Monday, February 28, 2011

Once a roadie. . .

. . . always a roadie! I have proof. My oldest friend Sue (with whom I've continuously communicated for 60 years) sent me a precious gift. Beyond precious! An envelope arrived on Saturday containing some old postcards. . . but not just any old postcards. These are postcards sent from me to her, back when we were kids. I traveled a lot with my parents, and Sue was always the first to receive a postcard from me. The three I'm posting here show, among other things, a vast improvement in my penmanship.

This one was from 1953, when I was 7 years old, and traveling with my folks in Florida. I wasn't very articulate, but oh, the memories!

Next, another one from Miami, this time in 1956 when I was 10. I was a creature of very few words, but I still had a big interest in lodging places. The iconic Eden Roc Hotel had opened just a few weeks before we arrived in Miami Beach, so we got to take a tour.

Skip to 1960, on one of my many trips with a dad who had an obsession with history, particularly the Civil War. We visited tons of battlefields over the years, but I'm pretty sure I was more intrigued by the swimming and miniature golf!

I have remarked in the past that the best times of my life were spent on the road. I just wish Sue had found a few postcards from our many Route 66 trips. She indicated that she has some more, so we'll see. I can't believe she saved all these. You're not a hoarder, are you, Sue? Ha ha!

Now for a very cool mystery. Yesterday at Afton Station Ron M. was leafing through his latest issue of Shutterbug Magazine when I heard him utter "Omigod!" Why? Because this is what he found there:The image was in the magazine's "Creativity" section, where anyone can submit a photo based on the theme of the month. The theme for this issue was Reflections and yes, that's Afton Station's gas pump, DeSoto, and the building across the street reflected in our front window. We have no idea who the photographer, Richard Kinler, is. I've tried to find him online and on Facebook, but with no results. I want to compliment on his photo and see if I can get some copies. I'd love to have it made into a postcard too, with his permission. If anyone has any bright ideas, let me know.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Today's post will be quick, but tomorrow I promise a longer and more interesting one. I have some stuff I've saved up, but I don't have time for it this afternoon.

After a well-attended day at Afton Station yesterday, today was SLOW! We only had three guests all day. In the morning, this utterly charming and attractive duo stopped by on their way to Wisconsin. Cathy and Erin are from New Braunfels, TX and Waterford WI. I admit with embarrassment (especially since I know they'll be reading this) that I'm not sure whether it's Cathy or Erin who will then be going on to live in Alaska! Very exciting trip!They were so great that they deserve a second picture. Here they are testing out the street rod.

The third visitor was a solo gentleman from Grove who was looking to sell at '53 Packard. And that ended the very short parade of visitors for the day.

However, Phil and Robin came to visit, and shortly thereafter Betty arrived with a big box. It was a birthday cake for me! What a surprise! Let the party begin! Ron M. brought poppers, those little bottles that explode when you pull the string, and there were even a couple of nice presents for me. Once again I was embarrassed. I always feel silly when people honor me in this way. Silly, but also kind of thrilled! Have a look at this nice cake. Betty knows I like white cake with tons of white icing, so this one was just perfect. Thank you, folks!

After the cake, Betty taught us how to flamenco dance. (Actually, I'm not sure what she's doing here, but she looks pretty while doing it!) See you tomorrow!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

No lack of visitors today!

Afton Station is back in business! A gloomy Saturday didn't stop 20 folks from stopping by, and the encouraging part is that a number of them were from out of state and doing some prodigious Route 66 trips, not just quick weekend jaunts.

Our visitors came from Clintonville WI, Waukesha WI, Council Bluffs IA, Monroe IA, Trenton MO and Claremore, Grove, and Bartlesville, OK. This cheery foursome from Wisconsin was seeking refuge from the Wisconsin winter, only to find colder weather here! Another casualty of our topsy-turvy 2011 winter. They're having fun on Route 66, however, and a couple of them even read my blog and wished me a Happy Birthday, much to my surprise! So of course I need to post this very attractive photo of the group here. So glad you visited!!!
A dad from Grove, OK stopped in with this three little boys. Here are two of them looking over some of Betty B's nice hand made merchandise.Ron M. and Tattoo Man were with me most of the day, and Robin and Phil stopped by, too. So did Mike Pendleton from Kansas. It felt like the Station was coming out of hibernation, finally. We'll be back tomorrow and, although it's supposed to storm, we're hoping for another visitor-filled day. See you then!

