Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's not to love?

This is quickly becoming my favorite Route 66 song, and I'm honored and thrilled that The Road Crew from Nashville will be visiting and playing at Afton Station on Sunday. Aren't they great? And aren't the video images great? I hope, hope, HOPE that lots of folks will turn out for their informal concert at Afton Station on Sunday (2 p.m.). It's free. Rain or shine. Popcorn for all. Bring a chair, unless you don't mind standing.

I paid a visit to the popcorn store today. It's one of my favorite places, and it makes our big old clunky vintage popcorn popper worth having. I bought the popcorn for the weekend, which comes in measured portions along with correctly measured popping oil, and and I bought a bunch of little popcorn bags. Oh, and while I was there, picked up a small bag of caramel corn and ate almost all of it before I got home. But hey, it's waaaaay across town, so don't judge me.

I've had two calls already today from people who wanted to tour Afton Station this afternoon, one from Arkansas and one from Indiana. Of course, I'm not there today and since both of them were sitting in front of the Station when they called, I can't possibly drive for 2 hours to get there and let them in. It just about kills me when this happens. I want so much to be there for everyone, as unrealistic as that may seem. Apparently Marly isn't working there today to let them in either. Oh well....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Be careful what you wish for. . .

Ron M. and I both slogged off to Afton Station this morning with head colds working their devious ways with us. It's not a big deal, but we just weren't much in the mood for a busy day. We got what we wished for, a day that was far from busy. In fact, we started to feel better as the day wore on and eventually were actually wishing for more visitors. Tattoo Man arrived, sporting Route 66 tattoo #81. Betty came briefly, but then got a phone call and had to leave. Marly was there, cleaning up the back yard in preparation for the new building which will be begun soon. I believe I told you before that an overabundance of vintage cars are causing David to build a second showroom behind the first. When it's done, the cars won't be so packed into the original showroom, and many of the cars which are at his house will be able to be displayed at the Station.

Our visitors numbered only 7, and they came from Maynardsville TN, Vinita and Commerce OK, Nixa MO, and Stayton OR. The gentleman from Commerce, OK brought some of his woodworking projects in which he incorporated a Route 66 shield. I kept one of them and told him I'd put it on display and see if I could take orders for him. I somehow doubt it will be popular however, because it's quite large and not the sort of thing that people on the road want to tote in their luggage.

Today, I agreed to be an official stop for a large motorcycle poker run this Saturday with potentially 100+ bikes, sponsored by Route 66 Vintage Iron Museum in Miami. We love to participate in poker runs, so it should be lots of fun. . . and busy!

And of course, there's also the concert by the Road Crew this Sunday at 2 p.m. Anyone nearby is invited to come. It's free, and popcorn from our big vintage popcorn machine will be served. There won't be any chairs however, so if you want to sit, you must bring your own. The concert will only last for about an hour and will be extremely informal. I've never heard Joe Loesch and his group in person, but we have the CD they made recently and it's very, very good. So come on over!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cough, sniff, croak

I had big plans for today at Afton Station, that is until I woke up this morning. I had some photos I wanted to frame, taxes to compute, and Ron M. had left me his new Flip Video to play with. But plans don't always pan out, and that's the story of my life on this lovely crisp morning. I woke up feeling. . . well . . . the best I can describe it would be gawdawful! My throat is raw, my nose won't stop running, and there's not a modicum of energy in my body. Yep, a good old-fashioned cold! I rarely get them -- one every year or two at most -- so I need to whine a little about it. Waaaaa. . . I don't want to go to work today! But, of course I must. It's not an option when the business is your own. So, I took a very hot shower and hit the road. And here I am.
On the way to Afton, I had to stop once in a WalMart parking lot for a quick 5-minute nap. I was falling asleep at the wheel, something that's definitely not recommended. I also stopped for breakfast, which was tasteless.

So, today I plan to take it easy and put on my game face. I'm croaking a little, and I won't shake any hands with my germ-infested mitt. Otherwise, the show must go on.

By 1 p.m. I was feeling quite a bit better. I guess I was yanked from my malaise by all the great visitors I've greeted. Today, they arrived in a well-spaced way, so I got to talk at some length with most of them.

