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While living in Oklahoma City during his grade school days, Sam P. Daniel was a neighbor of federal judge Alfred P. Murrah. Sam’s parents traveled frequently, so he spent many nights at the Murrah home. Sam loved the judge like a father and decided at an early age to follow in his footsteps. It was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that was the target of the Oklahoma City bomber on April 19, 1995.

Sam earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. An Augustinian priest at Cascia Hall in Tulsa suggested Sam needed to grow up a bit and that he would need a Jesuit education at Georgetown. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1959 and eventually joined the Doerner Saunders Daniel & Anderson law firm in Tulsa. He now has more than 50 years of experience in matters of oil & gas law, family law and general civil litigation.

Sam has been a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1981, which is by selection. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 1983 and was president of the Tulsa County Bar Association.

He has enjoyed fly-fishing and bird hunting for many years. His collection of 37 species of North American migratory waterfowl, each one hunted by Sam, is now on display at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve near Bartlesville.

Sam has also been honored as the 24th recipient of the Nature Works Wildlife Stewardship Award.

Full Interview Transcript

Chapter 1 – 1:20 Introduction

Announcer: While living in Oklahoma City during his grade school days, Sam P. Daniel was a neighbor of federal judge Alfred P. Murrah. Sam’s parents traveled frequently, so he spent many nights at the Murrah home. Sam loved the judge like a father and decided at an early age to follow in his footsteps. It was the Alfred P Murrah federal building that was the target of the Oklahoma City bomber, April 19, 1995.

Sam earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. An Augustinian priest at Cascia Hall in Tulsa suggested Sam needed to grow up a bit and that he would need a Jesuit education at Georgetown. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma school of law in 1959 and soon joined the Doerner Saunders Daniel & Anderson law firm in Tulsa. He now has more than 50 years of experience in matters of oil & gas law, family law, and general civil litigation.

He has enjoyed fly-fishing and bird hunting for many years. His collection of 37 species of North American migratory waterfowl, each one hunted by Sam, is now on display at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve near Bartlesville.

And now you will hear Sam tell you stories about how he participated in President Eisenhower’s inaugural parade, how he met then Senator John Kennedy and of course hunting stories…on the oral history website

Chapter 2 – 7:50 The Daniel Family

John Erling: My name is John Erling. Today’s date is January 18th, 2016. Sam, state your full name, please.

Sam P. Daniel

Inspired by his childhood neighbor, Alfred P. Murrah, Sam has more than 50 years of experience practicing law.

Sam Daniel: Sam P. Daniel.

JE: P stands for what?

SD: Phillips.

JE: Were you named after someone?

SD: Yes, I was named after my father, who is named after Samuel Phillips who is the first Dean of the North Carolina University College of Law and was Solicitor General of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant. So, that’s my name so P stands for Phillips.

JE: So, Samuel Phillips would have been your…?

SD: Great grandfather.

JE: Great grandfather and he practiced law and…?

SD: That’s right. And was the dean at the North Carolina College of Law.

JE: The pressure was on you, I guess to stay in law then with that kind of lineage, right?

SD: Well I never really thought about it. I always wanted to be a lawyer.

JE: Your date of birth?

SD: 12/20/1932.

JE: December 20th, 1932. That would make you how old today?

SD: Eighty-four.

JE: Since that was dustbowl depression days, did they talk about when you were born, what it was like back then?

SD: Not really. I was born at home. I know that.

JE: Right. You were born at home and where were you born?

SD: 16th in Carson. JE: Here in Tulsa? SD: In Tulsa.

JE: 16th in Carson.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: There was one hospital here perhaps?

SD: I don’t know. St John’s was here. I don’t know whether Hillcrest was here then. It was called Morningside Hospital when it got started.

JE: A lot of people were born at home at that time?

SD: Yes, they were.

JE: And where are we recording this interview right now?

SD: We’re at this corner of 2nd and Boulder in downtown Tulsa. We’re in the Williams Tower II.

JE: Here in your law firm?

SD: Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson.

JE: You mentioned your great grandfather whose name was Samuel Field Phillips. Let’s go to your grandparents, like your grandfather.

SD: My grandfather on my father’s side was RT Daniel. Richard Tevia Daniel.

JE: What did he do?

SD: He was a real estate developer.

JE: Was he a builder?

SD: He built the Tulsa Hotel and the Daniel Building.

JE: Where were they located?

SD: Tulsa Hotel is located at 3rd & Cincinnati. And the Daniel building was located at 3rd & Boston. It was the first 10-story office building in Oklahoma.

JE: Do you have any remembrance of those buildings?

SD: Oh yes, very much so.

JE: Family…you would go there and the hotel?

SD: I went to my high school prom in the Tulsa Hotel.

JE: Built by your grandfather?

SD: Yeah. The movie Tulsa was made principally inside the Tulsa Hotel with Susan Hayward and Preston Foster?

JE: Yes. You don’t recall being around when the movie was made or being…standing outside or anything like that?

SD: No.

JE: And, of course, both those buildings are gone today. Your mother’s name?

SD: Mary Rumley.

JE: Where was she born and raised? SD: She was born and raised in Tulsa. JE: What did she do?

SD: She was what the Tulsa world used to call a club woman.

JE: Oh, really? What did that mean?

SD: Just a society girl. She didn’t work for a living.

JE: What was her personality like?

SD: She was charming and beautiful. I remember her well. I was her only child.

JE: Your father’s name?

SD: Sam P. Daniel. I was junior until he died.

JE: Where did he grow up?

SD: He grew up in Miami, Florida and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

JE: What was he like?

SD: My main memory of him was he was a disciplinarian in our household. Mother never hit me [laughs] but my father spanked me on a regular basis, which was okay.

JE: Back then a lot of that kind of discipline and punishment was accepted, wasn’t it?

SD: Oh, very acceptable. The teachers could spank you.

JE: Did he use a belt?

SD: He did. And mother used switches, which she stacked in the corner and all she had to do is look at them. She never had to use them.

JE: Do you think you were an ornery young boy?

SD: Well, I was active. You’d have to ask my mother that question because she’s the one that really raised me.

JE: You’ve talked about alcoholism and your parents.

SD: Yes, my parents were both alcoholics.

JE: Did that come on as you grew up? When did you sense that something wasn’t right?

SD: Oh, when I was probably in the first or second grade.

JE: And what did you notice?

SD: Well, I noticed mother would lose control of her physical presence. She would fall down a lot and she and my dad would argue a lot. It was not a Partridge family environment at my house.

JE: Again, how old were you when you noticed all that?

SD: First grade. I guess I was six or seven.

JE: So, you lived with that? Were you with her in public or your father and you would be embarrassed by the way they acted?

SD: I was very embarrassed by the way my mother acted, because my father acted like so many other men in Tulsa. He’d just get drunk and I never paid much attention to it, but back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a woman who was drunk was totally unacceptable. I was terribly embarrassed by my mother and very solicitous of her when she was inebriated.

JE: Were there school functions that she would go to because you were there?

SD: No, not school functions so much, but other social events.

JE: What effect do you think that it had on you as a young boy?

SD: I really don’t know except that it allowed me to be very independent, because my parents were drunk all the time and I got away with murder [chuckles]. To coin a phrase.

JE: Right. Did you try to stay away from the house, go to other kid’s houses?

SD: I tried to stay away from Mother and Dad. It upset me very much.

JE: You think some of the punishment from your father was because he was drunk and that added to it?

SD: It had to do with the severity of the punishment, not just the punishment. I probably deserved the punishment.

JE: How long did your dad live? How old was he when he died?

SD: He was 81 when he died.

JE: Did he remain an alcoholic till his death?

SD: Yes.

JE: That’s pretty remarkable that he lived that long.

SD: Yes, it is. And alcohol didn’t get him, lung cancer got him.

