Sunday, August 31, 2008


One of the joys of owning a Route 66 business is having people arrive as strangers and leave a little while later as friends.  Roadies make friends with other roadies very quickly.   However, an even greater joy is seeing familiar faces at the door, folks you already know so you don't have to get to know them.   Today I was blessed with visits from some of my very favorite people, and since they were all here at the same time, it came close to my ideal scenario of sitting around the pot-bellied stove and chewing the fat all day with buddies.  Ok, I don't have a pot-bellied stove, but even without one, sitting around chatting with dear friends is just about the greatest pleasure one can have.   Today I was that lucky!

Brad and LaSandra, friends from Tulsa, arrived early and stayed until closing.  I love Brad and LaSandra for many reasons, not the least of which is the care and concern they gave to me last year when I spent so much time in the hospital.  They're great Route 66 fans who do a lot of good for the road.  Oh, and they're fun, too!

Shortly after they arrived, Frank and Trudy from the Chelsea Motor Inn appeared at the door.  I was overjoyed, since they so rarely get any time off from the motel to kick back, relax, and do something for themselves.   They, too, are huge Route 66 supporters and although they're relatively new friends in my life, I know that time will bring us closer together.  They're just great, and they were able to stay for a couple of hours!

Finally, Betty arrived.  I don't have to say much about her, since I've already sung her praises here a number of times.  It's always a pleasure to see her walk in the door. 

And to add richness to this assembled group, we  had almost 30 walk-in visitors, and as usual they were a varied and interesting group.  The smashed penny machine was particular popular today, and I'm almost sold out of EZ66 Guides.   I hope my reorder arrives tomorrow!

Brad went across the street and got cold cuts from Bassetts, so we had a lovely, albeit highly informal, lunch.  There was just NOTHING wrong with this day other than the nearly total departure of my voice.  But losing a voice pales in comparison to the friendship that filled the day. 

Here are my friends:

Trudy, Frank, Betty, Penny Pincher Machine, LaSandra, Brad

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Labor Day weekend so far


Lots to tell, but I'm demoralized by the fact that I just lost two days worth of journal by accidentally hitting a wrong key and deleting it, and I don't know if I have the strength to repeat it all.   So, here's a summary:   The motorcyclists never arrived, after all my planning and rearranging of schedules.   I suspect it's because they were having a big thunder/lightning/hail storm up in MO.  But if they'd been able to get past the Oklahoma border, they would have found fine weather here all day.   No worries, though.   I had a great day, with Marly and Betty with me most of the day and a parade of interesting visitors. 

I spent the night at the Chelsea Motor Inn.  I drove there for a short nap after Afton, then drove back to Grove to have dinner with David and Sylvie.   Some time ago, Trudy of the Chelsea Motor Inn had shown me a fantastic Route 66 quilt made by her mother.  When I arrived there last night, there was one waiting for me!  Instead of a long description, I'll post a photo of it as soon as I can take one.  It's wall-hanging size, and I also have two of them to sell at Afton Station.   


I got up early, craving a huge breakfast.   The sunrise was lovely. 

Since I was in the mood to have breakfast with cowboys, and since the Will Rogers Rodeo is in Vinita this weekend, I decided that Clanton's would be the perfect spot.  So, with a voluptuous bacon omelet and a cup of coffee in front of me, I compiled the following observations and opinions:  I can't tell the cowboys from everyone else.  There was cowboy talk coming from guys with John Deere caps and farm talk coming from guys with 10-gallon-hats and even rodeo talk coming from obvious touristas with northern accents.   I just gave up and ate.   When I'm in one of these "romance of the West" moods, I need to be able to tell a real rootin' tootin' cowboy from everyone else.

After breakfast I drove down to the rodeo grounds, but everyone (human and beast alike) seemed to be still sleeping -- except the bulls!   Here's one particularly nasty looking one, photographed through a very sturdy chain link fence.  (When they paw at the ground, that's bad, isn't it?)

Here's one rig I saw parked outside the rodeo grounds.  Probably not a cowboy's.  :-)

It was a busy day at Afton Station with some truly extra special guests.  Here's Anton from the Netherlands, who's doing a "preview" of the Route so he can bring his family over next summer and be ready to show them just the highlights.


Here's possibly my all-time favorite visitor, Derek from Houston who arrived in his super sharp BMW convertible, and before he left about 90 minutes later, we were dancing in the street outside the Station as we listened to Mark Curran's Route 66 CD on his car stereo.   Yes, really.  What a cool guy.  Here he is with his souvenir roll of Afton Station toilet paper. 

This is a very short synopsis of a very full day, but I'm so tired I can barely type, and it's back to Afton again tomorrow to finish out the weekend. 



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

History can be fun

This will probably be my last post until after the weekend, since I'll be working in Afton Fri., Sat., and Sun., and in fact I'm staying up there Fri. night at my favorite motel, the Chelsea Motor Inn.  I'll come home Sat. night, but will be pretty tired and in need of rest before driving back to Afton on Sunday.  I managed to get my dialysis changed to tomorrow night in order to free up the whole weekend, especially because I'm expecting that big motorcycle tour from Springfield (MO) on Friday.

