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Grace Ward Smith

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I got another video of the Pine Siskin yesterday that I put up on my YouTube.com site at this URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=womZnAhsiXY video. There is also a video of a couple of chickadee's at the beginning of the video.
 ~NW Okie regarding Okie's story from Vol. 11 Iss. 15 titled UNTITLED

The map is correct and when the counties were divided Woods County acquired part of Woodward County because the occupants were not able to cross the Cimarron river to get to Woodward the County Seat.
 ~Marty Myers regarding Okie's story from Vol. 8 Iss. 33 titled UNTITLED


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Grace Ward Smith Legacy

Vol 9, Iss 39 What would Woods County citizens have done without Grace Ward Smith's campaign for camels for Waynoka's Little Sahara?

Who was Grace Ward Smith? Many of you northwest Oklahomans might remember her as an attractive brunette -- secretary-manager of the Alva Chamber of Commerce back in 1958.

Grace had a dream for Woods County as a tourist attraction. One of those dreams took her on a long search, letter writing campaign to bring camels to northwest Oklahoma and the Little Sahara South of Waynoka, Oklahoma.

The Waynoka Camels
It was prior to April, 1958 tour that Grace Ward Smith arranged through the Alva Chamber for purchase of a pair of camels from the Al G. Kelly-Miller Brothers Circus, Hugo, Oklahoma.

The dromedary (single hump) cost $1,300, and a double hump camel cost $1,000. both were females, and were quartered through the past winter at Oklahoma City's Lincoln Park zoo.

Members of the Waynoka Saddle Club raised $200 to fetch the animals back to Woods county, and they were kept at the "Little Sahara's" oasis pasture, three miles south of Waynoka. Feed was donated by ranchers residing in the area.

Even students from Northwestern State college, in Alva, Oklahoma, decked out in colorful pajamas, bathrobes, sheets and towels to become "sheiks" for April, 1958 desert extravaganza, while sheer pajamas over shorts converted 10 coeds into harem girls. Students were paid $5 each for each appearance.

It was also about this time that Alva moved to have 10 acres of sand dunes set aside as a state park. Lute Murrow, Dacoma legislator from Woods county, and Ben Easterly, Alva state senator for Woodward and Woods counties, had promised legislation toward this end.

Mrs. Smith stated, "Our tours have been suggested as a countywide undertaking. Actually, Alabaster Caverns is in Woodward county, but every community in Woods county has something to gain from an accelerated interest in this part of the state. Alva itself is within a few miles of several of the most natural wonders in Oklahoma. Why shouldn't this city -- college town -- promote Freedom and Waynoka and the whole of Woods county?"

April 19, 1959 -- Grace Ward Smith was quoted in The Oklahoman, article concerning the invasion of the Sheiks' of Waynoka and Camels that roam the sand dunes as attraction for second year of special tours to Northwestern Oklahoma. Mrs. Smith stated, "I can foresee Alva as the starter city for one of the largest tourist businesses in the nation. One day, air-conditioned buses will leave Alva on schedule to take visitors on a swing through our country."

One of those stops back in April, 1959, was an educational-fun tour with a stop first in Freedom, "a real cow town nestled at the foot of the Cimarron hills." After an Alva dancing school performed a square dance and western rope-jumping routine -- Freedom folks held a square dance and chuck wagon feed at noontime -- it was off for a tour of Alabaster Caverns and then the sand dunes of Waynoka.

From reading the article there was a mock hold-up of the buses staged along the route, but instead of taking anything the "bandits" distributed surprise gifts to the visitors.

Guides at Alabaster Caverns were the senior students from Freedom high school who had been schooled by officials of the state planning and resources board on history and facts concerning the caverns. Forty-five minutes was allotted to the caverns visit, with additional time for seeing Cedar Canyon and the famed Natural Bridge.

Indian smoke signals were visible as the caravans journeyed about 30 miles between Alabaster Caverns and "Little Sahara" and the golden sand dunes on the north bank of the Cimarron.

Nellie Expects Baby Camel
It was January 24, 1960, Alva and Woods county citizens were playing a guessing game and had instigated a contest to name the date of the arrival and sex of Nellie the camel's expected hump-backed baby. It even expanded beyond the county and state lines.

