ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
ROBERT JOE “Bob” DAVIDSON,1 second child, son of William Edmund Davidson and Mary Pauline (Roller) Davidson, was born 11 May 1927 at 3204 NW 13th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.
He married Dorothy Jean White 25 October 1946 at Olivet Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. Dorothy was born 24 November 1928. They had two children:
(1) Paula Jean, born 3 August 1950 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. Paula married John Luther Ford 14 February 1970. They have two children: John Jason, born 24 May 1973; and Nicole Jean, born 22 April 1980. Paula married Gary A. Lynch 28 December 1994. Paula retired from Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. She and Gary have since divorced. No issue.
(2) Steven Joe, born 3 November 1951 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. He married Sheila Gallant, a British subject he met at Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1977. Sheila had two children from a previous marriage. Steve and Sheila had a daughter, Stefanie born 3 June 1972. Steve married Terri Gilbreath in
1 (Robert Joe’s given name was “Bobby Joe.” He went by that name until the family moved to Arkansas. He then began to go by “Bob” and later made his official name “Robert Joe.”)240 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 241 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
1977. They have a son, Scott Joseph, born 15 September 1977. Steve married Janet Jessalie Redman in 1980. They have two daughters: Sarah Jessalie, born in 1982; and Shannon Joy, born in 1985. Steve owns and operates a computer software company in Oklahoma City.
Bob and Dorothy were divorced in 1952. Dorothy died 6 December 1977. She is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery, Oklahoma City. Oklahoma.
Bob married Bonnie Mae (Craddock) Fleshman 17 September 1959 at Wickline Methodist Church in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Bonnie had two children from previous marriages. They are Karen Ann Dodson born 26 February 1950 and David Eldon Fleshman born 18 May 1954. Bob adopted David and he took the Davidson surname. No issue.
Bob died 24 June 2007. He is buried at Antioch Cemetery, Garvin County, Oklahoma.
When Bobby Joe was two years old the family moved from 3204 NW 13th Street to 2709 NW 40th Street in far north Oklahoma City. Bobby Joe and his brothers, William and Gene, attended Sequoyah Grade School on NW 36th Street.
The house at 2709 was situated on a small acreage. Bobby Joe’s parents raised a garden and kept chickens. Bobby Joe and his brothers helped work the garden and care for the chickens. They also had room for a cow which they kept to provide fresh milk for the family.
Bobby Joe’s dad got a young pig to fatten for slaughter. He built a pen and the boys helped feed and care for it. When it came near the time to slaughter the pig Bobby Joe’s dad brought home a metal 55-gallon drum. He intended to cut the top out and use it to scald the pig. He cautioned the boys not to fool around with the drum because it had “contained denatured alcohol and was dangerous.”
Bobby Joe just had to see what “denatured alcohol” looked like. He opened the bung lid and looked in. It was dark and he couldn’t see anything. He sneaked some matches from the kitchen and took to the drum. He struck a match over the bung opening and started to look in when “BAM!!” The match ignited the fumes from the alcohol. Bobby Joe had barely gotten his forehead over the opening but not his eyes. It severely burned his forehead, but fortunately his eyes were not affected. A lesson learned the hard way.
Bobby Joe was big for his age and had large hands. He quickly learned to milk Old Bossy, the cow. It became his daily chore to milk her. His older brother, William, and younger brother, Gene, got the chore of feeding Old Bossy and cleaning her pen. They kind of resented this because they thought Bobby Joe had the easier task.
When the family moved to 3608 NW 13th Bobby Joe, his brothers and sister went to Linwood Elementary School on NW 16th Street. They walked the several blocks to and from school crossing a fairly large area between the Grand Boulevard right-of-way and the railroad track right-of-way. A small creek ran through the area with numerous grassy areas between 16th and 12th Streets.
After the morning milking and on the way to school it was Bobby Joe’s and William’s responsibility to lead Old Bossy to one of the grassy areas along the creek and stake her with a long rope so she could graze on the grass. On returning from school in the afternoon they led Old Bossy back to her stall behind the garage where Bobby Joe milked her.
Bobby Joe and his two brothers often spent part of their summers on the farm with their Grandpa and Grandma Roller. A cousin, Royce Weldon, who lived in Nevada, also often spent summers with Grandpa and Grandma Roller. One such summer, typical of boys, they were all playing “King of the Mountain” on the haystack in Grandpa’s haylot. Of course, the object was to push 242 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 243 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
everyone else off the top of the hay stack and proclaim yourself, “King of the Mountain.”
