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Outlook November 2016


November 2016

Cart Confession

When I go grocery shopping, I have a system. I choose a well-functioning cart and follow my standard route through the store starting in produce. I park my cart, set forth and forage on foot to gather my bounty. I repeat the process at several key locations throughout the store until I’m done. I get in. I get out. I’m efficient—if not a bit rigid. But plans do go awry. On a recent shopping expedition at Whole Foods, I looked down into the cart I was pushing and saw yams? I don’t do yams. Pumpernickel? Jarlsberg cheese? The list goes on and on. None of these items are mine. I had nabbed someone else’s cart. The fear and embarrassment quickly overcomes my calm, cool, collected persona and I slink away from the cart of foreign items. Where’s my cart? I backtrack my process and find it. Oh, how I missed you. I plug back into my process, and I’m back on track. Like it never happened. Except when I see a visibly annoyed lady telling her husband that she can’t believe some idiot took her cart. Along with my regimented shopping program, I also try my best to work a program of rigorous honesty. So I pause and think, yeah, I’m gonna go do this. I approach the irate woman and proceed to tell her I’m the idiot who took your cart and I know where it is. Can I go get it for you? And I am sorry. She does not look happy. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen next. Then she bursts out laughing. She explains that she’s already replenished her new cart and it’s no big deal. When systems fail, it’s good to have a backup plan. And in my case, telling the truth was the backup plan. Trying to right a wrong felt much better than slinking away from my mistake. I wish I could say it was a lesson well learned, but I nabbed another cart on my maiden voyage to Trader Joe’s. If it was yours, I am sorry.

28 Hug A Hedgehog

Okie Pokey Hogs breeds hedgehogs and educates new owners about the curious critters

8 Louise

Happy 100th Birthday

11 Food

Spotlight On: Downtown Edmond Dining

14 Business

Journey Quilt Company The Oily Barbell

26 Holiday Attractions 30 My Outlook

Bill Crouch, Google Certified Photographer

12 A Glass Act

16 Family Our Way

After discovering stained glass, a man has spent 20 years studying the craft and has now opened his own studio Edmond Firefighter Johnny Gibson and his wife have adopted eight children, building a family their own way

21 Return to D-Day

Local veteran Bill Van Osdol reflects on his visit to Normandy in remembrance of D-Day

24 Conversations with Will Front cover photography by Marshall Hawkins

Dave Miller, Back40 Design President

FEATURES

After 20 years of impersonating Will Rogers, Doug Watson sees the impact his portrayal has had

To advertise, contact Laura Beam at (405) 301-3926 or laura@outlookoklahoma.com

OUTLOOK

80 East 5th Street, Suite 130, Edmond, OK 73034 Volume 12, Number 11

PUBLISHER Dave Miller

405-341-5599

www.outlookoklahoma.com

Outlook is a publication of Back40 Design, Inc.

Creative Director Bethany Marshall

PHOTOGRAPHY Marshall Hawkins www.sundancephotographyokc.com

© 2016 Back40 Design, Inc.

info@outlookoklahoma.com

ADVERTISING MANAGER Laura Beam

DISTRIBUTION Outlook is delivered FREE by direct-mail to 50,000 Edmond & North OKC homes.

Articles and advertisements in the Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Back40 Design. Back40 Design does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by the Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. The Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.

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Louise

Happy 100th Birthday by Louise Tucker Jones

My mother was an excellent cook and an accomplished seamstress. No, she didn’t make Crepes Suzette or designer gowns but she made melt-in-your-mouth homemade biscuits and decadent chocolate gravy. She could look at a dress and make it without a pattern, and of all things, she expected me to follow in her footsteps. In my early teens Mama decided it was time for me to make my own clothes, even going so far as to refuse to make any summer attire for me until I put my hands to the sewing machine. Of course, I couldn’t see why I should even try when she was such a pro. Belvia Tucker But my mother was stubborn so I finally took scissors, fabric and thread in hand and began my masterpiece—a short set. I thought I did a fairly decent job but when my mother saw me in the ensemble she was horrified. What if someone thought she made it? So that’s the way I got my mom to make the rest of my clothes in high school. A few years later she realized my tactics when I returned home from college wearing something I had made in Home Economics. A navy blue tailored dress with a white collar and long sleeves. She stared in disbelief and finally asked, “Did you really make that?” Yes ma’am. And so, I became my mother. I sewed clothes for my children throughout their school years and cooked yummy chocolate gravy. I tried to mimic my mother in other ways. Character, work ethic, parenting skills and more. You see, Mama raised six kids on a farm with no indoor plumbing or other modern amenities. I’ve seen her kill a snake with a garden hoe, wring a chicken’s neck and then fry that bird up for dinner. Through my mother I learned perseverance, responsibility and love. So why am I writing about my mom? Because on November 25, my mother, Belvia Tucker, will turn 100 years old! I’d say that’s a major milestone. And earlier in the month, my siblings and I are throwing her a grand party. Cake, presents, punch and lots of

