Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remembering Kyle Foulks 1935-2010

(ABOVE: From 2008. Julie Chin, Kyle Foulks and myself at Cleveland HS. Mr. Foulks lobbied for KJRH to present a Weather Safety Tour show in his hometown. It worked! This pic was taken after a live broadcast. )

The KJRH weather team recently lost a weather photographer. I lost a friend.

75 year old Kyle Foulks died this month in Cleveland, OK. You might remember his name as we showed his weather pictures on TV.

I well remember one of his last images from this past Winter: an icy river flow of the Arkansas River where the water actually froze near Cleveland!

Kyle and I got to know each other over the years. I discovered that we both loved bicycling.

After his career in the US Navy he worked with cycling race teams and Cannondale bicycles in California. He also spoke of the joy of simply riding his bike to work-- I can imagine him cruising the beach in style!

His death was a shock to us at KJRH. Personally, I felt guilty that I didn't know he was in poor health.

After his military funeral, his widow and son John invited me to dinner and her house. I actually hadn't met her before, but she treated me like I was family. 

She hugged me and told me that I was one of Kyle's favorite meteorologists. I was beyond flattered!

She also added that the family wanted to give me something of his. My eyes filled with water.

I followed his wife to their home after the funeral and lunch. Their home is beautiful house overlooking the country side on the edge of town. An American flag hung on a pole in the front yard.

I walked up the drive way. Kyle's widow and John stood in front of the garage. They told me that Kyle had a wish, something he wanted to give me.

I certainly wasn't expecting anything-- maybe some of his favorite weather pictures if I had to guess!

I was speechless when they opened the garage door.

(ABOVE: At the family's request, I followed them to their home after the funeral. They presented me Kyle's custom bicycle.)

Kyle's top-of-the-line Cannondale cruiser bicycle was parked in front of me. (The original registration decals from California are still on the bike!)

John said that his father wanted to "fix up his bike and present it to George!" before he died.

Kyle planned on bringing the bike to KJRH, but his health denied him the chance. So the family honored his wish and presented me with it.

This is the probably the most emotional moment I've had in my 15 year TV career. Thank you Kyle. I hear your voice. I miss you, friend.

Friday, July 9, 2010

West Tulsa: Home of World's Largest Cactus

Ok, so it may not be the world's largest, but this Agave Cactus is probably the tallest in this part of the country!

Here's the story: The Applebee family of West Tulsa bought a small cactus about 20 years ago.

They were travelling through Arizona, and wanted a small, desert plant. They purchased a tiny cactus, and the salesmen told them it would be a nice plant for the back porch.

But the cactus had other ideas! It outgrew all the pots and finally needed to be replanted in the backyard. Mr. George Applebee kept the cactus alive during the Winter by installing heaters around it.

(LEFT: The cactus leaves are about 8 feet tall. The single stalk really does resemble asparagus!)

For years the cactus looked simply like a thorny, leafy garden fern.

Then this Spring, a single stalk sprouted straight upward. It grew at a rate of one foot per day for 3 weeks!

Legend has it that the asparagus-like looking stalk grows once every 100 years. This stalk then blooms. The leafy blooms contain the seedlings for future generations of new plants. The parent cactus then dies.

The Applebee family contacted KJRH to tell us their story. This wouldn't make the headlines of the evening news, but I thought it worthy of TV time. So I grabbed the video camera myself and shot a one minute story.

One month after the story aired on KJRH, I rode my bicycle to their home. The plant is now blooming as the cactus leaves slowly wither.

Mrs. Applebee (who told me she is 82 years old) chuckled to me, "At our age, we're glad to see it's blooming now!"

(RIGHT: a 6 foot tall Weatherman bicycled out to visit the 30 foot tall bloom. This picture was taken one month after the top two pictures.)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Small town sarcasm in Hectorville

(ABOVE: Small town humor. Apparently, the county tore up the paved road and never rebuilt it. The locals aren't amused...)

Hectorville is a tiny town about 20 miles south of Tulsa. Most Oklahomans haven't visited or vacationed there. In fact you may never have heard of it as the state feels that Hectorville isn't worthy of a highway.

Apparently it isn't worthy of paved county roads either. The unofficial Hectorville sign pictured above was erected by frustrated local residents. Okmulgee county officials tore up the old paved road so that an improved road could be built.

But it hasn't happened. A dusty, gravel and dirt road replaced the asphalt surface on the Okmulgee county side of the community. Cyclists normally ride into Hectorville from the north, usually from the Bixby/Jenks/South Tulsa area. Those roads are paved.

For us, the sign provides a chuckle and smile!

(ABOVE: I stole this map from the KJRH Vipir 2 database... Can you find Hectorville?)

(BELOW: The bicycling community appreciates Hectorville. Its air conditioned country store provides a popular stop during the heat.

Friday, July 2, 2010

from Grove, OK: a "League of Their Own"

(ABOVE: Local resident Gina "Chirpey" Casey and her sister Alice played professional baseball in the 1940s.)

Grove, OK is probably best known for being a home for Grand Lake and the Cherokee Queen. It's also the home of Gina "Chirpey" Casey. I met her when I recently spoke to the Hospital Auxiliary at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.

"Chirpey" and her sister played professional women's baseball during the 1940s and early 1950s. The well-known movie, "A League of their Own" starring Gena Davis and Rosie O'Donnell was based on their story.

"Chirpey" was quite chirpy! She easily spoke about her interesting baseball career. Today, she remains an associate member of the All-American Girls Pro Baseball League. She also gave me the baseball cards you see here. They are autographed!

(BELOW: Here's the back of the baseball cards. Hometown of Grove, OK is listed.)