JE: Huh? Your mother, how old was she when she died? SD: She was very young? 51. She died from an accident. JE: Did alcohol contribute to that?

SD: Yes, it did.

JE: What was the accident?

SD: She was dressed in a World War II night gown, which was inflammable. They took them all off the market eventually. And she had the DTs—the delirium tremens—was shaking and caught her sleeve of this nightgown she had on on the gas stove in our house and she went up in flames.

JE: You were at home?

SD: I was living in Tulsa at the time, married with two children. She called me and said, “Sammy, I’ve had an accident. Would you please come over?” And so, I got my car and I drove over. She opened the door and this nightgown had just melted black all over her body. I picked her up in my arms, put her in my car and took her Hillcrest burn center. And uh, she died about four days later.

JE: Wow. Can’t imagine all the emotions that went through your mind.

SD: Oh yeah. I loved my mother dearly. And I was very protective of her.

JE: And then to die at so young an age. Certainly, you had a certain attitude or prejudice against alcohol because of your parents?

SD: Yes.

JE: I don’t know what it did to you. You could drink socially and obviously you didn’t have an alcohol problem.

SD: Right.

JE: Maybe you were sensitive to those who you heard about who were alcoholics, and families, and know what it can do. Yet you didn’t let this disrupt your life. You were able to move on.

SD: Yes.

Chapter 3 – 9:30 Alfred P. Murrah

John Erling: You lived in Tulsa for some time, but you lived in Oklahoma City?

Sam Daniel: I was living there when Pearl Harbor was bombed. As a matter of fact, I remember listening to the radio driving home from church when Roosevelt came over the radio and

said that we’ve been attacked by the Japanese on Sunday, December 7. I’ll never forget that. In 1941, I was nine years old.

JE: Do you remember the adults and any fears or what everybody talked about then after that?

SD: People talked about the bombing and the surprise attack and the fact that there were Japanese ambassador in the President’s offices when it happened. The Japanese were trying to figure out a way to dance around the United States embargoes and they were attempting to negotiate the possibilities of hostility at the time the Japanese attacked.

JE: Did anybody in your family join the war effort?

SD: No. My father built some houses in East Tulsa for the bomber plant personnel to live.

Douglas was the bomber plant at the airport in Tulsa and he built FHA housing for workers who worked at the bomber plant and as a result, he received a deferment and didn’t have to go to war.

JE: The building your father built, he would be considered wealthy at that time, wouldn’t he?

SD: I think he was.

JE: Why did you move to Oklahoma City?

SD: My mother’s brother, Edgar Romley, was in the oil business and he convinced Dad to move Mother and me and him to Oklahoma City to get in the oil business with Uncle Edgar.

JE: And that didn’t work out?

SD: That didn’t work out.

JE: But while you were there, you stayed in the home of a very famous name, Attorney…

SD: A.P. Murrah, after whom the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was named.

JE: Alfred P. Murrah.

SD: Alfred P. Murrah.

JE: And you stayed at his home? Did he live nearby or what?

SD: He lived about three houses down from us. Mother and Dad traveled a lot and I spent probably two nights a week in his home.

JE: Did he have children?

SD: He had two daughters and a son. His son was my best friend, Paul. Paul’s gone now.

JE: Talk about Mr. Murrah. What kind of person was he?

SD: He was the sweetest man I have ever known. Gentle, kind, serious. He was the youngest United States District Judge appointed when he was appointed to federal judge. He was in his early 30s. He was a graduate at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, had a reputation for being an excellent jurist, and he ended up as Chief Justice of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals headquartered in Denver.

JE: And then as you’ve alluded to, it was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which was the target of the Oklahoma City bombing…

SD: That’s correct.

JE: …at April 19, 1995, which killed 168 people, 19 of whom were children under the age of six. Alfred Murrah’s person and his profession, did that have an influence on your early life?

SD: Yes. I wanted to be a lawyer like Judge Murrah. And I told my 2nd grade teacher I wanted to be a lawyer when she was asking all the people in the class what they wanted to do. I remember her name. Her name is Mrs. Pope. She asked the same question you asked me. Why did I want to be a lawyer? And I said because I wanted to be like Judge Murrah. I loved that man.

JE: About the April 19th, 1995 bombing, how did you hear about it? And what were your feelings knowing that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building had been targeted?

SD: Well, I was shocked.

JE: Did you go over there and see?

SD: No, I didn’t. I had seen Judge Murrah periodically over the years on a fairly regular basis.

When I went to Oklahoma City, I always visited him in the Federal Building.

JE: When he died—his funeral—were you able to attend?

SD: No, I was not able to attend. As a matter of fact, I recall I had a court appearance that day.

JE: So you lived in Oklahoma City until…

SD: 1942. We moved to Miami, Florida in 1942. Early ‘42.

JE: And why to Miami?

SD: Because my grandfather on my father’s side, R.T. Daniel, had had a stroke and was living in a two-story hotel upstairs in downtown Miami with full-time help. He’d had a serious stroke. He couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk. He was about 84 years old. We moved down there for Mother and Dad to take care of him.

JE: How long did you stay in Miami?

SD: A couple of years.

JE: Then, you decided to come back to Tulsa?

SD: I didn’t decide. Mother and Dad decided.

JE: Right. What elementary school did you attend then, when you came back?

SD: I went to Elliot for a year and then went to Lee school until I graduated from grade school.

JE: Then, you went on to junior high?

SD: Junior high at Cascia Hall and high school at Cascia Hall.

JE: And high school as well? Why did you attend the Catholic schools?

SD: Cascia Hall was an excellent prep school. My mother had a number of Catholic friends. She became familiar with Cascia Hall and she wanted me to go there. I didn’t care one way or the other.

JE: Because you weren’t Catholic?

SD: No, I was a Methodist.

JE: Methodist? Okay. You graduated from Cascia Hall High School in what year?

SD: 1950.

JE: So a little bit about that experience, were you a good student, an active student?

SD: I was an active student. I was not the top student in my class at all, but I made good grades.

JE: Do you recall the music, the dances, where you hung out when you were a high school student back then?

SD: The Quaker Drug Store. That was the place where all the kids went. It had a jukebox. You could sit at the counter. He had chocolate ice cream, sodas, and malts, and dance at the end of the room. Remember that song, Put Another Nickel In in the Nickelodeon?

JE: Right.

SD: And that was what we did. Except during football season. Then, I was at football practice every afternoon.

JE: The name of the drugstore was, again?

SD: Quaker Drug Store.

JE: Quaker, and where was it located?

SD: At 18th in Boston, where the Spirit Bank is today.

JE: Okay. And that was a big hangout for kids?

SD: That was the hangout.

JE: I don’t know if you drove cars in. Were you driving up and down Main Street or anything in downtown Tulsa?

SD: I didn’t have a car. Our family had three cars and I got to drive one of them occasionally. I didn’t have a car until I went off to college.

JE: You had three cars?

SD: Three cars.

JE: You remember what they were?

SD: A Buick, a Cadillac, and a Buick.

JE: That’s pretty fine driving. As you were in high school and graduated in 1950, did you hear anything then about the 1921 race riot?

SD: I’d never heard of the 1921 race riot.

JE: When do you think you heard about it?

SD: I would say I was probably in my 30s before I heard about the 1921 race riot.

JE: Aren’t you amazed at that?

SD: Yes, I am amazed. But nobody ever talked about it.

JE: They certainly didn’t teach it in school. You went to OU, you didn’t hear it there…

SD: No.

JE: …and then it had to be a shock?

SD: It was a shock.

JE: When you were at Cascia Hall? Where were you living? What was your address?

SD: 1825 Forest Boulevard.

JE: In that area there, you wouldn’t see Blacks?

SD: No.

JE: Did you ever encounter Blacks anywhere?

