Thursday, August 5, 2021

Rick Huskey
 More to "Woodstock on the Water" Than Meets the Eye

In 2015, following the 75th anniversary celebration of the completion of the Pensacola Dam, Joe Harwood birthed the idea of an annual celebration for the Goose, who laid the golden egg for all of northeastern Oklahoma. After a couple of attempts to host the event near the dam itself, it has called Lawhead Hollow/Hippie Hollow Cove home for the past several years and continues to celebrate the completion of the dam and an iconic rock star. It has expanded into an overnight raft-out on Friday night followed by a concert from 1-5pm on Saturday. But it never could have become what it is today, without the full support of Rick, "I Love Music, Huskey and his participation.

 Huskey, who owns the former Leon Russell compound, was one of the first to voice strong support for such a gathering relocating in Lawhead Hollow. The Tulsa Chiropractor, who admittedly has been a Leon Russel fan since his junior High School days, jumped at the opportunity to honor Leon. Plans called for Huskey’s own band, the Barrett Lewis Band, voted one of the best in Tulsa over the years, to be performing from the very deck Russell once enjoyed.

 Huskey, who once had Leon Russell back on the property in the early nineties to perform at Todd Chapman’s thirtieth birthday party, has owned the property for some 30 plus years. Prior to that the compound was owned by Bill Ramsay. It was on the market when Huskey’s long-time real-estate partner, Rob Phillips, proved instrumental in getting Huskey to visit the property.

 Rick says, “A friend had told me about a place on the South end of the lake, which had previously been owned by a car dealer being up for sale, but I knew I couldn’t afford something like that. But Rob knew I was a huge Russell fan and encouraged me to take a look. On the way there to meet Bill Ramsay, Rob coached me up by saying, ‘now look, you don’t have to tell this guy you’re a huge Leon Russell fan’”

 Huskey adds, “That first trip we discovered the place had really run down, Ramsay didn’t even have a key to the recording studio and the pool had some problems. After a second trip, thanks to some creative financing, we got the deal done and we’ve been here ever since.”

 Rick seems to love reminiscing about the Russell days even more so since he has owned the property. His favorite story recounts an outing at the lake when Leon was hosting Bob Dylan as his guest. He repeats the tale like this: “Yeah, they had been out on the lake and needed some gas for the boat. They pulled in to one of the marinas and were having the dock girl fill up the boat. Leon had gone inside the ships store when the attendant jabs Dylan in the ribs and says, ‘you do know that guy you’re running around with, Leon Russell, is a rock star, right?’ Russell got a huge kick out of that since Dylan had been his musical hero forever."

 The stories abound, but Huskey’s greatest pleasure has been restoring the place, which is now over 50 years old. He’s had some dialogue with the powers to be about getting the place recognized as a Historical Marker and placed on the associated registers. A bit of Grand Lake history worth noting from days gone by.

 Now for some equal time for the counter-point. As we've previously written, this all started with an idea advanced by Pete Churchwell to possibly change the name of Lawhead Hollow to in some way recognize the one time presence of Leon Russell. Some suggested Russell Cove while others thought they had seen the cove referred to as Hippie Hollow on a very dated map. Since there’s not much documentation on how coves were designated at the time the lake first filled, how to change a name was complicated at best and then, of course, there is the counter point delivered to us from Barbara Haver.

 Barbara has been a property owner on Lawhead Hollow for over sixty-five years, and we’re paraphrasing here, but suggested Pete Chuchwell should discontinue meddling into the name of coves on the South end of the lake. She even pointed out that Pete’s Mom had been a good friend of hers and they were members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I don’t know about you Pete, but it sounds to me like she’s not in favor of any name change. Her conclusion was that leaving the Lawhead Hollow name as is and to continue to honor our Native American families that sacrificed their land for our Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees.

 When it comes to Grand Lake, Barbara is a recognized historian and in the past has even been a contributing writer for our publications over the years. Our observation; Barbara is akin to the old E.F. Hutton commercial….when she speaks, it is usually worth taking note of.

