Family: June 2007 Archives

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.

Here's a timely start-of-summer safety reminder from Tulsa World sports editor Mike Strain, who remembers the time when his son (and my nephew) nearly drowned in their neighborhood's pool:

I grabbed my son’s limp body by the arm and pulled him out of the water.

His face was the scary kind of white you associate with death. His lips were purple. His eyes were wide open, but he wasn’t moving.

About 10 years ago, my son could have drowned in a swimming pool as I sat about 15 feet away daydreaming in the sun. I never saw him jump into the five-foot end. Never realized that a fearless 3 year old who couldn’t swim was under water.

He had taken the “floaties” off his arms. He never liked those. Undetected by me, my wife and a lifeguard at our neighborhood pool, he jumped into the water. I don’t know how long he had been there – less than a minute probably. My wife was in the pool, and asked, “Where’s Jared?”

And then I saw him. He was about a foot under the water, arms stretched to both sides like he was about to give a welcoming hug. He was facing the sky and his eyes were wide open. He wasn’t moving. I will never forget the image – that moment when you don’t know if your son is going to live.

You can't take your eyes off them for a minute.


On the left, Michael D. Bates, columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly and proprietor of

On the right, Michael W. Bates, former Member of Parliament and Paymaster General, now director of the Northern Board of the Conservative Party.

In the background, Durham Cathedral on a brilliant June day.

I had the pleasure of spending a lovely but all-too-brief hour and a half in the company of Michael and his son Matthew, strolling along the Wear, having a light lunch in the cathedral's Undercroft Restaurant, and talking about British and American politics and the remarkable story of the Emmanuel College in Gateshead and how high expectations can transform an underprivileged area.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family category from June 2007.

Family: May 2007 is the previous archive.

Family: July 2007 is the next archive.

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