SD: Yes. My parents always had a Black couple working at the house, husband and wife.

JE: So you respected them and…

SD: Absolutely.

JE: …it was probably good for you to have that interaction?

SD: They were my friends.

JE: And with the alcoholism going on, they were particularly your friends?

SD: Well, you know, they were a couple of drunks too, most of them. [laughter]

SD: Everybody around me was.

JE: And you were the only one who was sane and sober?

SD: Well, when I was just a kid, you couldn’t buy any alcohol. You had to steal your father’s liquor he bought from a bootlegger. Until September of ‘59, when Oklahoma went wet. September 1, 1959.

JE: Speaking of bootlegger, wasn’t it true about Alfred Murrah that he was a bootlegger for the law school?

SD: That’s why his nickname was Fish.

JE: Explain all that.

SD: His-his nickname was Fish Murrah and they all called him Fish because, you know, you drank like a fish. You’ve heard that expression. I don’t know whether he drank or not, but he was a bootlegger at the University of Oklahoma Law School.

JE: Paid his way through college probably doing it there.

SD: I don’t know how he got his way through college.

JE: Can you name some of your buddies back then that you may even recall today?

SD: A lot of them are gone, of course.

JE: Right.

SD: But several of them are still living. We have about 10 people in our graduating class that are still alive.

JE: Do you remember some of their names?

SD: Oh, yeah. Dick Mueller. Great friend of mine, played and on the football team.

JE: What did you play in the foot…?

SD: Guard. And Clyde Graber and until recently, Vincent Kelly, a dentist, local dentist, who’s gone now. Sonny Wilcox, he’s gone now. I’m trying to think of the ones that are still alive.

JE: So do you have a reunion?

SD: We’d go to the Cascia Hall reunions. There were at least five or six of us. Vern Vickers of the Vickers family from Wichita, John O’Laughlin from Wichita, Kansas, Tommy Holland. I remember all those guys. It was a small school.

JE: And it sounds like they went on to be very successful people?

SD: They did.

Chapter 4 – 4:00 Eisenhower Inaugural Parade

John Erling: After high school, did you go immediately to college?

Sam Daniel: Yes.

JE: And where did you go?

SD: I went to Georgetown University.

JE: Why Georgetown?

SD: Because there was a priest at Casia Hall by the name of Henry Spielman, that told me that I needed to go to a Jesuit college because I wasn’t grown up yet.

JE: [laughs]

SD: So I went to Georgetown. I’d never been to Washington DC and I had never seen the school. Mother made the decision where I was going to go to college. And that was that.

JE: Money was not an issue for your family…

SD: No, it wasn’t.

JE: …and they could pay your way there?

SD: That’s correct.

JE: Was that a good experience for you?

SD: It’s a wonderful experience I loved it. Harry Truman was President of the United States when I went to college.

JE: Okay.

SD: My first year.

JE: All right.

SD: When the Puerto Ricans tried to kill him in Blair House.

JE: You graduated in 1950.

SD: Yeah, it would’ve been the fall of 1950.

JE: What was your degree at Georgetown?

SD: Economics. A bachelor’s degree in economics.

JE: Were you still wanting to be a lawyer as you’d gone…

SD: Yes.

JE: …and why did you choose economics?

SD: I can’t remember. I was impressed with the faculty members in the Economics Department and I was encouraged to major in economics at Georgetown in those days. Everybody graduated with a degree in philosophy. So that was my minor, philosophy.

JE: Did you enjoy philosophy?

SD: I loved it.

JE: You were there at Georgetown when President Eisenhower was inaugurated.

SD: That’s right I marched in Ike’s inaugural parade in 1953.

JE: He was sworn in January 20th, 1953 and you marched in the inaugural parade?

SD: That’s correct.

JE: How did that come about?

SD: I was fortunate enough to be the Cadet commander of the Air Force ROTC unit at Georgetown and the army officer that was in charge of the army contingent of the ROTC and the professor of Air Science and Tactics who was in charge of Air Force ROTC, decided that I ought to lead the ROTC contingent from Georgetown and Ike’s inaugural parade and I did.

JE: What a great honor, huh?

SD: It was a privilege. We assembled in southeast Washington DC, which is a very poor part of Washington and there were bars on both sides of the street. My big problem with leading our contingent was to keep the guys out of the bars and keep them sober before we started to march.

JE: [chuckles]

SD: But we did, and we did a good job.

JE: And, of course, Eisenhower was such a popular figure, having been a general and all the country was really happy about him being a president

SD: Oh, very happy about him. He was a war hero, you know, he won the war in Europe anyway. MacArthur would quarrel about that.

JE: Right? General MacArthur. Also, didn’t you and a friend take the presidential seal?

SD: Yes, it was wood. It was painted then it was up against the part of the Capitol and it was just hanging on a wire right below where the president would take the oath of office. We can see the notion that we wanted to get that seal. So, somebody had a pickup truck and somebody had a ladder, and after the inauguration, it was still hanging on the wall. So we drove up, put the ladder on the side of the wall and took it.

JE: It was this in the dark of night?

SD: No, it was in broad daylight and nobody gave a damn.

JE: Probably, they thought you were just workers taking it down?

SD: Yeah, probably.

JE: So what did you do with the seal?

SD: My roommate still has it hanging over his fireplace in Connecticut. We flipped to see who would get it and he got it.

JE: Wow. What’s his name?

SD: Ted Donovan.

JE: And he— [chuckles]

SD: He’s an Irish Catholic.

JE: That’s the great story behind that. You guys thought you were [laughs] something, didn’t you?

SD: Yeah.

JE: And nobody questioned you? That’s fun.

Chapter 5 – 4:45 OU Law School

John Erling: You graduate then from Georgetown?

Sam Daniel: 1954 I graduated.

JE: 1954. Then what do you do?

SD: I went to law school for one year and then got called on active duty in the Air Force.

JE: Okay, and that’s when you went to OU law school for one year.

SD: That’s-that’s correct.

JE: Then how long were you in active duty?

SD: I was on active duty for three years.

JE: Where were you?

SD: At Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona.

JE: And what did you do there?

SD: I was the information services officer. Uh, put out the base newspaper and I was also an aide to the commanding general who was a famous guy. He wrote God As My Co-Pilot, Robert L. Scott, Jr.

JE: The Korean War had just died down by that time.

SD: The Korean War was over when I graduated from college, but I missed the Korean War because I was in the ROTC.

JE: And you could stay in school and be in the ROTC.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And the Korean War was from 1950 to ‘53.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: Started when North Korea invaded South Korea.

SD: That war is not over by the way.

JE: You’re right.

SD: It’s just the truth.

JE: That’s exactly right. That was pretty good duty, three years in the same place.

SD: Yes it was. And I loved it. And I had one son born there. My middle son.

JE: So you were married in the 50s.

SD: In the 50s.

JE: How many children did you have?

SD: Three sons.

JE: And their names?

SD: Sam III, who practices law in Tulsa. Ted, who practices law in Dallas, and John who is an entrepreneur, lives in Houston, Texas.

JE: So two followed father’s footsteps.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And you didn’t tell them they had to or anything. They just…

SD: No, I sure didn’t.

JE: Out of the service, you come back to OU…

SD: That’s correct. And finish up.

JE: …and finish there.

SD: Two more years in law school.

JE: Let’s talk about football because OU football was mighty big right about that time.

SD: Very big.

JE: Bud Wilkinson was the coach.

SD: When I was in law school, that’s correct.

JE: I don’t know if you ever saw him close up or you went to the games of course.

SD: Yes. And I met Jay.

JE: His son. Is there a certain game that’s memorable to you that OU played?

SD: That-that Notre Dame OU game that broke the 47 game winning streak. That was the most memorable.

JE: And the score that game was Notre Dame 7.

SD: 7 to nothing.

