Friday, October 31, 2008
I've always been fond of what are commonly called "Muffler Men". Those are the large, 20-foot tall fiberglass images that have their origin in the '60s when a lot of them were made from the same mold by a company in Venice, California for muffler shops all over the country. The original statues were men with arms in front of them holding giant mufflers. Over the years, most of the statues have either disappeared or have been "modified" to be something else. For example, Atlanta Illinois has a Muffler Man that now holds a giant hot dog where the muffler used to be. In Wilmington, Illinois, the Muffler Man is now the Gemini Giant holding a rocket. You get the idea.
So anyway, on Rt. 59 between Grove and Afton is a former Muffler Man in front of a flea market/junk shop. He's dressed as a cowboy, with jeans, big belt buckle, and a cowboy hat. He holds nothing (except at Christmas time, when occasionally someone puts large candles in his hands). On this dark morning-after-Halloween I was tooling along as usual when, as is my custom, I glanced over at the Muffler Man. Wellllll....... my foot hit the brake and squealed to a stop that probably took a quarter inch off my tire treads. Fortunately, I was the only person on the road at that early hour. I did a complete u-turn and drove back, not believing my eyes! In front of me was one of the craziest and most elaborate Halloween pranks I've ever seen. I congratulated myself for always keeping my camera in the car, although I wasn't sure if I had enough light to take a decent picture. I tried it anyway, and was able to lighten it up later when I put it online.
Now, here's the thing. I've spent a bit of time just now trying to figure out how to post the photo without getting kicked off Blogger and/or really offending a bunch of people. Since I'm not entirely sure who reads my blog, I've decided to just offer my email address, and you can write to me if you want me to email the photo to you. A most impressive cantilevering job, I must say!
A few hours later, when I returned from Afton, the Muffler Man adaptation had been removed. I dare say I own probably the only photo that was taken of him that morning.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The other activity in which I dabble when I'm at Afton and feeling bored is writing poetry. I've always written poetry, but when I'm at Afton Station I tend to write about what I see around me. I don't claim to be much of a poet, and I'm sure that the moment I post one of my poems here I'm going to regret it with great embarrassment. But here goes....
Behind the Station is a former small, one-story hospital that is now used as a day center for adult patients with mental difficulties from around the county. They are brought in and out by bus each day, and they frequently shuffle around the town, expressionless, or wander across the street to buy soda and cigarettes from the grocery store. Since the county is notorious for being a hotbed of crystal meth use, I am quite certain that many of the patients' disabilities stem from long-time drug use. Watching them inspired this poem:
Step on a crack.
Five steps forward
Ten steps back.
Round the block
Toward the bridge
Back to town.
Life has made
A mess of him.
Mind in tatters
One step, two steps
One step closer
To his death.
Now that I've got you all depressed, here's another (mercifully, the last!). There used to be a funeral parlor in one of the abandoned storefronts across the street from the Station. You should know that before you read the poem, which is inspired by what I saw one day.
Is this a secret tryst?
Pulled up to the curb
Next to the mortuary
Summer Sunday morning
She with the rustiest truck ever
He with the rolled-over van.
She of the bottle blonde and tattoos
He of the wife-beater and gut.
They smoke together
And split a Big Mac which she provides.
Their eyes never leave one another
For fifteen minutes at least.
He unlocks the door
Of the abandoned funeral parlor
And suddenly I cannot tell
As she wheels out an embalming gurney
And I feel like a most hopeless romantic.
Okey dokey, enough bad poetry for one day.....
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Here's the old Cities Service station before demolition. (Photo from "Along Route 66" by Quinta Scott). Looks a lot like Afton Station, doesn't it?
The town "park" today.
ADDENDUM: Just had a call from a couple from Norway that were absolutely crushed to find I wasn't open. They called from in front of the Station. It's 6 p.m. now, I'm almost two hours away, and obviously I'm not able to drive there to let them in. This frequently happens. I'm so sad.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Surprise! Pull back and you'll see it's a model. My ex (back when he was my husband) had a lovely habit of giving me artist-created one-of-a-kind models each year. A Texas artist made this one and named it Laurel's Station. The detail is incredible. Unfortunately, the interior lights aren't working now. I have some better pictures of it somewhere, but I don't have time to look for them now.
Lucky you! Now travel with me into the Afton Station restroom.. Here's a mural (a.k.a. world's largest toilet paper dispenser) I painted several years ago.
The famous Afton Station toilet paper, prized by travelers, each of whom is given one as a souvenir when they come to visit. I do this because my retro motto is "Cleanest Restrooms In Town". Since we're the ONLY public restrooms in town, the title is easy to retain. :-)
Ron went outside and snapped these shots when I was busy with guests. No self-respecting service station would be complete without a back yard full of rusty vehicles. We are no exception. Here are David's "parts cars", although I've never seen him take any parts from them.
