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1997 Cross Country Rally - The Dickel Diaries Rally Report April 14, 1997

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The Dickel Diary

by John Ford and Bill Terry-"The Dickel Brothers"

April 14, 1997

"CLANG, CLANG, CLANG!" Our big, two-bell, brass alarm clock banged across the wooden, split log bench between Ray and my log racks. It was 0600.

I headed down toward the head, knocking on the Dickel Trickle Truck on the way, and nodded at another early riser. Ray popped in right behind me and we made like sparrows in a puddle, splashing and preening.

A few minutes later we were back at the cabin and loaded what little was left of our personal gear. We had pre-loaded last night. Ray was insistent about repacking the cargo flat behind the truck seat of the extended cab. Ray has a thing about packing stuff over and over. You know, the Loadmaster in him.

Bill and Higbee had hot coffee waiting after Ray repacked. We rolled out right at 0720 for Shamrock, TX.

Our caravan made good headway. We arrived in Shamrock to be greeted by a small, time-forgotten array of brick and wooden buildings with the most friendly folks yet met on the trip. We stopped in front of the "Pioneer West Museum" to wait for Kip P., the owner of the local "Shamrock Texan" newspaper.

Kip arrived and stepped out of his van in short sleeves; a tall young man with a sparkle in his eye. He was delighted with Oscar and invited us to breakfast at a local restaurant. How could we resist such an offer.

Kip stuffed himself into Oscar next to me and pointed the way. We stopped in front of a Route 66 registered landmark, the "Shamrock Cafe". The cafe was not open, but the "Western Motel Restaurant" across the street was. Ray drove up and parked the Chase Truck as Bill and Higbee did the same in the Trickle Truck.

As we walked across the street, we could see many faces pressed against the windows flushed with curiosity.

Folks passing by in cars and pickup trucks shouted, "Hey! I saw ya'll on TV last night!"

We settled into a booth explaining to Kip just what we were doing on this "Brand Loyalty" trip.

Glenda W., our waitress approached with a smile and a handful of laminated menus. We ordered eggs, bacon, pancakes, and of course coffee.

We asked Glenda if we could keep one of their menus as a memento of not only the trip, but of Shamrock, Texas. She left and reappeared with Lisa J., the restaurant manager. Lisa was happy to present a menu for our archives and both she and Glenda autographed it for us.

Bill explained to them just what we were doing and why. Lisa said she just had to call her uncle, the Town Constable to come down and meet us.

While eating, a 1928 Model A Ford pulled up in front of Oscar and parked. Two men in their fifties or sixties got out and began taking pictures of their Lizzie in front of the Cafe. Before long, Oscar lured them to his side and beamed. They began taking his picture and crawling under to look at the engineering and design of his power train. How proud Oscar was at that moment.

Two people in the cafe approached and said they had seen us on TV last night; Charlie and Karen B. Charlie said he was a Dickel fan from way back... out came the key fobs.

After breakfast we rose from the booth to meet L. B. G., a 70 year old Town Constable, uncle of Lisa.

L. B. followed us across the street to meet Oscar and take a spin through Shamrock. He had a grin from ear to ear. What a fun thing to bring such joy to folks. While traversing Main Street, he said, "This reminds me of my 29 Model A pickup."

We returned to the Cafe and shot all kinds of pictures then set out for Kip's newspaper office. He prints the newspaper on green paper. Seems folks around the world request copies of this unusual paper. Kip told us about trying to emulate an Irish accent smothered in Texas drawl... it was funny.

Inside the newspaper office, we saw time open a portal into the past. In the back room, Kip has a collection of old molten lead Linotype machines, folders, and perforators. It was like a museum in its own right. I went mad shooting black and white images of these historic machines resting in place. It was great.

Once back outside, people all up and down the street called from doorways shouting greetings and telling us they had seen the news broadcast. Within a few minutes, these same people began flailing objects in their hands and approaching with a single minded purpose...

It was almost scary. I flashed back on the black and white movie, "The Body Snatchers". You know, the scene where the entire town was after the only guy left not snatched.

One big fella burst out of the wood framed Adam's True Value Hardware Store. He flailed something white in his right hand above his head. Turns out, the fella was Robert A., owner of the store. He had two "St. Patrick's Day" hats left in his inventory and wanted us to have them. Out came key fobs and brochures.

Other folks came up with green "Shamrock" bumper stickers for Oscar. What a friendly town.

We shot a picture of three people smiling and waving from a store front window; Scott and Lena P. along with Kenneth K.

We left the spirit-filled gathering in front of the newspaper office and headed back to the Pioneer West Museum where Kip's truck had been parked all the while. The museum was now open, so we took a tour through it.

One display was of humorous interest. Seems back when the town of Mobeetie was named, the townsfolk wanted the name "Sweetwater", but some other town had already laid claim to it in Oklahoma. So the town leaders consulted with a wise old Indian man inquiring of the translation Sweet water into his native tongue. The wise old Indian told them without hesitation "Mo-bee-tie". Wow! Now they had a town name that still meant Sweet water.

