Don’s last year at OU was hectic. He was working nights at Peppers, commuting to Norman during the days for his accounting classes, and spending what little time that was left to study.
Don enjoyed the other guys he worked with at the plant. There was Charley Kopp, Tom Pierce, Bill Beebe and Bud Bickford. They did their best to make a dangerous, boring job bearable. They all teased Beebe about breaking glassware in the lab. It seemed that no matter how careful he was he’d drop a flask or pipette or something, and of course everything he broke came out of his pay check at the end of the month. Finally one day he got so disgusted with himself that he threw a monkey wrench on the floor. He didn’t break anything else that day, so the next day, first thing, he dropped the wrench again. Nothing was broken that day either, so it became a ritual. The first thing Beebe did each day was drop that wrench. He never broke another piece of glassware.
Bud Bickford was from Oklahoma City and he lived with his parents. Bud’s folks were having a hard time, and Bud helped them as much as he could. After he got acquainted with Don, he invited him to share his room. It was a good deal for both of them. Bud made a little rent money for his parents and Don got a cheap room.
Don and Bud became good friends. Bud had a degree in chemical engineering from OU, and he was the chemist at Peppers’ lab. He was smart and dissatisfied with his job at Peppers though, as was Don after he had worked there for a while. They spent their spare time trying to think of ways to get away from Peppers and make it big. One of their ideas came when they learned that oil had been found on the island of Aruba. They dreamed of buying a little land there and lying out on the beach while the oil flowed in. It’s just as well that they didn’t though. After the start of WWII Aruba was taken over by the Germans, who were also interested in the oil there.
Bud had gone to high school in Oklahoma City, and he got together regularly with his classmates. Naturally he took Don along with him. One of the girls in Bud’s high school class was Jeannette Moore, whose mother had been my uncle Haskell’s secretary at the state capital. My mother Wenonah had become friends with Jeannette, so she met Don and Bud during one of their visits with Jeannette.
Wenonah had taken an education class at OU, and some of the OU football players were in it. They were rude and arrogant and definitely made a bad impression on her. It wasn’t long before Don found out what she thought of athletes - my mother was never shy about expressing her opinions, so he didn’t tell her that he had played basketball at OU.
Peppers had a softball team and Don soon became their star player and coach. Wenonah told me once about going to one of his games. She said that it was as though she were watching a different person. Instead of the mild mannered, shy person she knew, he was aggressive, running around shouting instructions to the other players. He seemed to be making most of the scores too.
I have a team photo of Don with Peppers’ soft ball team. It has always made me laugh. You can see patches of sweat on some of the other players’ tee shirts, but Don’s shirt is totally saturated.
Peppers' Softball Team, League Champs, 1939