Gene, being the youngest and smallest, was quickly dispatched to the bottom of the haystack. Brother William pushed Bobby Joe off. Royce pushed William off. He landed at the bottom hitting his arm on Bobby Joe’s head. It broke William’s arm. Forever after Bobby Joe was known as the “Hard-Headed One.”
William was taken to the country doctor in Elmore City. He returned with his arm splinted with wood from the sides of a cigar box. They made cigar boxes in those days out of substantial wood ideal for making splints for kids when they broke their arms.
When Bobby Joe was in the fifth grade they moved from Oklahoma City to the Johnson Place near Moore, Oklahoma. it was a small forty-acre farm with room for a large garden, chickens, and Old Bossy with her heifer calf. Bobby Joe’s daily chores included milking Old Bossy twice a day to provide milk and butter for the family. Bobby Joe and William also helped their mother plant and cultivate a garden to provide produce for the family. Bobby Joe and William pulled a small garden plow while their mother guided it.
Bobby Joe, his brothers, and sister went to school in Moore. They rode a school bus driven by a local farmer, “Tiny” Spencer. The bus was a farm flatbed truck that he converted to a school bus during the school year. For some reason Tiny called William “Pete.” He called Bobby Joe, “Repeat.” He called Gene, “Triple Pete,” and Marvin “Little Pete.”
Bobby Joe and William were in the same class because William was held back one year in the First Grade. Bobby Joe made good grades and was always quick with numbers. He always had his homework finished in a matter of fifteen or twenty minutes. He would then go to sleep sitting at the table while William labored for an hour or more to finish the same assignment. When William and Gene finished their homework it often was great sport for them to pull some ornery prank on Bobby Joe, like give him a “hot-foot”, or splash water in his face, or hide his homework, etc., anything to antagonize him. This usually resulted in a ruckus with the boys’ mother having to intercede to restore order.
The house on the Johnson Place was a two-room house with a lean-to on the back where Bobby Joe and his two brothers slept. It did not have inside plumbing or running water. There were no indoor toilet facilities. An outhouse served that purpose. Bobby Joe and his brothers carried household water a quarter of a mile in five-gallon buckets from a neighbor’s well.
One dark night Bobby Joe was making his way to the outhouse. Unseen was a large metal wash tub near the pathway. He tripped and fell into the tub. He hit his arm on the side of the tub breaking it. About the same time Bobby Joe’s younger brother, Gene, severely dislocated his left elbow. William had to milk and care for Old Bossy until Bobby Joe’s arm healed.
Hospital bills accumulated because of Bobby Joe’s broken arm, Gene’s dislocated elbow, and other various medical problems. Bobby Joe’s dad made a barter deal with the hospital to pay the bill by providing fresh dressed chickens for the hospital kitchen. Every Saturday for the next several months Bobby Joe, his dad, William, and Gene caught, slaughtered, plucked and dressed several dozen fryer size chickens. They iced them down in a large tub and Bobby Joe’s dad took them to the hospital.
The landlord at the Johnson Place wanted to build a barn. He hauled a lot of scrap lumber and stacked it west of the house. He struck a deal with Bobby Joe’s dad to help build the barn in return for rent. Bobby Joe and William helped their dad build the barn. It was here that Bobby Joe first learned the principles of carpentry.244 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 245 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
Bobby Joe’s dad bought a mare horse, a one-horse plow and a double shovel. They named the horse “Ribbon.” Bobby Joe and William no longer had to pull a plow. They not only plowed and cultivated the garden with Ribbon, but also planted and cultivated several acres of cotton with Ribbon pulling the one-horse plow.
The family moved from the Johnson Place to the Turk Place. It was an improvement over the Johnson Place. It was a much larger house, but still no indoor running water or toilet facilities.
By now Old Bossy had given birth to several heifer calves. The chore for milking the cows was now shared by William. Bobby Joe with his larger hands and longer experience could milk two cows while William milked one. Little brother, Gene, could barely squeeze a teet. Bobby Joe would shoo Gene out of the barn and make him do some demeaning task, or something equally antagonizing. Gene came to believe Bob’s main purpose in life was to antagonize him.
The cousin, Royce Weldon, was a few months younger than Bobby Joe. He lived in Nevada, but came to Oklahoma every summer to visit with Grandpa and Grandma Roller on the farm on Panther Creek at the foot of The Table Hills. Bobby Joe and his brothers also spent part of their summers visiting their Grandpa and Grandma Roller.