JE: 7 to nothing, right. You distinctly remember that game.

SD: Oh, yes.

JE: And was there a lot of [chuckles] gnashing of teeth and crying because it…

SD: Nobody left the stadium. Everybody stood up and just stood there.

JE: They were stunned, probably.

SD: Everybody was stunned. Nobody left the stadium. Nobody went to the exits. They just stood there.

JE: Hmm. Probably silence, huh? The first time there was silence.

SD: Very, very quiet.

JE: Any OU law professors that were important to you? Any mentors?

SD: Well, they were all important, but there was several of them that I liked more than others. One was a man named Gene Kuntz K-U-N-T-Z who was an oil and gas expert. Had written a law book on oil and gas. When he retired, he became a partner with McAfee & Taft which is a large law firm which first started in Oklahoma City and now has Tulsa offices.

And a law professor by the name of Joe Rerik who taught us Property and interesting story—the beginning of the oil and gas law revolved around hunting, the rule of capture.

The rule of capture was that if you shot wild game and you remained in pursuit even though you haven’t killed it that when it eventually died or somebody else shot it, you could claim it because you remained in pursuit of this animal. I remembered that and

I used to go duck hunting down on the Lexington game refuge south of Norman. One morning I was there and I shot a mallard duck, wounded it and it flew across this pond and fell dead in the water in front of a blind full of engineer students.

One of the engineers grabbed the duck and put it in his duck blind and I waded across the inlet in my pants, I didn’t have any waterproof on. I told these guys, I said, “Give me my duck.” And they said, “What do you mean your duck?” “That duck’s our duck.” “We shot that duck.” And I said, “I wounded that duck and I was in hot pursuit and under the rule of capture that duck was mine.” And I reached into the blind and grabbed the duck by the neck and took it back across the inlet put it in my blind.

JE: [chuckles] It’s a good thing you had that teaching, in pursuit of.

SD: Yeah. I was so confident in my position. I think I intimidated those engineers.

JE: I think so. [chuckles] By the way, were you beginning to feel like you were gonna specialize in the certain kind of law at that time?

SD: No. I was in the general practice of law. I did everything from soup to nuts.

Chapter 6 – 4:10 Sam Joins Law Firm

John Erling: Then you tried to join a law firm here in Tulsa?

Sam Daniel: That’s correct.

JE: What firm was that?

SD: This law firm was the first law firm I applied to and they turned me down. Now, I are them.

JE: Now, you are them. That is true.

SD: And...

JE: What is the full name of this law firm right now?

SD: It’s Doerner Saunders Daniel & Anderson, but I went with a law firm named Carlson, Lupardus, Matthews, Holliman & Huffman that represented the gas company. I worked there for six years and was a partner before I came over here. I’ve been a partner in this law firm for 52 years, 53 come April one.

JE: Weren’t you admitted to the bar without actually taking an examination?

SD: That’s correct and my certificate says so. I always show it to the new lawyers that show up. Every certificate of every lawyer that I know about, says upon examination, mine says without examination.

JE: And why was that?

SD: There was a Supreme Court rule adopted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court during World War II that exempted law students who have at least one year at law school and two years of military service from having to take the bar exam, it was canceled and then readopted during Korea. I was in law school just right after Korea and the Supreme Court had not canceled that rule yet. So when I graduated, I applied for admission without examination under that rule and didn’t have to take the bar exam. So my certificate says without examination.

JE: Probably the only guy in town?

SD: I think I am the only guy in town that has one like that.

JE: The signatures on there were by three infamous judges.

SD: Three judges who had accepted a bribe in what is called Amos versus Amos. They signed the certificate and I’ve often wondered whether or not, the fact that they were impeached had anything to do with the legality of my law degree.

JE: In fact, I have their names, Justice Earl Welch.

SD: Earl Wells was one of them.

JE: N.S. Corn.

SD: Corn.

JE: And Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: [laughs] That was a big scandal in the ‘60s.

SD: Yes, it was. As a result, it changed the law on how appellate judges are selected.

JE: You worked for the BOK legal department?

SD: Yes. When I first got out of law school, I worked for the BOK legal department, they had legal department in those days. I just did legal research for them.

JE: And then you went with that firm?

SD: Then-then I went with the Carlson Lupardus firm. Matter of fact, an interesting story. I had previously made a deal with Judge Roy Savage, who was US district judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma to be his law clerk when I graduated provided I had the

kind of grades that met his requirements. So after I graduated, I went to see Judge Savage. And I said, “Here I am, Judge.” A former classmate of mine had the job and he had served about a year as a clerk for Judge Savage.

His name was L.K. Smith, he was a wonderful guy. He’s gone now. I say that a lot because a lot of my friends are gone now. So Judge Savage said to his secretary, “Ms. So- and-so, bring me a copy of that letter I sent to young Sam, about L.K. not having a job and his not being able to take his place.” And she said, “What letter, Judge?” Anyway, turned out that he never sent me a letter and told me I wasn’t going to have the job.

And there I was standing in front of him, looking for a job, had good grades, and met the requirements. He said to me, “You know, I can’t turn L.K. out. He’s got a wife and three children. Go find another job and then when this one opens up, you can have it.” And so I hit the streets and found the job with Carlson Lupardus. And then when L.K. found another job and went to work for Byron Boone and Jim Ellison, who represented the Tulsa World at the time.

By the time he found another job, I was already ensconced in the law firm I was with and I didn’t want to leave.

Chapter 7 – 3:10 Sam Meets J.F.K.

John Erling: We’re talking about the early ‘60s here now.

Sam Daniel: Yes.

JE: President Kennedy was assassinated November 22nd, 1963.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: What do you remember about that day?

SD: I remember I was sitting on the floor of an office owned by George Singer, who is in the oil and gas business, writing out papers to form a bank and somebody had the radio on. Somebody called and said, “The president’s been assassinated”. So, we all stood up and gathered around the radio in his office. That’s what I remember about it. I remember meeting Jack Kennedy.

JE: Where?

SD: At Georgetown University. This was right after he’d become a US senator. After he had the famous picture of himself and Jacky on the sailboat on Life magazine. So everybody knew who Jack Kennedy was. I belong to a group called the Pathfinders Club which is

a group of seniors that selected important people in Washington to come speak once a month at the breakfast we had in our dining hall at Georgetown.

So, I had made arrangements with Bob Kerr’s office for Senator Kerr to come to speak. The Pathfinders Club people assigned somebody to go meet the celebrity and I was going to meet Senator Kerr and take him to the luncheon. Senator Kerr’s office called me and said Senator Kerr had something coming up and couldn’t attend but had spoken with the junior senator from Massachusetts named Kennedy who was going to speak instead. And I said, “Well, that’s fine”.

I’d never seen Kennedy, I didn’t know what he looked like or what to expect except that Edward Dirksen and Paul Douglas and Bob Kerr were all large men. So, I expected to see a large man come up the street. I had agreed meet him at the gate at Georgetown, and this very slight young guy with a Brooks Brothers suit on, I can recognize one and tosseled prematurely grey and black hair came walking up the street. And I was standing there and he stood there and he said, “Young man, can you tell me what time it is?” I’ll never forget this. I said, “Well, it’s 10 minutes after I was supposed to have met some big shot senator from Massachusetts”.


SD: And he said, “Was that Senator Kennedy?” And I said, “Yes, it was”. And he said, “I’m Senator Kennedy. Let’s go in for brunch”. So, we walked in and he addressed the student body about this brash young man from Tulsa, Oklahoma he had just met, who’d just brought him to breakfast. So, I met Jack Kennedy.

JE: He was very charming, wasn’t he?

SD: Very charming, very charming. We had a lot of fun with that.

JE: That’s a great story. Did you work for the gas company ONEOK? SD: Yes, it wasn’t ONEOK at the time. It was just Oklahoma Natural Gas. JE: For six years, I believe.

