MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 17, 2013

Aldridge puts his knowledge to use

Fort Cobb native raises quail, grows vegetables, helps people

— Former Caddo County farm boy Ken Aldridge found a way to keep busy by turning his northwest Muskogee acreage into a place to raise quail, grow vegetables and help people.

Aldridge grew up in Caddo County, between the towns of Fort Cobb and Apache.

“We had about 40 to 50 head of cattle, mostly milk cows,” he said. “We raised corn, cotton, wheat, maize, sugar cane. Back then we had to raise and make our own feed. We would grind it at our own farm. There was a lot less waste. This was before they had all the weed killers. We had to do all the work by hand with a hoe. We called it a hammer mill.”

The feed was a mixture of corn, maize, even sugar cane. Yes, sugar cane, Aldridge said.

“They still feed with sweet feed now. They put molasses in the mix.”

He recalled how hard it was to pick cotton in southwest Oklahoma.

“You had to go out there with your back bent till you get so tired you get on your knees and crawl,” he said.

Aldridge attended Cameron University, then joined the U.S. Air Force.

“I just wanted to be in the service,” he said. “I took ROTC in college and I decided I wanted to be in the Air Force instead of the Army.”

“I started at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just out of Washington, D.C., and transferred to a radar site in Alaska, 250 miles north of Fairbanks,” he said.  He recalled staying in insulated pup-tents when it got to 30 degrees below zero.

He said he was fortunate to have served when he did — between the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“It was peace time,” he said. “A lot of boys didn’t have the luxury.”

After getting out of the Air Force, Aldridge held various jobs. At Brown Manufacturing in Oklahoma City, he made vertical window louvers. He worked at Muskogee Iron Works, then at Whitehorn Cove Marina before retiring in 1999.

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