Monday, January 28, 2013

Progress as Promised

Slowly but surely, Tulsa Route 66 is coming alive -- the restoration of the Cyrus Avery Bridge, the East Meets West sculpture, the Interpretive Park on the east side, the Interpretive Park on the west side, and other less obvious enhancements along 11th St., Southwest Blvd., Admiral Place, and other smaller alignments.  

This sign went up today, with news that the intersection of 11th St. and Yale Ave. will be the next point where work will be done to enhance the Route 66 experience in this city.   From what I've heard in the news, it will include Route 66 shields in the pavement and a Route 66 clock tower, among other things.  It appeared that work has already started on a small scale.  It's so nice to know that Tulsa has embraced its historic connection to Route 66 and that travelers will have much to see when they roll into town.  A committee I sit on is also preparing a map/brochure to explain it all and help folks find their way through this historic Mother Road city.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

To Afton Station and Nowhere

Hallelujah!   Back to Afton Station at last!   Ron M. and I drove up this morning intending to stay for just a few hours to check on things there, but we ended up staying until 2 p.m.  It felt so good to be there, and we found everything in perfect order.  Better yet, Phil knew we were coming so he got there early, opened everything up and turned up the heat.  When we pulled up, he was already busy showing some visitors from Grants Pass, Oregon around the showroom. 

Before long, Betty arrived, followed by Marly!  Then, much to our surprise, Tattoo Man (recovering from surgery) and his wife Roz dropped in on their way to an appointment !  Except for Robin, who had a morning job elsewhere, the whole gang had assembled.  It was the perfect way for me to feel totally recovered from my recent illness and rarin' to go!
We had other visitors today too, which made me start thinking that maybe it isn't the best idea to be totally closed in January and February.  Of course, today was a beautiful sunny unseasonably warm day, perfect for travelers.  There probably won't be many more of those this winter.   Our other visitors included a family of five from Ponca City OK, out on a geocaching expedition, who found themselves happily distracted by our vintage car collection.  Later we visited with these five cute "tween" girls (below) from Afton who were spending a Saturday afternoon taking pictures around the town.  Once they saw the cars in our museum, they found a whole new topic for their photographic project!
Around noon, Robin arrived and Marly and Betty had to leave.  Those of us remaining decided it was the perfect time to pay a visit to our new neighbor, NOWHERE ON ROUTE 66, the recently opened barbecue joint two blocks north of Afton Station.  What a great spot!   The decor is just perfect -- feed sacks on the ceiling, old photos of Afton (mostly provided by me, actually), rustic furniture, a long bar, unique restrooms (come see for  yourself), big screen for watching sports, and "Friends in Low Places" blaring from the sound system.  And the barbecue sandwiches were delicious and enormous, made on ciabatta bread rather than the usual burger buns.  We were all quite impressed.  They have a beer license so they stay open later at night for adults who want a place to congregate, something that's been missing in Afton since I've been there.  I'm thrilled to be able to now recommend to our traveling friends a quality eatery right in Afton.  

It was such a good day... so wonderful to see all my friends and have time to visit with them.  I think I'll be heading back to Afton often in February, although I probably won't be "officially" open until March.     It's so hard to stay away.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Another Little Outing

Who can pinpoint the location of this old illustration?  Hint:  I saw it on a little drive I took today.  It's on Route 66.

Facing another day of anxiety brought on by Route 66 withdrawals and a closed Afton Station, I jumped in the car and drove to Catoosa this morning.  As expected, I found the Blue Whale and his surrounding property deserted on this cold, windy, cloudy day.   I snapped a couple of pictures and left.  So many pictures have been taken of Blue that my snapshots are pretty redundant.  
On the way out of town, I stopped at the (also closed) Catoosa Historical Society.   They have a very nicely restored caboose on the property, donated by the Burlington Northern Railway.  The building itself is fashioned to look like a railroad station.  I've never been inside.

An interesting area of Tulsa -- although not directly on Route 66 -- is the Brady District, Tulsa's first "downtown", where it all began over 100 years ago.  One of our local TV stations moved its studios to Brady this month, and today presented this very well done video showing the interesting history of Brady with some great old photos.  If  you have about 4 1/2 minutes to spare, check it out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Law Enforcement in the Afton of Old

I've mentioned a number of times my intense craving for good stories about Afton Station in "the olden days".  When I approach local folks of a certain age for their recollections, the common answer goes something like this:  "Aww, it was just a filling station.  Nothing exciting ever really happened at filling stations."  And yet I continue to ask, always hoping that a memory pearl will fall from someone's mouth into my outstretched hand.  Well, today it did!  It's not a story of adventure or excitement, but simply a fleeting vignette, something that happened one day to one person at Afton Station way back when it was still called the Eagle Service Station and was still fulfilling it's original purpose of taking care of the auto needs of locals and Route 66 travelers.  But for the person to whom it happened, it has lingered in his mind for decades.  