SD: For six years.

JE: That was in ’65?

SD: I joined this law firm in ’65.

JE: Vietnam war started in ’65. You were in your mid-30s about that time?

SD: Yes, I was concerned about my oldest son getting drafted and being sent to Vietnam, but he didn’t get drafted. He had a high number or a low number. I can’t remember which.

Chapter 8 – 4:00 Dick Saunders

John Erling: But for you to join this firm, didn’t you represent National Bank of Tulsa against Utica National Bank and Dick Saunders was representing Utica National Bank.

Sam Daniel: That’s right. It was over the formation of a bank called Southeastern Bank. Dick represented the applicants for the new bank, and I represented the protesters for the new bank. So, Dick and I were trying this bank hearing in Oklahoma City. We’d gotten along very well. At the conclusion of the hearing, as luck would have it, I won. I had

the better side. That’s usually the case. And he said, “Let’s go to Beverly’s and have some chicken on the way out of town.” Beverly’s was a very prominent chicken joint in Oklahoma City.

We spoke over dinner and he said, “Have you ever thought about changing your employment?” And I said, “Well, yes, I have.” I was thinking about leaving the firm I was with at the time. The reasons are unimportant, but I was thinking about leaving. He says, “Well, why don’t you meet me and my partners on the 12th floor of the Atlas Life Building on Saturday morning and we’ll talk about that?” I said, “Okay.”

I showed up on the 12th floor of the Atlas Life Building and the partners were Harold Stuart, E.J. Doerner, Harry Moreland, and Dick Saunders, and they were all there. As luck would have it, by the time I left the meeting, I was a full partner in this law firm and had my name on the door. How that ever happened? I don’t know, but it was all because Dick Saunders wanted me.

JE: Harold Stuart became an icon in this town.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And what do you remember about Harold Stuart?

SD: He was a great guy. He was charming, well-connected, had been a former common police judge, and was a former undersecretary of the air force, and probably more important than anything else was the son-in-law of W.G. Skelly, and he made the best of it. He married Joan Skelly.

JE: She was the daughter of WG Skelly…

SD: That’s correct.

JE: …who was a famous oilman in this town. She married Harold Stuart, 1938. Weren’t they the

couple, certainly one of the big couples in this town?

SD: That’s right. They were very prominent, socially and politically.

JE: He had quite a war record and then he was an intelligence officer in Norway.

SD: Yes, that’s correct.

JE: And he adopted two children from Norway who are living today.

SD: Yes. Randi and John. Both fine people.

JE: Was he a friendly person?

SD: Very friendly. Very friendly. He never met a man he didn’t like. JE: So you felt comfortable here with him on that first meeting then? SD: I did. I had met him before. Everybody had met Harold Stuart.

JE: He was 94 when he died?

SD: Yes.

JE: You joined this law firm that had once turned you down.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And you enjoy gigging them about that, I’m sure over the years. It’s true.

SD: Oh, yeah.

JE: Right.

SD: [chuckles] I certainly have, but none of those people are alive today.

JE: No, but they heard their share of it while they were living. Were you a trial lawyer then as you came into the firm?

SD: Well, I became a trial lawyer. You’re just not a trial lawyer. You have to be in the trenches for quite a while before your firm will turn you loose to be responsible to try a case. And so I became a trial lawyer after a lot of mistakes, I’m sure, and good fortune. Good luck. I put my nose to the grindstone. I was working 60 hours a week practicing law and trying to make a name for myself and to help my law firm. I’m not working like that anymore.

JE: No, but here at 84, you still maintain office?

SD: Oh, yes. I’m still here at 8:30 every morning and leave about five o’clock and I’m still busy all day long doing something, but I’m not trying any jury trials anymore. That’s for younger people.

JE: You did general practice than--

SD: General practice.

JE: But then you did become a trial lawyer.

SD: That’s correct.

Chapter 9 – 5:40 Sam as Trial Lawyer

John Erling: Do you remember your first case as a trial lawyer?

Sam Daniel: Yes, I do. My client’s name was Homer Hardy. He was a doctor and there was a lawsuit against the brokerage firm. I was with Carlson Lupardus at the time. They gave me

the file and said, go down and try this case. So I worked it up and I was ready to try it and I remember Homer Hardy my client, I remember us walking to the courthouse and he said, Sam, he says, “I want you to know this is my first lawsuit.” And I said, “Dr. Hardy, I want you to know it’s mine, too.” And I’m sure that didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence, but we won it. I’ll never forget that. I brought the jury verdict back to the office and I was gonna show it to everybody and everybody had gone to lunch.

JE: Oh. [laughter]

Well I’m sure they were happy to hear that news. You’ve done some high profile trials in this town. One of them would be the Inhofe brothers.

SD: Yes.

JE: Jim and Bud. Everybody talked about it. It was in the newspapers and all. What was that all about?

SD: It was a breach of fiduciary duty case that Jim brought against Bud arising out of a company that they had owned together that their father had founded. Outside of the litigation it was sort of rancorous around town. Bud bought stickers. He put on people’s bumpers and he says, When all else fails, sue your brother. I’ll never forget that. I had one of those stickers somewhere.

JE: Bumper stickers, you mean?

SD: Bumper stickers. Yeah. Anyway, it was a jury trial. We were fortunate to win. It was a close case. Somebody wins and somebody loses every time there’s a trial.

JE: So you represented Senator Inhofe as we know him today.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: So Bud had to pay Jim.

SD: Bud did.

JE: Yeah. $3 million or something like that.

SD: Uh, I think it was five. It’s a matter of public record. That’s my memory of it.

JE: Right. And it was over the valuation of the Insurance Company, how it was valued. In the courtroom, of course, the two brothers never talked or outside the courtroom or anything. I mean, this was a major war.

SD: Well they-they were sitting across the room from one another during the entire trial of course. And the families were kind of lined up. They had their favorites Bud’s children and Jim’s children. There’s no fight like a family fight. They’re the best, if you’re a lawyer. [laughs]

JE: And you were the star attorney on that.

SD: Yes.

JE: How did you come to be Jim’s attorney in this case?

SD: He was referred to me by somebody whose name I can’t remember off the top of my head.

JE: When the trial was over and there was a story that Jim tried to approach Bud and he was rebuffed. Of course Jim won so maybe that’s why he was uneasy.

SD: Yeah, there were some hard feelings about that case.

JE: Which linger to this day?

SD: I don’t know whether they’ve reconciled or not.

JE: Yeah.

SD: I see Jim every now and then. I never see Bud. I think he lives in South Texas somewhere.

JE: Okay.

SD: Jim, of course, is here and very active and I saw him on television the other day at the confirmation hearings.

JE: Right.

SD: And might add, he’s a great guy, class guy.

JE: That’s suit brought a lot of attention to one Sam Daniel as a trial attorney.

SD: Yeah, it did.

JE: You must’ve gotten some business as a result of that.

SD: I’m sure I did. I can’t pinpoint anything, but it had a lot to do with my career.

JE: You say politics what do you mean.

SD: Yes. When G.T. Blankenship decided to run for attorney general of the state of Oklahoma, he was a republican. And there had never been a republican attorney general in the

state of Oklahoma. He was married to one of the W.K. Warren’s daughters. So, I was his campaign chairman for Eastern Oklahoma and my partner Dobie Langenkamp, who is an avid Democrat, was the Democratic candidate’s lawyer. And we were at opposite ends of the 12th floor of the Atlas Life building. Everybody used to joke about the guys in the

pinstripe suits get off the elevator and turn left to go to my office and the guys in the blue jeans and the Big Smiths would turn right and go to Dobie’s.


Anyway, G.T. won in a landslide. JE: Were you active in other politics? SD: No.

JE: In other races?

SD: Not really.

JE: And how did you get involved in that one?