Henry was an uncle. He was the youngest brother of Bobby Joe’s mother. He was about five years older than Bobby Joe. He took great delight in pitting Bobby Joe and Royce against one another in some kind of contest that usually ended up in a fist fight.
Royce was not quite as big as Bobby Joe but he was scrappy and could hold his own against him. Gene was delighted to see them mix it up because Bobby Joe sometimes came out on the short end.
One hot summer afternoon Henry baited Bobby Joe and Royce into a foot race to capture a quarter from under his hat. The first one to the hat was to run his hand under the hat and get the quarter. What Bobby Joe didn’t know was Royce was in on the scam with Henry. Royce was to run shoulder to shoulder the entire distance, but at the very last moment let Bobby Joe win and run his hand under the hat.
Henry drew a line in the dirt and paced off about thirty yards. He gently set his hat over a fresh pile of cow manure. He came back to the starting point and said, “Get ready. Go!” The race was on. Royce stayed right with Bobby Joe until the last moment. Bobby Joe lunged at the hat ramming his hand underneath to get the quarter.
Instead he came up with cow manure all over his hand. Henry, Royce and little brother, Gene, had a hoot of a laugh. But Bobby Joe had the last laugh. He jumped in the middle of Henry’s hat squashing it into the cow manure. Then he picked it up, threw it in a nearby stock tank, and ran to beat the dickens. If Henry could have caught Bobby Joe he would have “killed” him.
Bobby Joe was usually fairly smart about things, but he did a really dumb thing when he pulled down his pants in a patch of poison ivy to take a “crap.” Needless to say he broke out and swelled up in places we don’t even want to mention, including his arms and legs. He was one sick “puppy” for quite a long time and got to lay up in the bed in the downstairs bedroom where his mother and father usually slept.
Bobby Joe barely recovered from his episode with poison ivy when he was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. Again he was laid up for quite a long time in the downstairs bedroom. Brothers William and Gene had to take up the slack and do all the chores of milking and caring for the cows, feeding the pigs, feeding the chickens, etc. For a long time after recovery Bobby Joe would plead, “But I had rheumatic fever” when he didn’t want to do a particular unpleasant chore or task leaving William and/or Gene to do it.
At school in Moore Bobby Joe was in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program. Marvin Anderson was the FFA teacher. 246 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 247 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
One of the things they did was sponsor a boxing team ostensibly to teach sportsmanship, but mainly to raise a little money for the program. Bobby Joe along with his older brother, William, joined the boxing team.
The first boxing match of the year was with the FFA boxing team from Noble High School. It was talked around school that Noble had a really good boxer in Bobby Joe’s weight class. He was a senior and had several years experience under his belt. Bobby Joe was a freshman and a novice.
Younger brother, Gene, just knew Bobby Joe was going to get his butt whipped. He gladly paid his fifteen cents to see it. There were several bouts prior to Bobby Joe’s. The fighters mostly danced around throwing a punch here and there. Nothing to get excited about. Each bout went the full three rounds and the referee had to award the victory based on his judgment of who landed the most offensive punches.
When Bobby Joe’s bout came up his opponent entered the ring cool and confident wearing a very nice royal purple robe and gleaming golden trunks trimmed in purple. He had a smart pair of black lace-up boxing shoes. He did a few little warmup jigs and a little shadow boxing routine in his corner. He definitely was a formidable foe.
Bobby Joe entered the ring without a robe and wearing a pair of cut-offs and well-worn old tennis shoes. He stood apprehensively and awkwardly in his corner of the ring. From all appearances it was a credible mismatch.
The referee called them to the center of the ring and gave them their instructions. They returned to their corners. The bell rang for the first round. Bobby Joe charged straight across the ring like a raging bull. He met his opponent about two-thirds of the way across the ring with arms flailing like a windmill in a windstorm. His opponent vainly tried to assume a boxer’s stance to counter-punch, but the “windmill” just kept turning and coming at him keeping him completely off balance.
Bobby Joe pursued his opponent all over the ring with arms flailing, landing only a few punches, but enough to keep his opponent constantly back-pedalling on the defensive. Near the end of the round Bobby Joe landed a solid blow to the head that staggered his opponent. A few seconds later he landed a blow to the nose that splattered blood all over. The referee stepped in and stopped the fight. He awarded the victory to Bobby Joe on a technical.
Little brother, Gene, was slightly disappointed Bobby Joe didn’t get his butt whipped, but at the same time he was a little bit proud of the way his big brother battled a “superior” opponent into submission. The next day at school Gene’s Seventh Grade teacher, Mrs. Bridgewater, commented, “Bobby Joe was the only one that wanted to fight last night.”
