Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cold outside, warm inside

I'm running out of words to describe days like today. Let's try "drab". After the beautiful weather yesterday, I wasn't prepared for the gloom of today. But that's Oklahoma for 'ya! Absolutely NO consistency. While the mercury dropped like a stone all day, I stayed relatively warm and cozy at Afton Station. Before visitors started arriving, I managed to get most of my Christmas cards addressed. Then, the travelers did come, and by the end of the day I'd had nine.

A family of 5 from South Korea (my first!) was doing a little Route 66ing over the holiday weekend. The dad is in Missouri on business and brought his family along. Not much English was spoken, but the two little girls sure liked Tripper. (The younger son was too camera shy to pose, however).
Two fellows from Muhlenberg, KY and Graham, KY made my day by buying copies of both Images I and Images II as well as several key tags. Sales have been terrible this month, so this purchase helped a lot. When they arrived, the guys were somewhat "ho hum" about Route 66, but they left as true believers. Score!

A mother from Miami, OK and her adult mentally-challenged son came in because the son loves to look at old cars. He showed his appreciation with many whoops and hollers and a huge smile on his face the whole time he was here. They're welcome to come back any time!

I may not be back in Afton until Thursday, such a long spell away from the place. If I can't stand it, I'll go up there on Tuesday if I get a lot of things on my to-do list at home done. Judging from the length of the to-do list, that's doubtful.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back Where I Belong

Well, Thanksgiving is over, with not too much damage to my chemical balance! :-) I had a great time among dear friends. And yesterday, I managed to completely avoid Black Friday by going to dialysis. As I told several people, in my opinion even kidney dialysis is preferable to participating in the cattle stampede created by the promise of questionably-reasonable prices on semi-essential hardgoods. In other words, I have survived.

So, today it was back to what I really love to do -- Afton Station. Ron M. went with me, and it was a very serene and yet upbeat day. We had 8 visitors, not counting Betty, who is far more than just a visitor now. She hung out with us for a few hours, and we like that.

Our first visitors were waiting at the door when we arrived. I'm so glad we got there a bit early because they were very interesting visitors indeed. The family of four from the St. Louis, MO area were doing a little long weekend traveling on Route 66, searching for potential places to set up Gordon's (the dad) photo studio. I'd recently been introduced to Gordon's work, some of which can be viewed at Just as Ron and I were attempting to sell him on one of the buildings across the street, the owner of said buildings, Tommy Bassett, arrived on the scene and he and Gordon had a long talk. As for me, I have my fingers crossed for something to come of this.

Meanwhile, Gordon's two kids, a sixth grader and a fourth grader, amused themselves both inside and outside of the Station. If you want to feel really old, check out this photo of the little fourth grader being enchanted by the dial on our old dial telephone. She'd never seen one before! Oh, my creaky bones!Later in the day, a couple from Broken Arrow, OK stopped in, as well as travelers from Sydney, Australia. The Okies were doing a day trip, whereas the Aussies are embarking on a month-long odyssey covering a good bit of the United States. Yes, foreign visitors are still out there traveling!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Morning 2009

Beautiful day! From my porch -- lovely trees and the skyline of Tulsa.Serving dishes and stemware ready to go!

Watching the parade while getting food together.
Last-minute cooking.

Table set! Ready to go!

Wishing a wonderful Thanksgiving to all, and. . .

. . .one final thought. . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Horse To Ride!

Way back on Aug. 6, 2008 (when I was first starting to blog) I wrote about how some seemingly insignificant things one sees become emblazoned in the minds, thus those things, however unimportant, are sorely missed when they're gone. The item I mentioned was a truly unprepossessing sign east of Tulsa on Route 66 that read "Rent A Horse To Ride". I have never understood why the sign was such a memory for me, but when I discovered one day last August that it was gone, I felt an actual pang of sadness. The field was empty . . . no horse to ride. . . the pasture now sporting a "For Sale" sign. Well, today the sign has returned!!! And it's been cloned into about a half dozen of the signs surrounding the field. I'm happy! (Emily, you'll be happy, too!)