SD: I think W.K. Warren told G.T. to get me to do it. I knew Mr. Warren.

JE: That’s W.K. who came here as a young boy to Oklahoma and ultimately St. Francis Hospital. What can you tell us about Mr. Warren, W.K. Warren?

SD: Well, the interesting story about W.K. Warren is the feud that he and Joe LaFortune had, which the city of Tulsa benefited from. They had both made a lot of money when

they sold their gulf stock, I believe. And W.K. Warren built the hospital. And as a result of him building St. Francis Hospital, Joe LaFortune decided to give LaFortune Park to Tulsa county. So we’ve got a hospital and LaFortune park out of the personal feud between

W.K. Warren and Joe LaFortune.

JE: I didn’t understand what the feud was about.

SD: Well, nobody ever knew what the feud was about. They just had a falling out. They were partners in the oil business. And then when they sold out, nobody ever understood why there was a feud. But everybody benefited from it

JE: Because Joe LaFortune had the kind of money, he could buy that land for the park.

SD: That’s correct. JE: Park and W.K…. SD: Built the hospital.

JE: …could build the hospital. See, feuds are good sometimes.

SD: So, you and I, as we sit here, benefited from their disagreements there.

JE: Right.

Chapter 10 – 4:35 Clayton Vaughn

John Erling: Belo Broadcasting, with KOTV and Channel 6 ,and its Anchor Clayton Vaughn ended up in a court scene. Tell us what that was about.

Sam Daniel: It was really about nothing, but the jury didn’t think so. I represented Clayton and KOTV and AH Belo.

JE: Well, isn’t it true that Clayton’s homosexual hairdresser claimed he met reporter Robert Joffe in a Tulsa gay bar.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And after the two spent the night together, Joffe told him he was a news anchor for a television station.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And that came to the knowledge of Clayton Vaughn. He learned about it and he brought it back to the television station.

SD: Well, that’s what the jury found, but it wasn’t true. He didn’t promulgate that story at all.

JE: He didn’t?

SD: I don’t think so. Nobody will ever know except Clayton of course, but I believe Clayton.

JE: And Clayton says I didn’t bring it back.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: I’m not the guy who promoted that story at all.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: And Robert Joffe claims he never met the hairdresser.

SD: That’s correct. Actually, I don’t remember the details of that lawsuit except that they were two different stories.

JE: Joffe sued the hairdresser, Vaughn, news director of KOTV, and its owner for $10 million.

SD: He sued them for a lot of money.

JE: And then he died in 1991, Joffe did a 27, uh, suicide by inhaling exhaust fumes. It’s almost amazing… You said it earlier, it was about nothing because in this day and age, it is different how gays are viewed and it’s not that big a deal.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: So, this should not have been that big a deal at all.

SD: That’s correct. But they made a big deal out of it.

JE: And then there were those who said that Clayton Vaughn didn’t care for Joffe because…

SD: He…

JE: …Joffe was an upcoming young reporter.

SD: Yeah, the case turned on the issue of intentional infliction of emotional distress. That’s a claim that you can bring if somebody intentionally inflicts you and creates emotional distress. So that was the basis of the claim against KOTV and of course, Belo and KOTV were just in it because Clayton worked for them.

JE: Belo lost. You lost that case.

SD: That’s correct, I lost that case. We don’t talk about the ones we lose.

JE: I understand.


JE: And we can stop talking about it right now [laughs].

SD: As a matter of fact, I do remember one thing about it. No one in town thought that Clayton was gonna lose that case. The word was that we were gonna win. My wife and I were scheduled that Friday night when the jury came in to go to a ball. It was a dance.

And all night long after the six o’clock news came out that Clayton had lost that case, I spent all evening answering the following question posed at me by everybody at that ball. How in the hell did you lose that case?


JE: And what did you say?

SD: And I said I don’t know how I lost that case. I should’ve won it.

JE: You were one of several attorneys who represented Cities Service...

SD: Yes.

JE: ...against Gulf Oil Corporation. It’s a lengthy trial, can you talk to us about that?

SD: Yeah, that was a three-month trial. I was one of four lawyers that represented Cities Service in that case.

JE: What was the issue?

SD: The issue was an alleged interference with the Gulf Oil Company and Cities Service merger.

JE: It resulted in more than $742 million settlement.

SD: It’s the largest judgment that has been ever awarded in the state of Oklahoma.

JE: So, you were in the right place right time to be…

SD: I was.

JE: You were one of four who represented Cities Service.

SD: Right.

JE: And it was quite a payout to the law firm as a result of that.

SD: Well, no. We were just getting paid by the hour. We got paid well for our services but we didn’t have it on a contingent fee.

JE: So there you were in the middle of another high profile case.

SD: Yeah.

JE: Would you say you’ve been a lucky man?

SD: I would say that I have been more than twice blessed.

JE: Well all this work, and countless other pieces of work, put you in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: Only 1% of attorneys get into that.

SD: I was fortunate to be a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers. JE: A stamp of worth and approval of the kind of work you did and your success. SD: Well, I’ve been a member of the American College since 1983.

JE: That’s gotta make you feel proud as you look back on your career.

SD: It makes me feel real good. I’ve got the first book that came out with my name in it. It’s still in my library.

Chapter 11 – 5:00 Divorce Attorney

John Erling: You also became known as a divorce attorney?

Sam Daniel: Yes, and I did work for the bar too. I was president of the Tulsa County Bar Association at one time.

JE: Everybody likes to talk about divorce, I guess. And so maybe that’s why you also became known as the divorce attorney.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: Wasn’t it said that, you know, it’s a bad day if you saw Sam Daniel’s business card in your wife’s dresser.

SD: [laughs] That’s correct.

JE: You represented many women in divorce cases.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: Tell us about that.

SD: Well, everybody in a divorce case gets to be represented by somebody. I had a reputation for fighting very hard for the underdog and every woman in a divorce case perceives herself as the underdog because their husband has told her that she needs to perceive herself as the underdog because she is the underdog. You know, talks down to her. By

the time you see a woman in a divorce case, she’s beaten flat, usually. Not so much now as previously because women are far more assertive now and should be than they used to be. When my mother and father got a divorce, it was a whole different story.

So, I fought hard for my women clients and was fortunate enough to be very successful in making sure that they got what they were entitled to regardless of what their husband thought, you know, “Pack your bag and get out”.

JE: And many of these cases, the husbands were hiding the assets.

SD: Yeah, I had to do a lot of that.

JE: Of that vigorous in finding those assets.

SD: Well, all the guys were the same. They thought they were impervious to being discovered.

Any time you get that cocky, you’re eventually going to get caught up with.?

JE: Did you kind of have a little team that worked at with you on that to fighting these assets

SD: Well, the young lawyers in the office would help me and work with me, but I would principally try the case. But I had a lot of help and I’ve always had a lot of help.

JE: Finding and-and to discover those assets.

SD: And evaluate them.

JE: And then say to the husband, uh, did you overlook this?

SD: Yeah. I represented a lot of husbands in divorce cases too, but principally I got my reputation as being a successful divorce lawyer by representing women who are on the low side of the situation.

JE: Yeah, had to make you feel good to know that they were going to be taken care of. You became an expert in family laws, because you dealt with all that down through the years. How was the law affected children of divorce cases?

SD: Today, children are entitled to get their own lawyer. They’re called guardian ad litems.

They can be represented in their parents’ divorce case if the court thinks that it’s appropriate to do that. Custody, it used to be that the women always got custody of the younger children. That’s not true anymore. Husbands are custodial parents all over town. We’ve learnt that fathers can be good parents without the help of a wife, just as it used to be, where women were good parents without the help of a husband, but now the teeter- totter is in the middle.

JE: Yeah. You had to see very sad, sad cases of families breaking up.

