Published in the Claremore Daily Progress in August 18, 2007 by Larry Larkin.
For someone having a question concerning Will Rogers, the best place to seek an answer would be making a visit to Claremore’s Will Rogers Memorial. Need to know something about a certain pistol or rifle or any other type of a firearm, check out the J. M. Davis Museum. A trip to the Lynn Riggs Museum will reveal information about the author of “Green Grow the Lilacs” from where the stage play “Oklahoma!” later developed. On the campus at Rogers State University a museum has been established to honor its forerunner, Oklahoma Military Academy.
But what about Claremore history? Check with Judy Eagleton. Currently, a museum for Claremore’s long and colorful past does not exist. When the day arrives to create one, this lady could probably fill the entire building with her personal collection of Claremore memorabilia. Albums of post cards, matchbook covers, and letterheads are joined by more albums with countless photos of early city businesses and city streets. Another book contains pictures of former city policemen, sheriff’s deputies, and firemen.
Small medicine bottles are joined by larger clay jugs that were once used in Indian Territory pharmacies and to transport radium water from Claremore’s many bathhouses. Rodeo programs and election handbills are included with numerous newspaper articles. Glass plates and sterling silver spoons rest among items like an old Collins Drug Store metal sign or a wire clothes basket from the first municipal swimming pool.
Her favorite piece of memorabilia may be a plate with the likeness of Sequoyah, the famed Cherokee Indian. It was made before statehood. The words ‘Claremore, Indian Territory’ appear underneath the drawing. The oldest collection item may be an 1897-dated silver spoon.
Remember Claremore’s opera house? What about the town’s athletic club? A dirt main street? Judy has pictures of each. The list can go on and on, but each item in her collection has one common link. Each and every piece reveals a portion of Claremore’s past. “I don’t really know when I first started collecting these things,” she recently said, “but I love Claremore. I have lived here all my life with the exception of about two years. My husband’s work caused us to move twice, but each time we came back here.”
Today, the soft-speaking lady enjoys sharing her collection with others. “When I am invited to speak at various gatherings, I always tell the listeners my program is entitled ‘Growing Up on Main Street’,” she remarked.