Tearful trail leads to Owasso, Okla.

Aug 16, 2005 12:59 AM

I know that Dorothy would tell Toto that we are not in Kansas anymore, that we landed a little south of the billowing Kansas wheat fields and that in fact we are in Catoosa, Oklahoma.

Catoosa is a little south of Owasso, which in Native American language means the end of the trail.

Carol, do you remember your Oklahoma history about the trail of tears? Well, the little town of Owasso is the end of the trail of tears.

I am not going to write about the trail of tears, but if any of the folks wants to know that story they can email me at [email protected]

Yes, Owasso is just north of the international airport of Tulsa, which is the oil capital of the world.

When I was a young man over 5-plus years ago, just after I had graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree as a civil engineer (class of 1952), I was selected to be the first city engineer of Owasso.

There were about 300 citizens living in Owasso at that time, and it was a satellite bedroom community for the city of Tulsa.

I designed their first sewage treatment plant and arranged for their water supply by connecting to the city of Tulsa. I also helped create the Lions and other clubs, became the president of the Chamber of Commerce, trustee of the Tulsa county properties, eirector of Tulsa banks, became chairman of the board of trustees of the largest Baptist church in Tulsa, created over 15 different companies and corporations and was listed in the Who’s Who in the Southwest.

Yes, in my salad days I was a young man in a hurry, and I made a little money along the way.

And I found time to play a little Gin Rummy and a little poker.

Which brings me back to Catoosa. I played poker in this country club, when it was called Rolling Hills. Now, poker was not approved by my church and we had to make sure that the sheriff, the judge and others always won when they sat down to play a few hands of poker with us out at the Rolling Hills Country Club.

I retired in 1975 right on top of the world. I thought that I had enough money and had burned myself out. You see, I was always the first to work in the morning and the last to leave at night.

You young whippersnappers can still get it done, but you have to work a little.

Carol, you and I then toured the world and saw all the wonders of this the third rock from the sun. We traveled for about five years and went around the world a few times.

It was and still is fun to travel. We will be back in Paris in February hosting the European Seniors tournament again at the Aviation Club on the Champs Elysee.

When Carol and I stopped traveling we did not land in Kansas but in Las Vegas.

The Cherokee Nations Enterprises bought the old Rolling Hills country club and changed its name to the Cherokee Hills, and when poker became legal to play in Oklahoma the Native Americans built the Cherokee Casino and Resort and created a poker room of over 30 poker tables.

I played poker here 40 years ago before it was legal. They say you can never go home again, but we are home and I can play poker legally in my new poker home.

The Cherokee Casino and Resort has honored me by inviting me to come to a birthday poker party that they will host for me on Sept. 28 through Oct. 2.

It will be my 78th birthday and, yes you are all invited; RSVP by Sept. 15 and I will serve you poker cake and green money.

Good-bye Toto and "do na da go hv i," which is Cherokee for "until we meet again."

Yes, this will be our poker home and I will tell all of the folks in future columns all about the golf and gin and the $1,000,000 poker tournament that the Cherokee’s have honored me by naming in my honor, The Oklahoma Johnny Hale Open Poker Tournament, planned for March/April next year.

Until then, "do na da go hv i" and stay lucky!