Basil and Danna Taylor

Danna and Basil Taylor

Basil Taylor and Danna Compton knew each other because of the basketball games between Hitchcock High and Greenfield High; but they didn’t really meet until one day at the Roman Nose Pool. Basil explains,

“I was working as one of the lifeguards when I noticed Danna. She was redder than a beet because she was working so hard at trying to learn how to dive. I decided that I would get off the lifeguard stand and teach this struggling beauty how to dive into the pool. It didn’t work out very well.”

Danna adds, “I never did learn how to dive!”

They didn’t start dating until New Year’s Eve, 1956, when they were set up together on a blind date. They all went to a house in Calumet to a dance. They must have liked what they saw, they have been together ever since. Basil was working at Beach Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas, at this time; but he made it back to Watonga often to see his girlfriend. This was her senior year at Watonga and Danna had let him know that prom night was one evening that he better be in Watonga. Basil describes the drive to Watonga.

“Loyd Hursh and I were supposed to come home (we were baching together in Wichita). That was the day of the largest rain that middle Oklahoma and Kansas had seen in a long time. The Cimarron River was taking bridges out everywhere including the one between Hennessey and Okeene.

"So we backtracked and ended up coming into Watonga from the North, through Buffalo!

"Well, it was after midnight, the prom was over and Danna was already home asleep.”


Evidentially, that didn’t hurt the relationship;
they were married on July 27, 1957.  

Basil and Dana with
JoAnn and Loyd Hursh who stood up for them when they got married




Basil was born in Watonga in the home of his maternal grandmother, Anna Womack, on Wikoff.  

His parents, Homer and Anna Taylor lived in a one-room house 4 miles west, 2 miles north and ¾ mile west of Watonga.

One of the four farm houses that he lived in while growing up around Watonga.

picture taken in 2008

Basil was the oldest of 4 children. He had a younger brother named Hubert and he has two sisters named Jan and Judi.


Basil talks about his childhood:

“My dad was a farmer and we lived on different farms according to which place had a house. We lived four different places during my childhood. And I went to four different schools: Enterprise (the Whisler School), Centralia, Watonga and then Hitchcock.

"Mrs. Morlan was my 2nd grade teacher; she was a kind and gentle woman. I also remember Mrs. Nichols, our music teacher. She would have you sing, ‘Way Down Upon The Swannee River’ in order to try out for the school operetta. I didn’t make it that year, so I practiced hard on that song and by the next year, I got in - and I got to be a pumpkin in the pumpkin patch.



"We had a great childhood partly because we had many cousins to play with (Byron and David Lake, Don, Norman and Devon Taylor). Don and I being several years older than Devon and Hubert would pick on them often. Don would tell Devon that Hubert had called him a bad name behind his back (which he didn’t) and I would tell Hubert that Devon called him something and Don and I would just sit back and watch the fight!


"Hubert and I were close, though; it is very special to me that we were able to play baseball together on the high school team at Hitchcock even though he was 4 years younger.

"I played catcher; he played pitcher. He was good enough, that the coach let him play with us at some games. He was left-handed.

"So it was a little difficult for him to practice at home where all we had was one mitt, a right-handed mitt.


"We also played basketball. Some of my teammates that I remember were Eddie Seals, Neal Snyder, Jimmie Morrison, Bob Hamilton, Donnie Scheffler, Willis Houser, Jim Shirley, Red Helmer, Bob Hamilton and Junior Payne. Jerry Brownrig was our coach and one of my favorite teachers. We played in a Canton tournament against Homestead and Homestead fouled out down to five guys. Then they fouled out down to 4, then down to 3 and then down to two players. Each time they would lose a player our coach would take one of us out. That was a unique way to end a game.

"I remember having to drive the tractor for my dad. When I was a junior in High School, I convinced him to let me drive the tractor at night so I could lifeguard at Roman Nose during the day. Farmers didn’t make a living on the farm alone. I don't remember too many times that my dad didn’t have a monthly check coming; either for milk he sold to the cheese plant or from the school because he drove the bus. My parents also raised chickens so there were certain days that they would dress 40 to 50 chickens.  That was a very messy job."

Basil with his mom and brother and sisters


Basil, Anna, Hubert,
Jan, Judi


Danna's mother, Kate holding Danna, Grandma Mittie Carl and Grandpa J.M. Compton and little Doris
Danna was born in California in Santa Barbara, her parents, Hugh and Kate Compton, moved back to this area when she was 2 and lived on a farm 2 miles east and three miles south of Watonga.

Danna talks about her younger years:

“Our house was just right on the line between Greenfield school district and Watonga School District; but we were on the Greenfield side.





Arthur and Lillie Rogers,
Danna's grandparents


"I remember being a very shy kid; I stuttered some and I kept to myself. As I got older, I grew out of that shyness and began to participate in basketball and cheerleading.