I drove up to Afton today, checked on the Station and found we'd had several visitors while I was not there, apparently hosted by either David or Marly, because there were new names in the guest book from Nebraska and Florida. From there, I drove to David's house in Grove to pick up the turkeys he fried for me and others. He's done this for me every year since we've been divorced. I watched him work the fryer for a while, but forgot to take a picture of the operation. From there I drove back to Afton to meet Betty and give her one of David's turkeys. On the way home, I delivered another one to Brad in Tulsa.

On the way to Afton this morning, I stopped to take photos of two places on Route 66 in East Tulsa that I don't believe I've shown here before. Here is an old fake wooden water tower shown on this postcard from the early '50s, when the building was a railroad-themed restaurant. Following is a picture of the old water tower today. It's still in existence, but now advertises a public relations consulting firm. Here's an unremarkable building not far from the above water tower. It's obviously been abandoned for years. It would have completely passed my notice if an elderly lady hadn't approached me after Route 66 program I participated in in Tulsa several years ago. In her hand, she held a photo of the building when it was first built, and which she told me had served as her parents' grocery store for several decades. She said she hadn't seen it for years, so I took a photo of it and sent it to her. In return, she sent me a picture of the building when it was a vital business. I seem to have misfiled the photo, but when I find it, I'll post it here.I got home around 3 p.m. and have spent the rest of the day in the kitchen. Thanksgiving tomorrow! Hope it's a good one for all!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Bob's Last Art Show"

Since I was unable to get to Springfield, IL for "Bob (Waldmire)'s Last Art Show", I'm grateful to those who have posted photos and reports on the event. Apparently it was highly successful, to the point of being almost overly crowded. Excellent! Some good photos of the event can be seen at Denny Gibson's site: There are some other neat Route 66 pictures there, too. Denny writes a really excellent daily blog every time he goes on a road trip, and his observations always make me want to follow in his tire tracks.

Today, I had my first "day off" since April (i.e. a day when I had neither Afton nor dialysis), and I put it to good use. First, I gave in to a need to do some shopping. I hate to shop, but sometimes it's just plain necessary. I rewarded myself afterwards with a breakfast of steak and eggs at Jimmy's Egg. For the rest of the day, I've been at home cleaning up loose ends here. My life now seems at least semi-organized.

Since I hate a blog entry without a photo, here's one of the four pressed pennies I offer in my penny squasher at Afton Station.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Keep those travelers coming!

Morning rain gave way to sunshine as this fine Saturday wore on. Frankly, I wasn't feeling very hopeful for a scintillating day at Afton Station today, but it turned out to be just fine. We only had 7 visitors, so Ron M. and I did have some time to pursue other activities, mainly figuring out what happened to totally screw up the Afton slide show I had just about perfected last week. Ron feels that I may have forgotten to save some elements of the slide show before I signed off after working on it. Or, it could be something else. At any rate, we got it back on track, although I still have some tweaking to do. When it's done, you'll be the first to know.

Our visitors today weren't all locals. Yes, people are still traveling on Route 66, even this late in the year. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the "tourist season" on Route 66 lasted all year round? Maybe this will be the year. Travelers came from Stafford VA, Rockwell TX, West Allis WI, Washington D.C., and Pryor OK today. This young couple from D.C. stopped in on their way across the country to put down roots in Los Angeles. They've been trying to follow Route 66 as much as they can. They're both actors and are seeking to pursue their craft where it's more marketable than in the D.C. area. We'll look for them in a few years when they're accepting their Academy Awards!

For a book he's writing on ghost towns, a friend asked me some questions about the carriage company that was once in Afton, so I asked Ron to take some pictures. The building is still standing and happens to be the building that until recently housed Bassett's Grocery. It's now empty, like most other buildings in town. I know I've shown this here before, but here it is again.
Except for a short time on Wed. morning when I drive up to pick up my annual fried turkey from David (since he got the turkey fryer in the divorce, he makes a turkey for me every Thanksgiving!), Afton Station won't be officially open again until a week from today. There might be someone there, however, so if you pass thru town, look around for a car or truck and you might get lucky. I'll be posting here periodically, however. You can't get rid of me that easily! :-)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Topiary Tripper

Y'all know about my pet 6-foot tall penguin named Tripper. Many of you have met him, in fact. Well, yesterday, when leaving Afton, I happened to notice that a tangle of brush growing over some wires created a Tripper in topiary. Don't you think? Well, ok, maybe not. Maybe you had to be there. . .