Here's Josh, a young man from Farmington, Arkansas. I was most impressed by him because he is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgable about Route 66, which isn't usually the case with folks so young. He even expressed an interest in finding a building on Route 66 to restore. Of course, I told him all about the buildings across the street. You never know!

Others came from Claremore, Ponca City, Miami, Fairland and Ketchum OK, Manly IA, Shreveport LA, Gainesville FL, Burlingame KS, Blue Springs and Joplin MO, Seattle WA, and Paris, France. Three motorcycling brothers were just setting out for a Mother Road trip. The families that bike together stay together! Four folks from Ponca City, OK stopped to photograph their beautiful '70s era El Camino before also setting off westward on Route 66. The four folks from Paris didn't mind if I practiced my meager French on them. They also had me sign their travel guides so I got to feel like a celebrity for 30 seconds. A mother and grown daughter were traveling the entire Route together, and said that so far they'd only had one tiny spat. I'm always interested in that, since I love to travel with my daughter. I also had a late-day visit from my friend Perry Knight from Miami, who wanted to show his friend from Burlingame, Kansas the '34 12-cylinder that David allowed him to drive last month.

Here's a picture from the Homecoming at Afton High School. We loaned the '65 Chevy convertible to one of the Queen candidates for the parade. She looks cute, doesn't she?

I took one short movie with the Flip Video, but I'll deal with that tomorrow. I'm home now, and pleased to say that I feel 90% better than I did when I woke up this morning. Onward and upward!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Sunrise

Today's sunrise provided an optical illusion. No, that's not the sun's reflection on a lake. It's dry land, in the middle of Tulsa. The "lake effect" comes from a line of clouds just a bit above the horizon. I thought it was kind of neat.

We had lots of visitors at Afton Station today but they weren't very well-spaced. The early morning was very busy, and then came a long period of nothing. Michael O'Keefe from Long Beach, CA stopped by again on the way back from his trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He stayed for the whole day again, as he did last week on his way to Arkansas. During the middle of the day he, Ron M., and I sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful, albeit guestless weather. Then, later in the day, the visitors started to arrive again. There were 25 altogether, from Fountain Valley CA, Madison WI, Akron OH, Lawrenceville IL, Choteau OK, Rogers AR, Joplin MO, and Fairland, Commerce, Pryor, and Tulsa, OK. There were also a couple who are full-time motorhome dwellers now, but were originally from Oregon.

The gentleman from Lawrenceville, IL was riding a bicycle across Route 66 from Chicago all the way to L.A. He said he was doing it as a total amateur with no training in long-distance biking, but he also said that thus far he's had no problems at all. He certainly seemed to be healthy and happy, and I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of him. We saw him again on the road as we were driving home, but he wasn't in a place where we could stop and wish him well. I had recommended the Chelsea Motor Inn for his lodging tonight, and was very close to Chelsea when we saw him, so I assume he made it there by 5 p.m.

This fellow from Rogers, Arkansas indicated that he reads this blog, so I had to take his picture in front of his nice Miata so he can see himself here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Afton Station Video

Here it is! Ron M. did a great job of his first foray into the magic of the Flip Video, don't you think? I was delighted this morning to find that Ron Warnick had already found it and posted it on his popular "Route 66 News" blog. Another look at Afton Station « Route 66 News. I don't mind being scooped by Ron at all!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ron M., Cinematographer

Ron M. got a new Flip Video camera and he experimented with it today. Considering it was his first day with the clever little gadget, I think he was doing a great job. He took all the clips he made of Afton Station home with him tonight so he can put together a short "movie" about the Station. When he gets it done, I'll post it here. That might happen later this evening or maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we did other things today as well. Betty spent the better part of the day with us, which of course we appreciated as usual. We also had a good many visitors. But before I get to that, I should report that Marly opened the Station for a while yesterday and ended up having 24 visitors, which included a small motorcycle group from I-don't-know-where (he didn't make note of that) and visitors from Tasmania (Australia) and Northern Ireland. Our visitor count for this month already tops all other months since we've been open, and we still have 6 days left!

Our guests today were from Broken Arrow, Edmond, Miami, and Ponca City OK, Manhattan and Pittsburgh KS, St. Croix WI, Saratoga Springs NY, and Condriell, France.

