Busted visit to Bartlesville

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Saturday, after attending the three public hours of a five-hour City Council meeting on whether to move city offices to One Technology Center, I called my wife and suggested we head up to Woolaroc for the remainder of the afternoon. I picked up my son from a sleepover, and, after the usual hour or so required to prepare for the long trek (approx. seven hours away from home), we left, following a stop at McDonald's to get food (lunch at 2 -- kids were on a late schedule) and the library (needed to renew some books).

Got a bit lost trying to navigate the Matoaka shortcut, which heads west from US 75 on Road 24. The landmark used to be (35 years ago) a Moose Lodge, now it's a Christian school. My handy "Roads of Oklahoma Atlas" helped get me sorted out.

We got to Woolaroc about 3 -- two hours before closing. (We were told our admission would be good through Sunday, if we wanted to return. 11 and under are free, adults are $8, $7 with a AAA card.)

They were having a kids festival. The day was sunny and muggy. The big kids tried their hand at hurling spears with rubber points, then played at giant croquet, rolling rubber balls almost as big as they were through four-foot tall wickets.

I took the little one inside the museum, while the big kids explored some of the other special outdoor activities. He was very amused by the moving diorama of the Crow Indian dance.

Woolaroc Museum is home to the bronze models submitted in the design competition for the Pioneer Woman Monument in Ponca City. I'd seen them before, but it was interesting to look again since the pioneer woman concept appeared in so many of Oklahoma's state quarter designs. There are some impressive alternate designs -- one shows a woman and child pressing on, with her husband, shot through with an arrow, lying dead at her feet -- but I think they chose the right one, with the right balance of optimism and determination.

Jim Hamilton's statue, Dance of the Mountain Gods, with the antenna-like headgear and the long knives, looks to me like an ancient astronaut come down to do some serious cattle mutilatin'.

With only one kid in tow, and him in a stroller, I had time to take a closer look at the beautiful patterns on the Pueblo pottery.

We browsed a bit in the shop. There's a new book out called The Royal Air Force in Oklahoma, by Paula Carmack Denson. It is a detailed account, with many photographs, of the RAF flying schools in Ponca City and Miami, with complete rosters of the students. (You may know that two RAF flyers, who died in a training accident near Tulsa, are buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa.)

The big kids and I finished our brief time at Woolaroc with a walk along the rocky paths between the lodge and Lake Clyde. They remember walking down there last summer when we came up for a cousin's wedding. We bought a couple of snow cones and headed back to the van to meet Mom and the toddler.

Next stop Bartlesville. The intention was to look around, eat dinner, then go to the Bartlesville Playground (aka the Kiddie Park) when it opened at 7. The toddler would be big enough now to sit up and ride most of the rides.

As the weather turned from sun to gloom, I gave the kids a tour of Dad's historical sites -- the house we lived in on Delaware Street (demolished) which was walking distance from Dr. Denyer's office across the street (demolished), the Thunderbird Cafe (now an antique shop), our church (First Baptist), the Sani-Pool (demolished), Johnstone Park, and my dad's office (the Cities Service Bldg., now home to RSU's Bartlesville campus). We drove south past Aunt Connie and Uncle Dan's house on Dewey Street, McKinley School where cousin Kelley went to kindergarten in 1968-69 (I was 11 days too young to start the same year), and then to 1617 Rogers, near Jane Phillips Elementary School, where we moved in 1967 after my little sister was born. Our family lived in Bartlesville from approximately May 1965 to July 1969, when we moved, following Cities Service, to Tulsa.

As heavy rains moved in, we headed to Mr. Limey's Fish and Chips (est. 1969), in the once ultra-modern Comanche Center at the corner of Comanche and Frank Phillips. We all had fish and chips. With a late lunch, their half-order (one filet and a few fries), was plenty for me. I used my Treo to check the weather and learned there was a storm headed our way. I began to consider options. One possibility, quickly dismissed, was to drive another hour north to Independence, Kansas, and Riverside Park, which has a train and a carousel and some wonderful retro playground equipment, but we might get there only to hit more bad weather.

Although the rain had stopped by the time we left the restaurant, the Kiddie Park had decided to close to be on the safe side. The backup plan was to head to the Red Apple Bowling Center for some indoor fun.

The clerk at the desk presented me with a confusing and expensive array of options. We could rent a lane for a couple of hours -- about $55 for five people. We could buy individual lines of bowling. We could rent a lane for the rest of the night. I just wanted for four people to bowl a game, maybe two each. He wound up charging me $34 for one lane for an hour, with shoes, for four people. (Little Bit can't manage a 6 pound ball just yet.)

The kids had a good time. Eventually we figured out we could ask to have the bumpers put up. The six-year-old was offered the ball ramp to use, but she preferred to shove the ball down the lane by herself.

The balls were marked to make it easier to spot one that might work. The weights are printed in big numbers, and different colors are used for different weights. There are five or six standard hole sizes, which were also marked in large letters. I learned that for me a medium is too small (couldn't get thumb all the way in) and a large is way too big (thumb had too much space).