I'll be back at Afton Station tomorrow, so I'll try to write about more interesting stuff rather than this nonsense. Sorry!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Need a dog house?

Not too bad, for a winter Thursday! The weather cooperated, and it's clear that travelers prefer to travel when it's sunny and not freezing. We had 6 visitors today (or 6 1/2, as Ron M. said -- since one person just stopped in to get driving directions). The six visitors who actually stuck around and looked at the cars and Route 66 memorabilia were from Harralsonville MO, Grove OK, and Clearwater FL. Ron M. was with me all day, Tattoo came for part of the day, and Betty arrived near the end of the day, bearing a wonderful gift of pork sausage. Thank you, Betty! Also, Ron M. brought me a rum-soaked cake from Barbados. Thank you, Ron!

Our neighbor, whom we call Fork Lift Man because he tends to spend most of his time driving back and forth in front of Afton Station on his fork lift hauling various items from one of his properties to another, has a new business. Hey, it's nice to have another commercial enterprise in town. Fork Lift Man is quite the entrepreneur. He has taken the wooden boxes he has accumulated and made them into dog houses, which he's now selling. Here's his display . . . one of the dog houses perched on one of his fork lifts. And apparently he has also accucmulated some pelts, because he's also now in the cowhide and sheepskin business. Nothing fancy. LOL!
David and Marly have been working on sanding and painting the stanchion for the new DX sign. Here it is, a work in progress.

And that's the way it was. . . Afton, Oklahoma. . . November 19, 2009/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Visitors = 0

I was pretty sure, even before I got to Afton, that this would be a boring day. Ron M. is home from his trip but is sick so he couldn’t be here today. Nobody but perhaps penguins should be out on a dismal day like today -- cold, wet, and dark. David is here working in the back, so I at least I have a human being to talk to intermittently. A man just pulled up in front and took about a dozen pictures from his car window, but he didn’t come in.

This is the time of year when I’m at odds with myself about Afton Station. Is it worth the long drive to come up here and have few or no visitors? On the other hand, if I close, will I feel guilty about not being here? I just don’t know. I certainly have enough pre-holiday things to do to keep me busy at home. And what would I do about my blog? It, too, could become boring over these long winter dry spells, but I don’t want to quit. Blogging has been such a good fit for me -- exactly what I feel I’m meant to do. Dilemma, dilemma!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a lady named Betty Baumann from Jay, OK, who was going to bring me samples of her hand crafted Route 66 items to see if I’d like to sell them here at the Station. She arrived this morning with her truck filled with a treasure trove of goodies. She brightened my otherwise dull day by her visit, plus she is quite the amazing craftsperson! I couldn’t resist taking a whole rack of her items to sell here. Very exciting! I even bought a cool purse/tote bag for myself from her stock. I love the Route 66 fabric she used because it's not as colorful and overwhelming as most of the other fabric I've seen. The workmanship is extraordinary.Here's the tote bag.

I stuck it out until almost the bitter end, despite total lack of travelers. Betty Baumann's visit made the day worthwhile, however. Winter is here, folks. Get used to it. :-(

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Horse Creek

First, here’s a picture of the damage to one side of the Horse Creek Bridge on Route 66 in Afton, just three blocks from Afton Station. It doesn’t seem like much, as damage goes, but will they be able to rebuild it to look like the old portion of this historic concrete bridge, one of the few left on Route 66 that has pedestrian walkways on both sides? I’m troubled by this. The other side has similar damage, both the result of a jackknifed tractor-trailer last week.