Yesterday Betty gave me a copy of an article in the Afton newspaper from 1980.   It lists all the businesses that were in Afton at Christmas in 1913.  It's a pretty impressive list, proving once again that Afton was a vibrant and "happenin'" place.  Among others businesses, there was a jewelry store, two banks, three doctors and one dentist, a barber shop, a shoe repair shop, two department stores, a theater (The Electric Theater!), a harness shop, a livery, a newspaper, a hardware store, a seed company, and, most surprisingly, it's own electric light and power company!  It was the only town around with it's own power company in 1913.  The article goes on to talk about the decline of the city during the '40s and '50s when passenger trains were also in decline, but doesn't mention how much of the decline was attributed to the building of the interstate, thus diverting traffic away from Route 66.

The top postcard is postmarked 1916 and shows a big crowd scene in downtown Afton.  I don't have any idea what the occasion was, but folks seem to be dressed up in Sunday finery.  The second postcard is from the same time period and shows that the railroad station was big and bustling then.  It's gone now. 

This afternoon I attended a talk by my dear friend Marian Clark at the Tulsa Historical Society.  She's the author of three food-related Route 66 books (most well known being "The Route 66 Cookbook") and is considered the authority on restaurants and food all along Route 66.   Today she was talking about turn-of-the-century food in Tulsa.  It touched on subjects such as the feeding of the oil field workers during the oil boom, early grocery stores in  Tulsa, and the very earliest restaurants to open in the growing city.  It was illustrated using PowerPoint, and it was obvious that Marian spent untold hours doing the research. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Croak... Part 2

I still feel a little rocky, and I have no voice at all, but I slogged my way to Afton with no problems and certainly no excitement other than a very impressive and colorful sunrise. It seems that lately no matter what time I open up, there are people snapping at my heels to get in.  This is a situation which suits me just fine.  The more the merrier!   The folks arrived at a rather rapid clip this morning and by 1 p.m. I'd already had 14 guests representing France, California, OK City, more from California, Nevada, and yet more from California. 

Betty, the provider of everything wonderful, brought me some photos of a fellow named Crawford Conner, working on the construction of Route 66 outside of Afton in about 1926. Check out the big road grading machines.  The pieces of equipment look  heavy and massive and you can just imagine the heat and the sweat that went into that transcontinental project. 

These photos, which were loaned to Betty, truly have great historic value to all of us who love Route 66 and care about it's birth.    I wish I could talk Betty into publishing a book containing all of her memories and artifacts from 41 years of meeting the traveling public as the owner of the drive-in at Buffalo Ranch.  Her recollections are all on paper and her photos and memorabilia are well-organized.  What a book it would make!  (Any publishers out there willing to take on this project??) 

Later in the day, David and Marly came back from driving up to Kansas to take a look at a 1916 Packard motorhome (yes, they had them back then, too.)   They showed me pictures of the gorgeous thing, and I want it!   Apparently it's not for sale, but could possibly be "on loan" to our museum, where it would be an incredible asset.

More visitors came in the afternoon, and Luis came to mow the lawn and finish the window washing, then the bug guys came to zap our pesky little friends.  This place is beginning to look almost  TOO good to be a 75-year-old gas station -- just in time for the big motorcycle tour that will be visiting on Friday.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Croak!   That's how my voice sounds today.   If I weren't
"the boss", I probably would have taken a sick day.   My throat hurts, I don't have much energy, and my eyes are red and runny.  It's just a cold so I should be fine soon, but this morning it would have felt really good to just roll over and catch another hour of sleep.  Since it was to be just me at Afton Station today, I had no choice but to make the long drive.   And I'm SO glad I did!

It turned out to be a great day.  I arrived an hour early again (once I was awake, I might as well just shower and get on the road) and awaiting me in the driveway were two great looking Corvettes being driven on a Route 66 trip by two couples from S. Dakota.  They're doing the Route in segments each summer, and seemed to be having a ball.

Next came Marly, who stayed for an hour or so and we discussed ordering the parts for the gas pumps.  We checked out a couple of catalogs.  It's pretty nice to know that there are a number of companies who deal in repro parts for vintage pumps as well as original stuff.   Here's Marly measuring for parts.

Visitors kept coming and going, with a few interesting coincidences.  For instance, right after the group from S. Dakota left, a group from N. Dakota arrived.   Since those two states barely have populations and very few have visited the Station, I thought it was pretty cool.  Also visiting were two separate groups from Australia.   The second was a couple on their 6-week honeymoon in the U.S.   Wow, must be nice! 

Betty came by and kept me company for a while. Some local people dropped by in their beautiful '48 Austin A40.   Here 'ya go...

Things really got weird when a local couple who've visited before came by.  I hadn't seen them for almosta year because, as it turns out, the husband has been having health problems.  While they were there, a young man came in by himself.   The young man and the older gentleman exchanged hellos, and then the older man asked the younger man's name.  When told, the older man said "I thought so.  You're my cousin".   The young man apparently didn't know that, so there was yet another family reunion to occur under Afton Station's roof. 