 Our suggestion! Let’s all gather for a gigantic celebration in the cove just South of Drippings Springs for a really big birthday party and celebration of Russel's presence on Grand Lake come Saturday, August 7th…with music once again provided by the Barrett Lewis Band. No, no, no…check that, I really meant just south of Grays Hollow…


Party Barge for sure!!
See Ya Around the Pond!!





Thursday, July 29, 2021

Woodstock on the Water Set for August 7th 

There Was a Legend in the Neighborhood ….We Never Even Knew It!

The Pensacola Birthday Bash, dubbed Woodstock on the Water and located in Lawhead Hollow, now more readily recognized by many as Hippie Hollow or Leon Russell Cove, is set for Saturday August 7th. The event also embraces the Grand Lake legend of Leon Russell, always brings back some distant memories. Having purchased our place in 1976 on Grays Hollow, which is and was known as Dripping Springs by most, I had no idea a rock star icon was just a few hundred yards away. After Leon had left the lake, in 1981 we believe, the stories started to surface, at least for me, about his over ten year presence here on the pond.

 Russell, a Tulsan, had grown tired of the fast pace and had purchased an eight acre tract of land and announced plans to spend over a half million dollars constructing a new house, state of the art recording studio and refurbishing two existing cabins on the property. After completion of the project, his guest list read like a who's who of the recording industry. People like Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, J.J. Cale, Freddy King, George Harrison and the Gap Band were just a few of regulars who not only relaxed there, but used the facilities to record and produce as well.

 Some of the locals were more attuned to what was going on than yours truly and watched from afar as Leon's presence on Grand Lake grew. And people in the industry, like the late George Bingham, would certainly be able to share a tale or two, but there are vivid memories from the living as well.

 Long-time Lawhead Hollow resident Barbara Haver, who is our Grand Lake historian of record, says, "My kids were little in the late seventies and Russell would have his son brought over by power boat to play with my kids. Back in those days there was a lot of boat traffic coming and going to his place."

 Russell had a generous side as documented in an article published in the Tulsa World in 1974 which says in part, "The generosity of rock star Leon Russell will provide a summer of fun and education for some 30 to 40 boys who live at the Tulsa Boys Home. Rick Hill, personal aide to Russell, offered the palatial Grand Lake retreat of the singer-pianist-guitar-composer to a director of the Tulsa Boys Home for use by the boys throughout the summer."

 The boys were to be in charge of yard work and maintenance, but received instructions on swimming, water skiing and water and boat safety. Thanks to current property owner Rick Huskey, we were told of a current Grand Laker who participated that summer. Tony Mills is widely known as trader of sorts with guitar and Harley Davidson collections and being in the pawn shop business in the Tulsa area for many years. Tony was more than willing to share some of his memories from days gone by.

 Mills recollects, "Yeah, we'd work during the day and late in the afternoons we would swim, water ski and do a lot of fun activities that kids like us would have never had the opportunity to enjoy. I remember what at the time seemed like a huge cabin cruiser. Not all the boys got to come…it was a competition based on good behavior to see who got to go."

 During our conversation with Tony, we learned another Grand Laker, Darrell Hicks, was employed by the Boys Home and directly supervised Mills on a daily basis as a counselor. Hicks says, "I was going to Tulsa Junior College during the days and supervising one of the dorms early in the morning and at night. It was perfect for a college student. Did I give Tony any licks? Don't really recall, but probably so"

 The collaboration of a birthday celebration for the completion of the Pensacola Dam and recognizing the influence of Leon Russell on Grand Lake came about innocently enough from a phone call regarding the possibility of renaming Lawhead Hollow to recognize Leon in some way. Long-time Grand Laker and current GRDA board member Pete Churchwell initiated the idea. Many years ago, while fishing near the Russell compound, Pete had stumbled on to some musicians just jamming on the Russell lakeside deck.

 Pete told me during the phone call, "I was fishing when I started hearing music from further down in the cove. When I got closer, I realized it was George Harrison and J.J. Cale. I abandoned fishing and enjoyed my own personal concert. That's how I discovered Leon's presence on Grand Lake."

