By HENRY PRIMEAUX III
Late winter is always an interesting time as we head toward warmer weather and the Easter and Passover seasons. It is also a time when most sports are played concurrently. For example, upcoming are the high school basketball playoffs, the college conference tournaments and the resulting NCAA tournament, high school and college baseball, major and minor league baseball spring training, high school and college tennis, golf, softball and track, and college football spring training.
And don’t forget about the Tulsa Talons af2 football team, which will open at home at the Convention Center against Oklahoma City on April 30. The season starts April 1 at Amarillo. Check out the Talons on the web site at www.tulsatalons.com.
One of the major sporting events coming up March 5–8 is the 2005 Mid-Continent Conference Men’s and Women’s Championship Tournaments, which will be held at the John Q. Hammons Arena at the Union Multipurpose Activity Center on the Union High School Campus. This is the first time that the tournament has been held in Tulsa. It is a nationally significant event, with the champions receiving automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.
We look forward to the many basketball fans who will visit our area for the tournament. They will find a great region that surprises visitors with a feeling that is southern, eastern, and western all at once. In Tulsa, they will find a city with a cosmopolitan flavor and at the same time a small-town friendliness.
We also look forward to seeing the ORU Golden Eagles men’s and women’s teams take the floor. They both have an excellent chance to win and advance to the “Big Dance.” Mid-Continent Tournament ticket information can be obtained by calling 560-0205 or at www.startickets.com.
We also wish Pooh Williamson and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane lots of luck in the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Reno, Nev., in March.
It is amazing that the UMAC is hosting the nationally-significant Mid-Con event. It wasn’t that long ago that Union was a rural school with a very small enrollment. I found an interesting history of the Union area from an article in the April 1994 Union Boundary. The interview was with Violet Mangrum, the granddaughter of early Union-area settlers Nathaniel and Amanda Skidmore , who settled in 1902 in Indian Territory near what is now 81st Street and Sheridan Road after arriving from Ohio.
Mangrum says that her grandparents were concerned about education and helped to establish a school in the 81st Street and Memorial Drive area in the early 1900s. She remembers her family talking about how small Tulsa was in 1902. She said, “Tulsa didn’t even have a bank back then. My grandfather had to bank in Coweta. We shopped in Broken Arrow. The only reason our family went to Tulsa back then was to pay taxes.”
During the early 1900s, three other schools were established in southeast Tulsa County. The four schools were named Boles, McCollough, Mayo and Alsuma. These rural schools were consolidated in to a “union” in 1919 and housed in a wooden structure. In 1921 the first Union school was built on East 61st Street between Mingo Road and Garnett Road, which is today the site of the Union Sixth and Seventh Grade Center. The initial graduating class had four students.
Union’s future looked secure and very predictable as a rural school district until the 1960s, when the area found itself in the path of a demographic phenomenon—the rush to the suburbs.
When former Union Superintendent Robert B. Grove took office in 1960, Union had only 300 students in the entire system. When he left in 1975, the district had 3,400 students. Today, the Union district has an enrollment of approximately 13,000 students, with about 9,300 living in Tulsa and the remainder from Broken Arrow.
In 1970, 71st Street and Memorial Drive was a country intersection. In 1975, Woodland Hills Mall was built. The rest is history. The people who have guided Union schools through the years have had amazing foresight to plan positively for the future, giving us a great school system, including the UMAC.
I invite you to come to Bristow for a visit, and while in town, stop by and see us at 910 South Roland. We’ll be happy to see you, and we’ll show you some great Crown Bristow bargains!