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Outlook November 2016

pictures! Those photos will capture her children, grandkids, greatgrands, great-great grands and other family members and friends. I don’t yet know how the party will turn out, but knowing my mom, I’m betting it will be a showstopper. The one problem—I am the designated party planner. Why? I have no clue since I don’t live close to her. Perhaps since I am the youngest daughter and next to youngest sibling. Not sure how that elects me but I am content with it and have appointed jobs to family members who refused to volunteer and borrowed ideas from my eldest son who is extremely creative. But believe me, my mother will take full charge when she arrives at the event. A shy senior she is not. Years ago, I was asked to write a paper about the person I wanted to become when I was older. I chose to describe my mother, hoping to eventually emulate her exceptional qualities. More than fifty years have come and gone since I wrote that college Belvia Tucker at 16 years old essay and I still want to be like my mom when I grow up. Can’t wait to celebrate with my sweet mother who has already picked out her party dress and has a hair stylist on standby. “Happy 100th Birthday, Mama! I love you!”

About the Author Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker and founder of the organization, Wives With Heavenly Husbands, a support group for widows. Email LouiseTJ@cox. net or visit LouiseTuckerJones.com.


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Outlook November 2016


FOOD

Downtown Edmond Dining

with Nancy Meoli, owner, Othello’s Italian Restaurant, Around The Corner Restaurant & The Zu Sports Grill by Laura Beam

Why is Downtown Edmond ideal for dining? Downtown Edmond is growing every day and has become a destination for people to eat, shop, and relax. Our three Downtown Edmond restaurants offer delicious homemade food at reasonable prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can even bring your furry pet and enjoy dining with us on the patio or sidewalk. Why is Around the Corner a popular breakfast spot? If you want Edmond history and uniqueness, this is the spot for you! With over 14,000 chickens and roosters covering the walls, along with pictures of patrons and Edmond throughout history, it’s a local favorite and a must see. We make fresh, homemade food daily from 6am to 2pm, including our popular three-egg omelets, fluffy pancakes and hand-battered chicken fried steak. What do guests like most about The Zu? Guests love watching all their favorite sports on our five large HD big screens and three HD TVs. We have food and drink specials throughout the day and a $2.00 Zu Brew, plus $3.50 well drinks all day, every day. Families love the menu variety and kids menu. Two must-try items are the house smoked wings and fish ‘n chips.

What is Othello’s secret to success? Othello’s has been serving fresh, homemade food in Downtown Edmond since 1999, but our friendly, family-like service is the icing on the cake. We’ll get to know you by name, along with your favorite menu items and any food allergies you may have. We’ll even email or text to let you know your favorite dish is on the menu that night. And Nancy’s Coconut Cream Pie--a 2014 national award winner--is always an attraction!

Beer-battered Bacon Onion Burger at The Zu

What special services are the restaurants offering this holiday? Othello’s and The Zu offer a catering menu, mainly for pick-up. Othello’s also does private luncheons for 25 people or more and has a great upstairs room for company holiday parties. We’ll also be sponsoring free horse carriage rides through Downtown Edmond in mid-December.

Visit The Zu Sports Grill at 16 S. Broadway or thezusportsgrill.com, Othello’s at 1 S. Broadway or othellos.us and Around the Corner at 11 S. Broadway or on Facebook.

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11


A Glass Act

A worn stained glass window in an antique shop caught the eye of James Rogers King about 20 years ago. Captivated, King picked up some books on stained glass the following week and got to work teaching himself the craft.

He got a job working in a stained glass shop in Oklahoma City and even picked up an associate’s degree in graphic design a few years ago to prepare himself for his dream of owning his own studio and working with stained glass full time. King, now 44, has come a long way from cutting his teeth on how-to books. He’s now surrounded by his glinting suncatchers of honeycombs, feathers and geometric terrariums as he works day in and day out in his newly opened JRK Studios. “I had wanted to do something in the arts full time, so I finally just took the plunge and said ‘I’m going to do it!” King said. “And it’s going well. I’m busy. I’m so busy!” That’s no joke. In addition to smaller pieces you might see at local shops like DNA Galleries in Oklahoma City’s Plaza District, King also is feverishly working to keep up on commissions, many of which are for local businesses. Right now, he’s piecing together a handful of large white and purple geometric lamps for the Midtown restaurant Barrios. “In the past two to three James Rogers King months since I’ve had this place, in his studio I’ve had a lot of businesses saying ‘I need something.’ But it’s not ‘I need one or two.’ It’s ‘I need 200 of something.’” Not a bad problem to have, King admits. Not only is he juggling commissions and other projects, he’s making big plans for his studio space. He’ll dedicate a full wall to displaying other artists’ work, and, once construction on the studio is complete, he plans to start teaching classes and invite those interested in starting their own glass projects. Cubicle-style shelving along the south wall will be available for guests

