Friday, December 26, 2014

Night Lights

We took a little ride around Tulsa on Christmas Eve just to see the lights.  Here are a few of the pretty scenes we saw.
 Downtown at Guthrie Green.  Named for Woody Guthrie, it's a favorite venue for concerts, food truck gatherings, and other celebrations.
 The East Meets West statue at the Cyrus Avery Bridge looked great under spotlights.
 Goodwill's new googie neon sign always looks great.
Best of all was the cleverly lighted train at the Route 66 Village on the west side.  All train cars were outlined in lights, including the wheels.  Very impressive.

Tulsa really lights up for Christmas, but photos of Christmas lights aren't always flattering or successful.  These were the best we got.   We hope you all had an extremely happy Christmas and that you are now looking ahead to an extraordinary 2015!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Just a few thoughts on Christmas Eve day, with everything done and not much to keep me busy today. . . .

Ron, Joe, and I drove out to West Tulsa to the little Route 66 Village park.  I've talked about it several times before on this blog, but I wanted to see some new signage that went up there last week.  A large crane was employed to get to the very top of the oil derrick to hang four signs, one on each side way up there.  My only complaint is that the derrick is so tall and the signs so far up there that they're almost impossible to photograph and very difficult to read.  Since the park is small, it's hard to get far enough back from them to do either.  Here is the best we could do.
New little literature boxes have been installed so visitors can pick up brochures which describe the park.  A great idea!
The park is a definite "must see" during one's Route 66 travel through Tulsa.   It's on Southwest Boulevard west of the city.

In other unrelated news, Sarah packed one of my Christmas gifts in this bag.  I've never seen one before, but she let me know they're available at World Market.  They're shown on their website at Very cute!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Beauty of Ugliness

Ron M. and I drove up to Afton Station today to check on things there and to take some small holiday gifts to my dear helpers at the museum:  also, because I miss it and needed a good ride on Route 66 to shake me out of the doldrums caused by lack of sunshine for days on end.

Betty and Robin came out to meet us.  Sue is ill and couldn't join us.  It was so nice to sit and chat with the folks for a little while.
On the way out of town, I wanted to drive around the back alleys of "downtown" Afton to take some photos of what can be found in these neglected and crumbling parts of town. .

It isn't pretty.

Or, is it?

I have long concluded that there is a certain amount of beauty in ugliness.  The buildings, although having long outworn their usefulness and suffering sadly from extreme neglect, have a haunting charm to their rock patterns and worn facades.  Have a look. . .

I suggest you click to enlarge these photos in order to see the patterns up close.  Then try to conjure in your mind's eye what these edifices might have once been used for and what they looked like in their prime.  The middle photo is of the backside of the former Palmer Hotel/Bassett Grocery building directly across the street from Afton Station, surely unrecognizable from what it was in its prime.

Later, we drove out to the countryside around Afton, stopped at the small attractive cemetery in which so many former loyal Afton citizens rest, then checked out Goat Hill, where a small herd of  goats stared at us from behind a fence.   This lop ear even said hello!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Need I Say More?

This station is on 11th St. (Route 66) at the corner of Utica.  Come get it while it's cheap!  I know it can't last, but that number that starts with "1" instead of "2" or "3" sure looks good to this major fuel consumer.  
All that, and the sun is out, too!   It's a fine day in Tulsa!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tulsa Packard Dealership?

I had completely forgotten about this article in a 2009 Hemmings Motor News which talks about a Packard dealership which was in Tulsa.  Unfortunately, there was no address given.  Does this building look famiiar to anyone in Tulsa?    It might have been at 1200 S. Boston Ave., as one was referred to on that location several  years later.  However, there is nothing at that address now so the building may be gone.  Google Maps shows it as a parking lot.  Sad.
building sits on corner, Packard cars parked on streets, “Packard” written above each window. Inscribed on photo back: Packard Motor Car Co., branches/dealerships/agencies, newly redecorated and enlarged facility Tulsa, Oklahoma, cars in showroom; (corner) 1937 Packard six, fifteenth series, 6-cylinder, 100-horsepower, 115-inch wheelbase, coupe, on street (left) 1937 Packard one twenty, fifteenth series, model 120-C, 8-cylinder, 120-horsepower, 120-inch wheelbase, 2/4-person convertible coupe (body type #1099), on side street (right) 1937 Packard one-twenty, fifteenth series, model 120-C, 8-cylinder, 120-horsepower, 120-inch wheelbase, 5-person touring sedan (body type #1092) plus two club sedans.

