Pawhuska, Oklahoma, has been home to several famous people. An Academy Award-winning actor, world-renowned bronze sculptors, and The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, herself, have all called Pawhuska home.

Still, none of these people may be as big a star as local legend Mr. John Reber.

We met Mr. Reber for the first time earlier this year on what was our eighth trip to Pawhuska. When we’d done research for a blog post about 70+ Things to do in Pawhuska, we spent lots of time visiting with locals. They often asked us the same question. “Have you met Mr. Reber yet?”

After several inquiries, we decided we’d better meet the man everyone in Pawhuska was talking about and a mutual friend arranged for us to meet him for breakfast one morning at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Downtown Pawhuska is being transformed with building renovations and new businesses.

Downtown Pawhuska is being transformed with building renovations and new businesses.

He ordered a cup of coffee and a pancake and started talking to us as if we were old friends. Within minutes, we knew exactly why everyone in Pawhuska loved him so much. He was full of history from the area, wise, and feisty. He spoke of his childhood visits to this oil and ranch town as if they were yesterday.

Mr. Reber and Steve

Mr. Reber shows Steve pictures of cakes that he has baked.

He recalled a bustling city filled with taxis and fine dining. He told us all about a time when Pawhuska had three movie theaters and he and his friends would go to the midnight showing at the Constantine Theater and then stay up half the night drinking coffee at the 24-hour cafe.

We listened and laughed as Mr. Reber bragged about being here for the very first World’s Largest Amateur Rodeo Cavalcade in 1947 and how he’s been to every one since. Although now, they don’t throw corn meal on the street the way they did back then to make it easier for the square dancers to slide around.

A view of Pawhuska at Cavalcade 2018.

After visiting family in Pawhuska for years, Reber eventually moved here and taught music in the public schools from 1964-1987. After retiring, he took on a second career as a tour bus driver for the next 20 years, transporting everyone from Neil Diamond to the Arkansas Razorbacks football team.

Now 90, you can find Mr. Reber chatting with locals and meeting tourists from all over the world who flock to Pawhuska to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile for a taste of her chicken fried steak. He’s happy to tell you all about the town and is likely to throw in a thing or two about his incredible baking skills. That’s right, this man can bake! In fact, his Italian cream cake and carrot cake each sold for $1,000 at the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce Gala last year.

Mr. Reber's Italian cream cake sold for $1,000 at the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce Gala last year.

Mr. Reber’s Italian cream cake sold for $1,000 at the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce Gala last year.

Mr. Reber's homemade shoo fly pie.

Mr. Reber’s homemade wet bottom shoo fly pies.

Recently, selfies with Mr. Reber have also become quite popular. I’m not sure how this began, but locals will tell you a “selfie with Reber” should be at the top of your list of things to do in Pawhuska. We gladly added it to ours.

Meghan and Mr. Reber

After breakfast, Meghan grabbed a selfie with Mr. Reber.

On his 90th birthday this year, local retailer Lorec Ranch – Pawhuska even offered an extra 10% off if you brought in a selfie of yourself and Reber.

Lorec Ranch - Pawhuska offers an extra 10% off to celebrate Mr. Reber's 90th birthday.

Lorec Ranch – Pawhuska offers an extra 10% off to celebrate Mr. Reber’s 90th birthday.

If you do come here, Mr. Reber is usually easy to spot in Pawhuska. A huge Oklahoma State University fan, he’s often seen wearing orange and black.

John Reber as Pistol Pete for Halloween festivities in 2017.

John Reber as Pistol Pete for Halloween festivities in 2017.

He enjoys his coffee and breakfast at The Mercantile and his popularity there is evident by the number of people to stop to greet him. After several locals had stopped by our table to say hello, I told him I thought he was pretty much a celebrity in these parts.

“I know,” he said with a grin.

And if you have the good fortune of meeting Mr. Reber, you’ll know, too.

(Note: Sadly, Mr. Reber passed away in September of 2019. As you can see from this post, he was much-loved in Pawhuska and will be missed.)

  • What a privilege to be in @visitbentonville this weekend to celebrate the opening of @themomentary and our friend, @addie_roanhorse. Addie’s Osage ribbon work- inspired design is featured on this tower at the Momentary and it is just fabulous! 
This new space opens to the public Feb. 22 and general admission is free, thanks to the generosity of the @waltonfamilyfdn.
  • In @visitmasoncityiowa, you'll find the boyhood home of famous composer Meredith Willson. Perhaps best known for his musical, "The Music Man," Willson based the show in large part on his experiences growing up in his hometown.⁣
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Mason City has kept Willson's memory alive through an extensive museum and convention space, which we got to see on our hosted tour of the town, called The Music Man Square. A part of the experience at Music Man Square is a tour through Willson's childhood home.⁣
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Now is the perfect time to head to Mason City for a visit. Hugh Jackman is set to play Professor Harold Hill in a Broadway revival of, "The Music Man." With that show opening in 2020, all eyes will be back on Mason City.⁣
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@thehughjackman @musicmanbway
  • When the @museumofamericanspeed invited us to come for a complimentary visit, we weren't sure what to expect. ⁣
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Yes, the museum is chock-full of race cars, engines, history, and car-related memorabilia. But it also houses other collections like one of old lunch boxes.⁣
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We had so much fun standing and taking in the lunch boxes, looking and trying to find the ones we had when we were kids. Ann had "Charlie's Angels" and Steve had "Super Friends." ⁣
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If you're ever near Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Museum of American Speed. It's a true hidden treasure in the midwest. ⁣
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What kind of lunch box did you carry to school? Any kids of the 70s and 80s who had the ones we had?
  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
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Just up the road from our home in Crete, Nebraska, we found the National Museum of Roller Skating. Our curiosity piqued, we stopped in and took a look around. There we found the world's largest collection of historical roller skates, costumes, and memorabilia. ⁣
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It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
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Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
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We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
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Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
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Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
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Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
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Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
  • Each year from late February to early April, hundreds of thousands of Sandhills Cranes migrate through Nebraska on their way north to their breeding grounds. It's considered one of the greatest spectacles in nature, so thousands of people come to experience this incredible time.⁣
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We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
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Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
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Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.

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