Oh, I almost forgot! Here's a little tease. Something BIG (and yet also small) and HOT (although also very cold) is coming to Afton Station!!! It's something Afton, and Afton Station, has needed for a long time to further serve the travelers who stop by. That's all I'm going to say until it's a 100% done deal. Meanwhile, just think "Shiver Shack".

Friday, February 25, 2011

Uh oh! Another restaurant review!

I'm just back from my birthday lunch with Ron M. We went to El Rancho Grande, the cool Tex-Mex place on Route 66 near downtown Tulsa, the one with the awesome neon sign. We've both been there before, but always with big groups. Today, we had a very late lunch, there were very few people there, and the delightful owner John Walden spent some time at our table chatting.

The food was awesome! I had the special steak, and it was huge! Half of it came home with me. It came with beans and rice, and the steak was covered with grilled veggies. Their chips and salsa are the best in Tulsa, in my opinion. Ron had a combo plate, and I know it contained, among other things, some tamales he said were great. All in all, a very pleasant experience. I'd definitely recommend this place to Route 66 travelers in Tulsa. Support our Route 66 businesses! It's at 1629 11th St. (Route 66). Try it!!

A neat device

I'll be going back to Afton Station tomorrow but meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to keep my readers amused and away from their Delete key, I've rummaged through my Route 66 memorabilia to find something interesting that would fit in my scanner. I came up with this vintage flyer advertising the Desert Service, "World's Largest Cooler Rental Network" out of San Bernardino, CA. Without this device, along with a desert water bag, I'm sure that a summer excursion across the desert on Route 66 was an unbearable experience. I see these devices now and then on Ebay, and I wish I had one to display at Afton Station.
The other side of the folder (which didn't quite fit on the scanner, but close enough) is a rudimentary map of the desert pointing out a few sponsoring filling stations.

I had a bit of a disappointment yesterday involving the town of Afton. I'd rather not go into it here, but I felt the sting of something I think was extremely unfair. Maybe I'm just sensitive. I still feel affection for the town and hope that some day someone will come along with the incentive and funds to buy a few of the historic buildings along Route 66 and restore them, and I continue to do my best to "sell" the town to just about every traveler who comes my way. Apparently, the town doesn't care if I feel this way.

Ok, I'm finished grumping. I apologize.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday to.... me?

Another one? Hard to believe. Not much I can do about it, however. I've had a few opportunities to celebrate, and more are to come, but today I'm just hanging out at home in the rain and catching up on things.

I have to say that Facebook has made my day! I never thought I'd say that. But it's such a great conduit for making contacts from all parts of my long, l-o-n-g life. And today, on my birthday, I've heard from an amazing collection of people from my Route 66 life, my life back in the East, my life as a kid and teen-ager, and even a nice collection of my daughter's friends. So today, I love Facebook and all my Facebook friends!

I got some good news about my phosphorus levels yesterday (obviously it doesn't take much to thrill me... LOL), so I decided to go out for breakfast this morning and totally blow my renal diet. I went to the Wild Fork, which isn't on Route 66 and is far from a typical Route 66 greasy spoon diner, but I'll tell you about it anyway. Actually, it's only 10 blocks from Route 66, so it's a place that's easily accessible for travelers, and I recommend it highly if you're looking for something that's a notch or two above the ordinary. Unfortunately, I forgot to take this picture until I'd already eaten half of the largest veggie omelet I've ever seen. In fact, half was ALL I could eat. With it came delicious cheese grits, home made sourdough toast, home made marmalade, and ice cold unsalted butter. Wonderful! I recommend this place highly if you come to Tulsa.