The rain should be here any moment. I got to Afton about an hour early, and that’s where I am now. My laptop and thumb drive are allowing me to write my blog while I’m here and carry it home with me for posting later. The skies are dark and ominous and I predict (along with the local professional prognosticators) a long day of rain and general ugliness. That’s ok -- we’ve had two full weeks of gorgeous weather, so it’s our turn. I will be picking Ron M. up at the airport late this afternoon, so I’ll probably be leaving Afton a bit early today.
Well, I practiced my flute for a while, but didn't have a single visitor. There weren't even very many cars on the road. It's really ugly outside, chilly and rainy and dark. Betty came for a while and brought me some turnips. Yum! Finally around 1:40 I decided to leave. I haven't left that early in ages, so I'm filled with guilt. But I got home in near record time, and now I can relax a little before heading for the airport. Sorry there isn't much to talk about today.
Thanks so much to those who answered by plea for feedback on my blog. I appreciate knowing that many of you are still around. And thanks especially to Sharon for the flute playing tips. I think I've got the breathing down now, but I still have trouble covering the holes completely. Note to self: Cut fingernails!

My cozy corner at Afton Station. Nice place to sit and play the flute on a rainy day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Was it something I said?

I know I have a few faithful readers, and even a few faithful commenters, and I appreciate those people more than you can imagine. However, I've been distressed in the past couple of weeks by an approximate 25% drop in my readership, according to my Stat Counter. So of course that starts me to wondering if I've simply become boring, or perhaps too off-topic, or if maybe I've been offensive in some way. I'd love to know the answer to this so I can do some self-correcting. As winter approaches, there's not as much going on at Afton Station, so I've been filling in around the edges with other thoughts and observations. I try to keep them somewhat Route 66-related, but occasionally I stray. Is this a problem? Or, am I being too self-centered? I don't want this to be a ego-driven blog in any way that can be prevented. All I do is record my thoughts and activities that relate to my life at the museum. Or, perhaps everyone is off doing other things right now? Just let me know, please, if I'm doing something wrong. I'm feeling a little paranoid and would like to be critiqued.

My Native American flute arrived in the mail yesterday, so this morning, while there are few visitors (actually, none!) I'm taking the time to start learning to play it. It came with an instruction book, thank goodness. I haven't played a wind instrument since 4th grade when we were all subjected to mandatory "song flute" lessons. But I just love the plaintive sound of the Indian flute, and I'm hoping that playing it will relax me.
My new Native American flute

Meanwhile, at Afton Station. . . Tattoo Man paid a short visit this morning, but since we had no visitors, he left to go to an auction. As soon as he left, as often happens, the travelers started to arrive. I ended up with 15 visitors, which is really great for a November day. They were a couple from Pittsburgh, KS, five folks on motorcycles from Stark City, Springfield, and Fairview, MO on their way to a poker run around Grand Lake, people from Friday Harbor WA, Catoosa OK, and finally Erie, KS. The couple from Erie is doing some preliminary scouting for a motor cruise next spring, and we're on the itinerary.
By the end of the day, I could get a few usable notes out of the flute. It came with a CD of songs recorded by Odell Borg, the maker of the flute and one of the best players in the country. I'm so mesmerized by his music that I'm already discouraged by my own. It's not as easy as it looks! But I can play the first three notes of "Inkpata", the first song in the book. It's a traditional Sioux melody. It's a start. :-)Picture on the front of the flute instruction book. I'd sure like to be playing there right now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Traffic Jam

I’m here at Afton and, in an attempt to save a little money, I’m trying to survive without turning on the heat. I know it will warm up later in the day, but right now it’s very cold. I’m keeping warm by doing a little work (very little) like emptying wastebaskets and Windexing the display cases and front door. I’m also getting rid of dead flies, which seem to pile up every night. I have to keep reminding myself that this is, after all, just a gas station, so flies on windowsills are to be expected.

Something happened on the Horse Creek Bridge that’s blocking traffic in all directions, and although it’s only a couple of blocks down from Afton Station, I can’t get close enough to see what it is. Traffic is backed up to the Station and beyond. At this time of day, most of the traffic consists of semis, so I can’t really expect to get any visitors who might decide to wait out the blockade by coming in here. [Added later: A truck jackknifed and hit both sides of the bridge. Nobody hurt, but some damage to the historic 1929 bridge.]I got my revised dialysis schedule for Thanksgiving week, and I find I need to close the Station on Tues., Thurs., and Saturday of that week. I’m both glad and sad about that. I can use the Tuesday afternoon to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner (which I am cooking, as usual) and Wednesday I’ll need to drive up this way to pick up my turkey from David, who’s frying one for me again. Even so, having a whole week (except for Sunday) of being closed doesn’t turn me on very much.