There was even a $100 prize offered to the man, woman or child whose entry came closest to being the correct date of birth, at the same time giving the correct sex, of the baby camel expected to be born at the Little Sahara State Park South of Waynoka within 10 days to two weeks from January 24, 1960. This was the first camel calf born in the Waynoka area and northwest Oklahoma. It was perhaps the only camel born outside of a zoo or circus in Oklahoma. If the baby camel was a girl, it was to be named "Gracie" and if it was a male it was to be named "Ike." It was a girl!

Nellie, the expectant mother, was one of two camels purchased by the Woods County Chamber of Commerce to provide local color for the Little Sahara State Park sand dune recreation area.

Grace Ward Smith Resigns In 1960
October 19, 1960 -- It was October 19, 1960, that Alva Chamber received notice of Grace Ward Smith's resignation to Phil Ruch, chamber president, effective November 15, 1960. It seems that Alva was loosing this go-getter, energetic secretary-manager of the Alva Chamber of Commerce to Elk City, Oklahoma.

Mrs. Smith was accepting a similar post at Elk City, where the chamber recently lost its manager to Enid. Ruch expressed his regret at the loss, but assured Mrs. Smith her Alva colleagues would not wish to hamper her advancement. Mrs. Smith was also treasurer of the US 281 Association, also promoted construction of a new chamber building here, and the educational fun tours that brought more than 2,000 school children to Woods county in 1958 & 1959.

Maybe some of our Elk City readers have heard about Grace Ward Smith and could share some of her accomplishments in that area.

AND... What about this Al G. Kelly-Miller Brothers Circus, Hugo, Oklahoma? Any Southern Oklahomans out there remember this 1958 purchase of camels and Grace Ward Smith?
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Ramblings & Rumblings of NW Okie

Vol 12, Iss 43 Bayfield, Colorado - I love the Fall/Winter weather! Especially in the SW Rockies of Colorado! For the past week, the mountains have been brightening up the mountainsides in the San Juan mountains with its hues of golden aspens with the help of the reddish hues of the scrub oaks that are coming back and mingled with the Ponderosa and other pines that survived the 2002 San Juan forest fire that sweeped through the Lemon and Vallecito Reservoir.

On a genealogy rambling nature, does anyone remember Grace Ward Smith, Tracy (Smith) Preston's grandmother? If so, Tracy would love to hear from you. Tracy says that her grandmother once ran for mayor of Alva, Oklahoma and lost by only 6 votes. If you have pictures or stories or documents, Tracy would love to hear from you. You can contact her at the following EMAIL: TracyAmazon@hotmail.com.

While we were composing this week's OkieLegacy newsletter, at about 1 p.m. MDT, temperature at 38F, to began snowing here in the San Juan mountains North of Vallecito Lake. No accumulations, though! AND . . . What about those tornadoes that rumbled through NE Texas yesterday, Sunday, 24 October 2010. Hope everyone stayed out of their path and arrived home safely yesterday evening.

Roy in Perry, Oklahoma tells us, "This week my rain gauges showed an inch of rain for Perry. I heard that nearby Enid had seven inches in just a 24 hour period." Is that so, Enid, Oklahoma?

A day before our oldest son's 40th birthday we send this HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Tuesday, Oct. 26th) to Michael!

We leave you with this message from Mark Twain to contemplate and figure out, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

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OkieLegacy Centennial Moment

Vol 9, Iss 39 This week's Okielegacy Centennial Moment finds us researching The Oklahoman archives concerning Waynoka & Little Sahara Camels. It was back on March 9, 1958, The Oklahoman, pg. 92, headlines read: Alva Woman Goes On a Camel Hunt, by Nora B. Oringderff .

Alva, March 8, 1958 -- "Anybody got a camel? Not the kind you'd walk a mile for, but the real, live hump-backed kind."

That is how the 1958 article started out. Grace Ward Smith was depicted as an attractive secretary-manager of the Alva Chamber of Commerce and wanted one or two camels back in March, 1958 to help with tourism to northwest Oklahoma. It was reported back in March, 1958, "Everybody knows usually "What Grace wants, Grace gets."