My birthday dinner will be on Route 66, at El Rancho Grande. . . if I ever feel like eating again!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Silent Policemen of Route 66

Betty W. bestowed upon me a real treasure when she gave me a subscription to the local Afton/Vinita/Grove newspaper for Christmas. Besides letting me catch up on what's going on around the area, there is also a fantastic column called "Pushin' Up Daisies" by Betsy Warner which addresses a different aspect of the history and/or genealogy of the region each week.

You may recall that last year (see posts from Aug. 19 & Sept. 18) I was given some bricks from old Route 66 in Vinita. They had been unearthed when the city tore up the road in order to find a water leak at the main intersection of town. It was interesting to find that the original Route 66 in that city was indeed paved in brick. Now, according to "Pushin' Up Daisies", something else of interest was found. The photo below is most likely that of a Silent Policeman, installed in the road as a means of regulating traffic when automobiles were just beginning to overtake horses as the main means of transportation.

"Some forms of Silent Policemen were placed in the center of an intersection, their base of cast iron, bolted down to the ground. The idea was to get drivers who intended to turn, to pass and go around the sign and not cut corners. Rubberized or other flexible pieces often stood up from the cast iron base so that a poor driver who happened to run into the Silent Policeman would not be seriously injured."

The Silent Policeman found in Vinita is now on display at the Eastern Trails Museum in that city.

I found this image of another form of Silent Policeman on line. Running over either of these would surely quickly wake up anyone asleep in the car!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

We need a potbelly stove!

It occurred to me this weekend that what Afton Station needs is a great big potbelly stove! The way we hang around there and just chew the fat some days reminds me of sitting around the stove and gossiping, like in times past (with maybe a round of checkers or two thrown in for good measure). The Station did once have a wood stove in one corner. We know that because there's a venting apparatus still up on the ceiling, plus various people who have stopped in to tell us they used to work there back in the old days have confirmed its presence.

Today was not filled with visitors, so Betty W., Ron M. Marly and I did our fair share of sitting around. It was a little cooler than yesterday -- although still unseasonably warm -- and there was a cloud cover most of the day. Nothing whatsoever was happening in town, so we couldn't practice our usual busybody voyeurism. We did have 9 visitors, and they came from Shell Knob MO, Sheldon MO, Long Prairie MN, and Miami, Grove, and Fairland, OK. The man from Shell Knob was a long haul trucker who stayed for quite some time and regaled us with stories of his collections of cars, antique motorcycles, and an old bi-plane which he regularly flies. The gentleman from Long Prairie, MN remarked that up there in the frozen north they had a milder winter than we had here in Oklahoma. He had driven down to check on his cabin on Grand Lake, and he'll be back in a few weeks to stay longer. One of the ladies from Miami, OK offered to be a volunteer here at the Station. Naturally, I took her name, address, and phone number!

So, it turned out to be a nice, quiet day. And now, if this post seems short and rushed, it's because it is. I'm off for a sushi dinner with my ex and his wife. Love that sushi!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Day of Surprises

The first day back to Afton Station after a month of winter closures was one several surprises, but none so astounding as watching Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones eat fruit! Formerly, we were all pretty sure that he existed on a diet of nothing but Cheetos and Dr. Pepper, but today he walked in with a bowl of fruit! It may take me a while to recover from this shock. Naturally, he took a lot of flak for this, and he's still getting it. By the way, he also has a new tattoo of the burned Admiral Twin Drive-In on his leg.

Tattoo eating fruit. Betty and Ron M. looking on in amazement

For most of the morning, we weren't sure how the day would go. All the "regulars" were there today -- Ron M., Marly, Betty W., Robin, Phil, David, Mike Pendleton, Patrick, and Tattoo -- so we were having a great time catching up, but actual travelers were few and far between during the morning hours.

