IS "OKLAHOMA OR BUST."
Events of the Opening.
Guthrie Writes Entertainly of the Things Pertaining to the Great
Scheme of the Government
Reno, O.T., July 20. -- Editor Bedford Free Press:
must first rehearse some of the incidents of our trip. Picture to yourself
a train of twelve cars loaded to the guards as completely and compactly
as the festive sardine box, and you have some idea of the twenty trains
that landed in El Reno Wednesday. We reached Kansas City on schedule time
and laid over there all afternoon in order to see something of the town.
A part of Bedford people went out to Fairmount park where we heard Bellstedt's
band and enjoyed the luxury of a bath in the river. Returning to the Union
depot, we got our bunch together and began the night which none of us will
soon forget. Crowded in and around the depot were ten thousand men, each
carrying some sort of a "git away" sack, and each bent on mounting the
first train for El Reno. A cursory view of the crowd presented a human
kaleido-scope that ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime almost. Many
a beardless youth pressed shoulders with the gray bearded veterans, anxious
to see the new country. The crowd jostled and joshed each other in a most
good-natured fashion, each realizing the long chances against him, but
each, down in his heart, hoping that lightning would strike and his would
be the lucky number.
nine o'clock the throng was so densely packed into the depot and out on
the platforms that is was impossible to handle them. At nine thirty pandemonium
broke loose. The first section of the El Reno limited backed in and the
immense jam swayed and weaved and pushed and crowded. The doors and platforms
of the cars presented the appearance of an ant hill in a storm. Every window
in the car was filled with the body of a man going head-first, and at one
window a plucky girl was seen with feet sticking out into the air and head
and hands desparately fighting for a seat inside. The loading of this section
was like filling a thimble with water by holding it under a spout. The
second section backed in and the race for seats was repeated. We had wisely
decided to wait till the jam was loaded then take our chances on the third
position. At 11:15 the report came that no more trains could be run on
account of a car famine, but shortly after three cars dropped out of the
clouds and were swallowed by the crowd. We were fortunate enough to get
a foot-hold on this section, and in a few minutes were pulling out of the
train consisted of twelve coaches, each densely packed with brawny men.
The density of human flesh precluded any attempt to go through the train,
so I could see only our car. There were 93 people on the car, and of these
sixty were comfortably seated. A double seat accommadated two preachers,
with a hymn book singing gospel hymns, and two sturdy sons of the earth,
cooling their dusty throats with a bottle of beer. It was a long, hard
trip occuping twenty-one hours in the ride from Kansas City to El Reno,
a matter of only four hundred miles, but the fact that everyone on the
train was as crowded as his neighbor, helped him to bear the discomfort.
On the platform of the car slept twelve men with heads pillowed on the
threshold of the door, and lying across, under, over and between each other.
At one time I attempted to get from one car to another and stepped squarely
on the open-mouthed countenance of a sleeper, and he merely grunted, wiped
his face and turned half way over to allow me a place for my foot. It was
merely one insident, but it serves to show how completely the passengers
appreciated the situation. Traversing the length of the car was as difficult
as a foot race on eggs. All along the aisle lay people asleep and even
on the stove, the water cooler, and in the closets people reveled in the
glory of a place to sit. After the day had broken and the heat forbid comfortable
sleeping, the amusement began, and the one hour stops at each division
and the slow progress of the train lost their terror. During the progress
of the trip from Kansas City to El Reno, five hundred gallons of water
and two hundred and fifty gallons of beer were disposed of. At every junction
it was necessary to hold the train one hour to fill the water tanks and
allow the passengers to get water and food. As soon as one man would empty
a bottle of beer another would confiscate the bottle for water, and jugs,
demijohns, and beer bottles were in the air half the time, emptying liguids
into the burning throats of the thousand travelers.
Herington, Kansas, the hose connected with the water main was seized by
Jim Daugherty and the nozzle handed into the car to Bruce Boyd. Beryl Paschal
presided over the stop-cock. Bruce placed the nozzle in the water tank
and gave the signal. Beryl turned the water on full force and the passengers
fell all over each other before Beryl could shut it off. At Kansas City
Hon. Van S. and Beryl Paschal sold demijohns of water at $1 per gallon.
of Kansas and into Oklahoma, and such a difference as the farms presented
as contrasted to the timbered lands of Iowa. On one side of the track were
stretches of white, alkali land and on the other the red soil of the south.