From reading the article in The Oklahoman, it appeared that Grace was running out of time and had to have the camels by May 10 & 11, 1958. That was the date for the Santa Fe tour of Oklahoma City school children to western Oklahoma. Some 900 elementary and junior high students were making the sight seeing trip on a day long train ride. This NW Okie was 10-years of age back in 1958 and may have been one of those elementary students. Were You?

The article mentioned, "The camels are more than just an attraction for school children on the tour. They have become a symbol of 'Grace's dream for Northwest Oklahoma'."

The animals were going to grace the sand dunes near Waynoka, marking the spot where the Little Sahara was taking shape back about that time. Back in 1958 Waynoka got a swanky ultra-modern motel, with bellhops dressed as sheiks, pretty waitresses dressed in harem costumes. Surrounding the swimming pool were those mysterious little hideaway tents you might see on the desert.

Grace Ward Smith was known as a positive thinking promoter and proud of it and believed there was no room for this "maybe stuff" in her line of work.

Grace Ward Smith had been working feverishly writing letters, making phone calls, corraling anybody who might just know anything about the whereabouts of camels. Back then, Grace could be heard telling others, "I'll beg, borrow, steal or buy 'em on time, but camels I've got to have."

It was widely known in these parts that, "Once Grace has those camels, there'll be no stopping her. Mrs. Smith thought western Oklahoma with it's colorful history, had no reason why tourist trade couldn't be a major industry. Grace's vision was a daily air-conditioned bus trip from Alva -- the starter city -- to points of interest to include a trip to a dude ranch where the Dalton gang and Belle Starr will live again. A trip to the Alabaster Caverns near Freedom, Chimney Rock; near Waynoka, the Little Sahara; the Great Salt Plains lake, the Old Cowhands Memorial and probably a lot of other things Grace hadn't thought up yet."

What about this 'dude ranch' where the Dalton gang and Belle Starr would allegedly live again? Did the dude ranch ever materialize? I believe that Chimney Rock has long since fallen and deteriorated into the red, clay dust of its foundation.
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Grace Ward Smith

Vol 12, Iss 43 Alva, Oklahoma - As seen in the image on the left that I found on Ancestry.com for Grace Ward Smith, this 1920 U.S. Federal census shows the Harry C. & Florence Ward family of five living in Alva, Woods county, Oklahoma at the residence of 507 Choctaw Street.

Harry C. Ward was listed as 43 years of age, born in Ohio; Florence, his wife, 38 years of age, born in Indiana. They had three children: John (16 years, born about 1904, in Oklahoma), Grace (8 years, born about 1912, in Oklahoma) and Louis (6 years, born about 1914, in Oklahoma).

I sent a copy of the 1920 U.S. census to Tracy and she replied, "That is them! I even looked up the address. When I was 14 years old my dad (Billy Ward Smith) and I lived in that house for about 6 months. She (Grace) never told me she grew up in that house! Thank you so much!

Tracy also said, "Awesome! I have been on line trying to find genealogy and history about that side of my family. I found her parents names but no birth or death certificates. I would love to find some photos or family members who have photos, information going back farther. Graces' son, my dad, Bill Smith died 1988 at age 45. My brother Steve lives in Oregon with his wife and 2 daughters. I live in Florida with my son who is 6. Any recommendations as to where to search online? Thanks so much for responding to me."

This is what NW Okie has accumulated so far concerning Grace Ward Smith and her legacy in Northwest Oklahoma as reported in The OkieLegacy Ezine, Vol. 9, Iss. 39, 2007-09-28. We asked our readers who was Grace Ward Smith? Many of you northwest Oklahomans might remember her as an attractive brunette, secretary-manager of the Alva Chamber of Commerce back in 1958. Others remembered her as a first cousin and other might remember her run for Alva Mayor and loosing by 6 votes.

Grace had a dream for Woods County in Northwest Oklahoma. It was to make Woods County a tourist attraction. It was also about this time that Grace brought camels to the Little Sahara south of Waynoka, Oklahoma.

The feature on Grace Ward Smith and Waynoka camels stated, "It was prior to April, 1958 tour that Grace Ward Smith arranged through the Alva Chamber for purchase of a pair of camels from the Al G. Kelly-Miller Brothers Circus, Hugo, Oklahoma. One of the camels was named Nellie and gave birth at Waynoka's Little Sahara.

