Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good morning, Sunshine!

I hope nobody is getting tired of my sunrise shots. I'm sorry. I just can't resist a tremendous sunrise. This morning's wasn't particularly unique, but watching that big golden ball rise over Route 66 never fails to thrill me. I love mornings!
I arrived at Afton Station very early today -- 8 a.m. to be exact. Most of "the gang" was here at some point during the day. Ron M. was not, since he had a dental appointment. However Marly, Phil, Betty, and Tattoo Man all stopped in. Phil is polishing the '36 Packard to within an inch of it's life. It looks WONDERFUL! Tattoo Man had a wreck in one of his PT Cruisers and since it was totaled, he's shopping for something new. Never fear, Tattoo was not hurt at all.

Visitors today came from Higginsville MO, Blacksburg VA, Huntsville AR, LaPlaya TX, Springfield MO, Oslo Norway, and Miami, OK.

This is Larry from the Miami (OK) Convention and Visitors Bureau. He came in to pick up some trip guides that were left with me, and in return he left a whole box of his town's guidebook and several other pieces of literature. What a nice guy, with the perfect personality to meet and greet visitors to Miami.

I think that visits from travelers may be starting to wind down a little bit. I hate not having more visitors, but to be honest, I do look forward to taking a day off now and then to do some local exploring. I'll stay open 7 days a week until the end of October, then may cut back on hours.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hello, Beautiful Day!

Indeed, the sunrise greeted me in a lovely way as I drove to Afton this morning. It seems that sunrises over Route 66 are beautiful more days than not. Or maybe it's just my rosy attitude. I'm on Route 66! I'm heading to Afton! What could be nicer?

It was a very quiet day at Afton Station. Tattoo Man came in early to pick up the camera he'd forgotten on Saturday and I took the opportunity to photograph his newest tattoo of the sign at the about-to-be-restored Boots Motel in Carthage, MO.

Marly and Phil were with me for most of the day, too. Visitors were quite sparse, however. Early in the morning we were visited by two couples from Volkel, The Netherlands. Later a couple from Camano Island, Washington dropped in. After a long dry spell of a couple of hours, near closing Betty W. came for a visit and, finally, a gentleman from Joplin MO arrived on a motorcycle. And that wraps up my whole day. Short but sweet!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Oh dear, I find myself rushing again! I just finished a long phone chat with my daughter, so I can't think of a better way to get behind schedule. :-)

It was a serendipitous day at Afton Station. Ron M. was with me again as was Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones, and the 29 visitors started to arrive almost as soon as we did. This pup named Gabby from Oklahoma City is doing a short OK Route 66 trip accompanied by his person, a very nice man. Although Gabby is obviously good at posing for pictures, he wasn't as serene as a visitor. He got so overly excited that eventually his owner had to take him back to the car. Cute doggie!

This fellow from Cape Town, South Africa is traversing Route 66 on his motorcycle -- very distinguished gentleman with a lot of thoughtful commentary on his journey thus far.
Friend and photographer Michael Scruggs dropped in with his mandolin and his banjo. He tried to encourage me to play, but I failed miserably. There are a few photos of me trying out my musical non-talent, but the pictures of me are as bad as my playing so you won't be seeing them. Michael also regaled us with stories about his job, as "pastor" at a walk-in wedding chapel down the road in Miami, OK. I think I've decided what my next job should be!
Other visitors came from Aukland, New Zealand, Ava MO, Kansas City MO, Ft. Scott KS, Pleasanton KS, Granby MO, Allen TX, Joplin MO, and Carl Junction MO. The expected group from the Czech Republic never arrived. I wonder what happened to them???

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And then. . .

Ron M. and I arrived at Afton Station at the usual time. And then. . .

Phil and Robin arrived. Robin helped us greet visitors for several hours while Phil stayed in the back and spit polished a motorcycle. And then. . .. . . our friend Kathy Anderson came for a visit from Edmond, OK and brought with her another batch of t-shirts and sweatshirts for us to sell.
These shirts are hard to keep in stock. The price is right ($22 for heavy sweatshirts and $10 for nice tshirts). And then. . .. . . this little boy from Afton brought his mom and sister over from their home just a few blocks away to hang out for a while. And then. . .. . . repeat visitors Bill and son Chandler dropped in. They're such great guests that this is the second time I've featured them with a photo here on the blog. And then. . .

. . . David brought back two of the cars that were in a parade today. There are three more that haven't been returned yet, so the showrooms looked a little bare today. And then. . .

. . . Betty W. came and sat with us for a while. And then. . .