A year or so ago, we got to know an Afton family who for a time had a taco wagon which they parked outside of the Station and from which they produced and sold the most delicious enchiladas, tamales, etc.   But for the past year, they seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth and I figured they'd moved away.   What a surprise when they arrived today, bringing with them the reason for their absence -- an adorable 5-week-old baby girl, Jasonia!  

There were about 30+ visitors today, and all so interesting that for a time, I was able to forget my malaise.

And finally, you know the big wind turbine farms which are (thankfully) being constructed all over the American countryside as alternative power sources?  Have you ever checked out the blades on those things close up?   Wellllll.... exactly three trucks carrying the blades (two blades per truck) pass by Afton Station every Sunday, without fail.  I don't know if they're manufactured around here or if there's a wind farm being built in the area, or maybe Route 66 is just their preferred route of transit, but at any rate, I was finally able to snap a picture of one of the passing trucks.   I'm in awe of the size of those things!



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Then and now

Before I tell you about my day at Afton Station, I want to post two pictures. One is from a postcard of Afton in the 1950s.  The other I took today as I was leaving to come home.

There's not much to say.   It's what happens in so many towns as a result of being bypassed by the interstate.  If you love old roads and small towns as I do, you will have a tear in your eye.

Now, for happier thoughts.  Although my drive to Afton this morning was under a huge and very dark cloud, by the time I arrived I'd seen only a few drops of rain and the sky was already beginning to lighten up.  By noon the sun was out and it was a lovely day. 

I purposely arrived about an hour early because we had the floors cleaned and the windows washed yesterday when I wasn't there, and I knew I'd need some time to put things back in place.  I was right, and it took about an hour to stick signs back on the windows, rearrange some heavy stuff, and make the Station look like the Station again.  It was worth it, however.  The place gleams!   I've been told it took 6 hours to remove all the old wax from the floors, and I'm sure it took a long time to get the ick off of the huge windows, too.  This afternoon I scrubbed the bathroom, so the place is cleaner than it's been in years.   Here's a picture of my clean floor.  :-)

The visitors didn't wait for my official opening time, either.  By 10 (the posted opening time), I'd already greeted a couple from Edinburg, Scotland, a couple from Alabama, and two guys from Tucumcari NM driving a very gorgeous customized red 1955 International Harvester panel truck.  One of the guys is the Tucumcari postmaster, and he showed me his signature on the Ken Turmel postmark art on my wall.

Ron Jones just couldn't stay away, so he came down from Bartlesville and hung out for most of the afternoon.  He swept the area in front of the Station, so even the outside is clean now. Thanks, Ron!

Later in the afternoon I had a visit from Marianne from the Netherlands, folks from Kansas City, and David and Celia, a young couple from France (Bretagne).   The couple immediately recognized the "bones" of the Citroen 2CV (Deux Chevaux) which now resides in our work room.   About 95% of American visitors mistake it for a Volkswagen bug.   It's next in line for restoration, I think.

David and Celia with a car (well, part of a car) from their homeland.

There were 19 visitors today, and most of them lingered for quite a while, so I'd call this a very GOOD day!



Friday, August 22, 2008


I'm home today with a rather nasty head cold, so I was surfing a few web locales in an attempt to divert my attention from a very sore throat.  Until I read yesterday's blog entry about the Big Texan Steak Ranch site, I had forgotten that there's a live webcam set up in the dining room there, trained on the table where the potential 72-oz. sirloin eaters sit when they attempt their gluttonous feat.  A couple of mouse clicks and I was hooked.   So far, I've seen nobody eat the legendary steak, but I can't seem to stop watching all the other goings-on that are also within the range of the webcam lens.   I've watched people sit at the tables in the foreground, eat, chat, pay, and leave.  I've watched the waiters scurry around or, during the lull in the middle of the afternoon, loll around waiting for some action.  The open grill kitchen is visible in the background, and I've watched the grill men work tirelessly, never stopping for a moment's rest.   I'm most impressed by their industriousness.  I know I'll keep dropping in on the webcam this evening to find out if anyone takes the steak eating challenge.  What a way to piddle away a day.  I'm ashamed of my voyeurism, but it sure is fun.   I wonder how long my obsession will last.   I'll be in Afton tomorrow and Sunday, so maybe the habit will break itself over the weekend.  In the meantime, I confess to blatant enjoyment of my clandestine peeking.  

If  you'd like to peek yourself, go to: BIG TEXAN STEAK RANCH - LIVE

UPDATE:  They're setting the 72-oz. steak table right now. I think we're about to get some action!  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

1000 Hits!

I'm celebrating 1000  hits on this blog.  I know, it's not such a big deal, but I haven't been around that long and I've never done a blog before.   On second thought, I'm sure about half of them are from me.  :-)

My Nikon camera died and the fix would cost more than a new camera, so today I bought a little Canon A560, cheaper than the Nikon but good enough for what I do with it.  They also threw in an $80 HP Printer/Fax/Scanner/Copier, which has $80 worth of rebates.   So, as soon as I gather the intestinal fortitude to start filling out all the rebate junk and then wait for half of the rest of my life, I'll have a free printer.  This is great, because my Kodak printer also died a few weeks ago.   I wonder if I'll receive the rebates before the new HP dies. 

