Family: October 2003 Archives

Woolaroc, Bartlesville, Mr. Limey's

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The car problem ate into our last day of fall break. We decided to replace the transmission, rather than consider buying a new car right now. That was where things stood when I left to run an errand Wednesday morning. Before I returned, Mikki called to say she found a five-year old low-mileage minivan on sale at a dealership for less than $7,000. It sounded too good to be true, but I agreed to check it out before we left to visit Woolaroc for the afternoon. The minivan seemed in decent shape, handled well on the road. Joe was ready for us to buy then and there -- he liked the separate air conditioner controls for the back.

We left the dealership, got on the road, stopped at Tastee Freez in Skiatook for lunch, and finally made it to Woolaroc about 3. We spent much of the remaining two hours in the museum, with the kids marveling at all the hunting trophies. I enjoyed the historical stuff about Frank Phillips and his company. In that gallery, next to the Woolaroc aircraft, they have on display Phillips related ephemera, including currency issued by the First National Bank of Bartlesville in the years just before the Federal Reserve was established. We had a few minutes to walk around the lodge and peek inside, then walk one of the trails down toward the lake. It was a beautiful day, and over too soon.

Woolaroc was closing, so we drove into Bartlesville to Johnstone Park to give the kids some more outside play time. Joe had fun chasing around with an older boy, while Katherine climbed and went down the slides over and over again. When I was Katherine's age and younger, we lived just three blocks away, and Mom and I would walk to Johnstone Park. Mom would do "underdogs" -- push my swing and run underneath it (beside it, really) as the swing went forward. The same old swings are there, and a couple of them had been wrapped around the crossbar a couple of times to put them higher off the ground -- perfect for underdogs, so I did one for Joe, who laughed but told me he didn't want to do that again. Katherine wouldn't let me put her in a higher swing to try one with her.

I remembered an odd phrase about swinging we used growing up. "Let the cat die" -- which means stop pumping your legs and let the swing stop, and then we'll go home. Listening to these swings, the phrase made sense -- these swings sounded like a cat, creaking with high-pitched mews, short and separated, rather than the usual long, continuous, low creaks.

I said that we lived within walking distance of Johnstone Park. We moved from Lawrence, Kansas, to Bartlesville when I was 18 months old, so all my earliest memories are from our first Bartlesville house, downtown on Delaware Street, which we rented from Cities Service Oil Co., my Dad's employer. His office was within walking distance, as was the grocery store, our church (First Baptist), and the "Sani-Pool", a nearby public swimming pool. So at an early age, I had the idea that it was normal to live downtown and to be able to walk most everywhere.

Of course, the Kiddie Park (Bartlesville Playground) was also nearby, and I have happy memories of visits there. For the last five years, we've made it a point to bring the kids at least once each summer. You can't beat a park full of rides designed for small children, just 25 or 50 cents each.

We had supper at Mr. Limey's Fish and Chips, not far away off of Frank Phillips Blvd. If can overlook the ethnic slur and stereotypes (the logo is supposed to be an upper-class Brit in a bowler, monocle, and handlebar mustache), you'll enjoy the food. The fish is cod, with a light breading that Mikki compared to tempura. There was malt vinegar on the table, as there should be, and the "chips" were the proper size (although not quite greasy enough to be authentic). Both the kids ate everything on their plates. The owner said she had been a cashier for Cities Service, but opted to stay in Bartlesville when Cities moved to Tulsa around '69. She started working for this then-new restaurant called Mr. Limey's and has been around ever since.

The New York Times had an article about Bartlesville last week, and its use of world-famous architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff to draw visitors. Here's a link, but you will probably need to be a registered Times user to access the article.

About that van: The price was below blue-book, and we were inclined to go for it, but we had our mechanics check it out, and there was some serious rust damage underneath the car -- had either been in water or an area where they use a lot of salt on the roads. So now we know why the price was so amazing. We took a pass.

Fall break

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The beginning of this week was fall break at Joe's school. We had considered a trip to Silver Dollar City, but we learned it wasn't open on Monday and Tuesday this time of year, so we decided to make day trips and visit places around Oklahoma.

The failure of our Mitusbishi Expo's transmission on Saturday changed everything. We borrowed a car from Mikki's folks for her choir reunion events. Monday we arranged to have the Mitsubishi towed back to Tulsa, and we lost nearly all of the day we had planned to spend sightseeing somewhere. Katherine got very upset as she saw the car being pulled up on the back of the flatbed tow truck.

Tuesday morning we went to the Oklahoma Aquarium -- my first time there, the sixth or seventh visit for my son. It's not Sea World, but there are a lot of interesting and exotic sea creatures on display, with a lot of useful interpretive information. The octopus was fascinating to watch. The shark tank is Joe's favorite, and it is amazing to watch these big creatures swim overhead. The triggerfish at the coral flat exhibit was another favorite. If you wiggle your finger around a few inches over the surface of the water, the triggerfish will think it's an insect, and the fish will skim along at the surface following your finger, almost on its side, then spit at the presumed bug to try to knock it into the water.

We only had a couple of hours there, as we wanted to see Apollo 13 at the IMAX theatre. Mikki and I had seen it back in 1995, and we wanted Joe to see it too. The first time I saw it, I was impressed at how faithful it was to Jim Lovell's book "Lost Moon". The film didn't make the astronauts the lone heroes, but showed the heroic efforts of the team on the ground -- hundreds of engineers working to solve the problems.

Another reason I love this film: Name another movie where flight simulators play a significant role. At the beginning of the film, we see the astronauts train, practice reacting to surprises, and learn to work as a team in perfect sync with each other. At the end, the simulator is used to test scenarios for restarting the command module within very narrow power constraints.

Watching Apollo 13 again, I paid more attention to the challenges of making a film about a situation where the tension and conflict come from the laws of physics, and where the people involved are trained to react calmly. How do you convey the urgency to a general audience? Dramatic music, of course, and closeups of gauges and indicator lights. Often a technical explanation would sneak into the dialogue. In the real mission control, for example, one controller might tell another that the projected reentry angle is 5.9, which might cause the other controller's brow to furrow with concern, as he begins to think of approaches to solving this new problem. No one would need to say, as in the movie, that the angle would cause the spacecraft to skip off the atmosphere and back into space -- everyone would know the significance of the number without being told. In a book, the significance of an event would be explained in the narrative. For a movie, I suppose you could have interruptions where Bill Nye the Science Guy explains each point in the drama, or use subtitles. Building the explanation into the dialogue is less obtrusive.

After the movie, we went to Joe's first flag football game of the year at Maxwell Park. He played last fall with a team from his school in a YMCA league. This year the school team -- the Raiders -- is part of a Tulsa Parks league. Joe scored the first touchdown for the Raiders and had a great "tackle" a few plays later. He's really catching on to the game -- now if he can just leave his mouthguard in his mouth between plays....

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from October 2003.

Family: August 2003 is the previous archive.

Family: December 2003 is the next archive.

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