. . . several more travelers came to visit. They were from Prairie Grove AR, Lincoln AR, and Broken Arrow, OK. And then. . .

. . . on the way out of town we drove down to the Afton Town Hall to see how the voting was going. Voting? On Saturday? Yes, the Cherokee Tribe is re-voting for Tribal Chief today after a recent much-disputed election that was too close to call. With so many Cherokees (and other tribes) present in Oklahoma, choosing their leaders is a big deal. Today was voting day, and I look forward to finding out the results. And then. . .

. . . we drove down to the Ribbon Road (9 Ft. Highway) to check on the word that the county is dumping gravel all over it. The word was true. They are. I'm just sick about it, but will speak to the OK State Historic Preservation officer early next week.

Whew, I'm tired. Time to rest for a few hours before leaving for Afton again tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mostly Methodists

I have so much to do and so little time to do it. A couple of times a year I begin to feel completely overwhelmed. I think I'm getting there right about now. But you guys don't need to hear my troubles. Just understand that if my blog posts are a bit skimpy and filled with typos for the next week or two, there are good reasons behind it. (Not that there are ever good excuses for typos, but well. . .)

Afton Station today was filled with Methodists! A bus from Claremore brought 22 senior citizens to our door mid-morning. They were on a "mystery tour". They had no idea where they were going when they boarded the bus, but they put their trust in their fearless leader, Ahnawake (which means "bright eyes" in Cherokee). Here she is.I found that herding Methodists for the purpose of taking a picture of them is akin to herding cats. After a bit of a struggle, I managed to get most of them in two photos, although it was impossible to get most of the men out of the car showrooms for something as mundane as photography. Here are those who agreed to pose. I believe they all had a good time. Many told me stories from their childhoods, and several complimented the cars. After their visit, they headed for a "mystery" lunch in Vinita. (Their leader whispered to me that the venue would be Clanton's.)

We had other visitors too, of course. They came from Palestine TX, Battle Creek MI, Owenton KY, Horse Creek OK, and Dunlop Ayrshire Scotland. Here are the folks from Palestine. They'll be ending their Route 66 trip in Oklahoma City and doing the western half another time.

Phil is about to begin on the large billboards he's painting for Afton Station. I must go and make him some font stencils. See you on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yesterday. . .

. . . was a very busy day at Afton Station. Robin had a crowd on her hands, and I wasn't there to help. She does a great job, however, and I have every confidence in her. Acccording to the notes she left, she had 41 visitors, including folks from France, Holland, Germany, Australia, England, New Hampshire, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.

Today was a bit quieter, but I didn't mind at all. I've been dealing with a few little problems, the kind that take a lot more trouble to fix than they're really worth. For example, on Sunday a truck kicked up a pebble on my windshield, causing a lovely crack in my less-than-year-old window. The fixer came to Afton today to repair it, but the replacement windshield he brought wasn't quite right, so it's back to the drawing board. In the meantime, the crack keeps traveling across the windshield and is now about 16 inches long. Hopefully, it will be fixed on Thursday.
On the home front, the battery on the smoke detector on my cathedral ceilinged bedroom died last Thursday. I've been sleeping with ear-splitting BEEPS every 35 seconds for 4 nights. Finally yesterday I was able to hire a handyman with an extra long ladder to take care of the problem. Ahhh, uninterrupted sleep again!

But enough about my little difficulties. . . Today there were 21 visitors taking advantage of one of the finest days we've had in this part of the country in months. Sunny and cool with a chance of smiles! Travelers who visited were from Coon Valley WI, Cedar Vale KS, Faucett MO, Grove OK, Fairland OK, and Kinna Sweden and Brussels Belgium.

Although the Swedish contingent was doing its mother roading in a rented SUV, their major passion back home is restoring and riding antique Honda motorcycles. They came armed with some beautiful photos of their rides with equally lovely landscapes in the background.

These young Belgian couples were doing part of Route 66 during a loop beginning and ending in Dallas, TX.
The security guy came today to fix whatever is making the alarm go off so often with no provocation. When I finally left tonight, he and David were still at the Station trying to work out the problem.

This photo doesn't have much to do with anything, but I had to snap a pic of the gaggle of roofers on top of the Holiday Inn when I went past on my way to Afton this morning.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Letters, We Get Letters. . .

Thank you for responding to my request for information on why in the world you bother to read my blog frequently. Most of the responses can be read in the Comments section of my last post, but here's one that was sent snail mail. I think it's representative of what most of you said, i.e. you read the blog because you love Route 66 and find it enjoyable to know what we do on the Mother Road on a day-to-day basis.

