Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sidewalk Highway Monument to be a reality...

. . . if we can raise the rest of the money. Today, four members of the OK Route 66 Association -- Carol Duncan, Marilyn Emde, Jeanne Miller, Cletus Simpson -- came to Afton to go with David and me to the site of the proposed monument at the western end of the 9-foot highway's Afton segment. I'm so excited about this! Here's a picture of the proposed monument, which will be engraved on Oklahoma red granite by a company in western Oklahoma which has done similar monuments for other sites on Route 66. It's about time this historic part of the Mother Road is recognized and explained. For an explanation, click to enlarge the picture below. It says it all.
The $3920 cost of the installation has been reduced by $1060 by David, my ex, offering to pick up the monument in western Oklahoma, deliver it to the site, and "plant" it in cement there. The county is going to be asked to provide a small pull-off area near the monument, and if we sweet-talk them enough, maybe a fence around it. But that still leaves $2860 we will owe the company. So far, at least $1000 of that has been donated, but we will now officially start a "$66 for 66" campaign. We will take all donations of any size, but the "66" is a catchy way of starting the campaign. We would like to get the full amount as soon as possible.

If anyone is interested in donating to this cause, please send checks to:

Oklahoma Route 66 Association
P.O. Box 446
Chandler, OK 74834

Ok, enough begging.... It was a good day at Afton Station today. I put down the new rug, which looked so small in that big room! Betty stopped by and stayed for quite a while, and that's always a happy time for me. Other visitors included a trucker from St. Louis (his second visit there), two folks from Minnesota, and two guys from Michigan. Then, of course, the four Association folks arrived and looked around a bit before we drove out to the 9-foot road.

Here are Carol, David, Marilyn, and Jeanne.... in the rain.... at the monument site. It's a bad picture because it was taken on the fly. Nobody wanted to hang around for pictures in the cold rain!And here's the rug in it's new home. It's already been christened by being stepped on frequently today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh, crafty me!

No Afton Station today, and it's way too rainy (can you say "cats and dogs"?) to go out running around, so I made one quick trip to a craft store and came home to finish a long-postponed project. Some time ago I bought a cheap 6' long gray runner to be put in front of the door at the Station. Today I turned it into a road! Believe me, there was nothing complicated about this little project, and it required nothing but the ability to cut stencils. Since I've stenciled walls for years (and staircases and floor cloths and placemats), I know how to do it, and I have the proper stencil brushes and knives. So, the rug took about 45 minutes to create. I'm aware that the paint will wear off after about a month of people walking on it, but I can just redo it if I feel like it. It felt good to actually do something with my hands for a change. Here's the rug, drying on the kitchen floor.

I've been working with a current member of the OK Route 66 Association Board to have a monument erected at the foot of the 9-foot alignment on the Afton end. She's coming to Afton tomorrow to show me drawings of the proposed monument (provided by the company that will be making it). It's similar to those which our Association has put up in the past at a few other places along the Route. When she arrives, we'll go and pick the exact site for it. I've spoken to the county folks up there, and they've given their blessing. About half of the $5000 cost has already been pledged, and the Board is talking about procuring the other half by holding a "$66 for 66" campaign. More details about that later. I've felt for a long time that this historically significant portion of Route 66 needs to be marked, and since it's in Afton, just one mile from the Station, I feel it will do a lot to call attention to an otherwise somewhat dismal little town.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shooting while driving

I know I said I wouldn't do it again, but I lied. You see, we got word that the bridge over the Little Cabin Creek just outside of Vinita is in line for reconstruction. I go over it twice each day when I drive to and from Afton, and it's one of those bridges that catches my eye every time. It seems sound enough in its present state to me, but I admit to knowing nothing about assessing bridge strength and load bearing. It's a pretty little bridge, with ancient concrete side rails and two pony trusses, so I'd hate to see it radically modernized. Since my clout with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is just about equal to my knowledge of bridge soundness, I'll keep my mouth shut on this one, but I'll keep my eye on the progress of the work so I can whine when they do something awful to it.

So anyway.... I had to photograph the bridge this afternoon on the way home from Afton, and I did so with the car in motion on a 2-lane highway with a rather pissed off trucker behind me. I just had to do it. :-) These aren't great pictures, but considering....