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Outlook November 2016

by Morgan Day

to rent as they work inside the studio. “Depending on how the space is finished out, I’m also thinking about having an artist who does something completely different share the space,” he added. Take a lap around King’s studio and you’ll see crates corralling 80 sheets of stained glass each. Many people think the artist creates the glass himself, but King buys it from a wholesale supplier in Chicago and has it shipped to him. Just a few feet over sits a box of small paper cutouts for projects King has already completed. The designs come to life in King’s computer, but he uses the pieces to trace onto the sheets of glass so each glass piece is uniform every time he makes a project. He’ll then score the surface of the glass along the outline with a carbide-tip glasscutter before breaking the glass along those lines. On tables closer to the entrance there are glass squares, triangles and other shapes in a variety of sizes, all waiting to be soldered and assembled into their respective projects. King uses a grinder on some projects to angle the sides of the glass so all pieces fit together perfectly. You can find projects in various stages of assembly, tape holding the pieces in place until they’re fully affixed. When creating the final pieces, King uses one of two methods: copper foil and soldering, or lead strips. Copper foil works great for smaller projects because it’s easy to handle, while lead strips help larger pieces come together more quickly and provides more durability without the need for soldering. His favorite part of the process comes when he gets to cut each piece out from its pane of glass, he said. “That, and whenever you get a piece finished and you lift it up and you’re able to see the light through it for the first time,” he said. “That’s, like, amazing—just an amazing spot there.” King said he’s humbled in those moments when customers tag him on social media and show how they’ve decorated with his artwork or sees his custom pieces such as windows look like built in their homes. “It doesn’t always dawn on me that people have something of mine and it influences them, that it’s a part of their life every day,” he said. “At the same time, it’s kind of cool to think this is something that they look at and it would be like me 20 years ago when I saw a piece of stained glass. It could inspire them in whatever creative outlet they have, and that’s kind of neat.” The studio is at 2816 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in OKC. Learn more at jamesrogersglassworks.com.


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BUSINESS

Journey Quilt Company by Morgan Day Trish Maxwell, Owner of Journey Quilt company

It’s no wonder Journey Quilt Company has outgrown its first location, nearly doubled its space and upped its employees from one to six in just two years. The idea of hanging on to life’s fondest memories, of having a tactile reminder of those we love, seems to resonate deeply throughout the Edmond area. “No matter what path you’ve traveled or what passion you have, the sentimental level is just through the roof with t-shirt quilts,” said Trish Maxwell, who opened Journey Quilt Company in October 2014. The shop, now located at 16502 N. Pennsylvania Ave., specializes in mosaic T-shirt quilts, meaning the blocks of fabric don’t create an even grid but are sized to suit each shirt’s graphic and then stitched together in a collage. Customers often request quilts made from T-shirts collected from vacations, their favorite

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Outlook November 2016

sports teams, events they’ve organized or attended, concerts—you name it, she’s done it. This sentence could be rewritten as “Journey Quilt Company also offers quilts and pillows made from other wardrobe items. Maxwell uses button-down shirts and ties, and even creates sunset quilts to honor the memory of a loved one who has passed. Maxwell mounts shirts, or in other words, takes the section of the shirt that includes the collar, button and pockets, and spotlights that in the piece. “Those are incredibly touching and it gives them something to hold onto when they’ve lost somebody—something tangible,” she said. “It sort of brings that person back to life.” With the holidays on their way, residents around the metro area might consider giving the gift of nostalgia in the form of a personalized quilt or pillow. “It’s a rare gift

that’s not only sentimental, but helps you clean out your closets at the same time,” Maxwell jested. Because of the high demand this season, it’s best to get orders in immediately to ensure the shop can complete them before the holidays. Every day the shop owner gets the chance to meet new people—and see old customers, some of whom are returning for their fourth or fifth item—and learn more about the person behind the pieces of clothing. “Literally everyone who comes in has a unique story,” Maxwell said. “I don’t have to worry about making small talk because the whole time I’m going through the process of measuring T-shirts, they’re coming forward with their stories about each one as we go.” Learn more about Journey Quilt Company by visiting journeyquiltco.com, by calling 340-0444 or emailing info@journeyquiltco.com.


The Oily Barbell by Morgan Day Michael Carpenter, Owner of The Oily Barbell

It isn’t just an intriguing name that sets The Oily Barbell weightlifting and strengthtraining gym apart from the rest. Michael Carpenter, budding gym owner and former oil field worker, hopes that it’s also the spacious facility, wide availability of weights and up-to-snuff equipment that wins people over. Carpenter opened the club at 13905 N. Lincoln Boulevard in Edmond in September and said customers already are noticing this gym is different than the ones they’ve visited before. “I was in the oil field as a directional driller for eight years and as the oil industry slowed, I spent more time at home and working out at a facility north of Edmond,” Carpenter said. “I stood around and counted 80 people in the weightroom and there was only one place to squat. At that point, I decided it was time