 Pete's idea was to change the official name of the cove to include, in some way, the Russell name, but no one is real sure how the coves even were named to begin with….probably from the dominant landowner, but who knows for sure. Pete ran it by the GRDA legal department…they had no problem with it, but weren't sure how it would be accomplished. Would the Russell family need to be consulted? Lots of variables here and as the United States congress is discovering, change doesn't come easily.

 In short, come August 7th from 1-5pm we will be celebrating the completion of the greatest construction project ever undertaken in Oklahoma and presence of a rock star icon on Grand Lake and his impact. Some say Hippie Hollow, others may call it Leon Russell Cove, while most maps will continue to proclaim it Lawhead Hollow, but we all know we will call it whatever we want to.

 Our next historic blog will detail how a frustrated musician and now the owner of the formerly Russell property, had to become a chiropractor to support his love of music. Tulsan Rick Husky has a few stories of his own about the property, including how the previous owner, Leon Russell performed for Husky and approximately 30 of his friends at Husky's 40th birthday party.

 See Ya'  Around the Pond!!  

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Pond Never Looked Better & Life Moves On!!

It's been almost a year now since we reached the decision to walk away from publishing a weekly newspaper, which had been our calling in one way or another since 1988. This marked the third time to attempt retirement and I must say this attempt has been the most promising of the three. But in spite of the pandemic, a short supply of new and used boats for sale and every Grand Lake realtor scrambling for salable listings, it's been a remarkable year in a lot of ways.


Many thought the pandemic, and a boatload of associated restrictions, would have a devastating effect on the lake economy, but the exodus from the various metroplex communities brought an entire slough of prospective buyers seeking the security of a rural location. We have neighbors here on Grays Hollow, who apparently took up full-time residence in their lake place to escape Covid-19, and have adjusted their lifestyle to now call this location home. A strange year to observe for sure here high on my perch overlooking the hollow. 

 But even though peering through our Grand Lake colored sunglasses, the last year has not proven easy, even for the most calculated operator. Adequate staffing has become an ongoing problem, many things we never have much thought about are now difficult to find and when you do, there has been a significant price increase. And that's not considering the long waiting period to get something, that before the pandemic, was readily available, but as they say, "Blame it on the Covid."

 An Observation on Mental Health

Our retirement has definitely got off the launching pad over the last ten months and its chances of succeeding certainly look much better than the first two attempts, but not without some associated pondering. We've taken care of some needed improvements and deferred maintenance for sure, but it has made me wonder if keeping the 'ol brain active wasn't a real contributor to my well-being and longevity of 77 years.

 As I mentioned in that last column associated with our final online edition of Grand Times and Grand Lake News Online, there could be a blog on the horizon. I set up "Grand Times on Grand Lake with Rusty Fleming," but it's been mostly inactive till now." We'll mostly concentrate of the colorful history surround our pond with an emphasis on a feature we have called in the past, "Legends of the Lake." If there are issues to be addressed, we won't be bashful about checking them out, but the fun stuff, like this weekend's Aquapalooza, I'm sure will be adequately covered by The Laker Newspaper, the Lake Bum, Grand Lake Living and the King of the Grand Lake social network, Jerry Cookson. 

 No specific schedule, but more to come. We'll be posting links to the blog on our Facebook presence at Grand Lake News online and Grand Times on Grand Lake, plus my personal page. Since we're not getting paid, we'll only work when we want to and as our friend Terry Frost has been known to say, "For Mental M@#$%^&!@#$%. And as I have been known to say.....

 See Ya' Around the Pond!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Looking back on that Very First Christmas Boat Parade


The very first Christmas Boat Parade was organized 31 years ago and has become a staple of the Christmas season on Grand Lake. That very first event, which had serious doubters when announced by the Cherokee Yacht Club’s former owner, Terry Frost, was a resounding success in 1989. The atmosphere at the pre-party could be compared to the electricity usually reserved for a championship sporting event.

I was on hand for that first event and can testify to the evening being a game changing promotion which contributed significantly to expanding Grand Lake’s season.