Tail Light Tales

Welcome to my new obsession.   I hope you can get through this short post without concluding that I'm completely nuts.  In reality, without Afton Station to keep me (and my mind) active, I have to concentrate on something else.  So the other day I was driving down the road and was attracted by the tail lights on the car in front of me.  They were made of a string of tiny LED lights and were quite striking.  From there, I found others composed of LEDs and came to realize that that must be the most modern method of doing tail lights because you don't see them on the older cars.   So I did a tiny bit of research and found that former tail lights got their brightness by being regular white bulbs behind red plastic.  The plastic covers were artfully carved like prisms to get the full reflecting power of the standard bulbs.  Apparently car companies used many interesting patterns in their designs.  Some use a combination of prismatic cutting and LEDs.  Many of them are true art forms and are quite beautiful..

Now, I find myself following cars down the road waiting for them to brake so that I can see how their tail lights look.  This morning, in the dark, I found myself trying to photograph some of the more interesting ones, but two things prohibited me from succeeding in my efforts.  1)  There weren't many cars on the road at 5 a.m. and 2) I got a little paranoid about what drivers would think if they saw me drive up close to them and snap pictures of their car's rear ends.  I decided I didn't want to get beat up or arrested.  The few photos I did take turned out blurred and unfocused since I was so intent on hiding my camera as I shot.

Fortunately, if one puts "Tail Lights" through Google Images, there are lots of close-ups to peruse.  Check it out, tail light lovers.  Or, am I the only one?


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Magnetic 66

This afternoon I needed to go to the bank, a one mile drive from my house with a 30-second transaction to be made there.  Now, two hours later, I'm home.  The petroleum industry's best friend just had to burn another couple of gallons of fuel on this lovely, sunny day -- and Magnetic Route 66 was calling to me.

I have only driven over the Tulsa portion of Route 66 (11th St.) about 10,000 times since I moved to the city.  To be honest, I really have nothing left to say about it that hasn't been said by me, as well as many others, countless times before.  I'm about ready to start counting the cracks in the pavement just to concentrate on something different.   But it doesn't matter to me.  I love every block, every mile of it.  And just watch me -- I CAN find more things to say about it!

It's not pretty.  In fact, of all Route 66 from coast to coast, I'd say that 11th St. would be right down there with the 10 least attractive portions of the Mother Road.  But being a proper roadie, I don't care.  Eleventh Street is filled with used car lots by the dozens.  I'm not sure I've ever seen so many "pre-owned" car lots in a 5 mile stretch anywhere in the country.  It is a car orphanage where all sorts of vehicles go,  looking for some kind and caring parents to take them home.  There are those ubiquitous strings of colorful pennant-shaped flags fluttering over most of the lots, behaving as though they're the only such enticements around.  How wrong they are!  I'd like to have the pennant flag concession for that stretch!  Many of the car lots have signs in Spanish, and others have signs in both Spanish and English.  Many of the signs brag about the merchandise under the strings of pennants -- "Beautiful Used Cars",  "Best Value Pre-Owned Cars" -- that sort of thing.  I rarely see people looking at cars in these yards, but they must be there somewhere, because scores of such lots thrive on this small stretch.

There are also what I consider to be an inordinate number of pawn shops on 11th Street.  Pawn your jewelry and go next door to buy a car?  Or is it the other way around?  Used cars and pawn shops seem to go together hand-in-hand.  I've only been in a pawn shop once, and for a very different reason than pawning my belongings.  It was the only place in the small town where I was living that had a notary public, and I had to get my divorce papers notarized.  Talk about depressing!  Despite being a huge fan of the History Channel's "Pawn Stars" TV show, I really don't ever want to personally step foot in a pawn shop again.

The old, borderline decrepit motels are the most touching aspects of 11th St.  Sharing the road with the used car dealers and pawn shops was probably not what their original owners had in mind when they built them in the '40s and '50s.   Although I can't for certain say that I ever stayed in any of the 11th St. motels when I was a kid traveling with my parents, I've stayed in enough similar ones to know exactly what they were like in their heyday.  They were "recommended" by the AAA or by Duncan Hines, clean and tidy in the rooms, well landscaped, and in most cases with a spotlessly clean area containing a gleaming, inviting pool.  Now, they are a mere shadow of their former selves.  Many of the great neon signs still exist but all of the old pools have been filled in.  The motels are still standing but not quite as spiffy as they once were, and the clientele consists of transients and renters by the month or, worst case, by the hour.  I can stop in front of one of these motels, stare at it through blurred eyes, and be transported back to happy days in the '50s when the best times of my entire life were those family vacations, those small but cozy rooms, and a pre-dinner dip in the pool.