Shellee and Jim, two thirds of the amazing writing team of Ross, Graham, and McClanahan (authors most recently of "Route 66 Sightings", that gorgeous coffee table tome full of beautiful photos, poignant essays, and thought-provoking bits of Mother Road knowledge) received the following email from a fan of their book.   When Jim read the email he knew I'd appreciate the story so he sent it along to me.  Here it is, exactly as a Mr. Darrell Davis remembers a particular day in the early '60s. . .
 I received a copy of Route 66 Sightings as a Christmas present from mydaughter and I wanted to share a couple of my thoughts with you. The bookis beautiful and brings back many memories.
 I could offer many stories about life on Route 66 but I have one thatrelates to page 132 in the book; the DX station in Afton Oklahoma. I grewup on Route 66 outside of White Oak Oklahoma, between Vinita & Chelsea. Oneweekend in the early 1960’s I was to meet a friend of mine at Grand Lakeand spend the weekend fishing. I got off of work at the Glass HouseRestaurant in Vinita and proceeded up route 66 toward Grand Lake. Cominginto Afton I knew I needed oil for my 1953 Ford so I pulled into the localDX station. As I was getting out of my car the service station attendantwalked briskly up to me. In those days service attendants wore khakiuniforms including a flat topped, flat billed cap. I said to him, I need aquart of 30 weight. He said to me, “you know’ed you run it, you know’ed yourun it.” I didn’t understand so I repeated my request and he repeated his,“you know’ed you run it.” I looked around and slowly realized two things,one he was not an attendant but rather the local police officer (note theuniformed troopers on page 20 of your book and you will see the uniform)and two, I had just ran the towns single stop sign while pulling into thestation. As the officer proceeded to write up my ticket the stationattendant, dressed basically the same as the officer, did show up and tookcare of my oil issue. Interestingly I was instructed to go down the streetto a small cafĂ© where I paid a $2.00 fine to the man doing the cooking. Inyour book you stated that Afton does not have a stop light. In the early1960’s it had one and I ran it.    
Yes, Afton did have a stop light back then.   The only photo I own that shows it is this one.  We often say we wish there was a stop light at the corner of First and Main now, as it would cut down on the vehicles (mainly the 18-wheelers) that roar through town without regard to stray dogs, zombies, or Route 66 travelers slowing down to turn into the Station.  It's unlikely that there will ever be another stop sign or light in the town, however.  Mr. Davis, I'm sorry you got pegged for a $2 fine and I hope that the indignity didn't spoil your fishing trip.  I'd love to meet  you some time.  If you still live anywhere near northeastern Oklahoma, won't you please come for a visit?  But keep it under 30 mph because we still have an officer of the law that sometimes hides and pounces on unsuspecting speeders.    

Sunday, January 20, 2013

West of the bridge....

This sign has been erected on the west end of the Cyrus Avery Memorial Bridge in Tulsa.  For those approaching the bridge from that direction, it's impossible to miss.  It was sponsored by the law firm of Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, whose offices (not even slightly coincidentally) are just a few feet from the sign.  Despite the obvious bit of promotion, the sign is still very well designed and undoubtedly will be helpful to those entering Tulsa for the first time and getting their bearings amidst all the attractions available for Route 66 travelers in our city.   Furthermore, next to the sign is what remains of a closed, ceramic-faced Cities Service filling station, a throwback from the '60s when Cities Service moved its headquarters to Tulsa (1968 - 1982).  The station, which was built in 1926, was placed on the National Historic Register in March of 2011.
After shooting a couple of photos of the sign, we continued on Route 66 westward to Depew, since the little town has been getting a lot of chatter lately on our Route 66 Yahoo group.  Depew was the first town to be bypassed by Route 66, and it remains "off the beaten path" on a rise south of the more traveled alignment.  I've been to Depew many times, but just wanted to take another look at it, and besides there wasn't much else to do on this gorgeous springlike day in January, so a Route 66 jaunt seemed appropriate.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top Ten? I'll take it!

There's not much that can pull me out of a post-illness funk like opening Facebook and finding that a publication called has named Afton Station one of the "Top Ten Sights to See" on Route 66.  I know almost nothing about the Examiner or the author of the article, Vicki Lundy, but I'm thrilled that someone would consider Afton Station to be among the likes of such renowned Route 66 tourist attractions as the Santa Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico, the Will Rogers Museum in Oklahoma, and Buckingham Fountain in Chicago. Whether the Station truly belongs among such well-known and important sites might be questionable, but I certainly won't turn down this kind of publicity for our little ol' home-grown museum.  Folks who visit almost universally appreciate what we have there, and we certainly appreciate the vast assortment of travelers from all over the world who stop there on their Mother Road adventures.
The article has made me even more eager to get back to Afton Station on some sort of regular schedule.  I hate to think of it sitting up there in Afton, cold and unloved.  Maybe some time in the next week I'll take a ride up there and check things out.  Meanwhile, David has been watching the building and making sure all is well there.  Remember, if you plan a trip through Afton any time in the next month or two, you can let me know in advance and I can arrange to have a volunteer open and give you a very nice tour.  Call me at 918-382-9465 or 918-284-3829 at least a day in advance.