Bobby Joe had two Hampshire sheep for his FFA fair project. He spent a lot of time grooming, training and caring for his sheep. He won a blue ribbon on them at the county fair. He took them to the Fort Worth Livestock Show but did not place there.
The Dingler Twins, Meryl and Beryl, were identical twins. They were cute and no one could tell them apart. They thought it was great fun to fool people as to which one was which. Bobby Joe dated the Dingler Twins. He often didn’t know if he was out with Meryl or Beryl. But, true to form, he had the ultimate solution. He dated both at the same time. Little brother, Gene, spied him at a movie theater in Norman with his left arm draped around one of the twins and his right arm draped around the other one. They cuddled next to him, as Gene Autry sat astraddle his horse, Champion, strumming his guitar while crooning, “South of the Border, Down Mexico Way.”
Bobby Joe played football at Moore until the family moved to Evening Shade, Arkansas, in November 1943. The school in Evening Shade was very small and did not have a football team. The school had a gymnasium and a basketball team, but he was not a basketball player. They had an intramural volleyball program.248 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 249 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
Mr. Cherry was the Vocational Agriculture teacher. Bobby Joe took Vocational Agriculture, but they did not have a FFA boxing program. Mr. Watson was the principle. His wife, Mrs. Watson, taught English. The Watson’s son, Ray Bob, taught math, coached the basketball team, and ran the intramural sports program which was volleyball. At Evening Shade Bobby Joe began going by the name “Bob” only.
Bob was in the Tenth Grade at Evening Shade. The school was not only smaller but was also academically behind the school at Moore. Thus, Bob and his brothers were scholastically head and shoulders above their fellow classmates. Discipline was also more of a problem than at Moore.
Bob soon found a sweet little girl for his steady girl friend. Her name was Verneil Qualls. Following are two notes written in class by Verneil to Bob. They give a glimpse of insight into the experiences Bob and his brothers, William and Gene, experienced at Evening Shade:
As you and I have both said before you’re a hard business man. Imagine me offering you one yankee dime and you wanting three. ha. However, if you win the game and Ray Bob on the other team, I’ll give you three. You’ll have to win though, remember. What a captain you’ll make. ha.
You missed all the fun having to go to class this period. Miss Sullivan and Pug Kunkel got in a fuss. Miss Sullivan slapped Pug, then he slapped her. She brought him in to Mr. Watson and he got a paddling. It was fun while it lasted.
And, speaking of fun, Mrs. Watson is about to put A. C. and Porter on the stage for laughing. She said where there was so much smoke there was bound to be a little fire.
Mr. Cherry and the boys are working on the stage this period, so it’s no wonder this letter is in such a mess.
I’ll bet Mr. and Mrs. Watson wondered why I didn’t get in one place and stay there the first of this period. I went in Mrs. Watson’s room to sharpen my pencil, then sat in your seat long enough to get your letter, then moved up here by Jean, and next period I’ll have to move to your seat again to put this letter in your book.
I believe someone put a bug in Mr. Watson’s ear about you giving me letters as I go to literature class. If he doesn’t send us at the same time in the morning I’ll know that is what happened. There isn’t a thing he can do about us using your book for a mailbox though, unless he makes me stay at my seat, and that’s next to impossible.
Something else has happened. Those little Lassiter boys have been sent in here to stand on the stage. Mrs. Watson is having a hard time making them study, because every time she turns her back they turn around and make faces at us. This must be everybody’s day to get in trouble. T.J. Carter is sitting over here singing “Be Honest With Me.” If the old lady hears him it will be too bad. That’s the sweetest serenade I’ve had in ages.
I’m not going to the Bottoms this weekend and Jean is going to spend the weekend with me. Say you won’t be doing a thing the last period. How about writing me a letter? T.J. is singing the Marine Hymn now.
Well, I’ll be seeing you tonight if you don’t stand me up.
Lots of love,
P.S. Mrs. Watson is about to put me on the stage now. There goes my A on deportment. L.V.Q.
P.S. No. 2. Boy, didn’t Mr. Watson give this school a bawling out at noon. I wonder what he thinks has been happening in those class rooms.
I don’t have much time to write but I’ll try to write a little. I’ve been working on the curtain on the stage. I’ve sewed until my fingers are so sore I just barely can move them. I really have had a time. I’ll tell you more later.250 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 251 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
Gene has some pictures at school I really would like to see. If he leaves them in his desk during bookkeeping class I’m going to see them.
