Jim Watson's house, 424EAST4TH, is in Edmond, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, far enough to have its own identity beyond the metro yet close enough to be an integral part of the Oklahoma City metro area. The first Europeans in the area came through as a result of the Santa Fe railroad laying tracks through the territory in the mid-1880s. Like all towns in Central Oklahoma, Edmond began at 12 noon on April 22, 1889; the Great Oklahoma Land Run. The government had decided to open up Oklahoma Territory to settlers with the promise of free land. All one had to was stake a claim. The government had previously plotted all the claims: lots within designated cities and quarter-mile quadrants outside the towns.
Edmond was a water stop on the Santa Fe and was designated by the government surveyors as a 'town'. Edmond was originally named 'Summit' as it was believed that it was the highest point between the Cimarron and North Canadian rivers. For the run, the townsite committee was considering the name 'Birge City' but when the papers were filed in 1889 at the Land Office in Guthrie (Oklahoma's first capital), someone, no one knows who, had crossed off Birge City and written in 'Edmond'. It was most likely named for Edmond Burdick, a freight agent for the Santa Fe railroad.
Edmond became the site of the Oklahoma Territory's first institution of higher learning - the Normal School began classes on November 9, 1891. It is now the University of Central Oklahoma. Edmond grew rapidly: it was a stop on the Santa Fe railroad, it was later on the Interurban rail line running from Oklahoma City to Guthrie, and Route 66 ran right through town, today's Second Street and south on Broadway.
Edmond used to be a "Sundown town" or "Sunset town" - local law required any non-white person, including Blacks, AmerIndians, and Hispanics to be out of town before sunset. According to historian Christopher Lehman: By ordinance, the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, prohibited Blacks from the city limits for generations. The 1940 postcard for the Royce Café proudly emblazoned "A Good Place to Live. 6,000 Live Citizens. No Negroes" as an attraction for prospective residents. No Negro attended school in Edmond until 1974, and no Negro family lived there until 1976.
All the food at the Royce was "supervised by women."
As of 2015, Edmond has grown from 6,000 to 85,000 citizens. Today, there is a Muslim Mosque, a Mormon Church, a Witness Meeting Hall; and numerous Hispanics, Asians, and Negroes living in the city.
Capital View addition
The second major housing development in early Edmond was south of Second Street, between town and the college. It was originally the site of the Clegern family farm, bounded by Second Street, Ninth street, Boulevard, and Rankin. Their farmhouse stood near the corner of Second Street and Jackson Street. The barn and a pond stretched south to what is now 4th Street. In the 1920s, the Clegerns built a new house on what is now Fifth Street, east of Rankin. They sold their farm and divided it into housing lots, first in 1917, and again in 1921 - the former Clegern farmstead became the Capital View Addition. Lots were typically 25' wide and 140' deep, although new owners bought 2 or more lots. The developer built the Clegern School on Jackson and 5th and a roundabout at 4th and University (then called College). The roundabout was removed and paved over later but reconstructed in about 2008 with a smaller diameter to accommodate today's larger trucks. Across Rankin (where the apartment complex is now) was a pioneer Edmond cemetery (graves were later moved to GraceLawn Cemetery on Danforth and Boulevard). Below left: the original lamppost in the roundabout circle at 4th and University (named College then). Below right: Reconstructed version.
When Watson decided to buy a house, the Capital View naberhood was the only one considered: it is close to the campus (Watson sometimes walked to work), has houses with character, the trees are larger and more mature, and the location put Watson close to work, shopping, and highway access.
424EAST4TH is on two city lots - lots 4 and 5. They remained vacant for 30 years - it is not known who owned these lots during that time. In 1951, the owners contracted to design and build a house on the lots. The original house was designed by Richard Henley, an Oklahoma City architect. Construction was completed in 1952 in the typical brick ranch style. The most intriguing exterior architectural feature was the brick planter running along the front of the house. Watson saw the inside of the house and, within minutes, saw the possibilities for its transformation. Watson was seeking the openness of a loft type space with a bit of industrial feel yet in a residential naberhood. The interior of the house was completely remodeled in 1995; an office addition was designed by Watson and built during 2000; the new kitchen was designed and built in 2002 (and again in 2018) a new driveway with parking pad was designed and poured in 2004. The bathroom was enlarged and remodeled in 2004.
The grave of aviator Wiley Post
Wiley Post was one of this country's aviation pioneers - he began his career in the early 1920s as a barnstorming pilot, often performing as a parachute jumper. Some of his highlights:
• An aerial racer in the early 1930s, winning the Bendix Trophy while flying in his plane "Winnie Mae".
• The first person to fly solo around the world. 1931: 8 days, 16 hours. 1933: 7 Days, 19 hours.
