Thursday, March 6, 2014

A little history of Grainola

What started as a report on the history of Grainola that I had to write, against my will, turned out to be my favorite assignment all through 12 grades including Grainola Grade School and my class of 5 and sometimes 6 if Joy Franks would stay put plus my years at good old Shidler High School.  Just FYI Joy had a tendency to move from Grainola to Shidler and back a few times over 12 years.  It was kind of nice when she came to Grainola as she increased our girl population in my class by 100%.  The only problem was that she was so dog-gone smart that she made us look bad, or at least me.

Anyway, the project was kind of difficult to figure out how to get started and how far to go back.  Well let me give you a few tidbits about Grainola that you may or may not know.  First, it got its name from a girl named Inola and the fact that there were huge piles of grain (corn, wheat, oats, milo) on giant tarps piled by the Midland Valley Railroad waiting to be hauled off.  Thus the name Grainola, the city of grain and a young girl named Inola.

Grainola had two hotels and a pool hall, Frankford State Bank merged to become Grainola State Bank, a post office in 1906,2 grain elevators, lumber yard, Methodist and Lutheran Churches, a silent theatre,a community water well as there was no city or running water and more.   My dad told the story of a friend who they wagered could not put a cue ball in his mouth.  Well he did succeed but there was a problem.  He could not get it out so they had to run the guy across town to the doctor.  Yes, Grainola even had a doctor.  They did get the ball out but it created some excitement.

Now just as a side note I bet you never had a person who often would fly their plane to town and land on the town streets.  Well we did.  It was Paul Jones who is also  the person to give me my very first flight from a hay field around Copan, OK at the Mullendor Ranch where we worked to Shidler where I had to go for football practice.  Well Paul was always a lot of fun and could fix about anything.  If you would like a good read try the Mullendor Murder Case.  You will read about Paul Kelly and Paul Jones and a lot of other Osage folks.  I should mention that Paul tried his best to make me sick on that plane.  I think he was getting even with me for giving him a hard time about his hairdo.

Grainola was a bustling little town with about 600 folks and a couple of grocery stores, feed stores and other services.  It was really cool that we could collect the eggs and trade for groceries rather than use money.  Another of my favorite things was almost every store had a pot bellied stove that burned coal.  Generally these were the social gathering places during the winter when things slowed down around the farms.  Local farmers and ranchers would sit and drink coffee and catch up on the gossip.  I don't think the women had any more gossip than the men.  It seemed that every morning after the cattle, sheep and hogs and don't forget the chickens were fed that the men would head for the coffee shop.  I should also mention that grocery stores generally carried things like v-belts and bolts and other hardware type things just in case.  Another cool thing I learned from my mom is that when they milked the cows, by hand meaning no machines, they would use a manual separator to divide the milk from the cream.  Once that was done they would take the cream to Bargis family who collected it and sold to the dairy processors for making cottage cheese and other products.  Mom's family then took the milk needed for the house (7 kids) and they made their own butter and what was left was used to feed the hogs and baby calves.

There are a lot of great folks from Grainola but a few stand out like Mildred Kelly who could dribble and shoot a basketball like crazy, Lois (Lane, my mom's sister) Del Priorie who I was told by Mr. Casselman was the best basketball player out of Grainola and then there were the Fulsom girls who played on the 1950 State Championship Basketball team.  That team is listed as number 39 of the top 100 sports stories in the state of Oklahoma.  The reason is there were only 14 kids in the Shidler High School and all 9 girls were on the team.  High School was four grades, not three.  The odds were against them but they pulled it out.

Did I  mention the first name given to Grainola was Salt Creek?  When the post office was established in 1906 the name was changed.  Also Frankfort was a small cattle town where John and Linda Murphy lived that had a bank which was merged into the Grainola Bank.

Well I had better go.

What do you learn in the Osage?

  • life is what you decide not what others decide for you
  • respect for others and respect for the law are assumed by small town folks and yes there will always be problems but character makes folks great, NOT more laws
  • the land of the Osage is full of famous and wonderful people, go look for the good in everyone
Thanks for your time,
gary@thepioneerman.com

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