Ok, enough of that. After a slow start, people started coming in the door of the Station around noon. By the end of the day, we had visited with 12 people. Two ladies (0ne from Oregon and one from Tulsa), in the area for their 30th college reunion, came to visit and stayed quite a while, playing with the pressed penny machine and looking at the cars and books. One of them won my heart because she's a postcard collector like me. She spent quite a bit of time going through my postcards for sale, and ended up buying 15 of them. Some bikers, pedaling their way from Arkansas to Ponca City OK, stopped very briefly because they had to get moving to meet their arrival goal. The older of the gentlemen was having painful knee problems so I invited them to come in and rest for a spell, but they were in a very big hurry. A local father and his two sons stopped by on their way home from a Boy Scout campout. Some folks from Michigan also visited. Toward the end of the day, we had a visit from my friend Emily, the photographer who took the shot of Michael I used in my last post. She drove up to say hi and chat a while. Her vest was covered with Obama buttons (yeah!), some of them very funny. Beekeepers for Obama (she's a beekeeper), Redheads for Obama (yeah, she is), Recyclers for Obama (she's that, too), Photographers for Obama (yep!), and quite a few more. My favorite was Hippies for Obama. I wish I'd bought one of those when I first saw them. It's too late now, I think.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Nobody was taking pictures last night so I followed suit. Therefore, I borrowed this awesome pic of M. Wallis from my friend Emily Priddy, taken one day when we were all hanging out at the Blue Dome Diner in Tulsa.
Meanwhile, it was another slow day at Afton Station today. The fellow who sold us the gas pumps dropped in with his son to see how they looked after restoration. He was extremely pleased. He confirmed that the pumps are originally from Afton and probably from our very station.
Great enthusiasm was exhibited by a visitor from Kansas City and his father-in-law from Colorado. The KC guy and his wife had driven almost all of Route 66 in August but on that trip had arrived at Afton Station after it had closed. Today, he drove down with his visiting father-in-law just to see it from the inside, take pictures, and give his father-in-law, who grew up here, some moments of nostalgia. They stayed for over two hours and took some awesome photos. I've asked him to email them to me so I can post them here. I also had visitors from Pasadena CA, among a few others. Betty was with me for a while, too.Leave it to Afton to have a "Welcome" sign that lacks the name of the town!
Friday, October 24, 2008
I forgot to mention yesterday that when I got to Afton there were several flooded areas, once again due to a leaky roof and a pretty strong rainstorm the day before. Much roof work needs to be done to stem the tides. With these old flat-roofed buildings, it's a matter of patch, patch, patch. Since we had the roof done, there are some new technologies we probably need to try. Looks like that will be our winter project.
Tonight Ron M. and I are going to a talk by Michael Wallis, "Mr. Route 66", author of Route 66: The Mother Road, the book credited with the resurgence of interest in Route 66 in the '90s. Michael Wallis He's a personal friend and I've listened to him speak a dozen times, but his talks are always different, always interesting and, mostly, inspirational. There's nothing like hearing a Wallis speech to fire up one's desire to get out and experience the Mother Road.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Kaisa Barthuli, from the National Parks Service Route 66 Corridor program was also on board. I've met her a number of times before and she's an amazing lady.
Prior to the arrival of the bus, we had a group of four folks from Florida come in. They're in town looking to replace their current motorhomes with Newell Coaches, which are made just down the road. While the bus was here, we also greeted four folks from Maine who are doing a full Chicago-to-LA Route 66 trip. One of the men got my attention by showing some interest in the buildings across the street which are for sale. I wish I'd had more time to give him my full sales pitch. I'm really getting quite desperate to find buyers for those buildings before the little grocery store closes and turns Afton into a ghost town. We also had visitors from Tulsa who, I'm sorry to say, got a little lost in the shuffle of all the other people there.
The four of us who were there to host the bus tour left shortly after all the visitors left (Betty, Ron J., David, and me) and we drove to Vinita for lunch at historic Clanton's Cafe, the oldest family-owned restaurant on Route 66 (since 1922).
Remember Phil the runner who stayed with me a few weeks ago? He made it to Chicago, having run all of Route 66. Congratulations, Phil! Now he's going on to the East Coast. Amazing! Here he is in front of the Giant in Atlanta, Illinois, not far from Chicago.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The dinner gathering last night was a lot of fun (and a wee bit of business, too). We had a private room at Ollie's Station Restaurant, on Southwest Blvd. (Route 66) in west Tulsa. It was such a nice way to see the out-of-town Route 66 folks who are here for the Preservation Conference. Jim Conkle and Glen Duncan flew in from California, Jim for a meeting and Glen to make a presentation at the Conference. Jim is the Chair of the Route 66 Alliance and Glen was president of the California Route 66 Association and is a prominent preservationist.
