Forgotten Tulsa: Locust Grove Park

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I found a very heartwarming thread over on TulsaNow's public forum. Someone calling himself "Hometown" has posted memories and photos from the neighborhood southeast of downtown which was displaced by the construction of the southeastern interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop. The neighborhood linked together the south edge of downtown -- home to car dealerships and churches -- with the 15th Street (Cherry Street) commercial district, the Tracy Park, Gunboat Park, Maple Ridge North, and South Boston neighborhoods. And the heart of the neighborhood was a grove of locust trees that became a city park, Locust Grove Park.

Hometown's description includes details of the park that he gathered from old maps and newspaper stories and his own memories of living nearby.

Some of my very first memories are of Locust Grove Park. In 1959 we lived on 14th between Cincinnati and Detroit. I was six years old. I can remember sitting in our small front yard at dusk and watching a group of square dancers under the lights of the basketball court. The women wore layers of petticoats causing their colorful skirts to puff out and swirl around. A man with a fiddle called out the dance moves.

It’s hard now to imagine that children played in the park and around the neighborhood with little or no supervision. We would take off and walk blocks into downtown or over to the Gunboat neighborhood or further to Tracy Park. But we spent most of our time in Locust Grove Park.

He has a picture of himself in front of the park's recreation center in 1959, in front of his house on 14th Street between Cincinnati and Detroit in 1960, and the next house he lived in, on Norfolk Ave. in Tracy Park, in 1960 -- the houses in the background of the photo were demolished for the construction of the east leg of the IDL (I-444 / US 75).

Other people who remember that place and time are chiming in with memories of their own. Hometown promises more photos and more memories in the future.

This is exactly the sort of recording and sharing of memories that I had hoped would emerge in this centennial year. (It was the topic of my column in this week's UTW.)

Hometown's tagline on the TulsaNow forum is "Tulsa's best days are ahead of us." If that's to be true, we need to remember the good days that once were. We need to remember what Tulsa was like before our leaders began to shred it to pieces, so that we can, to whatever extent possible, repair the damage that was done.

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D.Schuttler said:

I guess the park was already gone when we moved back to Tulsa and I started staying weekends at my dads house at 15th and Cincinnati. This was about 1972 . We would climb the wooded hill up to the railroad tracks behind the house.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 2, 2007 11:30 PM.

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