Here's a little bit about The Examiner.

Real People. Real Knowledge
Launched in 2008, is a dynamic entertainment, news and lifestyle network that serves more than 20 million monthly readers across the U.S. and around the world.

The Route 66 article from the Examiner can be read here:  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Healing on Route 66

In an attempt to keep myself from going stark raving crazy from "recuperating" in my house for too long, I decided this cold, gray day would be a good time to take a ride.  I miss my car so much!  I intended to get an oil change, so I picked up Ron M. and we drove to the dealership, only to find that the wait was going to be too long.  So, what better excuse to head back to Route 66 to seek out something new, something different.  Alas, not much has changed on 11th St.  since we last cruised it before Christmas.

At the new Route 66 Interpretive Plaza (11th and Mingo), the bronze plaques have been affixed to the concrete podia but it was too cold and windy to walk up the rise to photograph them. The whole layout of the Interpretive Plaza continues to be interesting, a place for rest, contemplation, and education on a more favorable day, so we'll save that for the spring.
Meanwhile, at the corner of 11th and Atlanta, the former Dan Tunes Auto Service building is being transformed into the 918 Coffee House.  There has been a rash of new coffee houses opening on and around Route 66, but I think this town can handle the outbreak.  Since Tulsa demographic studies show us to be getting younger and hipper (ha!), there should be plenty of folks willing to hang out after work in a cozy place with good cup of caffeine, especially if its on the Mother Road.  A portion of the Dan Tunes building was once a service station (possibly Phillips), and that adds to the charm of the place.  I look forward to its opening.

The original sign has disappeared.  I wonder what happened to it.  It's one of my first memories from when I came to Tulsa, but I'm not sure why.  It's quite plain, formerly neon.
After that, we veered off Route 66 to score some clam/artichoke chowder from Whole Foods, a fine way to finish off a short Route 66 cruise.  I feel better already.

Friday, January 11, 2013

BBQ in Afton.... give it a try

This is my first day out of rehab and trying to resume normal activities. I admit that I'm a little wiped out so I just came home to rest.  When I face my full email box and then realize that I really need to write a blog post, it all seems like more than I can handle.   Give me a few days and  with luck I'll be back in the groove.  Of course, I haven't been to Afton for nearly a month so I don't have much to say about what's going on up there, other than what's been told to me.

The barbecue place down the road is now open, and so far I've heard good things about it.  I've already tasted their bbq and sides, and both are wonderful.  If you plan to stop there, be warned that it's a little hard to see from Route 66.  It's in an old gas station on the south side of the road  (north of Afton Station), but the defunct pumps have been boxed in rather than removed, meaning that the restaurant is somewhat hidden behind the big gray box holding the pumps.  I'm not sure if there's a sign up yet.   I hear they're open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. or later.  They serve beer.  This is all I know, so I  hope this information is accurate.  If you are passing through Afton, do think about stopping to patronize this spot -- the barbecue is delicious and the owners are friendly.
ADDED LATER:  I found this message from Sandy Reynolds, one of the proprietors of the new place, on Facebook.  She writes:  "Opened NOWHERE ON ROUTE 66 this Fri! Had a great first weekend. Sold out of everything and wasn't expecting that. I hope everyone that came in was pleased. We have a few kinks to work out but I think all in all it went great."  I also found out that I was wrong about the hours.  They're open later at night and will stay open as long as necessary for those who come in to have a beer or two.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Among the Missing....

That's me!   I'm back now...sort of.  I contracted pneumonia a few days before Christmas and spent Christmas Day in the  ICU.   Fun times.... not!   Fortunately, I don't remember much of that.  I was moved to a regular room several days later, and 4 days ago moved to a Rehab Center where two persistent women are shaming me into getting my strength back so I can come back home.  I'm actually at home right now, since Ron M. drove me here so I could take a beautiful hot shower and do my laundry.  It feels great to be away from the "institution" for a day.  I hope to be back home permanently in a week or so.

My daughter Sarah flew here from Chicago and spent a week at my bedside, which pretty much ruined her Christmas, too.  I'm such a bother!   :-)  Ron M. has been an angel, visiting every day, running errands for me, bringing me food (rehab food inedible!) and watching over my house.  Other friends have been spectacular, too.  (Brad and LaSandra - thank you for the much needed book light,  Bruce - thanks so much for the chocolates which have been a huge treat each day.)  So, I guess in the long run, all is well.  I'll be back to regular blogging as soon as I'm home and in front of my own computer again.  Until then, please try not to get pneumonia.  It's not fun!