Here are some of the folks in the French group. They were completely decked out in American garb. We always try to guess the origin of our visitors before they walk through the door, but not one of us had this crowd nailed. Although none of them spoke more than a word or two of English, they exuded their love of the U.S. Among them were a "cowboy" and a "biker", and all of them wore cowboy boots, not your typical French visitors. We hated to say "au revoir" to these nice folks.
These three guys from Saratoga Springs, NY were a hoot. The one in the middle is a chiropractor who enticed his two friends, a retired firefighter and an auto mechanic, to join him on his dream trip across Route 66. The friends complained that the chiropractor was driving them all crazy with his enthusiasm and hijinks, but finally admitted that they really loved it. Their friendship was obviously strong and longstanding, and they were all having a ball.

That's all for now, unless Ron finishes his video.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From all over the map. . .

Middle of the week. Gloomy, drizzly day. I figured there wouldn't be many people traveling today. WRONG! I got to Afton Station early (as usual) and had time to empty a few wastebaskets and get out my laptop, hoping to experiment with doing some blogging directly from the Station. Before I had the chance to make a single keystroke on the laptop, the fun began. It was an incredibly busy day today right from the start, a real national and international day, with folks coming to visit from near and far. I barely had time to take photos, although I managed to snap a few. Tattoo Man was with me today, and he was a great help with "crowd control". Many people came in groups and stayed for quite a long time, which made for a full, happy Station for most of the day.

Visitors from overseas came from Paris, France, Alicante and Seville Spain, Milan and Sardinia Italy, and Hamburg, Germany. Half of our 34 visitors were from overseas.
Tattoo Man reluctantly (ha ha ha!) agreed to pose with these two beautiful ladies from Milan and Sardinia, Italy

These two from Seville, Spain are fascinated by Tattoo Man's 80 Route 66 tattoos. Yes, eighty! He got another one this week. Here, they're photographing his "walking billboard".

Meanwhile, I caught this attractive couple from Alicante, Spain catching a little kissy-kissy as they left the Station.

Meanwhile, there were lots of domestic visitors today, too. They came from Detroit MI, Langley OK, Grove OK, Rockford IL, Cottonwood AZ, Toledo OH, Olympia WA, Bartlesville OK, and Sugarland TX. All my guests were in a buying mood today, too!

Monday, September 21, 2009


There will be no blog entry today (other than this little one) for the following reasons:

* I didn't go to Afton Station today.

* It's been raining mightily for hours, and all the rain/hail/wind/thunder/lightning has prevented me from turning on the computer until now. In fact, right now I'm taking advantage of a window between storms to quickly post this.

* I have little or nothing to report. I cleaned out the freezer and made a batch of strawberry jam. Big deal.

The TV news is reporting a great deal of flooding all along Route 66 from Tulsa to Afton and beyond, so tomorrow's trip to the Station should be interesting.

Oh, by the way, has anyone ever heard of a Chicken Swap, or is this a local thing in Afton? On Saturday, some people slowed down in front of the Station and asked if we knew how to get to the Chicken Swap. Stifling our laughter, Ron M. and I had to admit we'd never heard of such a thing, nor did we know where it might be located. It just sounds funny. When I got home that night, I googled "chicken swap", and lo and behold, this came up! Afton Poultry Swap Afton, Oklahoma 74331 I hope I can attend some time. Sounds like a hoot!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


If any younger people happen to be reading this, I have a word for you. REMEMBER. Yes, remember. I guess driving across the lonely plains on a hazy morning like this one gets a person to thinking. . . and remembering. Or, maybe NOT remembering. I was mulling over my childhood in a rather abstract and probably overly nostalgic way during my drive, and I found myself obsessing over tiny vignettes from my past that I've never really thought about before. Like this one: Did my father, when he came home each night after work and sat down to read the newspaper before we went to dinner, loosen his tie or keep it tight around his neck? I can't remember, there is no one left who can tell me, and then again, does it really matter? This morning it mattered to me, maybe not in a specific sense, but in the greater context of all the little details of life that buzz around us every day and go largely ignored. Some of them hang on as memories forever, but it's the ones that are lost that return as obsessions when one realizes they've faded into nothingness. Remembering is a form of preservation, and I'm all for preservation. So, people, every now and then look around and stuff your mental file cabinet chock full of details, because you'll be searching for them later. I guarantee it.