"The dromedary (single hump) cost $1,300, and a double hump camel cost $1,000. both were females, and were quartered through the past winter at Oklahoma City's Lincoln Park zoo.

"Members of the Waynoka Saddle Club raised $200 to fetch the animals back to Woods county, and they were kept at the "Little Sahara's" oasis pasture, three miles south of Waynoka. Feed was donated by ranchers residing in the area."

It was also about this time that Alva moved to have 10 acres of sand dunes set aside as a state park. Lute Murrow, Dacoma legislator from Woods county, and Ben Easterly, Alva state senator for Woodward and Woods counties, had promised legislation toward this end.

April 19, 1959 -- Grace Ward Smith was quoted in The Oklahoman, article concerning the invasion of the Sheiks' of Waynoka and Camels that roam the sand dunes as attraction for second year of special tours to Northwestern Oklahoma. Mrs. Smith stated, "I can foresee Alva as the starter city for one of the largest tourist businesses in the nation. One day, air-conditioned buses will leave Alva on schedule to take visitors on a swing through our country."

Grace Ward Smith Resigns Chamber of Commerce, October 19, 1960. On October 19, 1960, the Alva Chamber received notice of Grace Ward Smith's resignation to Phil Ruch, chamber president, effective November 15, 1960. It seems that Alva was loosing this Grace Ward Smith, go-getter, energetic secretary-manager of the Alva Chamber of Commerce to Elk City, Oklahoma. Grace accepted a similar post at Elk City, where the chamber recently lost its manager to Enid, Oklahoma.

Ruch expressed his regret at the loss, but assured Grace Ward Smith that her Alva colleagues would not wish to hamper her advancement. Grace was also treasurer of the US 281 Association. Grace also promoted construction of a new chamber building in Alva and the educational fun tours that brought more than 2,000 school children to Woods county in 1958 & 1959.

We also found on Ancestry.com the Russell Family Tree that shows Grace Ward & Ray Williams Smith and their son, Billy Ward Smith. Is this the same as the Grace Ward Smith from Alva, Woods county, Oklahoma?

If anyone remembers Grace Ward Smith, Tracy (Smith) Preston's grandmother, Tracy would love to hear from you. Tracy says that her grandmother once once ran for mayor of Alva, Oklahoma and lost by only 6 votes. If you have pictures or stories or documents, Tracy would love to hear from you. You can contact her at the following EMAIL: TracyAmazon@hotmail.com. View/Write Comments (count 3)   |   Receive updates (0 subscribers)  |   Unsubscribe


Waynoka, OK Camels & Grace Ward Smith

Vol 11, Iss 40 Doris, G. says concerning, Waynoka's Camel History, "In response to Sandie's memo about the camels, wanted to tell her that Grace Ward Smith was my first cousin. A super lady that I remember as having a Medicine Show with her husband Ray. They traveled around the state and into Kansas. They sold Keen a tone tonics, ointments, etc. Also candy with prizes. My Dad, John Whittet of Freedom traveled with them and ran the sno cone stand. It was always fun for me to be able to visit them as a teenager." -- Doris Whittet Guntrum - OkieLegacy Comment, Vol. 9, Iss. 38
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1958 News - Long Search For Camels Hits Gusher

Vol 9, Iss 39 In April, 1958, Grace Ward Smith's long search for camels hits a gusher. Here is how that news article in The Oklahoman, pg. 123, played out 4/6/1958, with the following headlines: "Long Search For Camels Hits Gusher."

Alva, April 5, 1958 -- "Looks like Gracie's got her camels. That is, Gracie and a lot of other Oklahoma and Woods county-minded chamber of commerce members.

Ever since Grace Ward Smith, secretary-manager of the Alva chamber of commerce, stressed the need of two of the desert critters for the May 9-10 Santa Fe tour of Oklahoma City school children, things have been buzzin' in this northwest county.

"There are a lot of small towns with mighty chamber of commerce organizations in Woods county and they have joined hands in a movement to promote their part of the country as a a tourist attraction.

"Gracie Has Long Had A Vision of northwest Oklahoma which involves a lot of investment money but would pay-off two and three-fold in crisp greenbacks from hungry tourists.