SD: Yes I have, but if you remain professional and stay above the fray, you can be better at what you do. If you don’t get involved, you don’t let it take you with it.

JE: Yeah. If you’re not emotionally involved.

SD: That’s right and I’ve managed to remain objective in every divorce case I’ve had, whether I’m on the husband’s side or the wife’s side. I’ll tell them the way it is, and the way it’s going to be, or the way it might happen. That’s the way to do it.

JE: Didn’t you help Pepsi Cola gets started here in Tulsa.

SD: I did. I was one of the original owners of the Pepsi Cola franchise here in Tulsa.

JE: You were one of the owners?

SD: Yeah, Dick Hughes and Phil Hughes and his sister and I owned the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company for a while until Dick wanted to sell. Joe Brenham started it. That’s an old time Tulsa name, Joe Brenham. He was Mr. Pepsi Cola around here and he sold the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company to Dick and Phil Hughes and their sister Leslie and me.

JE: How long were you involved in ownership of that?

SD: We bought it in 1960 and then we sold it probably 45 years ago.

JE: And that was the time when Coca Cola was the rage.

SD: That’s right.

JE: Pepsi was second banana to them.

SD: Second way down second banana.

JE: Right. So was that a good business deal for you?

SD: Oh yes. It was an excellent business deal for me.

JE: And you got in on that because you were an attorney.

SD: Because I was an attorney and good friends with Dick and Phil who are both gone now. I keep saying that, I wish it wasn’t true.

JE: You prefer Pepsi over Coke to this day?

SD: I’ve never been a soft drink drinker.

Chapter 12 – 7:00 The Hunter

John Erling: You did more than practice law.

Sam Daniel: Yes.

JE: You also had a hobby.

SD: Well, I’m, uh, a bird hunter and a fisherman. I used to fly an airplane. I did a lot of things. I wanted to get the last full measure out of life and I’ve always tried to do that.

JE: Tell us about your hunting and you’re hunting dogs, you must have had certain ones that were really special to you.

SD: Well, I’ve had several Labrador Retrievers. Started off with Roxy, and then Lucy, and currently Maggie. They’re my girl retrievers. I always like to have girl bird dogs because they’re interested only in hunting. The boy bird dogs are interested in other things. I’ve always had a hunting dog since I came out of law school.

JE: Today, you’re 84 and you’re still hunting.

SD: Oh, yes.

JE: What’s it about these black labs that are so special?

SD: They’re so smart, they’re gentle, they’re loyal. If you had a friend that was a person, you’d want it to be a Labrador Retriever.

JE: [chuckles] That’s good. You have some great stories. Are you writing a book?

SD: I’m not writing a book. I’m putting together a book of photographs of my waterfowl collection with narrative on where I’ve shot the bird, who I was with, and where I was. As a matter of fact, I am scheduled to donate my waterfowl collection to Woolaroc Museum in September of this year.

JE: How big is that waterfowl collection?

SD: 45 birds; 45 ducks and geese. I’ve been collecting it forever and I finally completed it, except for one duck. My book is called The Last Duck because I don’t have it.

JE: They represent every variety of duck.

SD: Every variety of duck and goose in North America.

JE: What is the variety you don’t have?

SD: It’s called the king eider.

JE: And where is that normally?

SD: It’s in the illusion chain and the season is in January.

JE: Well, that’s quite a collection. Do you have them in a warehouse or where?

SD: No, I have them in my family room. All 45 of them circling in my family room. My wife’s going to miss them, and so am I, but I don’t want them to end up in a garage sale somewhere. So Woolaroc, they’ve been down and taken a look at it and they want it. They’re going to get it in September.

JE: That’s great. Do you have a hunting story that you can tell us about?

SD: Yes, one of interest. I took my two youngest sons with me to Penobscot Bay, Maine, which is the largest bay in New England to hunt the common eider, E-I-D-E-R. The tide goes in and out, of course, to Penobscot Bay. It’s in the Atlantic. And when the tide is out, the ducks are rafted up out in the ocean and they fly in to the shallower water to eat

crustaceans, which is their principal food. And then they fly out when the tide goes back in.

We didn’t know what we were in for, but there are rocks in the bay. So you hunt the birds by sitting on these rocks and camouflage. And, of course, when the water goes out, the rocks are elevated and when water comes in, the rocks are under water. They take you out in a cruiser, and they park it in the bay and then they take you in an outboard out to your rock. So, my boys and I were sitting on these rocks, shooting these king eiders as the tide was out.

And I turned to my middle son who’s now 60 and I said, “Sure, hope they don’t forget about us on this rock when the tide comes in.” He said, “Dad, look at your feet.” I looked

at my feet and they were underwater. The water was up to my calves. And about that time, we heard the [mimicking motor sound] an outboard sound and here comes the outboard to pick us up. We get in the outboard and pull away from the rock and Ted said, “Look back, dad.” And we looked back, and the rock was gone.

JE: Oh, my.

SD: [chuckles] That’s one of my favorite stories.

JE: Yeah.

SD: “Look back, dad.”

JE: Is that just ducks and geese, how about turkeys?

SD: The wild turkeys, I hunt wild turkeys in the Spring in Western Oklahoma. Hunt pheasant in Kansas and quail in western Oklahoma.

JE: Can you do a turkey call?

SD: I can.

JE: Let’s hear it.

SD: Well, the male turkey has the gobble, the female just goes tik, tik, tik, tik, tik, tik, tik, and the gobbler goes kruu, kruu.

JE: [chuckles]

SD: You hunt turkeys in the Spring and make like a girl turkey and you call up the male. You hear the gobble, then you make like a girl turkey, and then if you’re concealed enough and the male turkey is excited enough, he’ll approach the sound that you’ve made for the girl turkey. And then when he gets within about 40 yards, you take him out.

JE: You’ve taken quite a few of them out, haven’t you? [crosstalk]

SD: I have, I have one that weighs 20 pounds. It’s mounted standing on the floor in my family room.

JE: Wow. That’s Wild Animal Kingdom in your family room, right?

SD: It-it really is.

JE: [chuckles]

SD: I have an antelope there, I have a kudu there. I went to Africa, shot some African antelope. I have, uh, Impala. This is not a 57 Chevy, it’s an animal. There’s lots of critters in my family room.

JE: Don’t you think that’s been great for you to have that, gets you away from the office and the firm and all that and have that to be out with nature? Don’t you think that was really beneficial to you?

SD: I think it was wonderful. My father had a friend by the name of Clay Jennings. And he took me hunting and bought me my first shotgun, taught me about the outdoors. Dad was not interested. But Clay was a bachelor, and he kind of adopted me.

JE: How old do you think you were when he bought you your first shotgun?

SD: Oh, I was about 14.

JE: So, he planted the seed for you.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: Was he a neighbor?

SD: No, he was just a good friend to dad’s growing up. He was with the City of Tulsa when he died. He smoked a lot, his covers caught on fire, and he died in a fire in an apartment in Tulsa. He was a great friend and somebody I admired. He would make me memorize poems and recite them to him. I used to be able to speak and say Dangerous Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service. I should be able to recite them. You know, those days are gone forever.

JE: Right.

SD: He was the one that started it all for me as far as hunting and fishing is concerned.

JE: Who knows if you had never met him, you may not have gotten into that at all.

SD: I probably wouldn’t have.

JE: And it shows that when we take an interest in children and I’m sure you passed it on to others.

SD: Yes, my boys are all hunters and fishermen.

JE: You never know when we’re going to plant a seed, do we?

SD: That’s correct. And we go out a lot together—hunting and fishing together.

Chapter 13 – 5:27 Sam Stories

John Erling: You have a long-time friend by the name of Otis Winters.

Sam Daniel: Yes.

JE: Isn’t there a story he tells when you boys were attending camp?

SD: Well, there are a lot of stories. Otis and I were at Camp Kanakuk together. You talking about the watermelon incident?