to open up another facility. This just wasn’t working.” So, who exactly is a good fit for The Oily Barbell? “Anybody who is tired of waiting on a squat rack,” Carpenter said. “Anybody who’s been cramped inside a crazy-busy weightroom. Any CrossFitters who are tired of going to the classes and would like to have a little more open gym time. And of course any beginner who is intimidated by weight training would be welcome to come by.” Carpenter expects to see many athletes, including football and basketball players as well as wrestlers, plus those training for Strongman and powerlifting competitions. The weightlifting club offers members Strongman implements, three squat racks, three barbells for deadlift exercises, Olympic lifting

platforms, Jerk Blocks, Atlas Stones, sandbags and a yoke, among other pieces of equipment. Right now, The Oily Barbell offers a free 45-minute to one-hour strength coaching session—as often as needed—to anyone who becomes a member. The club will host a strength competition Nov. 5, with all money raised going to the Oklahoma Special Olympics. The organization is near to Carpenter’s heart, as his sister and a longtime friend have special needs. Event check-in is at 11am and the competition kicks off at 1pm. Preregister by emailing info@oilybarbell.com. “Everyone’s invited,” Carpenter said. “You can come to watch or stop by to make a donation.” To learn more, visit oilybarbell.com, call 463-5724 or email info@oilybarbell.com.

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Fam i ly our Way Edmond Firefighter Johnny Gibson and his wife have adopted eight children, building a family their own way by Amy Dee Stephens

Johnny and Heather Gibson wanted a large family, but adopting eight children wasn’t in their initial plan. Now, they’re living the dream—doing lots of laundry, driving a big van and sharing lots of love. What is life like with eight children? “We attract a lot of attention, and we drive a gigantic 12-passenger van—don’t be jealous!” Heather said with a laugh. “You can see people counting as we walk through a store or down the aisle at church. Some of our kids even look like us, so you know they’re thinking, ‘Girl, don’t you know what birth control is?’” The Gibsons tried to start a family in the traditional way, but it didn’t work and neither did several years of fertility treatments. “We decided to close that chapter and move on to adoption,” Heather said. Five years ago, the Gibsons joined a support group at Crossings Community Church for adoptive and foster parents—and their hearts opened up to fostering children. “We knew we wanted a family, and we didn’t really care how kids came into it,” Johnny said. Their first foster experience was with two little girls, but when the girls returned to their birth dad, the Gibsons were devastated. “The whole goal of fostering is to reunite children with their birth family,” Heather said, “But in that situation, they shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t a good thing. We were done with fostering, but then God said, ‘No, actually you’re not done.’” And they weren’t! They’ve since fostered 12 more children, adopting eight of them, who currently range between the ages of six and 14. In 2014, the Gibson family was selected to move from their tiny Edmond home to Peppers Ranch, a privately-funded neighborhood outside of Guthrie, specifically designed for foster and adoptive parents with large families. Unlike a group home where children are assigned, Peppers Ranch provides

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Outlook November 2016

homes for 12 different families who choose children from state custody. The ranch has a central community center where services are provided for the children, such as tutoring, horse therapy, art and dance therapy. “These kids come from hard places and all kinds of trauma. Some of their stories are horrific,” Heather said. “They were born to parents using drugs or alcohol, or they were abused or neglected. Sometimes you forget they have special needs, because they don’t look any different—but they need much more patience and compassion.” “I had to change my view on how to father these kids,” Johnny

The Gibson family


said. “I always believed in spanking children when needed, and I said I would never medicate my children— but I’ve had to adjust, because some of these children came from abuse situations, and some of them are on medication.” The Gibsons have also adapted their approach to teaching responsibility to their children. “Our older kids are extremely helpful with the younger ones, but we don’t go too far with that. Some came from homes where they carried the responsibility for younger siblings or had to be the parent. We want them to be normal kids, so we’re thankful for their help, but we don’t require it all the time,” Heather explained. How does one manage a household of eight children? With a great deal of structure. The children are expected to learn basic self-care skills, such as showering, from an earlier age than might occur in a smaller household with parents who can dedicate more individualized time to each child. Now that all the children are old enough to attend school, Heather has a little bit more time to manage her non-stop list of daily chores. “Everyone at the grocery store knows me, because I stock up every couple of days,” Heather said. “Being a stay-at-home mom is what I always wanted to do, so I’m living the dream, even when it doesn’t feel that way.” Fortunately, Johnny has a schedule that allows him more daytime hours at home to assist with chores and errands. As an Edmond firefighter, he works variable 24-hour shifts, which then provides him several days off. “I get to be home when most dads aren’t able to, so I help Heather around the house with all that laundry, or take the kids to ball games or therapy appointments,” Johnny said. As part of his firefighting work, he visits schools to teach fire safety to children. “I’ve always had a heart for helping people. As a firefighter, I do that every day, whether it’s providing education or attending an emergency scene,” Johnny said. “I believe in making a difference for somebody.” Making a difference is constantly on the minds of Johnny and Heather as they try to help their challenged children develop normal lives. “My dream for them is that they take their rough start and turn it into something good,” Heather said. “I hope they’re productive citizens who give back and help others.” Despite their hectic schedule, Johnny and Heather describe life with eight children as action-packed and fun.

