Ogden, Utah, for the first time. The UP had beaten the CP to this coveted destination. But since March 7 was a Sunday, this Mormon community of 1,500 faithful inhabitants decided to postpone the celebration of the arrival of the iron horse until the next day, so that everyone could participate. In the meantime, on March 9, 1869, the Central Pacific’s tracks reached milepost 556 in eastern Nevada. The CP was a long way from Ogden.

I wrote about the first train into Ogden in Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles—Book Three.

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