William told me this morning that there was three cents due on my special delivery letter, but when he saw how anxious I was to see it he let me have it any way. If you ask me, there are some advantages to being broke. Or, to having good credit. ha.
I got to see the pictures after all. The old man went up on the stage to see how play practice was coming along, and Gene threw them to me. The only catch to the whole thing was that he almost hit Eudean Taylor in the head with them. They were good but I never could tell who was on the bridge.
Mr. Watson has figured up our grades, and Erline Wolfe is valedictorian, and Geraldine Graddy is salutorian. Jewel Dean Stroud thinks she has been cheated out of one of the two places and she intends to bring her report cards up here and see if she can have the record changed. As I expected I was away down the line. Not that I cared. I had a lot rather be class poet as valedictorian, and that’s what I am.
William and Jewel Dean are really that way about each other judging by the way they sit around together.
This being a windy day, I wore that dress I wore last night, and the same thing happened that happened the last time I wore it, the only difference being that the eleventh and twelfth grade agriculture class was on hand to view the scenery. You can imagine how red my face got.
That was some letter you wrote this morning. It was better than none, but it wasn’t half long enough.
I was mistaken about where Aunt Rosetta and Uncle Eather were going tomorrow. It is somewhere in Missouri instead of Stuttgart, and they may not be back at all Wednesday night.
I must have been fibbing when I said this wouldn’t be a very long letter. I didn’t know this period was going to be so long.
Claudia was just trying to scare you when she said she saw us Sunday. She was at home, and she didn’t even know anything about it except what I told her.
I was glad to hear that Clyde didn’t get his bluff in on you yesterday. After all, one of us needs to have some nerve. ha.
We got our diplomas in this morning. They aren’t half as big as I wanted. As hard as I’ve worked the last four years, I think I ought to get one as big as I can carry. ha.
Aunt Rosetta didn’t go to bed after I did get in early. I went to bed and went to sleep. And she was still sitting there reading. She said if she had known Uncle Eather would stand out there and talk half the night she wouldn’t have minded so bad.
Pauline Arnold is going to stay with me tonight, and we are going to come to play practice tonight so I’ll get to see the play twice I guess.
I should get a letter from Mother and Junie today. I haven’t heard from Mother in about a week and it’s been ages since I’ve heard from Junie. Honestly, I believe she’s died and someone forgot to invite me to the funeral.
I asked Mr. Watson today what he would do if I played hooky and went boat riding, and he said he’d say “Goody.” I think I’ll try it sometime. You can’t imagine how friendly he was with Claudia and I. Claudia said that him being in love with her would be the only thing that would account for him asking so many questions about the family.
Well, I must close and give this letter to Claudia to give to William to give to you.
Lots of Love,
P.S. I watched the truck go out of town last night. I’ll bet you wouldn’t watch me that long. — L.V.Q.
Things did not go well for Bob’s family in Arkansas. After two major floods the crops were totally devastated and it was too late to even try to replant. Bob’s dad and his brothers had worked long and hard to make a crop. Now it was all for naught. Besides, Bob’s dad and grandfather had exhausted their financial wherewithal. They gambled their scant resources on the success of that one crop.252 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 253 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
Bob took the old Ford truck and went to Missouri to haul hay and work at a dairy. That didn’t last long. The old truck soon was in a state of disrepair. Bob did not have the money to repair it. In the meantime his parents relocated back to Oklahoma City and Bob soon rejoined them.
Bob enrolled at Classen High School as a junior and went out for football under Coach Leo Higbie. The following year Bob was a senior and a member of the Classen football team that won the State Championship when they defeated Tulsa Central. Some of Bob’s team mates were: Jim Hill, Gerald Lovell, Tom Balaney, Charles Shaw, Leroy Bergman, Woody Burkett, Jim Owens, George McKean, and Ronald Jackson.
The following was taken from an article in “The New Classen Life” published by the Classen High School Alumni Association, Inc., Vol. XX, No. 78, Spring Issue, p. 16. The article is entitled “Win, Place, or Show, Bob Davidson Loves his Horses,” by Kathryn Yowell Baker ’48:
During the years when Bob Davidson ’45 was about three to twelve years old, he spent the summers with his maternal grandparents on a large farm in western Garvin County at the foothills of The Table Mountains on Panther Creek. When he was just a young child, his grandparents let him ride horseback to the mailbox about half a mile from the house. It was at that time that he developed a love of horses which has led to his successful career as a breeder and racer of thoroughbreds.