Speaking of young people, my first visitors today at Afton Station were a dad and his 12-year-old son from Peach Tree City, GA. As the dad and I discussed the sad loss of so many historic buildings all over the country, the boy stood by taking it all in. Will he remember what he heard? Will he dredge up those thoughts some day in the distant future and recognize that his father's losses could be the impetus for his own actions toward preservation? Will he save a building some day?
Here's the boy, poring over the guest book with genuine interest.

My next guest, Mike O'Keefe, was a gift sent to me by Debra Hodkin at the Mother Road Route 66 Museum in Barstow, CA. When he told Debra he was driving East, she asked him to deliver a bundle of their brochures to me. He arrived today, and turned out to be a very nice, interesting guest who stayed all day and even helped me close up the Station when it was time to go home. We had great conversation and found we had many ideas in common.

Michael O'Keefe of Long Beach, CA

While Mike and I chatted, other visitors came and went. Charles, the cookie-maker from Commerce, OK came and brought with him an elderly gentleman, also from Commerce, who wanted to see the cars. Other domestic guests hailed from Muskogee OK, Tulsa OK, Dallas TX, and Galena, KS. Foreign guests included a foursome on motorcycles from Tokyo, Japan and a couple from Brest, France. Another excellent day on Route 66!
Japanese visitors laughing at their friend trying to use the penny smasher.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meet some folks

Today, I have a couple of guys I want you to meet. First of all, here's Cyrus, our new and very handsome do-rag model. Ron M. found him at a hobby store, and he's just what we needed to display my new line of Route 66 biker skull caps. He's a little pale, but he is quite handsome, and best of all, is the strong, silent type! We drilled a hole in one of the pressed pennies just to see if it would make a good necklace. It does, but we need a better method of drilling the hole. When we perfect the process, I'll start selling those, too. Meanwhile, Cyrus (named for Cyrus Avery, of course), is the perfect, well-behaved disembodied head.

My other featured guest at Afton Station today was quite the opposite of Cyrus. Don Francis from Hinton, OK couldn't stop talking even for a minute. And all of his talk was about the two Route 66 trips he's taken recently. His energy was amazing! Last week I named a visitor from Paris as my Most Enthusiastic Visitor from that particular day. But today, Don Francis won my "Most Enthusiastic Visitor of the Year" award. He was wonderful. His descriptions of the two trips he took with a friend on their motorcycles were hilarious, but they were also filled with details that proved that he soaked up Route 66 knowledge like a sponge on those trips. His very sweet wife, Barbara, hasn't quite warmed up to Route 66 yet, but I predict it won't be long before his excitement for the Mother Road will rub off on her. Don and Barbara Francis

It wasn't a tremendously busy Saturday at Afton Station. There were plenty of guests, but there was also a bit of time for us (Ron M., Betty, and me) to sit outside and enjoy a perfect day. Sixteen visitors came from Spavinaw OK, Holdenville OK, Concordia KS, St. Peters MO, Stillwater OK, Hinton OK, Cincinnati OH, and Springfield MO. The folks from St. Peters, MO were a young couple and their 11-month-old baby who was asleep in the car, monitored by Ron and Betty while I showed couple the Station. It's so nice to see younger people traveling Route 66, and these two young'uns were excited about being on the road. I exchanged good conversation with the couple from Concordia, KS who had several things in common with me -- love of craftsman-era homes and furnishings, the messages on the backs of old postcards, and an interest in all of the quirky places in the state of Kansas.

Ron stole my camera and snapped a few pictures today while I was gabbing with visitors. Here's an interesting one involving reflections. Nice work, Ron!
We've seen a lot of geese flying south this week, which of course marks the ominous end of summer. I do love autumn, but I'm not crazy about the days getting shorter. Pretty soon I'll be dark before I get home from Afton. Ugh...