Johnny and Heather Gibson

“It’s never boring! Some kid is always saying something hilarious,” Heather said. “They act like biological siblings, even though they aren’t. They have fun together and they fight together. We recently went skating, and it was gratifying to see the big kids helping the little ones as they fell all over the place.” Certainly, the Gibsons can’t avoid the stares of others watching their overly-large family do any activity together, but they don’t worry much about it. “It’s funny to imagine what they must be thinking or how they are judging us—but whatever,” Heather said. “You should see the looks when we go to a restaurant and ask for a table for 10!” Soon, it will be a table for 11, because on Mother’s Day, Heather found out that she’s pregnant. “The kids are really excited, but a little confused,” Heather said. “Now, if we’d said the Department of Human Services will be here in an hour with a baby, it would be like no big deal. But their reaction to this was, ‘Wait, you mean we don’t have to adopt this one?’” The Gibsons recommend fostering and adoption for anyone, like them, who couldn’t start a family in a traditional way. With 11,000 Oklahoma children in custody, the need is great. They went through Angels Foster Family Network in Edmond, but suggest that any foster agency is a good place to learn and prepare for the challenges of foster parenting, because it’s not always easy. “From where these children have come, they have every right to be upset at the world,” Johnny said. “But I believe that love can break the cycle. At the end of the day, what these kids want is a little structure and a little love.” What they found is a large family that offers a lot of love.

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miscellaneous charges,” Hayali says. From that, he and his team crafted a business plan that revolves around transparency. “We have seen in our experiences many unqualified people working in repair shops—working on brakes, flushing transmissions etc. When you bring your vehicle to us for service, you will have an ASE Certified Master Technician working on your vehicle, whether airing the tires, changing the oil, running computer diagnostics or doing engine and transmission repairs.” In addition, Certified Auto Specialists does not add hidden or miscellaneous fees such as EPA charges or oil/antifreeze disposal costs. They consider that a part of doing business. “Most used oil recycling companies do not charge for their service,” Hayali notes. “In some instances they even pay to pick up your used oil.” Working directly with Hayali, Kyle DeForest moved from Kansas to Oklahoma in 2008 to pursue a career as an automotive

technician. Prior to his move, DeForest was a top graduate at WYO TECH in automotive technology and chassis fabrication with high performance engines. While working in Oklahoma over the years, DeForest became ASE Master Certified as well as Nissan Master Certified. In the spring of 2014, Deforest left a local dealership and joined Certified Auto Specialists. In their new shop for three years now, Hayali is very pleased at the number of customers who have followed them to their new location. Certified Auto Specialists believes when they service a car, their company name is tied to that vehicle. “We know customers can be taken advantage of, so we strive to keep each and every customer happy and satisfied. We are proud to offer a clean shop, but above all, we are proud of our reputation,” Hayali remarks.

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Outlook November 2016


Return to

D-Day by Mari Farthing

On June 6, 1944—D-Day—thousands of Allied soldiers parachuted onto the beaches of Normandy, France. The day was a turning point in World War II that effectively began the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control. The men and women who served or supported this operation will never forget that day, and neither will the citizens in France, who celebrate the sacrifices the Allied forces made for them and for their freedoms, those long decades ago.

Bill Van Osdol has witnessed first-hand the respect and gratitude the locals in France still have today for the Americans and their allies. From period costumes and vehicles to reenactments—including a parachute drop of thousands— Americans are welcomed with open arms, and thanked profusely. Nowhere is more celebratory than in the town of St. Mere-Eglise, where D-Day ceremonies concluded with a seated dinner for hundreds of American veterans and active duty Army and Navy personnel.

Honored Guests

“It’s unbelievable the pride they have for the Americans who liberated them,” says Van Osdol. “Wherever there are battle sites in France, you have it. They dedicate those sites every year to Americans. Put up American flags, every house in the neighborhood will have an American flag flying. They stand on the streets waving and yelling and saluting. People come up and want your autograph

and picture— hundreds of them.” Though Van Osdol’s first trip to the Normandy region was long after it was Remembrance Ceremony in Normandy liberated, he felt connected to it through his service. On board a tender out of Plymouth, England, Van Osdol did supply runs to those living in the aftermath of the war. His most recent trip this past June was his sixth journey to France—and the only one where he was a guest of an association with ties to Oklahoma that sponsors veterans trips to battles sites and remembrance ceremonies all around Europe. He was part of a contingency that had over a week of morning-to-night planned activities, including meals, flower-laying ceremonies, and visits with dignitaries and locals alike. “One day we went out to tour an American cemetery and there was a group of schoolchildren there,” says Van Osdol. “They brought those students to shake our hands, each and every one of them.” The mayor of a local town invited hundreds of guests to a fivecourse catered meal for lunch. On the final day of this visit, the veterans were honored at a private memorial. continued on next page

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Return to D-Day, Cont’d

“They planted an olive tree for us—that thing will last a thousand years,” says Van Osdol. A plaque with information about the veteran it honors is placed at the base of each tree, a copy of the plaque sent home with each veteran as a remembrance.