The atmosphere that night was unbelievable and the excitement could have been carved up and served as dessert. There couldn’t have been a Santa suit within 250 miles that hadn’t been rented by a Grand Laker for the evening. Those of us taking part that evening were witnessing a change in the Grand Lake business as usual approach to the off-season, which would benefit our economy for years to come.

That first year, the first place winner was the “Wild, Wild West,” a 42’ Houseboat piloted by Tulsa dentist Jim West and his crew. The decorations were very simple compared to what we see today and of course, the West crew had coordinated costumes for the evening.

Since that inaugural event, there have been peaks and valleys with the numbers of participating boats and crews being as high as 30-plus and as low as seven, but the event last year may have been the best one ever. Now Cherokee Yacht Club's Joe Harwood, Tom McKibben and staff have the objective of making this year’s event, scheduled for December 5th even better. Unlike many years in the past, when entry forms were distributed in the local media and in yacht club newsletters, this year the organizational committee has taken an active role in recruiting participants and have been the catalyst in laying the ground-work for another great Christmas party Grand Style..

It’s not too late to participate in this historic Grand Lake Christmas party. To join the parade contact either of the two organizing yacht club…Cherokee or Arrowhead. We're anticipating the best ever rendition of a truly Grand Lake Christmas tradition...

See Ya’ Around the Pond!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020


Largest Portfolio of Waterfront Equipment Now Covers Fresh- and Salt-Water Markets Fergus Falls, Minn. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – ShoreMaster, LLC, which merged with HydroHoist, LLC in 2019, announced this week the acquisition of Neptune Boat Lifts, Inc., the premier salt-water boat lift brand based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Collectively, these three market leaders provide the most comprehensive suite of waterfront products in North America. 

With the acquisition of Neptune, the portfolio of brands will now cover all fresh- and salt-water marine environments. The combined product offering covers the broadest spectrum of product categories in the dock, boat lift and accessories markets, while accommodating all boat types, sizes and applications in the industry. Don Hurley, ShoreMaster’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Neptune is a leading brand in the salt-water lift market, one of the most important and fastest-growing markets in the industry. 

Neptune offers unparalleled quality and service, and in their market has exceptional brand recognition and customer loyalty. This is an exciting addition and a great fit to our portfolio of brands.” Founded in 2007, Neptune is the leading manufacturer of marine lifts, dedicating its efforts to exceeding customer expectations while utilizing the finest materials and engineering. Neptune has been a pioneer in the salt-water marine environment, focusing its design and manufacturing on product safety, performance and quality. The Neptune team collectively has over 100 years of real-world experience, with every lift designed and engineered in-house, then independently evaluated and certified by structural engineers.

 David Humphreys, President of Neptune, said, “We are excited to join ShoreMaster and HydroHoist, two dominant brands in the industry. We are confident in the future and this merger places our team, our dealers and our products in ideal positions for continued growth and success.” “The addition of Neptune, and their dealer network, allows us to reach additional customers in Florida and other U.S. markets, as well as provide new product offerings to our existing dealers. Our combined network of dealers, marine contractors and marinas means that we have the reach to serve every marine market in North America,” added Hurley.

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Very Strange Year Even by Grand Lake Standards

Seen some pretty weird stuff in 40-plus years around the pond, but 2020 has set the bar where no other year has ventured. With the introduction of the initial efforts to get a handle on the spread of the Covid-19 virus, things like high water events, described at the time as hundred-year floods, record setting snowfall during boat show week, a Blue/Green Algae crisis that almost wiped out the busiest weekend of the year, droughts and tornados took a back seat in the catastrophe department. I had never witnessed a migration to Grand Lake occur in in March and April as though the calendar had been fast-forwarded to May and June. They were abandoning the metroplex like rats on a sinking ship. But likemany times over the last 40-plus years, Old Lady Grand was willing and waiting to play the role of the goose who laid the golden egg. Unlike main streets all across Oklahoma, and the entire country for that matter, where businesses were collapsing under the pressure of the most recent Public Enemy # One, many Grand Lake businesses were thriving…especially boat and real estate sales. Some even said, "This is amazing and I've never seen it better." There were others who definitely felt the pain of a hundred year threat to the public's health as many of their regular customers hunkered down thinking they would wait it out….and the wait goes on…and on...and on. Things didn't go as expected for many Oklahomans on many fronts. President Trump wasn't reelected, the virus didn't disappear with summers hot weather or the day after the election and has spreadat an alarming rate, there's been no secondary relief package, despite who you might prefer to blame, our governor is intimidated by any form of mask mandate,conspiracy theories have been proven false and the overall economy hasn'trecovered with Hell Bent for Leather re-openings. The good news as it turns outis Dr. Fauci isn't the villain the Donald portrayed him to be and the vaccine iscurrently on the horizon and distribution should get underway soon with military supervision as opposed to more gridlock at its worst. This pandemic has been politicized from the get-go, let's hope we can eliminate that from the distribution mission…. As legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden explainedto his championship teams countless times, "There's no limit to what we canaccomplish, IF WE DON'T CARE WHO GETS THE CREDIT."
See Ya' Around the Pond!!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