P.S. Hmmm..... maybe Cyrus needs a 'stache and a soul patch.....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today, Part 2 (aka Yesterday)

Welcome to Part 2 of yesterday's blog posting. Now, where was I? Oh yes, first of all I must show you two absolutely spectacular, fantastic, awesome photos that were given to me yesterday. If you'll remember from last weekend, the original owner of the Eagle Service Station (now Afton Station) surprised me with a visit. If that wasn't thrilling enough, he returned yesterday and brought me these two photos of the Station in 1949. What treasure!Eagle Service Station 1949
W. E. "Shug" Hunnicutt (father of Mr. Hunnicutt who gave me the photos) and wife Letha, 1949. They owned it from 1949 to 1953.
Mr. Hunnicut told me a few things about the Eagle Station.

One particularly interesting one is that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans stopped there once. Dale used the restroom!
The reason I was so late closing up the Station yesterday is that I had a couple of motorcycle groups come in right at closing. And then, with all those motorcycles parked out front, others stopped, too. I loved it!

Here's part of the motorcycle group from Hungary that stopped by late in the day. (Chalk up another country for Afton Station!) They rented Harleys in Chicago for the trip. In the "You Learn Something New Every Day" department: I saw the flags on their motorcycles and thought they were from Italy. They quickly corrected me and advised me that the Hungarian flag is just like the Italian flag, only upside down!
This is the Packard family of Oklahoma City. Yep, Mr. and Mrs. Packard and their little girl. He is distantly related to the Packards who founded Packard Motor Car Company in 1899, so of course I had to take their picture below our big Packard sign.
This gorgeous baby blue '57 T-bird belongs to a visiting family from Appleton, Wisconsin who were enjoying the thrill of doing Route 66 in a '57 car. Since we did the same thing in 1997, we were able to compare experiences. The most fun is getting attention at every stop along the way.
Three happy folks from Paris, France came in as I was turning off the lights. They're riding motorcycles across Route 66.

Other visitors today came from Lucerne, Switzerland, New Bern NC, Miami OK, Nelessa TX, Lewisburg PA, Locust Grove OK, Okmulgee OK, Kalamazoo MI, Fors TX, Shelby Township MI, Tulsa OK, and Vinita OK. It was one of the busiest and most varied days this season, with 42 visitors in all.


I had time to snap a few pictures of "Big Ugly" as I was leaving the Station. The guys worked hard all day, and it's coming along. Even bigger, still ugly. :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today, Part 1

It was a long day at Afton Station, but a really good one. I was almost 90 minutes late closing up due to a last-minute surge of visitors, therefore I just got home and will have to miss a meeting I'm supposed to attend tonight. I could rush to get there, but I'm really exhausted and have decided to forego it and relax a little. And, in further pursuit of a little relaxing time after a HUGE day at the Station, I'm going to divide my report in half and save some of the news and pictures for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about all the interesting visitors. For now, I'll show you some pictures of the small (and extremely lame, I must say) birthday party I threw at the Station today for Tattoo Man and Betty, who share this Sept. 17th birthday although born in different years. (No, they're not twins!) My feeble attempt at cupcake decorating came to a screeching halt last night when I realized I couldn't find the nozzle tips for the decorator. So, the cupcakes got icing and nothing else. The brown ones are chocolate/cherry and were supposed to have Route 66 shields on them. Those were for Tattoo. The pink ones are strawberry and were for Betty, who is crazy about the color pink, and were supposed to have cherubs on them (she loves cherubs). Instead, they got candles. Celebrating birthdays when people are constantly coming in the door is nearly impossible, but we tried.
Betty decided to show us her flexibility and total lack of aging by taking a ride on a fierce bucking sawhorse. And really, there was absolutely no alcohol involved!The last thing Tattoo Man needs is another tattoo, but our friends from Australia, Kat and Daz, gave him a set of "IY Australia" temporary tattoos, so he applied one to the cheek for this picture. Also, no alcohol involved. (Sorry for the bad picture here. Settings were wrong.)I'm going to save everything else 'til tomorrow, except for this one picture. They come to us in and on all kinds of transportation, but never on horseback. This guy trotted past with dog running along side and chose not to stop because he was deep in concentration trying to make a cell phone call as he rode. I liked the juxtaposition. Clearly, we need a hitching post. Wish I could have caught him from the front!
More about today's visitors and progress on "Big Ugly" tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pardon our egos!

