Remembering Ruth, Phil, Garland, Jerry

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How many of you remember Ruth Odle from Ruth’s Snack Bar? How many of you remember and miss the great Phil Thomason from our longtime grocery store Safeway now affectionately know as Homeland?

How many of you attorneys remember Garland Bloodworth and Jerry Ballentine? What about Mike Little, Mary Huckaba or Lee Kieffer?

I was thinking about some of these old friends this week and was looking back about 20 years ago when these folks were seen just about every week at the weekly Chamber of Commerce coffee, standing in line at Conrad Marr to fill their high blood pressure medication or just having a cup of coffee at Ruth’s.

I remember how Ruth’s girls who worked the counter at the snack bar would always make sure a bar stool was held open throughout the morning breakfast rush whenever one of their regular coffee drinkers had died. Ruth would place an empty coffee mug, napkin and silverware in front of that barstool in remembrance of that customer.

Everyone knew everyone and especially if one of the regulars had passed away. If you tried to disrespectfully sit in that seat, Ruth or Loretta would surely jump over that counter and kick your ass for you!

I was thinking back to 1992, during Oklahoma high school football coaching legend Mike Little’s first season here in Yukon. I wrote a column and intentionally stated that the Yukon football program could not win football games due to the lack of the black athlete. Needless to say, I had just read Barry Switzer’s book “Bootlegger’s Boy” and was trying to use the same tactics as Switzer to start a fire in the program.

I was told Coach Little called a team meeting, held up the newspaper in front of those kids and blasted me. He told those kids, who now are all 43 and 44 years old, to take the field that year and prove me wrong. The Millers went 10-2 that season, with Jason Jacoby running like a dear, Collin Rosenburg ending the season of three opposing quarterbacks from his linebacker position and Jody Sparks acting like he had been hired as the national Allstate insurance spokesperson as he caught every ball thrown at him and became the leader of “The good hands people.”

And what about Mary Huckaba? She once told me she had filled in as city manager seven times during her long tenure as city clerk. She took the reigns when David Pence was ousted. She took over when Stan Greil left. She was the go-to-person at all city council meetings when certain questions needed a quick answer and she probably would have taken the city manager job full-time if we told her she had to do it for Yukon! We have a municipal building named for her…we should have her name on the water tower.

I once heard Garland Bloodworth telling me the story how he took his grandkids out to put out campaign signs for his favorite county commissioner candidate. He told me that the day after they had placed signs all over his neighborhood and that many of them were stolen overnight.

Garland had to explain to his grandkids why this had happened and how sometimes people will stop at nothing to win an election. I always liked that story he told me one night at Fenton and Linda Ramey’s political watch party and respected Garland and his wife Nancy Bloodworth very much.

Jerry Ballentine always impressed me with vast knowledge of living trusts. He was a marketing genius and even wrote several books about the topic. Jerry was always dressed to perfection and I truly believed at one time that he was going to be district judge of Canadian County. Ballentine loved to hold seminars and help people plan their lives. J.B. was O.K!

I always talked with Lee Kieffer at least once per week and sometimes more than that. She always tried to line me out with her opinions and called her weekly classified ads “just some of those little scatter ads.” Lee was one of the all-time great realtors not only in Yukon but the whole state. She took the time to know you and always followed through! I miss Lee and how she always talked about her husband Franz. She was just good people and I know you agree with me if you knew her!

Every year at Thanksgiving, I would call Homeland and get Phil Thomason on the phone. I knew this great grocery store manager and don’t think there was anyone in Yukon who didn’t like him either…and that included Jim Snyder, Archie Howard or Emil Albrecht. I would always tell Phil I had a Thanksgiving turkey for him as a present for all the advertising they did with the newspaper.

Phil would always start laughing and say, “So you’re bringing me a little of the wild kind, huh Anderson?”

Indeed! Phil loved getting Wild Turkey for Thanksgiving. I miss Phil and seeing him roaming throughout that grocery store at Thanksgiving. He had Pepperidge farm stuffing stacked to the ceiling back in the meat department near the frozen turkeys and he had pumpkin and pecan pies stacked deep to be sold cheap at the front of the store. There will never be another Phil Thomason.

Who are some of your favorite people from Yukon, Oklahoma? Call or email me and let me know.

Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?