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Reporter tries horseback trip during WWII

Mary Phillips Published: September 26, 2013

By 1942, Ray Parr had been a reporter for The Oklahoman for eight years, having joined the newspaper in 1934.

It had been nearly a year since the Pearl Harbor bombing, and food and material rationing was in full swing.

The rationing of tires due to the shortage of rubber had begun to affect Oklahoma drivers, and some people had been suggesting a return to horse travel.

Ray, probably at the suggestion of his editor, attempted the experiment of returning to horseback for a trip to Norman.

Here is his adventure, which first appeared in The Oklahoman Sept. 24, 1942.

“Comedy Fails Aboard Horse For Norman”


“Personally, I do not see one thing funny about the fact I am falling all to pieces.

“What difference does it make how a citizen goes about destroying himself. Once it happens, then high comedy is certainly out of place.

“Even the lowliest carcass deserves some sympathy and understanding during its last breaths, instead of whoops and raucous laughter.

“I was a victim of this vicious propaganda about a horse being the logical successor for the white side wall tire.

“When Satan got behind me with a big push and said did I suppose I could ride a horse to Norman for him, I said, certainly no trip at all. I have made it many times — by train, bus, interurban and automobile, so why not by horse.

“That sounds logical enough, the only thing is, there seems to be a slight distinction between a horse and The Rocket, something I did not immediately grasp, I do now, though.

“That’s the longest road I ever say (saw).

“By mid-morning I had developed the fixation there was no place as Norman, probably never had been. Perhaps I had only dreamed up the whole thing.

“Before I was launched, the man told me riding old Tony was just like sitting in a rocking chair. I began to wonder what kind of furniture that man has around the home. From now on, I will take only a horse which is like a divan.

“Out of the goodness of his heart, Tony began walking on tip toe, trying to make it easier for me, but by that time, he could not have eased my suffering by crawling on his knees.

“I began feeling like a slow freighter in the middle of the ocean. We just never went forward at all. Simply, up and down.

“Finally I crawled off and sat for a moment beside the road. Oh that wonderful, luxurious grass. In my shape I even enjoyed the cool, refreshing bite of a chigger.

“Finally with oats on his mind, Tony said, ‘Climb on, let’s try it again.’

“I said, ‘Nuts, Tony, I think I’ll walk. You climb on this time. I am just like a rocking chair.’

“At that moment I am composing this little chronicle stretched out flat on my stomach. My legs are too weak to hold me up and I will just let you guess why I can’t sit down.

“Tomorrow I am going before the county rationing board. I am in dire need of a retread and recap job quick. My fabric is worn clear down to the rim and then some.”

“The Rocket was the Rock Island Railroad’s train that operated from Kansas City to Dallas through Oklahoma City.”


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