It was another gloomy day today, one of many in a row. I've learned that the weather has little to do with traffic at Afton Station, although today was gloomy in terms of visitors, too. I was alone most of the day. Only five travelers eventually visited -- a couple from Lenexa, KS, a guy from Tulsa selling Studebaker parts, and a couple from Missouri. To occupy my spare time, I cut out the stencils for a runner I'm making for in front of the door. A photo of the rug will follow tomorrow, if I have time to finish it. Toward the end of the day I had a visit from the two Mormon missionaries who are assigned to Afton. They've come in before, and with the understanding that they're not to do any prosthelitizing to me about their religion, we've had some fun conversations. I'm fascinated about how young boys (19 years old) are expected to leave home for two full years without any contact, in order to do their churchly duties. They're nice kids who come from typically (for LDS) huge families at home, but they say they're not homesick at all. Hard to believe. But really very nice boys.

By the time I left Afton, the sun had come out.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More photos by Jacson

Since I don't have anything important to say today, I will give you the pleasure of seeing a few more photos taken by Jacson at Saturday's rally.
Our 1934 12-cylinder Packard

Our 1941 Hupmobile

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rest and Relaxation

I drove to Afton in a fog of my own making. It was a perfectly clear day, but my brain wasn't. It was one of those (extremely rare, for me) I-don't-want-to-get-out-of-bed mornings. But I forged ahead and by the time I got to Afton, I was reasonably awake and yet still yearning for a slow day.

Well, I got my wish. The morning was completely quiet. I cleaned the bathroom (and took note of the fact that somebody broke the toilet seat!), removed the fingerprints from the tops of the glass cases, chased a few dust bunnies, and did some restocking of sales items. Otherwise, the Station is looking better than ever, thanks to the big pre-rally cleanup. The windows are all sparkling clean, the floor is as well, and other than a few dirty crockpots left over in the car museum side, it's just about perfect. David and Sylvie arrived at around 11 and took all the dirty pots home, since our facility for washing big things isn't good at the Station and the hot water is at a minimum. Betty came and sat for a while, and Marly came to do a few chores, too. Jacson from Brazil stopped by -- more on that later. But still no traveling visitors.

Finally, at about 2 p.m., four nice cars pulled in (three Vettes and a Mustang, I believe) and our first (and last) visitors arrived. They were four couples from Red Oak, Iowa.... heading for a week-long Route 66 tour going as far as New Mexico. I was glad to have at least a few visitors today. It's not a pretty day -- dark, gloomy, windy -- so I was about to go into a big funk if at least I didn't get to see a few travelers. Of these four couples, the women wanted to go next to the winery/tasting room in Vinita and the men wanted to go to Daryl Starbird's Rod and Custom museum, about 15 miles away. The argument was settled when they decided to split up and meet later at another location. Marly was still there, so he helped me close up the Station and I headed for home.

Now, about Jacson. He brought me an incredible gift. He took about 400 photos at the rally yesterday and was kind enough to burn them all to a CD for me! I took a quick look now, and they're just great. He's awfully good at composing pictures, and he didn't miss a trick. Over the next few days, I'll post a few of the best ones each day. Here are a few for today.

Original Indy car
The lineup
Police car

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where to begin....

This was by far the busiest day at Afton Station EVER. Although David, his wife Sylvie, and a committee sent ahead by the Vintage Car Rally Assoc. did most of the leg work with putting the luncheon together, I'm tired just from talking, talking, talking. There were, by their own count, approximately 100 folks in the rally in about 48 cars. They arrived right on the dot of 11:30... and virtually all at once. But the remarkable thing about the day was that we had tons of non-rally visitors, too. I stopped counting at 30 and there were at least 10 more after that. I'm pretty sure we had at least 150 people at the Station at once, which is a new record.
Betty, her sister Marlene, and Marly came to lend a hand, too. That was good, because I was kept very busy on my side of the Station, just selling things, talking about Route 66, and showing people where the line for the bathroom formed. :-) I really never got over to the car side to get any lunch, but Betty brought me a piece of brisket and a piece of cake. And then there were Marly's donuts.... oh, yum!

Marly put a ladder up on Bassett's building across the street and climbed it to take these pictures of the cars. My little camera didn't have a good enough wide-angle lens, so he took them in two separate pictures. There were some cars on the side roads too, so they didn't all get in these pictures.

Tomorrow I'll have time to look over my guest book to see from what states the racers originated. It was definitely a national event, with cars from Boston,NYC, California, the Carolinas, among many others. A most interesting group with some extremely nifty cars.

Jacson, my new Brasilian friend, came back today and stayed all day. He told me he took over 300 photos of the cars, and he's going to make a CD for me. After that, I'll be able to post more photos of rally cars. He took this one with my camera, and I love it although it was such a gloomy day that many of the shots taken today are very dark.

