Hearing voices — recording history

Not so long ago: Reflections on Tulsa.



There are places where you can hear the voices of Oklahoma’s past. The muffled tones of oilmen echoing in the ornate lobby of Josh Cosden’s skyscraper at Fourth Street and Boston Avenue, reflecting a time when a historian said skyscrapers were not a real estate necessity but built because Tulsans liked to see things go up.

In the tiny library to the left of the grand entrance of Harwelden — where you can sense the respite of leather-bound books and the quiet conversations that surrounded them.

And in Oklahoma City’s Skirvin Hotel, where, if you are to believe visiting NBA players, the voices belong to ghosts who haunt its halls.

There is a place, however, where voices of Oklahoma’s past, and also its present, can truly be heard.

It is designed primarily for educators and their students, but all are welcome to eavesdrop on Voices of Oklahoma, a special place designed to preserve Oklahoma’s heritage one voice at a time.

Visitors to www.voicesofoklahoma.com will find an easily navigable site that currently boasts of interviews with such diverse and prominent Oklahomans as Chester Cadieux, Peggy Helmerich, Stephen Jones, Wilma Mankiller, Ron Norick, Elliot and Virginia Phillips, Oral Roberts and Danny Williams. From a convenience store founder to a media legend — and that’s only the beginning. An additional 50 interviews have been completed and are being added as funding allows.

The founder of this unique and remarkable glimpse into Oklahoma’s personality (and personalities) and heritage is not who you’d think — a representative from a state or local historical society or an educational institution.

No, the founder is a man whom thousands of Tulsans woke up to and with each weekday morning on the radio for 29 years. A man noted more for spoofs, such as his promotion of the “Tulsa Mountains,” than for scholarship into Oklahoma’s past. A Tulsan by way of the Dakotas and an Omaha, Neb., radio station: John Erling.

“I was fortunate to become friends with Walt Helmerich some eight or nine years ago,” Erling says of his friendship with the noted Tulsa offshore-drilling executive, Utica Square owner and philanthropist. “We have lunch monthly, and on one occasion I told him he should write a book.”

Helmerich demurred, saying both his grandfather and father had done so and no one read either, but when Erling suggested that he put his reminiscences down on audiotape, Helmerich warmed to the idea.

“I asked him if he could talk to Henry Zarrow about doing the same thing — having me interview him — and he agreed and Mr. Zarrow agreed,” Erling says.

Thus Voices of Oklahoma was born.

Erling left KRMG in 2005, and after three years running an advertising agency office in Tulsa, he devoted himself full-time to his idea and project — reviewing “candidates” for interviews, conducting in-depth research, holding all of the interviews and editing, creating transcripts, website design, etc.

Indeed, because the website is designed with students and education in mind, anything to simplify — providing transcripts, breaking the interviews into “chapters” so specific subjects can be reviewed and recommending books related to each interview — is considered.

Support for the project (which is hardly static, as Erling is constantly developing new sources for interviews, including World War II veterans) has come from a blue-ribbon panel of foundations: Williams, Helmerich, Chapman, Kaiser, Warren and Bernsen.

Although the site is designed for education, anyone can overhear these voices — Elliot Phillips talking about living in Philbrook for a few years, Peggy Helmerich about her days in Hollywood, the late Wilma Mankiller on how she had to establish herself as a leader after being elected a chief, the late Oral Roberts dodging a bullet that brought him to national attention and more.

And even more voices will be heard as additional interviews come online.

A unique peek into the past from thoughtful foundations and John Erling. Yes, at www.voicesofoklahoma.com, you are hearing voices.

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November 2018

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
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Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
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Over the past thirteen years, the Williams Route 66 Marathon presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has become a 26.2-mile party! You might find yourself asking "Is this a race or...

Cost: $110

Where:
Downtown Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74066


Sponsor: Williams, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-408-1208
Contact Name: Ally Lightle
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FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-7717
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When four lost New Englanders who enroll in Marty’s six-week-long community-center drama class begin to experiment with harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic...

Cost: $20

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
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Come see the ORU Mens Basketball team vs Ecclesia

Cost: $10-$20

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: https://mabeecenter.com/event/ecclesia1819m/
Telephone: 918-495-6000
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Come and Support ORU Women's Basketball as they jump into another exciting season. Join in on the fun and purchase your tickets today! All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will...

Cost: $7

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
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We would like to invite our Tulsa neighbors to join us for our "Hope House Free Movie Night" in the auditorium Hope House events are open to the public, family friendly, events.  We will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hope House
4241 S 37th W Ave.
TULSA
TULSA, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Hope House
Telephone: 918-446-8176
Contact Name: Dorothy Brown

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Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
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Local, Live Music at the The Willows Family Ales taproom EVERY Thursday at 7:30pm. Surprise food vendor to be announced SOON!! 11/1 ---- Eric Himan 11/8 ---- Wendy Nichol Hall 11/15---...

Cost: FREE!!

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
418 South Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Contact Name: Julian Morgan

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Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will celebrate Black Fly-day Weekend in place of the regular shopping holiday on Nov. 23 and 24.  The Museum plans to open their...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin
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Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

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Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

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Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will celebrate Black Fly-day Weekend in place of the regular shopping holiday on Nov. 23 and 24.  The Museum plans to open their...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
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