Forgotten West Tulsa lives on in book form

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

WestTulsaGomez.jpgIf you've read BatesLine long, you'll know that I'm fascinated with forgotten bits of local history, such as the history of Greenwood between the 1921 destruction and rebuilding and its second destruction by urban renewal in the early '70s. It's wonderful to see old photos and to read reminiscences that help bring a long-gone locale back to life in the reader's imagination.

In 2007, Cecil Gomez published a book about West Tulsa, the small town wedged in between the Arkansas River, the Cosden (later Mid-Continent, D-X, Sun, and now Holly) Refinery and the Texaco (now Sinclair) Refinery. West Tulsa had its own main street and its own neighborhood schools, churches, and shops. It sat on the Oklahoma Union interurban line linking downtown Tulsa with Sapulpa (the railroad lives on as the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union line).

Gomez grew up in a Mexican neighborhood called the "Y", a cluster of 11 railroad workers' homes surrounded by the Santa Fe and Frisco railroad tracks, just northeast of 21st and Union. In 1996, Gomez published a memoir of his life growing up in such surroundings with his parents and 11 brothers and sisters.

Gomez's book, West Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1939, Before and After: The Greatest Little American Town (That Once Was), expands on those memories to cover the little town across the tracks, and Gomez draws on the memories of other early day residents to accompany historic photos, some that he has collected, some from the Beryl Ford Collection. A couple of chapters are devoted to the destruction wrought by urban renewal in the mid-1960s, which went beyond merely removing out the less desirable housing to wipe out nearly all of the commercial district as well. The close-knit community was dispersed, and a few churches are about all that remain from West Tulsa's heyday.

(Photos from the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.)

I was pleased to see that Gomez makes use of the 1939 Polk Directory to pinpoint the locations of the businesses and residents of the day and includes excerpts from the directory in an appendix to the book.

Steve's Sundry at 26th and Harvard has several copies of the book, and you can also buy the book directly through Gomez's website. It would make a great gift for anyone interested in Tulsa history whether they have a connection to West Tulsa or not. (Hint, hint.)

Congratulations and thanks to Cecil Gomez for documenting the history of this forgotten town.

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Forgotten West Tulsa lives on in book form.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Liz Eubanks said:

Thank you for introducing me to this book. My parents both grew up in West Tulsa and I think this book will be a terrific Christmas gift for them.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 15, 2009 8:46 PM.

Calling in sick was the previous entry in this blog.

Hyperlinked Tulsa city charter, policies and procedures online is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]