At any rate, I now have a camera with which to take a neat picture in Afton which I had all lined up when the Nikon died.  Stay tuned and I'll try to post it this weekend, if I can figure out how to install the new printer/scanner.   Ah, technology....

You vs technology

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Out-of-body or Out of my mind?

Out-of-body experiences happen to me almost every time I drive alone between Afton and Tulsa, which means between 4 and 6 times a week.  It doesn't happen so much when I have a passenger, but but when I'm completely alone in the car on certain stretches of the lonely road, I have a strange thing happen.  I realize that those of us who are avid Route 66 fans would rather not think of our road as "lonely" because that indicates lack of travelers, lack of interest, lack of business, etc.  But let's face it, I can sometimes go a mile across the long straight stretches of grazing land and see only one or two vehicles coming toward me, particularly in the early morning.  It is then that the out-of-body stuff occurs, although some might say I'm more out of my mind than out of my body.  But here's what it's like, albeit hard to explain.  Momentarily, I forget where I am and where I'm going.  Don't worry, it's not an Alzheimer's-style forgetfulness.  It's more like a displacement, and it's actually very pleasant.  Realistically, I know where I am at all times, but my mind carries me elsewhere.  Instead of driving down the same road with the same sights, day after day, I am projected to another place -- maybe one of the equally straight and lonely roads across the Kansas wheat fields I love so much or, oddly, across a long straight highway through the Florida Everglades, where corn fields become live oak hammocks and cows become alligators.  I guess this means that when I'm on Route 66 I'm not always on Route 66, and I further speculate that the odd experience is nature's way of relieving the monotony of the same old sights. (Wow, who'd ever think I could become bored with any part of the Mother Road!)

My first visitor at the Station today was the guy who does the asphalt work on our driveways.  He's a very nice guy, so I was shocked to learn that his was one of the homes which was completely blown away by the tornado that devastated Picher this past May.  I was mesmerized as he told me about how he and his 80+year-old father lay on the floor of a neighbor's house while both houses were totally flattened in about 15 seconds.  Although several Picher residents lost their lives, he and his father and the neighbors were spared.  His trucks and his business blew away too, and he was left with no possessions other than the shirt and pants he was wearing.  His advice was simply "Get as low to the ground as you can when you hear the winds coming."

Betty came by and brought me some more honey (yum!) as well as the loan of Afton phone books from 1953 and 1956.  We went through the phone books page by page (easy, since each is only 20 pages long!) and pulled out all the service stations, motels, and restaurants on Route 66 in Afton.  By our count (not including those without listings of course) and helped along by Betty's memory, we came up with 8 restaurants and/or bars, 6 service stations, and 7 motels existing during the '50s.  There were also at least two grocery stores (only Bassett's survives) and Johnson's Hospital, long gone.   All but one motel and one cafe on the outskirts of Afton are out of business or entirely gone.  Sad.   Here are some ads from those phone books:

From the 1953 phone book

From the 1956 phone book. (Note that the phone numbers now have letter prefixes, which they did not in 1953)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The secret life of cows

After reading yesterday's journal entry, my friend Brad wrote to say that he has the definitive answer to cow behavior.   Now it's all beginning to  make sense......

The Far Side

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cows Up!

I'll explain the "Cows Up!" in a moment.  But first, about my day at Afton Station.   It was another busy one, with 17 visitors.   They hailed from Tempe AZ, Toledo OH, North Carolina, Tennessee, Spain (Madrid), some locals, and a father and son from the town of Fred, Texas.   I loved the name of the town and was curious about the town itself.  They described it as just about as exciting as Afton, which translates to "slow and empty".  It's down in south Texas near the Louisiana border, and the guys were doing a little Route 66ing on their way back from Indiana, where they were looking for an Amish wheelmaker who could duplicate some wheels for their horse buggy back in Fred.  Now that's an interesting reason for a road trip!     Those who didn't come to visit were a group of about 30 Danish motorcyclists who whizzed right past, just like last week's Danes.  Have I done something to offend the country of Denmark?   I hope not!  Granted, we occasionally raced our sailboat against Danish boats back in the 80s and we usually won, but I've been nothing but Denmark-friendly since then.  I buy my share of Danish pastries and even have a soft spot in my retro heart for Danish modern furniture.   :-)  

Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones helped out today, and he brought me a bottle of "Tattoo" soda, a newly-minted product from Pop's in Arcadia.  It was a pretty awful mixture of a lot of herbs and teas, with a rather bad aftertaste.  But Tattoo Man liked the name for obvious reasons, so he bought a six-pack.   Betty also dropped in and visited with us for a while.  She told us about her very special banana pudding, which made everyone within earshot very hungry.  

Ok, about the cows......    Ron McCoy and I have had an ongoing discussion about why cows do what they do.   We pass hundreds (thousands?) of cows on our way back and forth from Tulsa to Afton, and we have noted that sometimes all the cows are standing up, sometimes they're all lying down, and sometimes it's a little of both.  After some hunting on the internet, Ron came up with some sites that explain it all.  What it boils down to is this:  They pretty much do whatever they feel like doing.  It doesn't have much to do with the weather or the time of day.  Like people, they tend to eat then lie down for a nap. Today, all the cows were UP. Incorporating dairy cow behavior into management tools, in case you're interested.  

