ELLIS WALKER WOODS was the first Principal of North Tulsa's historic Booker T. Washington High School. Woods helped build not only the prosperous community, but, also, with his staff, worked from 1915 to 1948 establishing institutions revered across the United States, toda. HBCU Athletics may top the list. JOHN CLAYBON, a 1945 BTW grad gives the first talk at the memorial, the monument to Ellis Walker Woods that sits on a hill on the campus of OSU-Tulsa.
Flying with the Tuskegee Airmen was John Claybon's goal after graduating in 1945 from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was the tail end of World War II and you get the feeling, older and wiser, Claybon's parents, John I. and Amanda Claybon understood things were heating up. They talked their son out of getting into an airplane for combat, but, he made the trip to Alabama and worked backup for the, then fledgling, now legendary air corps while completing his engineering degree at Tuskegee University.
On his return to North Tulsa, safe and sound just as his parents planned, Claybon opened his own company, CLAYBON ELECTRIC, which he operated for 39 years. Today the company is owned by his son, JOHN ERIC CLAYBON (pictured above/right, with his father).
These talks with Mr. Claybon were not interviews, but, recorded as information about Ellis Walker Woods to be used later in print. Mr. Claybon and his son agreed to share these videos for the first talk in this series. No one could have been more appropriate.
Ellis Walker Woods was Mr. Claybon's high school Principal. In the two videos above you'll hear probably more about Mr. Woods than most of us would be able to tell about our schools' Principal. There's more about the legendary S.E. WILLIAMS, about the school, about the Tuskegee Airmen and about Mr. Claybon's volunteer work, today...of course, where else, at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium. Click on the links below to two earlier talks he made about his work with the Tuskegee Airmen. Click here to visit tuskegeeairmen.org
While we talked, a mother and daughter from Florida got to see Claybon's dad on the memorial. They had driven over, during a break in a softball tournament in the Oklahoma City area, to see Historic Greenwood.
"My mother was from Arkansas and my dad was from Kentucky, " Claybon told us in a later interview. "They were very encouraging."
"My dad," he said, "had a master's degree in Education from Kansas and my mom...was an RN, Registered Nurse."
JOHN I. CLAYBON taught English at North Tulsa's historic CARVER, now Middle School.
AMANDA CLAYBON worked at ST JOHN'S HOSPITAL in Tulsa.
Claybon's parents were teenagers in North Tulsa on the night its GREENWOOD DISTRICT was bombed and destroyed. They were 1921 graduates of Booker T. Washington High School.
I didn't think to ask if Claybon thought his parents' experiences in 1921 and the following years impacted their decision forbidding him from flying in a war.
I did ask if they talked about the day..."They never said a word."
John Claybon and John Eric Claybon talked to Roberta Clardy, Chief Designer of the ELLIS WALKER WOODS MEMORIAL