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The history of Bradley makes for a big book

Lifelong farmer Dale Jones took on the role of book editor to preserve the community of Bradley's storied past in “The Chronicles of Bradley, Oklahoma Thru 1968.”
by Brandy McDonnell Published: April 27, 2012
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Although a fierce blue and black dragon gleams on its golden cover, I'm more inclined to think of a phoenix when I look at the shiny new tome “The Chronicles of Bradley, Oklahoma Thru 1968.”

After all, the ashes of his old schoolhouse and the fire-hot dust of last summer's drought prompted the unlikely transformation of my father, Dale Jones, into the creator of the recently released book.

Despite his fervent interest in history, I never imagined my dad, the lifelong farmer, would edit a historical volume. But on a recent Friday, he sat in the lobby of the First National Bank of nearby Lindsay with a black marker in his calloused hand as he participated in his first book signing, scrawling his name and reminiscing with a few of his fans and neighbors.

“The book, oh, I think it's just marvelous,” said fellow Bradley area denizen L.B. Hoyle. “Dale has done a yeoman's job on this, and had it not been for him, there would've never been any records or history of Bradley as he knew it back several years ago. I mean, he's to be commended.

“Had it not been for Dale doing this, it would have just fell by the wayside. No one would have ever endeavored on that, and if it hadn't have been a dry year farming, Dale wouldn't have had time to do it,” Hoyle added with a laugh.

“Best thing that came out of the drought.”

Rather than dwelling on his crops burning up in the relentless triple-digit temperatures last summer, my dad decided to delve into the history of his dwindling hometown. Preserving that history had been on his mind since fall 2009, when he attended for his first time the annual reunion of the Bradley Alumni Association. Among that crowd of about 75 graybeards and grandmothers with whom he grew up, he was reminded that he will forever be the youngest of the Bradley Dragons. Now 61, he was the baby of the class of 1968, the school's last graduating class of Bradley High School.

At that 2009 reunion, he experienced a troubling realization: The keepers of his hometown's history were getting older, while the community itself was becoming more and more of a ghost town.

A year later, the abandoned Bradley schoolhouse, built in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration, burned out. The stately stone facade was left fragilely standing, but the inside was gutted by the fire. He realized then that soon no tangible sign would be left of the place where he made so many memories, unless someone in his generation created it. My father partnered with our close friends Darrell and Gina Cable at Cable Printing Co. — publishers of the Lindsay News, where I got my first journalism gig in seventh grade as reporter for the Lindsay Middle School 4-H club — to create a true chronicle. Rather than relying on his and others' recollections of Bradley and its school, he mined the archives of the Lindsay News, Chickasha Daily Express and even the long-closed Alex Tribune.

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by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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