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Super Saturday

I love really busy days like this.   People started coming in as soon as Ron and I arrived at about 9:45.  The entry to the car museum side was blocked, apparently by a car returned from a car show last night, so the first thing we did was to move the Model T pickup outside to alleviate the blockage.  We think maybe having that gorgeous hot rod outside was instrumental in bringing people in.  We had over 30 guests, including my very first visitor from Algeria (although he lives in the U.S. now), folks from West Virginia, a few from Missouri, a Californian, and a fellow from Albany, NY.  Most of the rest were in-state Oklahomans.   One couple was there to do some preliminary scouting for places to stop on a Labor Day weekend motorcycle tour by their Missouri motorcycle club.  After they looked around, they definitely decided to put Afton Station on the itinerary, so I can expect up to 50 bikers dropping in on the morning of Fri. Aug. 29th.  I won't be there to greet them (dammit!) but I'll make sure someone will.   We also had a visit from a couple I've met before.  Their restored teardrop trailer named "Lucille" was featured at our 2004 Route 66 Festival in Tulsa.   It's all done up in '50s motif and is completely charming.

A local mom and child check out the penny squashing machine.

I made a last-minute, hand-scribbled "FREE" sign to put atop our regular "OPEN" sign, just to see if it would draw more visitors.   Maybe that, along with the Model T, was the reason for our increased volume. 

Remember the Avon Courts, which I've talked about in a earlier blog posts?   Here's a photo of the "ghost sign" that appears only when one of the buildings gets damp from rain. 

"Avon Courts / Modern Cabins / Air Cooled / Trailer Park"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Route 66 gets under your skin

There are two roadie loyalists who have donated their epidermis to Route 66.   Here they are, back to back:

Ron Jones

Jim Bush

That's a different kind of devotion.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Nut House

I didn't go to the Station today, but I did make a short pilgrimage to Catoosa to visit the Nut House, a relatively new Route 66 business which I pass each time I drive to and from Afton.  I knew the business hadn't been there very long, and I feared for it's prosperity because highway construction barriers make it necessary to go almost two miles out of the way if approaching from the east (which, as we all know, is the way from which the majority of Route 66 cruisers approach). Although getting there from the west is not a problem, I figured the eastern approach just had to be crippling for a tourist-oriented business trying to take hold.  I was right.   The daughter of the owners, who was working this morning, told me that they have indeed felt the impact of the construction barriers, but since the Dept. of Transportation tells them that the work should be finished in about 6 weeks, which is the start of their busy season, they're feeling a bit optimistic.   I hope ODOT meant it. 

The reason autumn is the busy season for the Nut House is because they sell locally-grown nuts!  Nuts are harvested in the fall.  But there's a great deal more to the Nut House than just nuts.  Darryl and Hazel Ward, the new owners, have chosen to put a special emphasis on Route 66, and along with nuts, homemade fudge, jams and jellies, hand-packed teas, and some fresh produce, they now have some beautiful and unusual Route 66 t-shirts and a number of other Route 66 souvenirs.   It's a very pleasant place, and I definitely recommend a stop there either before or after coming to Afton Station...

It's open Mon - Sat, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.   Website is  Check it out!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Amazing photos

Earlier this summer, a true Route 66 fan visited Afton Station with his young daughter, a tripod, and a what appeared to be some very fancy photographic equipment.  His name is David Schaubert and just yesterday he posted the fruits of his labors.  Go to and check out the awesome interactive panoramic shots of downtown Afton, Afton Station, and a lot more Route 66 locations in Oklahoma.   From there, you can click to other states with equally as spectacular shots.   If you have QuickTime (which you probably do, but if you don't it's easy to install) you can run your mouse over the panoramas and take a 360-degree tour.   It's addictive.  I can't stop mousing!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Slow but productive

It wasn't a particularly unique day at Afton Station, but I met some lovely people and a lot of chores got done.  David, back from vacation, arrived to install a couple of dehumidifiers on the car side.  They'll help guard against mildew on these hot and humid summer days.  He also adjusted the penny press so now it produces the tail-free pennies which I've been told are more desirable to hardcore squashed coin collectors.   The roofers came to find out why we're still leaking like a sieve despite quite a few previous attempts to stem the flow.  We also did a few more little chores around the Station, happily interrupted now and then by visitors.   A couple from Italy on motorcycles were first, but my ability to understand not a word of Italian beyond "Ciao!" and their inability to utter anything in English other than "Boston to Los Angeles" prohibited much give and take.   Easier to understand was a woman from Oregon who was in the area trying to convince her elderly father to move to Oregon with her in the wake of his wife's death, and a chatty guy from New Jersey doing most of the Route on his beautifully tricked out Harley.   Betty stopped by, and I'm always so glad to see her.  There were others too, totaling 11, if I remember correctly.  That's about it for now.....