I admit it right off the top. Ron M., Tattoo Man, and I spent a good part of our day at Afton Station discussing the awards we won over the weekend. We are honored and surprised! Tattoo Man brought Ron M's award to him, and shortly thereafter Mike Pendleton, who had gone to the Festival representing Kansas, arrived with mine. The awards themselves are graceful and made from engraved plexiglass. Tattoo and Mike regaled us with stories from the various gatherings at Flagstaff. Apparently we missed a whole lot of fun, as well as some important meetings concerning the formation of the new Route 66 Alliance, an organization which will, at last, unite all the state Route 66 organizations, while still keeping each state's individual autonomy. Since next year's Festival will be held in our general neighborhood (Joplin, MO) we will be asked to assist in its planning. As veterans of Festival organizing, Ron and I are looking forward to getting involved again. Wonderful Betty brought me a dozen roses today! Here's my award along with the gorgeous flowers. The engraving says: "This is an 'icon' and must see place on the road. Laurel is one of the road's most treasured people." (Blush)

Ron M. and Tattoo Man display their much-deserved "Persons of the Year" awards. Their engraving says "We can never thank you enough for all you do for the road and Afton Station."

Oh by the way, we also had visitors today. We didn't spent ALL day sitting around patting ourselves on the back. Honestly. We didn't. In fact, quite a few folks graced us with their presence, arriving from Skiatook OK, Columbus OH, Vinita OK, Tulsa OK, Justin TX, Shawnee KS, Toledo OH and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Here are Ron and Jacqueline from the Netherlands who, in an almost unprecedented move by foreign visitors, are driving Route 66 from west to east! More gifts! If plaques and roses weren't enough, Tattoo Man brought me (or rather, Afton Station) a tile from Pop Hicks Restaurant in Clinton, OK. Pop Hicks was an iconic eating place on Route 66 before it burned completely to the ground in 1999, leaving nothing but the tile floor. Shortly after the fire, David and I visited the site in the dark of night and went into the burned out basement to see what was left there. All we found was a postcard rack, which I now use at Afton Station and treasure as a momento of the historic eatery. But leave it to Tattoo Man! On his way home from Flagstaff, he and his wife stopped at Pop Hicks and Ron chiseled away two of the floor tiles, one for himself and one for the Station. He had no idea how much I've always wanted one of the tiles! He said it wasn't easy to pry the tiles up, and I believe it. It's a very heavy ceramic tile.And how cool is this? The floor can clearly be seen in my old postcard of Pop Hicks. Needless to say, I'm excited about this addition to the museum.All I can say is that it was another great day at Afton Station, with very little time for relaxation (except maybe for Tattoo Man, who took a little R&R in his brand new chair in his brand new Route 66 shirt....)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Stuff

Well, here it is (she said, cringing), by popular demand. . . The "Discover Oklahoma" TV show piece about Afton Station. Ok, maybe not by "popular demand". . . but one or two people have actually asked. :-)


An article on the front page of the Tulsa World yesterday has rekindled my desire to get back to the Tallgrass Prairie, which you've heard me call "my favorite place on Earth". I've talked about it here before, but this article provides some new insights. There are presently 2,700 head of free-roaming bison now, and the Nature Conservancy continues to obtain more land in order to add to the 37,100 acres which it now maintains in it's natural state and to continue to increase the bison herd. I feel so fortunate that such an amazing place of serenity and freedom (for both the wildlife and myself) is a mere 60 miles from my home. I will need to drive up there again very soon, lest I go crazy from too much civilization!

Tallgrass Prairie: Tulsa World

Be sure to watch the beautiful video on the site.

This is the wallpaper for my home page. I took it several years ago, and I believe it is a good representation of the vastness of the Tallgrass. The roads are dirt, the bison roam completely free, and the gentle prairie wind is always blowing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just when I thought it couldn't get better...

. . . it did! I thought the announcement of winning the "Route 66 Business of the Year" award this morning would be the best thing that would happen to me today, but then I met Lee Hunnicut. Toward the end of the day at Afton Station, an elderly gentleman walked in and quietly announced that he used to own Afton Station (then called the Eagle Service Station) in the 1950s, and furthermore just happened to have a handful of pictures of the Station! Omigosh, my dream come true! There were lots of other folks at the Station at the time, so we didn't get to talk for long, but Mr. Hunnicut is going to make copies of the pictures for me, and he promised to come back soon so we can sit down and he can tell me all about the heyday of the Eagle Station. I am SO excited! He knew about us because he saw the "Discover Oklahoma" TV show last night!