• He pioneered a number of aviation inventions, including the automatic pilot.
• Helped develop the first high-altitude pressure suits, on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.
• Good friends with humorist and entertainer Will Rogers, who decided to accompany Post on a flight to Alaska. On August 15, 1935, a few miles from Port Barrow, Alaska they became lost in bad weather and landed in a lagoon to ask directions. The engine quit when they tried to take off again and the plane plunged into the lagoon and both Wiley Post and Will Rogers died instantly.
Wiley Post is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, just a few miles from my house in Edmond. I had searched for his grave before, but it wasn't until this historical marker was put up that I finally found it.
There are many great things about Oklahoma: convenient location for traveling to other parts of the country, close to Dallas/Ft. Worth and Kansas City, beautiful diverse terrain for outdoor activities, a growing creative and arts community, many fine restaurants, live music entertainment, casino gambling, and relatively minor traffic problems in the cities.
• The first electric steel guitar: Beggs musician Bob Dunn, early 1930s.
• The first parking meter: OKC, July 16 1935.
• The first shopping cart: OKC, June 4 1937.
• The first Yield sign: Tulsa, 1950.
• The most diverse terrain of any state in the nation. Environmental Protection Agency: 11 distinct Eco-regions in Oklahoma.
• More man-made lakes than any other state. More than a million surface-acres of water and 2,000 more miles of shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf coasts combined.
• Home to more astronauts than any other state. Owen Garriott: Enid, Tom Stafford: Weatherford, Shannon Lucid: Oklahoma City, William Pogue: Okemah, and Gordon Cooper: Shawnee.
• 3rd largest gas-producing state in the nation
• 4th in the production of wheat, cattle and calves
• 5th in the production of pecans
• 6th in peanuts
• 8th in peaches
• Famous hometowns
Chester Gould, Dick Tracy cartoonist: Pawnee
Clarence "Ducky" Nash, original voice of Donald Duck: Watonga
Garth Brooks: Tulsa
Reba McIntire: McAlester
Toby Keith: Clinton and Moore
Ron Howard: Duncan
Troy Aikman: Henryetta
Brad Pitt: Shawnee
Living in the heart of Tornado Alley
Earliest memories: April 2, 1957, 4:20-4:50p: Tornado in Dallas from Oak Cliff along Harry Hines Exchange Center to Love Field. Dad took us onto Woodland to watch the skies.
Right: Looking northwest from the 31st floor of the Republic National Bank Bldg. in downtown Dallas. The area between the smoke stacks and the white grain silos on the right is the approximate location of the present day American Airlines Center.
Early Oklahoma memory: May 3, 1999: Cleaned out closet. Watched forecast, it veered east towards Tinker AFB from Moore. Breathed a sigh of relief.
Left: Frequency of thunderstorms. Right: Number of tornadoes.
May 19, 2013, Sunday morning: I and a friend had a great brunch at the new Whiskey Cake restaurant at Penn Square Mall in OKC. The weather was so nice, we sat outside on the covered patio. I left for home at about 2:00. I had to mow the back yard before the arrival of a forecasted storm later that afternoon. While mowing, I noticed the sky turn dark and the cloud movement increase. I kept checking the sky as I later took the dogs for a walk. At one point, I looked up and the clouds were rotating in a large circle over my head. Holy shit! That looked bad. I went inside and led the dogs into the closet. I had earlier readied the closet floor with pillows and cushions. We got in and the dogs lay down (photo below). They stayed quite calm. I, however, got a bit scared. This closet was not much protection.
The sound of the storm increased and there was a bit of hail. The power had gone off, I could not get info from the television. I was following the weather maps on a couple of iPhone app sites. It looked like we only had to get through another 5 or 10 minutes. After that, I slowly slid open the closet door. It looked quite calm out. We got out and went outside. The power came back and the TV popped on. They mentioned that a small tornado had touched down about 3 miles away. The damage was fairly minor (well, not to that one guy who lost half of his roof) and there were no injuries. This was the very beginning of the tornado that continued east and grew into a monster, destroying much of a trailer park near Shawnee (photos above). Every spring tornado season, I think about installing a storm shelter. Now, I definitely will. I won't go through another season sitting scared in a closet.
Monday morning, we thought the worst was over. Just another day of thunderstorms, maybe some severe in the afternoon. The morning was beautiful and sunny. I did some more yardwork. Watching the weather coverage that afternoon - there was a tornado that went through Moore, about 24 miles south of where I live. But, no word on how strong it was. Then, as the storm passed and the sky cleared, the news helicopters aired live aerial views, including the elementary schools. It seemed quiet and serene from the air. It wasn't.