But around noon, another big surprise! People started pouring in the door! And by the end of the day we greeted 18 visitors! They came from near and far, but mostly near, as to be expected in the off-season -- mostly people out for little day trips in the lovely, sunny springlike weather. But several folks were actually on longer Route 66 trips. They came from Cherokee KS, Manitoba Canada, Tulsa OK, Vinita OK, Stanton MI, Shawnee KS, and Humboldt, KS.

One of the couples from Vinita arrived in this beautifully restored hot rod.
Marly spent most of the day back in the new showroom building. He's putting some finishing touches on the electrical work before the insulation people come in next week. David seems to think we can start moving cars in within a month. I'm still lobbying for some nice flat walls so I can hang the many posters and photos I've accumulated. I'll also need an area of shelves for accumulated memorabilia. There's still a lot to be done, but I can hope.It was such a great day today. I'm psyched and ready to start a new season at the Station. I know it will be a great one. I'll be in Afton again tomorrow, so come on down!
What's Ron musing about?

I'm not sure if I've ever posted a pic of volunteer Phil. Here he is!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eighty-two Degrees Fahrenheit!

That deserves to be spelled out! And if you don't believe it, here's the temperature reading on my car thermometer on the way home from our jaunt to Chandler, OK today. February 17? Really?

Other than it being a stunningly gorgeous day, the trip wasn't as exciting as I'd anticipated. We really didn't get to see anything new and different on Route 66, I guess because we spent quite a bit of time at the Interpretive Center having a nice visit with Marilyn Emde, the Executive Director of the OK Route 66 Association, and exploring the building. The exhibit I made for them was very well received, and as soon as it's hung I'll post a photo here.

We made a couple of quick stops. One was at the Shoe Tree near Stroud - the NEW Shoe Tree, that is. As you will remember, the old Shoe Tree fell over last fall. People almost immediately started to add shoes to a newer, bigger, stronger tree right behind the original. We were happy to see that the new tree is quickly filling up with footwear. I wish I'd brought some of mine to add to the fun!
Ron M. and I decided that the current trend in sprucing up old motels is a yellow and green color scheme. Here's the Lincoln Motel in Chandler, still open as a motel, and recently repainted in that color scheme, with some red tossed in.

Down the road in Stroud, this former tourist court fell victim to another recent repaint.
Finally, we took a quick drive down the road to Seaba Station in Warwick, to check out the new motorcycle museum that now occupies the old D-X Station that once housed an antique shop. It was then that I participated in an activity that drives me absolutely nuts when it happens to me at Afton Station -- we did a drive-by shooting! Yep, instead of going in, I shot this photo of the building while on the run. I still feel guilty, but we were actually pressed for time so that's our feeble excuse. I haven't been in the building since it changed owners, but one of these days I'll drive over there and correct that.
We also did drive-throughs of Depew and Davenport, and I was home by 3 p.m.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Pretty Pictures

I'm still biding my time, waiting to reopen Afton Station (Saturday!), and sorting some of my better real photo postcards. I'm afraid that if I don't get back to Afton soon, or at least provide some interesting content here on the blog, I'll lose you, my loyal readers.

There are a couple of Route 66 postcards which have been in my collection for a long time and are very intriguing, but the images are terribly faded. Today I decided to scan them and use the brightness and contrast features to try to bring up the images. I partially succeeded, but they're still not great.

Here is a very old image of Tucumcari Mountain in New Mexico. The sepia tones are actually rather beautiful.This one was an enigma until I expanded it and darkened it. It's still strange, but it appears to be a sign saying "Cafe" on top of a large pile of ice or perhaps rock. According to the back of the card, it is located at Clines Corners, New Mexico.
Then, I decided to scan a few more of my best, most valuable cards.

Here is the Stonydell swimming pool on Route 66 in Arlington, MO.

And the Airport Cafe in Marshfield, MO.

And finally, the Hollywood Cafe in Carthage, MO.

Tomorrow, I will be heading west on Route 66 to the Interpretive Center in Chandler, OK to deliver the postcard display I've finally finished. If all goes well, I'm hoping we can do a little poking around in places I haven't been lately, although I'm not sure where that will be. Ron M. is going with me, so we'll make a day of it. When the display is put up there, I hope to get photos of it all stretched out on the wall.

