The Norman Transcript


January 7, 2006

Beloved lump Mount Williams will be coming down soon

The days of Mount Williams, the dirt knob along Interstate 35, are numbered. The commercial development on that corner is proceeding and the familiar mound will soon be gone.

The university plans to install a monument there honoring the thousands of sailors who passed through Norman. It will tell visitors the role the two Norman bases played in the training of sailors.

A grass fire near the hill last week brought lots of attention from I-35 motorists. The fire department snuffed it out quickly but not before some serious rubbernecking slowed down interstate traffic.

About once a week, the newsroom gets a call from someone claiming the bulldozers are lined up getting ready to reduce the Norman landmark to a pile of brown fill dirt placed in a farmer's ravine.

The hill served as a backstop for a Navy firing range and was a familiar landmark for pilots coming back to Max Westheimer field. The dirt reportedly came from dirt work on the nearby runways.

The Williams was an early day Naval base leader.

Time has taken its toll on the mound. It has survived more than 60 years of rain and wind, fraternity letters and high school dates. As a kid, we dug lead out of the hill. A friend recently celebrated the anniversary of his first date with a return to the mount. It was a little harder to climb 30 years after high school but they still did it.

Norman residents have shown their creative side with suggestions to me as to how it should be preserved.

One man wanted to mount replicas of the planes flown here atop tall steel spikes to remind I-35 motorists of the thousands of pilots who trained at Norman in the 1940s.

Another suggested the mound be re-shaped as a dinosaur to direct tourists to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Still another wanted to shape the hill like a gorilla, calling attention to the nearby "Mile of Cars."

As a child the mountain reminded me that we were home from car trips. We'd see the hill and know that our travels were soon over. Our parents would wake us up and point to the hill as a sign that our own familiar beds couldn't be far away.

Andy Rieger 366-3543

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Porch leap looked muchbigger as a kid

    It’s no secret that porch designs have changed over the years. Drive through new Norman developments and look at the porches. Most only have room for a potted plant and a spot to drop those UPS packages, no place for a porch swing or ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014