Only many years later did they discover the wise old Indian had a wry sense of humor; Mo-bee-tie actually means "buffalo dung". In a panic, the townsfolk re-defined the actual translation to "buffalo hide" and prayed no one would find out the truth. What a hoot.

I would have loved to have met that wise old Indian. I bet he still has a smile on his face in his grave out there on the open plains.

We bid a fond farewell to Shamrock, Texas and set out for Clinton, Oklahoma.

We stopped at the Elk City KOA on the way to cancel our reservations and check for messages or fax transmittals. We had no messages waiting so we looked for state stickers to place on Oscar's back doors.

Lisa C., the clerk at the Elk City KOA led us to the sticker rack then followed us outside to meet Oscar.

I asked Lisa about the red lake just north of the KOA. She said it was Clinton's water supply. Whoa! I'd love to see the equipment that clarifies that water. It's a bright, rust red. There's even a sign someone placed for a joke; "Campbell's tomato soup lake".

Pushing onward, we arrived in Clinton and stopped in front of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol office. Right next door stood the Route 66 museum. Unfortunately, the museum is closed on Mondays.

Shortly, Rochelle M., representing the "Clinton Daily News" newspaper, pulls up and steps out of her vehicle. Rochelle is a striking, 5' 10", beautiful, young woman that reminded me of my daughter Kristin back home.

She took notes, shot pictures with a digital camera and took a ride in Oscar. Out came the special shot glass, fobs and brochures.

Off to Weatherford on our last leg to Oklahoma City and ultimately Tinker AFB.

We stopped in front of the "Weatherford Daily News" to meet Phillip R. of the local paper. He wanted to shoot a photo in front of the old blacksmith shop registered with the Route 66 Society, but it too was closed on Monday. Back in front of the Weatherford Daily News, we parked Oscar parallel with the street and across the diagonal parking slots. Phillip got his photos and stepped up for our ritual of shot glass, fob and brochure.

Back on the road...

We took the first turn off that said "Tinker AFB". This turn off emptied onto a frontage road that re-entered Hwy 40 a few miles farther east. What a mystery. We either missed something or else someone of the Signing Department of Oklahoma Department of Transportation has a bizarre sense of humor.

We found the correct off ramp and pulled into Tinker. At the Billeting Office we were told we were lowest priority and would have to wait an hour and a half for our rooms, if any would be available at all.

Bill and Higbee took off in search of the on-base Family Camp for a space. Ray watched TV and I called in to Heather back at United Distillers to let her know where we were.

Heather told me she had called Clinton to expect us tomorrow. Much to her surprise, they told her we had already come and gone. She sat with a question mark over her head contemplating starting a search for us when I called. How funny.

I called home and caught Diane, my young wife, for a chat. YOW! Yesterday was our 18th anniversary... yeah, I forgot. Doghouse time. Big "Oops". Dabe (her nickname) forgave me. What a wife.

We finally got a room, a nice room with a kitchenette and two rooms. Ray chose the bedroom that he could seal off against the nocturnal chain saw. I took the couch that folded out into a bed.

We drove to the Family Camp in search of Bill and Higbee. We found them chatting with fellow campers that had seen us on TV. One of them, a Dickel Diehard, had seen us in Albuquerque and in Amarillo. His wife was from New Hampshire; same state as Diane, my young wife.

Ray video taped me groveling on my knees for forgetting our anniversary. The others chastised me in the background.

I left Ray with Bill and Higbee and headed back to the room to type out the Daily Update. They went grocery shopping to pick up the ingredients for a dinner of fried chicken (Bill insisted), canned corn and macaroni-n-cheese.

I stopped at a "Shopette" near our billet to buy some beer for the evening. Along the back wall in glass doored coolers, I saw only imported beer. Big bucks for little bottles. I stepped up to the cashier counter to ask if they had any canned beer.

Ida H. of Dell City, the Supervisor of the Shopette answered me, "Oh, yes. We have the domesticated beer in the back walk-in."

I smiled and repeated, "Domesticated?"

She laughed and corrected herself... "Domestic. I was just thinking about cats."

I pressed my lips together, looked her in the eye while nodding, and said, "Yeah... sure." I turned back to the walk-in cooler to dig out a twelve pack for the Dickel Brothers to enjoy with dinner.

I returned to the counter and set the beer on the counter.

"Really! Cats!" Ida restated with wide, blinking eyes making every attempt to reassure me of her sanity.

When I walked outside, Ida saw Oscar and followed me out. I told her about our conquest, "Mission" if you will, across the lower U.S. out of brand loyalty. I began to feel a bit defensive suddenly as she smiled from ear to ear.

"And I was worried you thought I was crazy." Ida sparkled through her laughter.

I laughed too, gave her a brochure and stripped Oscar's key off the only key fob I had with me and gave that to her. What fun.

Off to the room to E-mail, send the updates and settle in for the evening under gorgeous sunny, warm skies.