Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Doc Grisso "Road Builder"

As with the post called Doc Grisso "Land Dealer", I am quoting directly from The Grisso Family book.

     During the "oil-boom" era of Seminole, 1926-1930, money kept pouring in from the oil wells and Seminole mushroomed to a town of some size.  Oil camps were established in Earlsboro, Cromwell, Bowlegs, and all around Seminole;  some estimates put the number of people in the Seminole area at around 50,000.

     It does not take a lot of imagination to see what sort of disastrous results occurred to the old dirt roads in the area when such a large influx of people and vehicles came to Seminole.  Naturally most all of the citizens were concerned, but Doc Grisso was determined to do something to improve the conditions of the roads.  At the time he was the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Committee on Roads, and spent a considerable amount of time and money making trips to urge the State Highway Commission to help Seminole make improvements on the roads.

     On one such trip in November of 1927, he invited the highway commissioners to come to Seminole and have dinner as guests of the Chamber of Commerce.  It seems that there were misgiving about going to this rowdy boom-town, and Doc retorted with, "Hell, I eat in Seminole".  Finally they agreed to come, and on their trip from Oklahoma City it began to rain pitchforks at just the right time of day to catch the commissioners on just the right spot on the highway.  Congressman Carter said in his speech that he had never made a promise in his twenty years in politics, but that he was going to make one right now.  He said he was going to vote a billion dollars to repair a one half mile strip he knew between here and Seminole.

     During these years Doc prodded and pushed and politicked for the improvement of roads in Seminole County.  He had considerable influence in his county and was gaining a statewide reputation for being a booster of better roads.

     His efforts eventually provided State Highway 270 eligible for state and federal funds and the building of a new  highway from Ada to Seminole to Prague,  State highway 48, presently known as State Highway 99.

     Doc worked continually for building roads.  He spent a great amount of money promoting roads; some estimate the amount to be in excess of $100,000, and all of it came from his own pocket.  As Mrs. Grisso says, "No one will ever know just how much he really did spend on roads."

     In addition to being chairman of the State Highway 270 and State Highway 48 committees, Governor E.W. Marland appointed him to the Oklahoma High Commission in 1935 as chairman of the Commission.  This appointment was perhaps the most significant honor ever given to a man from Seminole at that time.  He had a philosophy by which he was guided on the commission, and that was to "build the roads where the traffic needed them" and to make roads" go someplace".  His impact on the highway was of great importance, and the State of Oklahoma owes to this man a debt of gratitude.

     The next post about Doc Grisso will be his role as a rancher and conservationist.


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