It's not on Route 66, but I was lured to Boynton, OK today by some comments by friend Denny Gibson from Ohio. He'd passed through there a couple of years ago and was fascinated by the sheer abandonment of the town, just as I am with Picher. Since Boynton isn't that far away, I decided to head there today. Any excuse, you know. LOL! I gathered up Ron M., since he grew up very near there, and off we went.
Boynton is a town of approximately 250 citizens, about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa. It was established in 1902 when the railroad came through, and in fact is named for the Chief Engineer of the Ozark and Cherokee Railroad. Today, over 50% of the citizens remaining are African-American. When Denny was there he photographed the exterior of the Historical Society, which was closed that paticular day but was still open on weekends. Today, we found the Historical Society building abandoned and for sale.
This building, in the side yard of the Historical Society was also for sale, and we feel it might have once been the town jail.
Here's what's left of the grocery store building. . .
. . . and a former drive-in restaurant.
The most impressive building in town is the Armory, also closed and posted. Like so many of the armories built by the WPA, it was repurposed (as a Masonic lodge) for several years, but now appears to have been empty for quite a while.
Boynton has not been without it's share of notoriety, particularly lately. For one thing, there was some criticism of stimulus money being used last year to build this sidewalk, which stretches the length of town on both sides of the road despite the lack of pedestrian traffic, stores, or other places which would be in need of access by walking.
Last year there were also some problems in city government concerning nepotism, although I suspect it's difficult to avoid nepotism when making civic appointments in such a small town. It resulted in the Mayor resigning. The school system is also in danger of closing for lack of students, and the bookkeeping practices of the school board are being questioned.
So, another sad tale of a town about to go "out of business". We saw an open convenience store on the edge of town, with bars on windows and doors. The post office is still functioning, which is a good sign, and there are surely enough churches in town to serve a city ten times it's size, so perhaps all is not lost. Even so, it's pretty depressing to see so many of these villages sink and drown.
On the way home, we stopped in Checotah for lunch. Checotah is a larger town, with a population of about 3500. It's the home of country singer Carrie Underwood. We stopped at the Katy Cafe, a little local joint which is apparently bent on stopping the hearts of its citizens. Upon ordering our lunch, the waitress acted dismayed that we wanted only the smaller lunch size rather than the full entree size. THIS was the lunch size! I can't even imagine what the entree size must look like! The place was packed with towns people, and the food was great. It was my second taste of chicken fried steak since I've lived in Oklahoma. It won't be my last, since I brought more than half of it home with me! Nothing like overeating to put the topper on a day in the country! Groan!