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Lake Hugo
Hugo, Oklahoma
10/28/05 - 10/29/05

by
Paul Ridenour

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Friday October 28

Our 19th anniversary is November 1 and Dottie wanted to take another Corvette road trip. This time to Lake Hugo.  When I made the cabin reservations, I asked them about restaurants and things to do in the area.  They told me that there are several restaurants five miles away in the town of Hugo, a museum, and a famous cemetery.  I asked him what made the cemetery famous and he said that there are several circus folk buried there.  Now I have never liked the circus and the first thing I thought of was "circus freaks?"  More about the cemetery later.

We left the Metroplex in the afternoon about 2:50 and drove through Commerce where I met up with a college kid named Jonathan Schalchlin at a gas station.  He is the wayward son of a friend.   Gas in Commerce was $2.44.

When we arrived in Paris, Texas, the town was just beginning to set up for their annual "Festival of the Pumpkin."  Dottie bought a purse and we decided we would drive back through Paris on Saturday to do some more pumpkin celebrating.

We got to Lake Hugo about 5:30 or after and checked in.  The guy at the Lake Hugo Marina cabin check-in said "That is a nice Corvette.  That's about the best looking Corvette I have ever seen."

We ate dinner at the best place in Hugo called "Cedar Shed."  It reminded me a little bit of Joe Allen's steakhouse in Abilene, Texas.  The Cedar Shed serves steak, chicken fried steak, catfish, and bar-b-cue.   I had a rib-eye of course.

Saturday October 29

Lake Hugo is a fairly large lake and the water was several feet low.  Some of the trees around the lake were turning red and yellow but not too many.  We checked out and drove to Hugo for breakfast.  After breakfast, Dottie bought a belt at J's Western Wear and we decided to check out this famous cemetery.  Some people think I like going to cemeteries but really I only go for two reasons - relatives buried there and to take pictures of cool statues.  The Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Hugo was so cool!  There is an entire section where circus performers and workers are buried.  The area had a bunch of markers with concrete or marble elephants on them saying "Showmen's Rest."  The gravestones had carvings of elephants, trapezes, big tops, tightropes, etc.

Some of the circuses included on the gravestones were Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus, Circus Genoa Big 3 Ring Circus, Fisher Bros. Circus, Carson & Barnes 5-Ring Circus, Kelly Miller Circus [Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. Circus], Roberts Bros. Circus, Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, Allen Bros. Circus, and Big John Strong Circus.

Below are circus performers/workers and what is written on their gravestones -

Donnie McIntosh and Ione McIntosh - "Concessions, circus, fairs, carnivals, rodeos, ice shows, street corners. We have had the good life but the season ended"
John August Strong - "A tribute to all showmen under God's big top"
John August Strong ("Big John") - "The man with more friends than Santa Claus"
Ted Bowman - "There's nothing left but empty popcorn sacks and wagon tracks --- the circus is gone"
Dudley Warner Hamilton - "May all your days be circus days"
Hebert Weber - "The Great Huberto"
Terry Fenne - "Mud Show Elephant Man"
Herbert Walters Channell - "A showman to the last"
Joe Wallace Cooper ([Big Top Circus Agent) - "He gave the world a smile each day"
Showman Bobby Gibbs - "Sit down and I'll tell you a story" written on a bench
Bonnie Jean Warner - "Chimp trainer"
Francis Padilla Loter - "All around performer and show person" and "To each his own"
George Donald Null and Peggy Jane Null - "
Give life the best that's in you for it's only a one night stand. There are no repeat performances brought back by popular demand."
Harry E. Rooks - "A life long circus performer, wild west performer, aerialist, and horse trainer"
Frank Whalen - "Showman to the end"
Peggy Fournier - "I would rather be in California"

The cemetery also had several famous rodeo/cowboys buried there.  The three I saw were "Freckles" Brown, Lane Frost, and Todd Whatley (RCA World Championship Honors - All Around Cowboy 1947, Steer Wrestling 1947, and Bull Riding 1953).  Dottie said she saw a movie about Lane Frost.  He was the 1987 PRCA World Champion Bull Rider.   According to the movie, Lane was liked by the ladies, had several girlfriends, and his marriage to wife Kellie Lyle was a bit shaky.  She ended up having a relationship with his best friend.  On Lane's gravestone - "Lane, I love you, Kellie" and "Lane wasn't perfect but he knew Jesus."  They married in 1985 and he died in 1989.

http://www.lanefrost.com/mt.htm Lane Frost webpage with photos by a Sharon Ridenour.

I also noticed Timothe Wayne Weatherford's gravestone and he apparently came up with the term "gottagitit."  The term was used by him "to express the need, and encourage others, to go to work with diligence."

For more about Showmen's Rest - go to http://www.rootsweb.com/~okchocta/cemetery/showmans_rest.htm

After the cemetery, we decided not to go to the museum.  Ft. Towson was only 13 miles away so we decided to go there and visit Stand Watie's historical marker in Doaksville.  Doaksville is a ghost town and you get there by going through the Ft. Towson Cemetery (the northeast corner).  Dottie is related to Stand.  For more about Doaksville and Stand, go to Doaksville.

Instead of driving home back through Paris, we decided to drive to Durant, OK, to see friend Rod Watkins calf rope.  We got gas for $2.14 in Bokchita, Oklahoma.  A teenager in the parking lot and the store employee both asked us what was the year of the Corvette.

When we got to Durant, Rod already had two runs.  His best score was 18 seconds.  We ate lunch at the the Italian restaurant Gia Comos next to the rodeo and the Choctaw gambling complex.  Rod's last run was his best and the best we had seen all day - 10.7 seconds.  That won him $660 and he is now known as Rod "Freckles" Watkins.  He was returning Sunday for two more runs.

On the way home, we stopped at the birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Cedar Shed - Hugo, OK


Lake Hugo sunrise


Lake Hugo sunrise - west view



Lake Hugo cabin #125


Mt. Olivet Cemetery - Showmen's Rest area (circus section)


John August Strong - "Big John" Strong


Circus announcer and drummer Ken Benson - also called "Cactus Ken" and the "Turtle"


Back of William Woodcock's gravestone - son William "Buckles" Woodcock, daughter-in-law Barbara Woodcock, and Anna May is the Elephant


Freckles Brown - "He was a legend in his own time"


Freckles Brown picture on back of his gravestone


Lane Frost - "A champion in the arena, a champion in life"


Lane Frost picture back of gravestone


Timothe Wayne Weatherford (1972 - 2004) - "Gottagitit and I gottagitit good"


Doaksville - Dottie between the Doaksville and Stand Watie historical markers


Birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Denison, Texas