Family: March 2010 Archives

Yesterday, I took part of the afternoon off and took our three kids to the Tulsa Historical Society in Woodward Park. It was our first visit as a family, and we all enjoyed it immensely.

The "carrot" to get us in the door was a special Spring Break promotion for families -- complete a History Detective Scavenger Hunt and win a 2010 Tulsa Historical Society membership. (I learned about the promotion via their @TulsaHistory account on Twitter.)

The scavenger hunt involved finding answers to questions in the museum's exhibits -- Tulsa in the 1940s, Seidenbach's Department Store, Zebco, lost movie palaces, construction photos of historic buildings. We only had an hour and were about to finish well within that time, but we could easily have spent much more time exploring. I understand that the Seidenbach's exhibit is about to close, so if you're interested in the history of ladies' fashion and retail, you'll want to visit very soon. (An exhibit on Tulsa baseball opens in April.)

THS does a great job of exhibiting its historic photographs and artifacts, both in making them easy to view and in providing context for appreciating their significance. I loved the megasized prints of aerial and streetscape photographs in the '40s exhibit -- it made it easy to show my kids the places they know and the places that are long gone. (Comment from the 13-year-old on the '40s streetscape photos: "I wish downtown still looked like that." Comment from the 9-year-old on color photos of the Akdar Theater / Cimarron Ballroom: "They tore that down for parking? Were they blind?")

When we turned in our completed scavenger hunt paper, we were signed up for our membership, and the kids were given a copy of Tulsa History A to Z, a book filled with photos and interesting stories of Tulsa's past.

As THS closed for the day, we went back to the car to retrieve scooters and a bicycle then walked across the parking lot to the Tulsa Arboretum. The collection of trees is ringed by a paved path that was just right for our 4-year-old and his Lightning McQueen bike. As we circled the park, he had us stop at every brass nameplate so I could tell him the English and Latin names of each tree.

The Tulsa Historical Society is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free!

MORE: Become a fan of Tulsa Historical Society on Facebook to see daily historic photos and trivia questions and news about THS events and exhibits.


Flickr photo by Francisco Diez

Last Sunday was Pi Day, (3/14), and at 1:59 pm, MIT released its admission decisions for the class matriculating in 2010. ECs got to see the results Tuesday morning, and once again, some really bright, personable young men and women weren't offered admission. Many of those bright young people wasted their time in applying.

As some of you may know, I'm an alumnus of MIT, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1986. (I don't say much about it -- I figure when you've been out of college for more than a decade, what you've done since graduation matters far more than where you went to school.)

My only ongoing involvement with the school is my work as a member of the MIT Educational Council, a group of hundreds of alumni worldwide who assist with the undergraduate admissions process. We serve as a local presence for the admissions office, and our main role is to interview applicants for admission. I've been an EC (as Educational Members are known) since 1987.

There are five ECs in northeastern Oklahoma. Gary Bracken '59, chairman of Ernest Wiemann Ironworks, is the current regional coordinator, responsible for managing the load of applicants among the alumni, making the arrangements when touring MIT admissions officials visit Tulsa (usually every other fall), and holding meet-and-greets for admitted students in the spring. (Gary was preceded in that role by John McGinley '52 and, before John, petroleum geologist Bob Rorschach '43, who interviewed me when I applied to MIT.)

The opinions presented here are my own, the description of admission processes and policies are my impressions and understandings, and they do not necessarily -- almost certainly do not -- represent the official views and policies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My use of the masculine form of the third person singular pronoun is in accordance with traditional English usage and is not meant to suggest that women are unwelcome at MIT. In fact, the sex ratio is nearly 50-50, a far cry from the 3:1 male-to-female ratio in my freshman class. Click this link for the official MIT admissions website.

Currently, I interview applicants from Bixby, Jenks, Cascia Hall, Holland Hall, Memorial, Hale, and Edison, but occasionally I'll pick up an interview from a different school if another alumnus is overloaded. This year I interviewed six applicants, including one from Azerbaijan. (That interview was conducted via Skype, which enables students in remote locations where there are no ECs a chance to meet with an alumnus.)

(Originally published 2010/02/26, bumped to the top for the benefit of my fellow guitar students.)

In the fall of 1989, shortly after we were married, my wife, who had been playing violin since elementary school, decided she'd like to learn some fiddle techniques. She found a teacher in Inola named Darrel Magee. (As it happens, I'm taking a beginning guitar course from Darrel this semester.)

Darrel was also the head of the country music program at Rogers State College in Claremore. RSC also had (still has) its own UHF station and a degree program in broadcasting. The two threads came together in a weekly program called Oklahoma Swingin' Country, with students running the cameras and in the control room.

Darrel invited my wife to participate in one of the broadcasts, and she spent many hours learning arrangements for familiar tunes like "Silver Bells," "Time Changes Everything," and "Steel Guitar Rag," and songs that were new to us then: "Big Beaver," "My Window Faces the South," "Milk Cow Blues."

The show was taped in Claremore on a Friday evening for later broadcast. I sat and watched from behind the cameras. Because of various camera and control room errors -- this was student practice, after all -- it took six hours to put together a 30-minute show. The awkwardness in some of the between-songs talk is partly because you're seeing the third or fourth take of what was originally a spontaneous intro. For example, "I'm going to sing first because I sure don't want to have to follow these other great singers," turned into, "I'm going to sing first because I don't want these other singers singing before me," on the take when the camera was in the right place.

For a small college TV show there was a lot of musical talent packed in the room, starting with singer Debbie Campbell and legendary guitarist Eldon Shamblin. I knew back then that Eldon was a Texas Playboy, but I didn't realize (as I do now) what a big deal he was, and Eldon was not the sort to make a big deal about himself. The video has some nice closeups of his solos and backup work on that old Stratocaster. Debbie, Tulsa's favorite female vocalist for many years, displayed her range on "Crazy" and "Me and Bobby McGee." (I'm still waiting for someone to post video of her Tulsa Tribune jingle.)

The rest of the lineup: Darrel Magee, piano; J. D. Walters, steel guitar; Suzanne Wooley, Mikki Bates, Rod Smith, fiddles; Jeannie Cahill, rhythm guitar; Ernie McCoy, drums; Jim Bates, bass. (Jim's no relation, as far as I know.) J. D. and Ernie have both played with the Texas Playboys at the annual Bob Wills Birthday bash at Cain's. Jeannie, Darrel, and Eldon joined Leon McAuliffe on his 1985 gospel album. And I'm pretty sure that was the same Rod Smith I saw performing last week in a classic country music revue in San Antonio.

OklahomaSwinginCountry-1989 from Michael Bates on Vimeo.

The Rogers State TV guys sent us a copy of the tape after it aired, and I got it converted to DVD not long ago.

Unfortunately, my wife's work schedule at American Airlines (Sabre) changed, and she wasn't able to continue with fiddle lessons. Two decades later, as our oldest son took up fiddle, she did too, and the two of them have gone to Jana Jae's annual fiddle camp and played with the local fiddle circle.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from March 2010.

Family: February 2010 is the previous archive.

Family: April 2010 is the next archive.

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