Monday, August 11, 2008


I'm not too fond of pointers.... and I'm not talking about hunting dogs or helpful hints.  Here's the thing.   There's a lot of traffic that passes Afton Station every day.  Despite Route 66 having been decommissioned as a federal highway and bypassed long ago by the evil Interstate, it's still fairly heavily used by locals, long-haul truckers, short-haul truckers and, of course, Route 66 tourists.  Now, if travelers are in a hurry, or aren't interested in old gas stations or antique cars, then I have no problem with them just driving right past the Station.  I don't even have a problem with people who slow down and snap a few pictures and then, for whatever reason, hasten on down the road.  It's just the pointers that make me a little crazy.  They'll slow down, look, point, slow down a little more, look a little more, point a little more, then step on the gas and roar past. 

I guess I take it way too personally.  Folks have a right to react to Afton Station any way they wish.  It just makes me sad when I almost got to meet and greet people who apparently weren't as excited about meeting me.  I always blame it on the travelers not using guidebooks.  "If they only had a copy of the EZ66 Guide (or any guide...fill in the blank) they would have read about how incredibly interesting we are here in our little old filling station", I grumble.   

Sometimes we attempt to lure folks into the Station in some very obvious ways.  We're not as good at it as Harley and Annabelle in Erick, but we're getting pretty adept at putting on our own little show.  On nice days, we sometimes sit outside on the apron in front of the Station and wave people in, sideshow-barker style.  If Ron's there, he will even don his oversized red,white, and blue Uncle Sam hat and get right out there on the side of the road.  It works like a charm, although I'm sure that more than half the people who pass by think we're a couple of wackos with a lot of time on our hands.  That's ok.  All I want to do is meet people. 

We've discussed the matter of signage a lot lately.  I have two big OPEN flags  that fly from the columns, aneon OPEN sign in the window, and a sandwich-board type sign that reads MUSEUM OPEN (with a Route 66 shield).  I'm beginning to think that I've forgotten one thing... the magic word --   FREE! The next sign is going to indicate that there's no charge for what we're offering -- information, ice water, popcorn, and a lot of cool stuff to look at.   Perhaps that's the answer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Busy and varied weekend... love it!

I didn't post my mood again today, up at the top of the blog where I'm asked to fill in the "Feeling ____" blank, since once again my choice would have to be TIRED, and I didn't want to admit to being tired two days in a row.  But (sigh....) I am.  After two busy days at Afton and a very festive night at a fancy restaurant in between, I'm ready to do a little chillin', but not until I do a little blogging about this weekend.

It rained all day on Saturday, and since we've had so little precipitation lately I was really relishing the sound of the cars splashing along on Route 66 and that incomparable scent of rain in the air.   Today it was nice and cool in Afton and we were able to turn off the A/C again and sit outside for most of the day.  It started raining again just as we were heading home, and drizzled for the whole ride back to Tulsa.  We need it, so no complaints.  The rain on Saturday didn't stop the folks from coming in, either.

This was the kind of weekend which reinforces for me the reason I bought Afton Station and set up the Visitors' Center.  Among the parade of interesting visitors we had:  two groups from Paris (that's Paris, France ... not Paris Kentucky, Ohio, or California), a preacher from North Dakota who seemed quite worried about the prospects of my salvation, two guys doing the Route in a very spiffy Corvette convertible, a guy from Maryland who was treating himself to a Chicago-to-LA road trip to celebrate having finished the Bar exam, a couple from Wichita who were amazingly well-versed on Route 66 despite this being their first trip (they did their homework... hurray!), a guy from Connecticut who got special attention from me because I moved here from Connecticut and see VERY few Nutmeggers around these parts, a group of cousins who met here for a family reunion despite some of them never having met one another previously, as well as plenty of other groovy people.  It just makes me so  happy!

On Saturday, a surprise guest was Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones and his wife Roz who showed up on that expensive trike again!   He just had to take one more test drive, and he wanted to show it off to Roz.  Roz enjoyed the ride, but said absolutely "NO WAY" to the purchase of the thing.  Hmm... we shall see.... (We also got to see his new Tow Mater tattoo, his 70th!)

On top of that, I bought a new mop and Ron, who was with me today, mopped the whole floor.  You'd be amazed by how filthy that black-and-white checkered floor gets after a few days... or weeks.  Along with all the other help he gives me at the Station, his mop job was most appreciated.

Finally, the picture of the day was sent to me by Cordula and Bernd, folks who visited Afton Station from Germany a couple of weeks ago.  The accompanying email said

"We enjoyed our trip, 2448 miles without a breakdown and only one hour of rain. A nice country you live. We´ve learned a lot of the street and the meaning for the people who live there. With people like you the spirit of the road will never end. It is good to have some people like you!!!"

That's pretty Cordula on the left, me in the middle, and Ron McCoy on the right.



Saturday, August 9, 2008

Too late, too tired

Moments after I got home from my long ride back to Tulsa after a day at Afton, I had to meet and greet some new friends who are visiting Tulsa and we ended up going out for dinner.  So, although it was a GREAT day at Afton Station and I have a lot to tell (and a few pictures to post), I still have to get up early to drive back to Afton tomorrow, so I'm going to save my stories for tomorrow night.  Had 25 visitors today, and just about all of them were interesting. 

It's morning now, but I have a few minutes before leaving for Afton, so here's a picture. 


This is the view from where I sit at my desk each day. (The "desk" is an old formica kitchen table from the '50s.) It's so nice to watch the cars and trucks go by on Route 66, just feet from where I sit.