PREVIOUS VISITS

On Van Osdol’s five previous visits to the WWII sites, he would split the cost with friends and go as a group. Occasionally they would get tickets to some of the events, but often the events were so crowded it was impossible to do so. “The wreath laying ceremony (at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial) would have maybe 15,000 people.” A highlight of one visit was the parachute drop recreation at St Mere Eglise. “Townspeople would walk to the town 10 miles from the highway where they parked their cars.” The commitment of Bill Van Osdol with his tree and plaque the local citizens to honor their American in Normandy heroes still brings a look of awe to Van Osdol’s face. “The celebration of D-Day in Normandy draws people from all over Europe,” says Van Osdol. “It looks like a WWII military vehicle parade.” Hundreds of vehicles such as jeeps and motorcycles were left behind when the American forces went home after the war.

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HISTORY KEEPER

Along with an extensive collection of WWII memorabilia— including over 2000 images of airplane nose art and a restored jeep and plane—Van Osdol has written two fiction and two nonfiction books on the time period. The stories he’s witnessed and those he’s heard underscore the enduring connection the time period has for many. “One guy I know, he parachuted in on D-Day and was injured,” says Van Osdol. A young French girl found him and brought her brothers to try to help him, but they were unable to provide medical attention. “They turned him over to the Germans for medical help. Twenty-one days later, The Americans caught up with the German unit and got him back.” He was sent home and never knew what happened to the French girl—who also wondered what happened to the injured soldier. “On the 60th anniversary, in St Mere Eglise, the French girl had a sign with his name on it.” He was there and they reunited, sixty years later. Another friend was a tailgunner on a B17, and was shot down over Germany. He bailed out and ended up in a German POW camp. After every mission, he would return to his Quonset hut and write it down on his Vargas calendar. Of course, on this last mission, he never returned to his hut and his calendar was left behind. “Forty years later at a reunion, a guy handed him his calendar—he’d saved it all those years.” When asked when he plans to return to France, Van Osdol is realistic. With the aches and pains befitting a man of his years and experience, he knows it might not happen. But through his treasured collections and memories, he can always relive his visits to Normandy.


(minimum of 300 sq. ft.) Time to say out with the old tile and carpet and in with new wood floors. Are you dreaming of new wood floors, but dread the mess associated with tearing out your tile? Are you tired of your 70’s carpet, but the thought of working with unreliable installers stop you in your tracks? Kregger’s Floors and More is here to help. Not only does Paul Kregger and his crew offer outstanding friendly and dependable service, but they have also created a system that eliminates many of the hassles most associated with tile removal. Their new dust collection system minimizes the dust. Although their technique is not dust-free, Kregger says it is “light-years ahead of the rest.” With most companies, replacing tile can take a week or more. Besides eliminating much of the dust, with Kreggers, your floor can be free of tile and prepped for new flooring in no time. “Most people think that the task of replacing tile is more construction than they want to deal with. With our manpower and no ‘middle man,’ your tile can be gone in as little as one day!” said Kregger. The installers are what set Kregger’s apart. This ensures customers are getting someone who knows and shows skills he’s familiar with to install their flooring. “In some stores the installers are folks the store has known maybe a day, maybe a year. It’s hard to say. At Kregger’s all of our installers are long-time

employees or family members.” Edmondite Christy Dowell says, “We have a home full of Kregger’s floors! New wood floors, tile floors, rugs, a shower and soon to be carpet. Paul and Chris and the rest of their crew have been a pleasure to work with; always courteous, respectful and punctual. They are also very trustworthy. We left our home to them for a week and came back to beautiful wood floors. It seems to me that ‘satisfaction’ is their number one goal...and I am completely satisfied! I highly recommend Kregger’s Floors and More.” Kreggers is now offering an unbeatable $5.99 psf on genuine Mohawk hand-scraped wood

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Conversations with Will Local man brings America’s Favorite Son to life for thousands For more than 20 years, Doug Watson has brought the humor, wisdom and history of “America’s Favorite Son” to schools, libraries and stages around the nation. Portraying humorist, writer and performer Will Rogers for children and audiences meant sharing Will Rogers’ history, making audiences laugh and think, but it also kept the memory of one of America’s most talented performers alive. Now, with Rogers’ birthday looming on November 4th, Watson says it’s time to put up the battered hat and cowboy rope and retire. But then again, he said, maybe not. In his day, Oklahoma native Will Rogers was the top radio star, movie star, public speaker and newspaper columnist in the country. A talented cowboy, Rogers was also a humorist and novelist who gave liberally to charities around the world. Rogers’ vaudeville rope in the Ziegfeld Follies earned him success and many movie roles, but his 1920s syndicated newspaper column and his radio appearances increased his popularity. Rogers was famous for his down-home anecdotes and folksy style; he’d poke fun at gangsters, prohibition, politicians, government programs and a host of other controversial topics in a way a national audience loved