From the Publisher's Perch

Thu, Jul 23, 2020

For the past several years, Dr. Zack Bechtol has been my go-to doc in Grove, Oklahoma. We get along because we're both woven along the lines of direct if not offensive communication techniques. He tells me to lose weight, cut down on my scotch and to get that blood pressure in order, but there is never a doubt he's telling a patient what they need to know….And sometimes they don't want to know. As for my part of the relationship, I advise him what's wrong in the area of practice management.

Dr. Bechtol has authored the following guest editorial/opinion piece regarding the raging mask controversy for your consideration.

See Ya' Around the Pond!! 

Masks, A Time and a Place


Recently I got caught up in the entrenchment of sides regarding mask usage and I was frankly caught off guard by the staunch illogical positions on both ends of this debate. Since soon after the early stages of this impact on Grove and Grand Lake and the visceral effect it had on one of our own Nursing homes and 16 of its residents who died, I have been going on the KGVE noon show with Larry Hestand and discussing the medical facts of what's been happening here in Delaware County and how we are responding to it locally. Amazingly, and without a lot of mask wearing, the disease quickly dissipated and our numbers were almost non-existent despite extensive looking and testing for the disease.

By Mid-May you couldn’t find a sick patient, (and I looked closely). I stopped wearing a mask and stopped requiring my patients to wear a mask to be seen, after thorough screening and vetting for illness and travel. I also made comments on the radio that our county was having very low prevalence of any detectible disease and no one was getting sick. Everyone was hurting financially and scared as hell to even come to the doctor. I felt compelled to get out and lead by example. So I went and got my hair cut, went to the diner and had breakfast couple times a week, had my teeth cleaned all without a mask; and encouraged people to keep up their antennas but relax a bit. This began to change in late June.

Please try to understand what I am saying and the context from which my position comes from. I have very vulnerable patients that I see every day, I must protect myself and my business from Covid or I am shut down or someone at risk gets sick. I also work a 24hr ER shift in OKC a few times a month and when I am there I stay with my 80 year old parents. I cannot take unnecessary risks at all. So what is this? Am I just being reckless or cavalier? Not at all. But I am in a position to know what's going on more so than the lay public. I walk into ICU and medical floors everyday so I immediately know when the illness is here, and how to respond. Much more so than you. But we are working to change that and keep the public more informed of local disease numbers through an alert system.

Let me point this out; masks are most beneficial when a detectible disease is present. We went nearly 2 months with below single digit positive test per week, not per day- per week. And not a single person sick or even calling in sick. I personally sent text to every Dr on staff and in the county including IHS, Jay, and Kansas and asked. It just wasn’t here. Yet fearful people cling to this mask issue like we were somehow linked to NY and their risks. This scenario was not unique to Delaware County. In fact large areas of the country especially rural areas with low population densities, no public transportation, or high rise buildings requiring elevators had only marginal if any real evidence of covid-19 unless you traveled to a hot zone. Don’t ask or mandate these areas to wear a mask. It's wasting resources.

Rick Huskey   More to "Woodstock on the Water" Than Meets the Eye In 2015, following the 75th anniversary celebration of the c...