JE: I believe so.

SD: Okay. We were floating down the White River when it was a warm water stream before there were any dams built. We’re on overnight camping trips and we would pull our canoes up on the little islands in the middle of the river, turn them on their side and make a shelter with them for the rain by using the canoe paddle. One day, Otis and I were floating down the White River and there was a watermelon patch over on the left.

I said, “Otis, let’s go and get one of those watermelons. We’ll tie a rope around it and pull it behind us. And if this river will cool it down and when we get to camp, we’ll have dinner and then we’ll carve it up and eat it.” He thought that was a good idea. So, we got the watermelon. We figured nobody had miss a watermelon. We got to camp and we’re

in our canoe shed after dinner and we’re carving up the watermelon. And I see these four legs standing beside us because you couldn’t see the top of who was there.

One guy was in a pair of Big Smiths and the other guy was the counselor in charge to the float trip. And the big guy and the Big Smiths says, “They’re the ones. They’re the ones who got the watermelon.”

JE: [laughs]

SD: Everybody calls me Sammy. So the camp counselor said, “Sammy, is that true?” And I said, “Yes. We took the watermelon. We didn’t think anybody would miss one watermelon.” And I almost got kicked out at camp for that.

JE: I supposed. That’s the closest you came to getting a record, right?

SD: That’s correct. That’s the closest I’ve ever been.

JE: So as you look back on the law profession, can you give us an overview on how it’s changed? Technology maybe has helped a lot.

SD: Well, the biggest change in the legal profession is the fact that women are in it. It’s been a joy to have women in the legal profession. I hate to refer to them as somebody special. Women are women.

JE: Right.

SD: But they’re smart, they’re hard-working, they’re loyal, they have empathy, and understand- ing of other people’s problems. I think it’s changed legal profession tremendously, and of

course, we have now so much science involved in what we do. I don’t even know how to use it all. I still use a yellow pad and write things out.

JE: Yeah. But the technology in the internet helps you in the profession doing research a whole lot faster than they did back in the day.

SD: That’s correct, except I miss the law books. It always made me feel like a lawyer when I was reading a law book and getting a case out of it instead of having it printed off by my computer.

JE: Right.

SD: I like going to the library, I like digging in the law books, I like using the reference tools. We don’t have a library anymore and I miss it. It made me feel like a lawyer.

JE: Speaking about women, you know Nancy Feldman?

SD: Yes.

JE: She talks about coming to Tulsa from Chicago. She could have had a job with major law firms in Chicago and she came to be with her soon to be husband Ray. This was in the ‘50s. She had a law degree and she knocked on doors and doors and door and she could not get a job as an attorney but only as a secretary.

SD: That’s correct.

JE: So you talk about how far we’d come to say what you’ve just said now about women in the profession. That’s a long way.

SD: I remember I had a paralegal one time who I was very close to personally. It was a wonderful girl. I remember she first came into my office one day. She said, “Mr. Daniel, I’ve just been accepted to the University of Tulsa College of Law.” And I looked at her and I said, “That’s what the world needs is another woman lawyer.”


SD: She’s never forgotten that.

JE: No, I’m sure not.

There was a time you worked for your father.

SD: I collected rents for him. He owned some properties in downtown Tulsa. One of which was a billiard parlor that was underground on 3rd Street right before you got to the Rialto Theatre. I was collecting the rent one day. I went into this bar and I asked for the rent and he said, “Well, I don’t have any money.” And I said, “Well, I can’t go back and tell my dad that story. He expects me to show up with the rent.”

He turned around and there was this oil painting on the wall behind him and he said, “The best I could do is to give this to you.” So I said, “I don’t know what it’s worth but I’ll take it since you don’t have any money.” And, uh, I have it until this day, it’s an oil painting of the One-oh-one Ranch with three cowboys playing cards in the middle of a herd of steers.

JE: I see it sitting right over here. I’m looking at it. Who painted that?

SD: A fellow by the name Lender from Oklahoma City. A lot of his paintings are in the

Gilcrease and in the Woolaroc museums. This particular painting has him in it. He’s one of the three cowboys that I just addressed, the center one.

JE: It was worth at less $300 then, maybe more.

SD: Yeah. But anyway, my dad left it to me when he died.

JE: What do you think it’s worth today?

SD: Oh, it’s probably worth $15,000.

JE: Oh, really?

SD: Yeah.

JE: [chuckles] Well, that’s a great memento.

SD: It is. It’s a great memento and it reminds me of my working from my dad.

JE: Yeah.

SD: It wasn’t a bad job really.

Chapter 14 – 2:20 By my First Name

John Erling: You’re 84, you maintain your health. Are you working out? Careful of what you eat?

Sam Daniel: I work out every other day at St. John’s Health Club. I try and watch my weight. I weigh what I weighed when I graduated from high school. My workout is pretty simple. I do push-ups, I lift weights, I do the treadmill instead of running anymore ‘cause I have a little sciatica. So I spend 30 minutes on a treadmill at a very fast pace and I do that every other day during my lunch hour. I skip the lunch for that day.

JE: Well, you look great.

SD: Well, thank you.

JE: Slender. So as you look back, what would you say about your life?

SD: It’s all been a great ride. I’ve loved every minute of it. Even the downs because there’s always a big up after a down.

JE: Mm-hmm.

SD: So I love the ups and I’ve suffered through the downs. I’ve been married three times. Not that that’s anything to celebrate, but there are some downtimes during those periods. But I have loved what I’ve done, what I’ve been able to do, the people that I’ve done it with, the people I’ve worked for, the people that have worked for me, it’s all been a great ride.

JE: Yeah.

SD: I’m a lucky, lucky man.

JE: You may have planted the seed unknowingly to those who want to be a lawyer and they’ve said I want to be just like Sam Daniel. Just like you said, I want to be just like Judge Murrah. There are those who probably said the same thing about you.

SD: Well, I don’t know that. Nobody’s ever said that to me.

JE: Young attorneys I’m told say here in the firm, you’ve always had an opendoor policy. You were very willing to help young attorneys here.

SD: Yes.

JE: So you’ve helped us.

SD: Because I remember when I was one and I got a lot of help and I still do.

JE: How would you like to be remembered?

SD: By my first name.


JE: I’ve never had that answer before. By Sam.

SD: You know.

JE: Yeah. [laughs] Well, thank you for this time we’ve spent with you. You’ve had an interesting life and great life you’ve lived and made a major impact in the City of Tulsa and in Oklahoma. So thank you, Sam, for your time with us here for Voices of Oklahoma. We appreciate that.

SD: I’ve enjoyed this tremendously. It gave me an opportunity to talk about a lot of things that I don’t get to talk about.

JE: Yeah.

SD: Unless somebody asks me a question.

JE: Right. [laughs] Thank you.

SD: Thank you.

Chapter 15 – 0:33 Conclusion

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Production Notes

Interview with Sam P. Daniel

Program Credits:
Sam P. Daniel — Interviewee
John Erling — Interviewer
Mel Myers — Announcer

Honest Media
Mel Myers — Audio Editor

Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Douglas Miller — Art Director
Mark DeMoss — Webmaster
Laura Hyde — Upload Coordinator

Date Created: January 18, 2016

Date Published: July 15, 2019

Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.

Tags: Alcoholism, Pearl Harbor, Alfred P. Murrah, Cascia Hall, 1921 Race Massacre, Harry Truman, President Eisenhower, Senator Kerr, Vietnam, Harold Stuart, Senator Kennedy, W.K. Warren, Cities Service, Woolaroc Museum, Duck Hunting

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Cite This Work

Daniel, Sam P.. "Sam P. Daniel: Legendary Oklahoma Attorney" Interview by John Erling. Voices of Oklahoma, January 18, 2016,, Accessed June 21, 2024