The most difficult aspect of tomorrow's day trip is resisting the urge to just keep driving. I haven't been to Tucumcari for a long time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A breath of fresh (mild) air

Taking a little car trip today was like being released from jail after a long stretch! The sun came out early and is melting the snow quickly. After breakfast, I fetched Ron M. and off we went. The goal destination was Afton. We didn't really expect to stay there, but just do a pass-by and make sure all was ok.

Our first stop was downtown Tulsa, at the corner of 2nd and Detroit to be exact, an old alignment of Route 66. There is a project afoot to paint 11 murals along Route 66 in the city, and Mural #1 has just been finished. Painted by Rick Sinnett of Murals by Palmer, it has a Native American theme. It is hoped that these works of art will act as another means of calling attention to Route 66 as it wends its way through the center of Tulsa.As long as we were in the Blue Dome district, we stopped to take a photo of the Blue Dome itself in the snow. "Another masterpiece of Art Deco along Route 66 in Tulsa is the Blue Dome. The Blue Dome was built in 1924 and served as a Gulf Oil Station. This was the first station in Oklahoma to have hot water, pressurized air and a car wash. It was also open 24 hours, seven days a week. The station attendant lived upstairs in the dome itself. "--

On the way through Chelsea, we stopped at the Pryor Creek Bridge for a snapshot. I've taken several photos of the picturesque bridge in the past, but never in the starkness of winter snow.
If we'd really wanted to, we could have revved up the Subaru and plowed through a bit of a snow mound in order to make it under the canopy once we got to Afton Station, but I chose not to. All I really wanted to see was that it was doing well, and once that was established, I really just wanted to continue on our little jaunt. I'll worry about Afton Station next weekend when, with luck, I will surely reopen on my winter schedule. But today, once I was assured that the good ol' Station was withstanding the elements, that was enough for me. So, off we went, but not before we stopped at Betty W's church, found her car in the parking lot, and left a note under her wiper telling her we were thinking about her and would see her soon.

On the way back toward Tulsa, we drove to Pryor, a nice bustling little town not on Route 66, and Inola, another cute town with a restaurant we've been wanting to visit. It's a tiny little building right next to the railroad track, and according to the folks at the Discover Oklahoma TV show, the older lady who owns it makes some very fine food. It was closed today, but we'll be back. Eventually, we found ourselves back in Tulsa, but I for one felt very refreshed and delighted to watch the snow disappearing before my very eyes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The day before Valentine's Day, 1920. . .

. . . in a small Route 66 town. Almost Valentine's Day in Vinita, Oklahoma, but of course Route 66 wasn't Route 66 quite yet. It would take another 6 years for it to become official. Life went on, nevertheless, and some aspects of it were recorded in the Vinita Journal. Lacking much else to tell you today, I thought you might enjoy some of these articles.

"Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day. The grade children are feeling very bad on account of this fact: no chance of having the regular Valentine box at school. However, Uncle Sam may come out somewhat ahead, as more postage stamps will be used. Where are the many comic Valentines that used to be sent and caused so much comment?"
"The Emmons boys are boosters for the promotion of electrical appliances. The latest addition to their shop is an electrical driven machine for finishing and polishing all kinds of brass articles. In a few days they will put on a campaign for the sale of electric washing machines. A man will be here from the factory and free washing demonstrations will be put on in the homes. So, if you want to dodge a washing along about the first of March, just save it up and call the boys, especially if you have intentions of investing in an electric washer and wringer. Their shop is in the Gill-Coley Building, fronting on Canadian Avenue."

Sounds like a crazy newfangled idea to me!

And finally, it wasn't the weather that year which was causing closings and prohibiting gatherings. It was a outbreak of smallpox and influenza. Even with all the closings, a few managed to celebrate Valentine's Day. . .

"Little Bertha Marie Ironside, small daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert P. Ironside, was fortunate to have a birthday on this St. Valentine's Day and so in spite of the ban on all gatherings, five little friends were invited to spend the afternoon at the home of her aunt, Mrs. James Davenport."

