Heroes and World War II

Saturday, January 14, 2012 Road Junkies 1 Comments

To Big Bend and Back, Day 10 

ARDMORE, Oklahoma— We couldn't leave Denison, Texas, this morning without a stop at the birthplace of its most famous native son.  In the late 1880s, David and Elizabeth Eisenhower and their two sons moved temporarily from Kansas to the busy railroad town of Dension, where David found work.  While living there, Elizabeth gave birth to her third (of seven) sons, who was named David Dwight.  (Since he was called by his middle name, he later reversed the order when he enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy.)


After Dwight's birth, the family lived for another 18 months in their little rented house before returning to Kansas.  Once Ike became famous as the Allied Commander in Europe during World War II, a Denison denizen made it known that she had rocked that general's cradle when he was just an infant.  Denisonians contacted Ike, and his Texas origins were documented.

Eisenhower's role in the Allied victory prompted Denison's citizens to make the war hero's birthplace a memorial in 1946 (he was born in the downstairs bedroom).  It is now proudly maintained as the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site.  Completely coincidentally, there was also a letterbox hidden at the site.

For the record, Dension does have two additional claims to fame.


Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed a US Airways plane in the Hudson River in January, 2009, grew up in Denison.  And the incomparable George "Spanky" McFarland, who never saved more than 150 people but entertained quite a few, was once a Denison resident.

Driving north from Denison, we arrived in Ardmore, OK, around 3 p.m.  Founded as a frontier railroad town in 1887, Ardmore became a trading outpost, and a center for the cotton-growing area surrounding it.  Providentially, oil was discovered around the same time the local soil was depleted of the fertility needed for agriculture.  Oil producers and wildcatters flooded the area, which soon became— and remains— the most productive oil field in Oklahoma.

On Main Street in downtown Ardmore, the Oil Patch Warrior commemorates the efforts of a unique group of U.S. veterans. When an increased supply of oil was critical to the Allied effort in World War II, an American force of oil drillers was dispatched to England's fabled Sherwood Forest, where oil had been discovered.  Unknown to all but a few, these Yankee oilers drilled more than 100 wells during 1943, increasing daily production from 300 to 3,000 barrels and contributing significantly to the British supply chain.  The Ardmore monument is a duplicate of one in what is now a nature preserve in the heart of Sherwood Forest.

Yes, there was a letterbox there at the monument, but we were unable to locate it.  We did find eight boxes in Ardmore before calling it quits for the day.  On our way to the local grocery store for some provisions, we had a graphic reminder why a large group of grackles is called not a flock, but a plague.

A small part of a plague of grackles

ROAD NOISE:
  • When our GPS articulated "Recalculating" too many times, Ken had a solution:  "Shoot it.  We're in Texas."
  • Business seen in Ardmore:  Shake and Bake (subtitle: Toning and Tanning)
DAILY STATS:
  • Started in Denison, TX; ended in Ardmore, OK
  • Weather:  Sunny, 35° to 61°
  • Miles driven: 118          (Trip total:  1,658)
  • States: 2 (TX, OK)          (Trip total:  6)
  • Letterboxes found:  8         (Trip total:  45)
More Photos from Today
From the Eisenhower museum:  a print of one of his paintings
The first president I remember.  Of course I still like Ike.
Flagship of the Choctaw gaming industry with more than 3,000 slot machines
Ardmore Regional Park bike trail
At our hotel.  Do you wonder why the rocks are there?