It's not on Route 66, but I was lured to Boynton, OK today by some comments by friend Denny Gibson from Ohio. He'd passed through there a couple of years ago and was fascinated by the sheer abandonment of the town, just as I am with Picher. Since Boynton isn't that far away, I decided to head there today. Any excuse, you know. LOL! I gathered up Ron M., since he grew up very near there, and off we went.
Boynton is a town of approximately 250 citizens, about 50 miles southeast of Tulsa. It was established in 1902 when the railroad came through, and in fact is named for the Chief Engineer of the Ozark and Cherokee Railroad. Today, over 50% of the citizens remaining are African-American. When Denny was there he photographed the exterior of the Historical Society, which was closed that paticular day but was still open on weekends. Today, we found the Historical Society building abandoned and for sale.
This building, in the side yard of the Historical Society was also for sale, and we feel it might have once been the town jail.
Here's what's left of the grocery store building. . .
. . . and a former drive-in restaurant.
The most impressive building in town is the Armory, also closed and posted. Like so many of the armories built by the WPA, it was repurposed (as a Masonic lodge) for several years, but now appears to have been empty for quite a while.
Boynton has not been without it's share of notoriety, particularly lately. For one thing, there was some criticism of stimulus money being used last year to build this sidewalk, which stretches the length of town on both sides of the road despite the lack of pedestrian traffic, stores, or other places which would be in need of access by walking.
Last year there were also some problems in city government concerning nepotism, although I suspect it's difficult to avoid nepotism when making civic appointments in such a small town. It resulted in the Mayor resigning. The school system is also in danger of closing for lack of students, and the bookkeeping practices of the school board are being questioned.
So, another sad tale of a town about to go "out of business". We saw an open convenience store on the edge of town, with bars on windows and doors. The post office is still functioning, which is a good sign, and there are surely enough churches in town to serve a city ten times it's size, so perhaps all is not lost. Even so, it's pretty depressing to see so many of these villages sink and drown.
On the way home, we stopped in Checotah for lunch. Checotah is a larger town, with a population of about 3500. It's the home of country singer Carrie Underwood. We stopped at the Katy Cafe, a little local joint which is apparently bent on stopping the hearts of its citizens. Upon ordering our lunch, the waitress acted dismayed that we wanted only the smaller lunch size rather than the full entree size. THIS was the lunch size! I can't even imagine what the entree size must look like! The place was packed with towns people, and the food was great. It was my second taste of chicken fried steak since I've lived in Oklahoma. It won't be my last, since I brought more than half of it home with me! Nothing like overeating to put the topper on a day in the country! Groan!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
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Those are BIG servings! It may take me one hour to eat all of that! I wonder how big is their full entree size myself! So sad to see Boynton being abandoned.. I would have commented more but those lunch of yours keep tingling my head!!:)
I am so glad that wasn't a disaster. I feared it could be. Sad to hear about the museum closing. The Christmas tree I saw in 2009 was marked by an Historical Society sign so the Society was responsible for the two brightest spots in town.
I was sad to see this - I write a historical mystery series (Alafair Tucker Mysteries. There are 5 of them.) set in the Boynton OK of the 1910s, and the town was quite the going concern 100 years ago. I did a book signing at the Historical society in 2006, and lots of people turned out. My grandmother ran a cafe on the main street (Mrs. Casey's Cafe) for almost 50 years, up until 1975.
Donis, I grew up in nearby Morris and we used to buy furniture in Boynton at a store I believe was called Hadley's Furniture. ??
Thank you so much for writing, Donis! If you haven't been to Boynton in a while, I'm sure you'd see a big downward slide. Where exactly was your grandmother's cafe? When I go back, I'd like to take a photo of the site and post it here on the blog. I also intend to look into your books. I love mysteries, particularly when the setting is familiar.
I've lived in Boynton, on the same small farm all my life, its very sad to see people stop caring. I'm only 28 but I remember when the bank was open along with the grocery store next door, where you could buy candy and jerky from the big glass jars. Charlie Cole's station sat at the edge of town and my Papa would buy me a bottle of pop to drink while he sat and visited with all the old men. Those were just a few of the great memories and if we just had more young families with ambition and work ethic our town could be beautiful again. I can still remember whats under all the overgrown lots and abandoned homes. There's always potential if someones willing to work.
thank you so for not forgetting about Boynton .seem like it has been for gotten i remember your grandmothers cafe i remember going there as a kid she would give her customers credit. back then there was no credit cards. my grandparents spoke highly of mrs.Casey my family was the Tuckers.