Lee Hunnicut and his wife

The rest of the day at the Station was pretty darn good, too. The five women from Arkansas with whom I've been corresponding in regard to their Route 66 trip arrived today, all decked out in matching pink t-shirts sporting the legend "Sister Chicks on Route 66" and overshirts sporting pink poodles! They're having a ball on their second Route 66 trip (the first one being in Arizona), although they're having SO much fun that they've already decided to extend their trip by an extra day. A very delightful group! The Sister Chicks

But that's not even close to everyone who visited today. Here's Christian, a gentleman from Switzerland who is traveling all of Route 66 on his bicycle. He seemed a little tired, but who can blame him? He anticipates 3 1/2 months for the trip, but his biggest problems have been finding the less traveled alignments so he doesn't have to compete with the semis and and other speedier and bigger vehicles day after day.Christian from Switzerland

Eight (count 'em. . .eight) folks from Marseilles, France who are all traveling tandem in two vans really brightened my morning with their chatter, their extreme friendliness, and their purchases! My goodness, they practically cleaned me out of merchandise (I'm NOT complaining!) and even put substantial cash in the donation box. Plus, the one lady who spoke English gave me an impromptu French lesson. I have been meaning to write down a few useful phrases in the various languages of those who visit Afton Station . . you know, stuff like "The bathroom is over there", and "Please go back and look at the cars", and other important phrases. This lovely woman took care of French for me, and even wrote it all down.

Altogether there were about 40 visitors today, not counting Betty, who stopped in for a while and was kind enough to help me close up. Other than those already mentioned above, they came from Cabot AR, Mt. Clemens MI, Madison WI, La Mesa CA, Lake Lotawana MO, Foyil OK, Pinehurst NC, and Mellorud, Sweden.

If anyone is interested in the doings at the Route 66 Festival in Flagstaff that was held over the weekend, I suggest you check Ron Warnick's blog for details. Arizona Route 66 Association wins top award « Route 66 News It sounds like it was a very productive weekend, and the selection of Joplin, MO for next year's Festival is a good one.

Afton Station Trifecta

I haven't been notified officially, but according to Ron Warnick's blog (which is consistently accurate) Route 66 News, Ron McCoy, Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones, and Afton Station won awards at the Will Rogers Award Banquet at the Route 66 Festival in Flagstaff, AZ last night. Ron and Tattoo both won "Person of the Year", and "Afton Station-Laurel Kane" won "Business of the Year"! I'm very thrilled, to say the least. The first time I read through the list of winners, I was so excited by seeing my name that I missed Ron McCoy's completely.

More about this later. Time to hit the road to the "Business of the Year" now. :-)

P.S. -- The "Discover Oklahoma" TV presentation last night was wonderful for Afton Station. They did a great job, and it put the Station in a very favorable light. I sounded pretty good, but as predicted, I looked like a total dork. Oh well.....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friends, Cookies, and an Enthusiastic Frenchman

Lots to talk about today, so I'll get right to it. First, here's a picture of where I would like to have been this weekend, or at least one of the places. These are the folks from our Route 66 Yahoo eGroup who met in Flagstaff, AZ at the annual Route 66 Festival. I've only missed two festivals in many years, and I'm so sorry I'm not there. The other great event this weekend is the Missouri Route 66 Motor Tour. Between these two events, most of my Route 66 friends are on the road right now. I chose not to go to either one because I couldn't bear having Afton Station closed in September, which is one of my busiest months. The thought of travelers being met with a locked door on a weekend disturbs me greatly.
The "Discover Oklahoma" program featuring Afton Station is being aired about a half hour from now, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Those who live in Oklahoma can see it at KOTV-6 in Tulsa, KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City, and KSWO-7 in Lawton. For the rest of you, I'll try to make a copy and get it on YouTube, in case you're interested, and if I don't look like too much of a dork.

