The Redbud City: It happened in January

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer
During the Shawnee Police Foundation Benefit Dinner Friday, January 31, 2020, SPD Cpl. Greg VanBrunt, second from right, was honored with the 2019 Officer of the Year award. Standing with him are SPD Cpl. Vivian Stafford, far left; SPF Chairman Ken Stafford; 2018 Officer of the Year Cpl. Nathen Helm, VanBrunt and SPD Chief Mason Wilson. Behind the group, onstage, was Master of Ceremonies Kelly Ogle, news anchor for Channel 9.

125 YEARS AGO - For several weeks, the people of Shawnee were anxious regarding the location of the Choctaw machine shops. However, by the end of January of 1896, that was put to rest. The proposition that was submitted by the Choctaw Railroad Company was accepted by city. It was then signed by John W. McLoud, attorney for the railroad, bringing the shops to Shawnee.

The shops meant much for the city, as the company would spend a lot of  money on the buildings and round houses. Also, the force that was necessary to build the shops became a valuable addition for the town. It allowed local people to find work at the shops for good wages.

100 YEARS AGO - WOMENLESS WEDDING INVADES SHAWNEE. “A huge scream,” “a howling success,” either one or both of two and trite similar sayings were flat, insipid, inadequate, when it came to describing the “Womanless Wedding” given at the high school auditorium on the night of January 7, 1921. The only phrase which would come anywhere near doing justice to the occasion was that it was the most successful piece of “dam-foolishness” that was ever presented to a Shawnee audience.

Every square foot of not only seating, but standing space was filled and hundreds were turned away from the doors, unable to get in. To describe the affair was as impossible as to pick out the most attractive member of the bridal party, or the most accomplished among the group of talented guests who were in attendance.

The entertainment opened with the precipitous entrance of Charlie Chaplin, who sprawled in true “movie” fashion across the stage, arousing shrieks of delight from the kiddies who filled the front rows of seats. “Charlie” was impersonated by J.T. Mauldin, who was master of ceremonies. He greeted the guests as they arrived for the wedding, escorting them up the aisle and introducing them to the audience and explaining their various talents.

At the last notes of “The Dying Wampus Cat,” played by Madame Pavlowa faded away, Paderewski struck up the inspiring strains of “Here Comes the Bride,” and the wedding party proceeded to the altar. L.W. Courtney was about the most ministerial looking minister who ever ministered, as he approached the execution block with the latest edition of the “Montgomery-Ward” catalogue under his arm. Other members of the party were Harry Crew and Henry Williams as “best men.” Malcom Meeks, Tom Douglas and Ross Johnson were the bridesmaids. Peyton Jennings was the Maid of Honor.

The entertainment was given under the auspices of the Boy Scouts, who acted as ushers, and Circle No. 2 of the Methodist/Episcopal Church South.

75 YEARS AGO - TIRE BUYERS LINE UP FOR RATION-FREE CASINGS. Lines formed early, and many motorists went away empty- handed Wednesday, January 2, 1946, as passenger and truck tires went on sale ration-free for the first time since early in the war. Tire dealers, trying to scatter the casings out where they would do the most good sold out in a few hours, some businesses in less time than that. The local supply was far from large enough to meet demands.

At Montgomery Ward & Company, where droves appeared 30 minutes before the store opened, the passenger tire stock lasted half an hour. “We had about 40 or 50 passenger tires on hand and they didn’t last any time,” said Wade L. McClung, manager of the Ward Tire Department. “We’re trying to spread out among our customers what tires we’re getting from allocations. We opened at 8:30 and our stock was gone in 30 minutes.”

Motorist were urged to buy only what they needed so the available supply would benefit the greatest number of tire-hungry drivers, many of whom were nursing long, thin casings in hopes of obtaining a full set. Most dealers limited their customers to one or two tires and reported only a minor rush for truck rubber.

M.L. Welch, tire chief at Modern Motors, declared “We could sell all the tires we could get. When business started Wednesday, we had only a few, and what we did have went early. A lot of ex-servicemen, who have a lot of places to go, came in.”

It was like that all over town. Sell-outs were also reported by other firms handling tires. And although there was not enough to go around or to permit that long cherished desire of slapping on four new ones, the one jubilant consolation was that new tires were finally here.

50 YEARS AGO - JUDGE HENRY TAKES REINS. Lloyd Henry, long time city resident and attorney, donned the robes of justice Monday, January 11, 1971, to begin a four-year term as District Judge Lloyd Henry. He was succeeding retiring Judge J. Knox Byrum, who administered the oath of office in ceremonies conducted in the Pottawatomie County Courthouse.

While Judge Henry’s life became more hectic, Judge Byrum’s time would be spent more leisurely, at least for a while. Judge Byrum, unable to be less than busy, revealed that the Supreme Court would be sending cases for advisory opinions. This work would involve reading, studying, and writing opinions. Byrum said, “Of course these opinions will have to be approved in the entire court.”

Reflecting on the past, Judge Byrum added, “This has been a most rewarding and very happy life. I don’t intend to completely break away from it.”

25 YEARS AGO - LAW STUDENT WINS MISS SHAWNEE CROWN. It may have been her first pageant, but Kelli Michele Masters, a student at Oklahoma City University Law School, twirled her way into the hearts of five judges and captured the Miss Shawnee 1996 crown during the 36th annual Jaycee-sponsored pageant Saturday night, January 27, at the Shawnee Junior High School Auditorium.

Masters, the 22-year-old from Noble, was selected over eight other contestants. She was a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in broadcast journalism, with a minor in political science. During the talent portion of the competition, Masters performed a dance routine while, also twirling three batons.

10 YEARS Ago - Pott. Co. officers sworn in. For the only the second time in Pottawatomie County history, a woman was sworn in on Monday, January 3, 2011, to serve as county commissioner. Melissa Dennis took her first oath of office as District 1 Commissioner, with District 3 Commissioner Buck Day and County Assessor Troyce King also being sworn in for their new terms at the same time. District Attorney Richard Smothermon also was sworn into office Monday for the start of his new four-year term.

Back in the early 1970s, Janice Guderian served as a county commissioner after first being appointed - and later elected - to her husband Bill’s seat following his death. Monday also marked a first day for new District Judge John Canavan. He was inducted into office on paper Monday, but formal swearing in ceremonies for him were scheduled for Monday, Jan. 10.

Five Years Ago - Museum kicks off new year with matching grant. Beginning in early January of 2016, members of the Pottawatomie County Historical Society celebrated the New Year when they received Paul Milburn’s matching grant contribution of $500,000 to build an additional museum to supplement the historical collection in the Santa Fe Depot building. Milburn’s gift enabled the Historical Society to break ground for the new museum. Shawnee architect John Patterson completed the construction drawings.

One year ago - Shepard receives death penalty. A formal sentencing hearing took place Friday morning, January 3, 2020, for the defendant convicted in December for the 2017 murder of Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney. The jury recommended the death penalty as punishment; District Judge John G. Canavan agreed.

At 9 a.m. at the Pottawatomie County courthouse, Canavan wasted no time handing down judgment against Byron James Shepard, 38, of Okemah, regarding three charges. On the felony count of murder in the first degree, the death sentence was issued to Shepard, who was convicted in November by a Pottawatomie County jury. Shepard also was sentenced to five years and a fine of $500 for the charge of knowingly concealing stolen property; as well as a sentence of 10 years and a $5,000 fine for possession of controlled dangerous substance.

These stories all appear, along with hundreds of others, in the six-volume history of the City of Shawnee. The first four volumes, through 1989, are now available for purchase at the Pottawatomie County Historical Society. 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.