"I was the 2nd oldest of 4 girls; my sisters are Doris Milliron, Phyllis Boston and Treasa Mark.



Danna's fifth grade school picture

"With no brothers, we girls did the outside work on the farm along with the household chores. We milked the cows in the evening; we rarely helped milk in the morning because we were usually running late for school.

Phyllis, Doris with hands on Treasa's shoulders, then Kate, Danna, Hugh
 "We girls seemed to be late everywhere we went!

"Anyway, I remember mama running that heavy separator, she was such a worker. We took our cream to the creamery and we took our eggs to town as well.

"I also remember chopping cotton in the summer and then picking cotton in the late fall.

"When my dad began working for the Blaine County Sheriff’s office, we had to move into Watonga.

"This was right before my senior year so I had to leave some of my dear friends like Donna Neely, Jacquita Burnhardt and Nancy Dickens.


Doris, Danna, Phyllis, Treasa

Treasa, Phyllis, Doris, Danna

"I will say that growing up in Greenfield was very special to me. We still have our Greenfield meetings as we try to keep Greenfield’s history alive.

"Even when we went to school at Greenfield, we were in Watonga every Saturday night. It was bumper to bumper as the teenagers cruised main street to see who all was in town.

"Even the farm families would race to get chores done on Saturday in order to get to town and get a parking spot.

"The women would go in the stores, the men would sit in the cars and talk about whoever they saw walking down the street or they would go to the pool hall.”

Danna graduating high school in Watonga


Basil added: “When I was a senior in high school I worked all day on Saturday, from 11:00 am to midnight or later at Hoot’s Pool Hall on main street racking balls. It was owned by Fuzz Harris then. It had a 3 foot fluorescent sign out front of an owl. He had 4 snooker tables and 4 pool tables. There were tables set up where the guys could play dominos, too. When the game was finished, they would yell ‘rack’ and you would collect their 10 or 15 cents and place the balls ready for another game. I was in there all day except for an hour supper break. I would go to one of the restaurants in town and order whatever I wanted. I could afford it; he paid me $8.00 a day. Hoot’s Pool Hall was near where Thrasher’s is today.

"In the basement of Ball’s Furniture Store (the building east of the Watonga Republican) was another pool hall; it was called ‘The Cave’. This furniture store was right next to the Dr. Pepper bottling company.”

Danna's parents, Kate and Hugh Compton


Hugh was the Blaine County Sheriff for many years



When asked how he got into banking, Basil said that he just fell into it….

“After Danna and I married, I continued to work in Wichita for Beach Aircraft. I had been promoted to production scheduling; but Danna was a mama’s girl and wanted to get back to Watonga. So I called up Harlan Tomlinson who I had worked for at Roman Nose and asked him if he had hired his lifeguards for the summer yet. He had not, and he remodeled an apartment for us right beside the salt room. His crew had painted it and fixed it up real nice.

"At the end of the summer, I began looking for another job. When I was told by Southard that they didn’t need help, I did find out from Bill Kime that Roy Shaw at the Canton Bank was looking for a young man to help him. I drove to Canton only to learn that Roy was just looking for part time help; but he told me to bring in my resume anyway. I had to ask Danna what a resume was, but she fixed up a real nice information page and that along with glowing remarks from Hod Bates, the deputy sheriff who worked with Danna’s dad, Roy Shaw hired me to work at the Canton Bank.

Basil at his office at Watonga State Bank

"My biggest job was to file checks in the vault, but one day I walked up to the window and started taking care of customers. It was just a natural thing for me. I had a real good teacher in Jack McGreevy, the cashier. He would stay with me until eight at night teaching me the posting machine. And Roy and Sheila Shaw were always very good to Danna and me.”

Danna told this story about the Shaw’s.

“I was working at the Watonga Chamber of Commerce as secretary when Glen Landis was head of it, so I drove to Watonga with our first child Melanie every day. Basil’s mom would keep Melanie while I was at work. I almost had a wreck one day while trying to give her a bottle while driving. After that Roy Shaw said, ‘Dana, I will pay Basil extra whatever your salary is so you can stay home’.”

Lori and Tacy had the measles this day; but they insisted on putting on their Easter outfits at least for a picture!

While at Canton they added 2 more girls to their family, Lori and Tacy.

Basil and Danna still wanted to get back to where they grew up, so with the encouragement of Danna’s aunt Margaret Benway and her husband C.J., Basil took a job at Watonga State Bank in 1961. Danna also worked there; but about 1971, they decided to buy a business of their own: an insurance business.


Less than a year went by when one day Basil was making a deposit for his business at the bank (he was worried on that day about premiums coming in so that he could make payments) and Jack Barrett said, “Basil, are you ready to come back to the bank?” Basil said, “Oh, yes.”