Today was tons of fun, but I'm looking forward to a less frantic day tomorrow. I'm pretty sure this was the most exciting day in Afton Oklahoma in a LONG time! I'm going to rest now. See you in Afton tomorrow!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gilcrease Museum Azaleas

I took my friend Joe's advice and drove over to the Gilcrease Museum this afternoon to have a look at the azalea gardens. Joe was right.... they are gorgeous. Like so many large gardens, photos just can't do them justice, I'm afraid. And just as I got there, the sun went behind a large cloud, so the colors in my pics aren't as vibrant as they could be in the proper light. But enough excuses from me. Just look at the pictures and imagine it being 100 times prettier in person. By the way, the Gilcrease isn't directly on Route 66, but it's close enough!

Gilcrease Museum - The Museum of the Americas

"Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum is one of the country's best facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. The museum's charm, beauty and art collections draw thousands of visitors from around the world to the hills just northwest of downtown Tulsa for a glimpse into the past. Gilcrease Museum houses the world's largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The Museum also offers an unparalleled collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as historical manuscripts, documents and maps.Beyond the extensive Gilcrease collections and exhibits are its beautiful facilities and gardens. Themed gardens have been developed on 23 of the museum's 460 acres."

Just a quickie....

I drove over to the Cyrus Avery Plaza (Tulsa) to check out the re-installation of the big Route 66 shields on the bridge there. The originals were vandalized shortly after they were put up, so they were redesigned with protective screening behind them. I'm not convinced that it will keep them out of the hands of creative idiots, but we'll see. Anyway, here they are. (I've got to stop taking pictures out of the windshield while driving. It can't be safe. LOL)Later, I might drive over to Tulsa's beautiful Gilcrease Museum. On a tip from a friend, I've learned that the azaleas there are magnificent, and I'd like to take a few pictures. It's times like these that I wish I had a better camera.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Perfectly Imperfect

I have lots of time to think on my long drives to and from Afton. Today I was pondering perfection as it relates to Route 66.

I came here from 30 years of living in suburban Connecticut - just outside of New York City - where everything is expected to be perfect and, by some standards, is. Cities are busy and clean. Fashionable shops and magnificent homes line the streets. Small towns are "picturesque" and litter-free. The countryside looks like a calendar picture. Totally Martha Stewart territory. No wonder I was never comfortable there.

Route 66 is my idea of perfect imperfection. It's a bit like me. It's a little run down but manages to retain a modicum of charm. It's big. It's lived-in. It can be friendly. It remains optimistic even when maybe it shouldn't. From it, you can see miles into the past and miles into the future. For what some insist on calling a "dead road", it's the most alive place I've ever lived. It's my kind of place.

Today there was lots of bustling around at Afton Station to get ready for the big cruise that's coming for lunch on Saturday. Luis was there all day painting the roof (finally!) and mowing our pathetic grass. Marly was here earlier to work on the 2CV, then David came and swept him up and took him off to Sam's Club, where they bought everything needed for Saturday. They bought a new glass-fronted cooler that holds 150 cans of pop and bottles of water, 8 big tables that seat 8, and all the food for the luncheon. We stowed as much of the food as we could at the Station and David took some home with him. We set up the new cooler and filled it.

Meanwhile, I was entertaining a gaggle of visitors. There were 11 in all, including former New Englanders who now live in Miami OK, a couple from Topeka KS, three from Locust Grove GA, and several local types. My favorite guest this morning was Jacson Lima, a remarkably nice and interesting guy from Brazil. He's spending a few weeks working in the area, so he might be back for another visit this weekend. As he said in the guest book, he's fulfilling his "dream" by being on Route 66. Here he is:

Marly was at the Station yesterday and had 9 visitors, from France, the Netherlands, and California. I just wanted to put that on the record. So far, it's been a chaotic but exciting week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Loose Ends

I realized that I have a lot of loose ends to clean up from yesterday, so here's another hodgopodge of things that are on my mind.

The water tower, like so much in Afton, could use a makeover.
Ron M. led me to this great photo of the Meadow Gold sign in it's original location, about a mile from where it's being reconstructed. As you can see, it used to be on the roof of a building (a bar, actually) whereas now it has it's very own "pedestal".

A local Afton resident came for a visit yesterday and brought his '84 Olds 98, of which he's very proud. Here he is showing David his pride and joy.
Tulsa was named the No. 1 city in the country by Relocate America. This is the 12th year they've produced their "TOP 100 Places To Live" list. Relocate-America's™ 2009 Top 100 Places to Live Relocate America helps home buyers and sellers access relocation resources that make moving easier. The Relocate America team reviews local economy, housing and other essential statistics important to making key real estate buying decisions. I get very excited when I hear about things like this, since I agree with them completely. Tulsa is simply THE BEST! As a relative newcomer to Tulsa, I'm happy every day that I made the decision to move here.