No one else there seemed to be familiar with bowling etiquette. I remember being schooled on where you could walk, where you couldn't walk, when you could start your approach and when you should hold off, how to pick up a ball, etc., when I took free lessons at Sheridan Lanes as a kid. The lessons were reinforced during the years I bowled in a youth league at Tiffany Bowl (now Plaza Santa Cecilia). Many customers seemed to think the area between the foul lines and the ball returns was just another walkway. Parents let their kids wander around on the approaches when they weren't bowling, heedless of the danger.

Even though it took some time to get shoes on, find bowling balls, and get the scoreboard setup, our hour started right away, and promptly one hour after the clerk rang me up, the lane went dark, about two frames into the second game. It was just as well -- it was nearly 9 and time to head home.

It did occur to me that I could have let the kids go nuts in the bowling center's video arcade for an hour and probably spent less than we did on bowling.

The Kiddie Park being closed was a disappointment, but I think we managed to salvage the day.

ELSEWHERE: It looks like a couple of other bloggers had some great family fun this weekend. See Dubya found an oasis of red state red meat in the midst of blue, blue California -- a rodeo -- and he brought back some great photos and a very entertaining write-up, in which he tries to explain to leftists how thrilling a rodeo is to a patriotic conservative. (You just need to read it.)

In conclusion, I am still so high and aroused from the weekend's potent brew of vicarious testosterone, jingoism, and aerosolized horse poo that I'm ready to jump on a Brahma bull and go invade North Korea. Or vote for Fred Thompson. Yee-ha!

And fellow former Bartian Brandon Dutcher spent the day with his family at Frontier City and has photos.

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7 Comments

See-Dubya said:

Woolaroc is very cool. I went as a little boy and remember spending hours drooling over the Colt firearms collection. We took Mrs. See-Dub up there the first time she came to visit the family in Oklahoma.

Never took her to a rodeo the whole time we were in OK, though. Funny she had to come out to California to see them.

Russ said:

Sounds like a fun day! Gotta love the power of mobility for adjusting plans along the way!

It was great to be able to connect to the web via my Sprint Treo and look at the radar and the latest forecast on weather.com. (While many websites aren't well adapted for wireless web, weather.com works very well on the small screen.) If I'd thought to check earlier, we might have headed straight from Woolaroc to Independence.

I really missed having wireless web and email available to me in the UK, particularly when we were stuck in a motorway traffic jam.

Woolaroc has made improvements, and it's well maintained, but much of it is just as I remember it from 40 years ago. I wish we'd gotten our act together sooner and had more time there.

sbtulsa said:

i can't resist this post.

my mother is a native of miama. during world war two, the british flyers would stoll main street and local residents would say hello, stop to chat, then invite the flyers to dinner. my mother said this was a regular practice at her house, as my grandparents were long time members of the community and they felt the need to supuort the brits who were far from home. my mother and aunt both dated flyers during that time of war.

many years later in 1961, when my dad had moved us to houston and i was age ten, a man with a british accent came to dinner at our house in spring branch. he was british and one of the flyers that trained in miama. he had kept a log of the piolts he trained with and the families that had treated them kindly during training. he was traveling the united states visiting all the families who had been so hospitable and advising them of what had happened to each flyer on his list during the war.

of those that srvived training in Miama, 13 died before they finished instruction, over 60 percent of those pilots had been lost in combat. it was this moment at age ten that fueled my love of history. particulalry WW2. this pilots expensive and hurculean effort to find people that had presented him with an act of kindness during a war was impressive to a ten year old. moreso was the thought that so many people like him had gone to war and been lost.

its history that defines courage for those living in the current day. why do we spend so much time parsing sentences and politicing when men like the british pilot are under hostile fire? there is not one politician that can in any small way measure up to combat troops, sailors, and flyers. the military goes in to action at the direction of the commander in chief. congressional oversite is proper only after the victory is won or the loss in suffered. the current forces in congress trying to hand the military a dealine date to win are fools.

we were attacked on our own soil. we have been remarkably restrained in the response. the heros are in uniform, the fools are in suits and dresses.

Russell said:

I wasn't sure at first but it was you I saw in the Woolaroc museum. I had my 2 year old girl in the stroller at the crow dance display when you walked up.

I hadn't been to Woolaroc since I was in grade school so it was nice to see everything again. The kids sure loved it.

SuperSteve said:

It's awesome that you came up here to Bartlesville, but I'm very sorry that Kiddie park was closed for you, it really is an incredible place for young families, I can't count how many memories I have of that place from when I was young.

Was Mr. Limey's good? I've lived here for so many years now, and yet I've never been yet.

Mike said:

What? A visit to Bartlesville, and no cholesterol-burger from Murphy's? Shame! LOL!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 25, 2007 11:31 PM.

City Hall move; Buried Car recap; Tulsarama revisited was the previous entry in this blog.

Plaza Un-sweet is the next entry in this blog.

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