We had some interesting visitors at Afton Station today. Ron M. was with me, and most (but not all) of our visitors were local. Local folks came from Bernice, Langley, Commerce, Grove, Choteau, and Jenks, OK and others came from Baxter Springs KS, Spring Hill FL, and Toulouse and Perpignon, France. Ron and I decided that one of the French fellows from Toulouse won the award for "Most Enthusiastic Visitor of the Year". Here he is holding a very thick notebook with hundreds of pages of notes and maps of Route 66 and photos of some of his vintage cars back in France. He said several times that this trip is a dream come true for him and he's been researching it for years. After seeing his notes, I believe it!
We had another interesting visitor, Charles Duboise from Commerce, OK. He and his mother own the Dairy King, a snack shop housed in an old historic Marathon station in Commerce. We have met before when he and his mother dropped in a few months ago, and I put a photo of their place here on the blog. Charles came in today to give us a gift, two examples of his brand new business, making "Route 66 Cookies". He's trademarking the name and the special cookie cutter molds which he designed and manufactured himself. At this time, the cookies can only be purchased through him at or by calling the Dairy King at 918-675-4261. This picture doesn't really do credit to how neat the cookies are. (Both plain sugar and chocolate chip are available). Charles stayed for a long time and we had some great conversation. For one thing, he was on Oprah a couple of years ago! He was honored by Oprah for running 29,000 miles over many many years in the same Nike running shoes, and in the process lost over 130 pounds. Nice going!
My old harmonica-playing friend Oren from Afton stopped in, and promised to come back soon to give us a little concert. He's really an impressive musician and nice guy.

Redneckery is alive and well in Oklahoma. Here's the rear of a car that was in front of us on the way to Afton this morning. Is this really necessary?
On the other hand, "Frog Leg Fridays" have been announced at Vinita's Wood Shed! Nothing like a big plate of frog legs to temper those disturbing political thoughts. :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Aussies are here!

I met my friends Kathryn and Darren Sloane for lunch today at Tally's Cafe on Route 66 in Tulsa. Kat and Darren come to the U.S. every other year to travel Route 66 and visit all the friends they've accumulated over the years. They also pick up car parts for their Mustang collection. They're just about the most charming people you'd ever want to meet, and I could have stayed at lunch forever, but they are due in Joplin this afternoon to join the Missouri Route 66 Motor Tour. I'm so envious! A lot of my friends are on the tour, and this afternoon they're all going to be in Joplin, which is quite close to Afton. But as usual on Fridays, I can't be there. Bummer!________________

It's impossible for me to get through any Sept. 11th without having constant thoughts about another Sept. 11 eight years ago. Last year, I had only been blogging for a couple of months on Sept. 11, and I posted my thoughts on the terrible tragedy. Upon reading the post, I have decided I can't add much to it, so I'll reprint it here, with solemn memories of those who died that terrible day and those left behind.

Although I lived almost in the shadow of the World Trade Center when it went down (it could be seen from the beach of our Connecticut town), I happened to be in Oklahoma on 9/11/01. We were there on one of our many trips down to oversee work on the house we were building there and to make preparations for our move. We had just purchased Afton Station, and on the morning of 9/11, instead of going to the building site with my husband, I headed straight from the motel to the print shop to get some Afton Station papers photocopied. When I walked in smiling, the distressed-looking guy behind the counter asked "Don't you know what just happened?" I hadn't heard any news that morning, so I had no idea what he meant. "Seems that a plane has flown into the World Trade Center in New York", he said, and then he invited me to come to the back office where there was a TV tuned to the news. Like every other person in our nation, I was paralyzed by shock at the picture on the screen. The rest is history.

So much has happened in my life since 9/11/01. I now live in Oklahoma. I am divorced. I have my beloved Afton Station. I have wonderful new friends and a new life, but I still have so many old and dear friends. I own my own home. My daughter got married. I had a major illness and am now on kidney dialysis. And although some of those things sound very bad, when you compare them to the last 8 years in the lives of the loved ones of those who died on 9/11, I can only consider my own life a miracle. I have never thought of myself as a survivor, but now I think maybe I am. And my heart goes out to those whose loss was so sudden, so unexplainable, so needless on that terrible September day in 2001. I pray that they have been able to find their inner survival skills, too.