Unless you live in Tulsa.
At 8888 E. Admiral Place (the 1926-1932 alignment of Route 66) sits Airway Variety. That portion of Admiral is pretty run down, and is home to a number of seedy motels left over from the heyday of Route 66 travel. In the midst of it all, Airway Variety is the closest thing to an old-time 5 & 10 I've seen in about four decades. I don't visit there as much as I should, since it's quite far from my home, but I manage to get there about a half dozen times a year. When I enter the store, the loud chirping of birds tosses me right into an overwhelming nostalgic haze. Just like it's old counterparts, the birds and other small pets are in the back of the store. But the front of the store holds a magical concoction of every sort of goods. Don't let the sign over the door fool you. The "Crafts" items take up about 1/3rd of the store and "Flowers" refers to a small section of pretty tacky artificial arrangements. But the rest of the store has everything from small hardware items to cosmetics (ancient and dusty) to outdated party supplies. Where else can you still find Happy Days paper plates, hair nets, razor blades that fit razors that no longer exist, or yellowed paper patterns for shirtwaist dresses?
But don't get me wrong! There are wonderful things at Airway Variety, too. I go there every time I need ribbon for any reason, which is what sent me there today. The ribbon department is the largest I've ever seen. I'm guessing they have about 1000 different rolls of ribbon, mostly thrown together in a whole aisle full of boxes, so you mostly have to dig for what you want. But with most of the ribbon selling for around 19 cents to 50 cents a yard (for the very best!), it's a bargain, and there's nothing you can't find there. In the ribbon department, as in most others, one is given to wondering if the proprietors have bothered to change the price tags since the 60s!
The owners of Airway Variety are far, far from young. I hold my breath every time I drive past, because I know that some day there will be a sign saying they're closing their doors forever. Airway Variety is a gem of a virtually undiscovered business, and I want it to go on and on and on. If you live anywhere near Tulsa, I urge you to visit Airway and buy something. Please.
By the way, they had free kittens today.... two cute little black and white ones. And parakeets are 2 for $14.99 during the Christmas season. :-)
Did I mention that it's a dangerous place? Killer hamsters, perhaps? LOL!
Just down the road is the Booster Feed Mill, the last old style feed mill in the city of Tulsa....
... and possibly the only rhino on Route 66, too. I believe this guy is left over from a long-closed miniature golf course.