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Ponca City Information

Ponca City History

1957

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1957 – Continental Oil joined other oil companies in raising the price of crude oil. In Ponca City, they raised the price of all grades of gasoline by a cent a gallon. L.F. McCollum, president, explained that rising costs forced the prices up.

D.F.B. Harsh, Chief of Police, announced that police would no longer reduce charges for drunk drivers.

The City commission approved building a heated dock at Lake Ponca, and to purchase the Wentz Estate land along the west side of Lake Ponca.

In March, city commissioners announced their support of the Kaw Lake Reservoir, and requested a survey from the Army Corps of Engineers. The Kaw Reservoir Development Assn. was organized, with Lawrence C. Cannon, retiring city commissioner, elected president.

The Oklahoma Highway Department planned a new highway parallel to U.S. 60 past Tonkawa. Improvements were also to be made to U.S. 77 south of Newkirk to Ponca City.

The 279th Infantry Regiment held an open house at the new National Guard Armory in conjunction with a one day recruiting drive.

Rep. Page Belcher of Enid notified Frank Winsted, city manager, that Ponca City would receive $28,800 in federal aid for urban planning. Ponca City was to be the first city in Oklahoma to receive this aid.

Services were held in the new Asbury Methodist Church.

History was recalled with the announcement that the city planned to remodel the civic center. The original building cost $170,000; replacement would cost $648,646. City fathers approved remodeling contracts for $82,746.

Rampaging May floods broke a prolonged drought. The Dixie Hill section of town was threatened by the swollen Arkansas River. City employees were successful in building a dike on the east side of U.S. 77 southeast of Ponca City, which held back the floodwaters. Large amounts of mail were backed up at the Post Office due to flooded highways and wrecked trains. Thousands of citizens flocked to the dam to see water go over the spillway for the first time since 1951. Damage to Kay County roads was over $100,000.

The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a “Welcome Tourist” clinic and introduced a new tourist booklet, featuring the Pioneer Woman Statue. Ivy Coffey, city editor at the Ponca City News, wrote the booklet.

The Jaycees kicked off the “Air Watch,” a plan to watch traffic from the air and try to cut down on traffic fatalities on weekends and holidays.

The Lake Ponca ski area was closed to out-of-state boats on Sundays and holidays to prevent overcrowding.

The Ponca City Federated Music Club observed National Music Club Week and presented a series of broadcasts over WBBZ Radio.

District Boy Scouts were out in force at the Spring Camporee with 125 boys and their leaders attending.

In June, Gov. Gary signed a $35,000 appropriations bill for the Pioneer Woman Museum.

The continuing rains cut Ponca City’s water hardness by 40 percent.

Emergency Warning and Weather Bureau agents from Washington, D.C., visited Ponca City’s Civil Defense Tornado Warning Center, located in the basement of WBBZ studios. The visitors felt that the local center could serve as a pilot station for similar severe warning systems throughout the country.

In June, 46 local Army Reservists were called to active duty at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

City Commissioners received bids on a new inboard motorboat for Lake Ponca to replace the city’s patrol boat that sank.

A mosquito and fly control program began in July, with City park employees spraying 150 square blocks nightly from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

The city approved a record general fund budget of $21,297,915 for the 1957-58 fiscal year. It was $154,410 higher than 1956-57.

Donald H. Thurber was named new chief of police, with Sid Wilson Jr. as assistant chief.

W.D. Edwards celebrated his 25th year as a DeSoto-Plymouth dealer.

Smitty held an open house to celebrate the remodeling and redecorating of Smitty’s Mens and Boys Wear.

In September, an area west of the east side of Lake Ponca was cleared of trees and the ground was leveled in preparation for Ponca City’s Anniversary Pageant, “Bride of the Morning Star.” A cast of over 100 contributed to the colorful show that was staged in the new Lake Ponca amphitheater.

A crowd of 30,000 lined 12 blocks on Grand Avenue to view the Cherokee Strip parade in September. The parade was 20 blocks long. The Chamber of Commerce entertained 130 old settlers and guests at a luncheon in the Jens-Marie Hotel. A.F. Buckles, 90, of 407 S. Fourth St., was the oldest pioneer present.

Wendell Wilkins and Jack Gore founded Ponca City’s newest business enterprise, Wilgo Manufacturing Co. They manufactured a press wheel for grain drills, which Gore invented.

A story in Look magazine featured the Methodist Indian Mission at White Eagle.

Montgomery Ward held a formal opening of a new service center at Fifth and Cleveland.

Conoco completed the atomic radiation laboratory in Ponca City, where they ran tests to create or improve petroleum and petro-chemical products.

Ponca City Hospital purchased an ultra-modern incubator and a new $14,000 standby electrical generator.

The latest in design and construction of new homes was featured in the two-day “Parade of Homes” sponsored by the Ponca City Home Builders Assn. in September.

Local physicians revealed that Asian flu vaccine was available here on a limited basis.

Art Ball, amateur radio enthusiast, picked up a signal beep of the Russian globe-girdling Sputnik.

Burch Industries announced it would open a vacuum cleaner plant in Ponca City.

Over 100 public-spirited citizens gave part of a working day for the Ponca City Community Chest, chaired by T.C. Gravett. A breakfast at the Jens-Marie Hotel kicked off the $60,054 drive and workers fanned out over the city, visiting business firms and collecting contributions.

Sam Lee, owner of Ponca City’s oldest men’s clothing firm, celebrated his 44th anniversary with an open house at his newly remodeled store.

F.G. Hall, commercial minnow dealer, built a heated fishing dock on West Lake Ponca.

Enthusiastic bowlers christened the new ultra modern Pioneer Bowl. Six lanes were in use on the first day of an open house, and the other 10 alleys were in operation on the second day.

Pat Murphy Buick Company moved into a new $100,000 building on Pioneer Drive.

In October, the ninth elementary school, Woodlands, was dedicated at an open house.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Pioneer Woman Museum in November. The $50,000 structure was to be completed by April 1, 1958.

Disc jockey Mac Starkey banned Elvis Presley on his “Homework” show on WBBZ, but still made a hit with the youth of Ponca City.

Ponca City florist Ray Novak was one of four Oklahoma horticulturists to be honored with special awards at the OSU annual horticultural show.

A crowd of 10,000 attended the 33rd annual Kiddies Pet Parade.

The Ponca City Council of Garden Clubs planted the Red Bud Trail at Woodlands Park.

Elec Rains was appointed advertising director of the Ponca City News.

The Ponca City Art Association sponsored its first annual antique show at the National Guard Armory.

A group of supporters of the Kaw Dam and Reservoir welcomed U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr at an appreciation dinner. Kerr pledged the support of the entire Oklahoma delegation for the project.

City administrative offices moved back to the east wing of the Municipal Building following a six-month remodeling project, the first major improvement made at the building since the east and west wings were added in 1923.