Family: July 2006 Archives

Click the photo for a 3000x2000 (300 dpi) version of the photo of me that ran over my column during most of 2006.

Michael D. Bates, columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly

Our little one is now six and a half months old. At his six-month checkup back on July 11, he was 17 lbs. 6.5 oz., 26" long, and a 45 1/2 cm. head circumference.

It was about that time that we started him on some solid food: oatmeal and rice baby cereal, applesauce, squash, and today for the first time green beans. There has been the expected change in diaper contents. The baby is a good eater, and my wife is happy that she is no longer his sole source for calories.

He can roll now, too -- both directions and for quite a distance. Strings are very entertaining. He occasionally makes a "ba" sound, although the consonant is about halfway between a b and a v, a consonantal compromise made famous by Amy Grant in her hit single "Baby, Baby" (aka "Vavy, Vavy"). Mostly he utters these happy squawks, like a parrot or a grackle. (All three kids went through this squawking phase, and it always reminds me of a fraternity brother who would emit loud squawks to startle people.)

He loves drinking water. He will sip it out of a cup or a bottle. I opened a bottle of Ozarka the other day while I was holding him: He grabbed it with both hands and latched his mouth onto the opening.

Our oldest had his first violin lesson with his Mom today. He's been anxious to start learning.

The nearly-six-year-old has mixed up baby food and fed the baby several times, and she is deservedly proud of being such a helpful big sister.

A week ago, the whole family made our annual trek with friends to the Bartlesville Playground, aka the Kiddie Park. This little collection of two dozen rides, mainly for kids ages 1 to 10, has been around for over fifty years. It was there when my family lived in Bartlesville in the late '60s, and it is fun to see my kids on the same rides -- the train (and the tunnel that everyone screams in), the carousel, the biplanes that you can make go up and down, the little ferris wheel where everyone sits in a kind of painted cage, the little boats, the little cars.

Here's a picture of me (left foreground) and my sister (just behind me, looking directly at the camera), in the summer of 1968. I am not positive, but I think that is my Uncle Robert -- six years my senior -- in the background, just above my head. In the left background, I believe, is my grandmother, my Aunt Connie, and my Aunt Gerry (pregnant with my cousin Mandy). Mom must have been taking the picture.

BartlesvilleKiddiePark-MikeKay-Summer1968-cropped.jpg

This year was a little awkward. The baby can't sit up for long by himself, so he was too small for the rides, while my almost-10-year-old was too tall for all but about six rides. The almost-six-year-old was the right size for everything, including being big enough to reach the bumper car pedals and to steer without getting stuck in a corner or in a circle. We did take the baby on the carousel, and I held him on a horse for a few seconds, which he loved, before I handed him back to nervous Mommy.

To keep the big boy from getting too bored, I took him for a walk. I led him under the Highway 123 bridge to Delaware Street, the path my mom used to take me to walk to the playground at Johnstone Park. I showed him the vacant lot on the east side of Delaware between 1st and 2nd, where my first house in Bartlesville had been. We lived in that house from May '65 to sometime in the spring of '67, when we moved to Rogers St. near Jane Phillips Elementary. My earliest memories are in that house: Watching Ed Sullivan and space missions on TV, having a cut-out cake for my birthday (one I wouldn't let Mom cut), having my first dog, a beagle named Easy, and -- my very earliest memory -- on Easter Sunday looking out the kitchen window with my Grandma Bates at a rainbow.

From that house, we could walk to our church, the library, the grocery store, the park, the doctor's office (right across the street), the Sani-Pool, and all of the downtown shops, and Dad could walk to work. That was a good thing because our family's Ford -- the last one we ever owned -- wasn't a very reliable vehicle. This early experience obviously warped my impressionable mind into believing that getting around on foot was normal.

So I told my son all about this. I pointed out where the Thunderbird Cafe had been -- they had the jukebox buttons at each booth. (The building's still there at 2nd and Cherokee.) We walked down Frank Phillips toward the old Santa Fe depot. (It now houses the local Chamber of Commerce HQ.) I'm told that when my family lived in Lawrence, Kansas, Mom and I would take the AT&SF to visit her parents in Dewey, but I don't remember that at all. We did ride the train on my fifth birthday, just as far as Copan, just because I wanted to. (Dad met us in the car and brought us home.)

My son and I walked back to the Kiddie Park past Doenges Stadium, the 76-year-old ballpark that hosted Western Association and K-O-M League teams (Class D minor league) in the '30s and '40s, and is now home to American Legion baseball and national tournaments.

Back at Kiddie Park, we stayed until the place closed, as we always do. We always have a great time there.

(Here's an account of an earlier visit to Bartlesville. And OCPA pundit Brandon Dutcher, another former Bartian, took his family to the Kiddie Park earlier this summer, and has pictures.)

UPDATE: Tom Elmore writes in the comments on this entry:

Seems to me Bartlesville's reverent preservation of a tradition as gentle and wonderful as the Kiddie Park is worthy of the thanks and praise of anybody who still cares about what we used to call "civilization."

