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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1928

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1928 – In January, Ponca City had its first radio broadcasting station ... for a week. WHBM, a '100 watt station broadcasting from a portable transmitter, aired programs from the stage of the Poncan Theatre. The first regular program featured the First Christian Church choir. Citizens could purchase portable receivers and listen 'in their cars ... from as far as a block away. Later in the year, Charles Carrell made the decision to permanently locate the station in Ponca City. He chose WBBZ as the call letters, which stood for "World's Busiest Business Zone."

Students moved into the newly completed high school in late January.

The first Board of Education was formed, with nine members and a treasurer.

Construction of E.W. Marland's "Palace on the Prairie" was completed. Built at a cost of $5.5 million, the three story mansion has 55 rooms, including 12 bathrooms, three kitchens, two tunnels, an elevator and a dumbwaiter. Mr. Marland moved in, along with Lydie and George, his adopted daughter and son.

The children of Ponca City were invited to a riding party on the grounds of the Marland Estate. He treated them to a meal, and then entertained them with a child size circus. Each child received a silver loving cup engraved with his or her name.

John Duncan Forsyth designed the Marland Oil room and the E.W. Marland Room on the fifth floor of the Marland Oil Company headquarters building, at a cost of $50,000. The rooms featured American walnut paneling and ornamental carvings of English lime wood, portraying the implements used in the oil industry at that time. They included rock bits, a hand winch, and a wellhead pump, interspersed with flowers of the Southwest. There was even an oil derrick, with traveling blocks, elevators, and doghouse.

Building permits for 1928 totaled over $2 million. New building projects included the new Kress building at 107 E. Grand, the Marland building at 4th and Grand, St. Mary's Catholic school on South Seventh Street, Ponca City Milling Co. offices, Long's service station on North Osage, The Marland Industrial Institute, the railroad underpass on South Avenue, and the Rock Cliff Country Club, plus many more new residences.

All the major building projects that had started in 1927 were completed in 1928, including the American Legion Home School. The E.W. Marland billet housed 20 boys plus a dining room, kitchen and living room. The Bill McFadden billet provided housing for 20 girls.

Construction of the Wentz swimming pool began on a hilltop northeast of town. Built at a cost of $95,000, it had the distinction of being the finest outdoor pool in America. The water tower and pumping station were also completed and one model cabin was set up.

In May, Marland relinquished his title as president of his oil company in return for board chairmanship. Dan Moran was chosen to succeed Marland as president.

On July 14, E.W. Marland married Lydie Roberts in Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 1, E. W. Marland resigned from the chairmanship of Marland Oil. William McFadden also submitted his resignation.

George Marland resigned from Marland Oil and, with George and Wesley Nunn, purchased a Buick agency.

Unable to pay the utility bills at the mansion, E.W. and Lydie moved into the Artist Studio on the Marland Estate property.

Bill Caffey, gatekeeper for Marland Oil, won $4,500 in the annual Terrapin Derby at the 101 Ranch. He used the money to payoff his home mortgage and to get married.

The City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting slot machines.

In December, a $100,000 bond issue for a new library was defeated by 36 votes, even though most leaders in the community favored the proposal.

As part of the 101 Ranch Rodeo, George L. Miller and Buck Hoover decided to use an airplane to bulldog a steer. With 10,000 people watching in the stands, Hoover was going to drop from a rope ladder onto the steer's back, and throw him to the ground. Suddenly, the plane went into a tailspin, and landed in a sweet potato patch. The two men were only scratched and bruised, but the plane was destroyed.

Fred Pickrel moved to Ponca City to manage the Poncan Theatre. He brought in musicals, plays, and famous entertainers such as The John Phillip Sousa Band, Sigmund Romberg, and Sally Rand, who appeared on stage with only her fans and a large transparent bubble balloon.