Finally, I forgot to tell you yesterday about the big doings that are going to take place at Afton Station on Saturday. David has invited over 100 people, driving about 50 vintage cars, to drop in for lunch! It seems he volunteered us as the lunch stop for the Route 66 Vintage Sports Car Rally, a 4-day rally on (you guessed it) Route 66. We're donating the food, since the rally is a fundraiser for the Autism Society. We've had big groups at Afton Station for lunch before, so it's not complicated. We'll put out a buffet of barbecued brisket (pre-cooked and sliced), buns, potato salad, and beans. Very picnicky, but always well-received. It should be a lot of fun, and I'm sure there'll be some great photo ops while David does all the work. :-)

That is all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday Hodgepodge

Even after doing my grocery shopping in Tulsa at 6 a.m., taking the groceries home and putting them away, and driving to Vinita for breakfast of eggs and a biscuit, I still had almost an hour to kill before needing to be at Afton Station. So, I drove around some back roads in Vinita. I saw this photogenic rock building and stopped to take a picture.

Also, there's a small road that takes you down behind the "World's Largest McDonald's" which is on the turnpike, without having to get on the turnpike. Actually, it's no longer the "World's Largest", the title having been usurped by China or Russia or someplace (not sure... I don't keep up on McDonald's lore, but you can probably look it up). At any rate, it's the "World's Only Drive-Under McDonalds", since the turnpike passes under it. The picture I took from the side road isn't good, so I endangered life and limb on the way home tonight by getting on the turnpike and taking a pic of it while driving under it at 75 mph. Neither picture turned out to be worth the trouble, in my opinion. The McDonald's used to be the Glass House Restaurant, a fancier place where it's said that high schools used to hold their proms, looking down at the romantic headlights from passing trucks, I guess. Whatever.
Once at Afton Station, the day moved quickly. David was there even before I arrived, working on the 2CV. He stayed all day. Betty came and brought me a treasure -- some more pictures of the tamed buffalo that used to perform with his trainer, Larue Olson , at Buffalo Ranch. These pictures are a treasure because they're from Betty's personal collection. As you might recall, the trainer was eventually accidentally killed by the buffalo. From looking at these pictures, I can certainly see the danger!
My 12 visitors today included folks from New Orleans, a trucker from Missouri, guys from Bartlesville and Miami, OK, and two young Mormon missionaries. The missionaries were really nice guys who stayed for about a half hour while I pelted them with questions about what it must be like being so young and landing far from their homes (in their case, Nevada and Wisconsin) in a little town like Afton. The LDS religion has always fascinated me.... not the dogma, but the lifestyle.

On the way home, I noted that the Meadow Gold sign seems to be done, and then got an invitation in today's email to it's Dedication on May 22. Exciting! I took this picture, but it's impossible to photograph both sides at once. But hey, they're identical anyway!

I have a "before" picture too, but since I think there are probably already too many pics in this entry, I'll save it (along with some others) for tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More from the Inola Register

Never a dull moment in Early 20th Century Inola!

Explosion is Heard All Over Town
Inola Register Oct. 29, 1908

On last Friday night Ross & Morris' store was entered and the safe was blown open. The charge was a heavy one, blowing the safe over, and blowing the door back against their writing desk, damaging it considerably. Other things in the store were damaged by the explosion.

There is no question but what the job was done by amateurs. The safe contained no money, but five or six dollars were taken from the counter money drawer. The explosion was heard all over town, and Oscar Jeffers, who lives just across the street, got up and went out on the front porch and took a few shots at them. The shots were promptly returned, one passing through the window into the house.

Sheriff Stephens and Deputy Mayberry came down next day with their bloodhounds and the town joined in the search. Some arrests followed. County Attorney Hall and Sheriff Stephens came down again Monday and made further investigations. As a result, arrests were made. It seems a general cleaning up will follow. We have got to have it if the town ever amounts to anything. We feel sorry for the boys, either guilty or innocent. They have had evil influences around them for years and for that reason we withold their names. They have been allowed to enter these pool halls at will, and whoever heard of any good coming out of a pool hall? Now don't all hold up your hands at once.

