Day 5: Presidents, Politics, & History

On our final day, our travel day, we still got some sight-seeing in.  Although we had spent considerable time in Norman, we had focused our energies on the University of Oklahoma campus.  Today, we visited the downtown area, where we checked out some of the public art…

Norman_Sculpture_Web…which included more aviation themed work.

Plane_Sculpture_Norman+WebMost interesting, though, was the statue of James Garner, the star of Rockford Files and Maverick, who grew up in Norman, Oklahoma.

James Garner
                            James Garner

Another highlight was, strange as it sounds, was getting to see a train go by…

Train_Waving_Web

The real highlight of the day, however, was in Denison, Texas, where we visited the birth-home of Dwight Eisenhower.

Ike's Birthplace
                          Ike’s Birthplace

Eisenhower was born here in 1890, and he would be the last President to be born in the 19th century.    His father worked for the railroad, which passed by about thirty yards in front of the house.

The site is run by the Department of Texas Parks and Wildlife, and we had a knowledgeable tour guide to take us through the home.

Interior of Ike's Home
                     Interior of Ike’s Home

Our visit was made all the more appropriate with the arrival of Veterans Day.

Eisenhower Statue
                        Eisenhower Statue

The last day was also a day for reflecting on the trip and the different things we did.  Heading home, we canvassed the group for our favorite activities, which are presented below.

Favorite Restaurants:

1) Cattleman’s (OKC)
2) Greek House (Norman)
3) The Hideaway (Norman)

Honorable Mention: Coriander Cafe (Norman)

Gyros from Greek House
                Gyros from Greek House

Favorite Artifacts:
1) Abraham Lincoln (Cowboy Hall of Fame and OU Law School)
2) Land Run Monument (OKC)
3) Capitol Artwork (OKC)

Artwork in State Capitol
     Artwork in State Capitol

Favorite Destinations:
1) OU Campus, for OPSA and OU Law School
2) Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum
3) Segway Tour

OU Law Courtroom
                      OU Law Courtroom

Favorite Presentations:
1) Southern Politics, by Scott Buchanan
2) Public Opinion, Drug Use, and Depedence, Lauren Reinke
3) Affordable Health Care, Isaac Lutz

Professor Scott Buchanna
              Professor Scott Buchanan

We were very impressed with Oklahoma City, Norman, and the people we met on the trip.  We’d especially like to thank the organizers of the Oklahoma Political Science Association, who were very helpful to us.

Day 2: Dallas Historical Tour–Dulce Martinez and Tessa Fendley

The second day of our Dallas trip started early Saturday morning at the Southern Methodist University campus. SMU has one of the most beautiful campuses we have seen. The architecture is the first thing that captures your eye.  Dallas Hall, for example, is beautiful, and it was the first building on SMU’s campus (1915), designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge.

SHSU Students in Front of Dallas Hall
       SHSU Students in Front of Dallas Hall

Also impressive was the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, the location for our New Politics Forum Seminar.  Given Tower’s history serving Texas, it was a fitting venue for our conference on public careers.

John_Tower_Emblem_Web

We first attended a panel on State Policy Making, featuring Chancellor Lee Jackson, Representative Kenneth Sheets, and Representative Rafael Anchia. Chancellor Jackson Lee was formerly a member of the House of Representatives and is perhaps unusual in that he owns no social media accounts.  He emphasized the importance reliability and integrity.

Chancellor Lee Jackson
                Chancellor Lee Jackson

Representative Sheets fell into politics through his work in the military and volunteering for the Republican Party.  Unusual for a public official, he notes that he is horrible at remembering names. His tip for combating this is to always call someone “Ma’am” or “Sir.”

Representative Kenneth Shields
          Representative Kenneth Sheets

Representative Anchia, a first generation American, was the speaker who stood out the most to us.  He emphasized that politics and public service are separate, and that the former should never get in the way of the latter.  He was also spent the most time with students from SHSU, appearing impressed with the school’s LEAP program.

Representative Rafael Anchia with SHSU Students
    Rep. Rafael Anchia with SHSU Students

Our second session featured the keynote speaker, Senator Royce West. He is a fine speaker, and he interacted well with the audience.

TX Senator Royce West
                 TX Senator Royce West

He emphasized integrity as well as the importance of bipartisanship.  He applied these qualities to his own career, and noted that he was able to save his own legislative agenda by “listening and working with people.”  He also graciously stayed after with us, and encouraged us to continue getting the most out of our education.

SHSU Students with TX Senator West
       SHSU Students with TX Senator West

The last panel of the day addressed the Media and was led by Carol Reed, of Reed PRC, and Gromer Jeffers, from the Dallas Morning News.  Both, again, pressed issues of integrity and, members of the media, stressed credibility.

Following the event, we moved to Bandito’s Mexican Cantina for food and conversation.  We met Casey Bingham, who works for Greg Abbott and is a member of the Young Republicans of Dallas.

Casey Bingham and Dulce Martinez
       Casey Bingham and Dulce Martinez

We also met a student from UNT, who told us about a program the University offers focusing on non-profit economics.

We dined at Eatzi’s, a build-your-own meal place, that combines elements of a grocery story and a sit-down cafe. Here we enjoyed a wonderful array of foods. One of the must haves is the spicy spaghetti, with freshly prepared pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. If comfort food is your thing, the combination of the lemon chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes is the ideal combination. If you are adventurous, the sweet curry chicken offers a unique blend of ingredients and texture. For dessert, we visited a small gelato ship, and I Had the “Monkey Business” gelato, which was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had, offering banana, cinnamon, vanilla, and—as a surprise—chocolate.

With some energy restored, we headed to Dallas City Hall, which was designed I. M. Pei, probably the most celebrated living architect.  It was a beautiful and peaceful scene.

Dallas City Hall by I.M. Pei
               Dallas City Hall by I.M. Pei

From there, we checked out Pioneer Plaza, which was created by Robert Summers, a Texas artist.  It is the largest bronze sculpture in the world and makes for a dramatic scene in downtown Dallas.

Pioneer Plaza
                Pioneer Plaza

It was the perfect way to end the day!