My first visitors were a couple from Miami, FL who grew up in Afton. They were more than willing to share some of their memories, but when I went to show them the slide show of historic Afton that I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks, I found it to be all messed up and the photos all missing. I’m sure it’s “operator error”, but I’m a bit freaked about it. I will have to try to restore it later. Another visitor was the project manager for a Conoco Phillips pipeline being laid near here, looking for a place to park his construction trailer for six months. I think we have room, and we would welcome the “rent” we’d get for it. My final visitor was a trucker from Keene, California who was recollecting his first car, a '48 Packard. Since we have one, he was very glad he stopped.

Betty stopped in for a while, but I left a half hour early today because I have a meeting tonight and wanted to come home for a while first. I went down and took a look at the historic Horse Creek Bridge, and it was indeed damaged on both sides by the truck accident this morning. Since the bridge is the only one left on Route 66 in Oklahoma with a pedestrian walkway, I hope they don't find it necessary to raze it.

Horse Creek Bridge before accident

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Geese over the Casino

I felt lucky to catch this shot out of the car window as I was passing the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel this morning on my way to Afton (on Route 66, of course). The geese are flying south, I assume.
A bit earlier, there had been another beautiful sunrise.

My day at Afton Station started on an interesting note. A couple walked in and the guy was wearing a University of Kentucky t-shirt. Since that’s my alma mater, I excitedly exclaimed “Oh, you’re from UK!” Not even close! The couple was from Norway! Furthermore, they own a huge museum outside of Oslo. It consists of 25,000 square feet of American automobile memorabilia, petrobilia, and Route 66 stuff he’s been collecting for 24 years. Very remarkable, to say the least. I was absolutely blown away by the pictures he showed me of his place. He sponsors what appear to be very large car shows twice a year, and I’m always amazed by how many European folks have beautifully restored American iron. [It was a little difficult to plow through all those Norwegian language sites, but I managed to find a few pictures of Mr. Bendiksen's museum online at You'll need to scroll down to "Visiting Bendix Supercars" to see them.]Thank goodness Betty came to spend a few hours, because the rest of the day was pretty slow. Some people came in from Foyil, OK and then a very nice crafts lady from Jay, OK who wants me to consider selling her crafts here at the store. She’s going to bring them in to let me have a look next week. The day came to a close with a visit from a family of three from Knoxville, IA.

The local sheriff spent the morning pulling people over for speeding in front of the Station. Since most people drive through town much too fast, I consider this a good thing. However, a warning to any Route 66 travelers coming through in the future -- stick close to the 35 mph speed limit in Afton or you might have an unwelcome, unscheduled stop.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This and that

It's a beautiful day, but it's not an Afton Station day, so I'm going to post a few photos I've taken in the past week that really don't have much to do with anything in particular, but I like them.

First, here's that leg lamp in Chelsea I photographed a few weeks ago. The other morning I drove past it before the sun came up, so I got a shot of it all lit up. I love leg lamps!

I spotted this in the back yard of a house in Afton. I have no idea if it's operational, but I doubt it. I love the ancient washing machine next to it.

Oh yeah, just another breakfast picture. This is the incredible French toast at the Buttered Bun in Miami. Warning: Get a half order. The full order is impossible to finish!

This is the Dairy King in Commerce. Remember the guy who stopped in to Afton Station this summer to show us the Route 66 cookies he "invented"? Well, it's good to see that he's advertising the yummy cookies prominently on his ice cream stand, which is in an old gas station.

And now, I'm going to talk to myself for a while. . .