Father's Day notes

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This draft was started a couple of days after Father's Day, but I never got around to finishing it. In lieu of something more substantive tonight, here it is:

We celebrated Father's Day by taking my dad and mom to lunch at Mexicali Border Café at Main and Brady downtown. It's one of our favorite Mexican places; Mom and Dad had never been there. Great salsa (sort of halfway in texture and heat between Chimi's salsa fresca and salsa picante) and some delicious non-traditional Mexican dishes.

My wife and I had the Stuffed Carne Asada. At $13.95, it's one of the most expensive things on the menu, and we always consider getting something else (the Shrimp Acapulco is very tasty too), but we can't stand not to have this: "Fajita Steak stuffed with Melted Jack Cheese, Mushrooms, and Onions. Topped with Sautéed Pico de Gallo, Bacon and Mushrooms. Served with Rice, Borracho Beans and Saut´┐Żed Vegetables." It's big enough and rich enough we always have enough to bring home for another meal. The sautéed vegetables (carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini) were nicely spicy and just crisp enough.

The waitress, Heather, deserves special praise. She managed to be both attentive and inobtrusive. Instead of interrupting conversation every five minutes to ask, "Everything OK?" she passed by regularly, noticed if anything needed refilling, and just took care of it. When she noticed one of us dabbing at a bit of salsa that had landed on a shirt, she brought out some club soda and some extra napkins.

I gave my dad a new sports shirt and a Johnny Cash CD. My Mother's Hymnbook is a collection of traditional hymns and gospel songs, sung with only a guitar for accompaniment. Cash recorded it in the few months between his wife's death and his own. I had come across it in the CD return shelf in the library, checked it out, and loved it. These are songs that we sang in the little Southern Baptist church I grew up in, but don't hear much in our PCA congregation: I'm Bound For The Promised Land, Softly and Tenderly, Just As I Am, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.

(I've found all sorts of gems on the library's CD return shelf, things I probably wouldn't have sought out on purpose: Spike Jones' Greatest Hits; Sam Cooke: The Man Who Invented Soul, a four-disc set; a two-disc set of everything Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters recorded together.)

The kids gave me a Louis Armstrong CD, a Patsy Cline CD, and the original version of Asleep at the Wheel's first Bob Wills tribute CD, along with a new clock radio that synchronizes itself to the atomic clock via shortwave.

I already had a version of this disc -- the "dance remix", which has a black cover. I bought it as motivation/reward when I refinished the kids' wood floors last summer, and I liked it, but some of the tracks (five of them, to be precise) seemed unnecessarily tarted up -- as if some producer didn't think classic Western Swing was good enough to get people out on the dance floor. On "Big Ball's in Cowtown," the dance version is almost double the length of the original, padded out with backup singers singing "Cowtown, Cowtown, we're all goin' to Cowtown" over and over and over again. Then there's the bizarre addition of the same two measures of "Yearning," digitally transposed into three different keys for the intro to the song -- somehow that made it a dance version. Similar weirdness is inflicted upon "Hubbin' It," "Corrine, Corrina," and "Old Fashioned Love." At least they left 13 of the songs alone.

I had heard the unadulterated versions of a couple of the tracks from the white-covered original edition, and put it on my wish list, a wish my wife and kids were kind enough to fulfill.

The album features famous modern country artists (e.g., George Strait, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks -- Huey Lewis, too) singing or playing Bob Wills tunes alongside Asleep at the Wheel and some of the original Texas Playboys -- Eldon Shamblin, Johnny Gimble, and Herb Remington.

"Yearning," sung on this album by Vince Gill, has become a favorite of mine. It was a Tin Pan Alley tune, published in 1925 by Benny Davis and Joe Burke. (Davis and Burke also wrote "Carolina Moon." Burke also wrote "Tiptoe through the Tulips" and "Rambling Rose." Davis also wrote "Baby Face.") Somehow this sweet little tune found its way into both the standards and Western Swing repertoires -- Nat King Cole, Tommy Dorsey, and Frank Sinatra, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills all recorded it. Merle Haggard sang it on the final album with Bob Wills (For the Last Time), but I like Gill's version a little better, if only because it includes both verses.

The songbird yearns to sing a love song.
The roses yearn just for the dew.
The whole world's yearning for the sunshine.
I have a yearning too.

Yearning just for you,
That's all I do, my dear.
Learning why I'm blue,
I wish that you were here.
Smiles have turned to tears,
Days have turned to years.
Yearning just for you,
I hope that you yearn, too.

When shadows fall and stars are beaming,
'Tis then I miss you most of all.
I fall asleep and start a-dreaming.
It seems I hear you call:

Yearning just for you,
That's all I do, my dear.
Learning why I'm blue,
I wish that you were here.
Smiles have turned to tears,
Days have turned to years.
Yearning just for you,
I hope that you yearn, too.

I've enjoyed the gifts from my children, but the greatest Father's Day gifts of all are the children themselves.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from July 2006.

Family: June 2006 is the previous archive.

Family: August 2006 is the next archive.

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