Bob was born in Oklahoma City, the second of five children. He can best be remembered at Classen as a member of the football team which won the first official state championship in the fall of 1944. His brothers, Don ’50, and Sam ’53, also played football for the Comets.
Bob says that his most exciting and memorable moment at Classen was winning the football state championship. Higbie was his favorite teacher, and his favorite subjects were business math (taught by Higbie) and plane geometry. “I have used plane geometry all my life, in business and elsewhere,” he stressed.
Robert Joe Davidson – age 17
When Bob was not playing football he worked at the Union Bus Station at Grand and Walker Streets in Oklahoma City with his brother, Don. They checked baggage, prepared manifests, loaded and unloaded baggage on the buses.
Shortly after Bob graduated from Classen in the spring of 1945 he was drafted into the Army Air Corps (Serial No. 38781916). He served at Scott Field fifteen miles east of St. Louis and later at Langley Field near Hampton, Virginia. He was discharged October 23, 1946. He married Dorothy Jean White October 25, 1946 at the Olivet Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Dorothy was a young lady he knew and dated at Classen. William E. “Bill” and Ruth Landers attended the wedding.
Bob and Dorothy lived on North Independence Street a few blocks north of NW 23rd Street when Paula was born August 1950. They lived in southwest Oklahoma City when Steven was born November 1951.
In 1950 Bob was an insurance salesman and a member of the Salesmen’s Club in Oklahoma City. He enlisted his brother, Don, to participate in a patriotic Fourth of July extravaganza at Taft Stadium. The Salesmen’s Club provided volunteer performers. In 1951 Bob had his own television and electrical repair shop on North Classen Boulevard at about 19h Street. His brother, Bill, bought a television set from him. In 1952 Bob worked as a furniture salesman at the Big Red Warehouse on West Main Street in Oklahoma City. His brother, Don, and his wife, Pat, bought a red easy chair from him.
Summer of 1952 Dorothy took Paula and Steve to Bob’s mother to keep for the day. Dorothy never returned. When Bob arrived home from work that day all the furniture was gone. Only Bob’s and the children’s things remained. It was learned much later that Dorothy left with another man and went to California.
Bob and his two children, Paula and Steve, moved in with Bob’s parents at 3223 NW 11th Street. For the next several years they lived there. Bob divorced Dorothy in February 1953. He received custody of the two children. During the next few years, Bob worked at several jobs, primarily selling insurance. He was in and out of businesses with several people. Paula attended elementary school at Linwood. Bob was pretty much foot-loose and fancy-free
1 (Ruth is Bob’s mother’s first cousin.)during this time. He bought a yellow Ford convertible and later a speedboat and took up water skiing.
The summer of 1955 Bob and his brother, Sam, went to Brownsville, Texas, in the yellow convertible to visit their brother, Don, and his wife, Pat. They went to the beach on South Padre Island1 and visited Matamoros, Mexico, several times.
In June 1959 Bob wandered into Sears, Roebuck & Company to kill some time between appointments. As he wandered down one aisle, a nice looking young lady wearing a sign, “Miss Polaroid,” asked to take his picture. They talked about mutual interests and wound up going out for coffee. This led to dating, romance, and marriage. Bob called the former Bonnie Mae Craddock his “Mail-order bride from Sears & Roebuck.”
Bob and Bonnie were married 17 September 1959 at Wickline Methodist Church in Midwest City, Oklahoma. Bonnie had two children, Karen Ann Dodson and David Eldon Fleshman, by previous marriages. Bob and Bonnie bought a home at 700 East Towery in Midwest City. The children settled into school at Steed Elementary. Bob and Bonnie became active in the children’s school life, PTA, Cub Scouts, etc. Bob continued to sell insurance as an independent broker for Medley Insurance Company in Oklahoma City. Bonnie worked at Oklahoma City Mortgage and was a representative modeling for Polaroid Camera Company. Later she sold Sarah Coventry jewelry and was one of the early pioneers of “in home” sales for costume jewelry.
Steve and David joined the Cub Scouts and played organized YMCA baseball. Paula and Karen were active in the Bluebirds and Camp Fire Girls. The home on Towery Street had a large backyard and became the locale for the neighborhood baseball diamond.