"People are trapped. You are going to see the devastation for days to come," said a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. "Send your prayers heavenward because there are people fighting for their lives." In response to a woman who said she was praying for the tornado victims, a Facebook commenter replied, "If prayer worked (and superseded God's will), there wouldn't have been a disaster like this in the first place."
A Christian has to believe that the creator of the universe created tornadoes as part of his glorious plan for the world. The tornado that devastated Moore OK is not a result of free will, but is a part of God's glorious plan for our lives. A Christian has to worship a God that ignored the prayers of the trapped students and teachers and watched as 7 children suffered and died in their school building.
Is there a bias in The Oklahoman newspaper?
Central Oklahoma is served by only one major daily newspaper, The Oklahoman. A few years ago, it was one of the worst newspapers in the country:
• The American Journalism Review characterized the paper as suffering from uninspired content and political bias.
• The Columbia Journalism Review called The Oklahoman the "Worst Newspaper in America" - citing the paper's conformance to right-wing political views.
While there has been slight improvement, there is still obvious bias inherent in The Oklahoman.
Several people wrote letters to the editor (Your Views) in which they expressed support for Sarah Palin. I responded by writing my own letter to Your Views. The Editorial Writer challenged my opinion. I then wrote to the Editor of The Oklahoman asking for explanations to the Editorial Writer's challenge. After waiting a week and getting no response from the Editor, I wrote to the Publisher expressing my concerns about the challenges to my opinion letter and to the lack of a response from the Editor.
The Oklahoman has the right to refuse to print any letter to the editor, but I am concerned with this obvious breach of journalistic ethics - to argue with an opinion letter submitted by a subscriber. I do not expect anyone from The Oklahoman to ever apologize or explain their behavior. That would be the honorable and right thing to do.
Letter 1: Jim's letter to Your Views, The Oklahoman opinion page Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 11:08a
The responses to James Mitchell's comments (Your Views, Jan. 20) overlooked a significant fact about Sarah Palin: She took an oath of office and committed to serve as the Governor of Alaska. However, when she realized that it would be more fun to write a book, travel the country, and go on TV; she quit. She defied her commitment and responsibility in favor of becoming a celebrity. Why would any thinking American want a president or vice-president who might quit when she sees something else that would be more fun? We need someone who has the integrity, maturity, and intelligence to honor commitments.
Letter 2: Editorial Writer JE McReynolds' response to Jim's submission January 20, 2010, 12:13p
Here are some points you need to address to support your argument:
- Obama, Biden and Clinton tooks [sic] oaths and committed to serving in Senate. They left.
- Janet Napilatano [sic] took an oath to be governor of Arizona. She left. Bill Clinton took an oath to be governor of Arkansas. He left. The list is endless and bipartisan.
- Palin didn't leave Alaska to become a celebrity. She's been a celebrity since August 2008.
- Hillary ran for a higher office, didn't win and left the Senate shortly thereafter when an opportunity came her way. Palin ran for a higher office, didn't win and left the governorship when an opportunity came her way.
Letter 3: Jim's response to Editorial Writer McReynolds January 20, 2010, 2:10p
Thank you for your response.
You make some valid points, but I don't understand the opportunity that came Palin's way. The others had opportunities to continue their public service in higher offices so they resigned to move up. Sarah had no higher office or other public service beckoning her. Her motives seem to be more self-centered.
Letter 4: Jim's response to Editorial Writer McReynolds January 20, 2010, 2:55p
I am also a bit confused. I wasn't making an argument, as you state, I was simply expressing an opinion for 'Your Views' on the Editorial page, as many others have done (is it the Editorial policy of The Oklahoman to question all letter writers and state additional points for them to address?)
You responded with examples of others who have resigned - and they are all Democrats. As if you assumed I was making a statement about Republicans (I am not a Democrat and am somewhat disgusted with President Obama). I was making a statement about people who don't follow through on their commitment to serve (or continue to serve) our country in public office. Actually, I was making a statement about people who support those who don't hold to their commitment. To my understanding, adhering to commitments is one of the basic philosophies of the Republican Party.
Letter 5: Editorial Writer McReynolds' response to Jim January 20, 2010, 3:06p
Your Views is an edited forum. All letters that are published are edited, and submitted letters are scrutinized before publication. My response was to point out a problem with your logic in singling out Palin because it's quite routine for elected officials to jump from one office to another. If I didn't question your logic and published it as written, I'm quite sure that another letter would have done so in response. Mitchell's letter and the responses to it concerned Palin's lack of qualifications for higher office so it's not logical that any of those letters would have focused on Palin leaving office before her term was up -- something that many Democrats and Republicans have done over the years. Your concluding remarks in your letter would apply to any of the people I mentioned but especially Hillary because she, too, lost her bid for higher office and almost immediately left the Senate.