Here are some of the others who attended the very informal dinner. There's Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones from Bartlesville OK, Joy Avery from Tulsa, and three preservation-minded women from the Kansas Route 66 Association, Carolyn Pendleton, Carla Jordan, and Catie Myers. If the name "Avery" sounds familiar, she's the granddaughter of Cyrus Avery, the "Father of Route 66". Cyrus Avery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Joy is the lady in the white jacket. Here are Glen Duncan, Marilyn Emde (Admin. of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association) from Chandler OK, and Brad Nickson (Tulsa Rep., OK Route 66 Assn.) from Tulsa.
And of course, here's Ron McCoy, who is spending every day this week as an official volunteer greeter and registrar at the Conference. With about 3,000 people to register, it's a very big job.
Mostly, we ate and chatted, but Jim did give us an update on the newly-formed Route 66 Alliance, a group with the intention of uniting all the state associations under one umbrella. The organization is in it's formative stages, but progress is being made toward establishing by-laws and other administrative details.
Tomorrow is the first big Conference bus tour coming to Afton Station. For the sake of the participants, I hope the rain stops by then.
UPDATE: I just got a call from David and Marly, who report that Ethyl and Regular Fred's heads now light up!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It was past noon before my first guests arrived today, a couple from Germany. I wonder if the tourist season is finally beginning to wind down. One nice thing about being at Afton Station on a slow day like this is the silence. I'm isloated from what's happening in the world. When I'm at home, the TV is usually tuned to MSNBC or CNN with news droning in the background no matter what I'm doing. In the car, it's NPR or (I'm ashamed to admit it) Howard Stern. I don't really like to listen to most music, so it's always talk, talk, talk for me. But here at Afton Station I'm alone and it's quiet. Sometimes I'll put on a CD of Route 66 music if I have a group coming, but otherwise I relish the silence. The acoustics here are good too, so before a month of tubes down my throat permanently knocked out the singing part of my voice, I could be found unabashedly crooning "Get Your Kicks on Route 66", full volume. Now, it's just the silence, the hum of the air conditioner in the summer, the hourly piercing wail of a passing train whistle, and the tinkle of the bell on the door when I'm about to receive visitors. I appreciate it very much.
After they left, I caught the young Germans taking photos of each other in front of the newly completed gas pumps. I went out and told them they were the first.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Love this sign. The new owners plan to keep it and add a HUGE Route 66 shield (about 10 feet tall) that he bought on Ebay.
This is the bar area. The glass brick is original.
This picture doesn't even begin to show the size of the place. The floor under the table is made from the old alleys.
The last time I visited the Rose Bowl it was before the fire. Ron McCoy took some photos from that visit. You can view them here: http://collectingbuzz.com/rosebowl/rosebowl.htm. They give a very good overview of what the Rose Bowl looked like when it was still a bowling alley.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
It was very early, and the sun was just coloring the sky when I passed the beautiful Desert Hills Motel sign. This shot would have been nicer without all the poles and overhead wires, but I did the best I could with what I had to work with. :-)
And then even cheaper:
Saturday, October 18, 2008
There were twelve visitors today. Other than the Washingtonians and the Australians, we also greeted folks from Norway, Kansas, and Bixby, Oklahoma. Ron M. was with me, Betty stopped in for a while (and brought me the most lucious pumpkin bread -- with coconut! -- that I've ever tasted), and David and his family came by for a bit, too. T'was a nice, cool, crisp, and friendly day.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I wasn't in Afton today, but I did get a very nice note from a visitor from last week. Bill Geibe was particularly interested in the vintage cars, and after he'd looked for a while he asked me, somewhat sheepishly, if it would be ok if he sat in the rumble seat of the 1934 12-cylinder. It's something he'd always wanted to do. I said he could, and that I'd take his picture with his camera. I did. He sent it to me, and here it is.
I've been wanting to put this on my blog. It's our Afton Station postcard.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
In Afton, I saw this. I'm not sure what it is, but it sort of looks like a haunted shanty. :-)
I was jotting "to-do" notes to myself this morning. One of them said "Embed YouTube video onto blog". I had to pause for a moment. Fifteen years ago... no, maybe as recently as ten years ago... a person seeing that would have thought they were reading Martian.... or the writing of a crazy person.....or maybe just gibberish. It made me giggle. Now, if I could just figure out how to embed that video....
Although it was raining in Tulsa when I got home, it was a beautiful day in Afton all day. I had 9 visitors, not including "regulars" Betty and Mike Pendleton. A mother and daughter, traveling from San Diego to St. Louis, got off the interstate just to see Buffalo Ranch. They had spent many happy hours there on trips when the daughter was a kid and they just wanted to do a little reminiscing. They found their way to Afton Station after experiencing the terrible disappointment of seeing that the old Buffalo Ranch no longer exists. I was glad I could give them a little pleasure when they saw that I had so many signs and other momentos of the place, saved when it was torn town.