Bob and Bonnie thought the best way to bond the children was to move to the country. In the spring of 1962 they began to look
1 (At the time South Padre Island was undeveloped and was open beach, except for a small state park at the southern most point of the island.)256 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 257 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
for a farm to purchase. Bob sold his insurance business and he and Bonnie went to an auction in Lubbock, Texas. They bought forty head of Black Angus cattle. They leased eighty acres on the edge of Forest Park near Oklahoma City and moved the cattle there. Bob went to work for Jones Truck Lines in Oklahoma City as office manager. They tended the cattle evenings and weekends.
In 1963 Bob and Bonnie bought a forty-acre farm five miles east of Guthrie, Oklahoma, and moved the children and cattle there. The house was very small for a family of two adults and four children. Steve recalled that he and David had bunk beds. They could sit on the edge of the bed against one wall and open their dresser drawers against the opposite wall.
Steve and David attended a small rural school through the sixth grade at Meridian, Oklahoma, six miles from the farm. It had an enrollment of eighteen pupils. Paula and Karen rode the bus to high school in Guthrie. The school at Meridian was very unlike Steed Elementary in Midwest City that had an enrollment of over three hundred pupils. One day Steve and David came to school with their skate boards and rode them around in the gym during recess. The Meridian boys had never seen skateboards. The next day they showed up with roller skates nailed to the bottom of short two by six boards.
Meridian was the center of community activities for the local rural families. Steve recalled the box supper auctions to raise money for community activities. Bidders would vie to pay two or three dollars for a box supper hopefully donated by a pretty girl that you could meet and share the contents. Since the boxes were unmarked Steve said he invariably ended up with a box made by a local farmer’s older wife.
At this point Bob learned that Bonnie had always wanted to own a horse. He came home from work one day, and she had bought a beautiful steel grey. Before long, every member of the family had their own horse. This was the beginning of their horse business. They became involved in such events as the Junior Rodeo and the annual 89ers Day Parade. The children became involved in Future Farmers of America. They raised calves to show at the county and state fairs. They had chickens, pigs, and Black Angus cattle.
Paula and Karen were responsible for cleaning out the chicken house and gathering eggs. Paula recalled that she had a Black Angus heifer. She named it Ellie Mae after the girl in the Beverly Hillbillies television program. She bottle fed the heifer, cared for her and showed her at the county fair. Paula’s Uncle Don went to the fair grounds to see the heifer. Paula became very upset when she learned that Ellie Mae had to be sold for slaughter or breeding.
In 1967 Bob and Bonnie moved into town in Guthrie. It was a large four thousand square feet two story house built in the tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright by the man that built the Masonic Temple in Guthrie. Bob continued to work at Jones Truck Line.
The spring of 1968 Paula and Karen graduated from Guthrie High School. That summer they moved out of the family house to live on their own.
In 1968 Bob and his brother, Sam, formed a partnership to build in ground swimming pools. Sam had already been in the business several years. The partnership lasted only a couple of years.
Early in 1969 Bob and Bonnie moved to a ten-acre place in Forest Park, a Township northeast of Oklahoma City. That July they had a big Fourth of July celebration and picnic for many of the family members at their house. Bob’s parents were there as were his brother, Don, and his wife, Pat, and son, Greg. Bob’s brother, Sam, and his wife, Rowena, and their two boys, Marc and Chuck, were also there. Steve and David were there as were Paula and Karen with their husbands. Bob’s sister, Ann, her husband, Fred, and their son, Bonny, had recently arrived from England and also attended.258 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 259 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
Steve graduated in 1970 from Midwest City High School and entered the U.S. Navy SeaBees that September.
In 1970 Bob and Sam went their separate ways in the pool building business. Each maintained their separate companies.
During this time Bob and Bonnie owned and operated a gift shop, “Black Gold,” at Crossroads Shopping Mall in southeast Oklahoma City.
Early in 1978 Bob and Bonnie sold their business interests and purchased a one hundred and twenty-six acre alfalfa farm near Chandler, Oklahoma. For a while they raised and raced quarter horses, but soon discovered that few quarter horse owners were making any money. Bob started raising thoroughbreds by trading three quarter horses for a thoroughbred. By the fall of 1979 he and Bonnie were having some success racing their thoroughbreds at Louisiana Downs and Delta Downs in Louisiana.
In 1980 they sold the Chandler farm and moved to Doyline, Louisiana ten miles east of Shreveport, home of Louisiana Downs. They purchased a hundred-acre tract of land and moved the horses from Chandler to Doyline. They continued their breeding program for thoroughbred horses and at one time had as many as fifty-two.