Friday, August 8, 2008

Just a few pictures

Friday again, and no Afton Station.   So, instead of boring anyone (including myself) with more chit chat, I'll just post a few photos.

Some of the cars in the car showroom

Betty  (Read about her in a previous post)

Norwegians visiting the Station (you can read about them in previous post, too)

Cyrus Avery Plaza dedication  8/7/08  (Photo by Ron Warnick, with his permission). You can read about it at:   Route 66 News

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hot and Itchy

Up there at the top of each entry I'm asked to fill in the blank "Feeling _______" from an AOL-prepared list of feelings.  I left it blank today, because there isn't one that reads "Hot and Itchy".   My current uncomfortable predicament came about as a result of my attendance this morning at the ribbon cutting for the newly restored Cyrus Avery Route 66 Bridge and adjoining Plaza here in Tulsa.   Even though it was 10 a.m. and it wasn't as hot as the previous five days, it was pretty stinky hot out there in the sun, and the mosquitos had no trouble finding me.  There were the usual speeches, and no actual ribbon cutting that I could see from my vantage point, but it was a very nice event and I got to chat with a bunch of my Route 66 friends, some of whom I haven't seen for quite a while. 

I forgot my camera, but a few friends said they'd let me borrow some pics to put here on the blog.   Meanwhile, I'm thrilled to report that I'm hearing rumbles of thunder in the distance, a wondrous occurrence for our area, which hasn't had any precipitation for weeks and weeks.  But it also means I need to sign off for now, so as not to fry my modem.   Back later with a bit about the Cyrus Avery Bridge.

I'm back.  All that thunder and it rained about two drops!   I promised more about the Cyrus Avery Bridge, and since the local news outlet stories about today's ribbon cutting haven't hit the internet yet, here's a link to an article from a few months ago.  Tulsa World: Cyrus Avery plaza's construction nearly finished  With luck, I'll have some pics of the actual ceremony tomorrow.  The restoration of the bridge and the construction of the Plaza are really significant events in the history of Route 66 in Tulsa and, in fact, along the whole Route.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rent a Horse to Ride

I couldn't go to Afton today, but I'm sitting here at home thinking about how sad it can be when something disappears, even if it's something almost totally inconsequential.  For many years there was a sign on a fence on old Route 66 (East 11th St.) east of Tulsa, where there is still enough pasture land unspoiled by housing additions to makes you feel like you are a lot further out in the country than you really are.   The tall buildings of downtown Tulsa are clearly visible in the distance, and yet there are still open fields, vaguely working farms, and even some animals.   The country has not yet retreated from the grabby fingers of the spreading city, but you know it won't be long until the retreat will begin.  Anyway, about the sign..... On a fenced pasture hung a sign which suggested "RENT A HORSE TO RIDE".   I really don't know why I loved that sign so much.   Maybe it was the rather odd wording.   But I remember the sign from first trips on that part of Route 66 well over 10 years ago, and I made a point to look at it each time I drove back and forth to Afton.  I'm sure you know the ending to this story.   It's gone.   In it's place is a realtor's sign indicating that the field has been sold.  I never got to rent a horse to ride, and now I'm sure that suburbia is not far in the future of that horse pasture.   I really don't know why this is such a big deal to me.  The sign was just another remembrance of my early Route 66 discoveries.   I guess that's why. 

Sigh......  I just found out that Paul McCartney, who is on a Route 66 road trip with his new girlfriend, has already passed Afton and was last sighted in Oklahoma City.    Drat!  If there was the slightest chance that he'd stop at Afton Station, I'd have found a way to rearrange things and be there.   But, it's not to be.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Cute Kid, Nostalgia, and a New Neighbor

I would chalk this up as a very good day at Afton Station.  Among a large number of visitors, three are standouts. 

The first delightful guest was Keaton Running-Rooster, an incredibly inquisitive and intelligent 6-year-old who visited with his mother Sue Ellen from Indiana.   Keaton examined everything at the Station in quite some detail, then declared "I don't respect the old cars".   He had quite a bit of "respect" for nearly everything else however, particularly the penny-squashing machine and Tripper, with whom he bonded.   Here's they are, together...

A Rooster and A Penguin... a flock of birds?

Later in the day, I had quite a thrill.   When  tall, handsome bearded guy came in accompanied by his pooch, Sasha, I asked, as always, from whence he hailed. 

HE: Ohio. 

ME: What part of Ohio?  

HE: Near Cleveland? 

ME: A suburb? 

HE: Yes  

ME: Which one? 

HE: South Euclid. 

ME: What street?  

HE: Ardmore Rd.  

ME: Ever heard of Dorsh Rd.? 

HE: Yes, I used to live there! 

ME:  Are you serious?  

He WAS!  He lived a few doors down from where I grew up!!!  I can't even express how excited I was.  (You can inquire of Ron McCoy about my excitement , as he was witness to all of this.)   Anyway, Handsome Guy in Red Shirt lived there quite a lot of yearsafter I left, but some of the same families were still there, and I got a few updates, some good and some bad.  I amazed myself by how many names from 50 years ago that I was able to dredge up from my mind, since the last time I laid eyes on any of those folks was when I moved away at age 12).   Small world!   VERY small world!   Miniscule world!  Eventually Handsome Guy in Red Shirt had to move on down the road, but he seemed no more eager to end our reminiscences than I was. 