"I read your blog first thing in the mornings before I start my day at work. My husband and I have only traveled Route 66 once, but what a trip! I love the nostalgia that the Mother Road presents and love reading your blog as to what goes on daily in a real Route 66 town and the many visitors you have. I think here is the true spirit of America, the small towns and its' people. I appreciate your traveling as far as you do each day to Afton Station, allowing the roadies of Route 66 a glimpse of the Mother Road."

This one gave me a big smile since it comes from Saudi Arabia. Nobody should dare think that love of Route 66 isn't an international disease!

"I found your blog through a link on Ron McCoy's Antique & Collecting newsletter. I live in Saudi Arabia, and there's not much to do so I check my favorite blogs daily. My father went to school briefly in Afton, and my parents live in the very NE corner of Oklahoma now. I want to visit your museum next summer when I visit them."

I'll publish more of these thoughts as they come in. Thanks to all. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Trip to Commerce

With no visitors until about noon, Ron M. and I were starting to wonder if we had done something to offend the world. The famine was broken when these 4 Swiss citizens (from a town named Domdidier) stopped in. With the help of the one in the group who spoke English about as well as I speak French (not very!), I managed to find out that they're heading to Las Vegas, doing Route 66 the whole way but skipping most of California.

Next came a couple from Henderson, Tennessee. We first noticed the desert water bag on the front of their car. Upon chatting with them, we found out that they've been on the road for 6 1/2 weeks and are heading home. He's had the water bag since the '60s and they actually used in in the desert on this trip!

After greeting a few more guests -- from Moore, Vinita, and Broken Arrow, OK -- we decided to close up early and do some investigation. It seems that a visitor yesterday informed us that Mickey Mantle's boyhood home in Commerce (about 20 miles from Afton) had been moved and was sitting on blocks near the center of the town. He even showed us pictures of the house in its new location. We were a little dumbfounded because we hadn't heard a thing about this major development. So. . . off we went to Commerce to see what we could find out.

We found the house on blocks right where the visitor had told us it was. It didn't look quite right, so we proceeded to the place where Mickey's house has always stood. It's still there! I'm not sure how the gentleman's signals got crossed, but he said a person in Commerce gave him the information. I'm so glad we checked.

Here's the house on blocks. . .

. . .and here's Mickey's house at 319 S. Quincy St. It could use a little uplift, but at least it still sits where it belongs. . . for now, at least. If anyone has heard anything about this, please let us know.For quite some time, I've wondered who are the folks who are regular (daily or almost daily) readers of this blog. No special reason, just curiosity. So, if you'd drop me an email ( or put a comment right here on the blog telling me who you are and why you're interested in our daily hijinx at the Station, I'd sure appreciate it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One out of two ain't bad (I guess). . .

Only one of the two anticipated tour groups showed up today at Afton Station, but there were plenty of other visitors who did drop in. Our visiting group was a caravan of 17 vintage cars and hot rods from the Heartbeat of the Ozarks Classic Car Club from Northwest Arkansas. They braved strong thunderstorms, tons of lightning, and torrential rain to get there, and for that I applaud them. It's good to see folks with such nice cars not getting upset about driving in inclement weather. Good for you, guys!

Love this bit of car humor!

One of the Arkansas shoppers.

The second anticipated group was a bit "iffy" right from the start. We waited until after 3:30 but the busload of 70+ British tourists never arrived. We had only been alerted to their visit this morning, but I asked them to call if they'd be arriving later than 3, which they didn't. They may have been delayed by the storms. I was remiss in not getting their contact phone number so I could track their progress. I'm so sorry we missed them.

The rest of our visitors came from Turin Italy, Norfolk Engand, Vinita OK, Bentonville AR, Bartlesville OK, Roland IA, Pryor OK, and Hudson MA.

Ron M. and Marly were with me all day (in fact, Ron took all the above photos), and Phil and Robin dropped in for a while. We are all thrilled by the rain and cooler temperatures. At last! Even our flooded streets didn't bother us. By the end of the day, the sun had come out and the water had receded.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birthdays and a Shiny Floor

Upon arrival at Afton Station, Ron M. and I were blinded by light emanating from our reflections on the newly stripped and waxed floor. My incredible friends and helpers -- Marly, Robin, and Phil -- stayed very late last night to make the formerly filthy floor of the showroom shine like the top of the Chrysler Building. Marly actually stayed until 2:30 a.m. to finish the job. Our first order of business this morning, then, was to return everything that had been relocated to the back room for the wax job to their original places. That, of course, led to the desire to weed out a lot of the junk I don't need any more, rehang some pictures, etc. etc. It was a busy morning.

