Shortgrass Presentation Hits Close to Home in Bartlesville

John with Bartlesville Area History Museum Coordinator Jo Crabtree and his wife Grace.

John's brand new multi-media presentation about his recently-released Oklahoma-based historical novel Shortgrass held a strong local connection for a robust July 13th Bartlesville Area History Museum ( crowd. The event took place amidst the World War 2-flavored setting of the museum's U.S.S. Oklahoma exhibit. That famed battleship went down with guns blazing in the historic 1941 Japanese attack on America's Pacific Naval fleet, which catapulted the nation into World War 2.

K. S. "Boots" Adams, longtime Phillips Petroleum President, CEO, and Chairman, as painted by his good friend, President Dwight Eisenhower. Photo by Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reporter Nathan Thompson (

Shortgrass chronicles the Dust Bowl and World War 2 adventures of fictional Oklahoma farm boy, devout Mennonite, OU football star, and aviation sensation Lance Roark. John's presentation centered around the people, events, and themes of the book, which include real historic figures such as Charles Lindbergh, Franklin Roosevelt, Will Rogers, and Ponca City native Waddy Young. It revealed how Bartlesville-founded Phillips Petroleum and its longtime President K. S. "Boots" Adams played a crucial role in the Allies' victory over the Axis Powers in history's greatest conflict. John explained to the audience how the rampaging Japanese had cut off the United States' southeast Asia supply of rubber, crucial to military victory. Adams-led Phillips spearheaded an audacious national program of quality synthetic rubber development that filled the void.

John with Bartlesville rancher and civic leader Steve Adams (son of Boots Adams) and longtime Bartlesville City Manager Ed Gordon. President Eisenhower's original painting of Boots now hangs in Steve's home.

"Another key to winning the war," John explained, "was perfecting the HF Alkylation process, which enabled the production of high-octane aviation fuel. This boosted the power of American aircraft such as the incomparable P-51 Mustang fighter plane, and helped provide them with a precious winning edge over their determined and battle-hardened foes."

John with Bartlesville Area History Museum history camp teacher Kay Little.

So pivotal were Phillips' contributions that Boots Adams and future President Dwight Eisenhower, Allied Commander-in-Chief in the European Theater, became close friends. Close enough, in fact, that "Ike" not only attended and spoke at the massive sixty-sixth birthday party the town of Bartlesville threw for Adams in 1965, he presented the Phillips chieftain a painting of the Oklahoma oilman done by Eisenhower. In John's recent audience were Steve and Kenneth Adams, two of Boots' sons. Ike's painting now resides in their sister Stephanie Walthall’s home.

American aviation legend Charles Lindbergh, one of the main characters in John's new historical novel Shortgrass.

Both Mustang, the blazing World War 2 aviation epic and sequel to Shortgrass that releases next Memorial Day, and Vol. 2 of The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People will spotlight the key wartime role of Adams and Phillips. Vol. 1 of The Oklahomans was just named winner of a prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western non-fiction. It and Shortgrass can be purchased at the Bartlesville Area History Museum, as well as at Barnes & Noble and other book stores and online at John's Amazon author page.

Phillips Petroleum's original orange and black sign, in use during World War 2.

City Sentinel newspaper publisher and Oklahoma journalism hall of fame Patrick B. McGuigan writes that "John J. Dwyer's Shortgrass is great writing and compelling story-telling. It resonates with power and drama and engages the heart."

Kay Little and other Bartlesville Area History Museum folks conduct a summer history camp in the museum's one-room "schoolroom."

Museum coordinator Jo Crabtree had the Bartlesville history hub firing on all cylinders the day John and wife Grace came. A youth history camp followed the Shortgrass program in the museum's one-room "schoolhouse," with Jo and other museum staff serving as teachers.

U.S.S. Oklahoma - Roomsize photo at the Bartlesville Area History Museum of the famed U.S.S. Oklahoma battleship, sunk by the Japanese in their Dec. 7, 1941 attack on America's Pacific naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


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