A trucker from Texas, heading for St. Louis, was lured in by the Packard sign outside. He had a '55 Packard when he was young, but because it wasn't considered cool by his friends, he "stupidly" (his words) traded it for a Chevy. He has never forgiven himself for that. He enjoyed reliving some old times by being around all of our '50s era Packards.
A couple from Leoti, Kansas told me a great (but scary) story today about a bison overturning and totaling a friend's SUV, just a few miles from their home. The driver was trapped in the car the whole time, and although he was unhurt by the bison attack, he couldn't get out, had no cell phone with him, and wasn't rescued for several hours while the bison were continually kicking, butting, and rolling the car. Yikes!
I just love all the stories I hear from my visitors. It makes the long drive SO worthwhile! But I must go to a meeting tonight, so no more stories today.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Our first visitors were Steve and Denise Wyatt from North Carolina. Steve has been a self-described Route 66 "fanatic" for many years, and has an extensive collection of Route 66 memorabilia, books, guides, etc., at his home. In fact, he became engaged to Denise on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in 2000. That's pretty romantic, and it must have worked because she's now his wife and a Route 66 fan, too. They're on their way to California (via the Mother Road, of course) to attend a wedding.
Other visitors today hailed from southern California, Chicago, Joplin MO. and Catoosa OK.
I wouldn't even have had any interesting photos for today's entry (other than the one of Ron J's arm) if Ron M. hadn't stolen my camera and slipped out to take some pictures while I was busy with guests. I didn't know the photos existed until just moments ago when I was downloading from the camera. Here are two of them, a shot of my Route 66 flag (we had been trying to photograph that last week, but the wind never cooperated), and a very creative shot of my neon Route 66 sign taken through the window. Very nice, Ron, and thanks!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Every trip to Afton, no matter how routine they become, yields something new. Today, just west of Vinita, I spotted a tiny "Cabin Creek Battle Site" sign with an arrow pointing to the right down a country road. I had a little extra time, so I followed the road for about 5 miles and never found the battle site. Because my free time was running out, I turned around and drove back to Route 66. When I got home I did a little research and found out a bit about the Civil War battle. I will go back, and this time I'll follow the directions on the website. http://tinyurl.com/4bpcxh
I am somewhat heartsick about missing a classic car cruise that apparently cruised past Afton Station on Thursday. I learned about the cruise online this morning, and then when I got to Afton there was a phone message from the group (from Wednesday) saying they hoped I still expected them the next day. I absolutely have no memory of scheduling a cruise at Afton Station on this past Thursday! I don't know if I'm losing my mind or if there was some misunderstanding. I hate that they may think I just blew them off. I'll try to call them when the weekend is over.
Meanwhile, it was a great day at the Station. A family from New Zealand were my first guests. They're on a 4-month trip to all corners of the United States. Their daughter (about 11 or 12 years old) took a liking to the penny pressing machine, as so many kids do. The family has already driven over 12,000 miles and have another month to go. They bought a pickup truck and travel trailer when they got here, and they'll sell the trailer at the end of the trip and send the pickup back to NZ. Lucky them!
A gentleman who is in the U.S. on business in Tulsa took the weekend off to do some exploring of Route 66. He works in Liechtenstein but lives a couple of miles across the border in Switzerland. Too bad he doesn't live where he works. I would have liked to add Liechtenstein to my list of visiting countries.
Two of our cars were at a car show today, so the place was a little more empty than usual. I wonder if they won any trophies. I'll report when I find out.
Other visitors today included people from the south coast of Great Britain, Newtown PA, New York City, Social Circle GA (love that town name!), Cleora OK, and good 'ol Afton OK. There were 17 visitors altogether.
UPDATE (from about a month ago): The Nut House in Catoosa is now accessible from the East. The road construction is almost completed, and a cut has been made so that cars can cross to the south side of the road. I'm so glad for those folks, since pecan season is starting now.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I didn't go to Afton today, so I have no on-topic report. I'll be there all weekend however, so expect to hear more from me soon.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
On the way home we finally made it to Bartlesville, where we wanted to check on the Nellie Johnston #1 Oil Well (first oil well in Oklahoma) which is reproduced in their city park. It's being restored right now and looks good from a distance, but we couldn't get too close due to the restoration in progress. From there, we made a quick drive back to Tulsa, renewed and refreshed.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
When I arrived at Afton Station this morning, the first thing I noticed was that Ethyl had finally been fitted with her hose and nozzle and a few other parts. Now we can pump our 13c/gallon gasoline -- NOT! Fred is yet to be fitted out, but maybe by next week.