In 1982 the bottom fell out of the oil business and the collapse of Penn Square Bank greatly affected the horse industry. As a result Bob and Bonnie sold most of their horses at large losses and sold the farm at Doyline. They purchased a mobile home and moved it onto a large horse-training center near Benton, Louisiana. They managed the facility for the owner. They kept a few of their horses and began training horses for others.
In 1984 Bob and Bonnie moved to Lexington, Oklahoma, on a small parcel of land. They brought eight horses with them and began to rebuild their stable of thoroughbreds. Bonnie bought a small antique store in Lexington and Bob began to drive a cross-country eighteen-wheeler truck. Bonnie trained and took care of their horses as well as those for several other owners. After a while Bob quit driving a truck and joined her training the horses.
Later they moved to a mobile home near Spencer, Oklahoma, but kept their horses at Celestial Acres, a stable and training center in far south Oklahoma City west of Moore. In June 1990, Bob took four horses to the Woodlands, a new track in Kansas City, Kansas. He won only five races in the next three months but was on the board in thirty-eight of forty-four starts.
Shortly thereafter Bob began driving a city bus in Oklahoma City. In 1991 he and Bonnie purchased a house in southwest Oklahoma City. About this time Bonnie was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments she was pronounced cancer free and has remained so as of 2007.
In December 2005 Bob was in Houston at the Sam Houston Racetrack with several horses. About noontime December 6th he paid a surprise visit to the Gazebo Convalescent Center in Brenham, Texas, to visit his father who had a stroke two weeks earlier. Bob’s brother, Don, was there caring for their father who could not speak nor recognize anyone. Bob stayed a couple of hours and returned to Houston. The next day his father died. Bob came back to Brenham to attend the funeral on December 9th. Bob and Bonnie also attended the funeral in Oklahoma City.
In March 2006 Bob and his son, David, were in Houston with several horses racing them at Sam Houston Race Park. On the morning of March 2nd at the track Bob suddenly collapsed with a massive stroke. The EMS was called and they rushed him to Memorial Herman Memorial City Hospital. He was paralyzed on his right side unable to move his arm or leg. He was unable to speak or swallow. He had eye movement and seemed to recognize people. A few weeks later he was moved to a hospital in Oklahoma City and later to South Park Convalescent Care Center, 5912 South Ross, in Oklahoma City.260 William E. “Bill” Davidson Family 261 ROBERT JOE DAVIDSON
Bonnie sold their house in Oklahoma City and bought a double-wide house trailer in a trailer park in Tulsa to be near her daughter Karen. Her son, David, lives with Bonnie and helps train and run several thoroughbreds at Oklahoma tracks. In December 2006 Bonnie had Bob moved to a convalescent care center in Catoosa, Oklahoma, near Tulsa. He was there only a few months.
According to Equieline.com from 1982 to 2006 Bob and Bonnie participated in six hundred and ten Black Type Races. They had forty-four wins, fifty places (2nd), and sixty shows (3rd) with a total track earnings of $315,202.
Bob died June 24, 2007, at 5:03 p.m. at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Funeral services were held June 28, 2007, at Matthews Funeral Home Chapel in Edmond, Oklahoma, with Pastor Esten Leonard officiating. He was buried at Antioch Cemetery, Antioch, Garvin County, Oklahoma, with a military and flag ceremony for his service in the Army Air Corps during World War II. The Reverend Bruce McCray conducted the graveside ceremony.
Robert Joe (Bob) Davidson peacefully passed away June 24, 2007, at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK with family at his side after a lengthy illness. One of five children, Bob was born May 11, 1927 in Oklahoma City to parents, Bill and Pauline Davidson. He was married September 17, 1959 to Bonnie Fleshman. Prior to his death, Bob was a popular winning thoroughbred horse trainer in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and several other states. He is preceded in death by both parents and one great-grandson. He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, of nearly 48 years; children, Paula Lynch and Steve Davidson of Oklahoma City, Karen Williams and David Davidson of Tulsa, OK; 12 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; brothers Donald Davidson of Brenham, TX, Samuel Davidson of Norman, OK, William Davidson of Liberal, KS; and sister, Ann Melton of Flatonia, TX. He leaves behind countless friends and colleagues. The funeral will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at Matthews Funeral Home in Edmond, OK and followed by a burial at 3:30 p.m. at Antioch, OK. The family has requested donations to the Remington Park RTCA Chaplain’s Fund, in lieu of flowers. Services are under the direction of the Matthews Funeral Home, Edmond, OK.
BONNIE FLESCHMAN DAVIDSON
Karen Ann Williams
David Eldon Davidson
(Bonnie’s son, later adopted by Bob)