We did, however, stop long enough to celebrate the birthdays of Betty W. and Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones (or what's left of him after several weeks of a rigid diet). We had smily-face cookies instead of cake this time, and NO singing was done. Happy Birthday to these two awesome folks!

Here's a picture of the painting I mentioned on Tuesday, done by Jon Edwards and presented to me as a gift. It's an awfully nice painting from an extremely talented friend.

Among our 17 visitors today were these lovely folks hailing from New Brunswick, Canada. Although they're driving Route 66 on this trip, they told us about their several LONG walking trips in France and Spain, 600 miles each. I suggested they try walking Route 66 some day. I know they'd enjoy it and have absolutely no problem doing it.
Another group of jolly Aussies came in toward the end of the day. They're from Sydney and, like every Australian I've ever met, were having a great time and exuding friendly smiles. Other folks came from Knoxville TN, Mineral Wells TX, Nampa ID, Tulsa OK, and Bozman MD, fine folks all!

This is NOT one of today's visitors, thank goodness! Instead he is our first Halloween decoration, provided by Robin and Phil. I hope he doesn't scare too many people away! BOO!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Monument

TA DAA!!!!!
The Ribbon Road Monument! It's here! It's in the ground! All one thousand pounds of it! There's still a lot to be done on the site, but I'm feeling I can breathe a little easier now that we have full cooperation from the town and the county, and Marly was successful in bringing it "home" in one piece from the stone yard on the other side of the state. This morning when I arrived in Afton at 8:30 a.m., the county guys were already hard at work installing the monument and leveling land for the parking area. The site should be finished (or almost) within a week or two.
There was another really nice gift given to Afton Station today. My friend Jon Edwards from Tahlequah drove up on his motorcycle with a rather large package strapped to his bike. He's an artist, and he surprised me with a lovely oil painting of Afton Station! What a great gift! Sometimes I just feel so fortunate to have come to Oklahoma, opened Afton Station, and met so many wonderful people as a result. I'm so psyched today! A photo of the painting will be posted on my Thursday blog.

Again, it wasn't a tremendously busy day at Afton Station, but it wasn't bad! The visitors who came calling hailed from Dulle Switzerland, Vinita OK, Tahlequah OK, Hood River OR, Edgewood MO, Perth Australia, Grove OK, and Ventura, CA. Actually, the two young folks from Ventura are in the process of moving from Atlanta to California, having just been married. They're on their Route 66 honeymoon, so of course I snapped their picture. It's been fun to have so many honeymooning visitors this year.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I've been asked by the fine folks at 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kansas to announce a fundraiser the town of Galena will be having on Oct. 8. Money raised will go toward restoration of some buildings on Route 66. Sounds like fun -- Music, Dancing, Much More.

Saturday, October 8, 2011
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pappy Litch Park
Galena, Kansas

More details later!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving On

9/11 is not something I will not soon forget. I was involved with the World Trade Center in a number of ways, and engraved in my mind is the view I saw a couple of days after the tragedy, when I returned to Connecticut, drove down to our town beach to look across the water and see the smoke rising from where the World Trade Center was once visible in the far distance on a clear day. My husband worked at the WTC sometimes, but we happened to be in Oklahoma on 9/11, starting on our restoration of Afton Station.

It's 10 years later now, and for the purpose of this blog, I choose to move on.
New buildings at WTC site

It was a fairly ordinary day at the Station. Ron M. was with me, and we had just 13 guests. They came from Logan OH, Jerseyville IL, Tucumcari NM, Springfield IL, Lansing IL, Jacksonville FL, and Vinita, OK.

These two folks from Tucumcari, NM were quite interesting. He has a large collection of vintage cars which can be seen in a big fenced-in area in the city. He said that if anyone wants to view his collection, go to the Blue Swallow Motel. His place is on a side street directly across from the Blue Swallow.

This photo is from David Wickline's "Images I". It shows the building in which the above gentleman was raised. His dad was blind, but also ran a service station and small store in this building. The family lived in the rear. Wickline says, "The old Newkirk post office (1910) is located on old Route 66 in Newkirk NM. The building was a gas station and store that also offered early 66 travelers a place to camp". My visitor gave me some details of how the building looked before it became a ruin. Very interesting!

A couple of our regular visitors, Michael Scruggs and P.J., also stopped by. Ron and I were able to sit outside today, for the first time this summer. With luck, the cooler weather will be here to stay.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Super Duper Day!

Once again, it was a busy and varied day, and I have a lot to report. Afton Station is really buzzing these days.