Letter 6: Jim's response to Editorial Writer McReynolds January 20, 2010, 3:46p
I hope our dialog has not become a burden or tax on your time. I do appreciate your responses.
"Here are some points you need to address to support your argument:"
That request doesn't seem to be editing. Nor scrutinizing. Editing and scrutinizing I can understand. Your demand of what I need to do - that I do not understand in the context of Your Views.
". . . it's quite routine for elected officials to jump from one office to another."
I agree. However, Sarah Palin has not jumped to another office. That's my point exactly.
As to your referencing all the others - I am not concerned with their actions or any comparisons. My original intent was to point out a very significant fact that Palin supporters overlook. It doesn't matter what the others have done.
Letter 7: Jim's letter to Editor Ed Kelley January 25, 2010, 9:02a
As a subscriber and daily reader of The Oklahoman, I submitted a letter to Your Views and received a reply from Mr. J. McReynolds. I have some questions about the way it was handled. Here is my submission followed by his responses:
(Jim Watson's letter submitted to Your Views, The Oklahoman opinion page)
(Editor J. McReynolds's responses to Jim's letter)
My letter to Your Views stated two things:
1. A fact: Palin quit as the Governor of Alaska.
2. An opinion (we should demand a greater sense of commitment from national candidates).
I understand that The Oklahoman has the right to refuse to print any letter to the editor. I am fine if Mr. McReynolds decides not to print my letter (as, apparently he has decided), but I am concerned with an apparent breach of journalistic ethics - to contest an opinion letter submitted by a subscriber.
Some of my concerns with Mr. McReynolds responses:
1. "Here are some points you need to address to support your argument:"
I wasn't making an argument, I was simply expressing an opinion for 'Your Views' on the Editorial page, as many others have done.
2. “All letters that are published are edited, and submitted letters are scrutinized before publication."
I do not understand the request of what I ‘need to' do in the context of editing and scrutinizing an opinion in Your Views.
3. "... it's quite routine for elected officials to jump from one office to another."
I agree. However, Sarah Palin has not jumped to another office. That's my point exactly. Mr. McReynolds makes an inappropriate response.
4. As to his referencing the others (all Democrats) who have quit to move to a higher office - I am not concerned with their actions or any comparisons. I was making a statement about people who support those who don't hold to their commitment to serve (or continue to serve) our country in public office. I am not concerned with the actions of others who have resigned. The intent of my letter was to point out a very significant fact that Palin supporters overlook. It doesn't matter what the others have done.
5. “My response was to point out a problem with your logic".
On Wednesday, January 20, The Oklahoman published 7 letters responding to James Mitchell and in support of Palin. Those letters included these phrases:
“... most of (the heads of state we deal with) are socialists or dictators!"
“... she's qualified to be president."
“... Palin was more qualified to be vice president than Barack Obama is to be president..."
“... (the left) can make no legitimate philosophical arguments on principles."
I doubt Mr. McReynolds challenged the logic of these statements.
6. “If I didn't question your logic and published it as written, I'm quite sure that another letter would have done so in response."
Good - that would create a healthy dialog among readers of The Oklahoman.
My questions - Does The Oklahoman:
1. Question all statements in all letters submitted to Your Views? If not, how does it select letters of which to make requests?
2. Routinely make demands of what needs to be done to further support a submitted opinion of a reader/subscriber?
I look forward to your response.
Letter 8: Jim's letter to Publisher David Thompson February 1, 2010, 1:11p
Monday, January 25, I sent an email (below) to Mr. Ed Kelley. I have yet to receive a response. I now have two concerns - the inappropriate treatment of an opinion letter by Mr. McReynolds (explained below) and Mr. Kelley's ignoring of my reasonable request.
Can you please help me and answer the questions at the end of the email and explain such treatment by the two editors to a subscriber and avid reader of The Oklahoman?
(rest of the letter was a copy of the above letter to Editor Kelley)
Letter 11: Jim's response to Editor Ed Kelley February 4, 2010, 1:34p
My letter was submitted on and the letters it refers to were published on Wednesday, January 20 - over two weeks ago. Is it still timely and appropriate to publish such a letter?
I am glad that you have now discussed the issue with Mr. McReynolds and I look forward to your explanations about why Mr. McReynolds challenged my opinion letter and the rationale he gave for doing so.
Letter 12: Editor Ed Kelley's response to Jim February 4, 2010, 1:36p
We'll be happy to publish the letter you submitted. We think it's still timely.
From the Editor, Kelly Dyer, in the 11-4-18 Sunday Oklahoman, on the sale of the paper to a new owner.
"One constant through all of this has been a staff of Oklahomans dedicated to the mission of bringing you strong, fair and balanced journalism."
"The traditional conservative voice of The Oklahoman will stay intact."
Which is it, fair and balanced or traditional conservative? It can’t be both.