Pulverize brick dust and mix with it linseed oil to the consistency of
ochre, and you have the dirt of Oklahoma. It is fine and velvety to the
touch, and is productive of the best wheat. After we touched the Oklahoma
line, stretches of prairie lay all along the track and occasionally a jack
rabbit would make his get-away across the level land. As soon as he was
sighted ten or fifteen shooters would crack! crack! all along the train,
but the jack was as safe as a baby in a cradle. At 8 p.m. we pulled into
El Reno and bought out a delivery wagon the size of Dan Moore's and piled
fifteen people and all kinds of grips into it. Anyone who ever spent an
evening at the South Omaha street fair can imagine the scenes, except that
beside El Reno South Omaha looks like a dirty deuce in a new deck. Stripped
of the dozens and dozens of little notarial booths, lemonade stands, saloons,
sleeping tents, gambling tents and dime museums, El Reno presents
much the same appearance as a country village with the low, one story frame
business blocks, but decked out in her glad rags and humming the tune of
incessant business, she becomes quite a hustling burg. One thing that impresses
one on first entrance to the country and forces its acquaintances on every
visitor is the pulverized, double, distilled extract of earth. Dust comes
not in bunches, clouds nor little whirlwinds, to which we are accustomed
in Iowa, but it rises from the level of the earth, each and every particle
of it, and sails around looking for whom it may devour, until the setting
of the sun, when the sun goes down and the remaining humans alive are allowed
a few hours of peace. And such peace. From anywhere on the face of
the globe, natives of all countries could well afford to live here for
the sake of the nights. Never in my life have I experienced such genuine
comfort as we have enjoyed here during the past two nights.
however, is on her good behavior this week and has freshened herself by
a good bath, and at the present time mud can be seen in places and the
wind has retired on a lay-off. A general shout went up all over town yesterday
when it began to rain. Another thing which I must mention and which has
been more noticeable to me, is the way the railroads in this country accommodate
their patrons. When they began building into this country, there was only
one word in their vocabulary - "soak," and everybody that they don't soak
they don't do business with. "Accommodation" is not found on their list,
and they have no trains they call accommodation.
here is "stranger neighbors"; no one knows his neighbor and yet all are
on good speaking terms. Vigorous methods induce good behavior, and the
gang that gets a smell of fighting whiskey and starts out with his paint
brush runs up against the real thing before he fully realizes where he
lit. Sometimes they don't light. Then their friends are notified and they
have a little music and flowers. He's there but his ears won't work and
his smeller is off watch. Such things are rare, however, and peace prevails
principally because everybody is too busy to fight.
is a motley appearance to the streets. The scenes enacted in El Reno in
one day would furnish material enough for a new brand of sensation every
day in the year in Bedford. A whistle and a toot and up the streets comes
another thousand seekers who mix with the crowd and are lost to view. The
nights in El Reno only necessitate the lighting of lamps. No other change
is noticeable. The few people who have a place to sleep are never missed
from the crowds and in spite of the fact that thousands of people board
the out-going trains every day, no perceptible decrease in the crowds on
the streets takes place. On every corner, in every crevice, on the street
and sidewalks, in the air, on the roofs, in the cellars and wagons, hundreds
of notaries corral the shekels like a ticket seller on circus day. What
a freight a Bedford notary would have if he stamped $500 worth of papers
at 25 cents a stamp in one day. The notary and the gambler work side by
side under authority, and the difference between their grafts lies principally
in the fact that the notary is on the square. The bearded lady is there
with her friend the human calf. There are other calves and other "ladies,"
but we'll pass them by. The salutation on the street, "have you registered,
gentlemen," rings in the ears of every visitor, and the number of times
he hears that in different places couldn't be counted by the ticks of the
isn't as difficult as it has been reported, the time occupied in the line
ranging from ten minutes to an hour, even when 7,000 people are registered
in a day.
Beall is winning merit recognition from his superiors, and is now holding
down a responsible position.
charges for sleeping and eating are not high but what you pay for is not
in proportion to the price. If the meal for which we paid 25 cents had
been proportioned to the price we might have been compelled to pay eight
hundred dollars for a good 25 cent meal. No butter, no tea, but genuine
milk might illustrate the conditions. One is at least waited on, and dishes
are plaed in front of you, even if there is nothing on them. The good humor
prevalent everywhere gives it the appearance of a big celebration and alleviates
the suffering occasioned by incessant tramping of the streets. Hundreds
of tents line the roadways and cover vacant lots, people prepared to stay
till Aug. 6 and each taking the matter as an outing. Who care what the
chances are against him? The element of chance appeals to the American
and a hundred to one shot becomes a cinch in the eyes of the enthusiast.
country here is as pretty as any farmer in Iowa would care to see and the
valley to the north and east of Geary is a veritable garden of Eden. Geary
taps a territory of from eighteen to twenty-five miles in each direction,
and is one of the best towns here. Money is made rapidly and everybody
seems to be in on it.
general air of prosperity, progression and liveliness lends enchantment
to the scene and creates a desire in a young man to cast his lot here.
The water here is even better than at home and sems to have no bad effects.