So, I continue to return and return to that stretch of roadway (actually just 5 long blocks from my house and yet in a different world) and soak in the "now" and the "then" of its magic.  That magic has shaped my adult life in ways I could never imagine when I was a youngster.  There are many of us for whom it could be said "They live for Route 66" and I'm proud to be among them.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

To Bugtussle and Beyond

The Fab Four (Ron, Joe, Jim, and me) took a road trip yesterday.  Route 66 was not involved at all, but I know that most of my readers are roadies who can appreciate other roads too, so I'll tell you about this rather odd trip.

The original goal was the Lake Eufaula region of Southeastern Oklahoma, as Joe had something he wanted us to see there.  But like all good roadies, the trip took a number of turns and twists and we found some interesting sights along the way.

 McAlester is a mid-sized town with some interesting buildings in the "old" part of town.  On opposing corners of one intersection stand these two dueling filling stations, a Phillips and a Sinclair, both in quite good state of preservation in what is called "Old Town".

Ever since coming to Oklahoma I've heard about the town of Bugtussle, birthplace of former Speaker of the U.S.  House of Representatives, Carl Albert.  The town seems to get its fame more for it's interesting name which brings smiles to one's lips than to it's most famous citizen.   We decided we needed to find Bugtussle.

Hah!  Not as easy as it may sound!  In fact, we still haven't found it.  The closest we came was this sign, which had obviously been hanging since 1994.  Scrambling for our iPhones (and there were three of them in the car!) we learned that another name for Bugtussle was Flowery Mound, so perhaps Bugtussle has faded altogether into Flowery Mound... although we didn't find much of that, either.   We did find a sign indicating the birthplace of Carl Albert, a cleared field.  The whole hunt was quite frustrating, so we went on to other more accessible and interesting places.
The Oklahoma State Penitentiary (nickname Big Mac) is definitely more interesting and not hard to find.  It's huge, and just as ominous and bleak as one would want one's prison to be. I hope you can enlarge enough by cliciking on this photo to read the interesting history of the place.
 The bad guys won't be getting through this perimeter unless they want to tangle with the razor-sharp concertina wire atop the fence, and the many guard houses all around.ensure that the spying eye radar won't miss a gap.
 This very nice house belongs to the Warden.  I'm not crazy about the neighborhood, however.                          
This statue of a rodeo cowboy is one I've seen other places in the state, but this is the first one I've seen with the prison striped shirt on the cowboy.   It reminds us of the annual prison rodeo, as well as showing us that the corrections people in this state have a sense of humor.

We still hadn't reached the goal of Eufaula, but we were getting hungry.   We were within a couple of miles of the town of Krebs, which is a perfect place to be getting hungry.   Settled by Italian miners years ago, the town has about four or five fine Italian eateries (unusual for Oklahoma) and we chose Roseanna's where we stuffed ourselves dangerously full of pasta and salad.  Oh my, it was GOOD!   Krebs also has a magnificent Italian grocery store named Lovera's, but we didn't stop on this trip since I've been there a number of times before to buy their fabulous homemade cheeses and sausages. 
At last we reached Eufaula, a beautiful part of Oklahoma with rolling hills and the large Lake Eufaula.  Even on a grim, gray sunless day, I was taken by the beauty of the area.   The destination Joe wanted us to see was Carlton Landing, a planned community on the shores of the lake, and indeed it was interesting and quite lovely.  Homes are being built constantly, and although they are all different, they follow a directive that they be two-story with lots of porches, high ceilings, and soft antique color schemes.  The residents of the upscale community have a communal garden and raise some livestock.  They are about to open a "general store" and a community center.
It was another full day of new sights for this adopted Okie.   There's so much to see and do in this state, and it isn't all on Route 66!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Aimless Wandering

A week has gone by since I've been to Afton Station, and you'd think I could sit back and enjoy the "vacation" seeing as how it's just begun.  Unfortunately, I've already caught a bad case of restlessness, so today I went out wandering around, mostly on the alternate alignment of Route 66 through Tulsa, Admiral Blvd.    I've covered nearly all of this alignment's "must see" signs, buildings, etc., on this blog in the past, and so it wasn't a particularly rewarding use of a couple of gallons of gas.

