Claremore Daily Progress

Columnists

November 15, 2010

Murder, mayhem and dancing in the streets

CLAREMORE — My interest in the macabre sets in every year about this time.

I suppose it starts with All Hallows Eve, that time when ghosts and spirits are said to walk the earth unfettered. Otherwise known as Halloween, we put on masks, dress up, and let our alter egos take over for a few hours.

Interest in the macabre was high during the Victorian era.

While the social mores were very restrictive for acceptable folk at that time, there was also a strong shadow side to Victorian culture. It was a mysterious and ofttimes grisly era for literature.

From Bram Stokers, “Dracula” and Robert Louis Steven’s “the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to the works of American writers such as Washington Irving’s, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and works by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allen Poe, Victorian writers terrorize us with ghostly legends, examine the dark side of human nature, and challenge the mores of their times.

No one explored human nature more thoroughly or told a better ghost story than Charles Dickens.

A man after my own heart, in most cases Dickens serialized his work by publishing it one chapter at a time in the newspapers of the day.

On that note, Claremore’s annual Dickens on the Boulevard is coming up and the timing is perfect.

I’m looking foreward to the fun and games, gun fights in the street, artisian demonstrations, and, most of all, the titillating thrills and chills of Tales from the Top where local and regional actors use a dose of imagination to make the history of Claremore’s Main Street come alive.

There will be Victorian street dancing, wagon rides, music and ghost stories, all from the bygone days of the Dickens era with a northeastern Oklahoma twist.

There will be food and fun and mystery.

I love a good mystery on a chill winter’s evening. As a reporter, I’ve learned the most chilling and provocative stories are often true crime stories, particularly unsolved mysteries and cold case murders of past decades.

This week a pal of my dear friend, Coke Myers, stopped by. His name is Dale Lewis.

Folks in northeastern Oklahoma know him as “Buffalo Dale.”

Buffalo Dale is planning to go public with new information about “one of the nation’s most notorious unsolved murders.”

Dale says he has discovered “what happened 40 years ago when E.C. Mullendore III, heir to a 300,000-acre Oklahoma ranching empire, was brutally beaten and gunned down at the family’s sprawling estate.”

Earlier reports and a best-selling book on the topic named no assailants according to Dale.

Dale has been interviewing an eye-witness for the past four-and-a-half years and will use the website, www.originalbuffalodale.com, to unfold the story.

Damon “Chub” Anderson was a ranch hand and the personal body guard who was with the victim on the night of the Sept. 26, 1970 murder, said Dale.

Posting the story in serialized form online is an unusual and exciting venue Charles Dickens would have loved.

This week Dale started posting weekly excerpts from his videotaped interviews with Anderson and what he describes as other key figures in the “Mullendore murder saga.”

I can’t wait to watch the story unfold.

Like Dickens’ famous tales, the entire story will eventually be bound into a book.

I’m also excited about Dickens on the Boulevard and the chance to explore all those old buildings.

While I wait, I think I’ll pop across the street to Boarding House Books and see if I can pick up a couple of good mysteries.

What’s more fun on a chill evening than curling up with a mug of hot chocolate, a good book, and a loving dog on your lap? 

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