I was listening to Rosie O’Donnell’s new radio show this morning on Sirius XM, and she was asking the question, “What was the greatest day of your life?” People were responding with the usual -- wedding day, the day a child was born, etc. It suddenly occurred to me that I don’t have the slightest idea what was the best day of my life. I like to think I haven’t had it yet, but I probably have. Odd moments come to mind. Of course both my wedding day and the day Sarah was born were momentous occasions, but on those days I was a bit too preoccupied to really be able to properly enjoy them. (Wedding stress and 36 hours of hard labor will do that to you.) I recall a day when I was a sophomore in college and it was a spring Friday and a bunch of us were sitting on the steps of the sorority house enjoying the weather. I had just received an A on an important test. A young man who I’d always admired (ok, had a crush on) walked by and stopped to talk to me. He asked me if he could come by the next day and hang out with me. I will never forget that feeling of everything being right with the world that day. The relationship with the boy didn’t materialize, I got less than A’s on future tests, and the perfect weather didn’t last long, but for that moment I felt that I owned the world.

Was that my best day? The fact that I still remember it in detail tells me it might have been. Since then, I’ve had near-perfect days occasionally -- many when David and I were still together and traveling with a young Sarah in the back seat. Wonderful family memories. And there was a day, when I was about 19, walking on the wharf at Monte Carlo with a summer romance (also fleeting), and many moments on Route 66 when all the stars and moons seemed to come into alignment. But I still prefer to think that my “best day” is yet to come.

What is YOUR best day??

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Chrysler Cocoon

I’m finally beginning to figure out a few things. One such revelation happened just this morning. These are things I’ve probably known for a long time, but sometimes it take an outside influence to get them through my thick skull.

I subscribe to an online service, The Writer's Almanac ( that sends a bit of poetry to me each day. It’s not one of those sticky sweet feel-good sites, but instead it distributes excellent poetry by a variety of poets, most of them respected in the present or past. They’re not the type that end with “Send this to 10 of your friends and…” Like most good verses, they make one think. Some are disturbing, but many are uplifting as well. Today’s offering was:

The Sacred
By Stephen Dunn

After the teacher asked if anyone had
a sacred place
and the students fidgeted and shrank
in their chairs,
the most serious of them all
said it was his car,
being in it alone,
his tape deck playing
things he'd chosen,
and others knew the truth
had been spoken
and began speaking about their rooms,
their hiding places,
but the car kept coming up,
the car in motion,
music filling it,
and sometimes one other person
who understood the bright altar of the dashboard
and how far away
a car could take him from the need
to speak, or to answer, the key in
having a key
and putting it in, and going.

Although this describes a different time in a different life, it made me realize that my car is my “safe place”. Of all the places I go in the course of my daily life, I feel most secure and in tune with the world when I’m behind the wheel of my dear Chrysler 300. I felt the same about my PT Cruiser, and before that my Toyota Land Cruiser. It has nothing to do with make or model, or anything about the car at all. It’s just where I want to be. It’s a comfortable cocoon, it takes me where I want to go, and it serves as my window to the world. I guess it could be said that it also takes me away from the world, because part of my car’s charm is that it’s harder for people to get to me when I’m in it. Not very many people know my cell number, and I often just turn it off. Since I hate talking on the phone almost more than I hate celery, this is another of my car’s charms. Well, that. . . and power. I rule my car. I can tell it where to go, what temperature to be, and what I want it’s radio to play. And compared to…let’s say… a house, it’s very low maintenance. Maybe I should just live in my car. And speaking of Route 66 (was I?) my trip to Afton this morning was all about sunrise and cows. The sunrise was gorgeous, and so were the cattle. I had to stop to take a photo of these folks who were all gathered up against the fence as if planning to make a break for it. If they’d asked, I would have helped them. This morning, I went to breakfast at a place I haven’t been for at least a year. When I walked in, the amazing waitress said “Same table?” and remembered exactly where I liked to sit. Then she asked if I still wanted my two eggs over medium, rye toast, and a bowl of fruit. Sometimes I’m in such awe when it comes to wait staff and what they’re able to remember.