"Two camels were to grace the sand dune near Waynoka where the Little Sahara motel and recreation spot complete with dancing girls and sheiks (bellboys) is to eventually become a reality.

"Now according to Loren Devilbiss, Woods county chairman of the camel project, money has been raised for one camel, more is being raised for the second and a grand tour to bring them to Woods county is slated for Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The hump-backed animals are being purchased from a circus winter-quartering at Hugo (Oklahoma). The tour to Hugo and back will serve two purposes, it will advertise Waynoka's annual rattlesnake hunt set for April 13 (1958) and also advertise the tours which may be a daily occurrence by next summer's activities.

"These people have been Mrs. Bud Edding managing director of the Alabaster Caverns, chairman at Freedom; Forest George, Waynoka chairman; Tom Vincent, Alva chairman and Dean Murrow, Dacoma.

"Pipe is being laid for water to the sand dunes. Picnic furniture soon will be placed along with sunshades and umbrellas as tempting to weary motorists as an oasis in the desert.

"This camel business is only the first step toward the reality of a project which up until this year has been merely a dream. The Santa Fe tours will bring many school children to the area. They'll visit the Alabaster caverns, historical markers of interest, see the sand dunes with the camels, chimney Rock and a natural bridge across Cedar Canyon.

"Eventually, Grace Ward Smith hopes to add two dude ranches to the county and announced this week negotiations are in the early stages to purchase one ranch for this purpose.

"She also said a group of men have indicated their interest in promoting the Little Sahara motel to be constructed in the sand dune area.

"Next week's camel tour will leave Alva early Tuesday, make four major stops and arrive in Hugo that night. On the booster trip will be trucks carrying signs "Conserve Water." courtesy of the Woods county soil conservation. These will house the camels for the return trip Wednesday.

"Also on the tour will be trucks loaded with Waynoka Saddle club horses. These will be unloaded for short parades along the route.

"In one car will be a box of rattlesnakes, an inducement for other Oklahomans to come to the Waynoka rattelsnake hunt April 13 to see these reptiles captured by the hundreds.

"It will be a grand tour and Woods county citizens hope the beginning of a trek to the northwest by tourists."
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Waynoka's Camels

Vol 9, Iss 39 Waynoka's Camel History... "I believe Sandie is correct about the reference to Grace Ward Smith being one of the primary ones getting the camels for "The Little Sahara." The camel that was born was named "Gracie" in her honor." -- Rod
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Camels In Waynoka

Vol 9, Iss 39 Camels In Waynoka... "Yes, there was a camel at Little Sahara State Park by the name of Gracie (I believe) In the early 60''s a low-budget carnival came through Alva and went broke. Grace Ward Smith was the Chamber of Commerce president at the time and she and other city leaders bought the animals. I don''t know those details, but all of a sudden little old Alva had a zoo. A lion, bear, camel and a bunch of monkeys. Alva quickly built cages for the animals and it was quit a tourist draw. Grace Ward Smith talked Waynoka, Ok into taking the camel since that city was only a few miles from the dunes. Waynoka built Gracie (the camel, not Mrs. Smith) a shelter there where she lived until she died. The above rememberence comes with a disclaimer: That all happened about 45 years and a persons recall does dim over time, so don''t bet the farm on what I've said." -- Marvin

Camels In Waynoka... "For several years Waynoka hamcwagner.d a Christmas Nativity program at the Little Sahara, complete with camels, shepherds, a speaker system, spotlights and so on. I was kind of a "drive-in" type setting and attracted several hundred. My best guess on the time frame would be late fifties through early sixties. I remember going as a kid with my parents several years." -- Edward
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Grace Ward Smith Legacy

Vol 9, Iss 41 Grace Ward Smith Legacy "How great to read the story about Grace Ward Smith. She was my first cousin and I didn't know all this about her since I last saw her in l947. She was a great person, she and her husband had a Medicine Show, selling linament, candy, etc. My Dad worked with them selling snowcones. I last saw her son Bill at the same time." -- Doris Whittet Guntrum - Email: wrguntrum@comcast.net
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Waynoka's Camel History

Vol 9, Iss 38 "This is what I have heard or read (Waynoka's Little Sahara Camels). The camels were a product of the Woods County Chamber of Commerce. Grace Ward Smith of Alva may have had the idea of bringing camels to Little Sahara as a tourist attraction.

