Day 5: April 30, 2015

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The conference officially opened, in Wacoche Hall on the campus of Bacone College, with a welcome from Muskogee Mayor Bob Coburn and greetings from Jefferson Highway Association President Theresa Russell. A trio of quality presentations followed. With uncanny timing and unsteady hands, I managed to capture pictures of the presenters that were either badly blurred or a clear image with eye closed. Sorry. They started with the history of Bacone College provided by Dr. Russell Lawson followed by "Highway History of Oklahoma" and "Oklahoma and the 1920s" delivered by Dr William Corbett and Dr. Bob Blackburn respectively. Dr. Lawson is a professor of history at Bacone, Dr. Corbett is a professor of history at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, and Dr. Blackburn is the director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. All three are skilled speakers who delivered interesting presentations.

We enjoyed a lunch of Native American foods, including fry bread, in Wacoche Hall before boarding a pair of trolleys for a tour of Muskogee. For the most part, knowledgeable local narrators described buildings and other items as we passed by but we did make two stops. The first was at the Arkansas River bridge that I snapped a shot of yesterday. Today I got to see the bridge up close. Among the things I learned while there was that the bridge, although planned to be completed in 1922, did not quite make it and opened on February 20, 1923.

The second stop was at Spaulding Park which was once the site of the city's tourist camp. In those days, the pictured building held a dozen gas cooking plates and other amenities. We also got to be part of a ribbon cutting ceremony at the front of the park. The new directional sign shows mileages taken from a 1920s guidebook.

The day ended with a showing of the 1935 movie "Life begins at 40" at the historic Roxy Theater. The movie stars Oklahoman Will Rogers and Roger re-enactor Marty Tipton got us in the mood with rope tricks and Rogersesque chatter. The movie was hilarious. The line of classic cars in front of the theater at movie's end was a nice surprise that I very much appreciated.

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