without offending anyone. When Rogers died Aug. 5, 1935 in a plane crash that also killed Oklahoman Wiley Post, the nation mourned. Watson grew up hearing stories about Rogers from his father, but he, like many contemporary Oklahomans, wasn’t that knowledgeable about the man. Watson earned his PhD in English and began teaching at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee in 1980, specializing in American literature and poetry. “In 1990, I got something in the mail to apply for a summer job doing historical characters through the High Plains Chautauqua Association,” said Watson. “They were looking for people to portray 19th century American authors.” For many summers, Watson portrayed Scarlett Letter author Nathanial Hawthorne and “Red Badge of Courage” author Stephen Crane, traveling 10 weeks at a time performing under big tents or in libraries. In 1997, he and five others formed the National Chautauqua Tour and built a series based on American humorists. “They said, ‘Hey, you’re from Oklahoma. Why don’t you do Will Rogers?’ I started without knowing much about Will, but over six months I did a lot of research and reading and discovered Will Rogers was a genius,” said Watson. “I performed as Will in New Hampshire,

I attribute all my success to Will Rogers’’ own genius

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by Heide Brandes


Nevada, Florida, Delaware, Maryland… so many places. It was such fun. What I discovered was that it is a lot of fun to make people laugh.” Being from Oklahoma brought additional opportunities to portray the legend in state. Watson began performing in schools, at events and even for corporations. “I tried to use Will Rogers’ actual material and I chose that which sounded the most contemporary,” said Watson. “He was so successful because he spoke on universal issues we all relate to. I attribute all my success to Rogers’ own genius with language.” His performances grew in popularity. In 2006-2007, leading up to Oklahoma’s centennial, Watson performed in close to 300 schools, but also in surrounding states. “What I discovered is that everyone loved Will Rogers. In the beginning, I met people who actually saw him on stage. Then I met people who remembered their parents weeping when he died in the crash,” said Watson. “Nowadays, I don’t hear comments like that. When I go into schools, I expect it when young students don’t know Will Rogers, but what surprised me is when teachers didn’t know him either.” Keeping the memory of Rogers alive is what keeps Watson going. “It makes me realize that it’s hard for anyone to sustain a strong influence over a long period of time,” he said. “He was so willing to engage an audience. When Will performed, he would sit on the edge of the stage and try to get the audience to talk. I’m convinced he loved people and liked conversations on differing views.” After decades of performing as Will Rogers, however, Watson said it’s time for someone else to take up the mantle. “Will Rogers died when he was 55. I figured that’s when I should retire too, but

now I’m 69,” said Watson. “I like to think that I’m a better person by virtue of association with Will Rogers. I certainly have a better sense of humor and I’m much more willing to talk with people. It was an honor to be Will.” Although retiring, Watson said his favorite man may still make a rare appearance on occasion. “I can see doing Will in the future, maybe for older audiences,” he said. “I hope someone picks up the idea and realizes what a genius he was. It’s been a great ride, and I’m the luckiest person in the world to have had the opportunity to do this and share Will Rogers with so many.” For more info, visit www.watsonswill.com.

Doug Watson as Will Rogers

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Holiday Attr actions

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Outlook November 2016


Hug A Hedgehog by Heide Brandes

Erin & Gerrit Harris

They aren’t tiny porcupines. No, they don’t shoot quills out of their backs. Yes, they are incredibly adorable and make great pets. And while it might not be easy to hug a hedgehog, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. That’s the message Erin Harris of Okie Pokey Hogs in Edmond wants to share about hedgehogs, which are quickly becoming one of the most popular “pocket pets” in America. As a USDA-approved breeder, Harris is one of a handful of hedgehog breeders in the state, and what started as a single pet has turned into a full-time job of raising the little shrew-like critters and educating potential pet owners on how to care for them. “We have 60 adults right now and 30 babies,” Harris said. “Normally, we sell out of the babies pretty quick, but we had a lot of moms have big litters this year.” Wild hedgehogs are common in Africa, but only in recent years

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have Americans been keeping them as pets. Most North American pet hedgehogs, typically called African pygmy hedgehogs, were bred from African species specifically to be domesticated pets. “About four years ago, I got three little girl hedgehogs,” said Harris. “I had always wanted one. But I didn’t know jack about hedgehogs. I was the kind of owner we try to educate now.” Through trial and error, plus reaching out to hedgehog groups on Facebook, Harris said she learned the proper way to care for her spiny little creatures. For one, she said, they must be handled often. They also need a specific exercise wheel since they will run nearly five miles a night. Harris’ hedgehog family didn’t end with the three females. She and her husband Gerrit got a male hedgehog, and one night, the male accidentally ended up in the wrong cage. “About five weeks later, I was looking into the cage and said, ‘What is that pink little squishy blob?’ One of my girls had four babies,” Harris said. “I freaked out. I turned to my Facebook groups for help, and they told me everything I needed to do. After I raised them, I found them good homes. I thought it was fun raising them.” After becoming a licensed breeder for hedgehogs in 2015, Harris now not only sells hedgehogs as pets, but has made it her mission to educate new pet owners on how to care for them. Although affectionate and friendly, hedgehogs are delicate animals. While these round little prickly animals can make terrific companions when housed and fed appropriately, they may not be a pet for everyone. Before considering bringing a hedgehog into your home, Harris said there are several things to be aware of. “They are very temperature sensitive,” she said. “If they are in temperatures below 72 degrees, they go into hibernation mode and they can’t get out of that which means they will die. If it’s over 90 degrees, then they can die from heat stroke. We keep our hedgehogs in a room that’s 80 degrees.” Harris also said high quality cat food is a perfect diet for the pets. “If you go to a store and see food that has a hedgehog on it, don’t buy it. They are full of fillers,” said Harris. “Also, if you get a hedgehog, you need to be able to dedicate at least an hour a day to handle it. They need to be handled or they become frightened of people eventually.” Hedgehogs live four to six years on average, and each has its own little personality. Some are friendly and easy going while others have a nervous side, so Harris said she likes to meet potential owners so she