In 1974, even though Jack Barrett along with C.J. and Basil spent some time in the city contesting this organization, a group established the First State Bank in Watonga.




Basil and Danna's three girls:
Lori, Tacy and Melanie

The board consisted of Roger Folson, M.C. Ball, Dr. Shipley, and Dr. S.M. Barrett when they built the building in 1976 and then they sold it to a group from Stroud in 1978. The Stroud group owned the bank for only 2 years and it was just not working out for them.  C.J. and Basil had talked about getting a bank in another town, but the opportunity was here at First State Bank. Basil said,

“That was the hardest thing that I ever did. Jack Barrett was one of the finest men that I have ever known. He was good to me and I always tried to be good to him.”

In February 1981, C.J. and Basil formed a group and contracted to buy First State Bank. The original group consisted of George Russell, Dr. Barrett, Earl Goerke, C.J. Benway, Basil Taylor, Dr. Larry Major, Dr. Fred Lucas, Chub Edsall and Bob Chapman and later Bruce Harris.





Basil and Danna have always taken a big interest in their yard work. In fact, their picture was in the Watonga Republican in 1973 after having attended a seminar on yard care. So when Basil retired in 2002, he intended to spend a lot of time in his back yard.

That didn’t work out so much; Basil is still at the bank two days a week.



But one would not say that the yard has suffered any.  Here are a couple of breath-taking pictures.


Another one of Danna's hobbies is painting.
These are two of the beautiful paintings hanging on the walls in their home.


Here's some pictures that Basil and Danna shared.

Anna Zeka Pameticky and John Pameticky, grandma Womack’s mom and dad



grandson Nathan with new new wife, Margaret
grandson Chad with Allison and Abby and Audrey

granddaughter Brittany



Family of John and Mittie Carl Compton:   14 children born to this family
Carmen, Vera, Bryan, Hugh (Danna's Dad), Carl, Marie, Margaret
Thelma, Kathryn, Sherrill
(Paul Compton passed away before the picture was taken, there were three more children in the family that passed away when they were young children)

  Earl Goerke, Hugh Compton, Mike Oyler, sheriff, Chester P. Cunningham

Hugh and C.P. were the deputies at this time


this was after a raid at a private club at the McDonald Hotel


Basil's grandfather, Irvin Taylor

Basil's grandmother, Marbra Taylor
One of the Taylor's first homes in Oklahoma at Darlington

The Irvin Taylor family
Irvin, Marbra, Homer, Ordway, Clemeth, Carl, Taska, Marie, Norma, Gene
(Homer is Basil's father)

Listen to a recording of an interview with Anna Womack (Basil's grandmother).  The interview was conducted by Watonga's historian, Frank Beneda in 1973.
(Internet Explorer only)



Danna said that Anna cooked in restaurants for a living; and that her pies were something to get excited about!



Basil's grandmother, Anna Womack is the first person, second row.  No one knows for sure what this organization was; their ribbons say K. & L. of S.
(maybe taken around the time of WWI)

 7th grade 1928, back row: Flora Mae Golden, Lillian Butler, Arlene Hysell, Varee Taylor, Ema Yelloweyes, Roberta Harper, Hugh Compton, Juanita Walters, Vonciele Wall, Principle Mr. Drennen, Margory Ballard, Helen Dennison, Josephine Scott, Earnestine Pool, Mrs. Nick Kline, Miss Mary Sue Thomas 2nd row: Pearl Pierce, Geneva Bream, Buck Dennis, Nettie Heston, Juanita Long, Eleanor Lowen, Florence Allen, June Hammon, Loretta Fee, Ruth Allen, Peggy Gott, Pearl Temple 1st row: Wilbur Boyd, Dean Mars, Hollis Driver, Edward Herman, Leon Fuggins, Junior Hobrechet, Glen, Gene Rector, James Pierce, Harold Dadison, Homer Sims, Bruce Ward



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Hey, Danna and Basil I was so glad to see that Anita, had featured your story on Watonga. com. and to read your history and see the pictures. You are a great couple to be featured to share your memories with the rest of us. You know....., it's amazing the history we make when we are seemingly to be "just living" an ordinary life. That's what you and your families did. Danna, I have to mention, you were one of the prettiest girls there ever was, but your pretty was way more than skin deep. You do know, Basil, you are a lucky man? ha Danna, I loved all your family and memories of them will always be dear in my heart.
Mary Lou Rother 

Basil and Danna... I have known both of you for a long time, but learned some new things as I read your story. It was a great story of your lives together and your family and grandparents and even great-grandparents. The pictures were wonderfull.... I remember Hugh and Kate and have such fond memories of them. Danna, I didn't know that you paint. The pictures that were in this article were very nice. Thanks for sharing, and giving us an opportunity to see your pool and back yard....Very pretty...
Betty Chapman