"Citizens are asked to respect the No Spitting on the Sidewalk" ordinance. Violators will be fined $5, or alternately will spend 5 days in jail, one for each $1 worth of fine."

Aww, they'll just spit on the floor of the jail!

Life goes on in a small town destined to become much larger and busier in just a few years, thanks to Route 66.


During my customary Saturday morning in the car listening to my driving companion, National Public Radio, I fell upon a discussion of "the heartland", and whether the term is a pejorative one. The speaker referenced a 1976 New Yorker Magazine cover which showed an illustration of the U.S.A. in which 90% of a map is New York City and the other 10% is everything west of the Hudson River. It's that 10% that many Easterners consider the "heartland".I remember that cover well. I've been collecting New Yorker covers for years, and have every single one of them from May 1968 to present. And although I'm a huge fan of New York Magazine, I'm no longer a fan of New York. The attitude expressed in this illustration is substantially the reason for my falling out of love with the Big Apple. I was born in the "heartland", lived in New York City environs for 30 years, then came back to my beloved heartland about 10 years ago. I get downright ugly with those who put down the beautiful, serene, sensible, unassuming, intelligent, thoughtful populace here. I get even uglier with people who marginalize the heartland's existence.
Some who know my liberal political leanings would question whether I am sincere in my professed love of life in a red state. Yes, I am. But I'm also not saying that everything is bad back East. I have some wonderful friends back there, and life was good. It was just different. Just as an example: In Oklahoma when one confronts a four-way stop, it can be a problem. Why? It's NOT because everyone is competing to be first through the intersection as often happens in New York, but instead because folks wait politely for everyone else to go first, meaning it can take a while before someone finally gives up and proceeds sheepishly. In Oklahoma, if I hear one horn honking a week, that would be a lot. People just don't honk at one another here except as a last resort.

Most of Route 66 wends its way through this heartland of America. Maybe that's why I like it so much. It really has nothing to do with "values" (although I do have some), or fear of fast-paced living (surely you jest!), or inability to compete with those on the fast track (been there, done that). It has to do with nice people, and beautiful expanses of land. And of course, cows.

All this rambling is just to say that I'm a proud resident of the heartland, and I plan to stay here for the rest of my life. Bring on the cows.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Frozen Bed Bugs

Woe is me! I'm resorting to Maxine to express my feelings about this morning. The temperature is minus-something here in lovely, sunny Tulsa, Oklahoma. The warm-up will begin tomorrow, thankfully. David called last night to tell me not to even bother trying to get to Afton Station this weekend. They had about 20 inches of snow yesterday, over top of what was left of the two feet they had previously. Not much chance of clearing the parking lot by the weekend, he said. I was worried about the flat roof collapsing, but he said it seems to be holding up ok. I won't necessarily heed any of the warnings from David, of course, because people who are suffering from a high degree of acute cabin fever can't be trusted to be sensible. That's me.

By not going to Afton, what I'm losing in revenue I'm making up for in less gasoline usage. I'm trying to look on the bright side.

More later, perhaps.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's get up close and personal

Watching the snow pile up once again on the driveway which was gloriously dry only yesterday, my thoughts turned to Route 66 for the millionth time in the past couple of weeks. I'm convinced that cabin fever manifests itself not with physical sweating, but with yearnings for Route 66 escaping from every pore. And since I can't have the real thing right now, I must rely on pictures and other memorabilia.

One thing I've always wished for on Blogger is the ability for the reader to enlarge photos I post here in order to see up-close details. As yet, I haven't found a way to do that. Today, I took some of my real photo postcards and cropped them very close so that details become as large as I can get them here. I chose the theme of gas pumps, but there are some very nifty old trailers in some of the photos, too.

Perhaps you can enlarge them yourselves. They're pretty cool -- two Texacos, a Mobligas, a Phillips, and a Cities Service. Have fun. I have to go sweep the snow off of my porch.