can pair up personalities that match. “My ideal pet owner would be someone who wants to know and listen to the best options,” Harris said. “We look for people who are open to learning and who are willing to take advice.” Harris also carries bucket wheels, which are specifically made

for hedgehogs. They are much bigger than pet store wheels, so the hedgehogs can run comfortably on them and not hurt their spines. “They are also nearly blind, as they are ground-dwelling animals,” she said. “You don’t want to have different levels in the cage, because they could just simply walk off the edge and fall.” Like other pets, hedgehogs have their own unique little quirks. As a defense mechanism, hedgehogs roll their bodies into tight little balls when threatened, causing their spines to point outward so that predators can’t see their faces. These animals must be handled gently and often, or you will spend a lot of time looking at a cute, prickly little ball. Hedgehogs also “anoint.” “It’s a little weird, but when they find a smell they like, they’ll sniff and chew it,” Harris said. “They make this frothy ball of spit and spread it all over themselves. They almost go into a trance. It’s normal, though.” Hedgehogs can be adorable, loving pets if they are handled often and made less fearful of people. So if you’ve always wanted to own a hedgehog, be prepared for the fact that these cute little prickly pets need time, attention and tender loving care to thrive and be interactive. For more information, visit www.okiepokeyhogs.com. The website also features a video that explains everything about owning a hedgehog.

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Bill Crouch Google Certified Photographer by Bethany Marshall

How long have you been shooting for Google? I have been a Google Trusted Photographer for two years, including six months of training. What’s it take to become a Google certified photographer? Patience, learning the process, a lot of research, practicing and taking a lot of pictures. Tell us about the technique or process that is unique in this type of immersive photography. There are a minimum of 12 images used to create one image which is an HDR 360 degree spherical image, or a panoramic for short, which combined with others creates the tour. Once the images are created, they are uploaded and added to Google software and put together like a puzzle depending on how big the tour is. They are then added to Google Maps and other Google search platforms.

Why is photography important for marketing? Photography allows the viewers to put themselves into the image and feel real emotions—sadness, joy, anger, love, frustration—all of them. We can experience life through photographs and go back in time, or into the future. This allows the marketer to tell the story of why you should use or buy products from them. How is panorama photography different than still photography? There are multiple images stitched together to create 360 degree spherical images—panos. It is still photography but just using more than one picture to create the final image. What type of camera do you use to create panorama images? I actually have four cameras that I use, each is unique in its own way. Iris 360, made by NCTECH and Google, Canon 5d & 30d with a Sigma 8mm lens, and Ricoh Theta S Spherical camera Once the panorama is taken, how does someone get it posted on their Google business listing? Once the images are taken, only a Google Certified Photographer can upload them to a Google Portal where they are added directly to the business’s Google My Business account, which puts it on Google Maps and other Google search engines. Do you do other types of photography? Yes, I shoot commercial photography which includes food, people, events, products, landscapes, architecture, and of course, my family. How does panoramic photography enhance a prospective customer’s experience? With the 360 degree tours, a prospective customer can walk through a business and experience the place before they ever walk in. They can browse a store 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in the privacy of home. What do you find rewarding about your job? Making new friends. My photography takes me all over the world and gives me the opportunity to meet a lot of new and interesting people from all walks of life.

What is special about being Google Certified? Only Google Certified Photographers have the ability to upload Google Street View Tours to Google. Including myself, there are five in the state of Oklahoma. How did you get started in photography? My wife wanted a camera when my son was born, 13 years ago, so I got her a 35mm film camera, just before everything went digital, I shot one roll of film and was hooked.

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Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I love the Lord. I am easy to work with and show up early. I have been married to the love of my life, a local Edmond girl, Molly (McKenzie) Crouch for almost 15 years, and have been blessed with three children, Garrett 12, Macy 9, Mary 5. I am the youngest of five, and the only boy, and was born in Ethiopia, Africa. Learn more about Bill Crouch at www.mediatransformed.com


80 East 5th St., Ste. 130 Edmond, OK 73034


Outlook Magazine: November 2016