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The Redbud City: It happened in the winter of 1927

Clyde Wooldridge
The 1926-27 Shawnee High School basketball team was the greatest to that point in school history, finishing 25-2 on the season. Pictured, top row, (l-r) Zuriel Neal & Clifton Shearer (All-State). Middle row,  Walter Turner & Coy Richeson. Bottom row,  Max Timmons (All-State).  Not pictured were Cecil Ellenburg, Everett Dushane and Guy Robinett. The team was coached by Buddy Wilcoxson.


“Do you like to ride the street cars? Well, folks, you had better satisfy your craving for trolley transportation within the next 48 hours – else you will have to go to some other city for your streetcar riding.” This was the quote from the Shawnee Morning News on January 5, 1927.

The knell sounded for the rambling old cars. They had meandered throughout the streets of Shawnee for more than two decades. On January 7, they would be supplanted by a new transportation system. The citizens would see new “spic and span” yellow cab coaches.

The new coaches had already appeared on the streets and excited admiring comment from well-shaken patrons of the old trolley, which would go on regular schedule on the 7th of January. Many people wanted to call the new vehicles buses. They had the same motor as the well-known cabs of the same name. The motors had four speeds forward.

Each coach would afford seats for 21 passengers. Side seats provided for 16 persons, and five more could find accommodation in the long rear seat. Eight, 21-candle-powered lights illuminated the coaches at night. Eight large windows with transoms let in the light of day and ventilation. The floors were covered with battleship linoleum, one-fourth inch thick. Small heaters under the seats afforded warmth in cold weather.

There were four coaches in service in Shawnee. Two would give service between Shawnee and Tecumseh. City service was available every 15 minutes, versus 30 minutes with the old trolley cars. Service to Tecumseh was cut from 30 minutes to 20. The coaches would be housed in the car barns on east Main Street.


Nearly 600 pupils were added to the enrollment of the Shawnee schools during the past month, as reported in early February. The exact number was 583. It seemed almost incredible that the enrollment increased that much during such a short time.

Five new teachers were added within a few weeks, and it helped, but so rapidly were the new pupils coming, that crowded conditions were as bad as ever. If the increase continued, the boom would be appalling.

In view of the fact that Shawnee now had more pupils than either Okmulgee or Enid, it was interesting to compare the appropriations for the schools of the three cities. Okmulgee had an appropriation of $350,000, Enid, $275,000, while Shawnee’s was $155,000.

The new teachers that were added were all placed in the grades. Vacant rooms were utilized, and it was hoped to add another one or two teachers in the future. However, another ward school building was the only thing that could offer any adequate relief.

The new teachers were Emma E. Speak from Oklahoma City; Muriel Edwards from Ada, both assigned to the Irving school. Ruby McGlothlin to Central, Marianna Pitman to Washington, and Mabel Capps to Horace Mann. All three were from Shawnee.


Buddy Wilcoxson, coach of the most successful basketball team ever produced from the den of the Wolves, won great distinction in high school and college as an athlete. He got 16 letters in high school and 13 in college. His high school letters came from Purcell, where he graduated in 1921. In 1922, he came to OBU and made the football, basketball, track and baseball teams.

His success as a coach could be judged by the fact that the Wolves went to the finals in the State Championship Tournament, losing by one point to Durant in the closing seconds, 27-26. When you couple that with the fact that the star player was crippled, only added to the outstanding accomplishments of this team.

Their playoff run after a magnificent regular season was superb. Shawnee won the 9th District Tournament in Oklahoma City, defeating the Classen Comets in the finals, 21-19, on the night of March 12. The Comets were the conference champions during the regular season and were favorites in the game, but the leadership of center, Clifton Shearer, who led the team in scoring with 12 points, dominated the action. This qualified them for the State Tournament in Stillwater the following week.

In the opener, they easily defeated Jefferson Consolidated, 28-14, with a balanced attack. Clifton Shearer led in scoring with 13 points. The first-round results were: Woodward 30, Dundee 14; Durant 25, Henryetta 15; Altus 35, Pauls Valley 16; Alva 27, Cushing 20; Cloud Chief 18, Miami 15; Shawnee 28, Jefferson Consolidated 14; Ponca City 32, Crowder 12; and Pawhuska 18, El Reno 12. In their second game at state, they were matched up with Cloud Chief, and came away with an impressive 30-12 victory. Although a balanced attack was simply too much for the opponents, again, Shearer led the team with 11 points. Cloud Chief was a small community in Washita County, but in the 21st century is a ghost town. They were then set to take on Pawhuska in the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon, March 19. No score was available, but they swept past Pawhuska in the semis and met Durant in the finals.

In the finals on Saturday night, March 19, 1927, Shawnee’s veteran quintet were the favorites. But Durant spurted down the home stretch in a battle that ended, 27-26. It was a scrap all the way and held the spectators spell-bound every minute. The lead changed hands 12 times during the contest, with the score tied twice. Never more than three points separated the two teams during the game.

Shawnee was ahead 26-25 through the great work of Clifton Shearer, when time out was called with only a minute to play. Williamson, the slender forward of Durant, raced down the center of the court, grabbed a long pass and dropped the ball in with just 20 seconds to play. That did not finish the thrills, however. Shearer gained possession and lofted a try at the buzzer, but it missed the mark. The ball rolled off the rim as the final whistle blew.

The next Saturday night, an unofficial All-State team was announced. Three Shawnee players were placed on the team. On the first team were Shearer and Max Timmons. First-year player, Cecil Ellenburg was named to the second team. The team finished with a 25-2 record.

(These stories and hundreds more appear in the first volume of Shawnee history, entitled: “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE EARLY YEARS, 1830-1929.” It can be purchased by calling Clyde Wooldridge at (918) 470-3728, or by visiting the Pottawatomie County Historical Society at the old Santa Fe Depot. The cost of purchase is $35. Volume two, “1930-1949,” is also available for $30. Volume three, “REDBUD CITY: SHAWNEE, THE MIDDLE YEARS, 1950-1969,” is now available, at a cost of $35. All three volumes are more than 400 pages with hundreds of photos and illustrations. A combination of two or three can be purchased at $30 each. They are fully indexed, making it easy to look up individuals or places of business. Volume four 1970-1989, is scheduled for the fall of 2020; volume five 1990-2009, should be available in the fall of 2021; and volume six 2010-to the present, is scheduled for the fall of 2022. They are also available on thumb drive at the PCHS Museum.)

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.