The Redbud City: Springtime 1945 in Shawnee

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
DELORES KEEFE, selected as the 1945 Redbud Queen, was a sophomore at Shawnee High School.


Folks on the home front got a verbal pat on the back, a message from their boys over there and some good entertainment when they packed the Criterion Theater Tuesday, March 6, 1945, to see the Eighth Service Command war show, staged for only one day.

Over 1,000 people were turned away Tuesday night and some 8,000 jammed the seats and lobby at the four shows, including one extra of the day and evening. Obviously pleased at the response given the show by Shawnee area people, Harry A. Pierson, coordinator of the Pottawatomie County chapter, of the Oklahoma War Council, which sponsored it, expressed regret that everyone couldn’t see it.

Five wounded American veterans took the spotlight, not as Master of Ceremonies Lt. Charles F. Sorgi put it, “to get any glory for ourselves but to try and let you see something of what your boys are going through.” Lt. Sorgi, a Dallas, Texan, wounded at Volturno, while serving with the Fifth Army troops, told his audience that “you’re doing a fine job, just keep it up.”

He introduced Sgt. Robert C. Peters, organizer and director of the Eighth Service Command 30-piece orchestra, which opened the show with its own arrangement of “Over There.” Sgt. William R. Tieber of Cleveland, Ohio, violin soloist, got a big hand as did the trumpet artists. Audiences at each succeeding show wanted “more” from most of the performers.

Musical tribute was paid to Pottawatomie County’s war dead and the final selection was the orchestra arrangers’ interpretation of “Marche Slav.” A series of war films completed the show.


Delores Keefe, Shawnee High School sophomore, was crowned 1945 Redbud Queen in the fifth annual Redbud celebration Saturday, April 4, 1945, citing Shawnee as the “Redbud City of Oklahoma.”

Attracting a large county crowd that lined Main Street, the Redbud parade finished its line of march at the municipal auditorium where coronation ceremonies took place. George McKinnis was master of ceremonies, recognizing city schools essay contest winners, who were given $1.50 as prizes and introduced the queen, her maid-of-honor, Lois Legg, and other attendants.

Mayor Herman Stout crowned Keefe, presenting her with an identification bracelet engraved with the inscription, “Redbud Queen, 1945.” She was seated on a throne surrounded by Redbud trees and carried a Redbud bouquet.

Seated on the grandstand with the queen were Mayor Stout, City Manager T.E. Thompson, Mrs. J.H. Brown, Mrs. Park Wyatt, Mrs. Joe Warren, and Mrs. W.T. Currie. Lee Burnett led the parade as grand marshal, followed by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sons of the American Legion, color guard from the NATTC at Norman, representatives from the Garden Club units and the Round Up Club.

Miss Keefe and Miss Legg rode in an open car followed by the attendants in another open car. The essay winners also rode in the parade. The high school band, under the direction of Paul Boone, marched in the parade and played at the crowning ceremonies.


On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away after four momentous terms in office, leaving Vice President Harry S. Truman in charge of a country still fighting the Second World War and in possession of a weapon of unprecedented and terrifying power.

On a clear spring day at his Warm Springs, Georgia retreat, Roosevelt sat in the living room with Lucy Mercer (with whom he had resumed an extramarital affair), two cousins and his dog Fala, while an artist painted his portrait. According to a presidential biographer, it was about 1 P.M. that the president suddenly complained of a terrific pain in the back of his head and collapsed unconscious. One of the women summoned a doctor, who immediately recognized the symptoms of a massive cerebral hemorrhage and gave the president a shot of adrenaline into the heart in a vain attempt to revive him. Mercer and the artist quickly left the house, expecting FDR’s family to arrive as soon as word got out. Another doctor phoned first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in Washington D.C., informing her that FDR had fainted. She told the doctor she would travel to Georgia that evening after a scheduled speaking engagement. By 3:30 P.M., though, doctors in Warm Springs had pronounced the president dead.


The Hamburg Nazi radio said Tuesday night, May 1, 1945, that Adolf Hitler died the day before in Berlin. He was succeeded by Admiral Karl Doenitz, his personal choice as heir to command the German nation.

“It is reported from the fuehrer’s headquarters that our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism, fell for Germany this afternoon in his operational headquarters in the Reich-Chancellery,” said the German language announcement recorded by the Associated Press.

On April 30, the Fuehrer appointed Grand Admiral Doenitz as his successor. The grand admiral and successor of the fuehrer now spoke to the German people. “It is my first task to save Germany from destruction by the advancing Bolshevist enemy. For this aim alone the military struggle continues.”

Doenitz eulogized Hitler as a man who dedicated his life to Germany and to warring against the Bolsheviks and died a “hero’s death.”

Questions immediately arose throughout the world whether Hitler died in battle against the Russians, or some more ignominious manner of suicide.

These stories appear in volume two (1930-1949) of “Redbud City,” the history of Shawnee. The weekly articles in the News-Star are excerpts from the various editions. All six volumes, from 1830 to June of 2021, are now available for purchase at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. They are now open, and you may visit them, or you may order them online at their website, or by calling (405) 275-8412. Each volume is $35, but a purchase of two or more volumes can be obtained at $30 each. We are offering a special deal. If you purchase any other volume, you may obtain Volume One (1830-1929) for just $20. The six volumes contain approximately three million words and more than 1,000 pictures. Each volume is indexed with people and businesses, making it easy to find a person or entity.