More visitors came and went, and then toward the end of the day I found out that I'm about to have new neighbors!   A very nice family stopped in after negotiating with the owner of the building next to mine which, in the years I've owned Afton Station,  has been a flea market and a storage building and, most recently, vacant and crying out for an occupant.  It's going to be a family owned and run business -- the hand-manufacturing of boat covers and punching bags.  Ron and I were both quite taken by the whole family, and I'm really looking forward to having them next door.  I'm also glad that Afton will have another vital business, because those are few and far between in this town these days.

One last thing... on our way to Afton this morning, we took a short detour on the 9-foot alignment I mentioned the other day so that I could take a picture.  Actually, Ron took it, lying in the road in front of my car.  He's very trusting. 


Wondering what we look like?

Monday, August 4, 2008

I didn't go to Afton Station today, but here's a picture of the place, in case you were wondering....

My website is, if you want to see more pictures.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kinda Tired...

I left extremely early this morning so I could do some rambling. Since for a couple of months I haven't had the time to "do" the 9-foot alignment, which is only one mile from the Station,  I decided to hit the narrow alignment this morning.  I was pleased that nothing has changed much, although I do think the town pours a little too much gravel on some areas.  I'm sure that drivers of rare vintage vehicles or low-slung Corvettes appreciate the filling of potholes and washboard segments, but I personally prefer the old broken-up pavement where I can slow down, veer when necessary, and at all times keep a clear picture in my mind's eye of what it must have been like in the "old days" when there were not only a lot of bumps, but also a lot of traffic, much of it oncoming.  Unless folks are clearly headed for a local car show with a newly spit-polished vehicle, I'm beginning to lose my patience with those who complain that the 9-foot highway is too stressful for their cars.

This is a very old picture of the 9-foot highway.

Although my first visitors were here at 9:15 a.m.(I officially open at 10, but was there early) and the visitors kept coming all day, I did find time to close out my July books.  We had 482 visitors in July, which isn't so bad for what's basically a 20-hour-a-week operation.  David Wickline once again gets my "Vendor of the Month" prize, since his small pins, magnets, and Images I and II books were top sellers.   Kathy Anderson comes in a very close second with her wonderful rare 1934 logo pins and key tags.  As many already know, my pledge is to sell only items created by folks who are true friends of Route 66 (and friends of me, too).  I'll never make a fortune selling the few items I stock (still in the red, probably forever), but I know it's all quality stuff and all my suppliers have a genuine interest in Route 66.

Betty brought me some lunch -- a container of her special Kraut Salad.  Oh my gosh, it's DELICIOUS!   If anyone wants the recipe, email me at

I think I had 23visitors today, but I forgot the exact number and I'm at home now.  I know I had a family from Germany, three Hispanic horse traders from Laredo, TX,  Kansas City grandparents with three young grandsons,a couple with a 5-month-old baby (I think my youngest visitor yet), and some absolutely delightful 60-something guys on Harleys that stayed for a long time and we had a great conversation.  Fun day!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mama Mia!

It was Italian Day at Afton Station, with two different groups from Italy stopping by on Route 66 trips.  Both carloads were doing the full Route, from Chicago to L.A., and were young, energetic, and the guys were (ahem) cute!    We also had about 35 domestic visitors, mostly from not too far away, and many were on their way to a big car show in Vinita.  (After we closed today, we drove past the car show there, and it was indeed big and seemed to be well-attended, despite the 104-degree heat).  Marley took one of David's cars to the show, the Studebaker.  I'll bet it wins an award. It was looking SHARP!    Friend Ron Yockey was one who stopped by on the way to the car show with one of his vintage vehicles. 

Here are a couple of the cars that visited today.

Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones arrived and told us he was going to leave for a while and come back with a surprise, but we goaded him into telling us that the "surprise" was that he was going down the road to take a test drive in one of the very expensive trikes they're now selling down there across from Buffalo Ranch.  He drove it back for us to see. Here's a pic of the machine -- $33,000 gets you three wheels, air conditioning, heat, a stereo system, and a steering wheel! That's a mighty fancy motorcycle, if you ask me.  Tattoo assured us that he's not planning to buy one. (He also said  he had it up to 90 mph on the way back to the dealership, but I won't tell...)

Picture of Ron M. taking a picture of Ron J......

On the way home, we stopped to take a few more pictures of the Avon Courts.  Here they are.

Friday, August 1, 2008


I hate that I can't go to Afton on Fridays, since I know it would be a busy day there.  I don't have a regular volunteer for that day either, and all I can think about are the  people who are having to pass right by without coming in, especially on these very hot days.  But my dialysis doesn't end until almost noon, and by the time I got there it would be only a  couple of hours until I'd have to drive home.  Ah well, life is what it is, I guess.  I'll be there tomorrow, and the two "Rons" (McCoy and Jones) will be there too, so it should be a very good day.  I hope all readers of this blog have a marvelous weekend with at least a bit of a road trip, if possible.