Guest of honor today was my friend and extreme Route 66 collector Steve Rider from Albany, NY. He flew in to attend the Missouri Motor Tour, but left it for the morning in order to drive down to Afton for a visit, his first since quite a few years ago when we were still restoring the Station. He got to see the finished product, and also the Bob Waldmire mural he gave me recently. So very good to see Steve!
We also visited with six riders from the Claremore Gold Wing group. Here are a couple of their snazzy machines.

In my ongoing attempt to photograph all honeymoon couples who visit, here are two lovebirds from Brussels, Belgium. She's actually from Italy, but they'll be living their married life in Brussels. Congratulations to these cute kids!

Here's Don Wagner and his companion. Don wrote and photographed the lovely book entitled Route 66: The Oklahoma Experience, which I'll be selling at Afton Station beginning tomorrow. It's a bargain at $16 because it's filled with great pictures of important places on the Mother Road in our state. He also wrote a book called Route 66: The Tulsa Experience, a companion to the Oklahoma book.

Along with these folks, we also had visits from travelers from League City TX, Bartlesville OK, Ventura CA, Paris France, Billings MT, San Diego CA, Urbana IL, Joplin MO, Gotheberg Sweden, and Hanover Germany.

Here's the first peek at the monument that will be guiding the way to the Sidewalk Highway as soon as it's in the ground. Marly drove to the other side of the state to pick it up yesterday and brought it "home" successfully. It's still strapped down in the trailer and will remain there until it's time to put it in the ground. Please note that it says "Erected 2010". That reflects the ridiculously long time it took to get permission to erect it! But. . . better late than never!The Golden Driller, that 76 ft. tall statue of an oil field worker that stands in Tulsa, has been turned into a Scotsman for the upcoming Scottish Games. The world's largest kilt (or so they think) has been added to the statue. Ron M. and I snapped this pic on the way to Afton early this morning. (That's a boatload of tartan plaid! Glad I wasn't the seamstress!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bits and Pieces

I drove into the beautiful sunrise on my way to Afton today. So many sunrises are breathtaking in this land of big skies. I never fail to be moved by them.

To most people, this will look like a boring photo of scraped earth. To others (such as me) it is nothing short of wonderful. This is the site of the upcoming installation of the Sidewalk Highway monument that we've been awaiting for close to two years. It's been held up by red tape, but today the guys from Ottawa County started to prepare the land, and Marly has driven across the state (350 miles) to pick up the monument and drive it back to Afton tomorrow. Ottawa Co. says we should have it planted in the ground in less than a week! The entire site won't be done by then however, since the OK Dept. of Transportation is responsible for some elements, and they're notoriously slow. But we should soon be ready to have a big celebration and I, for one, can't wait!
When I left Afton Station this afternoon, Phil was still there with a room full of visitors. He called me about an hour later, when I was about half way home, and said he still had people coming in the door. He's awfully nice to hang in there when I have to leave to drive back to Tulsa.

While I was there, we had 22 visitors. A good number of them were Europeans, from Wellington UK, Glasgow Scotland, Mnetenp Netherlands, Weisbaden Germany, and Barcelona Spain. Here's a couple from the U.K. who arrived as early this morning as I did! I certainly enjoyed their early morning enthusiasm and conversation!

The domestic visitors came from Greeley CO, Yulee FL, and Claremore, Drumright, Tulsa, and Afton, OK.

Afton "old timer", 86-year-old Melvin Berks, stops in every now and then and always has some great stories to tell. Today's offering was actually rather shocking. I knew that Afton Station once served as a bus station for the town, but I didn't know that one of it's functions was the place where young pregnant girls from all over the state would come in order to pay visits to a well-known abortion doctor who lived nearby. The girls (often as many as 5 a day) would take the bus to Afton and then be transported via taxi to the doctor's office. Melvin's mother happened to be the taxi driver. Interesting, indeed.

Melvin also told me that a small stretch of original Route 66 near the Sidewalk Highway used to go across his land, very close to his house. Vestiges of it are still visible there. In order to make his driveway, he broke up a stretch of it, and the pieces of concrete were used to face a couple of buildings in town. The old post office building is one of them.
Say goodbye to the little building on the curve at Dead Man's Corner, also known as 5 Mile Corner by Afton residents. It was once Chubby's Bar and later a flea market. The two country boys who now own it plan to tear down what's left of it. A plaque in the floor indicates it was built in 1948. They have lived in the house behind it for months, with no electricity or running water until just a week ago. They intend to improve the look of the land, but I'm sorry to see the old building fall.