I've been reading Susan Kelly's wonderful biography of Cyrus Avery -- "The Story of Cy Avery: Father of Route 66" so I thought I'd try to find his grave in Rose Hill Cemetery.
It was drizzling, and friends had told me it can't be seen from the paved path, so I looked around for the Avery family plot from my car, but to no avail.  I know it's a stone embedded in the ground rather than a standing headstone, so I think I can find a better day to go hunting for that.

Directly across Admiral from the cemetery is about the most inappropriate building you could envision for such a location, although as roadside kitch it is definitely a winner.   It's Dong's, a firearms and ammo shop.  At least we can be sure that Cyrus is being continually watched over by this guardian zebra.  
Eventually I got tired of driving around in the drizzle and came home.  Still restless, I tried to take some photos of my living room but obviously chose the wrong day for it.   I'll try again some day when there's more light.  Now I'm going to concentrate on putting up my meager Christmas decorations.   Tomorrow I'll have a better blog post, I'm sure.  I'm off with friends on a road trip.  Can't wait!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Now What Am I Going To Do?

As we locked up and left Afton Station this afternoon, my first thought was "Now what am I gonna do?"  Two months with a closed Station?   This gives me a weird feeling, and by the time I was on the road back to Tulsa, I had already told Ron M. that maybe we should drive up some weekends just to make sure things are ok -- and if we just happened to meet up with some people who want to tour the showrooms, well, I think we could make an accommodation for that.  In fact, I'd love it!  It will take a while to get  used to so many days to do whatever I want, and to take care of tasks like Christmas shopping, Christmas cards, etc.  

Betty and Robin both dropped in today.  Robin is back from a visit with her daughter in Alabama sporting a nice car she bought there - a 2008 Expedition in beautiful condition.   Very nice, Robin!

These folks, from Oklahoma City and Grove, were two of the nine who visited today.  They met very recently on an internet dating site and are getting to know one another by taking a little spin on Route 66 on his motorcycle.  Excellent idea!
Other visitors came from Houston TX, Arkansas City KS, and Lee's Summit MO.   See?  There really are a few people out on the road..  We also had a couple of local Afton kids back for a second day to hang around and ogle at the cars.

What began as a warm morning ended as a chilly and windy afternoon.  Tomorrow will be more seasonal, with the big chill coming in from the north.  After that, several more days of unseasonably warm weather.  Hmm... maybe I should go up to Afton just in case anyone wants to visit.....

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Only Show in Town

At one point today, Ron M. declared that Afton Station was "the only show in town".  And on a quiet winter Saturday he was so right.   We had an unusually large number of local kids stop in today, which is what inspired  Ron's statement.   It's kind of sad for kids in Afton when they're not in school, since there really isn't anything for them to do except wander around the streets and, for those who are more courageous, come in to the Station, the only place open, and look around.  We love having them, but we are also reminded of what "old timers" have told us about Afton once having a roller rink, a movie theater, several department stores, and everything else that a real town needs.   Not so in today's Afton, when the best a kid can do is stop in and put a few quarters in our penny pinching machine in order to have a little souvenir of the town they live in.
We especially loved having the kids today since there were scant few other visitors darkening our door.  A gentleman from Baxter Springs dropped in.  He's a volunteer at the Route 66 visitors' center in Baxter Springs, Kansas.   It was very nice to meet him and exchange stories about what fun it is to greet people from all over the world.
A couple from Minot, North Dakota (with their little grandson from Grove, OK) stopped because the gentleman wanted another look at the Packards after visiting last  year.  It seems he's restoring a 1955 Packard, so  he spent a good deal of time looking at ours and assessing what parts he still needs for his own restoration.  I sent him off with some back copies of the Packard Club newsletter which always have lists of parts for sale. I hope it's of some help to him.   Very nice folks!.
It was unseasonably warm today (over 70 by the time we left this afternoon!),  so Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones decided to drive his Stallion Trike down for a little visit.  Pretty soon the weather won't allow him the joy of tooling down the road on that magnificent bike!