I was told by a lady the other day, that there is a railroad station in Boynton. She described the location: As you are looking down the road with the jail on your left,she said to turn left and it's about 6 blocks. Would be interesting to see a pic of it, as I am interested in trains. Also, I read that the name of the railroad was actually called the Ozark and Cherokee Central. Very interesting article - thanks for posting it :)
Thanks for the added information about Boynton. I have to make another trip there soon so I can locate the train station. If I do, I'll be sure to post it so you can see it.
I lived in boynton for 13 years i watch boyton go from a happy place to live. but now it is police infested feeding of its owen people like cancer the only thing left is white trash and thugs you talk about churches bluidings all it is the people are not of god i am glad i donot live there becuse there is place in hell for them people thank god i donot live there no more p.s. dont stop there might get rapped up in time allen spivey
Boynton,Oklahoma is my hometown. I grew up there and graduated from Boynton High School in 1965. There is still a Boynton Historical Society. I served as secretary for several years until 2011. I was sad to see the school close down and the town going down hill. We had such high hopes for things getting better. It seemed for a while the town would turn around, but now I don't know. I am not counting them out yet. There are still some great people living there, who do care about the town.
The Boynton Historical Society bought some property right on main street and have purchased a small that they intend to use as the new museum as soon as they get funding to remodel the building. My husband and I own some property there. Next year we plan on building a house on one of our lots, Perhaps we may even start a small business there also. There are some nice churches still in the town. There is also a grocery store, second hand store, and beauty shop operating in what is left of the old Spradling furniture store. The former Mrs. Casey's Cafe is falling down. It is sad to see that town landmark almost gone. I still have some friends there and am hoping to see them after the first of the year. Oh yes there is an all school Boynton High School reunion held every two years, so there will be one held in 2014.
I returned to Boynton and I love the peace of mind it gives me. Businesses and housing are welcomed. People can't move back with no place to stay. There's no train station anymore. I remember Mrs Casey. I remember Vicky too. I'm a Younger. I'm still proud of Boynton even thou we're a small town. I still have the old Boynton Cardinals spirit.
My family left Boynton in about 1943. My father had a business just a few doors from Mrs. Casey's Cafe and the thought of her small restaurant makes my mouth water for one of her great smelling hamburgers.It saddens me to think that it's now falling down. The town was still a busy place and the churches were the centers of activity for many people. I remember the small building with the bars, it sat, for a while, across the railroad tracks from my grandmother's home. I have your books, Donis, and was tickled to find that you called the sheriff "Scott" and his wife, "Hattie", as I remember that Scott Morgan was sheriff when we lived there and his wife's name was Hattie. Thanks for some good memories.
We are the Cardinals... Mighty mighty Cardinals
I lived in Boynton from 1938 to 1942. My father, Asa Jewell was a butcher at Lathrops Grocery. My aunt, Leona Corrons was telephone operator. The office was above Mrs. Casey's Café. Lots of good memories.
Correction: It was Lackey's Grocery.
"Here's what's left of the grocery store building. . ."
My Great Uncle and Aunt, John Thomas and Clara Bell (Lee) Kelley were said to have run a grocery store there for several years. I was searching for any information regarding it and found your posts and the picture of the abandoned grocery store building. Have no idea if it is one in the same. John died in 1960 and Clara in 1976. Great pictures and photos! Thanks for sharing.
I'm from a big town in Georgia and came here to live with my husband and be closer to my daughter and when my in-laws joked with meSon in-law raised here) that it was not an over exaggeration, it doesn't even have a stop light and the only standing and working thing is the post office. Many of the buildings are falling apart and the streets are vacant for the most part and we live on the main drag. I've been reading a bit on your history and it's sad to hear ( as well as see) this once booming thriving town where neighbor helped neighbor. :( There is nothing to do here at all ,unless you go to the neighboring slightly bigger towns in either direction. But the great part is the people here are friendly maybe not the walk across the street to be friendly types but if you say something to them they respond in kind right back. You don't see that in the big city. I like it here :)
I'm from a big town in Georgia and came here to live with my husband and be closer to my daughter and when my in-laws joked with me(Son in-law raised here) about how small the town was, that it was not an over exaggeration, it doesn't even have a stop light and the only standing and working thing is the post office. Many of the buildings are falling apart and the streets are vacant for the most part and we live on the main drag. I've been reading a bit on your history and it's sad to hear ( as well as see) this once booming thriving town where neighbor helped neighbor. :( There is nothing to do here at all ,unless you go to the neighboring slightly bigger towns in either direction. But the great part is the people here are friendly maybe not the walk across the street to be friendly types but if you say something to them they respond in kind right back. You don't see that in the big city. I like it here :)
My wife and I drive through Boyngton yesterday. I have never seen a town so dead in the middle of the day. Literally no one else. There were three horses wandering around downtown though.
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