Has Runaway at His Place
Inola Register Sept. 17, 1908

James W. Moore had quite an exciting runaway at his place north of town a few days ago. Mr. Moore and his little 2-year old son were out on the farm in the buggy. Mr. Moore had occasion to stop the team. He dropped the lines and was talking to some parties and doing some writing when the team started. He grabbed at the lines, but got only one, pulling this one turned the horses suddenly, throwing Mr. Moore out The horses ran a quarter to a half mile and stopped. When Mr. Moore and the others reached the buggy the little boy had hold of the foot rest with both hands and was laughing heartily. He enjoyed all of the excitement.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bleak day

It was cold. It was dreary. It was almost devoid of visitors. What a change from yesterday. Ron was with me, and Betty stopped in for a while, but otherwise we only had four visitors today at Afton Station, two from Columbus, OH and two from Grove, OK. Both couples were very interested in everything at the museum, so those were the bright spots of the day.

By 2:30 p.m. we were bored and I had contracted a chill I just couldn't shake, so we headed for home. On a tip from Betty, on the way out of town we located the former Acme Motel, or what's left of it. You can't see it in the picture, but "Acme" is very faintly visible on the sign. All that's left of the motel is one possible unit to which it appears someone has attached a later building of some sort. You will see the Acme in it's better days when we finally get the before-and-after slide show put together.

The Palmer Hotel building across the street from Afton Station has been for sale for years, but the contact phone number had faded out on the "For Sale" sign a long, long time ago. It was great to see today that it has been rewritten on the sign. I think it will be a whole lot easier to sell if a potential buyer knows how to reach the seller, don'cha think? :-) I just want this building sold to someone who will care for it, restore it, and appreciate it's history and beauty. If anyone is interested, call 918-961-0122. I'm not sure who will answer.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Route 66 Roadologist and others

I'm often asked how I can endure the 160-mile round trip to and from Afton four days a week. My answer is this: The problem with all the jobs I've held in the past, both paid and volunteer, was that they didn't involve a 160-mile round trip! My long-held and heartfelt belief that it's the journey, not the destination, that truly fills the soul is brought home to me every day as I drive back and forth to Afton. I really never get tired of the feel of the steering wheel in my hand and the ever-changing sights I see out the window. How many times have I said, right here on this blog, that I'm tempted to drive right past the Station and just keep going? It's not that I don't love Afton Station and my visitors, but I confess that the open road will always be my first love.

That being said, I didn't have a wonderful drive home this evening. It was raining so hard at one point that lack of visibility made me pull over into a convenience store parking lot in Chelsea. The whole world had done the same thing, but I managed to find the last spot and slid the car in, waited about 5 minutes until the rain slowed then went on my way again, driving through some prodigious puddles! No harm done, but a little tense there for a while.

There were 16 visitors today, and they hailed from Wichita KS, Winter Haven FL, Atlanta GA, Rollling Meadows IL, and Grove, Bartlesville, and Narcissa OK. My very special Guest of Honor today was the "Route 66 Roadologist", Jeff Meyer from Illinois, one of the pioneers of modern Route 66 travel. He started studying Route 66, collecting Route 66 memorabilia, and traveling the Mother Road extensively over 20 years ago, so of course he's a friend of all of us who are "old timers" on the road, too. Jeff is a human grapevine who knows everything about everybody, and since he was returning from a Route 66 trip to Texas, he was full of news and gossip from all of our mutual friends between here and there. Jeff stayed for about 90 minutes, after which he was headed back to Illinois, slowly.
The search for before-and-after pictures of Afton for our slide show goes on. Betty figured this one out. It's a residential road ~ Reed St. ~ and it's somewhat unusual to find three rather large house in a row still standing in Afton, much less the very same houses that are pictured on a 1908 postcard. A great score! Since Ron is going on a two week vacation and he's the one who will be putting the slide show online after I assemble all the material, it will be a while before the grand premiere. But it's coming.

There are certain discoveries that instantly and strongly sadden me. "Town in Tar Creek Said To Be Near Closing" was the headline in this morning's Tulsa World. You will recall Tar Creek from my previous posts about the area on Route 66 not far from Afton which is a Federal Superfund site due to lead poisoning from past mining operations there. Within that region, there are two small towns, Picher and Cardin. Picher was nearly destroyed by a tornado last year (as if they didn't have enough trouble). Now the population of Cardin is down to 7 residents, and public services will be turned off next month. The EPA is buying out the residents one by one. So far, 537 buyout proposals have been accepted. It's good that the citizens have this way out, I guess. But Cardin was a town, a place where people lived and died and worked and played. A "home" town. I remember it being a real town as little as 5 years ago, and now it will no longer exist. Will that become Afton's fate? The cycle of life. And yet, still sad.

Cardin, OK