Tomorrow will be our last regularly scheduled opening until February.  We are dispensing with regular hours for December and January because the rate of visitors falls off to almost nothing in the winter.  In the past week, we've sold exactly $25.50 in merchandise, which hardly makes a dent in the expense of driving the 170-mile round trip for me to get here (even with gas at about $2.45 here now), plus the expense of heating these three large buildings.  We will, however, happily open for those who are passing through and can give us a couple of days advance notice.   Robin and Sue both live close to the Station and are willing to open when needed over the winter.  So please don't hesitate to call me at either 918-382-9465 or 918-284-3829 and leave a message if there is no answer.   I'll still be writing blog posts, but not with much regularity.

  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Stop in tomorrow for our final day before the winter closure.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Turkey Story

[Disclaimer:   This story has nothing to do with Route 66 although I did drive to Grove on the Mother Road yesterday on my way to Grove.]

Most families have Thanksgiving traditions.  I guess dysfunctional families do, too.  The tradition in my own dysfunctional family is for me to drive to Grove the day before  Thanksgiving to watch my ex-husband boil turkeys in oil.  When we were divorced, he got the turkey fryer, so since then I've driven the 80 miles to Grove to witness the carnage leading to the edibility of one or more gobblers on the day before Thanksgiving.  David cooks several turkeys for charity every year, and I suppose you could say I fit into that category.

It was a lovely day for a ride in the country.  Upon my arrival in Grove, David lit the fryer under the 5 gallons of peanut oil and the boiling began.  I'm happy to say that once again this year David avoided self-immolation while performing this task.  If you were expecting some excitement surrounding this whole thing, you're out of luck. That is basically the end of the story except for these photos taken by Ron M., who accompanied me to the ritual this year. 

In a few hours, we'll be carving up the bird and I'll be getting the side dishes together.  Prior to that, I'll be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade which, to the best of my knowledge, I've never missed.  I've even been an actual spectator at the parade several times, which was always fun.   My Thanksgiving isn't really much different from anyone else's, albeit probably more quiet than most.  May you all have just exactly the kind of Thanksgiving you like the most, whether it's alone with a deli turkey sandwich or with a house chock full of family.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New View of the Palmer Hotel

I've been staring at the Palmer Hotel ever since we bought Afton Station across the street from it 14 years ago.   I feel intimately familiar with every piece of peeled paint and every cracked window.  The old building is gradually, gently expiring before my very eyes.  There have been those who have shown some interest in purchasing it and restoring it as a bed & breakfast or an antique shop but the current owner does anything possible to thwart any offers.   I believe she'd rather see it fall to the ground rather than relinquish ownership.
I hadn't seen a good picture of the Palmer Hotel of old until just the other day when this real photo postcard became known to me.  Now there's a way to compare the old, vital establishment with what it has become.  I really don't have much to say about it.  Just have a look.
                                               Then - Early 20th Century
                                                Now - Circa 2010

Eastern Trails Museum

Despite it being a mere 15 miles from Afton Station, I had never made time to visit this amazing small museum in downtown Vinita.  It's less than a block off Route 66, adjoining the library.   I was invited by the Curator Kathleen to have a special tour, so Ron M. and I drove up yesterday and enjoyed an extremely pleasant 90 minutes with Kathleen, who graciously showed us around the place.  The museum can best be described as eclectic, featuring the history of Vinita through interesting items that once belonged to Vinita citizens.  Ninety-nine percent items in the museum are from Vinita.  They're nicely displayed, thanks to Kathleen, who has only been the curator for a bit over a year.  Here are some photo of a few of the unique displays.
 An original, authentic Shirley Temple doll
 A wall from the old Vinita post office
  The re-creation of a Vinita lawyer's office.
 Probably the most eye-catching display is this televisoin, "the first one in Vinita".   It's only a little larger than a radio and the screen is a mere 10 diagonal inches!   Has anyone ever seen one like this before? Neither Ron, Kathleen, or I had.  I'd love to know if anyone else has experience with this mini- TV.
  T he rodeo in Vinita has been going on for several generations.  It is now called the Will  Rogers Rodeo and still draws big crowds every year.  Here are some saddles used by Will Rogers' friends in past rodeos. Also notice the parking meter which once graced the streets of the town.  There is no longer paid parking in Vinita, and Kathleen said that kids who tour the museum are fascinated by the meter.
And of course there is a salute to Route 66  in the form of this large porcelain shield.  
I enjoyed meeting and talking to Kathleen and look forward to many further trips to the museum. And, I now feel secure in recommending the Eastern Trails Museum to Afton Station visitors, especially foreign travelers who would get an overview of the history of the U.S. without getting buried in boring facts and figures.