He won two Olympic Gold medals and is considered the greatest athlete of the 20th Century, but Jim Thorpe’s happiest times were spent here.

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YALE, OKLAHOMA -- When Jim Thorpe came home, when he really came home, from post-Olympic publicity tours, from speaking engagements, from football and baseball seasons, he came here to a tidy, little house that still stands in on East Boston Street in Yale.

"The house was built new in 1915," says Thorpe Home director Linda Cleveland Frick.

She is the longtime keeper of the Jim Thorpe Home, of the original pieces from his time, these chairs, a hand crocheted table-cloth, a childhood toy, and a worn suitcase Jim only really unpacked right here.

Frick says, "This is the only home he ever owned. He never bought anything else."

Jim's first wife Iva didn't want to travel so much with two small children.

She was expecting her second when the Thorpes moved here in 1917.

"He bought here because she (Iva) had relations to the west," says Frick.

Having grown up in Oklahoma, relatives say Jim Thorpe's happiest days were here even though he was gone much of the time.

LInda states, "This was the prime time of Jim's life when he lived here."

The visitor count always goes up when the Olympic Games are on and people begin to debat things like who's the best athlete, the fastest runner, the greatest player.

Thorpe's name springs to the top of the list in several different sports.

His house full of old photographs and a case full of medals he never really cared about.

Frick says, "He would much rather have gone hunting and brought home dinner than he would to get a medal and trophy."

That might be part of the reason his life is tinged with sadness.

The good times were few.

Three of his children were born here.

His first-born son died here and his marriage fell apart.

"The loss of Jim Jr. just sort of disheartened him," she says.

The people who walk through the front door now would give almost anything to see him just once, happy and in his prime.

"I have the feeling of his presence here regardless," says Frick.

The Jim Thorpe Home opened to the public after purchase and restoration by the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1968.

It's open for tours Wednesday through Saturday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.

For more information call (918) 387-2815.

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