I’m at Afton now and having a typical slow Sunday morning. I have plenty to do. I need to clean out the popcorn machine and pack up some items for mailing. I’m feeling lazy, but what else is new. So, off I go to do my chores…

It’s afternoon now. Marly has come to work and Betty came to chat, and then other visitors showed up. A couple from Branson, MO stopped in, and it turns out he’s the well-respected artist of "American Highrise". You can read about him here: The America Highrise Foundation: AmericanHighrise.Com

There were also three ladies, two from Tulsa, OK and one from Monticello, MO who were taking a spin on a short stretch of Route 66 in Oklahoma. A couple from Greenwich Village in New York City, on a 6-week vacation on Route 66 and other points, came to visit us, too. The day ended with visits from a couple from Miami, OK and a young man who is staying with his aunt in Afton and just loves vintage cars. Ten visitors in all.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kicks at age 66

It was an excellent day at Afton Station today -- plenty of visitors but no mob scenes. The lovely weather has continued to extend the "travel season", and just about every traveler had a comment about the balmy day. Betty and Tattoo were both here to help out in the morning, making it a very happy day.

We had 16 visitors, most of them from Oklahoma, but several from farther afield as well. They came to us from Auckland, New Zealand, Olanthe KS, Columbia IA, and Miami, Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Nowata and Sand Springs, OK.
This couple is celebrating their mutual 66th birthday by traveling Route 66 in Oklahoma, and the clever shirts made by the wife commemorate their trip. Very cute! (They have nice faces, too, but they chose to show the backs of their shirts instead.)
Route 66 friends Jim and Becky Buck stopped by. They used to have a wonderful Route 66 store in Sapulpa, specializing mostly in model cars, t-shirts, and Route 66 books. I was a frequent visitor there until they closed the store several years ago. Since that time, Jim has recovered completely (thank goodness!) from cancer and is looking healthy, although he said it was a long siege of chemo and radiation. Good to see you well, Jim!
I took the long way home and enjoyed having my windows open and watching the sun sink in the west. Back to Afton tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Sound of Silence

A few days ago I suggested you check out a Hulu video entitled “The Creek Runs Red”. Hulu - Independent Lens: The Creek Runs Red - Watch the full episode now. I would love to be able to make it required viewing for all of my readers, but somehow I don’t think that would work. However, for those of you that can spare an hour, I highly recommend it, particularly if reading my blog has sparked your curiosity about the county in which Afton Station sits. Picher is about a half mile off Route 66. [One important note, however: The documentary was made in 2006, prior to a tornado that wiped out just about everything you’ll see in the film. There’s basically nothing left in Picher or Cardin now. What the Superfund Site buyout didn’t take away, last year’s tornado did. That makes the story even more interesting.]

The documentary doesn't take sides on the issue of abandonment of Picher and Cardin, and I like that. I'm not even sure I've made up my own mind about the ongoing debate. I just know that a lot of people were faced with heartaches because of something that happened many years ago and never got fixed. The visuals alone, not to mention the interviews with folks from the towns, make it worth watching.

Yesterday morning I got up early to drive up to Picher and Cardin to check out the area once again. It’s about 20 miles up Route 66 from Afton, thus about 100 miles from Tulsa where I live. I just can’t seem to stay away, despite the despair I feel when I go there. The silence there yesterday was deafening, and there wasn’t a single sign of life other than the chirping of birds. I drove around for about a half hour and took a few pictures. At times, it felt like I’d landed on the moon. And whether you side with the folks who were grateful for the buyout so they could get their children away from the toxic environment or with those who flatly refused to leave their ancestral homes, the story is a moving one. After all, it’s about the death of two cities.

Here are some of the photos I took.
Is this the Moon, or is it northeastern Oklahoma? One of the many mountain-sized piles of lead slag left over from early 20th century lead and zinc mining.

Picher Mining Museum, like everything else in town, is closed.

Another slag heap

This slag mountain is literally in the back yard of this abandoned home.
A warning to kids -- but there are no kids left here any more.

Homage, of sorts, to the mining past of Picher and Cardin. Plaque reads "In Loving Memory of Herschel B. Ellis who mined these mines for 30 years and was one of the last miners to be pulled from the underground while the water was coming up around his ankles as he worked to remove equipment. Wife and Family". It was a tough life even when the mines were in operation.

Hoppy's Museum and Pool Hall. Hoppy was one man who refused to leave. I thought his museum was still open, but it certainly looked abandoned yesterday. The bucket out front is what brought the ore up from the underground mines.

A winding road through the "mountains". Government signs said I shouldn't go there, but I went anyway.Abandoned church

I could go on and on about this, and I have more photos too, but I'll stop now. Please watch the video. Thanks.