The Redbud City: City celebrates second Redbud Day

Clyde Wooldridge
Contributing writer


H.D. Troop, seeking re-election in the fifth ward commissioner’s race, asked for a recount Tuesday night, April 7, 1942, following tabulation of votes which showed E.P. Brasel leading him, 175 to 166.

In the other three races, Mayor K. Pat Murphy, incumbent in ward one, defeated C.E. Bowlby, 314 to 292. In the sixth ward, G.A. Malsbury defeated E.R. “Speck” Waite, 289 to 212. Waite, current commissioner at large, shifted to the sixth ward race when Ezra C. Stanard did not file for re-election. Although voting was hampered by unfavorable weather, Herman Stout rolled up 1,024 votes in the commissioner-at-large contest to defeat I.O. Alexander, who polled 526 votes.

The city commissioners declared the fifth ward decision held in abeyance, pending a recount by district court order. The other posts in ward one, six, and commissioner-at-large races were declared filled by the election.

“I will ask my attorney to obtain a district court order, calling for a recount,” Troop said.

Four years earlier, he won the fifth ward post on a recount by defeating Max Rippey after the first count showed the contestants tied. At that time, errors were found in boxes at the Horace Mann and Robert E. Lee schools.

Troop filed legal action in the city election on Thursday, April 9 in district court. This caused a restraining order, preventing issuance of an election certificate to E.P. Brasel in the fifth ward.

Downtown parades dominated the “Redbud Days” in the 1940s for Shawnee citizens.


Shawnee observed its second-annual Redbud Day celebration Saturday, April 11, 1942, with a downtown parade, prizes for outstanding participants, and a tour of parks, schools, and areas where the trees were planted.

Following the parade that moved from Main and Minnesota to Market Street, the Redbud areas were visited. An 11-car caravan, police escorted, stopped at the following parks: Sunny Sie, Milstead, Boy Scout, Lilac, Rosedale, Larch-Miller Memorial, Red Bud, Wildwood, Woodland, Farrall, and Negro.

Other points along the 14-mile tour were: Immanuel Baptist Church, Memorial Lane, Woodrow Wilson school, municipal rose garden OBU, Redbud Trail from OBU to the country club, Athletic Stadium, Shawnee Cotton Oil Mill, Shawnee Ice Plant, Girls’ NYA project, and a few other schools. About 300 people participated in the parade.

Shawnee was designated the official “Red Bud City of Oklahoma” February 19, 1941, when a resolution introduced by Senators Mead Norton and Boyd Cowden and Representatives Tom Wyatt and John Levergood was approved.

In 1941, 5,000 Redbud trees were planted in Shawnee and 2,900 during the current spring.


Every stable has its champion, and the city barn had “Booger Red,” a 17-hands high mule who pulled wagons for the street department nearly 25 years. He was reputed as knowing more traffic regulations than most humans.

As far as M. Nelson, street superintendent, and his boys were concerned, the old sorrel with the nervous disposition wrote the regulations for he had never failed to give the proper signal when making a turn or forgotten to heed the traffic bells.

“Booger” was heeding regulations a short time ago, when an automobile crashed into him, knocked him to his knees and cracked a bone in his long, sensitive lose. “Booger” was trying to dodge the car, and the driver admitted later he failed to see the mule. A veterinarian patched up the durable public servant and he was functioning again, working an eight-hour daylight shift, threading traffic and standing tirelessly.

Only ill effect he carried from the crash was that “he was skittish at times and would come to the barn if you don’t watch him.” Ageless “Booger” became city property in 1917. He was six years old at the time, according to J.W. Critz, veteran mule buyer, who first owned him.

“That old red mule has been worth $4,000 to the city compared to the cost of trucks and upkeep,” estimated Critz, who followed the animal’s record fondly.

Opera singers, baseball players, and other champions are often temperamental, and so was “Booger,” king of the barn. Only two men can bridle him and finish the job intact; Nelson and his driver, C.G. “Shorty” Fulton. “Shorty” accomplished the task by getting up in the manger, and Nelson, who was around Red for years, can complete the job in the open. You were doing things when you put “Booger Red” under your control.

“Booger” was a great character, but you could not cut any monkeyshines behind him without first showing your calling card. “He kicks like a cow; one foot straight back,” Nelson warned. “Two men have felt the brunt of Red’s hoofs. And he’s a cat to shoe. You have to tie his feet.”

Nelson was as proud of the big red employee as if he were a derby winner, summed up his pet’s qualities with this oration:

“He’s the smartest animal I ever saw. That mule has got just as much sense as a human, maybe more, because if he sees a car coming, he’ll get out of the way. He’s a very, very young animal for his age, can outpull any mule in the lot and has more life. He’s kinda foolish about his ear, won’t let a stranger bridle him. He’s a smart, high-strung mule, that’s the way I sum him up.”

“Booger” and his two mule co-workers, “Mandy” and “Kate,” get three heavy meals a day. It was City Manager T.E. Thompson’s orders. So, they got oats, alfalfa, and prairie hay. “Booger” was particular about his drinking water, although he never kicked about the menu. “If the water trough is empty, he’ll come up to it and paw till somebody turns the hydrant on,” Nelson said.

“Mandy” who was only 20, came from Louisiana and worked the night shift. In service 14 years, she was another traffic expert, never touching a car unless it was the car’s fault and kept moving along the street. G.W. Young was her driver.

“Kate,” a mere six-year-old fledging, pulled her wagon one year. “She’s exceptional as young as she is to work in traffic the way she does,” said her driver, E.C. Lower.

Two horses, driven by James Shelton, completed the department’s animal power. The city had not immediate retirement plans for the everlasting “Booger.” You did not retire a mule until he’s ready, and “Booger,” although graying a bit, was in no hurry to park his wagon.

These stories appear in Volume Two (1930-49) of the history of the City of Shawnee. The first five volumes, from 1830 to 2009, 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. Volume Six, (2010-2021) is at the printer this week and should be available in two or three weeks.