I was in high school when the camels arrived. They were penned at the football field before being taken to the dunes. At least one high school boy had a ride on a camel, just for fun and a challenge. I don't know how many camels were brought to Waynoka initially. Through the years, baby camels were born at the dunes. My husband Rex was a veterinarian, and soon after we moved to Waynoka (our hometown), a camel was born, and he was the 'attending physician'. That would have been in about 1966.

The camels were a great attraction. Dale Converse and Ike Ashpaugh are names of men who cared for the camels. Postcards were made. Photos were taken. For several years, a very well-attended Christmas pageant was held at the dunes.

As the popularity of dune buggies increased, the dunes were less and less suitable for the camels, though they were penned near the entrance. The decision was made to remove the camels in the mid-to-late 1970s. I would guess they were sold. I do know that the last camel spent the night at the Waynoka Animal Clinic before being shipped to Arkansas. Our children thought that was very special to have a camel at the clinic.

The Waynoka Historical Society has some nice photographs of the camels, and an original watercolor by Gene Hartsell. Thanks for asking about the camels. People still inquire about them. Some of the funniest stories are about the camels getting out on the highway at night, and drivers doing a double-take, and perhaps feeling a bit self-conscious reporting that they had seen a camel on the highway!" -- Sandie _ Email: sandie.olson@gmail.com
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Grace Ward Smith Legacy

Vol 9, Iss 40 "How great to read the story about Grace Ward Smith. She was my first cousin and I didn''t know all this about her since I last saw her in l947. She was a great person, she and her husband had a Medicine Show, selling linament,candy, etc., my Dad worked with them selling snowcones. I last saw her son Bill at the same time. " -- Doris Whittet Guntrum - Email: wrguntrum@comcast.net
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Whittet's Make Another Connection...

Vol 6, Iss 15 "I am the son of Blend Whittet, who was the son of Van C. Whittet and Elsie Roberts. I am in search of information on my family history as I know only what I listed. I did see an article by -- Doris (Whittet) Guntrum that is very interesting, I would like to find her, as she is my cousin.

"I was searching for information on my Grandfather Van Whittet - when I saw this article (below). I am interested in meeting the author as Blend was my father. My name is Van Whittet - named after my grandfather.

I am really trying to trace my family tree and hit a dead end at Van. I feel Doris may be a big help to me. Have her email me at whittet@writeme.com. I will surely reply. I am not the person who was looking for Blend, as I know where he is buried -- as I buried him. I am, however, also interested in finding Timothy the author of the small article a few years ago. I am also going to subscribe to your online news here as it is interesting and helpful. Thank you very much. Because of you I have finally got the missing links in my family tree. I really appreciate it. I look forward to Okie legacy I enjoy reading the articles. Thank you." -- Van K. Whittet - Email: whittet@writeme.com

[Freedom, Whittet and Grace Ward Smith... "Linda. I do enjoy the newsletter, coming from Freedom, I especially enjoyed the rodeo news. The old cowhand this year is my niece's Father-in-law, and I remember him well. About a year ago there was an item in the newsletter from someone looking for his father, Blend Whittet. Blend was my first cousin, I send an Email to his @home.com, but have heard nothing. @home went out of business at about that time, so perhaps my message wasn't received. I found a couple of pictures of Blend and his father Van Whittet (my fathers brother). Hopefully they still subscribe to your wonderful publication. I spent a lot of time in Alva during the late l930's and early l940's. One of my Aunts was Florence Ward. She and her husband Cliff owned property on Flynn Ave, in the same block as the mortuary. They had apartments that they rented out. Her daughter Grace Smith worked with the Chamber of Commerce, and I believe bacame Mayor of Alva at one time. My aunts on my mother's side were Marge Ridgway, married to Skeet, and had sons Max and Curt. The other Aunt was Gladys Updegraff. Thanks so much for all the news." -- Doris (Whittet) Guntrum"] View/Write Comments (count 2)   |   Receive updates (0 subscribers)  |   Unsubscribe


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